I’m (temporarily) retired

Last night was my last day of work, at least until September.  This was all pre-planned, I did not quit in the way we all dream of quitting our jobs, but worked hard until the last couple minutes, and bounced quietly.  But I’m done!  This is a gift for myself for my 30th birthday.  I have been aimlessly meandering through life for the last 29 years, pursuing different goals, career paths, girlfriends etc.  I feel I have lacked what I love, and that is adventure.  It’s easy to lose sight of what drives you, with the thousands of daily tasks, and everything aligned and pointed to adventure.  I went with it.  I have until Tuesday to prepare for the road trip to MA.  I need to clean the entire house, make my room rentable (if my roomate needs to rent out a room, she claims the entire house while I’m gone), and get my gear in order. 

Tomorrow I will be hiking Picacho Peak Image which is easily the sketchiest, (most fun) mountain in town.  Saturday night, we will be heading up to Flagstaff to celebrate my 30th birthday, and a little bit of a going away party, since I won’t be seeing them again for 6 months(ish).  Sunday is my designated hangover day, Monday is designated for packing my car up, and Tuesday I must wake at the crack of dawn, take my dog hiking, and then head out for a nice 14 hour drive to Denver.  I will be staying with my college friend Rachel for the night, maybe two nights, and then I have until March 9th to get to MA.  So who knows! 

Until then, I will just be enjoying the weather of Arizona (80’s until I leave).

“And if you ever get lost, you can just follow your dreams”

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25 day countdown, 2 weeks notice – No more work!

That’s right.  2 weeks notice was given last Friday!  Friday, Feb 21st will be the last day.  9 more days!  25 more days until I attempt a thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail!  Almost time to distance myself from everything I currently know, and am comfortable with, to branch out into the unknown of adventure.  Time to lead a simpler life for 5-6 months.  Mundane worries put aside, as I strive to decide simply where I will sleep for the night, what food to pack for the days until I resupply, deprivation leading to the appreciation of a life I used to live, and positive thoughts of the future I will return to.  They say the thousand daily tasks can make a man forget his original ambitions.   This is certainly true for myself.  I will take this time to take a step back, take a deep breath, refocus, and hopefully come back with more confidence, more purpose, and will of had the time of my life.   A tad bit dramatic, but those are my thoughts currently.

I leave in less than 2 weeks, February 25 to drive across country with my dog.   My aim is MA, staying the first night(s) *depends on how fun it gets – in Colorado with my college friend Crazy Rachel.  My flight isn’t until March 9, so I could take my time, or hurry up, whichever feels better.  I do need to be in town at least a couple days to get my head straight, train my parents who will be my long distance command center how to pay my bills from my dwindling bank account, and get some last gear.  I found out my buddy works at an outfitter and is offering me a chance at employee prices, so I am taking advantage of that, thus waiting until the last minute (It’s in NH).

To all those who just went out on the trail, stay warm!  I’ve noted the weather conditions from my internet source a friend sent to me (Appalachian Trail Planner) are less than equable, the hiker hostel posted some photos of the beginning of the trail 2 days ago, snow – and lots of it.  1798256_10151997788162991_782504860_n

Looks like another wintry mix storm (ice/sleet etc. coming in)  Be safe everyone!

Hiking videos

Throughout my hike I will try my best to upload videos on a weekly basis of the trail itself.  I would like to capture what the trail is like, the views, the mood, the weather, etc.  Writing can only bring me so far to this goal.  Videos will help put an image and sound with my writing style.

Currently I have a youtube channel here.  Bgsul23  I have a couple crappy videos of hiking in AZ, Picacho Peak namely, and a 3 minute video I took of an empty campground at the bottom of the Grand Canyon by Havasupai Falls.  But check out how beautiful my campsite was! (every morning the mist of Mooney Falls, which I was camped 5 feet from the top of, would create a rainbow visible from my tent).

Once on the trail, check back at this link for more videos!

http://www.youtube.com/user/bgsul23

Getting Everything Ready…

Over the last couple weeks I have been dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s, in my own little way.  I purchased David ‘AWOL’ Millers 2014 Northbound Guidebook (http://www.amazon.com/The-A-T-Guide-Northbound-2014/dp/0982980841) $15 or something ridiculously cheap.  This was exciting because I can map out the first miles, elevation change, where the shelters are, and decide ultimately if I want to start at the approach trail, or 1 mile north of Springer, and loop back South to Springer Mountain, then doubling back on my way north.  I have had people tell me not to do the approach trail, as it is difficult and there is no reason to hurt yourself on a part of the trail that does not count.  I believe I am going to go wherever the nice people of the hostel take me!  Either way, I figure I will be starting out slow (10 miles and under per day) to avoid injury. 

I have a Nikon Coolpix AW110 camera (http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/nikon-coolpix-aw110-black/4505-6501_7-35648248.html) that I have purchased several battery packs for.  This camera is waterproof/shock proof and I recently tested it out a Superbowl party (It’s superbowl proof).  I have a 64 gb memory card for it.  This will be my main way of taking photos and videos.  My phone will be used sparingly, and this will be a good way to have something as a backup in the event it’s raining and I am just staring at raw beauty that I would like to save and share.  Also it has a lot more space, and I take LOTS of pictures, so get ready :). 

I am still looking for a spare battery charger that can charge my iPhone 4-5 full charges before it dies, something that will charge itself while charging, and something that might be able to charge more than 1 item (my camera).  I’m assuming I will go 4-5 days without electricity, and longer.  If anyone has any suggestions that would be terrific!!  The other items I am still missing are a down winter jacket (AZ does not have any of what I want in supply at REI) I am looking at western mountaineering ghost whisperer, sierra designs gnar hoody, and also an Arcteryx Cerium LT hoody.  This will double as my pillow when it is not cold, and essentially just good to have around at camp when it’s freezing.  I have a 40 degree Marmott sleeping bag, and I am THINKING about purchasing a good 20 degree down bag for the start and finish of the trail (It will be COLD March in the mountains of Georgia and TN).  I have a +20 degree synthetic bag liner for my 40 degree bag, but I am not sure if that will be enough, as I have tested it at the bottom of the Grand Canyon recently and was a little cold when it hit the 20s at night. 

So that’s it!  Other than that I have been biding my time, I will put my 2 weeks notice in at work this Friday (YIKES! that went fast!), saving money, and cooking SO MUCH FOOD!  In fact as I’m typing I have some ribs, twice baked mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables with a balsamic glaze in the works.  Image (I don’t mess around, I LIKE TO EAT), and I won’t get this good of food for a while.  My last day of work is Feb 21, and I have planned a little going away party up in Flagstaff, AZ Feb 22 (It will also be my 30th birthday at midnight) for a little high altitude drinking/going away party.  Then it’s time to sober up, get everything packed and leave Feb 25.  So far the plan is to hike with my dog early in the morning of Feb 25, get him wicked tired, and drive to Colorado to stay with my friend Rachel.  After that, I am either heading up to Chicago to see some friends, of just straight to MA. 

I should have about a week gap staying at my parents house where I can see some friends from where I grew up, get the last of my gear (my friend Matt works at an outfitter, and is offering discounts), and I will embark March 9 for Georgia.  I just found out I have an old Fraternity brother living in Blacksburg VA, about 20 miles from the trail.  This is where I am sending my first drop box.  He said I can stay and depending on where I am when Trail Days starts, he might come with and give me a ride to and from.  Not bad!  Getting very excited!  Can’t wait to share this experience with all of you.

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