The last few weeks have been crazy! At the same time that I’m trying to prepare for the AT (starting in three days!) I’ve been to Las Vegas for my son’s wedding and my Mom’s house near Los Angeles for a short visit. I was on the road for ten days and managed to get in some gym workouts and a couple of long walks. After I got back home I did a fast six-mile hike with my pack and then yesterday went up to the Appalachian Trail for a tough ten-mile hike through a particularly mountainous section. I think I’m as ready as I can be but I still feel a sense of awe about what I’m about to do.
I’ve been reading a lot of the journals written by hikers currently on the trail and almost everyone mentions how cold it is and some hikers have even gotten off the trail temporarily waiting for warmer temperatures. One young man known as “Rifle” started on January 1st and had to come off for over a month after suffering frostbite. Fortunately he’s back on the trail now and seems to be doing well.
I’m trying to learn from the experience of these hikers and have made a couple of last minute changes to my gear. I have decided to take my sleeping bag liner which adds 10-15 degrees of warmth to my 15-degree bag and I am going to buy a very lightweight down jacket to replace my heavier jacket that will help offset the additional weight of the bag liner.
Tomorrow will be my last normal day at home for a while. I’ve got a few loose ends to tie up and I may do a short hike just to burn off nervous energy. Then on Tuesday the Princess and I will drive down to my Dad’s house in Blue Ridge, Georgia. We’ll spend the night there and then get up early on Wednesday to drive to Springer Mountain. She’ll drop me off and head back home. That’s the last I’ll see of her for several weeks and I know I’m going to miss her a lot. Fortunately we live close enough to the AT that she can meet me from time to time – at least until I get up into New England.
It’s really hard to believe that in a couple of days I will begin a challenge that I’ve been dreaming about for years. I am so motivated and excited about this adventure…all systems are go and I’m about to takeoff!