earthtrekblog

Adventures of Life


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We made it!!!

No Shame and I had a wonderful sponsorship while on the trail.  Sustenance to be sure we made it from point A to point B.  They asked us to put together a little something for their page.  Here it is!!!  (click the link)

Thank you The Honest Kitchen

(Don’t panic!  The picture with me and No Shame was taken at Trail Days, not at the summit of Katahdin, no rules were broken in Baxter State Park for the capture of this image!!!)

I also apologize for my lack of blogging.  There are many things cranking through my head post trail.  It is just a matter of putting them out there for others.  The “real” world has sucked me in…  it has also chewed me up and spat me out.  All of that will be addressed in upcoming blogs.


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Having “No Shame” had defined my trail experience

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My latest post is up at Appalachian Trials!
http://appalachiantrials.com/having-no-shame-has-defined-my-trail-experience/


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No Shame reveals all about the AT!

After talking with fellow hikers it became apparent that I’m not getting the whole story of what trail life is like. 
Here is the link to one of my hiking partners blogs:
www.spinthecompass.com

I also spent an afternoon speaking with a special guest about her experiences on the trail.  No Shame (AKA Star) was more than happy to fill me in.
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B: “No Shame, what made you decide to hike the AT?”

NS: “I had no choice in the matter.  My mother loaded me into a car, drove me to GA, put a 5 pound pack on me and told me we were hiking 2,189 miles home.  But had it been my choice, I’d still be here.”

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B: “what’s your favorite part of the trail so far?”

NS: “That’s hard to say there’s the food, bush wacking, chipmunks, leftovers, running, chipmunks, food, naps, chipmunks, belly rubs, food, and then there are chipmunks.”

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B: “What’s your least favorite part?”

NS: “I don’t do slow, I want to be going fast,  getting stuck behind the other hikers is extremely boring.  Can you believe they sometimes tie me up!? Something about not listening when the chipmunks are yelling at me.  I only have two ears and they are focused on the little furry buggers!”

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B: “That sounds challenging to say the least.  Are there any other tough situations you’ve been in?”

NS: “Being on trail isn’t easy and I work hard to look good.  The other day I was FORCED to walk through the rain and even do some SERIOUS river crossings!!!  Can you believe it?!  I’d just had my nails done too!”
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B: “After such long periods of time in the woods are you excited to get to town?”

NS: “It depends on the day.  Some town days are awesome, I get hooked up with a hotel room while mom and the crew go shopping and often times they bring me special meals like raw chicken or beef! These are the best days because they take my pack off and just let me chill out! Other times I have to hang out side of stores while they dash around getting a couple items and then we head back to the trail.  These days aren’t as much fun, my feet get hot, my pack weighs more and I only got a brief break from it.”
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B: “Speaking of your pack, what can you tell me about it? ”

NS: “I’m spoiled.  My mom tried a number of different packs on me but the big thing she focused on was that my pack wasn’t to big allowing me to carry too much weight and that my pack didn’t create any raw spots.  Mom decided to buy me a custom fit pack from Ground Bird Gear (www.groundbirdgear.com).  It was a little embarrassing getting my measurements done, but it was worth it.  I love my pack and harness system.  And don’t tell my mom this but sometimes I fake being tired or sore so she’ll carry the saddle bags.
The worst part of the pack is it inhibits my chipmunk chasing! Just the other day I was in hot pursuit of a chippy when suddenly I was launched backwards by the rhododendron bush I was trying to squeeze through.”
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B: “If you had caught the chipmunk what would you have done with it?”

NS: “Eat it!  Mom says if I catch it I can eat it.  The chippy ‘s down here are much plumper and slower than up north.  Not that I’m lacking in the food department.   Me being me, I flashed my puppy smile and got sponsored some awesome food from The Honest Kitchen. Mom gets worried because I’m the only dog on trail gaining weight!”
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B: “If you’re carrying your own food on trail that means you’re a working dog.  Are there other jobs which are expected of you?”

NS: “I have plenty of jobs on trail.  I herd my hiking group which includes “tracking” down any group members I believe to be lost, I distribute kisses to worthy people, I guard against bears – have asked a couple to leave camp at this point, and my most important job is be on sentry duty while my mom is going to the bathroom – a slightly embarrassing job but at least I don’t have to clean up after her!”
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B: “With so much work do be done do you ever find time to enjoy yourself?”

NS: “The trail offers lots of opportunities for fun. I love chasing things that move, rabbits, chipmunks, birds, grasshoppers, and more! I’ve discovered snakes do not fall in the category of moving, but turtles are fun to cuddle with. I enjoy playing in mud and shallow streams, and when the ‘adults’ get boring I find a stick, I’m surrounded by them, and spend some time chewing.”
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The Appalachian Trail provides for the hiker

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Today is filled with excitement!  I have made it one month on the trail! I am still excited by the prospect of what is around the next bend or the view from the next rise.  To celebrate my time on the trail I spent a moment and flipped through my AWOL trail guide,  using a pencil to mark up the pages with notes on my journey.  As days pass you fall into the routine; wake up, pack up your gear, poop, make breakfast, pee,  hit the trail,  eat, hike, hike, eat, pee, eat, set up camp, pee, eat, pee, and sleep,  It’s hard to pick out the moment you saw an incredible view or paused to take a picture of a snail on the trail.  These are memories I want to keep fresh.

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Spencer Field's amazing privy

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Max Patch sunset being viewed by "No Shame"

A quick idea of what I’ve accomplished in the past month:
-Crossed into 3 of the 14 states the AT travels through

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Yup, we're doing it!

-Hiked more than 200 miles

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Made it 200 miles!

-Have less than 2000 miles to reach Katahdin, Maine

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1,972 left to go!

-Summited the highest peak on the AT, Clingmans Dome, 6,655′

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Tourist moments

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Clingmans ' Dome

-Completed a 17 mile slack pack

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-Made it up a 3000′ elevation gain in 6 miles

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-Crossed through the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest

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-Guided a raft trip down the Nantahala

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-Combined some interesting food, seen even odder combinaions made

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Tuna with mayo and cheetos!

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The German "snack"

-Experienced amazing “trail magic”

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Am living life and enjoying every second of it! So happy to have celebrated my birthday on the trail!

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Mom sent gluten free cookies and candles, my trail family sang to me!


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Help us gain sponsorship!

Hey everyone!
I submitted an entry to Kurgo to get $5,000 to assist Star and I in our AT thru hike, what I didn’t know and just found out, is there is outsider voting!
PLEASE HELP US OUT BY VOTING FOR US!  Click HERE

My VERY FIRST OFFICIAL HIKE SINCE KNEE SURGERY!!!

My VERY FIRST OFFICIAL HIKE SINCE KNEE SURGERY!!!

This is my girl keeping me real after my last knee surgery! She sat on me and pinned me down <3

This is my girl keeping me real after my last knee surgery! She sat on me and pinned me down ❤

 

 


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Let’s talk gear!

I have spent the past year immersed in the Appalachian Trail (AT), sleeping, breathing, and eating it (no really, I’ve eaten more trail food these past 6 months).  Now I am down to the wire and need to make my final purchases and organize my gear so as not to forget anything.

The official Base Gear!

The official Base Gear!

The first and most important part of my gear is my “Base” gear which includes my pack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow.  I feel I’ve done a great job picking what meets my needs and still keeps the weight on the lower end.  It’s challenging to make a choice regarding comfort vs. necessity when you are not yet on the trail.  When it came down to my tent I wanted one which would allow me to store both my pack and my dog inside with me.  I had two tents I was wavering between, the Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2 and the MSR Hubba Hubba NX.  It took me setting them up side by side and crawling around inside of them. Thank you once again CrossFit Bona Fide for supporting my hiking habits and providing me with space to test out my gear!

It's a 1 1/2 Person tent!!!

It’s a 1 1/2 Person tent!!!

The SuperMega UL2 was VERY cozy and very light, at 2 lbs 11 oz.  As you can see here there is room for my sleeping pad with my pack stuffed in alongside down at my feet and if Star doesn’t mind snuggling there is puppy room right at the entrance.  I climbed in and tested out the height, at 5’10” I had about an inch clearance while sitting on my sleeping pad, this was a good start.  I went ahead and stretched out and as I lay there debating all the pros and cons. Having not tried the other tent I realized I wasn’t doing much comparison and decided to rectify the situation immediately.  Feeling like a modern day outdoorsy version of Goldilocks I scrambled out of the tent.  I grabbed my gear and moved next door into the Hubba Hubba.   As I crawled in the enduring words of Goldilocks went through my mind “that’s just right!”  I had moved into a yacht of a tent, there was room to stretch out and move about.  My bag was no longer crushed between my feet and the tent wall and Star would even have room to stretch out into her favorite pretzel position for sleeping.  After about a minute of contemplation upon my green mat of unlimited possibilities I decided I wanted the yacht over the canoe.

So much space!!!

So much space!!!

Next on my list of gear is my kitchen supplies, which are still lacking (need to get out and buy a PocketRocket and a titanium spoon), BUT I am excited to say I tried out a new toy today and it works perfectly!

Pot, bear bag, water bladder, freezer bag cozy, and Nalgene storage.

Pot, bear bag, water bladder, freezer bag cozy, and Nalgene storage.

Today I used my freezer bag cozy!  I ordered this simple cozy from a fellow hiker, I have heard so many great things about cooking with this method on the trail.  You take your dehydrated food put it in a freezer bag, pour hot (not boiling) water over your food, seal up the bag and close the cozy over it.  Let it “cook” for 15-20 minutes and your meal is done!  You eat it right out of the bag meaning you have no dishes and you just need to dispose of the Ziploc when you hit a town.

Food is in the cozy ready for eating!

Food is in the cozy ready for eating!

The idea behind freezer bag food is you just dehydrate whatever complete meal you want and pack it away until you’re ready to rehydrate.

Rehydrated dahl mixed with rice

Rehydrated dahl mixed with rice

My roommate was home and with very little prompting I convinced her to take this journey with me.  I took my dehydrated leftovers from the night before and placed them in a Ziploc filled with water wrapped in the most awesome pink and black zebra stripped cozy on the east coast.   The red dahl with coconut milk rice was a delicious meal if I must say so myself, one I’d be thrilled to eat on the trail.  My roomie even went so far as to say “I would have NEVER known it was from a dehydrated meal if you hadn’t told me!”

It's important to get out and break in the gear before the big day!

It’s important to get out and break in the gear before the big day!

Because I am responsible for my dog it only seems reasonable that I spend as much money on her as I do myself (I am after all carrying an extra half pound so she can sleep IN the tent with me).  I gave up trying to adapt or modify Star’s pack to be “acceptable” for the trail.  She will be joining me on the trail because I have decided WE are doing it not because she volunteered to come along.  I splurged!  I went online to this awesome small time business called Groundbird Gear (GBG) and ordered a custom made pack for her.  We had more fun measuring and preparing to send out all the info to get this pack put together just for her.

Someone is VERY excited about the measuring process :D

Someone is VERY excited about the measuring process 😀

I couldn’t believe it when less than a week out from our order I was informed the pack was in the mail and on it’s way.  I was a giddy child running out to the porch everyday looking for the box which would contain the goods.  Yesterday was a busy day and I arrived home late and it was by pure chance I glanced down the porch and noticed the small packing envelope sitting by the stoop.  I dashed outside in my socks and grabbed the package barely making it back through the door before I started ripping it apart.  As I drew the harness and pack out I was shocked by how light is was.  It was almost as though I was holding nothing, a big treat for this young lady!  I am in LOVE with the colors!

Burgundy and purple with a splash of orange to fend off the hunters!

Burgundy and purple with a splash of orange to fend off the hunters!

I am so happy I went with this pack system.  I haven’t even gotten a chance to load it up yet but already I feel it is the proper size for her.  The roll top pouches aren’t huge so she will be able to move around comfortably in it.  We are in mid design adaptation as the harness doesn’t fit quite right so it is being sent back for one with a larger chest yolk so as to prevent any chance of chaffing.  It has been very easy to communicate with GBG and figure out what needs to be done so Star can be comfortable.  I will post pictures when we have the full system with a proper fit.

 

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SUPPORTING OUR JOURNEY PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LOOK AT MY Amazon Wish List (HERE).   
I have placed numerous food items on this list as I will be making much of my food over the next couple of weeks.  I will be shipping packages to myself along the trail so I can meet the needs of my dietary restrictions.