Departure line – 16 days
I’m officially 16 days away from my AT Thru Hiking start date (2/16/23). Today is also a special day for another reason. Today is my last day as an active duty member of the United States Army. At 0001 tonight or 12:01am, I am no longer employed. Even though the last 90+ days since I’ve been on my deathbed and geared up for my next adventure, I haven’t really felt working either. My last article was published about 45 days ago, so let’s do a quick recap to speed things up.
ready, ready, more ready
In addition to hiking, biking, and lots of skiing (cover photo of Peak 6 at Breckenridge Resort), I’ve improved my gear and lightened my pack. I sent all my off-road clothing to Insect Shield and had it done. Treatment lasts up to 70 washes and the entire process takes less than 3 weeks. I also need to organize my backpack, shoes, trekking pole harness and tent.
I’m flying back to North Carolina from Colorado on Friday and will start prepping my bounce box for the first 45 days. After that, I will most likely be using town supplies and crate supplies the entire way. My starting point is still the approach to Amicalola Falls in Georgia. I read through the Farmer’s Almanac and looked at the forecasted weather patterns. I’m sure someone will comment that reading these is useless. Thanks for the advice and hike!
Most common responses and reasoning heard
Over the past 90 days, I’ve met a lot of people in Colorado. When I tell people what I’m trying to do, I get 3 very common responses:
- Wow! That is bad guy! I wish I could, but”insert why here“.
- uh… are you crazy!
- That is crazy! How long? (Although I appreciate the vice of calling this effort crazy, ask me if I’m crazy)
After these responses and a quick back and forth, I started by telling them that I had been in the military for over 20 years and wanted to take a “gap year”. I wanted a period of decompression, an ability to reflect and decide what I wanted to do with the next chapter of my life. I already had my own business and retired from it. That chapter has been written, though my book is not yet finished.
Never forget your gear was made by the lowest bidder
I have stated this fact in a previous post. During your military service, most of your equipment, including weapons, is made or supplied by the lowest bidder. This is the first time I’ve used gear that doesn’t fall into that category. After a few steady hikes, weighing items, and overcoming “hiker hoarding syndrome,” I feel confident in my gear. No plan survives the connection though, and I know things will break, get lost, or simply not work. But as Patrick Swayze says in Road House, “Expect the unexpected.”
Sadly my Altra Timps failed to go from training to tracking. I hope to get at least another 250 miles out of them. The mesh lining on the right shoe is starting to fray and is basically gone at this point (a common problem I researched). I decided to use the new Altra Lone Peak 7 for the first 400-500 miles (depending on conditions of course). Not the same Timps at first, but I’ve grown to love them, and they’ve got about 100 miles on them at this point.
Give back to society while working
I’m also proud to announce that I’m raising money for the Greg Hill Foundation! Based outside of Boston, Massachusetts, the foundation helps provide relief to emergency service personnel, members of the public, and others in need following catastrophic life events. The foundation has done amazing work in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and continues to provide extraordinary help to people in New England. It’s 100% non-profit and of course I receive no proceeds. The link below is to my fundraising page and more information about the foundation if anyone is wondering.
Every donation counts!
I’d really like to get at least a 14er before I go, but there’s been too much snow this winter. So here are a few photos from hiking and skiing over the past two months. The first photo (left to right) is from the Crags Trail hike. The distance is about 8 miles, starting at 9,900 feet and going up to 11,000 feet. It was 9 degrees when we started, which was a bit chilly. The next photo is after bringing Keystone Resort’s snowcats to the bowl area. I had ice all over my beard, but surprisingly, I wasn’t very cold. Finally, look back at the view of the Peak 6 bowl in Breckenridge. I’ve been told many times that I need to buy a Go-Pro, but probably next year. Thanks for following and checking out my Insta for more hiking/skiing content!
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