Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Formulating my thoughts into words....

Terri here....
I knew at some point and time, I too, would have to put into words "WHY on earth would I want to hike this trail?" I've put some considerable thought into it and want to share those publicly... to 'seal' the deal, so to speak. If I put it out there...it becomes more real and thus I become more accountable.Not in any particular order..
  • To be an integral part of the greatest gift I've ever given
  • To stretch myself physically, mentally and emotionally to determine the absolute limits of my 55+ body- pre-hike and during hike
  • To spend 5 months of uninterrupted time with my husband, love of my life
  • To detach myself from the trappings of the material world, the 'things' and stuff- pairing my life down the barest essentials for survival and carrying it all on my back
  • To attempt to cultivate a new relationship with myself, discovering who this new 'post-children', semi-retired person is.... what do I want to do with the next season of my life
  • To spend time in meaningful conversation with my husband... re-discovering and newly discovering each other
  • To involve myself fully in the people we meet on the trail, without distraction of daily life, learning from and growing with fellow hikers
  • To be able to better hear that 'still, small' voice inside my head and my heart
  • To be an example for my children and my grandchildren, that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it
  • To be totally dependant on myself and my own physical strength
  • To learn patience and an understanding that all things are NOT in my control and learn to ACCEPT that
  • To learn to deal with worry and fear- two emotions that constantly consume me
  • To have the time to enjoy creation and the earth- it's joys and challenges
  • To have greater fellowship with God and His Spirit, who lives within me
As we wind down our final days here in Maui, thoughts of going home and returning to 'life' as we left it... consumed with work, things and stuff, already plague me. I hope to be able to keep this list in front of me, keeping my eye on these goals and make my life begin to resemble the person who will be able to succeed at the greatest physical and mental challenge of my life.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Note to self...

Tom here...

Imagine, you are sitting on a beach in Maui under the influence of a perfect blue sky, (the color blue responsible for the term sky blue) the trade winds, combined with a few white puffy clouds that pass by occasionally temper the warm sun just enough while my toes rest in powder sand, and my eyes can not help but stare at the ocean watching multi-shades of greens and blues dance with diamonds flashing as reflections from the sun.  After you get by the visuals, close your eyes and the primal music of the ocean takes over.  Like the wind, the sounds of the ocean are like listening to the great symphony of the earth.  I am there!  The sensation is unexplainable with words.  If Heaven is the future home of my spirit, then Maui is where my soul would call home.

Considering where I will be next year at this same time, creates quite a contrast.  I am sure that one year from right now (Somewhere on the trail in North Carolina/Tenessee) I will remember back to this day and be filled  with a great/deep longing to be back.  I can only pray and hope that God's will, life, health, family, circumstances will all align and allow Terri & I this great adventure we are preparing for.  One thing is for sure, as the journey unfolds we will endeavor to capture it, for all time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Why would you want to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail?"

 Tom here...

Everyone asks the same question after you tell them what thru-hiking means.  "Why would you want to do that?"  Very few people say, "Wow!  That sounds interesting.  I would sure like to do that!"

So, why do I want to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail?  (In no particular order.  This list will evolve over time.)
    ▪    I want to experience the challenge of being stretched, physically and mentally.
    ▪    I want to discover where my inner limits actually are.
    ▪    Taking life to a place of experiencing the most basic elements and needs.
    ▪    Experiencing the thrill of "firsts" each and every day!  (How many times are there in the average week that you get to say, "Hey, I have never done that before?")
    ▪    I am hoping that each (day/week) on the trail will in some measure help me to peel away the layers (like an onion) and hopefully by the end, I will find myself closer to the core of me than before I started.
    ▪    I need to be reminded once again; what, and how much I need to be thankful for in my life.
    ▪    I want to experience standing on Springer Mountain, knowing...  I am standing on the threshold of a dream.  (Dreamer 2013 GA - ME)
    ▪    I want to experience my life one moment at a time; unaware and separate from life as I currently know it that is complicated, always demanding and stressful.  (Said another way...  The opportunity of hiking for five months, away from the 24 hour news, issues at CEMA, etc.  I am hoping that mentally / emotionally I will be able to really, as I have envisioned in my mind, experience my life in its purest sense.)
    ▪    If I do not try, I will never know.
    ▪    I want to be as prepared as I can possibly be, but not so much that my mind is drawn to distraction (things & stuff) and the total experience is pre-planned.  May all the hours of preparation lead to a safe hike filled with satisfying all my needs, but not all of my desires.
    ▪    May my journey be the fertile seed that may grow in others to better prepare them for their attempt.
    ▪    I want to inspire my children and eventual grand children.  Not so that they are proud of me, but that one day in the future they may be faced with a daunting challenge...  And remember what Dad was doing when he turned 60 years old.
    ▪    Hiking always draws me closer to God.  I would like for God to use this time to speak to me.  My goal is to be open to not just hearing, but listening.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A much less enthusiastic participant?

They say that opposites attract. In some ways, Tom and I are opposites.... I love EARLY mornings and he likes to sleep. I like Spring and he likes Fall. I like it cold and he likes it warm, and in the last post reference, we are opposites when it comes to backpacking. I hike for the destination. He hikes for the journey. Will we survive these considerable odds in attempting the AT hike? Yes, something tells me I think we'll find a happy medium, as we do in most things in our marriage...
I'm the other half of this hiking team known as 'TNT'.... a closer to 60 than 50, slightly out of shape, mother of 3 grown children. Professional photographer by trade, but closet "stay at home Mom." I LOVE our kids and enjoy the times we are all together more than anything.... they will be the most bittersweet part of the hiking journey. I'll miss them terribly. I LOVE to garden, am an avid 'DIY'er and knit and sew frequently. I basically crave time in our home doing most anything. ALL this to preface what I think my personal challenges will be on this hike.
This hike is a gift to my husband... after his month on the trail last year, I saw something in him that I knew he needed to pursue. As a Christmas gift that year.. I gave him a framed enlargement of himself on the trail, a trail planning guide and the commitment that I would make this trek with him for his 60th birthday in 2013! This probably will be my first mental obstacle. This is for him. Although, the more we've talked about it, prepped for it and are now actually planning, it's becoming more my hike too. I know that it will be the hardest thing I've EVER done, but will be the greatest gift I could ever share with him, (obviously, besides our children). It will be life changing for both of us.
He is the planner and organizer when we hike. He researches equipment, reads all the books, checks out the maps, watches videos and attends seminars. I am just the cook and a mostly pleasant hiking partner.
My job is food....we have, over the years, worked on different meals and for the most part, have never fallen prey to the 'freeze dried' packaged meals. As a lover of cooking and good food, I have always made unusual backpacking MEALS.... some of which are so heavy, that we've given them up for less weighty items. But, I'll be sharing meal tips, ideas and collecting new recipes I'll share for what we now refer to as "freezer bag cooking." Stay tuned for updates and please 'follow' us on this blogsite as we continue to prep for this journey!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First Blog Post of our journey to Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail

 March 21st, 2012  (1st Blog Post ever for me)

Well, here we go!  It is official now!!  We have been talking about, considering, debating and dreaming about hiking the Appalachian Trail for a long time.  In fact, we have been telling family and friends for months now that we are going to begin our attempt at a thru-hike on March 1st, 2013.  We will be joined by our dog Charlie on Springer Mountain Georgia when our first steps are finally taken.  Even though we have been planning, preparing and dreaming about this for a long time, as I write these words, it is feeling finally official.  Before the trip, planning, gear buying, dreaming up menus etc. begins, you might be wondering who we are...

My name is Tom Shaver.  I am 58 years old and was raised and live in Michigan.  After spending 6 years in the U.S. Navy, I returned home to Michigan and began my career as a firefighter.   I have been retired for almost 10 years after 25 years on the job.  Since that time, I have been starting and building an emergency management consulting company called CEMA.  (Comprehensive Emergency Management Associates)  I have been married to the love of my life (and partner on the trail) for 32 years.   Terri & I have been blessed with three wonderful children;  one son "Jesse" (and now one son-in-law "Nate") and two daughters "Emily & Hannah".

Backpacking began for me in Virgina while in the Navy.  The first time I ever stepped foot in the woods carrying all my gear was in Virgina on the Appalachian Trail hiking to Rip Rap Shelter.  Since that time, backpacking has become a large part of my life hiking with family and friends for many years.  Even though I have spent many nights in the woods and hiked many miles over the years, I would consider myself a novice hiker.  I have a lot to learn.  That being said, my last major hike was with Terri hiking about 350 miles over about a four week period in Virgina.  The goal was two-fold:  find out if we could physically do a long term hike, and discover whether or not a long hike was something we REALLY wanted to do.  (Sometimes in life you get what you ask for.)  The result was anticipated, but none the less something we had to do.  Hiking 15 - 20 miles a day became common place with no unexpected issues and the pleasant surprise of meeting so many interesting people was a real joy.   The love for the trail grew from being a seed I knew existed to a mature plant of desire.

They say there are two kinds of backpackers:  those that hike as a vehicle to enjoy the camping, and those that camp in order to enjoy the hike.  Terri is of the former, and I am of the later.  I love the hike!  I enjoy the adventure of discovering what is around the next bend and over the next hill.  The camping is nice after a long day, but for me, only a necessity so that I can hike.

As I see it the purpose of this blog is communicate as best we can the experience of planning and preparing for a thru-hike of the AT, and eventually doing our best to describe the experience of actually attempting to hike almost 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine.  I have read lots of books, studied the maps, been to seminars, watched videos and dreamed about it long enough; it is time to DO IT!  So, all that follows will be my (our) attempt to relate as honestly as possible our adventure.

Stay tuned for Terri's thoughts in our next blog post!


PS  Obviously, I am not a grammar major.  If and/or when we write a book, I'll be sure and hire a good editor to fix the mechanics!