Howdy, I’m Zach! Let Me Introduce Myself!
Let’s start with a fun fact: Even though I write for a living, I am really bad at writing about myself. But, rather than avoid this post altogether, like I thought about doing, I’m going to write it anyway.
Hi! My name is Zach Maxon, not to be confused with Zach Davis (I don’t have nearly as many miles as him), and I am attempting to thru-hike the Ozark Highlands Trail this year. So, a little bit about me:
- I’m 30, and I’ve never thru-hiked a trail before. I’ve done some sections of the Florida Trail, but nothing too long.
- I recently relocated to Arkansas, and the cold is kicking my ass. I’m a Florida boy, and I’ve never seen a real winter. Needless to say, it gets cold up here, and I wasn’t fully prepared for it.
- As I mentioned, I’m a freelance writer, and I do most of my writing as a ghost. I don’t think anything except my Medium blog has my real name attached to it, aside from this blog on The Trek.
- My favorite food is probably whatever is cooking at the moment, and I’ll try just about anything once.
- I have a tattoo on my left leg that says, ‘stay gold.’ It’s kind of a joke because in 2009 I tore just about everything in my left knee, and I was in a wheelchair for over six months. My leg suffered some serious atrophy, and it’s still not as large as the right.
- I don’t have a trail name, and I don’t anticipate getting one on this thru-hike. Not too many people hike the OHT.
To be totally honest, that’s about as much as I’ve written about myself since high school. Weird. Anyway, I guess I should talk about why I’m thru-hiking, too.
Why I’m Thru-Hiking the Ozark Highlands Trail
Really, my trail of choice is more about convenience than anything else. I chose to hike the OHT this year because I live in Arkansas, and that’s where the trail is. If I were still living in Florida, I’d be making an attempt on the Florida Trail, and I’d be a whole lot warmer.
Hiking here in Arkansas has really changed things for me in the last few months. I no longer get blisters thanks to the rubbing of endless sand in my shoes. Instead, I get blisters because I’m constantly going up and down inclines, something you’ll never find in Florida. I’ve also started using trekking poles, and man have they made a difference. If I hadn’t moved to Arkansas, I may have never tried them.
Now, I’ve mentioned the cold several times already. I’m honestly a little worried about the weather in February, which is when I plan on hiking the OHT. Typically, the nights in this area during February don’t dip below 25 or 30 degrees. I’ve got a 20 degree quilt, as well as layers, and I’ve camped in temperatures this cold before. However, last year we had the North American cold snap, and the temperatures were way lower.
If anyone has any tips about making my 20 degree quilt a little more cozy for nights that may get lower than that, I’d appreciate them. In the meantime, I’ll be looking into improving warmth myself, too.
I’m really looking forward to writing about my preparation, as well as writing while I’m on the trail. It’s going to be an exciting experience, for sure. I hope you’ll follow along and keep me company while I’m on it!
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