Tag Archives: Diane

The best laid plans of mice and men

Days 2 – 4 3/23/2014 – 3/25/2014 Springer Mountain Shelter – Woody Gap (Suches, GA)

You know when you make great plans of how you think things are going to go and then, when reality unfolds, they all turn to mush? Yes, well that’s exactly what happened to me the past couple of days.

I had this great idea of taking pictures on the way, all the while using my solar charger to keep my phone and iPad buzzing along effortlessly. I would be blogging most nights, adding selected pics and videos like a latter day Alan Whicker (only my Brit friends over about 50 will get this reference). I suppose the clue should have been in the name SOLAR charger, direct sunlight being something of a prerequisite. As we’ve been hiking up and down mountains, winding through heavily wooded forests, that hasn’t happened so much and my phone has barely held sufficient charge for the odd call to my ever-suffering and never-complaining wife.

However, I’ve now pitched up at the Wolf Pen Gap Country Store, in Suches and have access to wifi and unlimited electrical supply. The first thing I have noticed from this trip is how inter-connected we all are and everybody rushed to charge their phones and check their email.

Continue reading The best laid plans of mice and men

Separation

This is really it, on the plane, with the rather symbolic separation of Diane and me, as we are located in seats on the plane one row apart.  It seems appropriate somehow as we ease into this 6 month separation and I’m glad she is coming to Atlanta and beyond with me, delaying the final farewell for a day.  She has been nervous all week as the day has approached and now is keeping as brave a face as possible under the circumstances.

Temporary separation has rarely, if ever, been an issue in my life.  My separations until now have been permanent, willfully walking out on two marriages, never to return.  This is different, though, as I will be coming back joyfully to this marriage in six months time, though I’m sure Diane and I have two different perspectives on the time apart.  I’m going off to have my, probably, last great adventure, while she is the one left behind to keep the house running, preparing me food and looking after her folks.  I’m certainly going to miss her; indeed, home sickness is probably a greater fear for me than bears or injury.  However, I’m not letting the impending distance between us get in the way of embracing this journey to its fullest extent.  I’m ready for the rubber to hit the road or, in this case, the trail.

I had to leave my pepper spray behind in the car, though Diane will mail it to me in about a week or so.  However, irony of ironies, when we went through security, Diane’s bag must have alerted the security team to something and they found her own, smaller pepper spray in her bag.  Naturally, they confiscated it.

Since I had my head shaved, I’ve really felt a calm fall over me, with a quietness of spirit I didn’t know I possessed.  I have talked about this peripherally for years, researched AND talked fervently about it for the past three months and, now that I’m about to walk into the woods for the first time in my life, the talking has to stop and the research is done.  It’s now going to be a case of putting my research into action and simply planting one foot in front of the other 5,000,000 times, which is apparently the number of steps that it takes to complete the Trail.

Tomorrow, I’ll send my first pictures from the Trail itself, so follow along with me and let the fun begin……

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Full head of hairI’ve been something of a silver fox for many years now, with the luxurious grey mane being probably my best feature.  So it may seem rather incongruous of me that today I followed through on my plan to dispense with this mass of grey hair for the duration of my hike.  My lovely wife wasLosing it terribly nervous about the prospect and, to be fair, I was a little uneasy.  However, we went to “His Place,” a great, traditional men’s barber in Ellenton, where Wendell, the proprietor, worked his magic.

The vast majority of my hair was history within seconds, while Wendell, gradually and Baldyefficiently, shaved closer and closer to my skin until I was as bald as a baby’s backside.  Don’t blink as you watch the time lapse video, as you’ll miss the first 95% of the hair in the first two seconds.

I recognize that I now look like an escaped convict, but I’m sure I’ll appreciate it a few weeks from now when the weather starts warming up and nothing nasty can find a home underneath my hat.

By the way, please check the new page on this site.  It is the Last 2,000 Miles and is one I had intended to leave a few weeks, though events have now overtaken me.

 

Food, Glorious Food

As something of a trencherman myself, the rather unappetizing pile of processed rubbish currently sitting on my dining table ready to be packed, has made me a little glum about my food prospects on this trip.  However, my wife slipped neatly into gear last night and made a whole load of lentil soup, then dehydrated it overnight.  I was somewhat dubious when I saw this crispy concoction this morning, yet took some on a hike in Myakka River State Park this afternoon.

I was actually going to try out my tent in conditions other than my living room, so I took some food along to try to get a taste of the whole experience.  I also carried a pack of over 30lbs.  Let me tell you, the first few steps were something of an eye popper, yet I soon got used to it.

Diane has been fairly scathing about the packets of ramen noodles, the Mac n’ Cheese and particularly the Cheddar Potato Soup Mix, which even looks fairly vile from the picture on the packet.  She has drawn my attention to the high salt, fat and sugar content of most of this stuff and today proved to be not only the guardian of my health, but also my personal chef on the trail.  The soup was delicious and I’m only posting now so that you can see my reaction on film when I tasted it. As they say down here, “You can’t fake fresh.”

Loneliness of the long-distance hiker

For the past few months I’ve been preparing for my upcoming hike on the AT and have been concentrating on my kit, toughening up my feet and wearing in my boots.  Ive also been fattening myself up in preparation for the expected weight loss, though I suspect that is more because I am a greedy hog than any conscious effort on my part.  However, one thing that is difficult to prepare for is the loneliness that is necessarily going to be part of my experience at some time or another.

That said, I have had some experience of this in recent weeks, without having been particularly conscious of it.  It is only now, sitting here typing another post, that I’ve become aware of my wife’s brilliant strategy to assist in my preparations. Continue reading Loneliness of the long-distance hiker