Thursday, February 28, 2008

Appalachian Adaptation

Looks like Robert Redford is going ahead with the Walk in the Woods adaptation, afterall.

I can think of plenty of reasons why this could have a negative impact on the trail. The only upside I can think of would be a heightened awareness of our natural treasures in the public consciousness. And and maybe additional funding if Redford chooses to give a little back to the A.T., unlike the book's author.

I remain skeptical.

Here's a link to my previously posted comments about the book.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Will Work for Beer

Lumber Yard in Bland, VA

On one sweltering June afternoon we emerged from the trail at a road crossing in southwest Virginia, and took a short roadwalk to a nearby convenience store.

Over a few cold drinks and junk food, we exchanged pleasant conversation with the proprietor. Then, the sawmill across the street emptied for the day and we witnessed a fascinatingly disturbing cultural phenomenon; the 4pm beer run.

The scene goes something like this. Two guys hop out of the pickup and leave the ignition running. They make a beeline for the back cooler, plunk down their hard earned cash at the register and each walk out with a six or twelve-pack in hand, presumably to finish on a Thursday evening before returning to work the next day. One car after the next.

Sounds like a tired stereotype, but unfortunately, we witnessed it first hand.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gear Review: Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts

Patagonia nailed it with their nine trails shorts.

The blend of 86% polyester/14% spandex is what I would consider to be an ideal material for hiking shorts.

They're extremely soft and have a generous stretch, which perform amazingly under thru-hiking conditions. They wring out well, dry unbelievably quickly and breathe nicely in warm weather. I wore them nearly every waking hour and never got tired of them, and had absolutely zero chaffing problems.

After 5 million steps, mine are still going strong. I am considering buying another pair just to have on hand, since the best products are inevitably discontinued.

My favorite feature was the three zippered pockets, which securely handled snacks, flashlight, money and other small items that I did not want to lose.

The only complaint would be the liner they come with, but a pair of scissors easily took care of that.

7.1 oz (Men L) 3.8 oz (Women S) with undie-liner removed.

At $52, they are pricey, but I felt a worthwhile investment for a thru-hike.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Drips vs. Drops

Misty Morning in Georgia

On our first rainy night of the trip, Lauren and I chose a protected site, climbed into our tarp, and watched and listened in awe as a thunderstorm blasted through.

By the morning, the ferocity of the storm had passed, and we were engulfed in a thick fog that reduced visibility to about 50 feet. The pitter-patter on our tarp lulled us back to sleep and made a nice excuse for a late start.

Finally by 8am we decided it was time to face a day in the rain. We spent a little extra time putting on our rain gear and breaking camp.

Once on the trail, we realized that we had made a rookie mistake. It wasn't actually raining; instead the leaves had been collecting condensation, releasing heavy drips every so often. We quickly overheated in out unnecessary rain gear.

After a mistake like this we quickly learned to tell the difference between drops and drips.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


On the trail, Lauren and I each kept a daily journal, that we wrote in before going to bed. At the time we were unaware what the other was writing about, and now post-tail we've been taking our time going through and sharing them with each other. It's quite an enlightening experience to relive the same events through the memoirs of another.

Today we went to a coffee shop and continued our journal recap, making it to mile 430 in northern Tennessee.

It is rewarding to reflect on our early trail experiences and to so clearly see our character development... to see our trail rhythm and teamwork establish, to see how Lauren's mile-driven mentality eased over time, and to remember those physical hurdles I encountered early on.

I feel so blessed to have been able to make this incredible journey in 2007. It was an investment in ourselves, our marriage, and our future. I also am so grateful that we made the commitment to document our highs and lows so faithfully.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Andy's Great Western Loop

Lauren, Andy and Ben

While we were hiking our 2,174 miles this summer, Andrew Skurka was tackling a 6,875 mile journey of his own, the so-called Great Western Loop. Lauren and I took the LA Metro Rail to Long Beach yesterday to hear Andy give an overview of his trip.

As a thru-hiker, it is fascinating for me to hear fellow hikers tackle the all encompasing question, "So, how was your trip?" I mean, how do you begin to sum up a trip of such magnitude, with all of the intense highs and lows?

Andy is an organized presenter, and his photography is quite good, which meant the 50 minutes went by too quickly for me. I think Andy did a good job of conveying the exuberance of great moments, and what it feels like to push through intense adversity. I think I would have enjoyed hearing more about the connection he felt to the landscape.

In 2006, when Andy was giving a recap in SoCal about his Sea-to-Sea hike, I took the opportunity to go for a day hike with him in the San Gabriels. Andy is a focused and driven person with an approachable demeanor, and I very much enjoyed my time with him.

Congratulations on accomplishing your goal, Andy.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Back into the Hills

This morning Lauren and I went out for our first real* hike since finishing the trail. We went out for 6 mile loop, on a fire road that looks over Glendale and the San Gabriel mountains. We easily handled the climb, and were encouraged that our trail footwork was still sharp for the dicey descent.

*morning walks in Griffith Park, and the woods in New Jersey, notwithstanding.