[at-l] longevity advice (Was: sleeping bag)

Frank Looper nightwalker.at at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 14:09:36 CST 2009


On Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 11:09 AM, Tom McGinnis <sloetoe at yahoo.com> wrote:
> ###   "Mom, these hikers are  *nuts*."
>
> justguessingtoe
> _______________________________________________

The above applies to some of us more than others. :-)

To Cody Girl, JJJ, and any one else who cares to listen from the class of
2010,

Since 2004, I have went to Springer or Katahdin 5-6 times with full intent
of hiking the entire trail. Some of the reasons that I got off--extreme
plantar fasciitis in both feet, constant migraines, level 3 sprains in both
ankles a wife going into full-blown menopause 300 miles away--would have
taken out almost anyone. However, I am one that gets extremely wife-sick.
After a month without her, I am absolutely, ABSOLUTELY miserable. I am
almost certain that I will not hike the whole trail unless she passes before
me. Unfortunately, her health and self-care issues make that pretty likely.

So, what I do, between starting at one end or the other for a few weeks or a
month, is hike sections that I haven't hiked before, or have hiked and want
to hike again. That makes me more like the average hiker than many of the
folks that you see and hear from here. In "the old days," only 1/10 of
beginning thrus made it to the other end. Now, for whatever reason, it is
approximately 1/5. That still makes it extremely likely that you'll fall
off!

What is the worst thing that you can do if you "fail" at your attempt? Hide
out, believe the failure myth, and lose the family that you're making here.

Last year, there was a very sweet woman named McGyver who pretty much lived
on this list in the months leading up to her hike. She asked a million
questions, had a good attitude, didn't assume that she knew it all, and all
the other things that should go with a successful attempt.

Then the hail came. Her body kept trying to give up on her, she was taking
more and more NSAIDs just to sleep at night, and at Harper's Ferry, she had
taken all that she could. Did she fail? HELL NO!!!!! However, she probably
thinks that she did, and we haven't seen her since. Aside: McGyver, if
you're out there, please come play with us again. We really miss you. You're
fun.

Now, as to the advice part
(1) Don't quit in camp. If your endorphin level is high from a few miles of
walking, and you feel like quitting for a few days in a row a few miles in,
then maybe you're in the wrong place. However, in a warm sleeping bag with a
sore body is not the place.
(2) Don't quit while you're talking on the phone to your family or
significant other. This is a time that you might find yourself crying and
with a very low Serotonin level. Once the family is on their way to pick you
up, it's too late.
(3) Don't quit when a zero day is really what you need. You WILL get
exhausted out there, and I've extended my time spent in the woods MANY times
by taking a day or half-day off (Zero/Nero).
(4) In town is where the most folks decide to quit. They get a good meal or
3 in them, they enjoyed a night or two in a bed, and they just decide that
it isn't worth it. That feeling, when I fought it, has ALWAYS left me before
I have gotten up the first big climb out of town.

There are more of these; lots more. What I'm trying to tell you is that the
odds are against you, there are certain places that you are more likely to
quit than others, and even if you fall off, YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE!!!

The other thing that kills the most hikes is covered by BunBun much better
than I ever could. Short version: SLOW DOWN!!! http://spiriteaglehome.com/bb
speed.html <http://spiriteaglehome.com/bb%20speed.html>

In closing, if you don't finish your hike in a way that you would like to,
don't drop out of the community. There are people here that I would not want
to go through life without, and it is a LONG list. If you drop off, come
back, pull up a log to the fire, and tell us what happened. True success
only comes from getting up when you fall down.

I have hiked more miles than most thru-hikers. I'm really good at spending
time in the woods, and the woods are where I feel closest to God. If I'm
really, really blessed, one day I'll finish the whole thing and then start
on the CDT.

I'm a hiker for life, not because of some goal to hike a specific trail, but
because I'm more alive out there than I am in here.

And you can quote me on that!
FrankenLooper the NightWalker
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