Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Back to the Trail!

On April 27th I'll be hitting the Appalachian Trail again, this time for a short hike (51 miles) from Tyringham, MA, to North Adams, MA. I've got a partner this time - Randy, a neophyte who's been hearing me talk about hiking for several years. Many people have expressed an "interest" in going out there, but he's the only one who has followed through. Randy has a family and a real job, so he's taking five days of vacation to hike with me. He's excited.

We'll be driving to Massachusetts in 18 days, but my pack is packed and I can see it, up against the wall in my sun room. I bought a few food and hygiene items today to finish up the necessities for a hike. I guess you'd say I'm looking forward to getting back on the trail! (Long time readers will remember that I got heat exhaustion the last time I hit the AT, and I basically "gave up" on hiking after returning.)

Assuming I complete this easy hike, I'll be going out again once or twice more this year. I've got about 800 miles to go, with 1,400 completed. Why not finish? I'll only be 65 in July, and I've met a bunch of guys in their 70's out there in the boonies. Plenty of time to finish... and, some day I will tell you I've finally done it. The Appalachian Trail is an all-day-sucker, to put it mildly.

The highlight of this hike will be Mt. Greylock, the highest mountain in Massachusetts. It's only 3,500 feet above sea level, but the start point is 1,000 feet, so the climb is 2,500 feet up (think 250 stories of steps) with a very steep final half mile. I chose this hike because it includes Mt. Greylock, but I'm skipping over some of the AT in NY and CT that I'll need to hike later. Randy deserves to conquer a mountain if he's only going to hike one time, so I'm breaking from my normal pattern of south to north. Nobody cares in what order you do the chunks.

My knees are not so good after being a dedicated high school sprinter, then a paratrooper with lots of running and many falls, then road-running for many years of my younger adulthood, then hiking 1,400 miles of the AT. In fact, my knees ache, some days worse than others. But, I'm far from crippled. I do 35 minutes on an elliptical trainer three days each week, and then I lift free weights. I'm fit and strong. The pain is bearable. This hike will be a walk in the park, even if a little Ultra-strength Ben-Gay will be my friend, too.

I'll give you a report and some pictures on my return.

P.S. I quit smoking 11 weeks and one day ago. Still smoke-free and happy. Mt. Greylock will be just a bit easier as a result.


Dave said...

I'm not giving you any props until you've hit a few months of smoke freeness, however that last word is spelled.

Lifehiker said...

I understand, Dave. Recidivism is my middle name.

ThomasLB said...

Good luck on your hike!