He Is Named Odysseus
A few weeks ago I decided to do my first Shakedown!! I’ve got the equipment, and I wanted to see how it panned out. Could I pack the pack and walk the walk? According to all my friends and family, I can! I have received such positivity from everyone I know, it’s incredible. Not one person has voiced how crazy this idea of retiring then hitting the trail is. I think they all know my spirit needs this, and they fully support it. I told my wife and daughters that I was heading out on Saturday morning and would finish Sunday evening. As always, my 7 year old was concerned would I have a stuffed animal to sleep with (um…no), my daughter, an environmental science major at George Washington University was concerned if I was prepared to bring back all my trash and filter my water correctly (check!), and my wife wanted to know if my sleeping bag was comfortable and if I had enough to eat (I was going for less than 24 hours and it was going to be 50 degrees at night, but check and check).
I spent time rearranging my pack that first morning before heading out, and figuring out the best places for my sleeping pad and tent, then I headed to a section of the AT not too far from our home. 45 minutes after leaving traffic laden Centreville, VA, I’m standing at Ashby Gap on the AT, breathing in the fresh air and being regretful this is only a trial run. I put my pack on and get my trekking poles out and am thrilled with the feel of my equipment. I am looking for a camp spot that I read about on my Gut Hook app, describing a picturesque spot by a small stream with a rocky fire pit. After hiking in perfect conditions, reminding me with every step why I want to do this, I see the spot….it couldn’t be more perfect! It’s like the AT Gods are smiling down on me, saying, “Yes, you’ve chosen wisely. This is the plan for you!” After effortlessly setting up my campsite (big surprise since this was my first time), I decide to hike more on the trail. It was such a great day. I was able to head back to my site before dark, where I fixed dinner via my JetBoil, which I love, and then relaxed by my fire before slipping into my tent for a comfortable night. The next day my wife and daughter met after I packed up and we hiked the trail a bit.
We ran into some thru-hikers and were able to spread a little love and trail magic by sharing some water, jerky, crackers and cheese. One of the hikers we met was OG who had hiked from Harper’s Ferry to Maine, then flip flopped back to Harper’s Ferry and was heading to Georgia. Best of luck OG!! I also acquired my trail name. I am Odysseus! So, all in all, I had an outstanding time, met some great people, and can’t wait to get back to the woods. They are calling. “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir
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