5 Days Out: The Supporting Cast Back Home

It’s really coming down to the wire here.

I love applying sports commentary catch-phrases to non-sporting situations. Really brings me back to my days in the NFL, before my career was tragically cut short due to unfortunately circumstances. Seriously though – in five days I will be setting forth on the greatest undertaking of my life. I follow in the footsteps of thousands who have blazed this trail before me, from the metal-frame pack days of the 1930s to the ultralight hikers of today. There’s no point in trying to put words to how I feel right now – that comes later – but I definitely feel twitches of excitement and anticipation whenever I work on anything relating to my hike. I have grown far too sedentary over the past six months. I’m happy to say that I feel comfortable with track I have made for myself with law school, and for the amount of preparation I have made for the thru-hike, but consequentially these months of preparation have left me eager to get out and do something.

There will be plenty of time to look forward, though. I want to use this as a time to look back.

This hike is not a solo endeavor. Much of the physical walking will be on my own – until I meet up with my hiking partner Emily, more on that later – but there is no way I could have gotten to this point without the endless amount of support given by friends and family over the past couple of years. Pursuing this adventure was a big risk. I left job security, a great career path, and an awesome city to live at home in my childhood basement working minimum wage for six months while I planned for this hike and applied to law schools. So many things could have gone wrong – I could have gotten rejected, not scored high enough to have made it affordable, not saved up enough money to pay my loans on the trail… but just enough went right for me to get to this point. Without my parent’s support I would have been out in the cold, looking for a place to live while preparing for the trail. They’ll also be sending me my mail drops, so if they lost interest now I might run into trouble, not that that would happen of course. Without my grandparent’s interest in my hiking I would probably have never gotten started hiking in the scouts in the first place. There are so many “without ______” for me to remember, and it really puts into perspective how much of this is a product of all of you that have supported me for so long.

To my girlfriend Amanda – without you I would probably have lost my mind studying to get into law school (she’s in her first year of medical school this year, so I really have no business complaining about studying for the LSAT) and would probably be going back to a minimum wage job after the hike. Amanda will be co-writing this blog, so keep an eye out for her on here too! If I find that there’s a long stretch without computer access I will upload the pictures I want and send her pictures of all of the notes I keep in my journal – that way I can try and ensure a post every three to four days if all goes well.

To my friends who have put up with listening to my ramble about the trail for years – thanks for staying interested and supporting me in this. Some of you I have known since kindergarden, and some of you I met last year in Boston, but all of you have helped me stay motivated and made the time I’ve spent waiting between college and now fly by (a little too fast) even. The send offs were all fantastic – Vermont was a blast, and I’m stoked that so many of you made it out to West Hartford to see me off. I’m really fortunate to know all of you and I look forward to swapping stories and continuing our misadventures when I return home (and then move on to Boston!)

To my fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 62 – I began camping and hiking with you when I was eleven years old, and it’s only gone up from there. As a leader I’ve really enjoyed teaching the next generation the basics of backpacking, and I’m hoping that some of us can meet up in Connecticut when I make it up there.

To all of you anonymous thru-hikers and Appalachian Trail enthusiasts out there – you are what really fed the flame. From the late nights spent on trailjournals and the countless advice columns on whiteblaze to the “redditors on the trail” feature on r/appalachiantrail and the wonderful writers right here at Appalachian Trials – all of you have managed to keep my imagination running wild for well over a decade while I went through life looking forward to this hike.

Finally moving forward!

This about covers all of the retrospective posts I wanted to do. No more posts on why I’m hiking, what I’m looking forward to, who I’m thanking or what I’m doing to prepare. That time, at long last, is at an end! Ahead lies The Appalachian Trail: a long and winding footpath through the wilderness. Below are some pictures from some of the send offs and family visits I was lucky enough to enjoy. The next time (well, maybe two posts from now) you hear from me, I’ll be on the trail!

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My girlfriend Amanda and I out for dinner. She will be helping me write this blog (while she’s in medical school – wow!) when I am too far out from a computer to get the next post up.

Eaglerunner (left) and Lynx (right) - two coworkers that completed a NOBO Thru-Hike in 2013 and 2014, respectively. These guys helped me out with pack shakedowns, gear recommendations, planning support, and will certainly continue to help while I'm out there. Hope to see you guys at Trail Days (that would be a pretty sweet hitch too!)

Eaglerunner (left) and Lynx (right) – two friends and coworkers that completed a NOBO Thru-Hike in 2013 and 2014, respectively. These guys helped me out with pack shakedowns, gear recommendations, planning support, and will certainly continue to help while I’m out there. Hope to see you guys at Trail Days (that would be a pretty sweet hitch too!)

My hiking partner Emily and I. She will be meeting me in VA after she finishes her Masters degree and hiking north to Katahdin. After Katahdin Emily is going fly back down to our meeting point and hike southbound to finish her Thru-Hike. Keep a lookout for more from her!

My hiking partner Emily and I. She will be meeting me in VA after she finishes her Masters degree and hiking north to Katahdin. After Katahdin Emily is going fly back down to our meeting point and hike southbound to finish her Thru-Hike. Keep a lookout for more from her!

My sister Erin – she’s recently taken interest in a Thru-Hike and may be planning to accomplish that after she graduates from her Masters program in Occupational Therapy.

 

 

 

My Mom, who has supported me since 1991, and her Fiance Kevin.

My Mom, who has supported me since 1991, and her Fiance Kevin. She’s going to be helping with mail drops, meals, and pretty much everything else.

My Dad - the master chef who will be coordinating mail drops and constantly dehydrating meals to send - and his girlfriend Erica.

My Dad – the master chef who will be coordinating mail drops and constantly dehydrating meals to send – and his girlfriend Erica.

College roommate Zach and fellow Husky Alumni Amanda.

College roommate Zach and fellow Husky Alumni Amanda

High School friends Nick and Jeff, who I'm hoping to get to come do the four state challenge when I get up there.

High School friends Nick and Jeff, who I’m hoping to get to come do the four state challenge when I get up there.

Chris, Jeff, Dan and I at the end of a long weekend snowboarding and cross-country skiing in Vermont. Thanks again for having us Jeff!

Chris, Jeff, Dan and I at the end of a long weekend snowboarding and cross-country skiing in Vermont. Thanks again for having us Jeff!

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My Grandfather, Dr. Robert Mullen. This man is the wisest man I know and has played a big role in encouraging me to pursue Law School. Looking forward to going to more Redsox games together in Boston when I get back.

It’s been a great last two weeks in town – a couple of send offs, an epic weekend in Vermont, and lots of great food and brews. There was a little bit of pre-trail jitters, but that is long gone by now. I’m ready. Ready to hit the trail, to embark on this trip and see all that is the Appalachian Trail. Thanks to everyone for all the support and keep in touch while I’m out there!

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Comments 1

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    TicTac : Feb 28th

    RonPuh, gratitude is a sentiment too seldom seen in members of your generation. I applaud you for your insight and your forthrightness. We all are a product of those who have gone on before, and I like the fact that you freely acknowledge that. Good luck on your hike, I hope to run into you out there on the Trail.
    TicTac

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