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, April 30, 2013

Life ...

Something to think about when hiking in the rain on the Appalachian Trail.

What I'll be wearing on Saturday

Orange Buff; "honor" visor (Dad's); ATC poly tee shirt; nylon Bass Pro shorts; REI wool hiker socks; Outdoor Research Bug Out Gaiters (EMS Rewards used to purchase); La Sportiva Wildcat shoes. Only thing not shown is my green nylon web belt.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lyme Disease on the Appalachian Trail

Unitic's 2013 Trail Journal is something I want my readers to stop and read. Right now.

WHY you ask? He is a Lyme Disease survivor whose mission is to hike the Appalachian Trail and raise awareness of this debilitating disease, because it is UNDER diagnosed in States where many Doctors don't acknowledge its presence.  Many doctors do not consider Lyme Disease endemic in their States.  There could be as many as 1 Million people with Lyme Disease walking around the United States today.

Please READ at least this one page of his Journal which has Information about Lyme Disease

THREE VIDEOS for you to watch:

1 - 2 24 13 Journey Thru Lyme Intro Video
2 - Journey Thru Lyme - Key Symptoms and Tips on Prevention
3 - Journey Thru Lyme - Thanks Partners!

Now you know why I will carry my Lyme Aid Kit and use it, if necessary.  Thank you, Rosie.


Shout Out to my Readers! I start my "Half-A-Thru" on Saturday, come rain or shine!

Sprayed the last of my clothing today!

Revelation 21: 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; 3 and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Saturday, April 27, 2013


The only place I spent money was at Bass Pro. Got a pair of "hiking shorts" ... Now to Mom's to have dinner and visit with her and one of the many sweet ladies who live in her retirement community (of 2500 people & 7 dining areas).

Battery Power

I bought an iPhone battery charger from Staples and charged it up. When I went to check how it worked ... It didn't ... Now I don't have time to purchase the NEW Trent one without paying over $50 mailing cost to have it arrive before I leave. Unless I buy from Amazon. One day I may explain my distrust of "new" items purchased from them which turn out to be refurbished by the time they show up at my front door. (Fool me once, etc.)

This may end up becoming a "fool me thrice" purchase.

In the meantime, I'm off for my massage & to EMS to use my dividend.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


From Table to "If It Fits, It Ships" Boxes. One more to mail to a friend where I'm taking a Zero day!


A True Story or "Why I didn't finish my hike in 2009"

This is a true story I just shared with AWOL of the famous The AT Guide.
I let the Trail beat me up in 2009 ... actually, I had a 'near death' experience at Devil's Racecourse Shelter in Maryland. My foot went into a hole, the rocks closed around my leg above my ankle, I dropped my toilet supplies, grabbed my leg and did a "Hap Ki Do" type roll, as I was in the process of grabbing my leg and rolling, I went 'out of body' and was watching myself from above about 20 feet or so, laying on the rocks with my leg broken at the shin, bones protruding and blood gushing into the hole where my shoe and foot were stuck. I went into the roll and the rocks released my ankle, allowing my foot and shoe to come out of the hole. The rocks then closed back onto themselves. I 'tested' the area looking for the 'trap' but wasn't willing to put too much pressure on the rocks. I never found the place again and I avoided the area. 
When I calmed down, I talked myself out of staying on the Trail.
This year's hiking plan was to hike with a friend so she could finish her AT Section hike and get her 2000 Miler Certificate from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. As it turned out, she was told she had ruptured a disk and needed neck surgery. I am hoping she was able to arrange it and can join me on this hike. Because basically, I wouldn't be hiking if "we" had not planned to hike together. In the meantime, this "Half-A-Thru" has taken on a life of its own.  If I was planning to Half-A-Hike on my own, I'd probably hike from Maryland to Georgia or Georgia to Maryland.  [What I deem the 'easy' half.]

Right this minute, I'm obsessing and panicked over my mail drops. I finally got them boxed up and I'm 'missing' a mail drop because I consolidated a couple and I'm having to change one. I'm just not into "pricey" hostel stays. I'm from the South. When we pay $77 plus tax for a room, it's a private room with a private bath.

Okay, deep breaths. Tomorrow I leave all my mail drop boxes here and drive to my Mom's in Baltimore ... on Saturday I get my wonderful massage from a Massage Therapist ... and then on the 4th of May, I head out from Gathland State Park.

Deep breaths ... hold ... exhale. Rinse and Repeat. Okay, hold the Rinse.

Psalm 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Changing Re-Supply Plans

Today I went to the Post Office and purchased the Stamps for "If It Fits It Ships" boxes. When I was rechecking my food and vitamins, I realized I'm going to have to change my UPS mail drop for a USPS drop farther along the Trail because I'm not staying at The Inn at The Long Trail in Killington, VT. Too pricey.

So I asked a quick question on WhiteBlaze and got a "check the Trail Guide" answer. I can't locate it in all these boxes and plastic bags of food. I just needed a quick response not Sarcasm. So I responded in kind. Now I have to re-write my schedule so I don't arrive in Hanover, NH, on a Sunday. I have to take a couple of Zeros or hike faster to get there on a Monday or a Friday ... Post Office hours are 8-11 AM on Saturday and I will be about 5 miles from town making it risky that I can rush to get there in time.

That box will have my Winter Gear in it ... And I did not want to have a Mail Drop in Hanover, but now the choices are Spend Money or change my schedule to Save Money. Why, you ask, does it make a difference. Hanover is the town "everyone" uses to mail their Winter Gear. Think a Post Office with hundreds of boxes all addressed to "AT Hiker" and mine lost among them.

The Trail either makes or breaks the Hiker. Right now, I'm stressing & thinking that I will NOT let the Trail take over My Hike! If I have to, I'll buy a couple pounds of Protein Drink, a box of PayDay candy bars and Night Hike if necessary! I will get past VT and all their expensive accommodations.

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Magic Piece of Gear

My BFF's husband made this for me to use while backpacking.

An appreciative Thank You to him!

Can you surmise what it is, why it is a valued piece of gear, and how I'll be using it?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blood Mountain

Stopped by Mountain Crossings and saw Baltimore Jack Tarlin and Winton Porter.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Red Sky at Night

Hiker's Delight.

Visiting in North Georgia. Frost Warning!

Have already made a decision to change my hiking outfit to a pair of mesh shorts and my polyester shirt with the saying "Wake up and smell the gear." Must spray them with Permethrin. Will also carry my 12 ounce lightweight thermal underwear.

My educated guess is that this could be a cold and damp hiking season. Better to have warm clothing and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Lamentations 3:22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

Flat Dad shopped for hiking clothes

Flat Dad thought about new clothes, but recalled what Henry David Thoreau stated in "Walden"

"I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Resting my knee and preparing to hike

Taking a few days off to continue to allow my right knee to heal. Have been icing it down.

Tomorrow, I pack my bags because I'm heading out to friends in North Georgia for a week on Friday before I head up to my Mom's and then start my "Half a Thru Hike."

I copied a post below "For Senior Hikers" to White Blaze and have received some good comments. I hope to turn it into an article [without grammatical or editorial errors] and submit it to the List Owners to use as an Article on the site.

I thought of some additional things to add ... I wrote:
I could add a few other things ... like "accept the Trail Community for what it is and be open to learn and to teach at appropriate times and to keep your vast array of knowledge to yourself when the audience isn't receptive." 
And "listen to your body. Being older means you're probably more attuned to when the pain can be 'walked through' and when it might be something more serious." 
And "AFTER YOUR HIKE ... read the book "Good Calories Bad Calories" by Gary Taube AND eat low to moderate GLYCEMIC foods in order to maintain any weight loss."
I'll let the article simmer for a week and then submit it before I leave.

I keep thinking of ways to cut a few grams and ounces from my pack weight without exchanging any of the gear I have for new. I've spent as much as I can spend.

I think I'll go to bed a bit early tonight ... now THAT will be a change.

Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wisdom from Bruce Lee

For Senior Hikers - What I've learned in preparing for my "Half-a-Thru Hike'

I posted this over on Trailplace [Dan Wingfoot Bruce owns the site] ... not sure if it posted though.

What I've learned as I prepare for a Pre-Thru Hike ... hiking the North Half of the AT starting next month ...

1- Get your physical and talk to your doctor ... and a Sports Medicine Doctor like I have will do what he must to keep me active ... IE ... Steroid/Novocaine shots in my knees ... After I hike this 'half-a-Thru' he's talking about a referral to an Orthopedist and getting shots that will replace the meniscus missing in my knees. I have arthritis in my knees and my lower back.

2- Carry Giardia meds and hope you don't need them. Carry a "Lyme Aid" kit ... you mail the removed tick and a fee in and within 3 business days know if you have Lyme Disease. Even take something for constipation, just in case.

3- Take a vitamin supplement. [I'm also taking 50 mg B-1 daily to keep bugs at bay.] Eat your greens when you go into Restaurants. Get enough protein. Using a protein drink before bedtime is a good idea ... 30 grams of protein is optimal for muscle recovery.

4- Do research on foods high in calories and low in weight so that when your Hiker Hunger kicks in you'll know how to carry the most calories for the least weight.

5- Don't get stressed when reading trail journals ... It's really easy to get panicked when you read about the house and car sized boulders slick from rain and snow in Maine ... and 18" of snow ... Retrain yourself to focus on a simple single goal at the end of the day ... don't dwell too much on the 'big picture' until you get to Baxter State Park.

6- Make a conservative schedule and be prepared to be flexible. If you need a Zero Day or a Nero Day and it's not scheduled ... take it ... If you're feeling super and have the time to make it to the next campsite/shelter ... go for it. Throw out the schedule ... it's for your resupply person, anyway. This is your hike. You are in charge. There's no time table other than getting to Baxter State Park before it closes. IF you find you're going to run out of time ... or IF it's just too hot or humid where you are ... there's nothing 'wrong' about Flip Flopping. Shuttle to Baxter State Park, hike Katahdin and then hike South to where you got off. It's your own hike, after all.

7- Know that you will be hiking 3 to 5 day hikes interspersed with resupply points ... be they groceries or mail drops ... and you can thru hike with a minimum of mail drops if you so desire. You're not expected to carry enough food and water for all 2200 miles. You'll be near 'civilization' for most of the hike.

8- You actually can avoid expensive town stays with some planning ... stealth camping or campsite just before a Trail Town, going in for laundry, shower, resupply ... and hiking out to next campsite or stealth camping. There are places where you can shower for a small fee. You can take a Nero day and do your laundry LNT style while on the Trail. Or use an inexpensive campground and take Zero to do your laundry there. [WhiteBlaze has articles that may be helpful with Hike Planning.]

9- I took a tip from Warren Doyle and started hiking with a full pack ... slowly at first ... 3 miles three times a week and he suggests 5 miles one weekend day. Then adding 2 miles every two weeks. You can be 'in good trail shape' within 10-12 weeks. And it doesn't have to be hiking up and down mountains. You're trying to get your body prepared for carrying your pack ... it's pretty much in the legs ... not injure yourself before your hike.

10- Use Poles ... Youtube has videos on how to correctly use trekking poles.

11- If you have a smart phone, use Google Drive to create off-line files you can refer to. I've got my schedule, my list of resupply points, list of rates for Hostels, list of stealth camps in Maine, list of high calorie/lightweight foods I like and know I'll eat, list of shuttles on mine.

12- Know that there have been countless others who are older than you and not in the best physical shape who have Thru Hiked and made it all the way ... even with those huge boulders in Maine and Presidential Mountains in NH, and rocks [I hear it's not that bad, just tread carefully] in PA. If they can do it, so can you. And remember the Tortoise and the Hare? It's okay to hike your own personal pace. It's not a race. Make your hike enjoyable. Make it personal, make it yours. You're not competing with anyone else. Unlike the 'real' world, the AT is not a competition.

“Why, an Indian would die laughing his head off if he saw the Trail. I would have never started this trip if I had known how tough it was, but I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t, quit.”—Grandma Gatewood, 1955, on her first of three thru-hikes.

13- Make up a mantra that you'll use to pep yourself up when things get hard. Hard climb: Wow, that was worth the view. Hard downhill: Turn around and say Wow, I am a downhill hiking machine. Day of rain: Ah, liquid sunshine. Think I'll do a 'spit bath' before bed. More than one day of rain: Great, there will be water available at the springs. A dry spell: Well at least I don't have sopping wet shoes to hike in. Getting to a Road Crossing and Trail Town: Wow, that didn't take long. ..... You get the idea. While on the Trail, you'll come up with more of your own. Write them down in your journal ... who knows, they may turn into a poem or a song.

14- Expect hard days. Expect awesome days. Write about the Awesome Days in great detail. Write about the hard days briefly so you don't dwell on them.

15- There will be days when you think you want to quit ... when you 'know' you want to quit. I had one of those in 2009 and I regret quitting. If I knew then what I know now, I would have take a Zero day or two to recuperate and more than likely completed that 500 mile section hike. I had pushed myself ... still too goal oriented I had made my hike a competition ... and I was exhausted. I nearly broke my leg and with my 'all or nothing at all' personality, I talked myself off the Trail.

16- There is an excellent book entitled "Appalachian Trials" by Zach Davis which talks about the trials and the mental preparation for a Thru Hike. I recommend it for your Library.

17- Do your "lightweight" gear research before you buy your gear so you don't spend money replacing gear.

18- Practice your night time and morning ritual before you get on the Trail. Learn how to put up and take down your tarp, tent, hammock in the rain and in the dark. Learn your knots. Practice your breakfast and dinner rituals. DO NOT go to bed without eating something ... that's why I have my protein drink. No matter how tired I am, I can mix it with water and gulp it down.

19- Go as lightweight as your comfortable with. Remember that it's your fears that cause you to carry too much weight on your back. At the same time, be sensible and carry what you need. Use your mail drops to mail yourself cold weather clothing and be willing to use a Bump Box for items you don't need 'now' or mail back to your resupply person any clothing or gear you know you won't need.

20- Plan to replace some items ... shoes wear out, insoles wear out. Put it in your budget. Send your shoes back to Mountain Crossings for their collection or to some other place which collects old shoes. 

21- ENJOY YOURSELF. Through it all ... have a good time. You'll undergo great emotions on this hike. Live in the present. Laugh when you're happy, cry when you're overcome with beauty beyond your comprehension, overcome your fears, gain new insights, get wet, get cold, get sore feet, know that you'll hurt at the end of the day and sometimes when you get up in the morning, be spontaneous. But most of all, enjoy yourself.

These were written as a post for other Senior Hikers as much as for me. Especially number 21.

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. 

Flat Dad at the ATC

In Harpers Ferry, WV, on my drive to TN last month.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Pre-Hike that Wasn't

Well, today was supposed to be a good hiking day for me. Although I stayed up too late last night finding hymns I want to print out and learn all the verses to, I didn't know that I was going to be tossed around like a leaf in a gale.

Back in March, when I traded my AT&T phone for the Verizon Samsung, which I later traded for an iPhone [Samsung puts too much 'stupid samsung stuff' on their phone and the learning curve for ANDROID was confusing], I asked the smooth talking salesman at the Flea Market in Sevierville, TN, to make sure that my contract was up. WELL, he was more interested in selling me a Galaxy One ... Stellar ... same/same ... and LIED to me.  AND he sweet talked me into "helping" him get extra points by giving him my iPhone 3s ... which he probably sold.  Had I kept that phone, I'd have had Dad's voice mails.  But I wanted to help ... and put MY needs aside  ... and I didn't check my ATT account and I didn't THINK about my voice mails ... I assumed they'd follow my phone number.  ASS=[u]=ME.

Long story short, I now owe over $200 to ATT for EARLY TERMINATION ... Two lousy months early. I would have waited had Mr Smooth Talker been honest with me. Not only did I lose my Dad's voice on the voice mails, I now have to pay a FINE .... my IRS refund is now unavailable for use on my "Half-A-Thru-Hike."  I will HAVE to sleep in the Shelters or under the poncho tarp and I won't be staying at Allenberry Resort $40 Hiker Special or the Port Clinton Hotel $49 plus $10 refundable Key Fee, but I will stay at the Doyle in Duncannon, PA because I have to go to pick up Prescriptions there and at various Hostels that charge $30 or less a night] I have to recoup that money and put it back in my savings account for emergencies.  But, okay, LESSON LEARNED.  Never ever ever will I trust another salesman or any person out to 'sell' me something.  "Thanks, but no thanks."

NEEDLESS to say, Cellular Sales will NOT be getting a renewal from me in March 2015.  I've already marked my calender!  And my YELP REVIEW about them is not positive.

SO besides having to go get another steroid/novocaine shot in my 'other' knee ... the right one this time, going to pick up a prescription and eye drops and finding out that someone else got one of the two OTC but behind the counter Eye Drops I ordered from Rite Aid two weeks ago and I could only get one because the second box was gone ... and getting GUT PUNCHED by AT&T ... It's been a day I don't want to repeat ever again.

I am so angry at myself for being SO gullible ... It's MY fault ... and my own fault for not double checking my AT&T contract and for being so easily persuaded.   I am 68 and I STILL think I can trust other people. You'd think after two divorces that one day I would learn. It seems as if the minute I let my guard down, the minute I fall for a bunch of compliments, I get mistreated.  At least THIS time there was no wedding and divorce.  Let's look on the Happy Side of Life.

Tuesday is another day ... and I leave for Georgia on Friday morning so I need to get cracking and packing!  Tuesday is going to be a GOOD day.  I'll ice my knee, I'll do a load or laundry, I'll sort and pack.  And I'll drink a lot of water and juice.

Maybe I NEEDED this day to get my guard up for this hike ... and to learn NOT to fall for compliments coming from smooth talking people, especially, or ANYONE who says he/she to want to help me.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Well, I am ashamed.  And it will take me a long time to forgive myself.  It's my fault ... I just didn't 'think it through' ... I wanted a Verizon phone so I could talk and text while in the Appalachian Mountains ... like my friends could.  There is no 'undoing' this mistake.  If I'd just kept my iPhone 3s, this post would not have been written and I'd have my IRS refund to use to stay in Hostels while on the Trail.  After all, I could have gotten a Verizon phone here instead of East Tennessee.  I will not dwell on the "If Onlies" ... I will not allow them to depress me.

The face of a sucker, isn't it?


I'm remembering this recent post from Datto ...
... it seems our lives are filled with so much worry about past events we can do little about, yet our condition is made from the sum of our past decisions.
Many times we feel as victims, yet it's only because we have chosen not to make a decision, not to take action. We sometimes dwell on past mistakes and think those foretell our future ... and we become paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. Our choice becomes one of doing nothing.
Datto 10/1/2000 Crocker Cirque Campsite, ME

I did something.  I didn't just just sit back ... I did something and I ended up hurting myself ... I'm going backpacking ... I'm going to walk off all this 'sum of my past decisions' ... and keep my guard up.  And keep my Focus on Hiking to the next Shelter or Campsite.   I can live without staying at places that charge more than $30 a night.   [I just checked the cost of the Inn at the Long Trail ... $79? That's NOT happening.  I'll pick up my mail drop for the $5 fee and walk on.] [Crawford Notch Bunk with supper and breakfast is $77 ... that may not happen, either.]  I've already spent too much money getting ready for this hike.  And my 7 mail drop boxes don't have Postage on them yet, either.  That's another $100 plus the UPS box will probably be in the $30+ range.   I will mostly resupply food at various trail towns and I've read that the 'great' North East grocery stores are more expensive than our 'greater' Southern ones.  Groceries could well take most of the money I'll have available.

Maybe DAD, I didn't think this through well enough.  I'm reading on WhiteBlaze that I should expect to spend $1000 a month on my hike.  After expenses, I have $600 to $700 to spend.  I am going to have to think "white bread and cheap peanut butter" ... and not Kashi Go Lean and Peter Pan Peanut Butter.  Well, the FIRST Thru Hiker, Earl Shaffer did it with White Bread and Peanut Butter ... So Can I.

I'm NOT going to talk myself out of this hike.  I may have to skip Motels and Hotels and Resorts and I may have to stealth camp after stopping at a Trail Town until I get to Maine ... but if I have to do it, I have to do it.  I have no choice but to stay at Hostels or Hotels in Maine ... well, I guess I have a choice, but I think making a mistake in Maine [fortunately there are $8-$12 tent pads in New Hampshire] could be more expensive than staying at a Hotel ... I was checking recently and would you believe that there are States that refuse to accept my brand of Medicare Advantage?  And ObamaCare hasn't kicked in completely yet.  When it does, I no longer have Medicare Advantage.

Enough Negative ..................... I'm going to do this ............. DAD told me to do it and I want to make him proud.

But first I have to Hike.

Psalm 25: 4-6 Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are god my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Story of Flat Dad

My Dad died last July. One of the last things he wanted me to do was Hike the Trail. I decided that he should come with me ... as "Flat Dad." So I created this likeness and will be posting photos of Flat Dad along the Trail. This is his hike as much as mine.

Datto's Words of Wisdom

I read Datto's Appalachian Trail Journal from his 2000 Thru Hike and found these words of wisdom I am passing along with his permission:

... it seems our lives are filled with so much worry about past events we can do little about, yet our condition is made from the sum of our past decisions.
Many times we feel as victims, yet it's only because we have chosen not to make a decision, not to take action. We sometimes dwell on past mistakes and think those foretell our future ... and we become paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. Our choice becomes one of doing nothing.

Datto 10/1/2000 Crocker Cirque Campsite, ME

Proverbs 2:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. NIV

Pre-Hike Number Six and Observations

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Yesterday was a great day for hiking. I carried 25.8 pounds on my back and hiked my 8 miles and felt really good. I was even able to do a short bit of running ... uses different muscles ... on the gravel road.

I met a couple of people while hiking yesterday and gave them my Blog info. I hope they have time to check on my progress occasionally.

I had nearly everything in my pack that I'll have on my first leg of my hike. I have culled everything extraneous from my gear and have what I consider are my bare essentials ... I do have some gear that is heavier than other hikers might carry ... I carry an MSR Miniworks Water Filter because I trust it, others use the Sawyer Squeeze Filter or Aqua Mira drops. I carry Five Fingers Trek Sports because stream crossings in Crocs or Flip Flops can be dicey. I use a bivy and poncho tarp because I don't like bugs and I do plan to use shelters if it rains or WHEN it rains, if at all possible. Bivies and Shelters work well to keep the mice and buggies at bay. I've had the bivy in mild rain but never in a torrential downpour ... if the poncho doesn't provide enough cover, I may order a BearPaw Wilderness Designs tarp. 10x6.5 in brown for stealth camping. It weighs 12 ounces while my Poncho Tarp weighs 9.5. I carry a rain jacket for warmth as much as for rain. I like the poncho in the pouring rain in the summer.

After reading a few Trail Journals, I am considering sending myself my stove and cook pot when I get to Maine. It can get cold and I might want a way to heat water and even to cook some meals. It's a thought I'll have to consider. I'm definitely using my EMS Rewards to purchase a 9.3 ounce Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Plus sleeping bag liner. This with my lightweight thermals is about the same weight as my mid-weight thermals and I believe will keep me warmer in my sleeping bag. I will also be using the 4.7 ounce silk liner with this liner. Layering being the key to warmth.

Sometimes I think it's not in my best interest to read Trail Journals when they accurately describe the White Mountains and Mahoosuc Notch  and such [see this  VIDEO]  ... I can look at the map profiles and shudder ... and reading about the days and days and days of rain and cold and wind ... and 18 inches of snow in August or September in Maine ... and who had to get off the Trail due to this injury or that illness ... and biting flies ...and Lyme Disease ... Oh, it was 'fun' to see the 'real' Maine Climbs ... rebars and ladders and all. But worrisome that I won't be able to carry heavy enough winter gear should it get freezing cold or should we have an early winter ...

Making it all the way is my goal ... but just hiking 'today' has to become my focus. In the past, I've lost my focus by concentrating on the goal. But THIS time, I'm setting my goal to be focusing on 'today's' hike ... and letting the miles pass while doing so.

If I had any sense, I think I'd start in GA and hike half way to MD [and my Mom's] or hike SoBo from MD to GA ... I feel 'comfortable' in the Southern half of the Appalachian Mountain Range ... but the Northern half creates the same 'fear' as when I went to Italy in the early summer of 2001 ... totally uncharted territory ... But I hope and expect the experience to parallel that of Italy ... once I got there, I had a great time ... even if the 'tour guide from hell' did leave me in Florence to fend for myself and leave a group of us in Rome ... I and we all found our way back to the hotels ... and I got to wander Florence on my own ... which was super cool.

I'm not planning to rush through this Half-a-Thru-Hike ... my 'schedule' is mostly in the 8 to 12 mile a day range ... one or two 'nearly 20 mile days' ... with the Caveat that if I don't want to hike that far, I have the Bivy and I can 'cowboy camp' anywhere on the Trail ... except where there are posted signs saying I can't ... and even THEN, if I'm dead tired, I will not repeat what I did in 2009 and push too far and create a situation where I talk myself off the Trail.

When all else fails, Take a Nap when tired. HAD I DONE THAT in 2009, I might have completed that 500 mile hike.

Today I'm resting my knees and legs ... and finding that they're recuperating a lot faster today than they after my last Pre-Hike hike just a couple days ago. I've got a few maps to study and the Maine Guide book to read [I'm leaving it here, putting my notes online and accessible to my iPhone] today.

ONE decision I've made ... I'm buying an external battery charger for my iPhone and leaving my camera at home. That way I can email my photos to myself to 'save' them and download them when I get back to Maryland.

But FIRST, I have to hike.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pre-Hike Number Five - 8 Miles

Middle Tennessee Weather today was expected to be rainy with high winds. So I headed out to Stones River Battlefield to hike with a 25.8 pound backpack. I put my rain cover on the pack but I was hiking in shorts and a sleeveless shirt.

I hiked the 1 3/4 miles from the Visitor's Center in 42 minutes. The pack carried well and my legs were stronger today than they were two days ago. I hiked the half mile perimeter trail around the Slaughter Pen and hiked back to the Visitor's Center in order to have lunch. I made great time and hiked the entire four miles at 2.25 miles an hour.

After a 45 minute lunch break, I hiked the same trail a second time. The cloud cover solidified and the color of the clouds ranged from medium to dark grey. I failed to notate the air temperature. Hiking back, the rain finally came but didn't last very long. I didn't stop to put on my rain jacket.  I hiked at almost 2.5 miles per hour.

When I got back to the house, I made a Protein Drink and took an Epsom Salt soak. I'm gonna miss the Epsom Salt Soaks. My knees 'burn' but are not in pain. My feet are feeling better today than they did two days ago.

I think I'm developing my Trail Legs.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Make or Break

I don't like things that do not come easily. I am an 'all or nothing' personality. This hike is either going to be the end of my chase or will change me. It's a toss up right now. 

Here is a really good article by Multi-Thru Hiker Warren Doyle: Walking the Entire Appalachian Trail: Fulfilling a Dream by Accomplishing the Task I think I should read and re-read this daily before I leave. 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Four Hour Pack On Pre-Hike Hike

I hiked for four hours today.

I dropped off some recycling, then went to Stones River Battlefield Park. I shouldered my 21 pound pack and hiked for three hours before taking a lunch break of forty-five minutes and then put my pack back on and hiked for another hour.

I was blessed to run into two visitors to our fair State, Mike and Teresa and their two Yorkies, Bear aka Barely There, and Maggie. They have a nine page bucket list. They take their RV around the Country visiting all the places on that list. One of the things they'd like to do is hike the Appalachian Trail. Mike called me his 'hero.'

Later I met a man whose son had hiked on the Appalachian Trail for two weeks in the Boy Scouts. He called me his 'heroine.'

I'm just a Senior Citizen living a dream, Chasing the Trail. But thanks for the complements.

I came home, soaked for 20 minutes in Epsom Salts and found a TICK on my leg.

Tomorrow, if it's not raining, I'm spraying Permethrin on my hiking clothes and shoes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Difference Between 2009 and 2013

While I was out today, I got to thinking about how different this year's hike is vis a vis the attempt I made in 2009.

In 2009, I was still living in North Georgia. Casey the Wonder Dog was alive and I had Chloe and Chester Cat. Dad was still alive. And I failed to properly plan for my hike. Oh, I read a lot and I thought I was ready, but I wasn't prepared for contingencies.

This year, I stay with my son and his family. Chester Cat is living with a "cat lady" in North Georgia. Chloe was given to an Animal Rescue in Lower Alabama in 2010 before I had opportunity to say goodbye to her. Casey died of Cancer in 2011. Dad died as a result of a Myocardial Infarction in 2012.

But the major difference, is that I was encouraged by a friend and worked on a hike schedule. I've also read more ... Appalachian Trails by Zach Davis being the best book so far. I've ordered The A.T. Guide and have downloaded it to my iPhone.

And I can actually envision myself completing this long Section Hike. I wasn't sure in 2009. This time, I'm sure.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Zero Day

I had great plans for hiking today and for spraying my hiking clothes with Permethrin.

Well, I had a Zero Day. I didn't stay up 'that' late, but my body needed sleep after being up all the night before and I didn't wake up until after 10 AM. And when I woke up, I was moving in "slow motion."

So, I did my laundry and decided to straighten my room and sort my clothes and move my Mail Drop boxes into my room ... and it's taken all day to do so. Not that there's that much, just a lot of distractions ... ACM Awards for one.

But that's okay. Because even if you're NOT on the Trail, a Zero Day can be a good day.

Let's see what tomorrow brings ...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pack On Pre-Hike Hike Number Three

Today was a busy day for me and my youngest Granddaughter. We went to REI in Nashville, TN. I purchased the Pack Cover, the Day Pack, and Sil Net to seal the seams of my Granite Gear fanny pack. I didn't like the size of the Cubes and ended up buying an Outdoor Research Dry Sack to replace the bear bag I am currently using. I got the 15 liter size because I might have to put my sweaty clothes in with the food should I end up in Black Bear Territory in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine.

I also picked up a Backpacker Magazine to read. The copy with the Gear Reviews in it.

I purchased a new pair of REI merino wool mini crew light hiking socks and two Nalgene 2 ounce polyethylene bottles.

We went out to Sonic for lunch and then when I got home, I packed up my pack with 20.6 pounds and and hiked three miles rather than three and a half. Temperature was 70* and I took one break. I hiked as fast as I could and was wearing some summer shoes and now have a couple of 'hot spots' on four toes.

Tomorrow, I pack up and hike over at Stones River National Battlefield.

My knee with the steroid shot is feeling fine. My foot with the steroid shot didn't bother me as much as usual, but then I was developing blisters and not concentrating on other aches and pains.

I am beginning to be more confident in my gear choices and other than making up my Protein Drinks for my Mail Drops, I am "good to go."

Ah, AFTER I spray my clothes and shoes with Permethrin, of course.

Pack on Pre-Hike Hike Number Two

On Thursday, I took another pre-hike hike ... in the misty rain. Temperature was again 48* and my pack now weighed 22.4 pounds. I left the house a minute to one and I returned an hour and thirty five minutes later. I cut my time by 10 minutes, although that was not the goal. The goal was to strengthen my legs for my AT Hike.

Friday, I had a doctor's appointment for a shot of steroid [dexamethasone with lidocaine]. As it turned out, the arthritis was so 'thick' [for want of a better term] in the inside of my left knee that the Physician's Assistant had to place the injection from the outside ... yes it hurt when she pushed through to the meniscus. 

However, I also learned that there is a new technique for rebuilding the meniscus that I will be referred to after I return from my hike.

I went shopping for my backpacking meals after I saw the doctor and came up with an array of foods which I spent the rest of the afternoon and after supper sorting and boxing. My boxes weigh from just over ten pounds [Monson, ME to Abol Bridge Campground through the 100 Mile Wilderness] to 4.6 for my mail drop in Port Clinton, PA. I'm quite satisfied with these weights. I have solid food plus a 'whey-soy-milk' drink for supper time which will help in restoring and rebuilding my muscles. I've done a lot of reading on the subject and I believe that this will help me stay healthy on the Trail.

I've had some problems falling asleep and last night I was awake all night. But I also spent the time thinking about my gear ... and realized where I can drop a few ounces and pick up an ounce. I don't need to take my gloves, for instance, but I will send them to me when I get to Sherburne Pass, VT.

Also, I will be 'bear bagging' the PVC Method" and I will try to get my son to make me a small piece of PVC for this style bear bagging.

Today, Saturday, I'm headed to REI in Nashville, TN, with my granddaughter. I have til tomorrow to use my 20% off coupon and I have just over $16 in a dividend. I'm going to purchase a Pack Cover and some Seam Grip and potentially a day pack and a pack it cube which one Thru Hiker suggests is a great Bear Bag ... it's translucent, so you can see what you're looking for without having to dump the entire bag out. I'm going to look at it to see if it's worthy of a purchase.

Well, here it is, nearly time to get up. After we get back from REI, I'll be doing my Third Pre-Hike Hike with a Full Pack.

Sunday, is the day I'm going to put Permethrin on my clothes and shoes and Tyvek ground cloth.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pack On Pre-Hike Hike Number One

Yesterday, I planned to hike with a full pack, but it took longer to get organized than I thought it would. But today, I loaded my pack and weighed it ... 20.6 pounds and then I added 2 pounds of water.

I bought a Granite Gear Air Swift "fanny pack" in Jasmine Green to wear in front. The color goes well with the REI Flash 45 which has lime green webbing.

I started my hike at 12:44 PM. The temperature was 48 degrees and the sky was cloudy but became overcast as I walked back to the house. It took me an hour and forty-five minutes to walk three and a half miles. I took a short break for water and another break to talk to a lady walking her dog.

I'm a little stiff, but the walk went well. My right foot started bothering me but I noticed that if I used my pole, the pain decreased.  I wore an old pair of shoes and I have a slight blister on the little toe of my left foot.

On Thursday, I'll take another pack-on hike with less food in the pack to simulate a hike after I've eaten a few meals and lightened my load.