This Hike is Happening. And Soon.

For weeks, I was waiting for April 10. A work project for the organization for which I serve as a consultant took up eight to 10 hours of every single day for a month. It was virtually my sole focus. This past Monday, I got up feeling ecstatic at having my life back.  And I felt a twinge of terror. I am 13 days away from leaving for the trail. I owe you all an update.

First, I’d like to re-emphasize the purpose of this hike (and the hike that, God willing, will follow in the fall). I’m making a series of videos highlighting cultural and natural history at selected spots along the AT. I’ll be hiking a few days at a time, getting off trail to do things like visit sites of interest or interview interesting people, etc. (plus a couple visits to fam and a side trip to Gettysburg just cuz). I’m new to making videos but I’m a journalist by profession, so I at least have that skill set to guide me. The backpacking part of the trip is partly for recreation, partly for B-roll, and partly to get from point A to point B. I’m taking my time and doing short stretches and getting off trail several times to go by shuttle or rented car to a place of interest.

Itinerary: A couple months ago I created an itinerary (using a spreadsheet, of course), taking me through southern Pennsylvania, followed by a stop in my New Jersey hometown. I feel pretty confident about the Pennsylvania section, but I wasn’t too sure about the second half of the trek. Since I would be in Jersey already, I figured it made sense to hit the Delaware Water Gap and do an out-and-back hike. However, the stretches between shelters are much longer than in PA, and probably beyond my current capabilities.

AT train station

Appalachian Trail train stop

So I turned my attention to New York, and now I’m tentatively planning to take the Metro North train from Grand Central Station to the Appalachian Trail station (added bonus of another train trip!). Next step is what to do from that point. I’m considering a visit to the Pawling Nature Reserve. Other suggestions are welcome.

Gear: My base weight, including GoPro gear, is now around 14.5 pounds. The Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack I bought a couple months ago made a huge difference in weight savings and swapping out my heavier sleeping bag for the REI Magma 30 also reduced the pounds. I’m also trying out the Gossamer Gear The One tent, but I’m still on the fence. I love it when I’m carrying it in my pack because it weighs about 18 oz., but I’m still on the fence about taking it on trail. I’ve been using tents with hub pole designs for a while. My first try at staking The One out properly was, let’s say, haphazard. I think I’m going to have to practice in my backyard a bit more before feeling confident on trail.

I broke down and got a Garmin InReach Mini 2. I had been resisting it because the idea of being tracked through the woods via satellite creeped me out, but I’ll be away from home for a month, so I bought it for my family’s peace of mind, but also because my arthritic knee isn’t always cooperative and if God forbid it went out on me in the rocky footpath through PA and I got badly injured, I have a way to call for help.

Videos: I’m more comfortable with the GoPro but still have to figure out any additional accessories I need. I also need to finish the online class in using the GoPro that I started several months ago.

Health and fitness: I didn’t achieve any of the physical goals I set several months ago. Fortunately, my arthritic knee hasn’t been acting up too much, but a few days ago my right ankle started getting painful and quite swollen. I saw an orthopedist yesterday who recommended an ankle sleeve and some stretching exercises. Even if Rocksylvania wrecks my poor arthritic ankles, I will still make the trip and do the videos. This hike is happening. And soon.

Ankle exercises

More joint exercises!

Featured photo credit: ​​English Wikipedia user Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Some gear mentioned in this post was donated to me by the manufacturer – specifically, the Gossamer Gear The One.

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