COUNTDOWN – 27 DAYS!
Under a month to go before the starting pistol is fired and I find myself with trekking poles in hand, shod with the boots (or sandals) of the trail, and nervously taking the first strides on the A.T. The excitement is building in my spirit and my enthusiasm is warming with the temperature of spring. Today was glorious – my walk home was greeted with 60 degrees and a mild wind. The morning hike to work dressed itself with gloves, winter hat, and a down jacket but the journey home embraced bare hands, a lightweight shirt, and beads of perspiration on my forehead from the afternoon sun! As the four mop tops from Liverpool used to sing, “Here comes the sun!”
As the days begin to dwindle my “To Do” list continues to grow. I made a compilation of the major trail elements yet to be tied up. I have a scary-long list of thing to address professionally before I close the door to my office for 120+ days. Just about as lengthy is the tally of personal responsibilities to cover prior to kissing my wife good-bye on Springer Mountain (she might hike to the terminus with me). But on my Trail agenda there are several checkpoints to cross off. In honor of March Madness, I have selected the Elite Eight to serve as my priorities for the coming days. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
- Gear list – Now is the time to begin finalizing on all the gear I plan to stick in my Granite Gear Back Pack. I obviously have my major items (tent, sleeping pad and bag, shoes) but I need to make some final decisions and choices on things like a cell phone battery pack, medical supplies, specific clothing, & toiletries).
- Backpack weight – The weight of every item to be taken on the hike is part of the formula for inclusion in my pack. Some young bucks carry 50 pounds on their shoulders – my 64-year old legs have determined that my Granite Gear must weigh-in at no more than 20 pounds (without food and water) to be acceptable (I may have to drill holes in my toothbrush handle to make it).
- Itinerary – I have decided to develop a Plan A, B, & C in order to provide my family with an idea of where I am going to be on the trail. Plan A will be very aggressive (averaging 22 miles per day); Plan B will be my goal of 18.25 miles per day (a 120-day pace); and Plan C will be a slower average of 14.5 miles per day which will lengthen the trip to 150 days.
- Mail Drops – Along with the itinerary, I need to decide if I am going to mail food and supplies to myself along the trail. If so, when and to where? I will need an occasional fix of M3 (Mimi’s Marvelous Mix – my wife’s special version of GORMP), Clif Builder Bars, and love notes.
- Hiking Calendar – I need to take a close look at the next 25 days and map out a good strategy for beginning my journey with strong trail legs, a rested and fresh attitude, and a spiritual readiness.
- Books to complete – I have two books that I want to finish before hitting the path. One is White Blaze Fever by William Schuette. I started it several weeks ago and then had to set it aside because of other priorities. The other is a new book I just found – The Race Before Us: A Journey of Running and Faith by Bruce H. Matson.
- Videos to watch – I have a short list of topics to explore on YouTube: Bear Hangs, First Aid on the Trail, and Survival Skills.
- Travel plans for getting back from Maine – this small detail is still up in the air. I have an incredible friend who has volunteered to drive from Ohio to Maine to pick me up! I had thought about just hiking back to Georgia and have my wife pick me up there ! I might hike or hitch-hike from Katahdin to Millinocket (24 miles), get a bus from Millinocket to Bangor, and fly from Bangor to Dayton.