In about 60 days, I will be leaving for Springer Mountain in Georgia to begin walking 2,190 miles to Mount Katahdin in Maine. A lot has happened since I checked in with you in my blog post “100 Days Until the Appalachian Trail,” but many things are left to be accomplished. Here is a brief rundown of my progress so far.

Mental Preparation

I continue, while at the gym, to watch every vlog posted on YouTube by the class of 2016 thru-hikers. Not only do these stories entertain me while I’m working out, but they give me some insight into the conditions I can expect. One of the biggest unknowns right now is my water supply.  Since my last update, a portion of the trail in Georgia was closed (and re-opened a few days later) from yet another wildfire. This indicates to me that there are still some unresolved drought related issues, so I have been scanning the daily precipitation forecasts, hoping for buckets of rain in the Southern Appalachians.

I’m still looking forward to the Wilderness First Aid course that I am scheduled to attend in mid-February, as well as the Appalachian Trail Kickoff (ATKO) Seminar the weekend before I start hiking. So far, the organizers of the ATKO have not posted a 2017 schedule, but I have high hopes that things are proceeding as planned. The assistant organizer of last year’s ATKO was Bob “Sir-Packs-Alot” Gabrielsen, the proprietor of the Top of Georgia Hostel in Hiawassee, GA. I understand that his business was hit hard by all of the fire related trail closures in 2016, so that may account for the delay.

Physical Preparation

What can I say, I’m feeling way behind. The reason that you haven’t heard from me in a while is that I took a four-day break around the Christmas holidays. The following Tuesday, I was back at the gym and by that afternoon I was sick. My bout with the cold/flu still has me unable to work out, so I’m starting to feel like my training plan has been derailed. Former thru-hikers have advised me not to worry about the physical preparation too much, so I’m more disappointed than concerned. I intend to start daily hikes with my backpack within the next week.

Gear Selection

I am now in possession of 100% of the gear that I will be carrying on my hike. I spent some of my recent downtime preparing my first aid kit, foot maintenance kit, and gear repair kit. Believe me when I say that I’m really being a minimalist here and am trying very hard not to carry all of my fears. More challenging, however, is trying to make the gear I want to carry fit inside a 58-liter backpack! I have mad Tetris skillz, so it appears that most of the items are going to fit. The last thing I want to do is head down the trail with so much stuff lashed to the outside of my pack that I look like a hiking version of the Clampett’s truck from “The Beverly Hillbillies!”

Appalachian Trail Pack

Food Planning and Preparation

This is the area in which I feel I have made the greatest headway. Due to some unusual logistical considerations next year, my sister has graciously volunteered to be my support person for the final month of my hike. This circumstance forced me to prepare the final five boxes for her to mail to me in July and August and I delivered them to her over the Christmas holiday. In order to accomplish this, I compiled and packaged all of the breakfast meals, obtained and packaged the lunch foods (trail mix, energy bars, and protein), and organized all of the miscellaneous items that I want to ship for the entire trip.

The only remaining items on my “food checklist” are dinner meals. I wanted to share my dinner preparation through a series of videos, so I had to put it on the back burner until I got my voice back. I’m looking forward to sharing my process for dehydrating, assembling, and packaging backpacking dinners with you!

Appalachian Trail Food

Miscellaneous Items

During the first week of December, I was selected for jury duty. In the middle of the questioning of potential jurors, some additional evidence was presented by the attorneys which caused the trial to be rescheduled. So, that civic obligation has been fulfilled for the year. Other than that, I’ve completed the annual payroll tax returns for the business, renewed our health insurance, and joined the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Also, the “pdf” version of the 2017 A.T. Guide has been released and I’ve updated my records to reflect the new changes (the “hard” copy is scheduled to ship during the middle of this month). Finally, I’m only four episodes shy of completing the amazing Season 6 of Game of Thrones!