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Appalachian Trail Backpacking
31 minutes | Feb 18, 2014
#040 – Animal’s Dream of Backpacking the Appalachian Trail [Podcast]
Interviewed David Nightingale who's trailname is Animal and in that interview he talks about his dream of backpacking the Appalachian Trail. I talked about my dream of backpacking the AT back in episode #036 if you'd like to learn more. It was a great interview with Animal, his insight into how it came about, what he learned, etc. was a delight to learn about. Hope you enjoy it, please post about your dream of backpacking the Appalachian Trail in the comments section below. Here is a sampling of the topics covered. How did the dream start? What do you think caused it to become a dream? If it took you a while to get going on it, then why? What happened to cause the hike to happen? When did you begin to plan? What were some of the toughest times? Was there ever a time you thought of quitting? Did you hope to gain anything prior to the hike? What did you gain? How long did it take? Subscribe or leave a comment on iTunes. Follow us on Facebook. To receive email updates, sign-up here:
70 minutes | Feb 10, 2014
#039 – Backpacking the Appalachian Trail for less than $1500 [Podcast]
I had the privilege of interviewing David Nightingale, whose trail name is Animal. He thru hiked the AT in 2012 for less than $1500. In this podcast he describes what it takes to make this happen and yes most of these things anyone can do. You can learn from Animal and if during your thru hike you run into financial troubles you could use these techniques to allow you to finish the trail. If you're planning to hike this year (2014) then you may see Animal on the trail. Here's a list of the topics we covered, not necessarily in this order. Mindset Gear (~200) What is the difference between cheap and expensive gear? How do you evaluate what to purchase? How do you buy at the lowest price? Backpack 5x7 Tarp 2012, Using tent in 2014 hike that cost less than $30 Sleeping bag Cooking Clothing Footwear Transportation to/from trail ($200-$250) Getting from Fort Worth, Texas to Amicaola Falls, GA From Atlanta airport to trail, used hiker hostel Getting home from Mt. Katahdin What other low cost possibilities? Megabus.com, Craigslist (possibly) Food ($120/mo) Shipping packages Where were they shipped? What did it contain? Food Formula Revised from 2012 hike. Check the link for Animal's Trailjournals site but you'll have to look for post on food formula. Where did you purchase food? Eating off the land Paid Accommodations few hostel, hotel Hotels, hostels, etc. Subscribe or leave a comment on iTunes. Follow us on Facebook. To receive email updates, sign-up for email notifications
26 minutes | Jan 28, 2014
#038 – The Appalachian Trail: Are we done yet? [Podcast]
When I began hiking the AT I began one of the greatest journeys of my life. I’m grateful for the visionaries, leaders, and hard workers who made it possible for me to explore the ancient mountain range. As much as I like hiking, I think Benton MacKaye, who is credited with starting the AT, would say, “you just don’t get it. It’s not just for hiking!” MacKaye said our country would be better off by creating a series of farms, camps, and study centers with a trail in the Appalachians connecting the sites. “Its purpose is to establish a base for a more extensive and systematic development of outdoors community life. It is a project in housing and community architecture.” We have the trail, but not the farms, camps and study centers connected to it. Are we done? Should it be done? MacKaye outlined his vision in an essay for the Green Mountain Club and later published it in “The Journal of the American Institute of Architects” in 1921. His dream wasn’t offered to encourage people to just get outside once in awhile, he saw a way to improve life for all citizens of the United States for the long term. What stoked his conviction? MacKaye’s World 1918-1921 World War I and the rough transition after it took its toll on the United States. Soldiers were maimed by nerve gas and explosives. The Spanish Flu killed 40 million people in the prime of life world wide, entering in ports and traveling through urban centers, just as the war was coming to an end in 1918. Although the armistice of 11-11-1918 ended the fighting in Europe, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the Treaty of Versailles. And even then, leaders were in disagreement and individual’s lives were seared. During these few years in the U.S., ultra-conservative opinions, violence and disillusion prevailed. For example, The Supreme Court unanimously concluded that the First Amendment which protects free speech could be limited. Unemployment and inflation spiked. The beloved Chicago White Sox cheated to purposely lose the World Series. African Americans were maimed and killed in cities, and the fear of Communism was evident. American soldiers who returned home couldn’t find work. In this backdrop of a very rough terrain for the US in transition after WWI, we can appreciate Benton MacKaye’s constructive vision in 1921. MacKaye offered a solution Benton saw a need to create optimism, a better perspective about work
20 minutes | Jan 20, 2014
#037- Speed on the AT: Jennifer Pharr Davis [Podcast]
“Hike your own hike.” That’s our mantra to be successful on our journey through the AT. Speed hiking is never part of my plans, but it’s fascinating to learn about people who set out to accomplish extraordinary feats. Jennifer Pharr Davis holds the speed record for both men and women in thru-hiking on the Appalachian Trail. She recently spoke in Huntsville, Alabama, providing inspiration and insightful observations for a group of 200 enthusiastic listeners. Jennifer was a student at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, when she set a goal to run her first half marathon and marathon, both in Huntsville, Alabama. When she graduated from college in 2005, she had no idea what she was going to do next. She had heard of the Appalachian Trail and decided that might be the challenge she needed to provide clarity in her life. She'd only spent 2 nights in the woods in her 21 years of life, but she grabbed her brothers Boy Scout backpacking gear and got ready for an adventure. Within two days of starting the trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia, Jennifer was crying, with blisters and sore shoulders. She hoped it would get easier, but when she made it to Vermont she determined it was just hard. By the time she'd hiked 1600 miles, one thing was clear: she was in control of her attitude. Instead of fighting things she began to flow with it. Five months later and done thru-hiking, she still didn't have much of an idea of what she was going to do with her life-- but she felt better about herself. She shared that she discovered how beautiful she was with no mirror, billboards, blaring television or radio ads promoting external stuff to become beautiful or better in a superficial way. Jennifer saw herself as part of the beauty and strength of nature for the first time. She got a job, which made her mom happy, but she missed the trail, friends, simplicity, and being part of the beauty of nature. And, she continued to have this gnawing feeling that she wanted to get out and try to break the women's record of the fastest thru-hike of the AT. She decided that she would attempt this in 2008. In 2007 she went on her first date with Brew, the man who would become her husband, and romance didn’t stop her goal. She told him on this first date that she had plans to break the women's thru hiking record in 2008. About a year later, Brew and Jennifer are married- and spending their honeymoon breaking the women's record together! Brew met Jennifer at
21 minutes | Jan 10, 2014
#036 – My dream of backpacking the Appalachian Trail [Podcast]
The roots of our interest in hiking the AT might inspire other people to hike the AT. I’ll share my story of the germination of my dream and how it came to fruition, and I invite you to do the same. I read about the Appalachian trail as a young adult,...
18 minutes | Jan 2, 2014
#035 – Managing Your Bills During A Long Hiking Trip [Podcast]
How can we manage our responsibilities without burdening other people in our life while we are, from their perspective, outside playing? We look in our “pack” and lighten our load for everyone. Options for paying bills If you don’t bank online yet, please start now! Set-up automatic payments for all your bills that don’t change from month-to-month over a long period, like rent or mortgages. Think of it like you’re automatically pushing the money to the payee. If you have recurring bills due that change from month-to-month and/or you can’t set up “budget billing” for even payments as is most often done for utilities, the payee can pull the money from your account. Sign up with the company and set this up using their process. For occasional bills that pop up while you’re away (credit, medical, pets) either find a personal assistant or continue to bank online with a smartphone or borrowed computer (see section “Begin using LastPass” below). your financial assistant will either check your mailbox or accept all your mail forwarded to them (see section “Forwarding Mail” below). If your assistant will handle the bills for you, Give them a few pre-signed checks in a lock box o transfer money to your assistant’s account for them to pay the bills as needed, keeping the paper bill in a safe place for you to see later. If you want to handle the occasional paper bills with paper checks on the trail, decide whether calling in to your assistant and carrying checks and mailing them is practical for your trip. Pay with a borrowed computer at a library, coffee house, hostel or hotel, etc. and take smart security precautions. Do Not login directly to your bank account from a borrowed computer! Use LastPass to log in. Begin using LastPass Begin using LastPass a couple of months prior to your trip so you can get use to it. It’s easy to sign-up, the encryption is great and it’s recommended by lots of reputable companies. You’ll probably want to install the browser plug-ins to allow for easier use. If you pay bills on your smart phone, you’ll also benefit by using LastPass but you’ll need to sign-up for a premium account. Here’s a link to LastPass on how to create and use one-time passwords. Create a number of these (10-20) passwords and print them out and put in a safe place. Now you can carry them with you to use when you’re on a public computer. To use, simply: Open any browser Go to h
27 minutes | Dec 22, 2013
#034 – Should I Backpack with a Partner? [Podcast]
The podcast topic this week is "Should I Backpack with a Partner?". I've created a list of questions that you can ask a prospective partner, here's the link. This podcast will discuss having a partner and other possibilities. Hope you enjoy the podcast. Trail Related News Same experience produces different results in this article. This is an interesting article about the inner journey that we all are on but can be much more evident when we're backpacking or doing something physically demanding. Have you been inspired to do something because you hiked the Appalachian Trail? Evan Walters did and he was not only inspired but he did something about it. Here's the article. Backpacking Partner(s) PROS Provide company when you're on the trail. This can be much needed if you tend to get lonely by yourself. If you're doing a thru hike or hiking a section during a busy time of the year then you might find enough people to talk to. What a partner can provide is someone who you can grow closer to and share the ups and downs that hiking on the trail will bring. Someone to share gear and also reduce your pack weight. This can be a pro and a con, it's a pro if you always hike together but if you get separated then you'll need to have your own stove, tent, pot, and whatever else you share. If you hike close together the entire trip then this won't be a problem. If you're hiking with your wife or best friend this could be a very treasured time together. I have many great memories of hiking with my good friend Dave. CONS You may not be a good hiking match. One of you may be impatient and not willing to wait or could possibly be so much faster that they're bored or that the slow person is always feeling guilty. One idea is for the faster hiker to hike behind the slower one, this would alleviate the problem of the faster hiker leaving the other person behind. If you share gear then you could get in trouble if you get separated or one decides to leave the trail. One idea is to begin with your own gear and then after say 200 miles you could plan to send home if it's obvious your compatible. If the partners don't relate well this could be a problem, for example if one talks a lot and the other person is wanting more quiet. Here's some questions that you can swap with potential partners to get your conversation going to consider how compatible you might be. Questions to ask yourself and your potential backpacking partner: How many miles do you plan to hike a
28 minutes | Dec 11, 2013
#033 – Should I Backpack Solo? [Podcast]
This podcast is about the pros and cons of backpacking solo, I've also produced a downloadable file to help you evaluate backpacking solo by answering questions, here's a link to that file. Trail Related News The National Park Service is taking comments on a Appalachian Trail Foundation Document that will be used to help in planning, funding, etc. in the future. Please go online here before January 10th, 2014 to comment. This post from a blogger should inspire you to dig in and push through those tough times, either on the trail or dealing with other challenges in life. Choose whether adversity will cause you to be stronger or knock you down. If you're interested in a preparation backpacking trip for the AT next year and you live near Lake Okeechobee in Florida, the check this out. Solo Backpacking PROS Allows you to make your own decisions: how far you'll hike, where you'll camp, when you'll take a zero day, etc. Allows you to be more spontaneous. You could do things like take an unplanned zero day or jump off the trail and go visit a friend. This can be done with a partner, too, but you'll need to consider the other person’s desires. Allows for the maximum amount of freedom. CONS It can get lonely by yourself, even with a dog. If you enjoy spending time alone in nature on a day hike then you should be fine. You will see people on the trail, it may not be when you want it to be. It can get scary or creepy camping by yourself or being in a lightning storm, for example. These things can be scary even with someone else around, but it can be more so being by yourself. It is safer in a group. It stands to reason that most crime will happen near roads or in shelters that are near roads. I've never been a victim of crime, but you need to be aware of your environment and take precautions. Appalachian Trail Conservancy recommends: “Don’t hike alone. You are safest with a group; neither a single partner nor a dog is a guarantee of safety. Be creative. If in doubt, move on; try to connect with another group of hikers. Always pay attention to your instincts about other people.” Download the questions below, but with even more depth, so you can fill it out yourself and save. This will help you in evaluating whether backpacking solo is for you. Questions to ask yourself about solo backpacking: How important is it that you make your own decisions? How important is it to be spontaneous, to hike your own pace or stop if you just feel
13 minutes | Dec 7, 2013
#032 – Hiking Safety During Hunting Season [Podcast]
News on the Trail Appalachian Trail's November Volunteer of the Month The AT's volunteer of the month for November was Keith Brown. Keith works with the Rocky Top Trail Crew which maintains the section of the AT through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Keith is from Wooster, Ohio and one of the things people enjoy about Keith is that he's always a pleasure to work around and learn from--in addition Keith seems to enjoy working hard and is very productive. Sounds like Keith's enthusiasm is contagious. By the way, he must drive about 500 miles one-way to volunteer--now that's dedication. What to do with Shelter Registers? This was the question the November ATC Stewardship Council answered. Shelter registers can be put in a shelter by anyone but seem to usually be installed by either the trail club that maintains that section of trail or an individual who maintains the shelter. The ATC decided unanimously that they didn't have the space to archive the registers and left the decision up to the clubs that maintain a section to decide what to do. Hiker Safety During Hunting Season Deer season is now open in most if not all sections along the AT and as a hiker you should take some precautions. Hunting is permitted along approximately 1,250 miles of the AT that runs through game lands, national forests, etc. Here's some things you can do to protect yourself: 1) Wear hunter orange. You can wear anything from a ballcap, to a vest or even more and it's very noticeable. It's also available at many local stores for a modest price. 2) Hike in areas where hunting is not permitted. These areas include places such as National Parks and many state parks. 3) If you have a dog you should get a vest for them also. 4) Be cautious about hiking at dawn or dusk, this is the most active time for deer and other animals and visibility can be more difficult. 5) Avoid wearing white, red and blue. These colors are some of the colors of deer (white tails) and turkey. Here's a link to Hunting seasons for states that the AT resides.
53 minutes | Aug 2, 2012
Foot care before and during a hike
Mike Allen, the owner of First Place Athletics here in Huntsville, AL is an ultra-runner and employs a staff of athletic shoe fitting experts. He definitely puts some miles on his feet, so I was glad that we met to talk about foot care--before and during a hike or backpacking trip. Here is a the link to the podcast: Foot care before and during a hike Foot Care in Preparing for a Hike Shoes are one of the most important things, of course. Mike explains several problems that can happen with poor fitting shoes, and it's more than blisters. Purchase shoes from a professional shop like Mike's for the best fit. If you'll be using a running shoe or trail runner try this at Runners World magazine to locate a place nearby. Pick the type of shoe for the type of terrain you'll be covering. I've used running shoes on the AT since my start in Georgia, and wished I didn't do that when I got to Pennsylvania. Shoe inserts are also important and may be recommended when you purchase your shoes. Mike explains why, if you're on the trail already, you may think twice before purchasing an insert. Socks are also important. Mike says Olefin and wool are the best material for socks. It's best to use a thin sock as a liner under your thicker sock. Train in this combination. Sandals, toe-shoes, and sock-shoes are not good for hiking; we discuss why running shoes or hiking shoes still rule. Skin care--get rid of corns before the hike but keep the calluses. Toughening the skin on your feet before the hike can be effective and Mike and I share some ideas about how to do that. Foot Care During a Hike Wet feet for a runner is not much of a problem, but for backpackers, it can be a much bigger problem. Change out socks to keep dry. Whenever you stop to rest, take your shoes and socks off to dry out. Mike mentions some useful products: Blistershield, sportshield, bodyglide, and Bag Balm to help lubricate the foot and reduce friction. He explains how to use them in the podcast. What about blisters? Use Preparation 'H' on them! Yes, that's right. You can put it on a blister--the sooner the better, popped or not. It also has some antibiotic in the formula. Then put duct tape- not a bandaid- over it. Be careful to not to let the tape become a friction spot by using just enough to cover the spot without wrinkling the tape. Swelling can be caused by an electrolyte imbalance (ie. low sodium). You can take electrolyte capsules, Gatorade
18 minutes | Jul 22, 2012
6 ways to prevent Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is becoming a bigger problem along the Appalachian Trail but still remain much more of a problem in the Northeast. Today I will be discussing 6 ways to prevent lyme disease along with some background on the little tick. Here is the podcast: 6 Ways to Prevent Lyme Disease Podcast Lyme disease on the Appalachian Trail and in the eastern United States is transmitted by black legged tick. Here is a photo from the Center for Disease Control (CDC): Where are the most likely places to get lyme disease? According to the CDC you are far more likely to get lyme disease in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connectict and Massacheusetts than any other place on the Appalachian Trail. It does matter when you are out on the AT (ie. what month of the year) as to how like you are in contracting lyme. Here's another good chart from the CDC. What can lyme disease look like? Lyme disease produces a bullet, here's some photos, a red area around where the tick bite occurred but sometimes it may not happen. I have a friend who didn't have a bullet but was later diagnosed with Lyme. I don't want to scare people from going in the woods but now we'll discuss some things you can do to prevent lyme disease when you do go out. 6 ways to prevent Lyme Disease Use permethrin on your clothes and gear. It last over multiple washings but must be put on ahead of time so it can dry before being worn. Deet (at least 20% deet though) can be used on your body Examine yourself regularly. If you have an animal be sure you examine it also, the ticks can jump off them and onto you. If you have a pet use a tick repellant--they work! Clothing. You can wear long sleeves, long pants tucked into your socks and a hat. Avoid tick infested areas in the peak months (see graph above) Walk in the center of the trail.
39 minutes | Jul 10, 2012
BAA-tany Goat Project on the Appalachian Trail
Photo credit: Brenda J. Wiley Spoke with Jamey Donaldson who is the Project Director for the BAA-tany Goat Project on Roan Mountain. It was enjoyable to learn more about Roan mountains biological diversity and the goats role in it. The goats are on the mountain from about the third week of June to mid-September, most days the goats are within eye-shot of the AT. Here's the podcast: Discussion with Jamey Donaldson of the BAA-tany Project The goats will be heading off the mountain the morning of Wednesday September 12, 2012, if you're interested helping this day or others you can contact Julie Judkins or Jamey Donaldson . Volunteers are needed to camp with the goats, with an elevation of over 5500 feet the temperatures are nice even in July and August. Jamey also discusses the botanical history and diversity of Roan Mountain. Here are links to Friends of Roan Mountain and the BAA-tany Project Blog. Thank you to Jamey Donaldson for taking the time away from watching the goats for this interview. What's been your experience with the goats on Roan Mountain? Scott Akridge
38 minutes | Jun 26, 2012
Interview with Joe Parrish
This is week I was privileged to interview Joe Parrish who is the Konnarock Program Director for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. This group uses volunteers help maintain the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Rockfish Gap in Virginia. Here is the podcast: Interview with Joe Parrish of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy If you're interested in learning more or even volunteering, here is the link to the Konnarock Crew. Here is a link to the blog for the Konnarock Crew, they have good up to date photos the volunteer groups.
44 minutes | Jun 19, 2012
Interview with Kirk Sinclair
Here is the link to the podcast for today: Interview with Kirk Sinclair Here are the show notes: 1) Thanks for the compliments -- Dain, Kim, Tony and others on atbackpacking.com, plus the ones on iTunes which is at 16 comments. Glad you've enjoyed the podcasts. 2) Q - How much water do you carry with you, and how often do you fill up? Dain A - My dog carried the water (2 liters) and we could hike this time for 2-4 hours with that amount. Water was plentiful, except for a few places and we'd refill every 2-5 hours but remember this will vary by weather and terrain 3) Changes for next trip - a) Pudding recipe - go ahead and get large pudding but instead of making half at a time make it quarters. This should be plenty and will probably only carry one for every other day like this past trip. b) Would like to have a water carrying system like the ULA packs, allows to carry water on shoulder straps. c) Not planning to carry my dog Okie. d) Have my daily mileage average be about 12-14 miles, of course this assumes terrain similar to what I hiked. 4) Interview with Kirk Sinclair who has hiked the Appalachian Trail three time, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and most recently the American Discovery Trail (ADT). He's also hike other trails which he mentions in the podcast. Kirk has hiked with Warren Doyle twice and gives a viewpoint on those hikes that folks might enjoy hearing if they're considering a thru hike with Warren in 2015. Kirk and his wife Cindy recently hiked the ADT with a mission to document the kindness they were shown and to speak to groups. Kirk has begun the process of writing a book to document these acts. If you have acts of kindness that you've been shown Kirk asks that you post those on his website. You can also keep track of him on Facebook and Youtube.
12 minutes | Jun 11, 2012
2012 AT Section Hike Journal #26 (5/25/2012)
This is day 26 of my 2012 AT Section Hike. Hiked from Limestone Spring Shelter to my finishing point at Salisbury, Connecticut. Below is the link to the podcast.2012 AT Sect Hike Day 26Finishing Point--woohoo!!
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