Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nature in All its Forms at Allerton Park

On a recent weekend, I hiked at Allerton Park near Monticello, Illinois. Once the property of a wealthy family, Allerton Park was donated to the University of Illinois in 1946. The university runs the mansion as a retreat center, and the gardens, woods, and prairies around it as a park and nature preserve. Despite living about an hour or less from it at various times in my life, this was the first time I actually visited the place. It won't be the last time I visit.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

AT's AT Hiking Training Plan, Week Sixteen

Weeks: July 15 - July 20 (6 Days)
Miles Hiked (Week): 8.0
Miles Hiked (July): 25.30
Miles Hiked, (July Goal): 40
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 113.30
Pounds Lost: N/A
Percentage to Next Milestone: N/A
Pounds Lost (Total):  6.0
Weekly Goal Met: N/A
Nights Camped (Weeks): 0
Nights Camped (Total): 5
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 0

I won't be including weight loss/gain info during these recaps for at least the next couple of weeks. This isn't to hide bad results (although I suspect there would have been a reverse this week after last week's positive result). Rather, it is a broken scale that is preventing me from giving results. I went to change the battery, and the one of the connectors that attaches to the 9V battery snapped off with the battery. So until I get a new scale, I won't be able to record my weight progress (or lack thereof).

Looking towards the AT: Damascus, VA to Atkins, VA

Section: Virginia, from Damascus to Atkins 
Region: South
Miles of trail: 75
Highlights: Virginia Creeper Trail, Mt. Rogers, Grayson Highlands State Park, Konnarock Crew HQ,

Reading through the Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers Companion (2014 ed), several highlights stood out. I actually have been reading through the book and literally highlighting points of interest, and this 75 mile stretch has not disappointed. 

Unlike my brother, I tend not to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the AT - not that I'm not excited, of course, I just tend to be more of an experiential learner. I will remember something once I've done it. Through the first push in Virginia from Damascus to Atkins, I can say that I've experienced part of the Appalachian Trail first-hand. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Long Way Yet to Go

My camera has a tendency to flatten images, yet clearly here you can see the incline to reach this point on the AT.

Wisconsin, Illinois, doesn't matter. These hikes I've done this Spring and Summer have been the minor leagues. Heck, many not even that. Perhaps the Rookie League, or Little League. Tee-ball even, if I'm being honest about Moraine Hills State Park.

This realization hit me about halfway up the Slaughter Creek Trail. The trail, which is almost 3 miles long, goes from the edge of Lake Winfield Scott up to a junction with the Appalachian Trail near its approach to the summit of Blood Mountain. As such, it's pretty much uphill the entire way. Despite taking frequent breaks, my legs were beginning to feel tired from the uphill grind. I moved at a snail's pace, and yet I struggled mightily to get up to those white blazes, where a slackening of the difficulty was promised by the hiking book.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AT's AT Hiking Training Plan: Weeks Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen

Weeks: June 17 - July 14 (28 Days)
Miles Hiked (June 17-30): 15.25
Miles Hiked (June): 30.50
Miles Hiked, (June Goal): 40
Miles Hiked (July 1-14): 17.3
Miles Hiked (July): 17.30
Miles Hiked, (July Goal): 40
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 105.30
Pounds Lost: 3.4
Percentage to Next Milestone: 56.60%
Pounds Lost (Total):  6.0
Weekly Goal Met: Yes
Nights Camped (Weeks): 3
Nights Camped (Total): 5
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 0

As you can see from the title of this post, I didn't keep up with my weekly recaps. This was due in large part to failing to do official weigh-ins on either Monday or Tuesday, preparing for a vacation in early July, and actually going on that vacation. However, that trip is finished, I'm back on a pretty regular schedule, and it's time to get these back on track. And things almost entirely to that vacation, things are looking pretty good.