Ass and a half it!
I can’t remember the exact date, but I know it was somewhere in the end of May(2022) when I was lying on my floor crying when the official decision to walk the AT in 2023 was made. I had Carpal Tunnel surgery on both of my hands in early 2022 and broke my knee cap just after Easter. No running(no bending of one leg at all) no picking up heavy pots from the stove, having to ask for physical help (which I am really bad at) and feeling down right sorry for myself, this past year has been a test for me. I have been struggling with my mental health for the past few years, but not being physically able to take care of myself is not something I have experienced much of in the past and asking for help is my least favorite thing to do. I am the helper damnit! Not the helpee! So as I lie on our floor rambling on about poor ol’ me and my direction in life( yada…yada…yada…boohoo me), I said again how much I wanted and truly felt like I needed to hike the AT, as improbable as it seemed. My ridiculously awesome wife told me that I could and should, but I needed to get off the floor and start taking it serious. So that’s what I did. I put the La Chouff’s (best Belgium blond beer) and whiskey aside and spend the next months going to PT for my knee, getting healthy and doing almost nothing but plan and train for the AT. With lots of time on my hands I researched gear and read books about long distance hiking, Devoured articles written by past and current thru-hikers on thetrek.co, listened to my first (hiker trash) podcast and became addicted! Submersed myself in all things thru-hiking and AT related. I had in the past few years half-heartedly planned for hiking the AT(one day), but now was different. I was all in! As my wife taught me, never half ass it but ass and a half it! 🙂 So that’s what I’ve been doing.
From broken knee cap to 5k
As the last few days of 2022 are wrapping up I am back to work full time(for another couple of months that is) biking 52k (32miles) daily to and from my job and I can finally strap on my running shoes again! Although I am not crushing miles, I was able to get in double 5k’s for the past few weekends. I can feel my knee and leg muscles almost back to full strength! Being physically active again feels great and I do not intend to take that for granted! I’ll try not to overdue the running and biking in the upcoming months, as I tend to sometimes push my body to its limits and hopefully save some of that energy to crush some trail miles!
I have my contents of my pack narrowed down, purchased and semi-tested my gear. Spent a lot of time behind a computer reading and shopping! Purchased over 20+ pair of shoes only to send back all but one! Cursed out all the ultralight brands in the US that sound brilliant but I cannot get delivered to Holland (or a least not without paying triple the cost due to custom taxes and international shipping charges). Now two months away from my start date, I am feeling proud of the amount of thought and attention to detail that I have put into planning for this hike so far. I have most of my gear listed, with a few of the weights still to be added, so if your curious what is in my bag, feel free to check that out!
Prepared or Not
Here’s to hoping the time and effort into my planning will help balance out the fact that I will not have the opportunity to take myself and my gear on any shakedown hikes. Living in a below sea level country means no mountain terrain to tear up, as well as there being no legal wild camping in Europe. I have set up, taken down and packed up my tent several times, and will do so a few more times before leaving, but the first time I will sleep outdoors with my current sleep system (tent, sleeping pad and bag) will be in Georgia. Surprisingly this does not worry me too much. Although I do wish I was able to have a few overnight trips under my belt before starting a just shy of 2200 mile thru-hike, I’m looking forward to learning from my (sure to be many) mistakes as I go! In the past 15 years the only camping I’ve done is at music festivals here in Europe! For as much FUN as these music festivals are, I’m not sure if camping in huge fields with 10 of thousands of other drunken fools can gain one any useful camping skills needed for backpacking!
So, prepared but also not prepared at all, I enter the last two months before the begin of my hike full of positivity for the first time in a long while.
“I’ll paint the picture, let me set the scene
You know, the future’s in the hands of you and me
So let’s all get together, we can all be free
Spread love and understanding, positivity”
-What do I know- Ed Sheeran
Good Vibes to all, Margaret
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