Today marks the three week mark from when I will be leaving my little town and driving to my parent’s house in Michigan. All of my belongings will be (hopefully) tucked away into two separate storage garages, with my Harley stashed at the club house and a few key belongings in the truck and trailer with me. My entire future will be wide open, at the mercy of the fates.
What this means for me presently, though, is that the stress levels have reached atomic bomb proportions.
In an effort to reduce some stress (or maybe just procrastinate from doing some of the things I should be doing a little more…) I figured I would give a quick update here.
You may have noticed my previous post, stating my hike might be cancelled. The past two months have really been an eye opener for me. Previous to this, I had my finances laid out fairly well, confident I would have enough for my ongoing bills, for food and lodging along the trail, and even for a little “extra” in case of any unplanned expenses. However, I am now on the verge of having to cancel my trip for lack of funds. An unexpected root canal at the dentist (dental insurance is a joke…), a landlord that decided to not honor his word to help me find someone to take over my lease, and a few unexpected training expenses so that I can maintain my National Registry Paramedic certification, along with a slew of other odds and ends that have crept into the expense category have really put a strain on my savings account. The worst of it, though, is that the annual bonus I have been counting on to help fund the majority of this trip is not going to be anywhere near what it has been in the past, and may very well be the last straw that breaks the bank.
A friend suggested that I start a “Go Fund Me” campaign, where anyone can donate any amount they prefer towards my cause. But I hesitate at doing that because A) my “cause” is a personal goal, not something truly worth a campaign fund, like helping a family who lost everything in a house fire to replace clothing and such so they can actually lead a normal life again, and B) this is my goal, so I shouldn’t expect others to help. Besides, I’m not sure I have more than a handful of readers, so I’m not sure how much good such a campaign would do.
For the most part, all notifications have taken place . There might be an odd friend here or there I haven’t spoken to yet, but I believe I’ve hit the majority of people in my life. And in three days, I need to give my office my “two weeks’ notice”. Yep, the nerves have kicked in for that one. I’ve only had to quit two jobs before, and I have never asked for a leave of absence, so I am not sure how this will go. On one hand, I think my Director will understand – he went through some serious knee injury just before I had my knee surgery, and will most likely be able to relate. On the other hand, though, I am in a position within my office that cannot go empty for too long. There are two people who report directly to me, and will need direction on a daily basis. So I do not expect the office to “hold” my desk for me. Ultimately, I am guessing that I will get a “give us a call when you are done, and if we have a spot for you then, we will discuss your return” sort of answer. While it’s expected, it doesn’t ease any stress levels.
I have been surprised, both pleasantly and unpleasantly, by the types of responses I have gotten. Fellow thru hiker and Appalachian Trials Blogger “Big Tex” wrote about these phenomena back in November, explaining there are four types of responses you will get when you tell them about your plans – Passive Negative, Aggressive Negative, Passive Positive, Positive. At the time, I hadn’t experienced it, but now that most notifications are made, I can confirm his entire post, which you can read here. Big Tex describes in his findings that the Positive people will be the smallest grouping, and the Passive Positive the largest, and for the most part, that’s been my experience as well. While I will wait to pass final judgment until after my hike, initial “categorization” has placed a large number of people into the “supportive but not helpful” grouping. I suppose a thru hike is similar to performing a Facebook Friend purge, where you unfriend the people who you haven’t talked to in a decade, or those you don’t even recognize by name anymore.
While I know I promised a full post-Christmas gear post, I haven’t had the time to photograph and write up all of it. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to test most of it, either. This winter has been odd, more rain and slush with intermingling frigid temperatures and high winds than anything else. And given my time crunch, I doubt I will get a chance to write a full post before my hike. But I love bullet lists, so let me summarize, and throw some gear porn on here for you. I also wrote about most of these in my Wish List post. Santa was VERY good to me, too!
A wonderful rain jacket – the Mountain Hardware Plasmic. Lightweight and durable.
- Family pictures. By far one of the best presents was from my niece, little pictures of my family including a few of her Royal Cuteness.
- Leatherman Micra multitool. Under two ounces, full of useful tools and small enough to go unnoticed in a pocket during a TSA search (do not TRY this, just guessing…)
- Big Agnes Double Z sleeping pad. Four inches of air-filled comfort.
- REI Travel Sack. Compact and lightweight summer bag.
- Black Diamond Spot Headlamp. While I have a headlamp already, this one provides twice as much light, has more power-saving settings, and has a red light. Oh, and weighs less.
- Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net. At one ounce, I will carry it as insurance, whether I need it or not.
- A couple REI Mini towels. Lightweight and useful.
- Dr. Bronners Soap and Hand Sanitizer. Necessities.
- Nalgene 96oz. Cantene. Plenty of storage capacity, yet collapses to nothingness when not in use.
- Buffs. A pair of useful head wraps. One will most likely be my pillow case, to keep my pillow from becoming disgusting.
- Gift Cards. Wonderful, wonderful money, with which I purchased the sleeping bag I have been dreaming of (and will soon be dreaming IN…), the Nemo Nocturne 15* bag. Bring on those cold nights.
- (Also from Gift Cards) Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Liner, in an attempt to keep the hiker funk to a minimum inside my cocoon of warmth.
- (Also from Gift Cards) Exped Air Pillow. Either for my head or for my knee, but at three ounces, why not.
I have officially switched boots. The Oboz shoes I had previously thought were wonderful had started to cause some discomfort. In an effort to keep getting in shape, I switched to a pair of unused Keen Targhee II Mid High boots I had sitting in a closet. I have been using them for a good month now, and have had little discomfort at all. In fact, from day one, they felt like they were already “broken in”, which I discovered is a common comment in reviews. I would like to try out a pair of Brooks Cascadia trail runner shoes, but I know that I wouldn’t use them at the start of my hike due to the snow. Perhaps when I am ready for my first boot replacement, though.
I am still searching for the right pair of shorts. I tried one pair, and liked them as shorts, but under my pack, they became uncomfortable, so the search continues. I am headed to REI soon to gather the last bit of items I need – a few stuff sacks, a couple spare sets of socks, maybe a fuel canister. Otherwise, I think I have everything I need, save for a few small odds and ends.
While I am stressed out beyond anything I have ever experienced before, I cannot wait to get on the trail. Maybe this is my current form of “running away”, as I’ve been accused of doing throughout my life, but at this point, I don’t care. Sometimes retreat is the only way you can survive. Three weeks… I can do this.
If you have any comments, advice, or ANY TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please use the comment box below or use the Contact Me page up top.
Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”