Posts Tagged With: appalachian trail blog 2013

I start tomorrow!!!

I get on a flight at 10:30 tonight and fly to ATL. I land at 6:30 AM, get picked up by Survivor Dave at a train station just north of the airport. Dave will drive me to the Approach Trail, where I start a 8 mile ascent to reach the top of Springer Mountain, the official beginning of the AT (I have been waiting a year to write that last sentence).

I have spent the last week living at my sister and my brother in-law’s apartment. They were very generous to put me up, feed me, help me run errands and even mail some of my food out to predetermined stops.

My mom flew in to spend a couple of days with me as well. She then drove my car back up to her place so it had a safe place to rest while I am away. What can I say, my mom is the best!

I was also able to spend time with some of my best friends this week. It was a great way to spend my last few days in civilization.

I would like to thank some people who made my last month and outstanding one:
Greg and Meghann, thank you for letting me stay at your place for over a month! It was more help than I am sure you know. I truly appreciate your kindness. Tell Pepper that I will be back one of these days to chase her around the house.

Kim, thank you for being an amazing person and friend. You are one of a kind. Go Dodgers!!

The Steadicam Crew, thank you for being the best coworkers out there. I already miss hearing Mark shouting from the machine shop, Marty spouting out some sports facts and Aldo telling Johan to be quiet. You all make me smile. Jose and Richard, get back to work!

Joe, thank you for being an outstanding person and being a friend of mine. You are the model of what all young men should be like.

Josh, keep on doing what you are doing. Your new projects are amazing and I hope you continue working on them. I really look forward to seeing what you do next.

Colleen, thank you for making me smile and laugh.

I will be updating this journal as often as I can. The upcoming posts will be more about the trail and less about me. Thank you to all who are following. It means a lot!

Happy hiking!
-Salad Days

Categories: AT Prep | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

I Am Ready…Repeat

I am ready to hike the AT. My flight is booked, my shuttle service has been hired, my gear is all purchased, my legs are strong, my feet are tough, my bear fighting skills have been fine-tuned, my resupply locations are mapped out, my head is clear, my mind is focused, my bills are set to auto-pay, my friends have all been hugged and told goodbye. I am ready to hike the AT. Repeat: I am ready to hike the AT…. repeat…

My last day at my work is in two weeks. It is an odd feeling to leave a job and not have another one lined up. To know you are not going to earn a paycheck for the next 6 months is an uneasy feeling in today’s world. I would relate it to streaking on a busy street; It is fun, you are free, the air is running over your exposed body, you feel empowered. On the other hand, you are butt-ass naked, feeling very alone and uneasy about your haphazard decision.
I remember thinking once, “This will be my final break before I start working for the rest of my life.” I always thought that after I graduated from college, that it would be all work until I retired. The feeling would depress me. An endless doom, a for boding staircase to trudge down on into a somber mine. I am sure most of us have these same feelings towards our own foot dragging march to retirement.
Because of this fear of eternal boredom, I strived to have a career that I would enjoy. I might as well have fun while living in hell, right? Working for Steadicam was something I aspired to do years before actually joining their team. I enjoyed all, 7 plus years I worked for them. I was treated as a son to most and a dear friend to others.
We do not choose who we work side by side with. If you are fortunate enough to share the working hours with people you care for, I would consider yourself lucky. I feel very lucky. I would like to thank all my coworkers who made me feel at home, who helped me learn about our industry, who helped raised me and who became close friends. You are all special to me. You will all be missed.

I fly to Atlanta on March 12 and start my hike on the 13th. I chose to hike the Approach Trail instead of being dropped off and backtracking a little ways to the start of the AT. There was something about having my first footstep on the AT not being at the start of the trail that bothered me. This is one reason why I chose to hike Northbound. Hiking the Approach Trail adds 8.5 miles to the total hike. A drop in the bucket when you think about the total miles of the trail. But these are not an easy 8 miles. A 600 step staircase is added into the mix.
I have heard the trail is gorgeous, with a spectacular waterfall. That is the true reason why I wanted to hike the Approach Trail. I do not believe it is a right of passage as many thru-hikers deem it. I like to hike, I like to see new places. I would like to see the Approach Trail.

My next update will be a day or two before I fly out to Atlanta. Until then I will be saying goodbye to more friends, finishing work, seeing family and exploring a few places in California I have not been yet.

Thank you for reading.
-Salad Days

Categories: AT Prep | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Appalachian Trail Blog 2013 “100”

In 100 days I plan on being on top of Springer Mountain to start my hike. 100 days before I will be living out of a backpack. 100 days before I will be curling up in a sleeping bag every night instead of stretching out on my queen size bed, complete with my worn in sheets and my choice of movies from Netflix. I think it will be the comforts of home, that I take for granted, that will be missed the most in those first few weeks.

I have been on a few preparation hikes to test my gear, my wits and my stamina. I have made some gear changes, like trading my Steripen in for a Sawyer Squeeze water filter and swapping out my bulky hiking boots for lightweight trail running shoes. This past year I have learned so much about hiking the AT. I have read books like AWOL On the Appalachian Trail by David Miller and A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson. I also read The Long Way by Bernard Motessier to learn about the mental strain of a long voyage. I have been exercising by trudging a 30 pound backpack up and down the five flights of stairs at the local mall’s parking garage. I also purchased one of those exercise balls and I bounce around on that while watching TV to get my core into shape.

Instead of going into the boring details of these hikes, I chose to just share some photos with you (click on photos to enlarge them).

Zion National Park, Angel’s Landing Trail. You hike up the spine of the fin shaped rock to the very end.

Yosemite National Park, “The Valley” made famous by Ansel Adams.

Wild Wood Canyon, Burbank California. This has been my training hike after work. In 5 minutes I can be at the trail head. It is a 4.5 mile up and down…and it knocked my socks off every time I hiked it (over 100 times). It’s a very challenging hike because of the elevation gain in such a short distance.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Grand Canyon National Park, about 1/4 mile from Phantom Ranch. I hiked “Rim to Rim” in July 2012.

-Salad Days

Categories: AT Prep | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Appalachian Trail Blog 2013 “Welcome”

This blog is intended to be a journal for family, friends, guests and myself.

Hello, my name is Michael, and I am planning a 2013 thru-hike on The Appalachian Trail. I plan on sharing my feelings, thoughts, pictures and stories with you as I grow closer to my March send off. I also plan on updating this site during and after my hike.

One of the creative parts of hiking the AT, is thinking of a trail name for yourself. Some hikers want a name given to them, but I would rather decide myself. I chose the name “Salad Days”. I first heard the term salad days in song form. The band, Minor Threat, wrote a song with the title (if you would like to listen to it, I put a Youtube link to the right). To me, the song reflects on the youthful times we rushed through blindly. I am choosing to extend that time of my life, therefore, I chose the name Salad Days.

Leading up to March, I will be posting how my preparations are going, hikes I will be using for training and some writings of mine.

One reason why I chose the AT is because I want an internal challenge. Austin Conrad, a former boss and good friend, would often talk about how an athlete’s strongest competition is himself. He was not referring to anything physical, but mental. I feel as though I am physically fit to tackle a thru hike, but I want a challenge of the mind. I want to know what happens to your grey matter after hiking 15 miles a day for 5 months straight. Can I handle it?
Bernard Moitessier, a French sailor, was part of the Golden Globe race in 1968. The Golden Globe race was held by a British newspaper, The Sunday Times. The race details were a non-stop, single-handed, round-the-world navigation in your own vessel. This had never been done before, and no one knew if it was even possible. The mental strain would be immense.
Moitessier, who was favored to win, ended up quitting the race while he was rounding the final stretch to the finish line. The interesting part about Moitessier quitting was not that he stopped sailing, but instead he continued back around the world. 18 months at sea, alone. He wrote a message back home to his wife and children “My intention is to continue the voyage, still nonstop, toward the Pacific Islands, where there is plenty of sun and more peace than in Europe. Please do not think I am trying to break a record. ‘Record’ is a very stupid word at sea. I am continuing nonstop because I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul.”

It is Moitessier’s pure love for the sea that makes me want to hike the AT. A youthful state of joy that can be experienced yet again in life. I too want to save my soul from the compounds of society. I think you should approach life’s questions with an unadulterated mind. For me, the AT is an escape from my current life I have created. A life I would like to be swept away by the sea.

-Salad Days

Categories: AT Prep | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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