MY INTERNSHIP IS OVER! This is great because now I only have to wrap up things for my masters degree and then it will be time for the trail. Ever since May hit the AT has been getting more and more real. Until now it just felt like I thought about hiking the AT often while upgrading a good portion of my backpacking gear. More like it was just some fantasy I had. Some dream I wish to tackle someday. It’s just so close now. July 11, 2015. Since I decided to hike the trail I’ve always had either work or school to worry about and keep me from thinking the AT was imminent, but now it feels like the trail is right up in my face all the sudden. It’s like playing chicken with a semi and I’m at the point where I can feel the heat from the engine. I can’t finish my masters degree fast enough. I can’t wait to set off.
I’ve made a couple slight changes to my AT gear in the past couple days. First off, I replaced one of my Nalgene bottles with a Platypus water pouch/bag. It weighs like 5 oz less and still holds a liter. I know I said at the beginning of this blog that I wouldn’t nickel and dime my gear ounces, but look at me now. I thought about getting a hydration system, but I used to have one and didn’t like it. I tend to drink too often with it and I’m more apt to run out of water quickly. Also, it’s easier to check how much water remains with water bottles. I’m keeping one of my Nalgene bottles because it fits in my pack better, can hold hot liquid, and can be put in your sleeping bag with boiling water on very cold nights to help keep you warm.
Secondly, I got a compressing stuff sack for my rain jacket. I’ve had this great Columbia rain jacket for a few years now and I really like it. Unfortunately, since it’s Columbia, it’s not really made for backpacking. Therefore it doesn’t have a pocket I can just stuff it all inside. So I went and bought a stuff sack for it. It will be a bit harder to get out of my pack when the heavens open up, but it will be easier to pack. It finally packs down well once I force it.
Once I’m on the trail I really don’t want to be that guy who gabs and gabs about gear. Though when it comes to preparing for the AT, gear is a pretty important topic. When I’m on the trail I will refuse to talk gear with anyone other than my girlfriend or if someone is asking for specific advice. Talking about gear is not why I want to hike the AT.
Maybe this just bothers me, but it annoys me when people wear headphones and listen to music, or whatever, when they’re hiking. Being among nature is almost entirely the reason I want to hike the AT, I couldn’t imagine tuning out nature so I can listen to a few albums that I’ve already listened to 8000 times. You can never truly be in touch with nature if you’re blocking out the sounds of the birds and the wind and substitute them for a Led Zeppelin or Death Cab album. I’ll have plenty of time to listen to my music once I’m off the trail. Use it to drown out the ugly noises of the city. If you’re really that bored on the trail, why are you even hiking it? Seriously. If you’re just looking to say you’ve accomplished something and are looking for fitness, go run an ultra marathon or something. Use wilderness to find some peace in the silence before going back to our world full of endless noise. One reason I love thunderstorms so much is because it drowns out the noises of all the automobiles, lawn mowers, construction, trains, etc.
I will miss my podcasts. I don’t know what I’ll do without This American Life, Radio Lab, and repeats of Car Talk. I’ll have to listen to them on my phone on nights I stay in towns. By the way, the latest podcast of Radio Lab is unreal. It’s so good and just churns your stomach at parts. I HIGHLY recommend everyone check it out. It was a recording from a live show they did about the heart. Shout out to WNYC! When I get home from the trail I will have all sorts of back episodes to catch up on. It will be nice to listen to them while I’m applying to any and every job in the environmental field I am qualified for when I return.
Again, just like with past blog posts, I do not feel bad begging for money from strangers that will help me out on the trail. I’m a graduate student, money is always tough to come by. Visit the Go Fund Me or Kickstarter site and check out some of the absolutely stupid and ridiculous things people are asking money for and are raising thousands and thousands of dollars. Somehow. Maybe they have a huge library of facebook friends. Maybe they’re all hot girls. I don’t know, but I think I could raise a few hundred from some of you mighty fine folks.
It’s so close and I can’t wait. Just a……little…..bit….further……..
55 days til’ Katahdin! #SOBO #Maine2Georgia
“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold