How to Platinum Blaze: The Continued Chronicles of Squirt
I dedicate this wonderful and incredibly accurate educational article to my dear friend, Fox, the self-declared Platinum Blazer.
Platinum Blazing is the art of spending your well saved and earned money lavishly on the trail. While most thru-hikers left or quit their jobs and have to live extremely frugally on the trail, Platinum Blazers usually either a. have jobs or b. have massive savings and have decided to live the high life while hiking the trail. My dear friend Fox, who is leaving today to go back to his job, is a Platinum Blazer. Although this article is in jest, I have to say that Fox has been incredibly generous with his platinum blazing, sharing hotels, resources, and food with all of his friends and desperate hikers.
How to Platinum Blaze:
- First off, higher a sherpa (or a poor hippy hiker) to carry all of your stuff. Bonus pay for those who dress up like a wild animal to help blend in to the forest.
- When hitching into town, instead of sticking our your thumb, stick out a twenty dollar bill.
- Bring a full mattress instead of a pad- remember, someone else is carrying it.
- When stopping at a hostel, buy out all the beds so you alone can swim in your riches.
- When you come across Trail Magic, just laugh and say, “My life is Trail Magic”, then eat your organic, grass-fed filet and sweet potato fries in front of your poor snicker-eating friends.
- Buy new clothes each time you stop in town. Who needs to do laundry anyways? Besides, quarters are a pain and they are heavy… but you could always just employ two poor hikers…
- Don’t risk giardia… just have your water boy bring a backpack full of Vose glass water bottles.
- Get your resupply by helicopter delivery on top of any viable high point. Make sure to helicopter in your massage team as well.
- Higher a private poop hole digger. No need for you to carry the shovel of shame.
- Who needs a bug net or umbrella? Just have your team carry bug zappers and umbrellas around you so you never have to deal with the tortures of the forest.
Updates from the Chronicles of Squirt:
This past week has been extremely, hot, humid, buggy and beautiful. It was such a contrast from the freezing cold Smoky Mountains. After a wonderful zero day in Hot Springs (including a couple’s massage with Fox… which was awesome and hilarious… I highly suggest getting couple massages with your hiker friends), I left to begin the 4-5 day trek to Erwin, Tennessee. My poor mother had forgotten to send me my resupply box of delicious grass-fed beef jerkies and organic vegetable mixes (I know… I know… how platinum of me), so I had to resupply in town. Geared up with a few packages of tuna, a giant jar of peanut butter and a huge bag of dried fruit and coconut, I left Hot Springs alone. My dear hiker buddy, Thor, was still recovering from his very exciting day in Hot Springs and needed more time to recover. I put my music on shuffle and started hiking up the hill, and the Lark Ascending (a beautiful classical piece by Ralph Vaughn Williams that happened to be a favorite of Thor’s and mine). I fondly reminisced the hilarious adventures of Squirt and Thor through the Smokies, hoping to see him, as well as Redlock and Bubbles again.
That night, I set up camp with Snoopy, Fox, Casper, my new friends Swasey and Starstuff, where I realized my hammock tent was busted. Cords snapped, netting was in my face and I suffered a very claustrophobic and uncomfortable evening. As I rolled around in my above-grown coffin, I decided I was cursed and needed to let my hammock dreams go. We all struggled with it to get it to a place where I could at least make it through the next stretch into Erwin… and eventually came up with a survivable version of my hanging coffin.
Throughout this stretch, because I wasn’t hiking with Thor, and my other hiking buddies were generally much faster than little ol’ me, I had a lot of time to think about my journey. I had moments of tears as I pondered deep mental challenges and struggles, fears and anxieties. I had the living daylights scared out of me by giant snakes in my path and rattles along the path. I had moments where I was so hot, tired and thirsty… as well as watching giant thunder and lightening storms approach, that all I could do was sit and eat the three candy bars I had been determined to make last for the stretch of hiking. I had moments were I cursed myself for eating my three candy bars when I was starving the next day… surviving off of tuna and having terrible tuna farts (which, trust me, is a thing).
But, in contrast, I also had a moment while climbing down Big Bald, where I realized, in an extremely dramatic way (of course), that I absolutely and completely
loved my life. I loved the pain, I loved the beauty. I loved every moment and every memory, every weakness and every strength. I loved my compassion, and the pain and love my compassion has led me to feel. I loved everything. Every cell of my being, I loved and accepted them, flawed and all. In that moment, I was walking with the love of the universe, as well as the 13,000 black flies around me.
After this revelation, life continued to provide me with more magic. Starstuff let me sleep in her tent and gave me food, Monkey Business (a circus performer) showed me how to do tricks with glowing balls, and my friend from home, Kristen, sent me hilarious videos of her year-old daughter.
I’m now in Erwin, Tennessee. I’m happy to have my box of platinum foods (with a vow to not eat any peanut butter this week because let’s be clear, the world can’t handle any more tuna or peanut butter farts from Squirt). I’m sad to say goodbye to my friends Casper and Fox who have to return home for various obligations. I know the trail will provide, however, and I will head out into the 90 degree, 100% humidity weather, with excitement for the future to come (and massive anxiety about the thunderstorms looming overhead).
See you in Damascus,
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Hope you survive the thunderstorms and wishing you well.
Now your comments when you were calling about rooms made more sense 🙂 i met you and Whoopie at a gap where we ate lunch and then again at a shelter before Damascus (section hiker wearing a magenta shirt). He told me you had a blog, so I looked ya’ll up! Was a pleasure to meet you and good luck with your hike!