Happiness and contentment in life come from the merging of Opportunity and Talent. My Dad had Talent but no Opportunity so could not find a way to learn to play the Violin. I had Opportunity but no Talent -- I lack the physical ability to complete a Thru Hike of the Appalachian Trail. I failed to learn this lesson even after numerous section hikes, but in the Spring of 2013, after 41.6 miles hiking in MD and PA, I learned the lesson that Dad had in mind when he told me to "hike the Trail." This Blog is now about the Merging of Opportunity and Talent more than it is about hiking the Appalachian Trail, but I still plan to include snippets of the Trail in the Blog. It's about Chasing the Trail of Life. I hope you enjoy my posts.

COMPUTER TRESPASS---RCW 9A.52.110---Computer trespass in the first degree.

(1) A person is guilty of computer trespass in the first degree if the person, without authorization, intentionally gains access to a computer system or electronic database of another; and (a) The access is made with the intent to commit another crime; or (b) The violation involves a computer or database maintained by a government agency.

(2) Computer trespass in the first degree is a class C felony.

This Blog is Dedicated to my Dad. Although he never accomplished his dream of learning to play the Violin, he did construct and play a Dulcimer at an Elderhostel.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Researching Gear - Part Two

 These past few days I've been web surfing, looking for the 'perfect' sleeping bag for my trip.  Of course, I get side tracked and found other information I needed, like AT Resupply Information.

In the process of my research, I've tried to think about what Dad would advise me to do.  

I had wanted to get a different cell phone and carrier before I left for my backpacking trip this summer, but switching to what I want [Samsung Galaxy Note 2] and Verizon from ATandT, would not be cost effective ... and there'd be the possibility of damaging a brand new cell phone while on the Trail.  Or worse, having someone permanently borrow it.  So, even though I really really want the Note 2, I won't be getting one.  Even though I want to change cell phone carriers, unless something changes my mind, like winning the lottery or having someone step up and offer to pay for it, I will stick with ATandT and my current iPhone 3s for now, even though I won't have good cell service in the towns along the Appalachian Trail and the battery doesn't hold a charge for very long.  I may even reduce the cost of my current coverage.  The major consideration is that 'everyone' knows the current cell phone number and I don't have time to call everyone and give them the new number. BUT again, that could change if something like a huge discount comes along.  

The other item that I truly crave is the Nikon COOLPIX AW100.  Oh, I have a little Sony camera that's seven or eight years old and works fine, but the lure of the All Weather aspect of the Coolpix is a huge draw.
I like it in blue. 
Or black.

Back to Sleeping Bags: I've been all over the spectrum trying to decide what I want to do.  I really like the GoLite W's Z10 and the GoLite W's Adventure 20.  I'm also looking at the EMS Women's Down Under 20 which is comparable to the Adventure 20.  The difference between those two is $29, but buying from EMS gives me an EMS Reward of the difference.  

So, today, I have decided to go to EMS in Annapolis, MD, on Saturday after my massage to purchase my sleeping bag for my hike.

And that plus planning the hiking schedule, is what's been keeping me busy and befuddled the past few days.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Shopping at REI

REI is not sending out its dividends until the middle of March. But I'm in Baltimore and REI is close by now ... so I went to 'try on' some packs. 

Whale [Southern for "Well"] ... I ended up getting an REI Flash 45 Pack ... it only comes in 'Men's size' ... MEDIUM. And I bought the Therm-a-Rest Z-Rest Lite SOL sleeping pad [R value 2.6], a  Cocoon Silk Mummy Liner, six MSR Mini Ground Hog Stakes and a 96 fluid ounce Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene.  

Remeasured my back after the "medium" pack fit so well ... I'm not 15" after all. I'm 17" which was a surprise because I've 'always' been told I was 15". Been measured at Mountain Crossings and told I was 15". [Not to disparage Mountain Crossings Outfitter at all, but just to suggest that you "measure twice, buy once."]   [I suddenly thought I was in that Prego commercial where the actress says "I wonder what other questionable choices I made."]  I tried on other packs, but the only one that 'felt' right with 25 pounds in it was the REI Flash Men's Pack. It weighs in at 2 pounds. I will be able to cut off some of the excess webbing and bring the weight down a few ounces. The padding doesn't press hard against my spine or push against the muscles on either side of my spine. It's configured in a way that doesn't cause my back to spasm. All the 'flat' packs with the HDPE sheet cause excruciating pain. And the mesh backpads equal pain. 

So now all I need is my shoes, which will be the hardest to find with my needing an obscenely wide forefoot [3 3/4"], square toe-box and high volume shoe. Tried on a men's size 7 and it squeezed my forefoot. 

I still need a sleeping bag. Gonna get the  GoLite Women's Z10 unless someone has a suggestion. The other options I like are the REI Women's Flash or Women's Joule. Flash sleeping bag is probably not going to be warm enough and I'm not planning on buying two sleeping bags. 

OH, I did get a $20 gift coupon for spending "$100 or more." Going to use it and my Dividend and the 20% off coupon which will come with the Dividend on a Thule car top carrier for the kayaks.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sleeping Gear: Bivy, Bag, Tarp

I posted this over on a Forum in WhiteBlaze, a Website and Forum for Appalachian Trail Enthusiasts. 

The reason that I posted this gear list is that one person had posted his gear and weights and his tent weighed 3 pounds 8 ounces, his pack weighed 4 pounds 8 ounces and he was wearing 2 pound 4 ounce hiking boots.  He would need boots rather than hiking shoes or trail runners with those heavy items of gear.

There is a great DVD by a former Thru Hiker named Lynne Whelden about Lightweight Backpacking Secrets Revealed which I watched many times as I lightened my backpacking gear. I consider this a basic for any Hiker's Library. 

BIVY LIFE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.  However, if you're going to spend your nights on the Trail in a Shelter most of the time, it's ideal.  Especially if you sleep on your back and you like to snuggle into your covers.  In a bivy, you are protected from dirt, shelter mice, and bugs.  

  • Bivy ... REI Minimalist ... 15 ounces
  • Tyvek groundcloth, cut to size ... 2 ounces
  • Uberlite Closed Cell Torso Pad [no longer made] ... 4 ounces
  • Sylnylon Poncho-Tarp ... 9.5 ounces
  • MSR mini-groundhog stakes [6] ... 2 ounces
  • MSR snow stake [use as trowel] ... 1 ounce
  • Spectra Cord ... 0.2 ounces
  • Zpack Trekking Pole cups [2] ... 0.2 ounces
  • REI Flash Women's 35* sleeping bag ... 28 ounces
  • Cocoon Silk Liner ... 4.7 ounces
  • OR
  • Sea to Summit Reactor Plus Thermal Liner ... 9.3 ounces 
66.6 ounces or 4 pounds 2.6 ounces 
OR 71.2 ounces or 4 pounds 7.2 ounces

My pack goes under my legs for insulation or I could add a 10 ounce 'blue foam' sleeping pad which I have already cut to size.

My clothing is part of my sleep system.  I'll list those weights after I've gathered everything together.

Wearing my clothing and using the heavier liner, I can sleep through any Three-Season Weather on the Appalachian Trail.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

HTO and EMS but no REI

I got my massage on Saturday and then drove to the Annapolis, MD, Hudson Trail Outfitters before going to Eastern Mountain Sports on the other side of the street [actually the other side of the Interstate but only .6 miles away].  I met two great salespeople at  HTO. I looked at shoes and packs.  I bought two more pair of Injinji, this time the coolmax and some stormproof matches.  I may go back next weekend as they have regular sales and send the sale info via email.  At EMS, I located a 'return' EMS Thunderhead Rain Jacket in black and my size for $15.  One of the salespeople located the reason for the return ... yellowing where pack straps would have caused the original owner to perspire.  For another $2, I bought a bottle of Granger one-step wash and waterproofing.  So for less than $20, I got a $99 rain jacket that weighs 11 oz. 

What I did NOT do was make it to REI.  But that's okay.  I keep waiting for their 20% off coupon to show up online or else with my dividend.  

Today, I pulled a klutzy move and tripped over my feet, falling into a protruding end of a barrel shaped side chair.  I immediately put ice on it, but I am sore internally.  I hit flesh and don't think I broke any bones.  This will take some time to heal and set back my plans to exercise. 

My hiking partner and I have finally come to the conclusion that we will start our hike at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  Date is not yet set in stone.  She will be completing her 2000 mile hike and I will be preparing for next year's hike.  After we hike to Mt. Katahdin, Maine, the plan is to hike from the Smoky Mountains to Springer Mountain in Georgia.

Then next year, I have the option of hiking the part I don't hike this year or, perhaps, Thru Hiking.  The choice will be mine.

Two important things: Getting physically fit and purchasing the rest of my lightweight gear. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Researching Gear

I spent most of my time yesterday researching one item of gear: sleeping bags. 

I use a bivy, ground cloth, torso pad and tarp.  Most people use a tent, some use a tarp, few use bivies. 

Bivy is from the French term "bivouac."  It is the term used to describe mountaineers and soldiers making a temporary camp by wrapping themselves up in their woolen blankets or perhaps animal hides.  My bivy is more sophisticated than that.  It's made of waterproof material on the bottom, water-repellent material on the top, and has no-see-um netting from shoulder to head height.  Entry and egress is made possible by zippers which open the top 1/3.  My REI Minimalist Bivy is approximately five years old and is RED in color.  I recently ordered a Tyvek Ground Cloth to use under my bivy.  I will cut it to size [larger than the bivy and round the corners] so that I'm not carrying extra weight.  My Silnylon Poncho-Tarp will be held up by my REI Trekking Poles with the use of a new item I found, Trekking Pole Cups. My guy-lines will be light reflective cord, for stakes, I'll use the MSR mini-ground hogs. 

As stated, I spent most of yesterday researching WhiteBlaze and Backpacking Lightweight, two websites with Backpacking Forums and all kinds of hiking related information.  I looked at a lot of sleeping bags referenced in those two sites. 

At the end of the day, I settled on two specific sleeping bags, one from Western Mountaineering and one from Eastern Mountain Sports.  Both were high quality goose down and both were in the $369 and UP range.  It's not that I don't want to spend money on quality items, it's just that I had that 'gut feeling' that I was missing something. 

I had gone to bed but not to sleep when it occurred to me that I had not studied the REI sleeping bags in my research and I got up 'in the middle of the night' and used my iPhone to do some 'stealth web searching.'  

And I found what I was looking for: a lightweight women's sleeping bag with polyester on the bottom and a wrap-around top filled with 800-fill goose down.  The advantage of this arrangement is that the back-side or bottom of the sleeping bag compresses any insulation up against the sleeping pad.  I sleep on my back and do not toss and turn, so this arrangement is not only 'ideal' the price is reasonable.  [I use a sleeping pad which went out of production in 2009; a Pacific Outdoor Equipment Uber Lite Torso Pad.]

Tomorrow on to a new adventure: A massage.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Backstory Part The First

I always have a 'bad habit' of starting stories from the middle thinking that the listener, or in this case, the reader, is more familiar than she probably is with my life-story.  That may happen here, but I hope the reader, will forgive me for thinking that the world revolves around me all the time.  As I've grown older, I realize that it only revolves around me on rare occasions, which, being human, I hold dear and close to my heart. 

"I was born at a very early age."  Those were always the words of my grandfather when asked about himself.  My earliest memories are of being rocked by him when I was 9 months old.  Yes, some baby memories are so memorable, like trying to focus on a screen door and the smell of pipe tobacco, that they're imprinted on the mind.  

My earliest recollection of the Appalachian Trail is hazy at best.  I think I've always had a memory of it because I am related to Daniel Boone [my fifth great grandfather was his oldest brother] and heard stories about my ancestors from my childhood.  When I was 16 [1960], my Dad and Mom and brother and I went on a planned vacation to all the State Capitols of the 13 original Colonies.  We drove through Gatlinburg, TN and took Newfound Gap Road to Cherokee, NC driving across the Appalachian Trail.  I don't recall talking about it, but we must have.  I'm sure there were other times when the Trail was a part of a larger discussion, but I don't recall any young desire to hike or Thru Hike.

That would come much later.