Monday, December 31, 2012

The Great Crash of 2012!

The Great Crash of 2012!

Horror of horrors, it happened.  Just imagine, you have been putting all most favorite treasures in your closet for a couple months, and one day you opened your closet to get your things out, and the closet was empty!  Empty, not a video or picture file could be found!  You guessed it; the closet is my computer.  The great crash of 2012!  One day, it was all there.  The next, it was all gone!

As most of you know, I have been learning to use my new video camera, as well as studying Final Cut Pro X.  I am really enjoying not only the challenge of capturing good video; but I have been especially captivated with the editing process.  Well, now I get to start over with a clean slate.  I’ll sum up the tragedy…

I have been a MAC user for over 20 years.  I have only had to call tech support once in all those years.  My MAC’s have always been rock solid and easy to use, until now.  A couple months ago, I purchased a new 13” Mac Book Pro with a 500gig Flash Drive.  I wanted something with no moving parts, because I plan on bouncing it in a bump box from Georgia to Maine.  (A bump box is one that is mailed ahead on the trail with various items ‘you don’t want to carry’ from one zero day [zero day is a day with no hiking miles] to the next.  After two months, I had still not fully moved into my new computer.  Final Cut was the only program I was using.

On the evening of December 26th, I opened Final Cut to pull off a video clip for Terri.  (She was working on a Blog Post about food prep.)  When the program opened, in the place of the clips was RED caution symbols saying no clips could be found.  After doing everything I knew to do, I was overcome with waves of heat and feeling physically sick.  All of my work was gone.

For the second time in 20 years, I called Apple Support.  After five hours on the phone with six different agents, (they kept moving me up the food chain) I was no closer to my files than when I started, and even worse, no one could explain what happened.  This day ended with sending a disc image of my computer to the engineers at Apple to be evaluated.  I was assured they would be able to get to the bottom of this.  The next day they called from California with the bad news, they had no idea.

Tech support at Apple is first class in every way!  Some of the nicest and courteous people I have ever worked with.  I could not be more pleased (Well, I suppose I could be if they had recovered my data and explained the issue.) with them and how sincerely interested they all were in trying to help me out.  Every one of them E-Mailed me (while I was talking to them) their contact information in case we were cut off and I needed to call them back.  Really sweet!!

Bottom line, I lost all my video!  I had no back up!  I have some excuses, but none of them suffice to mention here.  The lesson has been learned.  I am grateful, it happened now, early on in my instruction.  It took me a day and a half to rebuild my computer from the ground up.  I now store all my new video on a one-terabyte external hard drive, and I archive the raw files from the video camera as well.  And, just as I always do with my computer for work, I have Time Machine running in the back ground to back-up the entire computer, at all times.  Let’s hope and pray it never happens again; but if it does, I am ready.


Friday, December 21, 2012

First Hike of the Year in Michigan Snow

Dreamer here,

WOW!!!  What a great morning hiking with Charlie!!  When we left, it was about 29 degrees and had snowed about and 1 ½” during the night.  A light snow fell for the two hours we were out at Rose Lake.  The wind was blustery out of the North; however, mostly quiet in the woods.

Charlie wore his insulated jacket under his pack for the first time while hiking.  He seemed very comfortable and definitely drier than he would have been without it.  He is carrying about six pounds now in his pack.  For those of you wondering, Charlie’s feet (for some reason) do not get crusted with snow like other dogs we have had in the past.  This is a blessing, because otherwise, he would have to wear his boots full time when there was snow on the ground.

I started out with four layers: short sleeve & long sleeve merino wool base layers, insulated vest and my wind shirt.  It was obvious in the first 15 minutes that I had too much on!  I traded the insulated vest and wind shirt for my 3-layer Quasar jacket.  That combination was perfect.  Carrying about 30#’s in my pack, I never felt cold or sweaty…  A perfect combination!

As most of you know, I love to hike in any weather; however, rain and snow are my hands-down favorites!  Obviously, hiking in a cold windy rain is the most dangerous, (hypothermia issues) and my least favorite.  I just think there is a special magic in the woods when it is raining or snowing!

Check out my short video on our morning!        

Merry Christmas


Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Pretty Frickin Miserable Night!

Dreamer here-

A week or so ago, Team TNT packed up and camped overnight for our first winter shake down trip.  Yep, it was “One Pretty Frickin Miserable Night!”  The temperature was below freezing and it was wet!  Very cold and very wet!  However, with the bad news out of the way, here is the good news; our night out was a total success!  We were able to test our clothing and equipment under some severe conditions.  Not the most severe mind you, but non-the-less, nasty!  Without a doubt, not the kind of night your average crazy person would say, “Hey honey, want to go out camping tonight?  And your honey, say sure, let’s go!”

We packed up using our “Clothing & Equipment” spreadsheet.  (Same list we will be using when we get started on our journey in 76 days!)  I discovered right away, that I have some work to do on my spreadsheet.  But like many things that night, it is all a learning and growing experience.  The bottom line on clothing and equipment was we didn’t have much we didn’t use and nothing was left at home that we should have had.

Packs weighed: Tom = 26#’s, Terri = 20#’s and Charlie = 5#’s.  Not bad, considering this was a cold weather pack.  The only thing that we would have had more of was food; we only had one dinner and one breakfast rather than the 4 or 5 we will be carrying on the A.T.  Weight wise, we are right on track.

There were many lessons learned; but, the one worth mentioning here was condensation in our (Henry Shires Tarptent, Rainshadow II).  Partly, it was weather conditions (Less than 32 degrees, very damp and now breeze to speak of.)  I believe the biggest problem was my fault.  Our tarptent can be set up at various heights depending on weather conditions.  I set it up low because it was so cold.  But I should have set it high in order to encourage better ventilation.  With it being so cold on the outside and three warm beings inside, condensation to some degree is going to happen in any single walled tent.  We’ll pitch it different next time and see if there is a difference.

Our new cook system using the Caldera Cone was excellent!  It keeps the cook pot very stable and the cone makes the fuel as efficient as possible.  It takes about 1 1/2cc’s to boil 600 cc’s of water.  We cooked two of Terri’s new recipes: spicy black beans and rice, and chicken turkey au gratin.  They were both fantastic!!!

The bottom line, it was a long tough night!  We went to bed when it got dark (about 6pm) and stayed in the tent for 13 hours getting up a 7am.  What made it tough was Charlie.  He didn’t want to lay in his sleeping bag, so he was shivering.  And he was shivering because he wouldn’t lie in his bag!  The problem was he simply was not tired.  When he and I backpacked last summer, he slept like a rock every night because he was so tired.  Next time we go out, we’ll have to run him around for a while first!!

Check out the video from our experience.   
Click on the link here:



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Logo for Team TNT!

New Team TNT Logo
 Dreamer here,

A huge thank-you and job well done to Jessica Kerbawy for creating the new Team TNT Logo!!  Jessica worked very hard assisting us with it’s creativity and workmanship!  We sure do appreciate it Jessica!

Many of you may be wondering, “What are you going to do with this logo and how will you be using it?”  Well, I am glad you asked.  That is a good question!  Obviously, we will use it on our Blog, Facebook, White Blaze and Twitter pages; however, the real reason is to use it in the trail journals while we are hiking.

Let me take a step back here to explain how trail journals are used on the Appalachian Trail (AT).  There are approximately 250 shelters on the AT, spaced about 12 – 15 miles apart.  These shelters are usually crude three-sided structures with a wood floor.  There are five things that are normally found in or near the shelters: shelter from the weather when needed, a picnic table, a water source, places to set up a tent, and a trail journal.

Trail journals are usually a spiral notebook that can normally be found inside the shelter or in a weather resistant box of some kind.  Most everyone that comes near a trail journal writes something in it.  They contain the big news of the day.  Sometimes the news is actually news from hikers coming from the opposite direction; with what is happening up the trail, what to watch out for, water source information, good food up ahead, etc.  Normally, the entries in the journals are the ramblings & musings of oxygen, society, food deprived, homesick, tired and hurting hikers.  You can expect to read and see (many artists on the trail drawing the most beautiful pictures) most anything!

Team TNT will also be adding our musings to these journals.  In doing so, it is helpful to make your entry stand out in some way.  We intend to do this with our logo, actually a sticker.  When we begin to make our entry, we’ll first stick our sticker in the book.  That way others will be able to find our entries that much faster while leafing through the pages of many others.  While hiking on the AT a couple years ago in Virginia, we discovered that finding something unique that sticks out is helpful and attractive.

Thanks again Jessica!


Friday, December 7, 2012

An update from Charlie!

Charlie here-

I fell in love with Mom & Dad, the 1st time I saw them!
Many of you have asked about me and wondered how hiking with a dog is going to work.  Will I be ok?  Can I do it?  Am I strong enough?  Will taking me on the trail be a lot more work for Mom & Dad?  What am I going to eat?  How much am I going to eat?  Am I going to carry my own own stuff?  What about bears & snakes?  All good questions, next year, I may be able to answer them for you.  ;-)  Right now, I am just trusting in Mom & Dad.

I can tell you that Dad has been buying a lot of things for me lately like: boots, new backpack, different kinds of dog foods and Mom has made me a sleeping bag.  She is even sewing me a new raincoat right now.  Dad takes me for long walks at Rose Lake almost every day.  Right now, I am up to carrying 5 pounds in my pack, which is pretty good considering we usually hike from 6 - 8 miles each day.  By the time we head out in 84 days, I should be good to go with carrying all the food I will need.

In the mean time, let me assure you of a few things:  I sure love hiking and I know I would have it no other way than to go with them.  My biggest concern is the cold and keeping warm in the mountains during the late winter and early springtime.  Being from the South, I tend to shiver pitifully when it is cold outside.  I am grateful for Mom & Dad, because I know it would be much easier for them without me.  But, I’ll try to make it up to them with lots of love and kisses!

Stay tuned for a future video that Dad is working on, featuring me!  Dad is going to spend one whole segment on my clothing and gear.   Sure seems like Dad is making this a lot more complicated than it needs to be.  Oh well, he is my master you know and I am just the dog…  (Ya Right)

In the mean time, Dad has been in touch with other humans who have thru hiked with their dogs in past years.  Very interesting, connecting with others who would not leave their dogs at home either…

Check out this excellent video about a guy and his dog; they made it all the way!  The star of the show is “Kooper”, he is awesome!!

On a Thru-Hike – Appalachian Trail 2010

Woof Woof,


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Terri, the love of my life!

Dreamer here-

Early this morning I was hiking with Charlie.  The temperature was a crisp 29 degrees.  Sunshine streamed through the trees in long brilliant stairways.  It was so still, Charlie’s breath hung like small patches of fog trailing him as puffs in his wake.  As my feet wandered over a very familiar trail, my mind wandered over the very familiar terrain of gratefulness and thankfulness.

Personally, I have a treasure trove of items I frequent and find myself unconsciously thanking God for; however, today, it was one overwhelming biggie!!  My wife.  Terri is the other half of my universe.  After 32 years and 92 days, our lives are intertwined with the fine but indestructible fiber that only a loving God could provide.  We are so perfectly knit together, I honestly cannot tell where I leave off and Terri begins.  We are one in the most perfect kind of way.

As Charlie and I moved through the forest and my mind immersed itself in this infinite trail of great blessing, I found myself consumed with one thing…  Thru hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) has been my dream.  Backpacking is my delight!  Hiking up and over the next hill to see what is there thrills me.  I enjoy camping because it is the vehicle for what I really love which is the hiking.  Terri on the other hand hikes because it is her vehicle for the camping.  I said all that to say, “Terri has never dreamed of thru hiking the AT.  Nor would she ever consider it, if it were not for me.”  Her willingness to commit to this six-month journey is her gift to me.

Terri & I know that this is more than a gift.  It is a treasure of great depth and value to me and I will be forever be grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to reach for something out of my grasp, but with her help and lots of effort, within our reach.  I have been blessed by God, for allowing me to share my life with the best life partner I could ever imagine. 

Grateful & Thankful


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

TNT's latest video and clothing list.

Dreamer here-

Check out the latest video of the clothing I will be carrying on the trail at:         

This is a list of the clothing I will be carrying in my pack.  Most of this I would refer to as my safe clothing.  In other words, clothing I will only wear at night so that I can rest assured that I can be warm and dry when my hiking day is complete.

If you looked at my clothing list that I will actually be wearing, (Earlier post from: 11/26/12) and compare it to the list below, there is only one thing I will be carrying two of: socks to hike in.  Obviously, because I am only carrying one of everything, I will have to try to wash my clothes as often as I am able, either near a water source or during visits to towns, hostels, motels, etc.

WEIGHT (ounces)
Camp shoes (Crocs)
Icebreaker socks
 (Extra pair of hiking socks)
Smart Wool Socks
(Sleeping socks)
Nylon Shorts (Running type)
Balaclava Smart wool cap
Base layer Smart Wool pants
(100% Merino Wool)
Gore Tex Pants
Hooded Sweater (260 weight) Icebreaker Eclipse Merino wool
Down Jacket (Patagonia
Over mittens “3-Layer”
Mountain Laurel Designs
Fleece cap (Patagonia)
4.8 Pounds

This list (above) does not include: three other types of jackets that I will wear or carry depending on whether it is raining and how cold it may be while hiking.

3-Layer waterproof jacket
Quasar by Mountain Hardware
9.0 oz.
Synthetic Vest by Arc Teryx
9.8 oz.
Houdini by Patagonia
(One of my top 5 favorite pieces of gear)
4.4 oz.

For those of you asking, I hope this helps!  Please let me know if you have any questions, thoughts or good advise!!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why do you use Trail Names? Why Dreamer?

Dreamer here,

Ok, Ok…  I have been asked a few times, I suppose I should fill you in on where the name “Dreamer” came from.  But before I do, allow me to take a step back and explain what a trail name is, and why most everyone that thru hikes the Appalachian Trail (AT) obtains one in a reasonably short period of time.

One Happy Dreamer!

As far as I can tell, hikers have been using trail names since the mid to late 80’s; however, they have really taken hold since the 90’s.  You might wonder, “What is up with calling me Dreamer, when my name is Tom?”  Good question.  I’ll try to explain it this way…  Imagine you are hiking the AT, basically a linear community of about 2,000 folks, give or take a few.  How many Tom’s would you think there might be out of all the males hiking?  Conservatively, there would be at least a few.  Now imagine, how many hikers do you think may have the name Dreamer?  Or for that matter: Skittles, Wrong-way, Two Rings, Snack Attack, Blue Moon, Big Sky, Tagless, Tag-a-long, Disco, POD, and on & on.  Get my point? 

There are trail journals in each and every shelter.  Kind of a daily snap shot of who is passing through and what is on they’re mind.  (And believe me, these journals have a little bit of everything in them.)  If I were to write something in the journal and sign it “Tom”, there would confusion as to who or which Tom was writing.

It is quite common for thru hikers to refer to anyone not actually hiking the trail as a civilian.  (Someone separate from thru hikers.)  The world outside of the trail may be referred to as the “Real World.”  So, in order to separate yourself from the life you lived in the real world, you adopt a moniker for the trail.  Because the trail is the great equalizer, there are no age or income standards.  If you are thru hiking, you are equal with everyone else.  Trail names not only provide a sense of character (apart from whom you might be in the real world) equal to the trail, they also offer some degree of anonymity.

I have been a dreamer for as long as I can remember.  While I was in elementary school, my Dad used to say I was not doing well because all I could do was look out the window and dream of what I was going to do when recess started or what I might do later when I got home.  Later on in life while in the Navy, and during my drug years in the 70’s my friends always referred to me as the deep thinker. (Or the Dreamer)  Since the moment I heard about the AT, and my first experience hiking to Rip Rap Shelter in Virginia, I have dreamed about hiking the whole thing.

At some point, I was asked what my trail might be if I were going to thru hike the AT, the name Dreamer was without opposition.  I am: the dreamer, a dreamer and soon to be a thru hiker named Dreamer.

~ Dreamer