Welcome to My 2021 AT Hike

Introduction

Welcome to the obligatory “Who am I” and “Why am I” post that proceeds all other posts. Now on to the nitty-gritty everyone (or maybe just me) has been waiting for. 

Who am I:

My name is Christopher Armstrong, and I am a 41-year-old New Jersey native currently living in Rhode Island. I am finishing up a 24-year career in the Coast Guard in the spring of 2021. This will allow me time between careers to knock off this bucket list item. I am by no means an advanced or even experienced hiker. From 2005-2009, I did some day hiking on the AT when I was stationed in Washington, DC. In 2011, I even completed a week-long overnight hiking trip to Machu Picchu (glamping). However, outside of that, the woods and I do not get along. I prefer the creature comforts of home (TV, Xbox, refrigerator, indoor plumbing). This trail is going to test my limits on the way I live. Tantamount to say I live the lifestyle of an indoor cat.  

Why am I Hiking:

This will be covered in a future post.

Goals for hiking:

It’s always a good thing to set some goals when starting anything new. It helps me focus on what is important and what needs to be accomplished to complete the task at hand.

  1. Don’t Die – This should be an automatic win for anyone. This is normally my first goal in anything I set out to do. It was the first goal during my first 1/2 marathon a few years back. With all the things in the woods trying to kill you (Bears, Ticks, Snakes, Giardi, Falling Trees, Bees, Steep Cliffs) this is a goal that needs to be my list. 
  2. Try and forget about work – This is going to be one of the harder goals. Upon graduation from High School, I had only 1 week before I entered the Coast Guard. I am fortunate that I have had a steady job for 24 years straight. However, coming from a job that requires 24/7 availability for 24 years means that work follows you home every night. It will be a long transition before I can wake up and not have work be the first thing that pops into my head. 
  3. Try and have fun – It’s tough for me to enjoy the moment a situation. I am constantly planning, evaluating the plan, and then re-planning when something doesn’t work out. Being able to let go in the moment and “smell the roses” is not something I do. I hope that blogging, uploading pictures to Instagram, etc., will help force me to focus on the “smelling the roses” factor instead of getting from point A to point B daily for six months straight. 
  4. Finish – Again, it should be an automatic win for anyone. But the stats don’t lie. Only a certain percentage actually complete the AT in any given year. 

Prep to Date:

I recommend checking out my gear list on this page and my Instagram page ( @chrisuscga01) with all the photos of my pre-hike preps. Most of the preps have focused more on gear acquisition vice training. I am hoping the latter doesn’t come back to bite me. I have spent a lot of time researching gear to help give me the best chance of completing the trail. There is a mix of lite gear as well as some creature comforts.

I am looking forward to blogging and getting on the trail. 

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Comments 9

  • Avatar
    Wes Laudeman : Nov 17th

    Great post, Chris! Hope to see you on trail and happy hiking!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Armstrong Christopher : Nov 17th

      Thanks Wes.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Erick : Nov 18th

    Chris, great idea and plan. That base weight coming out of the gate will put you somewhere over 30lbs on the trail. What are you thinking for food and water? Just make sure you calculate that anything over 30lbs doing 15-20 miles a day will wear you down quick! I have hiked the LT in Vermont (30 days leave on AD). I will do the AT when I retire in 2024. Hit me up if you want some more of my brain dumping!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      christopher armstrong : Nov 19th

      Erick,
      Thanks for the comment. Not sure how you are getting to 30lbs base. If you look at my gear page I’m under 20lbs even in the winter months with extra clothes. I’m predicting mid 20’s with food and water. Either way best of luck in the future and hopefully your 2024 plans work out.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Jim Cavallini : Nov 19th

    Nice thought. I wish you the best. My wife and really hiking and we have done a few miles of the AT in NH. I have done a few more miles since I had finished the 4000 ftr challenge of AMC in NH. At that time I was not aware thee were sections of the AT combined on those hiked. We have been talking about looking at hiking the AT in the state we live in. During the pandemic you need things to do.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      christopher armstrong : Nov 19th

      Jim,
      Thanks for the comments. Yeah, I bet most people don’t know that there is a lot of overlap with the AT and other trails. Best of luck during this pandemic. I’m hoping things get back to normal sooner than later this summer.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    pearwood : Dec 1st

    Go for it! says this old Army helicopter pilot. (UH1-H helicopters out of Fort Richardson, Alaska in the 1970s.)
    Maybe I’ll see you on the trail. I think we’re all in a wait and see mode right now.
    Blessings,
    Steve

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Armstrong Christopher : Dec 6th

      Thanks. See you out there.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Joyce Barrett : Mar 15th

    Chris, I dropped off my grandson this morning, 3/15/2021 for the thru hike. He has been wanting to do this for some time. In 2020, he got all his stuff in order, made arrangements to put his job on hold for 1 year and began to train. He is one day behind you. I was amazed how many hikers left today. He is #603. I pray our Sweet God will watch over both of you.

    Reply

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