Backpacking. In a word.
Who am I?
My name is Chad, but I go by “Stick” on the trail. I am newly married to my lovely wife Brandy (“Biggun”) who has taken pleasure in hiking as well. I have 2 very cool kids, a son and a daughter. My son (“Twig”) enjoys getting out and going on hikes with me, but my daughter is not quite to sure of it. We are all actively part of our church, the Church of the Crossroads, here in Corinth, MS.
So, what’s this all about?
Last year, while on a tram in Gatlinberg, I heard about a hike to Mt LeConte shelter in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It consisted of a 5 mile hike up Mt. LeConte where I could stay in a cabin without electricity or running water. I would get a blanket, a lantern, a family style dinner & breakfast and then the next day I would get to hike back down. For some reason this sounded wonderful to me.
Once I came home from our vacation the shelter still lingered in my mind. So I looked into the hiking thing. I figured it would be cheap, challenging yet easy, and just plain fun. I figured wrong……except for the fun part!
Now, Mt. LeConte is just a few miles from a well know trail called the AT (Appalachian Trail). I remember standing in the Sugarland Visitor Center and looking at the large 3D map of the entire park, and noticed a trail that went from one end of the park to the other, which is the AT. For some reason this trail kind of trumped the small 5-mile hike to Mt LeConte shelter.
At home I decided to look into the whole hiking thing a little more. Here I learned that the AT ran quite a bit farther than just through the Smokies; it runs from Georgia to Maine. 2,175 miles. This sucked me in. So I began. I looked at gear, read books about hiking (and more correctly, backpacking) searched the internet and joined forums (Backpacker.com and Whiteblaze.net). I even placed an order for a subscription of the Backpacker magazine. I was on the way!
I eventually put together a setup worthy enough to get out on the trail. And this is what this blog is about. It’s about the trail. Not just the AT, but any trail. However, the AT has become a goal of mine. Whenever I dream of getting on the trail, it is this trail I am dreaming of getting on.
I have been on the AT on 2 different occasions since this time. Once last September when my wife and I hiked 40 miles from Amicalola Falls Visitor Center to Neels Gap for our first hike. The second time was this past January when I actually got to hike to Mt LeConte, via the Alum Cave Trail head. I did not stay in the LeConte shelter but I did get to visit and even got to sit inside with Doug McFalls (the caretaker of the Mt. LeConte shelter this past winter). He poured me a cup of coffee and told me about some of the happenings around Mt LeConte during the winter as I got to warm my toes.
So, this blog will be where I come to talk about anything that has to do with the trail, whether it be gear or food or clothes or to share a trip report or just whatever.
So what are my plans?
I have put together a list of hikes that I would like to accomplish. This is by no means set-in-stone. This is a list, just for me to look at.
My Long-Term Hiking Plan:
Year 2012, Hike the Wonderland Trail, (WA). 93 miles. I would like to take a full 2 weeks with my wife to enjoy this hike. 2012 is a long way away, but this gives us time to take care of some small debts, become aware of our equipment enough to travel cross-country and be confident in our skills, and really enjoy this beautiful hike.
Year 2013. Thru-hike the AT NOBO. I am currently making plans and getting my stuff together for this hike. I won’t elaborate here since I have a whole page that is dedicated to this.
Year 2014, Thru-Hike the John Muir Trail (JMT), (CA). 211 miles and the highest point in the lower 48. Mt Whitney at 14,496 feet. I have read lots about this trail, and it seems like a wonderful place to hike. This will be my longest continuous hike at this point more than likely. So we will need the time before hand to continue to fine tune our hiking skills, to enjoy this time. I would like to take at least 4 weeks to accommodate travel time, we will be driving more than likely that way we can stop and enjoy scenery along the way.
Year 2017, Thru-Hike the Colorado Trail, (CO). 483 miles, and 6-7 weeks off. Travel time included. Depending on our hiking skills by this time, we would like to complete this trail in 6 weeks. Hopefully by this point we will be able to complete this trail in a somewhat smaller time-frame, but why? It’s Colorado! We want to enjoy the time. Again, this will probably be the longest continuous hike up to this point. For me it will be the closest thing to my next big hike, the AT!
Year 2020, Thru-Hike the AT Northbound. ~2,175 miles (depending on source, and year, it varies). Average time is between 4-6 months for this hike. I’m not sure how long it will take me, or how long I want it to take me, that will be for me to figure out at the time, ok, well a little before time, but you know what I mean…..
My wife is not sure if she will participate in this hike, so that will have to come in time. However, this is the year that my son will graduate High School. My dream is for him and I to Thru-Hike the AT together. Preferably before he goes to college. This would be a dream come true for me, most importantly as a father, this would be a monumental time for us to share together, and also as a hiker. It would be my first long distance thru-hike. This hike will probably take a long time to plan, but it is my dream hike. The AT is what got me into backpacking, and it is most definitely my ultimate hiking goal at this moment.
Between these dates I would like to make some of the other hikes that I have listed, as well as continue to complete some sections of the AT.
All of this is also ultimately leading up to me and my wife’s dream. We are planning on moving to Montana after my kids are grown and out of (high) school. My daughter will graduate in 2023. So, after the AT thru-hike in 2020 (or 21, depending on how we plan it) we will have a couple of years to start packing our bags. Also during this time we will be frequenting Montana with a very driven desire to find our little spot of heaven here on Earth that God has for us. We will also be making every possible trip through out the years prior to this just to get a feel of MT, so maybe by this time we will have it pretty narrowed down!
So this is it…..only time will tell….