This is my first blog post in a long time. I have been extremely neglectful of this blog as my passions for sharing my journey typically lie with photos and short stories of my adventures (on Instagram and Facebook). But this winter thru-hike is going to afford me a lot of dark, cold, lonely nights in my sleeping bag. And I figure this will be a perfect opportunity to journal at the end of every day. I would like to remain diligent with this and upload my journal every time I get into town or have service or WiFi. Many of you who have been following along on what I’ve been up to are sitting there scratching your head at what I am about to set out to do.You might never understand. You might think I’m crazy. Maybe this post on Appalachian Trials can at least help you to understand a little bit why I’ve decided to set out on a solo southbound winter AT thru hike.
In the mean time let me just fill you in a little bit on why I didn’t start yesterday on December 1st like I had initially planned. With slapping this hike together so fast, I was so wrapped up in the gear list and getting up here (not to mention friends and family during Thanksgiving week) that I neglected to check to see what the winter permit procedure is for Baxter State Park. I have only been up here one other time and that was during the summer of 2013. I’m admittedly pretty ignorant to what goes on up here in winter. So that means one really important thing needs to happen for me in order to have a safe and successful hike. I MUST BE FLEXIBLE AND PATIENT. Things are most assuredly rarely going to go according to any sort of plan that I might come up with. During my bus trip from Philadelphia to Bangor (Maine) this past Monday I called up to Baxter State Park to book my winter camping permits. A nice woman named Nancy politely informs me (unbeknownst to me) that my permit must be submitted either in person or by mail. And it must be done so at least 7 days prior. Well now THAT puts a little wrinkle in the plans I had conjured up. So I casually and slowly replied over the phone back to her, “Oooooookaaaaaaaaay, I’ll call back!” Haha, what an idiot. Me, of course, not her.
So I quickly began to alter my conceived plan. I am incredibly fortunate to have a local Mainer in my corner. I good Marine Corps buddy, Jimmy, who was in my sniper platoon with me (we also lived together in a beach condo off base), his father (John) lives up near Monson, Maine with his long time girlfriend (Kim) and was more than happy to pick me up from the bus station in Bangor and accommodate me in any way that I needed (keep your heads out of the gutter). Was that the most ridiculous run-on sentence ever? Sue me. In order to account for this 7 days I need to wait in order to attempt to climb Mt. Katahdin, I decided that maybe it would make sense to start with the 100 Mile Wilderness and hike Northbound to Baxter State Park. And then from there, my friend’s father would pick me up and swing me back around to where he lives. I could wash up, clean and dry gear, charge all my stuff, resupply, and then get a move on Southbound from Monson after that. I don’t really have the luxury of sitting around and waiting for 7 days to begin, I have to make due with the time that I have so that I can try and get as far south (and particularly out of New England) as I can before the dead of winter sets in.
I’ve got just about every piece of winter gear you could possibly fathom. My pack is an abomination compared to the ultralight, sleek, smooth, and small knapsack like pack that I have been carrying all year. I will be sharing a detailed breakdown of what’s in my pack for this hike on Appalachian Trials website in the near future. If you don’t already follow them, you should. Especially if you’re an AT nut. I don’t know what kind of pace I can muster through ice, snow, potential mud, etc, through the 100 Mile Wilderness but my pack is going to be probably the heaviest it has ever been in my life (minus combat sniper missions in Iraq, a totally different beast altogether). I am going to need so much food for this. I also have acquired some first aid and survival gear that I NEVER carry with me during the summer months of ultra light backpacking. But since I am going to be out here entirely by myself, I am definitely going to need to be a little more prepared for the shit to hit the fan.
In the down days that I have had here near Monson while I anticipate my hike, I have been doing my best to fatten up. My hosts are both from Boston and moved up here a few years ago to raise their own meat for their own consumption and to sell. They have a beautiful log cabin that they had built and they have cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens as well as some horses. My first morning I had a legitimate farm fresh breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, and sausage straight from their animals. Absolutely delicious. Tonight, John is taking Kim out as today is her birthday. I am luckily reaping the benefits of this and they are allowing me to tag along for this. We are going to some sushi place an hour away near Bangor. Wish me luck!
Stay tuned for more updates.