Preparation, Changes & Panic

So, it’s very nearly go-time. Preparation is practically complete, changes have been made and panic is nearly under control. On Friday, my wife, Eileen, and I will drive from State College, PA to Greenville, SC to our son’s house. We’ll stage from there, keeping a close eye on the weather, and go when the time is right. Having done this last year, you’d think all would be cool, right?

Yeah, well. Today, my wife and I went grocery shopping for my first four days on trail as well as a resupply for the next four. That is one of the changes that I’ve made for 2022; carry less food and water, do a three-day look ahead every day with an eye on resupply. My son, Ted, will hike with me for four days to Hog Pen Gap. My first resupply will be staged in his truck.

But pushing our cart through the grocery store, I was surprisingly struck with a sense of panic; real, air-sucking panic. It fell on me as if I were standing under a waterfall. You’re going where? How long is the AT? Yo, you are way too old for this. Didn’t you just strain the MCL on your left knee? It was shocking.

Then, as I nervously stared at Starkist Chicken Creations trying to breathe and stay cool in front of my wife, in one of those serendipity moments, “Chaser” breezed right past us, focused on something in the middle of the aisle. Chaser is a friend from our town that I met last year at Stecoah Wolf Creek Hostel. Prior to hiking the AT last year, I had seen her and her husband, “Sober Goat,” many times at our church, but had never known who they were. That’s a story for a different day; I promise to tell it, but for now, I digress.

So, I called out to Chaser, and she responded in her down-home, energetic manner. She walked back to us and chatted on for a minute or so, recommended a few items, and then she was off to complete her own grocery business. As she pushed her cart down the aisle, it was as if she had let the air out of the balloon; I’m good, let’s go. Thank you.

An important part of my preparation are the changes; managing the amount of food and water I will carry is only one of several changes that I will make this year. My body will be a bit heavier to start, but my pack will be lighter. Not to worry, though, we all know that my weight will diminish, and early miles will be limited. While I’ve hiked less in preparation, I’ve worked out more so that my legs and core are stronger.

Make no mistake, climbing is hard, especially early in the hike. I have a plan for the first 200 miles, but as the saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Still, I have a plan. Overall, my plan is to average 14 miles per day. But to start, it will be less. But how much less? “Listening to your body” is an overused, under-adhered-to colloquialism. We’ll see.

Numerous friends have asked that since I quit my 2021 thru-hike attempt at Davenport Gap, will I start there this year. My preparation has never considered that type of change; this is about being a thru-hiker, not about saving a mere 240 miles. Besides, those are miles and places that I thoroughly enjoyed. Make some changes, complete my preparation, crank it up and do it again. Small steps heading north, let’s go.

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Comments 16

  • Mark : Feb 17th

    Good luck Eddy! I wish you the best. I hope and pray that you make it all the way this year! I turn 65 this year and I want to thru-hike the AT some day.

    Reply
    • Greg W : Feb 17th

      @ Mark, Retiring on July 31, turning 65 in August and starting the AT SOBO around September 1.
      I encourage you to turn your “want” into “reality”.
      “Fortune favors the brave”.

      Reply
      • Eddy Grunenwald : Feb 17th

        Hope to see you out there, Greg. Best of luck

        Reply
    • Eddy Grunenwald : Feb 17th

      Thanks, Mark. The panic was temporary (I hope…haha) and I am anxious to get going. Hope to see you out there.

      Reply
  • Mark Zaitsoff : Feb 17th

    I met a guy during one of my section hikes named Pierogi. It would be nice if you guys got together.

    We are!

    Reply
    • Eddy Grunenwald : Feb 17th

      Hopefully we’ll meet in an Eastern European diner.

      Reply
  • Bill Grunenwald : Feb 17th

    Ok Halupki it’s almost time! The whole family is excited to restart the adventure with you! We were all enthralled following you on the AT 👣 last year!

    Maybe you’ll run into the SOBO Aquaman! That would be cool! His strength and fortitude is inspiring!

    It’s a marathon and your experience will serve you well. Trust yourself and you’ll be fine. We are all in with you Halupki….small steps headed North!

    Reply
    • Eddy Grunenwald : Feb 17th

      Thanks, Bill. I will definitely be looking for Aquaman.

      Reply
  • Rick Watts : Feb 17th

    Chaser,
    I am starting my hike on March 14th and I can relate to the nerves about the hike! I will turn 63 on the day I start and I feel like a man about to get married and getting “cold feet” lol

    Happy Trails
    Goonpa

    Reply
    • Eddy Grunenwald : Feb 17th

      Thanks, Rick.
      My trail name is Halupki.

      Reply
  • Crossword : Feb 17th

    You got this! Just getting back out there is a victory! Sounds like you have made the necessary adjustments. Look forward to seeing your updates.

    Reply
    • Eddy Grunenwald : Feb 17th

      Thanks, Crossword. You’re right and it’s coming up quickly. Not sure how often I will post as the process is fairly involved for a rookie blogger….but I will as I can.

      Reply
  • Patty : Feb 17th

    Ed (Halupki),
    I’m so proud of you for hiking the AT! I know you will be successful because I’ll be praying for you everyday and following along with your posts. God will be with you every step of the way!
    I will miss you. I already do. You’re such a great man: kind, loving and a hard worker. Your determination to complete this goal is inspiring! I’m proud of you. Gods speed! Now get going and know that we all have your back! I love you! Small steps going north!

    Reply
    • Eddy Grunenwald : Feb 17th

      Thanks Patty King. Hope you enjoy this adventure.

      Reply
  • James Pullen : Feb 20th

    Good luck Eddy I will be following you along your journey. Enjoy the ride!

    Reply
    • Eddy Grunenwald : Feb 21st

      Thank you, James. My son and I are heading to Springer Mtn tomorrow.

      Reply

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