Work Hard, Play Harder
I have always tried to spend my days working hard and take advantage to play even harder when I can. Since my last post, I have turned in my letter of resignation and completed my final hours of work at a rebar production factory here in Holland. Although far from my dream job, it has kept me physically fit and paid the bills. This will be the first time in my life leaving a job without another source of income lined up and with absolutely no freaking idea what I will be doing for work in the future. Should I feel scared or worried?? I am pretty sure I should, but I do not. For the first time in a long time, I have confidence with the choices I am making. And when I say “I”, I mean “we”, my wife is involved and backing all my crazy decisions for 2023 and supporting me 110%. The Appalachian Trail has been calling my name for over half of my life. I know without a doubt, donning my light-as-possible backpack, and following the white blazes through the mountains of the Eastern United States is exactly what I should be doing in a couple weeks time!
Being on sick leave for most of 2022, (two Carpal Tunnel operations and one broken knee cap) allowed me to save my vacation time, therefore I was able to stop work earlier then I had thought. I had planned on working up until a few day before departing for Atlanta. This means more time to crush a few more kilometers with a full pack, read, prepare myself mentally and most importantly spend time with my wife! I plan to take full advantage of this unexpected free time!
I am not in bad shape, recovering well from a rough couple years on my body. I am and always have been an active person. Living in Holland I bike everywhere, and if time allows, I walk. My wife and I put in a few miles on our feet each weekend with a walk on the beach, in the dunes or just into town for an errand. Now that my knee is healed (mostly), I have dusted off my running shoes and started slowing upping my miles every weekend (Sunday-Run days are back)! For the recovery of my knee and preparation for the steep climbs on the AT I have also been completing a strength workout for my legs and core. I have taken on a few shortish/flatish (8 mileish) loops with my full pack in the past month and was pleasantly surprised on how comfortable my pack carried the weight and how well my body accepted it. However, I completed a 22k/13.5 mile hike through the dunes from Noordwijkerhout to Wassenaar which humbled me. I started the day feeling fit as a fiddle (however fit that is) and ended feeling like I had been run over by a small bus.
I added an extra 7lbs/3kg to my pack for this hike. I took every opportunity to climb small lookouts in the dunes and climb down to the sea and then back up to the dunes, zig-zagging my way along the coast line, gathering as much elevation as I can in this rather flat country. Mission accomplished! No idea what kind of elevation I completed when all said and done, but judging by my body, ENOUGH!
I had intentions to hike a bit further through the dunes to the next beach town of Scheveningen, but due to lack of daylight and bruised hip bones I called it quits after about 13 miles. I am by no means at this point putting any blame on my pack as I still think that it will work out well for me, but I need to do some adjusting. Hotspots and bruises on my hips and lower back and shoulders, all points where my bones stick out a bit. Two things will help with this, less pack weight of course and perhaps more meat on my body. My pack weight on the trail will be less, and that is good to know! Perhaps I also need to address how tight my pack sits on my back, either it needs to be looser or snugger to keep from rubbing. Luckily I have a few more weeks left to try and tweak these things out!
The AT is often referred to as the “Green Tunnel”, this is quite opposite from sand hills and 50 shades of brown plants that cover the coastline of Holland. I often find myself here in Holland missing and longing for the nature found in Maine and New England. But the dunes and coastline of Holland are quite beautiful and perhaps I have not given it the credit it deserves by always comparing it to the nature that I grew up with.
Overall I had a great hiking day in the dunes, weather was fantastic, although cooled off drastically at the end of the day. My legs (and knees) felt great and my homemade dehydrated spicy rice rehydrated perfectly and tasted awesome (apologies for tooting my own horn)! Ending the day with a few bruises and chaffing is only helping my body prepare for the beating it is about to endure!
A couple more weeks and its go time!
A couple more weeks of dune hikes, park-hopping and city stair climbing and I am setting off for Springer Mountain to start my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I am not sure this has completely sunk into my head just yet, but damn that sounds nice! Sounds way too cool to be what I am about to do. On one hand I feel so completely ill-prepared and on the other hand totally prepared and most READY!
This past week I watch one of the most inspirational female singer/songwriters be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and also quit my 9-5 (I mean 6-6) job! In honor of Mrs. Dolly Parton and my current lack of employment I leave you with these words;
Workin’ 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by
It’s all takin’ and no givin’
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it
-Dolly Parton (9-5)
For those of you taking the time to read these and embark on this journey with me, thanks, and you will hear more from me on the trail or if you are a soon to be dirtbag hiker like me, I hope to see you on the trail! Good vibes to all!
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