Logistics Update

Some things came together on Wednesday December 14th.  It was the presale day for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 40th Anniversary tour tickets for legacy members of TomPetty.com.  What that meant in this household was jumping on the computer and being ready to order tickets the moment they went on sale to get the best seats possible.  We did not go for any of the special packages as they were way too expensive, and besides, I do not like floor seats.  I am too short.  Everyone stands up and at that point I might as well just sit down and listen.  Made that mistake with U2 once back in 1988ish at the Rosemont.  Was one of the worst concerts I have ever been to.  Leslie is going to see the band on three dates:  1)in Atlanta with me, 2)in St Louis with a friend and 3)in Milwaukee at Summerfest with (yet to be determined…for the Summerfest show I suggest lavish gifts with no real intended purpose while discussing all of the positive attributes of Tom Petty’s music.  She might get the hint and invite you!)

So, my start date has changed.  I was going to begin on Friday, April 28th.  My start date has been postponed to Saturday, April 29th.  The logistics have changed a little bit.  Leslie and I will fly to Atlanta on Thursday April 27th.  That night we will attend the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert in Atlanta.  It is likely going to be the only concert on this tour of his that I will be able to attend, so hopefully he knocks it out of the park.  On Friday, April 28th we will drive to Amicalola Falls State Park and stay at the lodge.  We will spend that afternoon checking out the falls and the park.  On Saturday the 29th, at or about 9 am I will begin my journey to Maine by driving to the parking lot near Springer Mountain and hiking .9 miles backwards to the start of the trail.  I believe a friend of mine from high school, John Hajicek, is going to meet us at the Park and start this journey with me.  He fully intends to go the distance as well.  Given his athletic background I have no doubt he can do it.  I think for both of us it will be the external aspects (injury, illness, etc…) of the trip that could derail a successful completion.

I also have been looking at being at Harper’s Ferry by July 4ish and am having my doubts about making it.  A more realistic date is around July 10th to 14th.  That is really not of concern as long as mentally I am ready to flip to Mt. Katahdin in Maine and start hiking south back to Harper’s Ferry.  This brings up one other thing I have read in the past and expect to happen to me.  Anyone starting after say about April 15th has time issues to get to Maine.  All of the people they run into along trail, of course while trying to be helpful, let them know that they probably won’t make Maine because they started so late or some variation of that theme. I wonder what the over/under is on my hearing this helpful advice?  I am going to try to keep track of all the “help” I receive in that regard for funsies.  Anyway, as grand and majestic as it would be to finish on top of Katahdin, I also think Harper’s Ferry would be a fine place to finish.  First time I was ever there was a high school trip to Washington DC.  We spent a day at Harper’s Ferry.  Neat place and with the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy there, it makes for a notable finish.  Next time I am here I will look a bit different and will have at least 1,000 miles under my belt and it will be all downhill from there.

Summer of 2015.



Facebook Posts

The other day I made two posts to facebook about the hike.  When Leslie got home that evening she asked me why I did not post them to the blog.  My response was that they were just quick posts/thoughts and to put them on the blog would take more time.  In between that comment and now I have thought about it some more.  In the world of editing commentary I almost always go back and read what I have written and correct it before hitting send, but not always.  The not always applies to text messages.  I hate typing on my phone and a lot of the time will just hit send even though I see there is a typo because I know the person on the other end will be able to fifure out that fifure is figure.  The point being, in that form of one on one communication, a typo or two, or maybe even a little shorthand is acceptable.  In emails I tend to always re-read before hitting send to ensure it says what I want it to say and what I want it to say is clear.  Facebook posts get the same consideration, a quick review to ensure that it is what I want and then send.  Sometimes I miss a misspelling, especially if I compose the email or facebook post on my phone.  Blog posts take longer.  I tend to spend a couple hours on a blog post.  Normally it is written, and then re-read and edited about three times.  Finally, my book that I am working on takes the most time.  I posted the dedication and introduction the other day.  All told I probably have about 7 or 8 hours into those 2434 words and I am still not completely happy with it.  The majority of the dedication was written in July of 2015, but it has been edited and expanded since then.  The introduction was written the morning I posted it and I spent 4 ½ hours on it that morning.  So depending upon the audience, the time it takes to properly communicate increases.  The more people you communicate to, the more time it takes (or should take) to make certain you say what you want to say.  Sometimes wish politicians would consider this…

So anyway, here are the two posts from Facebook and the expanded commentary.  (read and re-read this introduction to this post five times now.  Wow.)


Blue Blazing

The Appalachian Trail is 2,200 miles and crosses numerous trails and paths along the entire route. There is no way the trail itself can go to all places magical. This is where some research is due and necessary. I am putting together a list of side treks that are really cool so that when I get to these places I can make a reasoned decision based on time and other constraints as to whether or not to enjoy the side trips. This morning I added these “blue blazes” to my file. (Four part series)


Blue blazing refers to going off the Appalachian Trail proper, on a side route or alternative route.  White blazing means to be on the official Appalachian Trail.  The reason for this is that the trail itself is identified by a single 2 by 6 inch vertically painted white line which is placed on trees, rocks, and even the bottom of a canoe to mark the official Appalachian Trail.  Blue blazing means a side trek off of the Appalachian Trail.  In some places a blue blaze will loop back around to the Appalachian Trail, meaning the blue blazer may have skipped a short portion of the official trail.  Some thru-hikers view this as sacrilege and won’t even recognize the person who did it as a true thru-hiker.  Others don’t care because the fact of the matter is you walked from GA to ME.  There are other blazes as well:

Yellow Blazing – walking, hitchhiking or driving from one point to another and skipping a part of the official Appalachian Trail.

Green Blazing – Smoking pot while on the trail.  (Some also refer to this as a safety meeting)

Brown Blazing – Leaving the trail to dig a cat hole and take care of business.

There are a ton of other blazes, and some are very obscure.  The three most common are white, blue and yellow.  For those of you who wish to read more about the other blazes, here is a link or you can google “blazes and the Appalachian Trail.”


Chemical Warfare

Normally I am not a fan of chemicals to ward of bugs. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ll use deet when I have to, but generally speaking I don’t like the whole idea of bathing in chemicals. However, today I am sending all my AT clothing off to Insect Shield to be treated. Apparently when they treat in house it will last for 70 washings. (wonder if hiking all day in the rain counts as one wash or more than one?) Not doing this for the mosquitos, but Permethrin apparently has some efficacy with mosquitos as well. Main reason is ticks. The benefit here is that the Permethrin will kill the ticks after exposure. This takes a little bit of time, so thankfully ticks like to wander around a bit before inserting themselves into my business. Mosquitos on the other hand, like to bite immediately, so the benefit with them is a bit less.


I think it is important to keep in mind a couple of key points from the article.  There were only two times that he saw ticks.  First, you had to be in the time window of May 29th and July 21st.  Second you had to be below 2,000 feet.  From May 29th to July 21st I project I will be hiking from Roan Mountain, TN to Delaware Water Gap, PA.  So it will be the month of July where I need to worry about ticks if all goes according to plan.  Prior to that I should be above 2,000 feet most of the time.

Some other “take aways” from the article are that ticks were most generally found on the trail, not in shelters or in camp.  That makes sense to me as that is where you will find better underbrush and overall plant (grass) growth.  So really, hiking off trail (to take care of business) or hiking on trail to, well, hike the Appalachian Trail are the two most common areas to pick up ticks.  Cannot really avoid either and still do a thru-hike.  Finally, he wore bug pants and claimed that helped.  I will not wear bug pants.  I am wearing running shorts for this hike.  My socks, gaiters and shorts will all be treated, so hopefully that will solve any issues.  Any ticks that I see trying to catch a ride on my legs between my gaiters and my shorts will be properly dispatched.  And by that I mean fire.