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.)
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.”
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.