Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Miles 509.7 to 516.1

Total Miles: 516.1
Miles Today: 7.39
7 mile streak: 11 days
Map waypoints: K to L
Google Map

Picture of the day

You can see the ice pellets on the ground and a few streaking by in the picture. It was pretty brisk. One of those mornings I was glad I wasn't in a car. A walk in weather like this makes the coffee taste better when I get home.

Boot Review

This is my favorite shoe or boot I've ever worn. It's a Danner Desert TFX Rough Out Hot military boot.

The leather is VERY soft and comfortable. The boot is waterproof. The interior is Gortex. Normally that means a boot will be hot, but these are not. It's possible to ford shallow streams with them and the feet don't get wet. They have a real good grip on the trail.

Size 11.5 EE weigh 1 lb 15 oz apiece.

So far, I've walked 179 miles in them. They show little wear. I do put Shoo Goo on the wear spots to make shoes and boots last longer.

I've worn them in deep snow in the winter and they are very warm. Don't let the name "Desert" fool you into thinking they are just a warm weather boot.

When these wear out, I'll probably get something recraftable from Danner. Probably the Ft. Lewis.

Today is one of those days it would be easy to make an excuse not to walk. 38 degrees. Rain mixed with ice pellets and windy. But I don't use weather as an excuse except for thunderstorms and hail.

I like to use layering for walking. Generally, I wear jeans because hiking pants look funny on the streets. For temperatures down to about 30 degrees, I wear a cotton t-shirt, a North Face fleece and an REI rain jacket. I shed layers for warmer temperatures. Below 30 degrees I add a military long john top. 

I'm not a big believer in "cotton kills." Wet cotton as the outer layer can make a person pretty uncomfortable. But it's much cooler in hot weather. And it doesn't smell as  bad as synthetics. In the mountains, a good compromise is to wear cotton and have the synthetic be the spares. Or the reverse on rainy days. It's another HYOH thing.

Rain Jacket

Some gear is worth spending money on. Others isn't. One that was worth it is my rain jacket from REI. Cheap rain gear doesn't last. Any similar rain jacket would work as well. Big R has similar jackets for about half the price.

I've only had the chance to wear this jacket in the rain twice. It keeps me dry and comfortable. I use it as an outer layer in cooler weather. It is windproof which makes me a lot warmer.

If I wanted to save about 3/4 lb for backpacking, I'd consider this rain jacket from zpack. Saving bulk would be almost as important.

In warmer weather, rain is just a free chance to take a shower and do laundry. So I don't wear a jacket on the trail.

One reason I like to walk in all kinds of weather is I learn what combinations will work in the mountains. Then I don't bring too much or too little. I tend to bring clothes for the hike and not for standing around in camp. If I get cold in camp, I just get in the sleeping bag and go to sleep. Usually that does not happen too early in the evening. It can be a little chilly in the morning, but that just encourages me to get hiking.

Riding, hiking, driving

If I were doing this for real, I'd take a bicycle and a van or something to sleep in. First I'd ride the bicycle forward. Hike back to the van and ride the van back to the bicycle. It is tempting to leapfrog the bicycle and put the van ahead. But then if something goes wrong with the bicyle, it can turn to a very long walk for the day.

If I'm planning a 20 mile day, there is no reason to ride forward 20 miles first. I can break it up into whatever my rest cycle is for walking at the time. That way I can always rest at the van. If the weather turns nasty, I can change clothes into something more appropriate.

What am I enjoying now

This almost deserves a separate section in a paper journal. Most of walking long distance or doing anything long term is mental. This section would be great to review quickly each evening.

It's a great question to ask myself while walking. Especially during tough times. Some of my best memories are of the tough times. The easy times, I tend to forget. Sometimes I'll walk an hour composing a journal entry. Then stop and make it, or at least an outline to complete later.

Eventually, the enjoyment becomes internalized and there are fewer days where completing a walk is difficult. It bothers me more when I don't get to complete it because "things" get in the way.

After 2 weeks of highs in the 70's and 80's, we finally got more typical April weather for this area. Snow, rain and temperatures in the low 30's. I like walking in rain or snow at any temperature between about 20 and 50. It's not that I don't like other temperatures. But this range is special.

I like how it makes my face cold. I like that I'm staying dry under the proper gear. I like the feel of the fresh air in my lungs. I like that other people may think I'm a little odd.

This is really the optimum temperature range for me for walking. Miles fly by as I am busy enjoying the invigoration from the brisk air.

Put it on Kindle

To me, a Kindle is one of the greatest inventions since Post-it notes. For people with talent, Amazon makes it easy to publish books. It's also a great way to publish "books" for myself. The simplest way to publish on Kindle is to write on word and then just send the file to the Kindle address with the word "convert" in the subject line.

Blogs are fun for me because I have imaginary friends out there reading. It takes time, but eventually a blog can develop a following. I have a Youtube video account that is getting about 900 hits a day. It has taken 3 or 4 years. It's fun to know people are learning Hebrew through videos I published. Almost everyday, I get a message from someone enjoying it.

One of my goals is to eventually write a book. Like anything else, it takes practice. It's taking me time to develop a format for this blog. It is seems difficult to find something new to write about each day. It becomes easier when going through the day being more observant so there is something to write about.

For someone who plans on writing a book for Kindle, a blog can be a way to attract buyers while the book is being written. Just be sure to copyright each page of the blog. When the book is written, just put a note on the blog that it can be purchased at Amazon. I would buy a lot of journals on www.trailjournals.com if this were an option. For the price of a Kindle book, it would be too much trouble going through hundreds of days in a journal and cutting and pasting it into a Word file. Besides, I think good writers should be rewarded and this is one way to do it.

I enjoy putting my posts on Kindle and reading through them later. It's like reading my old written journals, but they are easier to keep in one place.


I seem to have a lot of ideas today. Maybe it's the great weather. There are lots of approaches to training. Many involve pain which I'm not into. Some say to themselves "If I don't hike this extra mile today I won't make it to Katahdin."

Personally, my walking each day is not training. It's an activity I enjoy for its own sake. My goal is not to become a superhiker. But when I get up in the mountains, I don't want fatigue to be part of the experience. If I did not like to walk everyday, I would just do shorter distances in the mountains.

End of day picture

I'm 662 miles into this virtual hike now. At 587 miles, I learned how to get running parters. So I signed up for 66 of them It's not really a race as the partners may not even know I see them. It is kept pretty anonymous. The trail starts out with about 1,400 miles in Virginia and Kentucky. Looking at a United States map can be pretty demoralizing in the beginning as all that shows is a black dot. There will be a lot of miles in Kansas.

On a long trail, planning is something done before the trip. Some like to plan every mail pickup and have boxes labeled at the start. This can be a huge waste of money if the person does not complete the trail. Others like to plan along the way one resupply at a time. To me, this seems more sensible. I can spend months preparing. Or I can spend extra time on the trail. Just make resupply day a planning day to the next resupply. It may be a day away or 5 or 6 days away. Snagging the easy ones can be done on the fly.

This summer, I planned the first 250 miles of the Colorado Trail. We ended up doing 150 miles or so including miles on other trails after things fell apart. Resupplies planned with friends became a nightmare because we ended up needing to take a trail break due to needing a new tent along the way. The schedule got all messed up. We did mail a couple boxes ahead that we never got to. One got returned, so it wasn't a total loss.

Once I got past the idea of sending supplies ahead and needing a ride into town, things became much easier to plan. The trail can be done pretty easily with 9 resupplies. Some of these are virtually right on the trail. Others are an easy road hike from the trail.

My preferred method would be to take a chance on a quick hitch and take it. But 8 road miles is only 2 or 3 hours. Spend the night in a motel and hike or hitch back. It may add another 18 days to the trip. So what?

Pack weight is not quite as important on the roads as there aren't steep hills like on the trail. Packing some extra food to eat on the way back is good. Better to arrive at the trailhead with a full stomach.

Hostels are a better place to mail supply boxes. They are open more hours. If sending to a post office, be sure to put "Colorado Trail Thru-hiker" on the label. Many of the post offices are also the general store which is open 7 days and longer hours. They keep the thru-hiker boxes in a place where they can get them when the post office is closed.

Mailing fuel is not legal. Since they x-ray boxes now, getting caught is a probability. I use a SVEA123 stove which burns gasoline quite well.

Coming back from the tangent. I have a lot of those. Plan before the trip. Focus on one day or part of a day at a time. The plan will either work out or it won't. Bryson got discouraged when he looked at a big map of the AT and realized he had only hiked an amount about equal to his hair growth.

One reason for the virtual hikes is to build this daily focus. The miles add up like they are supposed to. If I had all day to hike, they would add up faster.

No comments:

Post a Comment