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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back Again

I keep meaning to update this journal. Then suddenly I realize it's been a couple of weeks. This time it's because there have been some fun things happening.

I went to the hiker dinner last weekend. I didn't go to the hike beforehand. For some reason I keep backing away from hiking with anyone else. I had fun at the dinner. I sat next to Shiloh, a new hiker who is starting his AT hike March 10. We talked hammocks, and he had some questions about gear that I own, so I invited him and peanut (who rode up from Atlanta with him) over to my house the next day on their way home. I also met some of the other local hikers. As I move from gear-gathering to getting out with hikers more I think I'll enjoy getting involved with the local hiker groups. I've liked the folks I've met so far. I also sat next to Fishbone, who I met at one of the hang-outs in Hot Springs. It's fun to talk to him as he's always into some neat stuff.

We went to REI after dinner for a demo on their new tents. The tents are a step in the right direction I think for mainstream hikers. Mostly mesh and free standing. Just looks like a lot a hardware to this hammocker. I need to periodically do a gear check to make sure that the hammock remains my best choice, but so far I think it is. REI had packs on clearance, and the model was right between my two current packs. It is lighter than my Venus, but has most of the features and is ALMOST as large. So, at $65 I got two. One was for Nancye, who was headed to my place the next day to borrow a pack.

Nancye arrived Sunday morning and immediately started checking out the pack. Finding all the compartments, playing with the suspension. She decided she likes the pack, and wrote me a check. Since I had gotten it at REI I knew that if she didn't like it I could always take it back, so it wasn't that much of a gamble. She is heading to the AT with Charlotte/Bluebelle the end of March to hike the first 3 days with her, and borrowed some of my gear. My gear at least will hike the AT this year. Shiloh and peanut arrived and we discussed tarps, Figure 9's, hammock ring buckle rigging and much more. I really like Shiloh, and will look forward to following his journal this year. He brought to Nancye and my attention that WalMart now sells a package of waterproof stuffsacks 3/$10. We both now own some of those.

Nancye and I went out after they left and set up my UL tent that she is borrowing. It was windy and was a challenge. I'm glad that we were able to do that as it wasn't as intuitive as we both thought it would be for her. It also reminded me (I didn't tell Nancye this) why I went to a hammock. I think that the tent is great for a sub-2 pound single wall tent. But, there is a learning curve.

I had dinner with Nancye and Bill this past Friday, and Nancye said she slept outside in the tent with her gear as a shakedown on Wednesday. That night was very cold, and she learned a lot about a silnylon tent, specifically that silnylon stretches when wet and needs to be tightened (or special care needs to be used when originally setting it up to get it VERY tight). I'm glad she did that, and now has some ideas on what she needs to change up before getting out on the trail.

I started back exercising on my Total Gym this week. I also got back on my Shaklee Physique. This isn't an advertisement (I no longer sell Shaklee), but that stuff really does keep me from getting sore muscles, and I'm SOOOO tired of being sore. I also received my Harmony House dehydrated foods that I ordered. I made one of the soups, and it was quick and easy. It needed more seasoning, but now that I know that I'll adjust the rest of them while cooking. I also pulled out my dehydrator and have been experimenting with dehydrating canned corn and canned beans, now that I know what the finished product is supposed to look like. I'll play with cooking with the stuff this next week.

And, after all that... I had decided that it is time to start using some of this stuff I've been acquiring. I have spent the last year getting gear. Now, the next year is going to be spent on getting out and using it. The 2-year (what the heck is a year mark that is BEFORE an event??) preparation mark before my hike was last Friday. I'm a lot further than I was last year. But, it is indeed time to shift gears. I'll work on food and on getting into shape. And, saving money.

Oh, I have my next travel for work dates now. I'll go to Santa Fe, NM next month. I'm excited.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Out of Shape

The trail yesterday kicked my butt. I carried my REI Venus pack, and had most of my things in it. I didn't have but one water bottle, and only snacks for food. So, I'd be carrying maybe 10 more pounds given what I had with me to be able to hike long distance. My legs felt it. That is the good part, my pack transferred the weight to my hips, so my back and shoulders were ok. My layers worked. It was windy and chilly, maybe low 40's with a very chilly wind. Sometimes I was a tad warm, but not enough to take off a layer. Sometimes I was a tad chilly, but not enough to put on my rain gear to stop more of the wind. The Marmot windshirt worked very well. All in all, a good learning day. I also found more pockets on my pack that I didn't realize were there. And, that I need to be more careful about packing things in there in a balanced way so they carry well.

I was a tired, sore kid when I got home. Immediately took a nap. Next Saturday there is a Whiteblaze dinner down south of town, and a hike at Radner park beforehand. I'm going to try to go, but I won't carry such a heavy pack. I really needed to know the things I learned yesterday, but I need to just hike to get my legs into better shape before I carry so much weight.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another Link

This was posted in a thread on Whiteblaze.net:

http://www.spiriteaglehome.com/THP%20top.html

It is the most concise, clear write-up about the aspects of a thru-hike on the AT that I've ever read, and several folks on Whiteblaze agree with that. If you wonder what this thing is that I say I want to do, read that. It's not short, it's several pages, but it's well written and flows quickly. There is a part II that I'll read later. I hope to meet this person sometime on the trail.

Speaking of trail. I let a beautiful day go by yesterday and didn't go hiking. I did get a lot of maintenance things done here. So, as soon as I finish posting this I am going to change into hiking clothes (since I remember complaining about jeans the past 2 times I've gone walking) and head to the county park. Weather shouldn't matter, as in if it rains it just means that I'll get to check out how my rain gear works. Chilly, well, I'll get to see if I really have enough of the right kind of layers.

Ready, set, hike...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Catch up

I am alive, and well even. Just a bit mute. I'll catch up what I've been up to in a minute. I have many blogs bookmarked, and wander through them regularly. One that wasn't updated for almost a year has started having entries again: http://multiversity.blogspot.com/ He is apparently a faculty member at some British university, and is really funny. He pokes much fun at stuffy protocol. I wonder if much of his entries are things that truly happen. He seems like he'd be fun to work with.

Let's see... I did go over to Mountain Crossings the Sunday of my three day weekend in GA. I got a new shirt, and met Survivor Dave there. He's a Whiteblaze.net poster who is going on his thru-hike of the AT this year. I checked out some gear that I have read about but never actually have seen and touched. Mostly I didn't see anything that is nicer than the gear that I already have. I went to Amacalola (damnit, can't spell it right at the moment) State Park and got some maps at the Visitor Center. That reminds me, I need to put the one of the entire AT up on a wall somewhere around here. I then had dinner at the lodge. It was right chilly that day, so I didn't actually hike. I stopped at the WalMart in Dalonaga (it's not spelled right, either, I don't think...), and found some really nice ripstop material in a coppery brown color in the $1/yard bin. Not sure if it's nylon or polyester. Since I'm going to make a double bottomed hammock it doesn't really matter, it will be strong enough for that. I ended up getting about 30 yards of it.

The fielding was called a success. I've had both the evaluation with all concerned on the fielding, and my first official (as opposed to my initial) evaluation. I'm not getting standing ovations, but I do still have a job. I wouldn't have bet folding money on getting that far at any time during the past 4 months.

Had dinner with Nancye and Bill at Olive Garden last Friday night. It was nice to just sit and talk with friends while eating real food. Considering that I lived on pretty much fast food during th fielding, and that I seldom cook at home, Olive Garden qualifies as real food in my life. I have been a bit under the weather since I got back from GA, so today I bought some vitamins and some packets of Emergen-C to see if that will help. I am shopping for a Total Gym, which is a bench that uses your weight for resistance instead of using weights. I don't want to pay for another gym membership, especially since I'm traveling so much and they usually have workout rooms at the hotels. I need to do something as I can feel my muscle mass (what little I have) starting to melt away. Of course, it would help if I actually went out and did some hiking...

So, that's what's news around here.