I take my first steps towards the AT approach trail and the panic attacks I had been fighting or dismissing came full force. The weight of my pack seemed to double, the weight of what I was about to do hit hard in a new way. I stopped and removed excess dead weight before even hitting the trail. I felt a bit better, and was a bit more ready. I said my goodby’s and set off for springer mountain, a short 7.3 mile hike. I was felt like I was prepared for the difficulty of the trail hiking, I knew it was gonna be tough and was told it was on the hardest parts of the beginning part of the trail and many people skip it. I decided to do it anyways, might as well see what i can do on the approach, it was tough but no tougher a trail then I am used to, what I wasn’t used to was the humidity and a weird sense of hot/ cold, hot/cold. Although I believe that was an added effect of constant panic attacks.
The hiking it’s self wasn’t so tough, it was the uncontrollable panic attacks that occurred every half mile or so (or at least felt like that often). I took my needed breaks, eating and drinking lots, even making up some gatorade. The views I could obtain were amazing in the breaks of fog I could see rolling green hills for miles. I was able to make my way into camp at the summit of springer mountain shelter area. I was able to get my tent hung and everything set up and make some food and hang my food bag on the bear line just before dark. I was exhausted and exhilarated, I had begun my journey. I was on the Appalachian trail! I had arrived and i had begun to walk. Being as tired as I was I quickly ate and made up a protein shake to sip on. I got everything together and sat back and relaxed for a minuet as I smoked watching the world become darker and darker. As I realized no stars were gonna come out due to the amazing cloud blanket I climbed into my incredible Apache Naki tree tent and quickly pass out.
Smack! I am awake, suddenly and viciously wretched from slumber by icy cold drops pelting me in the face. Water falling through by rain fly dripping directly onto my face, I move to assess the situation and find my butt is on the ground. I am sitting in a puddle of water. My tent must have slid down the trees, or the tension loosed greatly with the rain? or I just set it up like crap and wrong? But why Am I soaked? I thought my tent had a rainfly for a reason and being off the ground (if I was still) was supposed to help? hmm… I as quickly as I can realize whats going on and put all my gear into my actually waterproof backpack, and try to figure out a new sleeping situation. It is pouring rain outside and in and either way no matter what I do I am soaked and cold. I dont know what took over but I somehow got positioned out of the puddle and direct drips and did a freezing sleep for the rest of the night.
When I was able to pull my self from my icicle slumber and get out I had luckily saved some of my clothes from being water logged. I get dressed and find my shoes under my tent and completely dry, haha. As I slowly rouse I could feel my muscles and joints reeling with every movement. It felt like when to find that pair of shorts in your drawer at the beginning of summer and pull them out excited to wear them again, but when you pull on the elastic you hear that stretching, cracking sound and then they stay stretched out. yup thats how every muscle and ligament felt. I slowly slowly pack my things, attempting to ring everything out before packing it away. (the benefits to a light pack weight that they never talk about is that everything will eventually be wet and wet things weigh more then dry so having that 10-15 lb pack is blessing when its only 30 lbs soaking wet. ha) Once packed up I make my way down the mountain a 0.9 mile trail to a parking lot. It took me about an hour and a half to make it, I was moving slow, each step had to be taken with care and purpose. Once at the parking lot I called for a ride.
I was not quitting nor giving up, just throwing in the what the fuck towel I need to dry and warm. I like to believe that I am capable of understanding Murphy’s law. But I also feel I know myself well enough to know when my body is telling me it is going to break. So I got a ride to a hotel where I could get warm and shower and dry my things and eat hot food and drink lots of water and hot drinks. (Thank you Mum and Pop)
My thoughts were to rest, dry and continue the next day. That night being wrought with nightmares I awoke to the continued pain and aches and a lovely beginnings of a migraine. I felt like I did when I had walking pneumonia. The wave (tsunami) of depression hit as reality and panic of reality set in. This was not my time. This was not my moment. but goonies never say die! I was not, I will not throw in that ending towel. That is not a wrap that is not all she wrote and I don’t care if a fat lady is singing or not (she’s just giving me a soundtrack). If you look at things in life as tests, this was simply that a test and a lesson.
One main lesson being not to do what I did. Haha! I am so grateful for my parents and their help and ability to deal with me. My faults were in the few weeks leading up to my departure I was so busy and discombobulated with things that I was unable to exercise and eat the way I needed to. I am about 5’9” and on a good day up to 135 lbs. I am a stress non-eater. So in times of heavy stress I don’t eat and end up dropping weight and burning sugar reserves and getting migraines. well that happened before leaving and then while getting to Georgia. Instead of just driving strait there and eye on the prize type focus we road tripped. It was amazing! I got to help my parents take their new trailer for its maiden voyage and learn how it all works and get some kinks worked out. I got to go see my grandparents (whom I have not seen for a while). and my cousin and aunt and uncle. It was awesome, I was able to wake up a few mornings to miniature horses greeting me a good morning. I had an amazing time and am super lucky to be able to have done all that I did.
For me any type of traveling is pretty amazing right now. Shit getting out of the house can be a feat. It took three days for me to be able to leave the house after getting back home. (yay PTSD!!) It doesn’t help the whole debilitating depression kicks in seemingly as soon as the panic attacks subside, eff! Shit I made it Georgia! I made it through going and being around family and my grandparents. Shit, It may seem lame to some or even sad or pathetic, but thats what my life has been for the past few years (no not by choice ass hole). But I am determined to not let it break me, not let it take over, I wont let this rule me. I am proud of myself for making it out there. I made to the start, I started! This is just a set back. A learning trip. And I will return. I have already set the date I leave home again. Two weeks till take off for the trail. (3/27/17)
One reason to start early is that if you fuck up early on like I did you can regroup and tray again. I now know that I need to lighten the base weight of my pack. I need a lighter and thicker sleeping pad. I need a lighter and better rated sleeping bag or ultralight quilt (liking the quit idea and cheeper) and that I need to get a lighter and smaller size pack (still want it waterproof). So Now I have two weeks to make a lot of money to upgrade my gear so I can head back.
Don’t give up on me yet. Thank you for all your help and support. I wouldn’t have made it out there nor back without your love and support.
And it does. Yesterday I hiked the approach trail and falls at Amicalola falls state park in Georgia. Today I begin the daunting approach trail, approximately 8 miles with an average of 6 hrs hike time to springer mountain and the official start of the “trail”. Today is the approach trail. we shall see how I do.
As my anxiety has been an interesting spinning rollercoaster while getting here. Travel in general which is difficult for me and now I am going to live in the woods for six months. A life of constant travel, yet constant woods and beauty. A world I have never been to to explore. A first of many firsts to come.
I sit in the lodge lobby getting a few things tied up and attempting to calm the swelling anxiety and brewing panic attack. My bag is to big, and to heavy. But only for now. I know things will change and break in and I will find what I need and what I don’t. I will send home some and request new things. This is an adventure with which a learning curve must be allowed or I will do more harm to my self.
But here I go. With a hundred in my pocket and a few dollars in the bank I set off for Maine.
Thank you to every one whom has gotten me here. Thank you for all your Love and support, I wouldn’t have made it without you. I hope to make it with you. Thank you all for everything and all that you are. Much love and see you soon.
Ok, Holy crap! Yes I decided to live approximately 6 months of my life carrying everything on my back and sleeping on the ground (hopefully not with a 3 point hammock). Yes. and I have to go into towns and do specific mail drops for food and supplies and have it all meticulously planned out. FUCKKK! I mean there are probably many ways to do this trip. To plan or not to plan. Well I have to plan some, but I don’t/ can’t over plan. Because I stress enough and have ended up in a ball starring at gear and plans and ideas scared shitless and lost and I have no clue what I am doing. Oh wait yes I am walking from one point of the country to another.
So I read and read a lot and watch youtube when I can and read. A lot of the things are the same. A lot completely different. Heres what I took for gear heres this list heres that list. videos of hikes, important instructional videos. I was a boy scout, I come over prepared or completely unprepared and wing it and yeah that sucks. Don’t do that. I want to plan things so that I am not worried on where I am getting my next package, or if I have enough to eat but so that I can just walk and enjoy it. HA hahahahahahah. I will be enjoying it. I will be walking. will I be worrying and overthinking everything? Quite possibly, definitely at first, maybe not so much once I get into the swing of things. As for now, hell yes I am over thinking everything, send guessing every decision I make.
Gear this gear that. Up until more recent years always had shared gear with a group of people so everything was covered, used fire to cook. Weekend to week trips aren’t to difficult when you have a group and share the weight of everything. Going on solo excursions and branching out at one point I was learning wilderness medicine and getting things geared towards search and rescue. I was able to get things here and there and had built solo gear over time and from thrift stores and second hand mountain stores. Not always the best or the lightest but I am young and never seemed to care about weight, just durability. Still focus a lot on durability, shit brakes in my hands. Fuck your indestructible shit, I broke it oops. Now I am also more focused on weight as well though. I have hurt myself a few times recently and have been forced to re think certain things. But I am still solid I swear.
At the begging summer 2015 I rolled my car. I went through a bunch physical therapy and rebuilt strength and structure in my shoulder. Once I was released from PT I decided to do a mini thru hike. The dream of the AT had been in me already but I didn’t know what was possible. I hiked a small trail in my back yard called Windsor trail. It was a three day two night little hike up to two lakes and a beautiful summit, to a nice walk down in early august. A simple hike I’ve done before, but I learned a few things. Like strength and endurance do not hold and are not as easily rebuilt. Strength you once believed you had is completely different after an injury. When you are not prepared or not using the right gear and have over loaded it then you can hurt or re-injure yourself.
After that little trip I was inspired and whipped out. The preparation it can take for just a small trip can be a lot. At least for someone like me. Even if you are trying to go super light, that can even add to it. I then lost steam for my hiking the Appalachian trail or for any travel due to the fact that one needs money to travel. I was discouraged and overwhelmed. Making money is difficult for me (the whole having a job and responsibilities and getting out of the house factors). And the idea that I’d have to make a lot of money and buy all kinds of things were overwhelming and a bit destroying for me. I went through a slew of different things, from getting more roommates to doing odd jobs to breaking my knee cap and launching my website with my art and an etsy site to sell it and redoing my blog site and scheduling a show. And things were picking up and I was getting supplies for travel, just general travel, with no real focus. But while I sat there in a leg brace unable to do a lot, I wrote and designed and got things going. I also read and read and that is when I decided to fully focus on planning an Appalachian trail hike.
I read and I read and decided that no matter what preparation I did for “travel” I was going no where with out a plan or a destination. The large lump sum that it takes for a flight to Europe or Iceland is a lot and always left me anxious and depressed since I could never seem to save up enough. I don’t claim disability, yet qualify (no something my head is able to accept/ surrender?) so making money or even having money can be tough. But even so, I decided on one trip one plan, one destination. If I plan out a trip and be specific and set my intention I can make it happen. If I kept waiting till I had everything together I’d never be ready.
I began planning and preparing and then did my first solo art show, used my proceeds to get more gear for the trip. I planned and I read and I got more things ready, Yet still no where near enough things and a rise in anxiety a rise in depression a sinking of self esteem a decrease in functionality. Panic and disorder and time creeps closer, then some light comes through and things come another step closer. I Began a GoFundMe campaign and let people know my story. A scary as fuck thing for me to do. I don’t like people, yet here I am telling them things and asking for money. Something I never do, and for me is really difficult and stressful and adds that whole aspect of disappointing the people that have supported me, fuck! But I choose to choose my perspective, to look at the good parts and the beauty and blessing of those helping me. (that or I am doing an amazing job suppressing all that anxiety and panic haha)
But no matter what I am doing this I am going with it I have planned and contiue to plan and refine and freak out and panic and reorganize and redo things and change things and upgrade things and get the most out of everything I can and I will freak out once out there. But I am hiking the Appalachian trail and I leave home in two weeks. Holy Shit!!
I Am Hiking The Appalachian Trail!!!
I am starting the AT at Amicalola falls in Georgia, 8 miles south of the official start at springer mountain. I will be starting this excursion at the end of February. In my attempts to avoid the crowds I am starting a bit earlier then the “bubble” period when most people start. But if I need to be around people I can wait a bit somewhere and then bam, people. haha right.
This will be an amazing adventure and a healing one at that. The official milage of the trail for 2017 is 2190.3 miles. and I am already adding 8 miles to the start and then the added miles into towns I will walk well over 3000 miles before the end. I am very excited and scared shitless! I will be crying everything I need on my back and living very minimally. Time to be in and out of my head and a time to connect to the world around. That is the comfort I am looking forward to. I don’t do well with people, and I don’t like people ha! So this will be great. I know there will be dark time’s as well as some amazing enlightening times. Some Highs and lows. Still scared, nervous, compounding anxiety, panic attacks and a overwhelming feeling of drowning in cluelessness, as I plan and prepare for this journey.
Thats the point, the challenges of life? I guess. A guy who has difficulty leaving the house, venturing to the store no matter how necessary, a trip of 4-5 months living on a trail out of a backpack with no real home except the little 2 feet space you cary around with you. How the fuck am I gonna do this? No fucking clue. Still gonna do it. It’s one foot in front of the other. Right foot, left foot, right foot left foot, all the way to mount katahdin in Maine. First step is out the front door. Ha! Then getting to Georgia. minor details. I’ve got most my equipment, good cookware, water filter, kindle for reading and writing, phone for music and photos and videos, and sketchbook and watercolors for my therapist (cant seem to figure out how to take mine with me, and not made in pocket size, ha ha). Still waiting to figure out the right pack to carry it all in (that and for some costs to go down, blah). Got a great tent and sleeping bag and pad. I don’t have the lightest gear ever but so far it has been good to me and thats the most important. that and durability. I brake shit. Not on purpose. It just happens. Im good for companies that need stuff tested. Or at least I keep asking, any takers? haha!
I will be writing about my journey and posting things here and other places. Fallowing my progress and journey through not only the woods but my debilitating PTSD and anxiety and depression. As well as making (hopefully) good and cool videos along the way showing the amazing scenery, so Maybe those who couldn’t make it out there will be able to see it.(like my uncle). Who knows maybe this will help or inspire someone else who is going through similar?
I have decided. I have registered. The planning is happening and coming together better and better. I have written to several companies for support and help. I heard back from a few. Got amazing Help from Roll-uh-bowl. and will talk more about them later. I will discuss my gear and my plans and decisions in posts to come. I hope you will fallow along with me upon this journey.
Thank you and happy travels
One can help me on this journey here: