Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dream Big

If ever there were a time to dare,
to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing,
it is now.
Not for some grand cause, necessarily,
but for something that tugs at your heart
something that is your aspiration
Something that's your dream

You owe it to yourself
to make each day here count.
Have fun.
Dig deep.

Dream big.

Know, though, that things worth doing
seldom come easy.
There will be good days
and there will be bad days
There will be times when
you want to turn around,
pack it up,
call it quits.
Those times tell you
that you are pushing yourself,
that you are not afraid to learn by trying.


Because with an idea,
and the right tools,
you can do great things.
Let your instincts,
your intellect
and your heart
guide you.


Believe in the incredible power
of all the things that will cross your path
this year.

The start of something new
brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible.
There is only one you,
and you will only pass this way once.
Do it right.



Can't remember when or where I first saw this on the web, but I saved it away as words of wisdom. Today I came across it in my files, and I thought it would be a worthy post.

Because after all, this year, we're dreaming big... :-)


Friday, February 11, 2005

Snowman Sounds Off

So, I thought it was time for me to chime in because I'm also going along on this whole AT thing. Since we're going to try to write something everyday, I figured I could get at least one journal entry done before we know, for practice.

First of all, I need to give a ton of...maybe to Danielle, as she has done an incredible job of planning, scheduling and scheming. No surprise to any of you. She has been truly spectacular through this whole process. I never ceased to be amazed by her drive, determination and focus. But most importantly, when she's planning...she's quiet. The financially scheming to make this work...all Danielle. I would have just checked the ATM every so often to see how much was left. The entire mail drop schedule was her doing. All I did was look at it, grunt and burp. (I'm really good at that.) Without her, I would be wandering aimlessly through the forest wondering why I had nothing to eat but dry mac & cheese. Not a pretty sight.

And it is because of Danielle, that I think we might actually to be able to pull this off. Because, the AT isn't easy. In fact, it's a long frickin' way!

20%. Twenty percent of people that set out from Springer Mountain with Katahdin as their goal make it. That's it. 1 out of 5. Or, in our case, 2 out of 10. That's not a lot. Of course, a fair number of those that leave the trail do so because they never really belonged there in the first place.

"I didn't know I would have to be outside in the rain."
"I'm dirty and I smell bad."
"Why is it so hilly?"

Things like that. Quite honestly, I'm really looking forward to watching the people who have never camped before. That will be fun for the first week...maybe it will take my mind off how sore I am.

Luckily, we have camped before, and we like being outside...even in the rain. (No, really, if you're smart it's not that bad. The forest has a great smell during the rain. Plus, I like playing in the mud.)

We certainly have an advantage because we plan to take it step by step together. Or, at least, me dragging a few yards behind. She has pulled me to the top of many a mountain. That little body can really churn out the miles. When she chirps "I'm tough, gawddammit!" like a five year-old trying to open a jar of grape jelly, look out! I have no doubt that we will have the teamwork and the drive to make it through. And, barring injury, our Christmas card will feature a grimy but jubilant pair with a sign that reads: "Katahdin: Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail." We're hopeful we can be among the 20%.

Then again, to look at us, we're seem pretty young and fit. (Well, at least Danielle. I know I've gotten a little soft around the middle.) But, we're not without our ailments: irritable bowel syndrome, patella femoral syndrome, Morton's nueroma, iliotibial band tightness, weak ankles, allergies, asthma, elbow tendonitis, trapezius strain, even a bout with Melanoma...just to name a few. So, if we can avoid any further reoccurrences of these little nasties and dodge any further injuries, it should be no problem. Besides, what's the likelihood of an overuse injury from carrying a 35+ pound backpack day after day after day?

Uh, Mom, you weren't supposed to read that last bit.

Most of all, I think our biggest advantage is teamwork. We're not privy to the inner workings of other married couples, but I think we're a little different. First and foremost, we're best friends. We truly enjoy spending all our time together. Really. I don't see this from all married couples. Do you? Secondly, we share the load. She's good at some things, and I'm good at some things. When it's time, we know who is the right person for the task. (That's why I'm carrying the map and compass.) No ego. There's no room for ego in a backpack. Finally, we're good at backpacking. We work well together. For example, I set up and light the stove, while she measures out the water and ingredients. Dinner in half the time. Nobody sits around and picks dirt out from under their fingernails. Plus, fingernail dirt makes a good spice. Mmmm...ramen with fingernail grit.

But most importantly, on this little journey we want to have fun. We have no jobs and we're going to walk for 6 months. That's pretty cool. Not everyone's idea of fun, but we're a little off. We admit that.

So, we only have a couple weeks to go. All that's left is to pack up all our stuff and put it in storage. If our marriage can survive that, the AT should be no problem.

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Loading up the packs...

Essentially, everything we need will be on our backs. Think of that. How do you trim what you own down to between 30 (hopefully my pack weight, plus or minus a few pounds) and 40 (Ryan's) pounds? Then figure in that you'll be out there for approximately 6 months, living with what you have on your back, with town stops and a few packages mixed in, of course, to fill up the pack again when food and other supplies get low.

Well, over the past few years, and definitely in the past few months, we've worked on our pack weight and chosen certain items for weight, etc. And once we get out there, it's the final test. Will we stick with our original gear? Will it hold up? Did we choose wisely? Only time will tell, but for now, here goes...This is what we plan to carry when we start at Springer on March 28.


Osprey Ariel 60 Pack

Shelter & Sleeping supplies:
Mountain Hardware Dimension sleeping bag in stuff sack
Sierra Designs Lightning Tent fly
Tent stakes
Pro Lite 3 Thermarest short (basically a blow up mattress for under our sleeping bag)
Thermarest Chair Converter (converts the Thermarest into a small on-the-ground chair. Comfy!)
Rain cover for pack

Cooking & Around Camp:
MSR water filter
Petzl Tikka headlamp
Titanium spork (a cross between a fork and spoon) and a plastic knife
2 Nalgene bottles full of water
1 Nalgene 1.5 liter collapsible container empty, as a backup for water when needed
Little squeeze bottle of Mountain Suds (dishwashing liquid)

Toiletries & Other Miscellaneous Items:
1 roll of toilet paper in ziplock (buy stock in ziplock! We will be using a lot of them over these next 6 months!)
Extra ziplock baggies and a few garbage bags
Sunscreen (in a ziplock, of course!)
Sunglasses with case
2005 Handbook with distances, services along the trail, etc
1 waterproof pouch with extra batteries, small notebook with names, addresses, etc., pen/pencil, and Pocketmail Composer (little 3" x 5" handheld keyboard and screen that allows you to write emails and then send and receive via a phone line. Handy!)
1 waterproof pouch with ATM card, credit card, license, cash, stamps, phone card, insurance card
1 waterproof pouch for daily vitamins and medicines
1 waterproof pouch with daily toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, chapstick, ear plugs (for snorers in the shelter!), some face wipes, nail clippers, etc.
Little squeeze bottle of hand sanitizer (again, in a ziplock)

1 Patagonia silkweight, shortsleeve T-shirt
1 Patagonia R.1 long sleeve, zip-up pullover
2 pairs Patagonia seamless capilene underwear
Swix XC ski hat
EMS thin fleece gloves
2 pairs of Smartwool Hiking socks
Mountain Hardware Epic rainpants & jacket
MountainHardware Epic rain/sun hat
Patagonia Midweight longjohns
One pair of Waldies (Foam clogs to wear once we've stopped hiking. Very light. They look silly but they're comfy! Mine are orange J )
An all-purpose "buff," like you may have seen on Survivor, that can wrap around your neck, your head, etc for warmth when needed. Mine is from the 30km race we did.
Mountain Hardware Compressor jacket (only for the start when it's colder, and possibly for NH & ME at the end)
Goretex overmitts (just for first few months when it's colder)


Osprey Aether 60 Pack

Shelter & Sleeping supplies:
EMS Solstice 25/45 Sleeping bag (for the beginning and end)
Mountain Hardwear Lamina 45 Sleeping bag (for the sultry summer nights... much lighter, too)
Sierra Designs Lightning Tent
Tent poles
Pro Lite 3 Thermarest short (basically a blow up mattress for under our sleeping bag)
Thermarest Chair Converter
Rain cover for pack

Cooking & Around Camp:
Titanium cook set (2 pots, 1 cover, 1 pot grabber)
Princeton Tec Aurora headlamp
Titanium spork (a cross between a fork and spoon)
Large fuel bottle filled with white gas for cooking
MSR Simmerlite stove/matches
1 Sigg lightweight squeeze waterbottle full of water
1 Nalgene bottle full of water
1 Nalgene 96 oz. Collapsible container for water empty, for if extra water is needed

Toiletries & Other Miscellaneous Items:
1 roll of toilet paper in ziplock
Extra ziplock baggies and a few garbage bags
2005 Companion book (a different one than I'll be carrying) with distances, services along the trail, etc
Maps & compass (Guess who has a better sense of direction?)
1 waterproof pouch with extra batteries, IPod (portable device that holds music, lots of it!), extra memory cards for camera, extra camera battery
1 waterproof pouch with ATM card, credit card, license, cash, phone card, insurance card
1 waterproof ""irst aid kit" with moleskin, gauze, tape, alcohol swabs, antacid, vitamin C, immodium, inhaler, duct tape, etc.
1 waterproof pouch with vitamins and medicines
1 waterproof pouch with daily toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, chapstick, ear plugs, nail clippers, etc
Little squeeze bottle of hand sanitizer (again, in a ziplock)
Olympus Stylus 300 digital camera in case
Flexible mini tripod (lets you balance the camera on a rock, etc. Very handy!)

1 Craft lightweight shortsleeve T-shirt
1 Craft long sleeve, zip-up pullover
1 pair Patagonia boxer shorts
Craft XC ski hat
EMS thin fleece gloves
1 pair of Smartwool Adrenaline Mini Crew socks
Mountain Hardware Epic rainpants & jacket
Golite Team cap (baseball style but waterproof)
Patagonia Midweight longjohns
One pair of Waldies (And they're yellow)
The original "Buff," a grey and yellow Subaru one
Patagonia Micro Puff jacket (only for the start when it's colder, and possibly for NH & ME at the end)

We'll both also be carrying whatever food we need for however many days we plan to be in between resupply points, likely 4 and 5 days worth at a time.

Now what will we be eating out there, you wonder?

Well, a sample list is below. Food and water are the heaviest items in our pack, but they of course are the most important. We look for calorie-dense foods, but then we're also trying not to kill ourselves out there, so we'll mix in fruits and veggies when we can. But don't doubt that we'll be eating some junk food too!

Food will likely include:
Breakfast: Tortillas and peanut butter, plus dehydrated banana chips & strawberry chips, or maybe bagels, scones or muffins and a real banana or apple if we're a day out of town
Snack: GORP mix (raisins, m&ms, peanuts, cashews, etc) or a Clif or Power Bar
Lunch: Tortillas/bagels and cheese/peanut butter, plus some dehydrated fruit (or fresh fruit and some mini carrots if we're only a day out of town), fig newtons or crackers, maybe some more GORP or other chocolate item
More Snack: Beef (for Ryan) and turkey (for me) jerkey, more GORP or fig newtons
Dinner: Likely to be a variation on one of the following - 1) instant potatoes, stuffing, dried veggies and a foil packet of chicken for a yummy Thanksgiving-like feast; 2) couscous with sundried tomatoes, dried mushrooms and a packet of chicken; 3) Lipton Noodles & Sauce with some veggies and chicken; 4) rice and beans; 5) one of the organic, all-natural pasta, couscous or stew mixes we've purchased from Enertia Foods & Mary Jane Farm; all supplemented by cheese, crackers, bagels, fig newtons, some GORP, dried fruit, veggies, etc., depending on how hungry we are and how much food is still in our packs! Can't eat it all in the first day out :-)
More Snack: Whatever is left. In our previous trips, w've heard thru-hikers say things like I would really like to sit here and eat everything in my food bag. Sounds nice, but makes for a lot of stops in town.

And finally...

I'll be wearing:
Patagonia shortsleeve T-shirt
Mountain Hardware Convertible Diversion Pants (with zip-off legs to convert to shorts)
Smartwool socks
Merrell Chameleon Ventilator Low hiking shoes

Ryan will be wearing:
Craft shortsleeve T-shirt
LLBean convertible pants
Patagonia Silkweight boxers
Smartwool socks
Nike trail running shoes

(Unless, it's July 4th - naked thru-hiking day! Then, just sunscreen... ouch!)

We'll also both be using Leki hiking poles. Great for balance and for taking the pressure off the knees!

That's it!

Yes, yes, we'll be stinky since we'll be wearing the same clothes over and over, although we do plan to wash them whenever we get the chance along the way. This also means we'll likely thrown some of our clothes out and getting new ones along the way :-)

And yes, this is it.

All told, WITHOUT food, and WITH 2 liters of water each, we will be carrying on our back the following weight -
Danielle: 26 pounds
Ryan: 30 pounds

Are we tough or what? :-) (Ouch, it hurts already.)