Sunday, January 22, 2012

I am still waiting for the extra accessory for my GoPro camera to be able to do some videos.  The US Post Office received it in Greensboro (about 15 miles away) and promptly sent it on to some place in West Virginia.  It's been two weeks that they have had it - I may receive it tomorrow.  No wonder they are going bankrupt.  [It arrived today, Monday, Jan 23rd]

In the meantime, I have completed my list of mail drop post office sites.  I will have 19 boxes shipped to General Delivery at the post office in various towns along the way.  In-between, (and in the event the box gets lost in the mail) I will resupply at local grocery stores, outfitters, and convenience stores that are near the trail.  I plan on carrying no more than 5 or 6 days of food at a time, so every few days it will mean a grocery stop or a mail drop to keep me supplied with food, cooking fuel, batteries, clothes, and such.

My dining room table is now covered in stacks of meals.  I have repackaged some items for convenience sake.  For example, I have taken individual packs of cold cereal, combined them with a little powdered milk and sealed them in a ziplock snack bag.  Add a little water and stir and I have a breakfast ready to go.  I did the same with several bags of Bear Creek soup mixes.  I dumped the contents into a large mixing bowl, stirred to mix the ingredients, then scooped a cup into a ziplock bag.  On the trail, all I need to do is add two cups of boiling water to make a nice soup for dinner.

While I probably will stick with my current stove (Pocket Rocket and IsoButane fuel), I have been playing with a do-it-yourself alcohol stove system made out of aluminum soda cans - they use Denatured Alcohol or even 'Heat' brand methyl alcohol.  The stove is feather-lite and the fuel is available pretty much anywhere there is a gas station or hardware store.

My training is going well - I have been in the gym every weekday now for two weeks.  My legs are feeling stronger, even though they are sore.  The cardio workout must be having an effect as I am going longer on the stairmaster each day - and that's while wearing a 25 pound pack of course.

I am taking a week to visit family in Las Vegas.  That will be a nice break.  When I return I want to get back to some actual trail time and some overnight trips that will fine tune my training and my gear.  I still need to decide on a few items to leave behind to drop another pound or two from the pack.

Today, Sunday, I count 70 days and a wake-up before I step off Springer Mountain, Ga. on my way to Maine.  Yes, I am excited and nervous at the same time.  I can't wait.  :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

After two months of limited activity, I finally got back to the gym today.  There was two weeks of gall bladder attack, surgery, and then six more weeks of 'nothing strenuous' as per doctor's orders.  It felt good to work up a sweat again.

The countdown begins in earnest now.  As of today I have 83 days and a wake-up till I step off Springer Mtn. on my way north on the Appalachian Trail.  Now that I stopped to add them up, time is actually running short on me.  I have to get myself back into as good a shape as possible.  The trail will do the rest.  I also have to put together 15 or more care packages that can be mailed to post offices in towns along the way.  And then there's the household stuff to put into storage and find a home for the three cats.  So there's lots to do and the clock is ticking a little louder now.

The GoPro camera arrived the other day.  I will practice some and then take some videos of how I am preparing for this adventure.  In February, GoPro will release a WiFi attachment that is supposed to allow me to upload video and pictures from the trail - and stream a live feed.  I am looking into getting that attachment.  It might be fun to show you live images of life on the trail. I will be mailing back my camera memory chips for safe keeping even if the upload doesn't work out.

I put all my basic gear in the pack yesterday and weighed it.  To my pleasant surprise, it was only 25 pounds.  Anything I add to that I want to find something else I can cut back on.  25 LBS is a good start.  I will add water and food to that, but those are 'consumables' and don't figure into the base weight calculations.  It is suggested that a hiker carry about 2 pounds of food per day, more during winter hikes.  So five days will equal ten more pounds to carry.  There is a balance point between taking enough to be comfortable in camp and taking little enough to be comfortable carrying it all on my back.  I am targeting 35 total carry weight.

Stopped at the local Post Office and picked up 15 priority mail boxes.  I will fill them up with my food supplies, snacks, batteries, and other essentials.  Otherwise, I will resupply at local grocery stores and outfitters as needed along the trail.  Somewhere in Virginia (about the middle of May) I will have my summer gear sent and return my winter gear.

Well, time to pack some more supply boxes.  Stand by - there's more to come soon.