akratic's ERE journal

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tommytebco
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by tommytebco » Tue Mar 10, 2015 9:09 am

Good list. looks complete without padding.
I have hiked over 1300 miles of the trail as a section hiker (I month a year)
I would add ear plugs for sure. If you plan to use shelters you will need them at least 1/2 of the time.

You're a little heavy on clothes. I ,personally, think briefs are highly overrated and "go commando". The only thing I double up on is socks. I do carry thermals and heavy socks for sleeping only.

I have an electric book that plays music, If your Kindle had that capability (I don't know) that would eliminate the iPod. But it's so small that???
also, I don't see fuel (alcohol) in the list.

And food is a major part at the start of each leg. Faster speed and frequent resupply lightens that. I start with about 10 pounds and hike for a week between resupply.

With toe socks, you could use flip flops for camp shoes. They are the lightest,( I believe). most shoes weigh about a pound and up.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by tommytebco » Tue Mar 10, 2015 9:13 am

Good list. looks complete without padding.
I have hiked over 1300 miles of the trail as a section hiker (I month a year)
I would add ear plugs for sure. If you plan to use shelters you will need them at least 1/2 of the time.

You're a little heavy on clothes. I ,personally, think briefs are highly overrated and "go commando". The only thing I double up on is socks. I do carry thermals and heavy socks for sleeping only.

I have an electric book that plays music, If your Kindle had that capability (I don't know) that would eliminate the iPod. But it's so small that???
also, I don't see fuel (alcohol) in the list.

And food is a major part at the start of each leg. Faster speed and frequent resupply lightens that. I start with about 10 pounds and hike for a week between resupply.
Also, I carry a poncho as my only rain protection. Nothing keeps you legs dry and loaded hiking is so strenuous that sweat soaks you with perspiration.
I added ties to the back corner to hold the tails in place over my pack in the back. You get damp in the rain one way or the other.

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akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:34 am

My flight to Atlanta is today. I'm leaving my computer and smart phone in New York, so the next few journal updates will be written at town libraries.

I was surprised to find that I still wanted to be a ski bum even when it was time to leave. Even though I progressed to bombing down single black diamonds and cautiously doing double blacks, I still have a lot of room to improve on my carving turns, and I haven't tackled jumps or moguls or off-piste whatsoever. And then, even after I master the remaining skiing techniques, it will still be good exercise in the outdoors. I suspect there will be another ski bum adventure in the future, although this is in tension with the plan that we would settle down and have kids and a Vitamix.

Anyway, I believe I'm prepared for the hike. The bag is packed and ended up at 12 lbs before food/fuel/water. My start date is this Sunday. Although many hikers keep a log at trailjournals.com, I'm not planning to, unless I find that I have a lot to say. I probably will keep this journal updated though, except maybe not on a regular schedule.

Here's a map of how long it'll take if I move at the average speed of successful thru-hikers from the past (although I plan to go a bit faster):

Image

My kindle is stuffed with interesting books, and my shuffle is stuffed with interesting podcasts, so I expect I'll have a lot to keep my mind occupied. I look forward to mastering the outdoors, to losing about twenty pounds, to meeting some interesting people, to nevertheless experiencing a solitude so profound that it pierces my introversion's wall against loneliness, and to developing an intense appreciation for hot showers and normal beds and flush toilets.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by vexed87 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:52 am

Wow, quite an adventure, I'll be back to hear how you are getting on!

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by McTrex » Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:21 am

So cool! So jealous! Enjoy!!!

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C40
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by C40 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:52 pm

Awesome!!

Be safe and have fun. :)

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by mxlr650 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:54 pm

You might develop sensitive taste buds and have new respect for flavor fatigue! Good luck!!

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by ffj » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:00 pm

I'll look forward to your progress. You probably won't have much solitude starting out though; there's a lot of people out there on the trail right now. With your 12 pound pack you can just cruise right on past them. haha

Good luck and have fun!

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by C40 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:58 pm

And just imagine how much you're going to appreciate sex after this!

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akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:19 pm

I'm on mile 70 on the AT after 8 days, which is about the pace recommended for those that don't already have their hiker legs. I'm taking my first zero day today, and then I should cross the Georgia border tomorrow, putting me exactly one day behind the map I made earlier (which is good -- I anticipated falling behind early due to poor conditioning, then catching up later due to single-mindedness).

== Body ==

I haven't been injured yet, thankfully. On a ten point scale with 10 being the most bothersome, here's how much everything is bothering me: knees 5, soles 4, heels 4, back 2, blisters 1, shoulders 1.

Every night I try to sleep from around 8:30pm when it gets dark until 7:00am when it gets light. I probably only manage to actually sleep about 60% of that time, but it's been enough.

== Mind ==

My thoughts are surprisingly crisp and clear considering the restless sleep. One of the things I wanted to figure out during the hike was a good entrepreneurship idea to pursue after I was done, and I already have four compelling ideas already! Regardless of how the rest of this thru-hike plays out, I expect I'll do more mind clearing 3-4 day backpacking trips in the future, because even that seems to be long enough for a pronounced effect.

Unfortunately, the new Kindle Voyage that I bought for the trip died within the first week. The screen cracked, breaking the touchscreen, making it impossible to select a book. What I did is call my dad and have him ship me a new Kindle Paperwhite to the town that I'm resting at today. It arrived on schedule, along with a case (big mistake trying to go without a case), and I transferred my books to it, so I should be good from here.

So the only books I got through are:
- Flowers for Algernon - great start, disappointing from 30% of the book on. I was hoping the retard-turned-genius would develop some wisdom or at least non-conventional ideas, rather than spouting out crap like the word "utilize".
- One Million Steps (paperback from shelter after Kindle died) - interesting subject, a 500 mile walk through Spain and France with a spiritual bent that has been done by millions across history. It's kind of an easy, consumerist version of thru-hiking, where you eat out every meal and stay in a hostel every night. The problem with this book is I found the author and his writing style to be obnoxious.

== Interpersonal ==

I'm struggling to connect with my fellow thru-hikers. I'm surrounded by so many conversations that are of such low quality that it kind of feels like I'm back in high school. I've asked about 20 people to play cards, and only got one enthusiastic yes, which just blows my mind considering the alternative seems to be talking about absolutely nothing. There are some small groups of people playing games like Rummy, but just with their clique.

Of the people I know well enough to guess a Myers Briggs type, the people I've met so far would be: ~25 SP, 2 XTP, 1 NF (quit with a sprained ankle), 0 NT, 0 SJ. The only good conversations that I've had are the three people that I isolated and hiked with for a few hours each. I was hoping to find a small community of people to hike with for the first couple of months, but it seems unlikely at the moment.

== Looking forward ==

So far so good I guess. Things are supposed to get pretty hard soon in the Smokies, and then relatively easy after that.

My 28 degree quilt is proving just barely sufficient, especially during the recent cold snap that had town temperatures at 28 and mountain temperatures at 16. I'm debating buying a 15 degree sleeping bag, but it just seems so inefficient considering how close what I have is to working.

I still don't have a trail name, and I'm getting a bit worried that I won't get one at all, or that it will be terrible. If anyone has any suggested trail names for me, I'd love to hear them! Here's some examples names that I know: Pretzel, Squirrel, Why Not, More Please, Finch, Sparrow, Moose Head, Sir-Packs-a-lot, Renaissance, Chuckles, Peg Leg, Oblivious, Iron Man, Honey Badger, Beast Bison, Goose, Cap, Spice, Patty Cakes, Shades, Zen, Red Beard, Gump.

Anticipating some name ideas, "akratic" wont' work; I'd be hesitant to pick something above even an eighth grade reading level with this community. Also don't bother referencing how light my pack is: my pack is light, but quite heavy compared to the handful of people who recently thru-hiked the PCT.

It's supposed to rain for the next four days straight, so that should be an interesting test.
Last edited by akratic on Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jennypenny
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by jennypenny » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:35 pm

If you want to get other hikers to play cards with you, would having a nickname like 'rummy' or 'dealer' help?

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akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:44 pm

Dealer would be taken the wrong way 100% of the time considering the amount of pot being smoked on the trail. :lol:

And Rummy is vastly inferior to Spades, Hearts, Oh Hell, Devil's Bridge, etc. Hhmmmm. Too bad none of those good games have better sounding names.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:49 pm

Some tips that might help the foot problems:
-Treat any hotspots right away with tape or bandages. Don't put it off for a while and let it develop into something bad.
-Tying your shoes loose is better than tight. Tight shoes increase the friction and potential for blisters. YMMV.
-Washing feet often is wise. Not particularly helpful with blisters necessarily but it'll help to prevent any other foot issues (salt rashes etc.).

I rarely sleep through the night outside as well, but I always feel rested regardless. If I'm up in the middle of the night and there's clear skies, I usually just watch the stars for a while.

You're doing well! Keep it up. Your physical problems will diminish soon enough as your body adapts to life on the trail.

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akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:58 pm

Sorry theanimal. I think my problem scale was confusing.

I have zero blisters, but bad knees, heels, and soles.

I editied my post to make it less confusing.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:23 pm

Much better! I thought you were all beaten up. Aching shoulders and ankles with feet full of blisters.

I'm guessing the probable cause is the hard packed nature of the trail. The repeated pounding wears on the body, especially if you're not used to it. The rest day will help. I imagine you'll be feeling better tomorrow.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by jennypenny » Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:01 pm

akratic wrote:Dealer would be taken the wrong way 100% of the time considering the amount of pot being smoked on the trail. :lol:
:lol:

I didn't think of that, although it might get you some more interesting conversation. At least you wouldn't be lonely. Same if you went with a nickname like All Fours. Or Slam. Or One-Way. Or Screw Your Neighbor.

Maybe you should just go with Deck. :P

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by C40 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:38 pm

If you want to make it even more challenging to talk to people: "WALL STREET". I bet that after a while you'll get used to the other hikers and figure out the kind of things to discuss in order to have fairly good conversations with them.

I'm curious to hear about if/when you start sleeping better. I was out camping over the weekend and sleeping in the back of an SUV. I woke up many times at night, and one night had trouble getting to sleep. I'm thinking that if I had a more comfortable bed and week or two to get used to sleeping in the vehicle, I'd sleep better.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by jacob » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:25 pm

akratic wrote: Of the people I know well enough to guess a Myers Briggs type, the people I've met so far would be: ~25 SP, 2 XTP, 1 NF (quit with a sprained ankle), 0 NT, 0 SJ.
Could that be because of Spring Break?

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by ffj » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:22 pm

I've got a buddy who has hiked over 500 miles on the AT so far and still doesn't have a name. I wouldn't worry about it; you still have a couple thousand miles to get one.

I've hiked the Smokies portion of the AT. I think it was 74 miles or so. Really pretty and steep and they make you sleep in the shelters, which sucks. Waaay too many people having to occupy one space, especially when there is thousands of acres unoccupied around you.

Have fun and keep us updated!

tommytebco
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by tommytebco » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:07 pm

It sounds like you're doing great.

Sore feet. Your shoe size will probably increase. Mine went up a full size (lifelong 9 1/2 to 10 1/2) With the larger size, the soreness went down markedly. To treat aches and minor pains, I would start ibuprofen at mid morning, as soon as the aching feet began. Lots of help.

Once you settle into a pack of equal mileage hikers, you'll get a name. Or, just pick Akratic and go with it. I ,myself, have no idea what it means, but you're "Akratic" to me.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by arrrrgon » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:22 pm

Nickname yourself ace if you want them to play cards with you :)

It's hard enough to find interesting and intelligent conversation anywhere, let alone in a small group of random strangers.

Good luck out there.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by mxlr650 » Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:11 pm

I still don't have a trail name, and I'm getting a bit worried that I won't get one at all, or that it will be terrible. If anyone has any suggested trail names for me, I'd love to hear them!
you are from MIT, so how come your list has no recursive acronyms? How about MIT (MIT Is-my Trailname) or better yet MITT (MITT Is-my Trail Tag)? Mitt is great because right away it weeds out two groups of annoying people (bookish-liberals and christians), and you are left with a pragmatic folks that you can converse with :-) Good Luck!

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by tommytebco » Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:33 am

the cat tweaked me and I did look up your "handle". What an interesting name.
If you claimed it on the Trail, a one line answer "It means "one who is acting against one's better judgement" could lead to many discussions deeper than 'Do you like your sleeping bag? or what does your base weight work out to? etc".

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Ricky » Mon May 25, 2015 8:01 am

akratic wrote: I'm struggling to connect with my fellow thru-hikers. I'm surrounded by so many conversations that are of such low quality that it kind of feels like I'm back in high school. I've asked about 20 people to play cards, and only got one enthusiastic yes, which just blows my mind considering the alternative seems to be talking about absolutely nothing. There are some small groups of people playing games like Rummy, but just with their clique.

Of the people I know well enough to guess a Myers Briggs type, the people I've met so far would be: ~25 SP, 2 XTP, 1 NF (quit with a sprained ankle), 0 NT, 0 SJ. The only good conversations that I've had are the three people that I isolated and hiked with for a few hours each. I was hoping to find a small community of people to hike with for the first couple of months, but it seems unlikely at the moment.
Maybe you need to lower your expectations? To be fair, the AT is the most recognized trail in the USA. It sounds like you're romanticizing it a little too extensively. Let's be honest, you're going to survive it, and there are very few unknowns. That said, it's a great accomplishment to finish the entire thing to be sure. You just have to realize that there are going to be many people who set out to complete it that were never going to from the start, on top of the many "casuals" who are just backpacking for a week or so.

That said, you definitely sound a lot like me. I tend to judge people too much based on their personality and try to dig too deep into their thought processes. Then I wonder what's better - to think philosophically all the time and ultimately end up depressed when everything ends up as "it's all pointless" or to live carefree and simply. I've come to learn to appreciate everyone for who they are, thinkers or not. I know you're yearning for more, but give some of these people a chance, they'll probably surprise you.

Good luck! Completing the AT is definitely a lifetime goal of mine.

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akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Thu May 28, 2015 2:24 pm

I'm at mile 700 now, in Virginia, almost a 1/3 of the way. At my worst I fell five days behind schedule dealing with injuries, but I'm recently on pace to erase the deficit entirely. The terrain has gotten easier here in VA, and I've been averaging 18 miles per day recently.

It's said that the first test on the trail is physical with rugged terrain to start the trail, and then the next test is mental with the state of Virginia lasting over 600 miles with monotonous views but easier hiking. I'm more mentally strong than physically strong, so this should be to my advantage.

== Body ==

I've dealt with quite a few foot problems at this point between my Achilles, my shins, my arches, and my knees. I've changed my shoes, my insoles, my mileage, my trekking pole technique, the size of my steps, and keeping the back of my heel on the ground on inclines. I also got a $10 electric watch and stretch every hour on the hour now.

I've lost 25 pounds so far, almost all fat. In another 10 pounds or so all fat will be gone, and I'll switch to maintenance eating. (I gained 20 pounds or so in the year leading up to the hike, mostly out of laziness and knowing that I'd just lose it while hiking anyway.)

I've been through so much pain without giving up that I'm feeling increasingly confident that I'll be able to finish the thru-hike (barring major injury).

== Mind ==

The biggest thing on my mind is homeschool. I've met 14 homeschooled kids on the trail, and I'm shocked at how cool and capable they all are. With homeschool as a real possibility for my hypothetical kids, the locations we can consider living change dramatically!

I'm also feeling more confident about my entrepreneurship ventures after the trail. Getting up every day and hiking for nine hours rain or shine is fucking hard - but I'm doing it! Starting a company should be easier.

I've read 9 more books as well, the best ones being Survival+ (via jacob), The Happiness Project (self-help) and Accelerando (sci-fi)

== Interpersonal ==

Things have gotten so much better for me socially on the trail. The two big changes are 1) a lot of the lame people have quit and 2) there was a huge party called Trail Days where 30,000 hikers clustered in a small 1,000 person town for a weekend of being drunk/high. I skipped the party and finally have some distance from those people. I respect their right to party and hike their own hike, but gosh is it dull and alienating to watch them get drunk every single night that they're close to town and high every single other night.

Anyway, with the crowd thinned out, I've met some much more interesting people recently. There is a resilience to the hikers that have thru-hiked this far that I find inspiring. With their help I've started to master some outdoors skills, like I've learned a DIY bug repellant recipe that is more effective than DEET, and also I'm getting legit good with knots.

I've also found a lot more takers for cards recently, and the cliquey highschool-esque feeling is gone for now.

== Misc ==

I did get a trail name, but I think I'll keep it to myself and avoid cross-pollination. Thanks for the suggestions.

The gear changes I've made include buying a warmer sleeping bag, bigger shoes, new insoles, gaiters, lighter clothing, an OP Sak, a watch, and a new mp3 player. Still, my costs are quite low, as food is pretty much the only other expense I've I have, plus splitting occasional motel rooms.

I'm mostly just focusing on finishing my thru-hike for now, but the planner in me is already starting to toss around a few ideas for afterwards:
1) ski bum redux: west coast edition
2) fix up my uncle's distressed yacht (or buy something), get it to the Bahamas or equivalent, and live there for a bit
3) pick a US city to settle in for a few years and get serious about entrepreneurship and also building a community there
Last edited by akratic on Thu May 28, 2015 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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