Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ups and Downs, Highs and Lows, Physically and Mentally

-Hiawassee, GA-

Sup party peoples. One week down and I'm still breathing. Barely.

It's been a fun but challenging first week here on the AT. Plenty of injuries while my body gets broken in to the trail, sleepless nights, and tough days of hiking, but Foxy and I are still rocking and rollin' over the hills of the Chattahootchie (sp?). However, we don't go by those names anymore.

Foxy is now Rainman because our first 4 days on the trail were between drizzle and downpour. His philosophy is that if you can't beat the rain, join it and your spirits will be higher. It's worked for him so far.

My trail name is Ahab. I got it on my second day hiking when a tweaked my knee somehow and was forced to keep my left knee straight on the downhills for the remainder of the day's hike. With my ass peg-legging down each little decline, I made the smartass comment that I felt like Captain Ahab struggling around. It stuck.

A number of other injuries have followed the knee. There are the obvious blisters which are working themselves out and I pulled my hip flexor the first day - no biggies here. The knee has been a bitch and has put me up for today (which is why I'm able to write this) to give it time to heal. The nastiest wound has been how my right side has been shred by the hip belt. I was wearing the pack too low, and the advertised "Waffle Construction" of my pack soon became a cheese grater for my waistline. It's left a serious gash has impressed many a fellow hiker, but that's about all the fun it's given me. Rainman and I are putting our First Aid training to the test keeping it clean and protected and it's already on the mend.

So while I've come down with some bumps so far, I am hopeful that my knee will heal with this day off (and most of tomorrow too), my side will not become infected, my blisters will callous over, my spirits will strength, my sleep will make it through the night, and that I get on top of being dehydrated all the time. Other than that, I'm a happy camper.

Truly, this trip has been epic so far. Great people, great sights, and a great change of pace. Hike for 6-8 hours a day and relax for the night. It's genius! While it has been tough at parts, both physically and mentally, to keep going and to stay focused, the people along the trail and the times you all share has been worth it. When you're grueling through miles day after day with these people, you get close pretty fast. It's brings together an interesting modge-podge of people that bring something new to the table every day. For example: There is one guy Gorgonzola (who I simply refer to as Bluech) who was a martini bar owner but looks like he could be the bouncer. FeatherFoot - a retired engineer for ITT, a goverment military weapons systems manufactuer. Ewok - a former soldier, physiologist, philosophy buff with a beard you could make a nest out of. Snarl - a wrestler from South Carolina. Joker - a world traveler looking for the next challenge. LeeBo - an adventurer who has biked (like peddle-peddle, not vroom-vroom) the circumference of the US...twice. And that's just a few.

The people along the trail have been great to us. Already had my first trail angel - a woman named Pat who pulled out of her Suburban with a shopping bag filled with cookies and water. There's the guys at our Inn who have been amazingly generous. However, if there is one person who tops the list, it's George. George works the Blood Mountain Cabins in Neels Gap and this guy should have a halo above his head. Let's count the acts of saint-hood this guy gave us in about 15 minutes of interaction:
#1 "Hey George, do you sell beer?"
"Nope, but here, have this. (He hands us a six-pack) Sometimes people leave it in the cabins. You can have it"
#2 "Hey George, we left some laundry out front. Do you know..."
"Yup, I already put it in for ya. Should be ready for the dryer pretty soon."
"Oh thanks! How much we owe ya?"
"Oh it's free.
#3 "How much for this Duraflame log?"
"Oh, I'll just add it to you tab" (Which we later found out was George-code for free)
#4 "Oh man, we forgot to pay for the wood we took"
"How much you take? One bundle? Ahhh, don't worry about it." (Only after I threw cash at him would he take it)

George - you're the man.

However, if there has been one guy that has made this trip so far - it's Foxy. He's carried my bum, peg-legging, complaining ass and has really stuck by me to help me all through it. With help with injuries, added motivation, support, advice, reason, and general a settling attitude, he's kept me level and prepared to give each day my best shot. He even chose to stay put with me in Hiawassee when he could have hiked on with a group of friends and made a big party bash this weekend. He's put up with a lot from me and I can't thank him enough for it. If he wasn't my best friend before, he sure as hell is now.

That's all from me for now folks. Sends some good vibes, specifically healing ones, and wish us luck for the next week. Hopefully we'll make it into Bryson City a week from now.

Hoo rah!


  1. hi Ry Ry
    sounds like a true adventure. hope the knee feels better. when you get back I'll do some PT on you while I make up for not making fun of you for so long. Miss you my love and stay safe! say hi to foxy for me!

  2. way to go man! Take care of that knee, don't push it: you need it to carry you a long way!