Sunday, November 22, 2015

Appalachian Trail Tab

I've added an Appalachian Trail (AT) tab at the top of Homer's Travels.  It is a link to my Google spreadsheet showing my proposed AT stages.  Not the prettiest but it's a start.

My planning ... well, once I completed this spreadsheet I sort of forgot about it.  I'm sure I'm not putting enough planning into the AT but I'm having a hard time focusing on the long term.  I will have to light a fire under my butt soon or I will not be ready for this amazing adventure.  This is especially true since next year is starting to look like a busy one.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Eagle Visitation

A while back we had a bald eagle fly over our backyard sending Iago into a fit (I posted a picture of the eagle on Facebook).  You see, Iago runs around and barks every time a large bird of prey flies over.  It's the only time he isn't unflappable. He isn't as bothered when the birds are on the ground.  I looked out the window yesterday and saw this in the field behind the house:
Eagle eating carcass
Bald Eagle munching on a carcass.
Today The eagle was back with its mate I presume and checked out the remains of the carcass:
Eagles Behind Our House
Pair of Bald Eagles behind our house.

Just another cool thing about living along the migratory routes of birds.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book: Allison Vesterfelt's "Packing Light"

I got Allison Vesterfelt's "Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage" from the library after seeing it had 4.5 stars on I have to say that I am very disappointed.

The book follows the author as she sells all her things and goes on a roadtrip with one of her friends.  The title refers to mental baggage and reducing it.  Sadly there really is very little about reducing mental baggage in this book.  There is no there there.  I usually am up for a good road trip book.  They are usually full of interesting stories and can be funny at times.  This has neither really.

I read the whole book including her references to the bible and her talks with God but I came close to saying enough and erasing it.  It was a waste of my time.

I gave this book two stars on Goodreads.  Not worth the photons really.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Appalachian Trail - First Draft

Warning:  This post has lots of numbers.  I'm a retired engineer.  That's what I do.

Last weekend I finished the first draft of my Appalachian Trail (AT) hike.  I have one criteria really.  I want to do it in no more than 182 days (26 weeks ... 6 months).

I started by using the length of the AT listed in the A.T. Guide - 2,194.7 miles (2185.9 plus the 8.8 miles from the Amicalola Falls State Park to the official start on Springer Mountain) - and broke it down into one week stages which assumed six days of hiking/camping and one full day (two nights) of rest in towns.  This tells me that I will have to walk, on average, 14.1 miles per day.  This seems doable to me.  On my two Caminos I averaged 14.27 and 14.66 miles per day.

I start out slow, doing stages in the ten mile range for the first two weeks.  I slowly start to increase the milage first to twelve then to fifteen and ultimately 17 miles per day.  Around the day seventy my average daily distance reaches my goal.  Since I should be in better physical condition by then, I continue to lengthen my distance and, ultimately, I will have an overall average distance around 14.8 miles per day.  Since I will be walking farther per day than my original requirement, I will finish the hike in 173 days.  So, this means I will have nine days to play with if necessary.

The longest stage is 21.5 miles (slight higher than my 21.4 miles personal best).  This long day is near the end of the hike so I hope I'm in good physical condition by then.  The shortest is 5.8 miles on a day I walk into town for a rest day.

The hardest part of this plan was figuring out where to stop for rest days.  I was hoping to have a rest day every seven days but it didn't work out that way.  The average stage length (hiking + rest  days) will be 6.95 which is pretty close but the stages range from a minimum of three hiking days to a maximum of nine hiking days.  Not very consistent.  This is especially true on the northern half of the AT.

As I chose places to stop for each night I tried also to have a secondary, backup, location.  Again, in the northern half this was nearly impossible as the shelters were far apart and there were few marked campsites in between the shelters.  This is a situation when you just walk off the trail and find a place to put up your tent for the night, rules and laws be damned.

This plan will change quite a bit over the next year for sure.  It will not even resemble what I actually do on the AT ... though the lack of camping and resupply options in the northern half may keep me on plan.  Resupply will be very interesting and will need a lot of flexibility.  Camping outfitters are rare so what is available at the local grocery store may be my only choice on some stages.  Food and supply will be, by far, the hardest thing to prepare for.  A few stops will require a supply by mail.

I will be adding a tab at the top of the blog linking to my Appalachian Trail Stages once I give it a little polish.  I will keep you all posted as I add to my AT preparations.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Photograph: "The Scariest Picture I Could Find"

"The Scariest Picture I Could Find"
by Bruce H.
 Happy Halloween Everybody! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Photograph: "Walk Of Fall" {Colors Of Fall 2015}

One last photograph in the Colors of Fall 2015 series.
"Walk of Fall"
by Bruce H.
A tree lined walkway displaying the colors of fall.  I little bit of every color on display.

This picture, a part of a series {Colors of Fall 2015}, was taken in Tom Hanafen River's Edge Park in Council Bluffs, IA on the 16th of October 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Appalachian Trail Planning Starts ... Finally

Last weekend I finally got some of my act slightly together, or at least in the same vicinity, and started planning my Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hike.  I should have started this in August but I've been putting it off over and over again.  I think it's subconscious anxiety.

Anyway, I started by pulling out the 2013 northbound edition of "The A.T. Guide".  This was a gift given to me by Gv soon after my second Camino.  The book gives a detailed description of shelter/hut/campsite locations along the AT as well as towns and what services are available.  It shows distances and elevations.  It notes locations of water sources and scenic vistas.  It is a very handy guide to planning your AT hike.

The first thing I started to do is plan out the hiking stages.  My intention is to walk six or seven days then take two nights off, preferably in a town, to rest, recuperate, and resupply.  I put together a spreadsheet - because that is what I do - and started to measure out the stages.  The hardest thing to do here is to figure out how far I will walk each day.  I decided to start out slow and walk around ten miles a day for the first week or two.  After that I upped the distance to twelve miles and upward so after a month I will be doing fifteen to sixteen miles a day.

Next I looked at where to stop for rest and resupply.  This is where I ran into some issues.  Early on it was no problem.  Around six, seven, or eight days in I would hit a town with hotels and hiking outfitters.  Farther north, though, things got more difficult.  Towns were getting smaller.  Outfitters getting harder to find.  For example, one stretch between days forty-two and fifty there was nothing but tiny little towns.  I finally decided to do eight days of hiking/camping (i.e. a very heavy pack full of food) until I arrived to a place called "Trent's Grocery".  You could camp here and there would be some food available in the nearby towns of Bland and Bastian, VA.  Unfortunately these towns are small and resupply appears problematic so ... this will probably be a place to have supplies (i.e. camp food) mailed to me.  Not an ideal situation but it will keep me going.

The longest section between towns (so far) is nine days but there is a town where I can resupply half way in so it won't be so bad.  In all, most of the stages are around 7 days of hiking followed by 2 days of rest.  Not what I originally planned but the terrain and the spacing of towns dictate where I stop and where I don't.  It all gives me a headache.

By Sunday I'd planned out to day 78.  At that point I needed a break.  I will continue later this week and add another month or two of stops.

Now I know a few of you are rolling your eyes.  Is he really planning out this hike to the day?  Yes I am.  You have to.  I know very well that any planned stages will be out the window after the first week or two.  There are too many thing that can go right and wrong along the trail to mess up with your shiney schedules and plans.  But the plans are necessary.  I need to know roughly when and where I'll be so that I can plan supply mail drops.  I will have to have summer clothes mailed to me and I will have to send cold weather gear back home.  For me to do this I need to know where I'll be and when I will be there.  You can't really play the AT by ear - I wish you could.

So it is started ... finally.  I will keep you all posted on how it's going.