Sunday, March 17, 2013
I haven't been as active on Spark lately as I prepare for our backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. There is soooo much involved in this process. We're buying tons of gear which takes time to select (whether we buy online or visit sporting good stores). I've been dehydrating part of our food for the 5-6 month trek, and we also must buy a lot more that is pre-made. To save money, we are trying to buy in bulk and eat simple foods like beans and rice, noodles, etc.
I have to plan for each season we will be on the trail. If we complete it, that means Spring, Summer and Fall. In the mountains, however, you can have winter-like conditions when you least expect it, so we have to prepare for this. We have to decide how to handle mosquitoes, deer ticks, bears, snakes, rodents (esp. in shelters at night) and other critters which can be a nuisance at the very least and life-threatening in some cases.
Hygiene and giving up creature comforts is the most difficult part for me to emotionally prepare. I won't be able to take showers except ever 4-10 days, depending on how close we are to a town or resupply point. So I will have to make do with sponge baths (when water is available), baby wipes, and maybe the rare dip in the stream....remembering of course that I don't want to die from hypothermia!
I will also have to learn how to deal with rainy conditions. Some days will be nothing but constant rain and muddy trails. I can't stop or try to camp out to wait out or avoid the rain unless the trails are simply too dangerous. We'll have to trudge on through many weather conditions.
There are lots of sacrifices we will make, and some people think we're crazy to even want to attempt something like this. But there are benefits from such a trek:
~gorgeous mountain views only accessible when one goes by foot
~spying beautiful plants and some animals along the way
~plenty of time to think and ponder life and dream about the future together
~meet interesting people from all walks of life
~benefiting from "trail magic" ---when generous souls along the way help out weary hikers with food, lodging, supplies, etc.
~losing weight (sometimes rapidly) and gaining strength and muscle
~gaining confidence in survival skills and learning to treat nature with respect
~taking side trips to towns and important historical sites along the way, but at a slower pace
~attaining a sense of peace and communion with God during this "pilgrimage"
Our expected starting date is April 15th, though we are unsure where we will start. The Appalachian Trial starts at Springer Mountain in Georgia. But we may travel with my in-laws to Gatlinburg and start our journey there. We will miss the first 200 miles of trail, but we can complete that another time as a 30-day section hike from Springer to Clingman's Dome in the Smokies. We should know for sure this coming week which direction we will go.
I will share more updates soon.