Saturday, June 10, 2017

Post-Trail Thoughts - 1

The Outsider Badge

This morning I lost my Outsider Badge.  The Outsider Badge is something I made up that you earn after you have been living outside for a time.  It means you spend the majority (or all of) your time in the out-of-doors.  No artificial climate control (except possibly fire). No four walls (unless they are a tent or some such).  Subject to the whims of weather and temperature.  Someone living outside.

I didn't "lose" it in the physical sense (although I did make little plastic badges to represent this achievement)  If you don't maintain your Outsideness, your badge is revoked until you can earn it again.  For the past five nights, I have slept indoors and this is what it takes for you to lose your badge.  You can always earn it back again, but you must once again live outside to do that.

One of the many reasons I had for embarking on my Quest for Pamola was to be an Outsider for a time.  I was able to do that and I really enjoyed being an Outsider.  I do wish I had been able to earn the advanced Tiers of the Badge, but that didn't happen. Not this time anyway.  

When I first conceived of the badge, the criteria to earn and keep it was pretty simple and easy.  As I spent time as an Outsider, I tightened up the guidelines as my experience grew.  Here are the rules and guidelines for the Outsider Badge.  

To earn the Badge's Tier I level (Fledgling), you have to have been living outside for two weeks.  Staying indoors from time to time is inevitable for a long hike, so you could not have had more than three nights indoors during this time.  If you exceed this criteria, your earning is delayed however many days you went beyond the three.  

We earned our Outsider Badges (Fledgling) on May 10th.  That was day 15 and we had only stayed indoors at Neels Gap, The Top of Georgia Hostel and in Franklin.  

To earn the Tier II level (Journeyman), you must have been living outside for two months total with no more than 12 nights indoors during that time.  Once again, any nights beyond that 12, would delay your advancement by the number of extra days.  We were on track to earn this level on June 21st, the first day of Summer, or in my calendar, Mid-Summer's Day.  (It is also widely know as Hike Naked day, but that is another subject for another post)  The fact remains, that we won't be advancing to that level on that day, as I am once again sleeping indoors.  

The last level, Tier III (Master) would have been earned after four months of being an Outsider.  With no more than 24 nights indoors.  Someday, I hope to earn that level.  

You keep the Badge as long as you remain living outdoors.  If you get off trail and start sleeping indoors, after a time, you will move back through the levels until you lose the Badge altogether.  Here are the criteria for losing your levels/badge.

If you are a Master, then after five days indoors, you would move back to a Journeyman, then another five days later a Fledgling and after another five days, you would lose the badge.  Each five days lowers you until you are no longer a wearer of the Badge.  

Since I was only a Fledgling, last night was my fifth night in a row that I slept indoors, so that is that.  I hope to earn it again some day, as I really enjoy being outside.  I am "at home" there.

Here is the Outsider Oath I made up to go with the Badge:

The Oath of the Outsider

I am an Outsider
I live my life in Nature
Four walls can't surround me
The forest canopy is my roof
I take each day as given
A fire is my warmth
The wind cools my body
All I need, I carry on my back
The outside is my home 
I am an Outsider

Weight Loss

Another of my reasons for this Quest was to lose weight.  Since I have retired (and actually it had started before that), my weight has slowly crept up, from the low 200s to up around 240 or so.  That was my weight on day one of the hike.  With my back problems and a general laziness that I developed, I couldn't seem to lose any weight.  Snacking was also a contributing factor.  Since I knew most men lose a lot of weight when they go out on a long distance hike, I thought that I could lose some poundage.  All I had to do was walk all day for several days and the weight will fall off like magic.  I even wrote an article about it on The Trek.  

I am very happy with how this worked.  As the days and weeks went on, we could easily tell that I was losing lots of weight.  I certainly had a lot that I needed to lose, so I was happy that the pounds were going away.  The sporadic scales you encounter along the way would each tell a different story.  I had no idea how accurate they were, so I would use them, but reserve my joy until I was able to step on the same scale I had the day we left on our Quest, the one in our bathroom at home.  

When I did get back home and the next morning I stood on the scale, I was indeed happy with what I saw.  I had lost about 31 lbs.  Not the 40 I had thought, but no little number.  I had basically lost the weight of my pack.   

Now, the challenge will be keeping the weight off (and maybe losing a few more lbs). I seem to have this constant hunger now that I remember from when I was actively dieting back in the day.  I need to embrace that hunger feeling and not give in to it.  I have a feeling it won't be easy.  One thing is, with my lighter body, I feel a bit more energetic and my need to walk everyday is as strong as ever.  I'm just not walking 15, 16 miles a day.  I will need to keep going back to the Gym as much as possible, walking the dog several times a day and walking to places instead of driving if I can.  

So, I achieved my goal on this note, but will have to be diligent on keeping the weight off and staying active, limiting my snacking (and beer drinking) and walking as much as possible.  Wish me luck. 

Long Distance Treker Achievement

The last thing I will talk about today on my Post-Trail Thoughts is another Achievement I made up called the Long Distance Treker Achievement (LDT).  It too has multiple levels, but once you have earned a level, it is yours forever.  

Before this Quest/Hike, I have only hiked about 100 miles at the most at one time.  I wanted to do way more than that and the LDT is a good way to measure how far you can go at one time.  

You first earn the Achievement after hiking about 100 miles and have resupplied a couple of times.  It has to feel right.  It's all part of the experience of a long hike.  Going along your route, resupplying your food and other consumables and walking lots of miles.  You will know when the achievement has been earned.  Offering some fat and oil to Pamola will also help you along.  If you do that, the next morning's weather will let you know how the Storm God thinks about your achievement.  So, that's level 1 LDT.

Level 2 is earned after 200 miles.  That is the level LoGear and I earned.  Level 3 is at 500 miles.  I was less than 40 miles away from this one.  Level 4 is 1000 miles.  Maybe one day, I will get there, but I'm ok with my Level 2 achievement.  

The final level, Level 5 is earned after 2000 miles.  It would be quite an achievement to be a Level 5 LDT, let me tell you.  Those that have the physical and mental ability to do this trail from end to end are the earners of this Level of the Achievement.  The Rock Stars of the trail, so to speak.

What's Next

That's all I have for today.  In the coming weeks, I hope to talk about the different Sections of our Quest (Phase I).  That's all a long hike ever is, one section after another until you are "done".  That is how I approached this hike.  I would only plan the next section's hike.  Where we could stay, where the next resupply was...

Also, I want to talk about the wonderful filthy animals I met out there on the trail.  I tried to get all of their names, but I'm sure I missed many.  The people are the trail and I want to share with you those who made our hike special.  

Stay tuned as I process my thoughts and feelings and hopefully transform them into something you would want to read about.  Once again, wish me luck.

EarthTone and LoGear

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