Never Walking Alone: The Other Angel on the Trail
OneFoot reached the 300-mile mark this week on his quest to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. That’s 300 miles down and, well, only about 1,890 to go.
What’s OneFoot Eating?
Lots! Even with his increased caloric intake, family and friends have commented on Ray’s weight loss in this first month of hiking. On average, an AT thru-hiker loses 30 pounds during their journey. It’s not uncommon to hear about a 50- to 70-pound weight loss during a thru-hike. OneFoot isn’t out there with the goal of losing weight but we know it’s going to happen. Although he hasn’t stepped on a scale, we’ve estimated he’s down ten to 15 pounds. He is burning 5,000 to 6,000 calories per day. It’s difficult to carry enough food because of the weight but he tries to make up for calorie deficits when he’s in town every three to five days. I witnessed one such attempt when we were in Hot Springs. I have never seen such an enormous breakfast order and he ate every bite.
Here’s what OneFoot’s food day might look like:
Disclaimer: Please remember, this is hike your own hike. This is what is working for OneFoot at the moment.
-Breakfast has been a package of pop tarts and coffee these days. OneFoot has always enjoyed cereal or oatmeal on past hikes but right now, he’s craving the pop tarts. Frosted strawberry do the trick.
-Lunch is tuna from a pouch, spam or turkey pepperoni on a sandwich thin or wrap with mayo. There may be some cheese or cream cheese involved as well. He doesn’t usually pull out the stove for lunch.
-Dinner is a Mary Jane’s Farm meal or something like a pouch of chicken, instant mashed potatoes, or rice and gravy. Or maybe a combination of these on a tough day. Most of the MJ Farm meals are two servings per pouch but in AT thru-hiking land it’s one delicious and big dinner.
-Snacks, usually five or so per day, are usually some combination of power and protein bar, peanuts, Slim Jim, granola bar, and cheese crackers.
-Ramen noodles are a staple to fill in throughout the day, as needed.
-Dietary supplements may include Emergen-C in his water and Hammer electrolyte tablets. Shout-out to our brother-in-law Carl for introducing us to these little gems.
-Mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, and Frank’s hot sauce pouches are handy to add extra flavor to any meal. He also likes to flavor water with lemonade crystals.
-Dessert is the most important meal of the day, in my book. OneFoot is enjoying Hershey’s chocolate squares in the evening. A hot cocoa hits the spot on some nights. And, upon occasion, he might just find a little nip or two in his resupply box. Our daughter tells us that in the south they are called airline bottles.
-Trail magic is always a wonderful surprise and OneFoot gratefully takes advantage of those opportunities as they come. Finding fresh fruits and veggies offered as trail magic? That’s just crazy good.
Noticeably absent from his food bag right now is peanut butter and powdered milk. A huge fan of peanut butter at home, OneFoot has lost his taste for it on the trail, at least for now. The powdered milk was great to add to cereal. For now, he’s put the cereal aside and the milk was unnecessary weight. Every ounce makes a difference.
No doubt his menu will change as he continues to move forward. He’ll tire of some foods and others will become the new favorites.
What’s in a Resupply Box?
In general, a resupply box for OneFoot will hold four to five days of food. Other than food, the box may include travel size toothpaste, diaper wipes, a half roll of toilet paper (full roll can be too big to carry), travel size hand sanitizer, and Naproxen or ibuprofen. OneFoot also lets me know if other specific supplies are needed. Recent requests include a contractor size trash bag (to line his backpack), Ziploc bag (to carry trash), new bandana, and socks for use with his camp shoes at night.
Try Walking a Mile in OneFoot’s Shoes.
On average, a thru-hiker will go through four to five pairs of shoes during their journey. It has taken OneFoot many years to find the perfect shoe for his wide foot. Blister issues plagued him for years. The New Balance Leadville, size 12.5 EE, were a great find. I recently tried to order a new pair and, yup, they’ve been discontinued. I searched eBay and other sites with no luck. Lots of Leadvilles still available but not in his size. I contacted New Balance and they suggested the 910 V4 as an alternative. I’ll bring those with me when I meet up with OneFoot in May. Stay tuned for results. It really sucks having to play with a new style when the other has worked so well.
The folks affiliated with churches down south continue to amaze with their generous trail magic. OneFoot was recently the recipient of fantastic trail magic provided by Crossroads Community Church. Hot dogs, Cheetos, bananas, and iced tea. What a treat.
Is OneFoot Walking Alone?
Never. Even when he is by himself, he’s never alone.
Recently, Ray posted a tribute to his grandfather, Pa, on the OneFoot AT Adventure Facebook page:
“Thinking of you this morning Peter P. Miles just like I do every day. Your presence is incredibly strong out here. I walk North with your love, patience, and loyalty. Thank you for making me the man I am today. Miss you and I love you very much.”
Pa played a significant role in the lives of his children, grandchildren, and many others. We lost him in 2006 and his absence has been felt every day since. He was 83 when he passed away. If we had another 10 or 20 years with him, it still wouldn’t be enough.
In May 2014 Ray announced, “I’m going to run a marathon this year.” Hmmm. OK. He’d done several half marathons so I didn’t doubt him. At the time, I had no idea of the level of commitment it took to train for a marathon. We spent the summer camping and hiking as we usually do but that year we always thought about where we’d be in relation to a training run.
Fast forward to race day, Oct. 11, 2014. Ray was ready for his first marathon and I was ready for my first 5k. After finishing my race, I stood at the finish line with my mother-in-law watching for Ray. He estimated a finish time of 4.5 to five hours. Bea and I stood at the finish line from about the two-hour mark – you know, just in case he set a new world record we didn’t want to miss it. At the 4:51:39 mark, Ray crossed the finish line. He pointed to the sky, let out a jubilant but incoherent cry, and celebrated this amazing accomplishment. In our conversation after the race, I asked him what he was pointing to and what he yelled at the finish line. His response will forever stay with me, especially knowing that my husband isn’t a particularly religious man. Ray explained that he was exhausted at about mile 22. He wasn’t sure he had 4.2 miles more left in him. Then when Ray needed him most, Pa was there with him, pushing him forward. His presence on the course was so strong. If Pa told you to do something, always out of respect and love, you did it. Pa was telling Ray to finish that race and then gave him the strength to do it.
Whether you believe in such experiences or not, Ray found the strength he needed to keep moving forward and finish the race on that day in 2014. Now out on the Appalachian Trail, we know that when OneFoot needs a little push, he has a special guardian angel who is ready to answer the call.
Until the Next White Blaze,
OneFoot and Should Be Good
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