Monday, September 24, 2012

gear choices

So, is having a closeout sale this week, where all their sale items are 50% off. This is mostly last year's gear, but I am totally fine with last year's gear for 50% off! It's a little hard to order things over the internet, since sizing is so weird for hiking gear, but backcountry has a great return policy so hopefully some things will work out.

Even though I am hiking with RD, we are going to pack separate tents. RD says this is because if one of us gets hurt, the other one can go on without having to lug a 2 person tent. I say this is because otherwise we will drive each other crazy (RD is nicer than I am). I've looked at a bunch of reviews online, and think I'm going with the MSR Hubba SP tent. It's light, it's relatively affordable, and it has bunches of room. Still, I'm going to sit in one before I order it.

I have no idea what kind of sleeping bag to get. I need to purchase one, since I only have 40+ degree bags (one of the perks of living in the deep south is you never have to worry about a winter bag). I think a light 20 degree bag will be fine, because I have a silk liner that should give another 5-10 degrees of comfort. I want a synthetic bag so I don't have to worry about it getting wet (down loses it's insulation when it gets wet) - and so I can dry out gear in the bottom of the bag while I sleep. Other than that, I don't know. Hopefully I will be able to get to an REI store and try some out soon.

I'm trying to decide if I need a new pack or not. I've only ever had one hiking pack, and I like the basic layout of it. But I'm wondering if I should try on some other packs, to see if there is something that will make these 2000+ miles a little more comfortable.

I also need to get some rain gear and cold weather clothes. I'll be trying to find good deals on synthetics, and just hope I get something I can work with that I don't have to pay full price for. Other things I'm looking at: hiking poles, trail shoes vs. boots, steripen vs. chemical drops. I'm hoping to spend $1k max on gear (including tent/bag/pack/boots/etc).

There's other stuff to think about, too. Should Em move in with RD's partner while we're gone? She'd be living rent-free, but then when I get finished I'll have to come back to apartment hunting (and, the cats will be totally unhappy about moving). Should I get a SPOT device to check in every night? (And, upon looking at reviews, are there other devices that are better?) Should we switch to Verizon so the cell coverage will be better, and if so, what phone should I get? Should I rely on the smartphone for music and books? How much audio should I allow myself every day? Do I want to try out a hammock instead of a tent? What will we eat? Should I "live blog" - posting public updates when I can, or should I post to a private blog or facebook group?

There are so many questions - and while I'm figuring it all out life continues. Work is still stressful (maybe even more so, since I have a finite end date in mind and an infinite list of projects). I have little moments of panic - am I really doing this? - but far more moments of excitement - I'm really doing this!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

i'm going for a walk...

Here's the plan: On January 29th, I'm turning in my 30 day notice. Then sometime the first week of March, I'll be leaving my wife, our cats, and our very comfortable life to go walk over 2000 miles along the Appalachian Trail.

Why? Well, mostly because I've always wanted to, and because I think I can. Thru-hiking the AT is something I've thought about in all the seasons of change in my life - college graduation, finishing grad school - but have never had the time or money or guts to take the chance. My hiking buddy L. & I have been talking about it for ages, and back in November 2004 we section hiked a small (very rainy) bit. This summer, we started talking about thru-hiking in 2013.

I'm in a transition point with work right now - I've learned a lot recently about how even though I've poured my heart and my soul and my time into a job, it's still just a job. There have been some changes recently that I'm not very excited about - and although I wouldn't go so far as to say I am being pushed out, it has become increasingly clear that I need to leave. And since I'm leaving anyway - why not take the opportunity to accomplish a life-long goal?

Thankfully, I have a very supportive wife (Em), and we have a pretty awesome life that will allow me to take off for 6 months and go walking. I've read 2 books and tons of blogs. I've talked to friends and family. I've decided not to take my cat (although wow - what a concept). I've started making my gear list - and as of yesterday I've started to order some gear. Ordering gear made it seem real - I'm spending real money on gear, and I'm going to do this.

Mostly I am looking forward to the challenge. I'm looking forward to walking, and walking, and walking some more. I want to know if I can do it. It's the sort of thing I only get one shot at doing, so I know I have to do my best. 

A long time ago when the internet was smaller, I used the nickname "zag" on some message boards. I'm going to use that name on the trail - I'm trying to get back to my roots, back to a time when I believed that people were inherently good, back to who I was before I started worrying about work more than anything else.

"I'm going for a walk...not the after dinner kind. I'm gonna use my hands, and I'm gonna use my mind." --Bad Religion