Sunday, June 29, 2014

Daily Journal: June 29, 2014

Location: Schaumburg, IL
Miles Hiked Today: 5.0
Weather: Muggy, Storms on the Way

Sometimes the best thing is to just take it slow. It's a well-worn strategy of mine when I have several miles of rough hiking to go, and my energy is zapped. I tend to do this by counting my steps, and adhering to strict stops for breaks. Eventually I'll probably bump it up to landmarks or amounts of time between breaks, but for now steps will suffice. Sure, this way hurts my mph average, but I don't really care when it comes to going up and down the trails that go to truly great places. If I wanted to do nothing but beef up my MPH average, I'd spend all my time at Illinois Beach, Moraine Hills, or Cuba Marsh. But come next year I won't be walking on these "hiker highways", I'll be hiking the Appalachian Trail. The only way I can begin to get ready for that is going on trails with roots, rocks, and inclines galore.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Daily Journal: June 28, 2014

Location: Madison, WI
Miles Hiked Today: 8.5
Weather: Variable Cloudiness, Warm

So it is unlikely that I am going to reach my June hiking goal. Sure, it's possible that I could pull off 14.5 miles tomorrow, or even pull off a last second hike on Monday to accomplish it. However, the prospects are pretty slim. Because I had two weeks with poor hiking totals, it forced an unrealistic expectation for this weekend. Thus, my highest total for a day this year (8.5) comes up looking like a failure.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Looking Towards the AT: Tennessee and North Carolina Between the D's

Section: Tennessee and North Carolina Between the Ds*.
Region: South
Miles of trail: 225.6
Highlights: Hot Springs, NC, Max Patch, Roan Mountain and it's related balds, Overmountain Shelter, Lake Watauga, Laurel Falls

AT marker in Hot Springs, NC. The trail along the town's sidewalks are marked with this symbol.
So you're at Davenport Gap on the northeast end of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Now what? Is it time to give up, considering you've just been through one of the most scenic places in the Eastern United States? Of course not!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Daily Journal: June 18, 2014

Location: Schaumburg, IL
Miles Hiked Today: 0
Weather: Occasional Thunderstorms

Of all the things that I may encounter out on the trail, thunderstorms are probably one my least anticipated. Watching and listening to the thunderstorms rumbling through the suburbs has me thinking about this threat that is much more likely than other typical fears, such as bear attacks or life threatening snake encounters. It's not so much the rain (although that can be annoying when warm and deadly when cold), or the chance of encountering high winds, tornadoes, and hail. Those are things to worry about, but not as much as the threat of lightning when hiking through areas high above the other places around.

It's just one of those things all hikers have to deal with. Granted, hiking the Appalachian Trail isn't exactly like hiking in the Rockies or the High Sierra, where dozens or even hundreds of miles may be above treeline. Many of the areas along the AT are shrouded in the relative safety of the forest. Still, there are plenty of meadows, clearings, road crossings, and other exposed places where lightning could be a threat. Guess I'll just have to be observant, and be careful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

AT's AT Hiking Training Plan, Week Eleven

Week: June 9 - June 16 (8 Days)
Miles Hiked (Week): 2.75
Miles Hiked (June): 15.25
Miles Hiked, (June Goal): 40
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 72.75
Pounds Gained: 0.4
Percentage to Next Milestone: 24.53%
Pounds Lost (Total):  2.6
Weekly Goal Met: No
Nights Camped (Week): 0
Nights Camped (Total): 2
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 0

As anticipated, this week didn't turn out too hot. I only got 2.75 miles in on Saturday, and nothing in on Sunday. Despite an OK week, the weekend tanked the week as a whole, more than washing it out. This week will likely not be much better, although I do hope to get more miles in.

At least it wasn't worse. If I can hold my ground this week, I've got some good opportunities to get back on track the during the following weeks. Next weekend will be a hiking focused one, and after that will be a week full of hiking and camping in early July. From there things will really pick up, as the margin for error has been effectively eliminated. As mediocre as this week was, I know I can return to the successes of the previous week. I just have to keep hiking.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Daily Journal: June 14, 2014

Location: Ridge Farm, IL
Miles Hiked Today: 2.75
Weather: Mostly Clear

I visited one of my favorite places at Forest Glen County Preserve today, albeit a favorite place that I forget about pretty much every time. It's at the tip of the Beech Loop along the Crab Tree Trail. Here there is a bench overlooking the end of a ridge above a confluence of ravines. The distance from the top to the bottom isn't great, just a few dozen feet (if that).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Daily Journal: June 12, 2014

Location: Schaumburg, IL
Miles Hiked Today: 0
Weather: Partly Cloudy

There is no doubt that I live in the middle of the developed maze that is Chicagoland. From the parking lot of my large apartment complex you can see several concrete, steel, and glass office buildings that can be found in northeast Schaumburg. Just down the road from where I live (and where I work, which is also visible from my parking lot) is Woodfield Mall, the Northwest Suburbs closest thing to a tourist attraction (besides Medieval Times, which is just down I-90 on the opposite side of town). At night the sky is alight with the glow of the buildings and streetlights. Off to the east you can hear the engines of the jets taking off from or landing at O'Hare.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Daily Journal: June 11, 2014

Location: Schaumburg, IL
Miles Hiked Today: 0
Weather: Cloudy

With the awfulness of this past winter, I am curious to see how this summer will play out. So far we've not had any overly oppressive summer days here in Northern Illinois. Granted, the worst of it rarely happens until July and August, but many years it can get oppressively warm in May and June here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Daily Journal: June 10, 2014

Note: Andrew here. From now until we begin our hike next spring, I'll be keeping a short daily journal about preparations, recent hiking experiences, and just general thoughts about hiking. Few of these will be too long, and some will have pictures. You don't have to read every one, and we're not going to foist 'em all on you on Tumblr, Twitter,  or Facebook.  However, it will be a good way to keep my writing muscles in shape. I'll still be writing the weekly AT Hiking Training Plan posts, and we'll still have our usual irregular features, but this way there'll be something here every day.

Location: Schaumburg, IL
Miles Hiked Today: 0
Weather: Cool, Rainy

Tuesday evenings can be be tough ones. Not as bad as Monday, but still bad. Even then, none of the evenings are bad in a real sense. More of in a sense that they are pretty far away from the weekend. The memories of the fern shrouded trails and stunning vistas at Devil's Lake State Park near Baraboo, Wisconsin are still quite fresh, but there are still more days left this week than not before I can hike again.

AT's AT Hiking Training Plan, Week Ten

Rock Formation atop East Bluff at Devil's Lake State Park

Week: June 2 - June 8 (7 Days)
Miles Hiked (Week): 11.40
Miles Hiked (June): 12.50
Miles Hiked, (June Goal): 40
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 70.00
Pounds Lost: 1.0
Percentage to Next Milestone: 28.30%
Pounds Lost (Total):  3.0
Weekly Goal Met: Yes
Nights Camped (Week): 0
Nights Camped (Total): 2
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 0

OK, now we can call it a positive trend. For the third measured period in a row (and second week in a row), I've gone the right direction on the scale. On top of that, I hit my first weekend with more than 10 miles of hiking, and finally hit an eight mile day. It truly was a good week.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Looking Towards the AT: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Section: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Region: South
Miles of trail: 70.1 
Highlights: Clingman's Dome, Spence Field, Charlie's Bunion, Mount Cammerer, Siler's Bald, bears, long periods in the rare spruce-fir zone of the southern Appalachians, salamanders

A bit more than 150 miles into the trail* hikers on the AT say goodbye to the Fontana Hilton, walk across the dam**, and go past a small sign welcoming you to the national park, with a white blaze on one of the posts telling you that you are heading the right direction. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

AT's AT Hiking Training Plan, Week Nine

Week: May 26 - June 1 (7 Days)
Miles Hiked (Week): 4.10
Miles Hiked (May): 30.00
Miles Hiked, (May Goal): 30
Miles Hiked (June): 1.10
Miles Hiked, (June Goal): 40
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 58.60
Pounds Lost: 1.8
Percentage to Next Milestone: 18.87%
Pounds Lost (Total):  2.0
Weekly Goal Met: No
Nights Camped (Week): 0
Nights Camped (Total): 2
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 0

As much as I'd like to, I can't call this a second consecutive week of progress on the weight loss front. Sure, it's the second straight recorded period where I've lost weight. However, I did post an update for last week, despite not having an official weigh-in.