Monday, March 7, 2016

Before the dawn

Tomorrow I begin a three year effort to walk the Appalachian Trail, section by section.

My landlord/ shuttle driver confirms that she will deliver me to the trailhead, and off we go into our separate days, and I ask her help to finish up baking my homemade trail bars. Good taste, but sticky enough to use as flypaper.

It's a two hour drive to Fredericksburg, but a friendly couple invited me for a company's show of the latest outdoor products, and it seemed a better option than staying around the house worrying -- and it was.  The riverside tables were staffed by experienced hikers who offered demos of new toys, tips on using time tested (less costly) alternatives, and tales -- the thru hiker told us that she burned through three pair of boots on her scramble from Georgia to New Hampshire. She wore the best of them so long that she could poke her hand back out through the toes from inside, and -- TMI alert -- pull the dead toenails off without removing her boot.

"How many nails did you lose?" Wry grin -- "Oh, a few. Kinda grossed out my sisters." "Hey, seven out of ten's a passing grade, you know." Thru hiker humor ... this is fun? I'll pass, thanks.

She also suggests glycerine, fish tank cleaner, and magnesium shavings as a firestarter. Another veteran hiker suggests HEET brand deicer as a low cost fuel for ultralight alcohol stoves made from beer cans, noting that it does take about 12 minutes to boil a cup of water, vice 2 minutes for the heavier isobutane systems.

Time to retreat, get ready for reality on the trail.

Carl's Frozen Custard on the way out of town. How many years? Lines just as long as always.

Back at Round Hill ... pull the pack apart again, looking for a few more pounds of unnecessary weight. Nope, not with a reasonable amount of safety.

Almost too tired to repack. Weigh in time -- 45 pounds, yes! Set everything by the door for departure at 0700R.

Why am I doing this?

The white trail blaze calls.
Ready at Ashby Gap!

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