I started a serious countdown calendar on July 1, 2013 and my step-out date was 299 days away. Ten months prior to the journey, the hike seemed a long way off and more of a dream than reality. This past week I broke 100 days and today (Saturday) if all goes according to plan I will begin my trek in 98 days. Getting into double digits ratcheted up the reality of the hike another notch. I plan to leave just 14 Saturdays from today! Martin Luther King Jr Day will be 96 days away, President’s Day – 68 days; my birthday in March – 38 days; Easter – 6 days. How exciting!
All of a sudden, my check list became more important, my itinerary took on a new perspective, my resupply schedule and drop boxes heightened in priority, and my physical preparation became a higher focus. There is a lot to do and the preparation time is growing shorter. No panic… yet! .… just the need for a strategy plan that must be developed with realistic deadlines.
Last week I reached the 1800-mile mark of preparatory hiking. My goal was to hike 2200 miles before starting my 2200 mile AT adventure. I was on a good pace to complete the goal but the frigid weather in recent weeks has slowed the accumulation significantly. Today the temperature is 14 degrees with a wind chill of 2 degrees. For those winter hikers, today would be a refreshing day on the trail, but for me, it goes way below my comfort zone in experiencing a safe hike. It might warm up for a short walk this afternoon, maybe a short hike on Sunday, and I am hoping for a warmer Monday (we do not have school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day) so it may be a great hiking day. In order to hit my remaining target of 400 miles, I will need to average a little over 28.5 miles per week. This is still very doable if the weather and my personal/professional calendars cooperate.
Because of cold weather and my decrease in hiking miles, I have decided to augment my physical preparation with my rowing machine and some exercises that will strengthen my core muscles. I have put on some pounds over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays that I need to shed and be in as good a shape as possible at the end of April.