Friday, July 13, 2012

Appalachian Trial - Preparation includes: Mental Prep.

Greetings from Dreamer,

My hiking partners: Terri & Charlie
It occurred to me while updating my gear list that I have been consistently overlooking a huge part of our trail preparation for 2013.  Ok, ok, I know it is more fun to get myself in shape physically, talk about gear and all the pros and cons of this and that, weighing everything to ensure a sub #30 pack, considering all the logistics of mail drops, jump boxes, motels and hostels that will allow us to bring in Charlie and on & on. 

However, there is one issue that is not as much fun to consider, but is equally, if not more important than other issues…  It is my opinion that as many if not more AT thru-hike attempts are scuttled because hikers struggle mentally.  Before you read on, please do so with full knowledge that I am not about to cast the magic spell on this and provide anything profound.  I am asking for help!  How do hikers prepare for a thru-hike mentally?  I have to believe there is a common denominator with all those thru-hikers in the past who have succeeded in achieving their goal of standing on top of Katahdin knowing, they’ve done it!  I believe this list would be far more valuable than a Gear List.

But what are those common denominators that are common among successful hikers?  There was a time when every thru-hiker was faced with: incessant cold, hot, rain, mud, bugs, hills, loneliness, day in and day out 15 mile days week after week, month after month, hiker murk, no TV, no sports, no politics, no lazy-boy, hurting somewhere every minute of every day.  And on & on…  And yet some, if not few made it, while others, or should I say most did not.

For those that made it, how did they do it?  For those that didn’t, what are the commonalities that started the dominos falling in such a way that led to leaving the trail and their dreams?  I have read more than 25 books on hiking the AT.  I have attended presentations and spoken with many hikers who have successfully completed the journey they set out to finish.  Most of them cannot point to a formula they followed that contributed to their success.  They say things like:  Enjoy as much as you can, but know, it will be your job every day to move forward, know that hiking for 4 – 6 months is not a hike, but a serious challenge, you can not fight the trail, but you must embrace the difficulty and continue moving forward, this too will change, never make a decision in the rain or while hiking up hill, do not expect to be comfortable (like at home) but know that most of the time you will be cold, hot, wet, tired, running from bugs, etc., the trail can not change, you must change, the trail is a trial, far better to be a smart hiker, rather than a strong hiker.

If only 1 in 5 hikers with the dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail make it, what was common among those successful attempts?  What was common among those who left the trail apart from those who were injured or but for no cause of their own had to leave the trail?  I am interested because it is my dream to complete this upcoming attempt and I wish to do all I can to increase my chances of success.  I firmly believe that mental preparation will be as important as any other facet of my work between now and March 1st, 2013.

Your comments and suggestions would be much appreciated, especially from those of you that are following this Blog from “White Blaze & Trail Journals”.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Check out my NCT Gear List with COMMENTS

Dreamer here,

As you can see on the right side of the Blog, I have uploaded an updated version of my Gear List I used during my North Country Trail hike a couple weeks ago.  This version includes comments on all my gear, what worked, what didn't and things I learned along the way.

Sorry for how it actually shows up as a page here in Blogger.  On my screen it is a nice Excel document, but for some reason in the Blog it does not convert well.  I am still learning how to use all the tools here.  Please be patient, I'll figure it all out in time.  If you are interested in an Excel version, let me know and I'll send you a copy you can convert and use for your gear.

God Bless,


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Valley of a Thousand Falls by "Helicopter"

Greetings from Dreamer!

Even though Terri & I have not posted anything specifically about our Appalachian Trail adventure next year in the last few posts, thinking about the journey beginning next March is never far from our minds.  Our planning and preparation is constantly with us.  Terri continues to dehydrate everything in the house that is not actually moving, while I work on logistics, gear lists (my next post will be an updated gear list from my latest backpacking trip) and video editing which I have found to be very interesting.

Terri, Charlie & Dreamer
It is our desire to not only hike the entire Appalachian Trail, but to do it utilizing Terri’s professional photographer skills and my (learning) video skills.  Our goals may be a bit ambitious, but we would like to prepare ourselves to: write a book about our experience, create a video documentary, professional slide show and coffee table book with Terri’s beautiful pictures.  Perhaps we will only actually do one of these, maybe all of them.  We’ll see…  But we will be prepared!

In keeping with these goals, I have been learning to use iMovie.  I am unsure what I may actually use to create our movie, but I have to begin somewhere.  The link I am providing below is my second attempt at editing video.  The learning curve is steep for an old-timer…

Mt. Robson
Last summer, Terri, Charlie & I left Michigan for a month on our Great Northwest Adventure.  During that time, we camped in many beautiful places and stayed with several great friends along the way.  We had been to Mt. Robson, British Columbia Canada years ago with our children and have longed to return every since.  Last time, I backpacked the 17 miles with my children up the “Valley of a Thousand Falls” to Berg Lake at the base of Mt. Robson.  This time, Terri, Charlie & I flew up in a helicopter and hiked down.  This video is the ride up in a helicopter!

Click here to watch the video!



Thursday, July 5, 2012

North Country Trail 2012 - "It's a wrap"

Greetings from Dreamer!

PLEASE NOTE:  I have added quite a few pictures to earlier posts.  I was unable to add pictures from my cell phone while in the trail.
Charlie & I back home!
Well, this will be my last and wrap-up post from our North County Trail hike.  First of all, I want to recognize those who have worked so hard to build and maintain the trail.  It was spectacular!  I hiked 126 miles and only found one blow-down.  Amazing!!  Second, those of you at the Grand Traverse Hiking Club, are quite simply the best!!  You are welcoming, friendly, informative, caring and dedicated!  Well done!!!

Other than to simply enjoy a 9-day backpacking experience, my goals were few.  I wanted to test a few new pieces of gear & clothing, and I wanted to get Charlie out for a multiple day, medium distance hike to see if there may be any glaring problems with taking him out on the Appalachian Trail next year.  Specifically, I wanted to see if he would eat normally and rest normally.  (Recent short term camp outs and backpacking trips left Terri & I wondering.)  Well, he passed those tests with flying colors for sure.  He only lost one pound!  And he was sleeping so well, he didn’t even alert me to a raccoon ripping open our food bag 12 feet from the tent!  As far as gear goes, I’ll update my gear list with comments and post that as soon as possible.

Statistics and final thoughts:
  • ·      9 hiking days (June 23rd – July 1st)
  • ·      2 food drops (Mesick & Fife Lake)
  • ·      126 miles overall
  • ·      Start: Udel Trail head.  End: Kalkaska
  • ·      I saw only 2 other backpackers (not counting Ed Morse)
  • ·      Burned almost 30,000 calories
  • ·      Lost 8 pounds of body weight (fat mostly)
  • ·      Charlie lost only 1 pound  (Start: 40.9 #'s. End 39.9#'s.)
  • ·      Received 1 ride: from the Fife Lake Inn to the M186 trailhead (Warners)
  • ·      Drank approx. 50 liters of water
  • ·      Made 5 “Rookie Mistake #99’s”
  • ·      Had most everything eaten by raccoons one night
  • ·      Took 155 pictures
  • ·      Took almost 3 hours of video
  • ·      Rained one time on Sunday June 24th for approx. 3 hours (no other rain)
  • ·      Virtually no mosquitos.  (I may have seen 20 or 30 total)
  • ·      Received 3 instances of trail magic

Now, days after finishing and sitting at home, I find myself with one compelling thought; I have never helped in any way to build or assist in maintaining a trail anywhere.  All I have done is enjoy them, for years.  I need to get out there and make a contribution so that others can experience the same kind of wonderful time on the trail that Charlie and I had.

Warmest Regards,

~Charlie & Dreamer

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hiking over the West Maui Mountains!

Greetings from Dreamer!

Well, I have so much video now from different backpacking and hiking trips, I was a bit convicted to learn how to use iMovie and get some of it out there.  So, my first work of editing is a hike that Terri & I enjoyed very much while on vacation in Maui this last winter.  It is a hike over the West Maui Mountains to the Wind Turbines.

Please excuse the shaky video!  I am using my iphone, it is windy and I am doing my best!

Here is the link:

Next I will be working on a trip Terri, Charlie & I did last summer hiking down the "Valley of a Thousand Falls" at Mt. Robson, British Columbia, Canada.  Stay tuned.  I also have lots of work to do on my major project, which was the North Country Trail trip the last week in June.  Many many pictures and lots of video to work through on that one!

Enjoy the sights from Maui!!