Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Blog 2014

To get right to the point, I am a grown ass man (29 years young) and I have decided to hike the Appalachian Trail.  I HOPE to make it all the way from Georgia to Maine..

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This is one of those thoughts that runs wild in your head, growing exponentially as time seems to fly by, working a 9-5 just to survive.  I graduated college 6 years ago in 2007, and since then, I have worked a couple different industries, seen my share of layoffs, promotions, meetings that seem endless, and corporate functions just to name a few.  But what I haven’t had, what I feel I have been craving, is adventure.

Wanting to do this since I was little sounds a little cliche, but it’s true.  I grew up close to the Appalachian Trail, in Massachusetts.  My family and I would hike for days at a time, doing mostly the White Mountains.  There is something to be said about the raw beauty of just being in the Mountains.  This is what I have been lacking, living in a big city.  I have been happy, for the most part, but what I have missed most (other than my family) is nature.  Another reason for doing this hike, is I feel I need some personal or spiritual growth.  I reflect on things I have done in the past, or how I have treated people, and realize I have been quite selfish.  This hike will be humbling, I must rely on the kindness of strangers at certain times, and being self sufficient can be difficult.

As far as hiking the trail is concerned, my thoughts are thus; Life is too short not to take adventures like this. You have to take the time, you have to make these types of experiences a priority.  For this to happen, one needs time, resources, and some sort of support system.  Recently I have designed a career change for myself into the world of Physical Therapy.  I am going back to school, but at the moment, on a two year wait list for school to begin. -I have time!  I bought a house a couple years ago, it so happened to be a great time to get into the real estate game.  I have been putting away money for a rainy day, or more specifically, a new roof that the house will need in the future.  -I have resources!  As I explore Facebook, I see my friends’ personal growth in their work and relationships.  Basically, for people my age, it’s baby season.  I have been blessed with the luck of remaining (for the most part) single, and am free of any restraints that having a family of my own would create for me and my future.  This last thought blew my mind.  Sometimes, it can be lonely living in a big city, far from your family and the place you grew up, becoming increasingly more introverted as social experiences become sporadic or as your friends continue to strengthen their own relationships, marriages, and families.  But, if you take that same thought, spinning it around, all of a sudden there is opportunity.  I am not tied down to anyone, anything specific.  I have the resources, the time, the motivation to find a more meaningful life.  And that is where this journey begins.

I have enjoyed reading books (A Walk in the Woods, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail) and blogs (I will post some on this site), that have helped me prepare, and have been quite inspiring.  So I have decided to write a blog.  I will try to update it as I am preparing to take on this trail.  I have decided to drive my dog across country 2/25/2014 where my parents will TRY to tame that wild beast.  Thanks Mom!  I will start at Springer Mountain in Georgia on 3/9/2014.  Image

Over the next 6 months, I plan to journal about my preparedness, both physically and emotionally, as the departure date comes closer.  I also plan on blogging on the trail regularly, hoping to paint a picture of life on the trail.  It will be my pleasure to share this experience, and I hope you join along the way!

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Arizona – Grand Canyon – Havasupai Falls

This is true beauty!  I would know, because I researched it on the internet haha.  This is one of the images that comes up if you google ‘havasupai falls’.  Image  SO PRETTY right?  Well I visited, and it is not far off!  This trip is WORTH it, believe me.

I made this trip last October (one of the best months to go) because the weather is a lot cooler at the top (IE not 110 degrees).  I was itching for this hike, so I reserved a spot (a must) for four and started calling my friends.  I ended up bringing Danger Dan and his girl friend, and my hiking buddy Erin.  A great group!  I had to borrow most of the gear I brought for this, because sadly I don’t own too much camping gear.  I borrowed a pack, sleeping bag, light, sleeping pad.. well just about everything.  I DID have hiking shoes ;).

We were all set to leave the next morning, time to pack!  And pack I did.. with waaay too much fun.  My pack weighed in at around 40 lbs.  Amatuer..  Image (My pack left, and Erins pack right).  We left and started the 6 hour drive from Phoenix towards the Grand Canyon.  We decided it would be best to stay the night at the hotel just before the Grand Canyon (about an hour from the trail) and get up early to hit the trail early.  We had breakfast around 6 and hit the road at 7.  We arrived around 8 am.  This was one of those hikes that was beautiful just being in the parking lot!  Image

We hefted our packs on our shoulders and began our descent.  *This trail is 13 miles each way, beginning with a 2,000 ft descent of about 2 miles, the rest of the 11 miles being flat.  The way back is the tough part!  The views of the descent were amazing, however.  This was the Grand Canyon, after all!  We made really good time down the descent, enjoying the views the entire way.  Image

We passed a lot of mules and natives that were working hard, bringing gear up and down from the parking lot.  The great thing about this hike is that you can pay for mules to take down all of your gear (coolers included ;).)  We did not have that luxury this time, but we were not deterred.  Image

Once we were at the bottom, the rest of the trail narrowed and felt like walking on sand.  It was actually quite tough in some parts, because the ground would give so much.  We spent a couple hours hiking through Canyon walls, it was surreal.  Image

Eventually we hit a sign that read ‘Havasupai – You’re almost there!’  Spirits were lifted!  We wanted to play in waterfalls we had read about so we picked up our pace.  We started passing creeks, rivers, as blue as you could imagine!  Pretty soon we reached a village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  A tribe of about 500 lives down here year round.  It is pretty crazy to think about, since everything they need has to be brought down by mule or helicopter.  They really rely on the tourism, so they treat everyone pretty nice.  We signed in at the village, and walked the remaining mile or so to the campsite, passing Havasu Falls!  It was just as beautiful, if not more awe inspiring, as the pictures on the internet.  ImageImageImageImage  We quickly hiked down to the campsite, and apparently it was crowded.  There were almost NO campsites left!  It was already 2pm, all I wanted to do was play, but I knew we had to claim some space.  We walked around uncertainly for about 30 minutes until we found a spot we could all fit, with a picnic bench.  We set up, and changed into our bathing suits.  It was play time!  ImageImageImageImageImage

We had our fun swimming, and went back to eat.  I wanted to check out the next waterfall called Mooney Falls.  The campsite is actually located between Havasu and Mooney Falls, the end of the campsite hovers above Mooney Falls.  It is about a 150 ft drop, and it is breathtaking!  We did some exploring, but ultimately did not have enough daylight or energy left to explore in full.  Next time (there will definitely be a next time) we will spend more days down there.  ImageImageThis last picture was taken from a picnic bench right next to a campsite, believe it or not.  That’s how close you are!  Scary when you think about it..

Well, it got dark too soon!  And the parties were starting.  We were too tired to partake, so we went to bed.  We woke up at 6 am and hit the trail, doing the 13 miles back in just over 4 hours.  This was exhausting.  If you have never been, please do not hike down, only to hike up the very next day.  Not only is your body going to be super sore, you do not have enough time to enjoy the waterfalls.  Give Havasu Falls what it deserves, at LEAST 2 nights.  There is a general store down there that sells ice cream and sodas, believe it or not!  The campsite has restrooms.  It’s an amazing hike, and I would recommend it for everyone!

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