Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Oh boy, am I out of shape.

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When I’m not writing, I am actively stalking everyone else’s Appalachian Trials posts, and it’s a bit alarming to see all of these shakedown hikes and fitness reports coming in. I spent this summer training for a burly trail race: lots of running, hiking, and backpacking (spoiler alert: I still did terribly). But since the race back in mid-September, I have not exercised at all, minus some climbing gym sessions and throwing the Chukit for the dog. Last night, Rocky came home after a 13-hour day working construction, and I was in the same La-Z-Boy I’d been in when he left, still squinting at the article I had yet to complete. The only thing that had changed was the addition of nacho cheese on my sweatshirt. This is tragically normal for me as I settle into hibernation mode. My winter routine is a cycle of eating nachos, feeling bad about myself, ... Read More »

Six Months and Counting…

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It was 14 months ago when I first introduced my best friend to hiking. I was homesick for East Tennessee, missed the mountains, and really needed a hiking buddy. She expressed interest in the beauty of the outdoors, so we decided to take a stroll at our local state park. Now, I’ve always made fun of Alabamians and what they refer to as a “mountain”. The highest point in this state is barely 2,100 feet, so I figured it would be alright to take this stroll in our sun dresses and flip-flops… and it was… until we missed a sign: TRAIL CLOSED DUE TO CONSTRUCTION… What was supposed to be a nice afternoon stroll turned into a the nightmare from hell, which resulted in many lost hours of blood, sweat, tears, and a broken flip-flop. I thought for sure my best friend, Drew, was done forever.. but she wasn’t. That ... Read More »

Hiking for My Life

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Trigger Warning: Suicidal Thoughts   Buckle in kiddos, this is going to be kind of a downer. I’m really hoping this post doesn’t come off as too self-indulgent. Part of the reason I wanted to blog for Appalachian Trials was to share my excitement, my adventures, and my perspective of the trail. But also, in full disclosure, I wanted to write about my battle with mental illness. I’ve been suffering from clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, trichotillomania (hair pulling), and recently diagnosed with bipolar II. Mental Illness is very real and should be treated as seriously as physical illness. I’m a very vocal proponent of breaking the stigma of mental illnesses so here it is: how hiking the Appalachian Trail might save my life. The AT gives me something to look forward to “My life has no purpose.” Last winter was the worst of my life. Of course, I had spent ... Read More »

Is 2015 Up in the Air?

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It’s Not the Best News Wow.  I haven’t written a post in some time because I’ve been waiting for the words to come. So, the wow isn’t for the fact that I got this update together. The wow is for the news we had this week from Adam’s doctor. He had an MRI on his hip and just got the results. It is mixed news, with a trend to the bad. He likely will need a new hip much earlier than most people who have hip replacements. It’s either a new hip or a surgery that sounds excruciatingly painful. (Something about breaking and setting the pelvis in a different position; recovery for a year or so. Another wow.) The issue is bone on bone. The ball grinds into the socket with every step. This has created a bone spur and other issues. I know it is painful. I just never ... Read More »

Victory is mine!

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I began this journey as a solo hiker, but I didn’t do it alone.  So many people helped me along the way and I am grateful for every one of them.  My journey began when I read Appalachian Trials.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  I didn’t realize I would struggle until I read it.  Zach prepared me for the trail.  He prepared me for the time when the trail stops being fun.  He prepared me for the times when I would get sick.  He prepared me for the inevitable breakdown that I would have after the halfway point on the trail.  I wouldn’t have finished my hike if I had not read Appalachian Trials.  Thank you Zach.  I also need to thank my mom, dad and sister.  They listened to me jabber on endlessly before I left for the trail, and supported me every step of the way, ... Read More »

Shake, Shake It Down Now

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They say that the AT is a roller coaster. Well, this weekend I rode the mini carnival version of that coaster from the Hemlock Springs Campsite near Bear Mountain Bridge to the Appalachian Trail Train Station, about 43 miles away on a weekend shakedown hike. Along the way, I “hitched” a ride for the first time, slept in a deserted campground for the first time, hiked 23 miles with a full pack in pouring rain for 9 hours for the first time, and slept in an AT shelter for the first time. Needless to say, it was one wild roller coaster ride. Friday Night I got on the train bound for Poughkeepsie around 6:15pm. The Manitou ‘station,’ which is close to Bear Mountain Bridge, is really just a wooden platform on a dirt road, and only two doors open when the train stops.  I made a mental note to get into the ... Read More »

114 miles to go. Victory will soon be mine!

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I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll keep this short. I last wrote from the White Mountains Hostel and Lodge in Gorham, NH. It was a beautiful place and my favorite hostel so far without a doubt. They had a flat screen with Netflix and HBO and it was a real house and it was nice and modern, not somebody’s garage. Not that I don’t appreciate the garage hostels, because I definitely do! They have their own special charm that make up a huge part of this experience. The White Mountains hostel was completely full when I was there. Skippy, Didgeridude, and I played Rumikub and Scrabble with Molly and Rabbit and then pretty much everyone in the hostel would gather around the TV and watch movies, Netflix shows, and football together. It was very nice. Since the whites when that Hut Master said “You guys are like ... Read More »

Purity at Our Feet: Success on the A.T. and in Life

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Our Struggle With Consciousness I sat, silent, still, meditating. Clearing my mind. Creating empty space. Rising above the noise surrounding me into the hollow sky. Breathing. All I heard was breathing. Breathing. Then, a sudden pinprick started to emerge in the back of my mind. It started small, barely a whisper of a thought, but it began to grow. A tortuously slow agonizing evolution I was acutely aware of but unable to stop. I began to sink back to earth: a listless unnerving descent. I struggled against it—fought back. But back into my body I descended. This growing tumor of a thought grabbed me by my ankles and forcibly yanked me back to my dreary bedroom: it’s cluttered mess, it’s monotonous four walls and the smell of car exhaust seeping through my open window. My eyes blinked open. My moment of freedom was lost among the crumbling wreckage of my ... Read More »

“You’re Gonna Be Eaten By a Bear” – A Tale of Support

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It never ceases to amaze the amount of support my brother and I are getting for our big hike. “You’re gonna be eaten by a bear.” My coworker Glenn leans back in his chair smirking. We’re on break at work and one of the Senior Keepers, Tim, asks how my attempts at locking down sponsorship goes. This conversation happens at least once a week – the other zookeepers in my department see me reading the latest gear guide or book on the AT and a genuine discussion on preparation ensues. Then Tim takes a sip of his tea or a bite of salad and gives sage advice and encouragement to hang in there. Bill, an older fellow who has been at the zoo for roughly 1000 years, collects baculum (look it up),and has an insatiable curiosity about all animals, tells me of a tarantula that lives in one specific spot “somewhere ... Read More »

Girl’s Best Friend: To Leave or Not To Leave My Hiking Buddy Behind

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Not only was Twiggy a rescue mutt, she was the ugly duckling of the litter and left behind while her cuter brothers and sisters were immediately adopted. As soon as she laid eyes on me, she adopted me. The shelter workers told me she was the ADHD puppy of the litter, she hadn’t caught on to training nearly as fast as the others, and that she may or may not have parvo. Those things didn’t matter. She was mine before I even walked through the door that day. So there I was, a 10 week old puppy in one arm and a whole packet of adoption papers, to-do lists, care sheets, and antibiotics in the other. I felt a lot of anxiety that day and the weeks after. I had never taken care of a pup this young before. Somehow, it all worked out. At 9 months old, I took ... Read More »