At this point, I’m still undecided what exactly I’ll be doing about journaling my Appalachian Trail hike. There’s a site that hosts trail journals called, appropriately enough, Trail Journals, and there’s also my blog, Foolish Questions. I could post on both sites, but then most of the entries would have to be duplicates, because otherwise I’d spend four hours a day hiking and ten hours a day writing. Not that that’s necessarily a bad division of labor, but it would take me three or four years to get to Mount Katahdin.
So, yeah I’m doing this thing. ‘This thing’ of course, being hiking the AT. Well, that’s out of the way. Let’s jump directly to the Question and Answer section, shall we? Or at least Part 1 of the Q&A.
Q) Are you certifiably crazy?
A) I have seen arguments, rather strong arguments as a matter of fact, that my stimulus/response reactions might be somewhat out of whack. For instance, when I see a mountain, I don’t give the common responses of ‘pretty’, or ‘I wonder if there’s a wacking great seam of coal underneath, that I could get at by blowing the top of the mountain off?’ I, instead, say ‘I’d like to climb that.’ So when I see a trail that extends for more than two thousand miles, I find myself filled with the urge to walk the whole thing. Is that crazy? Probably.
In any case, I think crazy is a pretty loaded word, and I myself prefer the term, addled. Eccentric, oddball, or off-kilter are all quite acceptable substitutes. If there were a poll of my family members, they would probably go with whackadoodle.
Q) Is this a mid-life crisis?
A) That ship sailed long ago, hit a rock, and sank. There were no survivors.
Q) Did you run out of fun, useful, or socially responsible things to do?
A) Nope, not yet. But many fun, useful, and socially responsible activities can be performed while travelling to and fro in a lie-flat seat in First Class, which requires little more physical exertion than raising one’s champagne flute for a refill. Hiking the AT, on the other hand, requires a bit more physical prowess than that needed for surfing the buffet line at the Four Seasons Moscow (the blinis are to die for). In that vein, I’d like to attempt hiking the AT before I require a walker. So, right now, at this moment in time, while I still have all four limbs, 30% of my original teeth and no current need for a truss, I think it is the optimal time for an AT attempt.
Q) What does your wife think about this clearly insane, I’m sorry, clearly addled plan?
A) I believe she is cautiously optimistic that I will come to my senses before too long. Otherwise, she is surprisingly supportive of a plan that results in her living sans-husband for many months. I attribute much of her acquiescence to my quixotic quest to the depth of our relationship, as well as the support rendered by the household staff such as Fernando, our Pool Boy, Phillipe, the Third Assistant Gardener, and of course, Ivan, whose exact function in the household is not clear, but I have been reliably informed is ‘really important’. That is not to say that I haven’t been subjected to exasperated sighs, eye rolling, tongue clucking, and steely-eyed glares. As well as several, no doubt accidental, minor stabbings. All understandable, and the sort of things that can occur in any marriage. I’m sure everything will be fine.
Q) How are you preparing for this truly astounding feat of endurance?
A) Conventional wisdom holds that the best ways to prepare for walking 2200 miles is to hike as often as possible, increasing the distance, and pack weight, every day till you get to the point where you’d kill to get on the trail and stop this endless conditioning process.
My methodology is slightly different. Currently, I am cruising through the Drake Passage above Antarctica, subsisting on the bare minimum of three four-course meals per day, not including the massive additional calorie infusions associated with nigh unlimited wine and cocktails. Did I mention that there’s also canapés every night? It is tough, but I persevere, because that’s how you increase endurance. By persevering. I read that somewhere.
This does mean that my actual physical conditioning regime has taken a bit of a hit. I’ll have a month and half after we return from this trip to claw back a few grams of muscle mass, but it’s apparent that most of the actual conditioning for the trail will have to be performed on the trail.
Q) Is this a desperate cry for help?
A) I don’t know, is it?