Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Charlie here, "I'm doing fine!"

Charlie here!  I just wanted everyone to know not to worry about me!  I am doing fine and my mom & dad are taking great care of me!!  No kidding, if other dogs knew the kind of life I live, they would be extremely jealous.

Mom is always very concerned about my well being.  Am I too warm or too cold, am I hungry, (One bad thing I'll report right off the bat, they never feed me people food or junk!  Someone might want to talk with them about that issue...) am I comfortable, nails clipped, ears clean, constant combing, checking for ticks and on & on.

Dad of course makes sure I get my exercise!  Does he ever!  He has me in the woods 6 days a week for a couple hours at a whack!  We are hiking north of 30 miles per week.  And, not to mention he has me already carrying my own pack!  He says he is not going to carry any of my food.  Now, I think that is kind of mean spirited.  (I may have to call the 1-800 dog-abuse hotline if this keeps up.)  One other thing, he takes me out hiking whether it is: cold, hot, raining etc.  I guess I like it though...

In fact, I love hiking and being outside!!  But please don't tell him that!  Take a look at that picture of me.  I am a natural at making people go ahhhhhhhhhh, he looks so cute.  Yep, I have the look and use it on Mom & Dad every day!  They are very nice to me when I look like I am suffering.

School is the same kind of thing.  Yep, Mom & Dad have me going to school every day now days.  The seem to think I am really going to need it when we begin our big adventure in a little over 300 days.   Charlie come, Charlie sit, Charlie stay, Charlie heel, High five, down and on & on it goes.  I think they are really beginning to get it.  ;-)

So don't worry about me, I am doing fine!  I even heard dad talking about getting me little booties for my feet!!  Nice!!!  (I sure hope they don't get pink)


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Annual Spring Trip to the Bivouac in Ann Arbor

Terri & I make this trip at least once a year!  The Lansing area has NO backpacking stores available with the wide selection of everything related to outdoor clothing and equipment.  We did not buy that much on this trip ($296.00 before discounts: Ultra-Sil Dry Sack 'Cell Phone', 6 titanium stakes for our tent, Patagonia sweater and new hiking shoes 'Salomon Xa Pro 3d Ultra 2' for Tom replacing the same thing that were well worn.)  However, we did scope out and write down the prices and weights of many other items to research for future consideration as we move forward in our planning.  Bivouac is exactly the kind of store that we need to support.  Without places like this, there would simply be no where to go to actually pick up and touch items we are interested in.  Bivouac also matches all internet prices!!

Of course, all of that is simply our excuse to head out on another date together.  For those of you that really know Terri & I, you know we love our dates together!  After our 2 1/2 hours in the store (It is huge with 3 or 4 store fronts and 2 floors.) we went (almost) next door to our favorite watering hole called Ashley's since 1983.  Over a hundred beers on tap!  And if you go there, check out the Rattlesnake Chicken Pasta.  If you like pasta and like it spicy, you will love this!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our new YouTube Channel

Greetings to all,

Please check out our new YouTube Channel at (TNTonthetrail).  Terri & I will be adding videos as we have something worth sharing.  The first one can be seen at:

It is a video of what I was looking at the day I wrote the blog post "Note to Self" from March 26th.  There are few things as special as a perfect beach on Maui.



Ok, let's get a few things cleared up!

It has come to our attention, from several of you, that you are confused on exactly what Terri & I are attempting to do.  Some of you think we are car camping from GA to ME.  Others can’t believe it is possible to carry enough food for five months.  And we have received several questions wondering whether there are that many motels along the  (AT) Appalachian Trail, or if we intend to hitch hike in the places where there is no trail.  And on & on…

First of all, thank you for following our blog and being interested in us and the adventure we are preparing for.  Your questions and comments are a real encouragement to us.  Second, it is exciting to see the light bulb come on in others minds as the picture of what thru-hiking the AT is all about.  Please keep your inquires coming.  Also, if you sign up to follow the blog, you will receive an E-Mail each time there is a new posting.  (This contact list is private and will not be shared with anyone else, and you will not receive any junk mail because of it.)

The AT is a continuous foot-path (hiking trail) that extends about 2175 miles from Springer Mountain Georgia to Katahdin Maine.  (14 states)  There are approximately 360 shelters, most often strategically located near water sources.  These shelters are referred to as Adirondack shelters, which are three sided with a wood floor that fit between 8 – 16 hikers.  The shelter area usually has a privy, a water source, picnic table, fire pit, camping area and vary in age from 50 years old to recently built.  Terri, Charlie and I will most often be staying in our tent.  (Tarp Tent Rainshadow II)

Typical Shelter
Out Tent  (Notice: Hiking poles used for tent poles.)

We will also plan on staying in hostels and motels about every five or six days, or as they make themselves available to us along our journey.  Hostels are normally pretty crude affairs from worldly standards; however, they have everything we will need to resupply and rejuvenate ourselves.  I have promised Terri that she will be able to stay somewhere where she can sleep in a real bed and enjoy real food at least once per week, or as often as they present themselves along the trail.

Food is another story.  Terri is responsible for food!  Over time we have experimented and currently have about a dozen different meals that we can chose from.  Consisting mostly of pasta, rice, beans, mashed potatoes that we dehydrate at home, mix with spices, dried meats, cheese, tuna, etc.  One meal would be loaded in a quart size zip-lock freezer bag, which would then on the trail gets reconstituted with boiling water.  Doesn’t sound that good, but believe me, Terri is a great cook!!

We plan on resupplying about every 4 or 5 days depending on conditions and availability of post offices, hostels and motels to send our resupply boxes to.  Our daughter Hannah will be managing all of our logistics from home.  Which will include: assembling and mailing our resupply boxes and assisting us in the exchange of gear as we move from later winter/early spring conditions to summer and the early fall in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine.  It is our goal to keep our pack weight down as low as possible.  Our pack weight without consumables (food, water, fuel for stove) will be approximately 16 – 18 pounds.  Our total pack weight with a full load for me will be between 33 – 35 pounds.  We will try to keep Terri under 30 at all times.  (Her pack will decrease each day as we consume each days rations.) Charlie will carry his own food and that will weigh between 5 – 7 pounds.  (Note: picture of his backpack in an earlier post.)

Gear for Terri & I

The AT is marked the entire way with White Blazes which are 2 inch by 6 inch painted blazes on trees, posts, rocks, etc. about every 100 – 150 feet.  So, no we do not need to carry or use GPS equipment along the way.  For those of you that are concerned, there is not much danger of us getting lost.  We have excellent trail guides that describe most everything along the trail.

I hope that answers a few of your questions?!


PS  More to follow in upcoming posts on: Zero Days, shelter journals, communicating with us on the trail, other thru-hikers, gear we will be using, needs we have prior to our hike and what is a NearO day?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thirteen Statements of Wisdom by Warren Doyle

Thirteen statements of widsom:

1) Walking the entire Appalachian Trail is not recreation. It is an education and a job.

2) Walking the entire Appalachian Trail is not 'going on a hike'. It is a challenging task - a journey with deeper ramifications. Are you willing to accept them and learn from them?

3) Don't fight the Trail. You have to flow with it. Be cooperative with the Trail, neither competitive nor combative.

4) Don't expect the Trail to respect or be sensitive to your domestic comfort level and desire (and past habits) to control your environment. In your avoidance of discomfort, you may become more uncomfortable. You can't make a mountain any less steep; a hot summer afternoon any cooler; a cold
morning any warmer; and, daylight any longer. But you can actually. How?

5) Time, distance, terrain, weather, and the Trail itself cannot be changed. You have to change. Don't waste any of your energy complaining over things you have no control over. Instead, look to yourself and adapt your mind, heart, body and soul to the Trail. Remember, you will be a guest in someone else's house the entire journey.

6) The Trail knows neither prejudice nor discrimination. Don't expect any favors from the Trail. The Trail is inherently hard. Everything has to be earned. The Trail is a trial.

7) Leave your cultural 'level of comfort' at home. Reduce your material wants while concentrating on your physical and spiritual needs.

8) "The more I know, the less I need." Yes, one can wear one t-shirt the entire journey; you don't have to take any showers; don't need to cook your meals; one does not need a roof and four walls around them at night; you don't have to carry a canteen of water with you all the time.

9) It is far better, and less painful, to learn to be a smart hiker rather than a strong hiker.

10) Leave your emotional fat at home as well. Feel free to laugh, and to cry, and to feel lonely, and to feel afraid, and to feel socially irresponsible, and to feel foolish, and (most importantly) to feel free. Relive your childhood and play the game of the Trail. Roll with the punches and learn to laugh in the shadow of adversity. Be always optimistic - things could always be worse; don't become mired in the swamp of sorrow. Don't blame your discomfort or depression on the Trail or the weather, but look at yourself for not being able to adapt. The more afraid you are, the heavier your pack will be.

11) If your goal is to walk the entire Appalachian Trail, then do it. People who take shortcuts, (i.e., blue blazes,) or hitchhike do so because it usually is shorter, quicker, and/or easier. So where is the challenge/honor in that? We have enough 'shortcuts' in the real world (i.e., ENRON, personal bankruptcies).

12) Expect the worst. If after one week on the Trail you can say that it is easier than you expected, then you will probably finish your journey.

13) However, remember we as individuals have our own acquired temperaments, levels of comfort, and thresholds of pain. If these three areas are congruent with what the Trail requires, you should succeed on your pilgrimage. Normally conditioned people should keep their pack weight to no more than 25% of their body weight. Your chance of injury is directly related to your pace and/or pack weight. People usually make the mistake of hiking too fast and/or carrying too much weight.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Have you ever heard of Andrew Skurka?

Terri & I had the privilege of attending Andrews presentation in Kalamazoo recently.  WOW!  What an amazing adventure and story we were treated to!  After his presentation, we attended his Gear & Skills workshop that was equally as interesting and informative.  Check out his website (below) and if you are in the vicinity of one of his upcoming events, it is a must see!

Andrew Skurka has backpacked over 30,000 miles and he is not even 30 years old!

Adventurer of the Year, Outside Magazine 

National Geographic described Andrew “a superman among trekkers.”

National Geographic.  “Circling Alaska in 176 Days.”

The March 2011 issue of National Geographic Magazine features a 16-page story about the Alaska-Yukon Expedition.

In his program Skurka shares the journey’s most powerful stories and entertaining moments, complemented with stunning photos and emotional videos. He also reflects on the broader significance of this experience and of his other adventures – which cumulatively measure 30,000+ miles – with particular attention to setting goals, stepping outside comfort zones, and seizing life’s opportunities.

For six months Andrew Skurka skied, hiked, and packrafted 4,700 miles in a giant loop around Alaska and Canada’s Yukon. His route passed just beneath Mt. McKinley, descended famed rivers like the Copper and Yukon, and traversed the entire Brooks Range. During the most remote and committing stretch of the trip, across the Yukon Arctic and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he went 657 miles and 24 days without crossing a road or seeing another person – an immersion in Big Wilderness that he found profoundly humbling.

Skurka offers Ultimate Hiking Courses that are designed for day-hikers, beginner backpackers, and curious intermediate backpackers who want to accelerate up the learning curve so that they can plan and have successful—or more successful—weekend trips, week-long trips, or maybe even a section- or thru-hike.

Skurka has also written a book called: The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Techniques to Hit the Trail.  I purchased the pre-edition to this book last fall and I can tell you, it is the best and most helpful book I have seen when it comes to preparing yourself for a backpacking experience.  A backpacking trip consists of two distinct activities: hiking and camping. In this how-to guide, Andrew shared the gear, supplies and skills that will allow you to love hiking, while still remaining safe and comfortable while camping. 

Check him out at:      


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Meet our four-legged hiking companion!

Allow me to preface my introduction of Charlie with these thoughts.  Ok, Ok...  Call us idiots!  But we are taking our dog for a very long walk next year.  Yes, yes...  We know that we will not be able to take him through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and he will not be welcome in Baxter State Park in Maine, or climb Mt. Katahdin.  And, we are unpleasantly aware that over half of the hostels and motels will not welcome him either.  Perhaps most importantly, we know that the odds of actually completing our thru-hike will be greatly diminished as well.  However, for some reason, we don't feel as though the odds apply to us.  Overall, only 20% of those that begin their hike make it all the way to Mt. Katahdin in Maine, and those are the ones without mans best friend.

So please, if you are going to write and tell us how crazy we are, hold the negative vibes and we will entertain all the "I told you so's" at a later time.  However, we would like to hear any encouraging comments you may have or suggestions on how we may improve our odds of making it from GA - ME with a dog.

Charlie, for those of you that know him, you are most likely smiling.  What a character he is!  It was being away from him for two months that convinced us, we couldn't go without him.  He is a part of us.  And I am sure he feels the same.  Charlie is a Feist.  Check him out at: 

Charlie is:
Affectionate - He just loves to snuggle!
Perfect size dog for the trail - he is a muscular 39 pounds!
Absolutely loves hiking and being in the out of doors!!
Is super strong, is very fast and can climb trees in a single bound.
Feists are bred to hunt varmints and rodents in the Southern U.S.
Is very sensitive - We are not sure if something happened to him prior to his rescue.
I wish his master was a smart as he is.

We simply can not go without him!