I feel like I'm still recovering from my move, and maybe that's because I haven't really unpacked yet. I'm living out of boxes and black garbage bags and it's kind of okay. I'm sure I would feel less overwhelmed if I just unpacked, but it seems almost pointless. I'm just going to repack it to store while I'm gone. I have a goal of sorting, culling and organizing my stuff so that it will store better, but the main stuff I need to pack up is the stuff I'm living with and I'm unmotivated to do that. Instead I watch videos on Youtube of how to throw and tie a bearbag and of all the 2011 thru-hikers videos. Some of them make me cry with excitement and anticipation and happiness for them, that they completed their quest.
I read on Whiteblaze.net every day and I can't believe there are already 2012 thru-hikers on the trail. Who would WANT to start hiking in the mountains in January? I mean, I know the mountain I'm familiar with, the Rockies, are pretty harsh in the winter, but so are the Appalachians. I read somewhere on Whiteblaze that only two of the thru-hikers who started in January are still on the trail and they're both women! Go girls! I should try to track that down and see if it's true.
I want to be on the trail already, but not really in January or February. I originally planned to leave in March, but due to a workshop I have committed to, I won't be leaving until April. That's okay, it just makes me wait longer and have a chance to earn and save more money. It also means it will be warmer when I start, and that I may feel time pressure to get to Mt. Katahdin before it closes on October 15th. However, I know that if I get too far behind schedule I can flip ahead enough to climb Mt. Katahdin and then finish whatever trail I have left so that's my backup plan. I've been checking out plane tickets from Denver, since that's where my dog will be staying with friends while I'm gone (thanks you guys, I love you so much!), and I'm just about ready to buy my ticket to Atlanta on payday. Then I'll get a shuttle (or find a ride, anybody? anybody?) from Atlanta to the Amicalola Falls lodge where I'll reserve a bunk. My hiking buddy and I will spend the night there and then head up Springer Mountain probably around April 18th, depending on when I get my flight.
I am afraid I'll be a slow hiker, and not just because I'm not in the best of shape yet (though I have been training on my exercise bike and walking with my pack loaded to about 20 pounds in my barefoot shoes). I'm pretty sure I'll be slow because I see this walk up the East Coast as a six month photo shoot and so my priority will be the photos. Well, my safety and the weather will also be priorities, but I'm not a purist. I can't guarantee that I'll hike past every single white blaze on the whole trail. I may even take a blue blazed side trail if it has better photo opportunities. However, my goal is to walk the entire way from Georgia to Maine. No yellow blazing (hitchhiking to skip trail sections). I may consider an aqua blaze (going over water) in the Shenendoahs, but I think I might hike the section first and then get a ride back up to an access point to ride the river, too. This is a once in a lifetime journey and I don't want to miss things I know I'll love just because I'm caught up in some abritrary schedule or trying to pound out high mileage days or to follow some "purist" philosophy. I will make an effort to follow every white blaze, however, unless a photo opportunity pulls me away. Otherwise I didn't really hike the whole Appalachian Trail and wouldn't really qualify as a 2,000 miler to get a certificate (even though I will have walked over 2,000 miles).
A co-worker lent me Bill Irwin's book, "Blind Courage" and it was fun to read a paper book again since I've mostly been reading on my Kindle for the last year. If a blind man with his guide dog can hike this trail, I should be able to do this. Right? They say it's more of a mental feat than a physical one. I'm trying to prepare myself mentally and physically. You know, I could say it's the Kindle's fault I'm hiking the AT in 2012. One of the first books I searched for to buy for my Kindle was "A Walk In The Woods" by Bill Bryson, and then Amazon suggested "AWOL on the Appalachian Trail" by David Miller and I got it and it was all over from there. I knew I was hiking as soon as I could. I remember last January having just discovered Whiteblaze.net, reading about all the hikers heading off and I was so JEALOUS! I'm not jealous now, because my turn is almost here, but I'm very excited and nervous. What am I getting myself into? Can I really do this? Is there anything I can do to increase my odds of completing my thru-hike? I don't even have all my gear yet! Where do I put my car while I'm gone? What if my family or pets have emergencies while I'm gone? What if I run out of money and can't finish the trail? What if I get hurt? What if I can't finish after all of this?
Luckily, I'm crazy, as I've been told recently, and we all know crazy people can do just about anything. :)