AT Mass 2020 – Postscript

November 13, 2020 § 2 Comments

Ali and I spent a week, only one week, on the AT in Massachusetts for Cripe’s Sake, and though we accomplished our goals, we did not get through the entire encounter at no personal cost. I think Ali fared a LOT better than I did overall, the dude ate bone broth for dinner, and really I did very well on the trail, however, there was no real way my feet were going much further. If I had to put it politely, I complete fucked my feet over. Don’t worry, I am NOT posting any pictures of my feet (that is mainly because I didn’t take any, which implies that if I had, you would be viewing at least one right now), but take my word for it, they paid a price for this journey. When we got back to Ali’s car, I switched from my boots to my sandals, BUT I DID NOT REMOVE MY SOCKS. So, I put that great reveal off until I was comfortably sitting in the safety of my house in Ocean NJ.

There aren’t many things I would change about this trip except for one. You may recall, I planned this for myself, and in the world of self-flagellation, I can take a little punishment. What I would/should have changed, was I should have added two days to the trip. Maybe even one day would have been enough. It’s hard to say, really. We lost Terry, and Kevin on Day 2. It’s not like I drove them like expendable pack animals, whipping them to keep them moving/rowing. It wasn’t a slave ship galley, but, it is just the nature of the AT. It is NOT an easy trail to backpack. It is NOT a moderate trail to backpack either. It is a damn tough trail on the body, whether that body is young and lithe, or old and saggy (Sorry Ali). Maybe, the first day, had we started, say, two hours earlier, and just took it easy? Maybe I should have let Terry lead and set the pace, then he would be moving at his pace, and not trying to hold mine. Perhaps that would have been all the difference in the world to Terry.

Kevin? I don’t know. Kevin seemed to me to be doing fine. I really think he (Sorry Kevin) over-thought the long day, and with the length of Day 2 seared heavily into his frontal cortex, then doubt thread gained some processing time, and then took over his primary CPU. Once Terry abandoned, I think that created a ripple in his Force, and before very long, that was it. Honestly, if what I said above would have worked for Terry, then Kevin would have been there the entire week, and I missed having both of their company the rest of the week. Most every night we reflected on the trail about how the others would have done, and because Terry was so beat, we couldn’t picture him making it, but if the trail just hadn’t beaten him up so badly that first day, he would have gotten his legs, and would have been fine.

The plan for this post is twofold: Summarize the successes, and the failures, and link in various external media that I created of this adventure. I should have linked them into the individual posts, but I hadn’t thought that far ahead.

Successes

I think I had all the right gear. The weather was warmer than expected, so in reality, I carried some stuff I didn’t really need, but I don’t think I would do it any different other than maybe a last minute change in some clothing.

Since returning, I have turned my diet more plant-based, so the Chicken Risotto is out, but the Pad Thai was tasty, and definitely on the menu next time. I see that Patagonia has gotten into the dried food business with a fine selection of Vegan meals, and I have bookmarked a page of vegan recipes to try: 38 Vegan Camping Food Ideas for Plant-Based Adven… so I look forward to experimenting with those. Otherwise, food was fine. Maybe I would consider no more oatmeal, and simply break fast on Coffee and home-made energy bars.

Failures

I already said something about the daily slog. The only personal failure was my feet. The big Zamberlans did not once turn on my left ankle and provided wonderful stability in all the worst of situations. While that sounds like a success, I list it here, because this was the first time I really paid a price with my feet. I had one blister on each ankle, the right worse than the left, and a swollen sore on the top of my left foot. There were a couple of tender sections closer to the toes, and on both big toes, but nothing that went blister, however the blisters I had were a failure.

Strava, Google Movie, and Relive.cc Movie

Other products I have produced from this adventure include daily Strava tracking, which was export/import into relive.cc where I used a tool there to produce a geo-trace of the tracks that are overlaid upon a 3d-ish topo map. Since I shoot most of my pictures on my iPhone device, and I shoot those in “Live” mode, Google provides a simple tool for stitching all those together. So, there isn’t anything below, that you have really seen already, except may the actual tracks.

What’s Next?

I will hike more of the AT, and I will take the time to hike at least a week again, but maybe next time, building in a re-supply stop, and spending more time. Since the Long Trail and AT overlap for 100 miles in Vermont, then I really have 100 down in Vermont already, but, if Ali wanted to come along again, I would consider knocking that out again. All of Vermont is about 160 miles. Another thought would be to break Pennsylvania into two halves: Water Gap to Harrisburg, and Harrisburg to Maryland. Of course, you can’t stop in Maryland, as Virginia is only forty miles further, and you knock out both Maryland, and West Virginia. So that’s a possibility as well.

I think as I near retirement, I feel like a late February start from Springer Mountain, and a couple of months, could get me well into Virginia, and just knock out the southern half. Big talk, I know. But something to think about.

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