Posts Tagged With: Extreme Hiking

A Psychological Guide to the Appalachian Trail

For the vast majority of outdoor enthusiasts, the idea of through-hiking the Appalachian Trail is just that, an idea; something to think about abstractly on long winter nights or talk about after a beer or two with friends. Ultimately, most of us find the idea of 2,200 miles and six months of our lives (not to mention 100+ miles of elevation change) too strong a deterrent to consider actually doing anything about it.  Last night, however, I sat in a room at REI-Charlotte with 30 other people, among whom — I strongly suspect — I was the only one who either hadn’t already hiked some significant portion of the Appalachian Trail or who wasn’t seriously considering doing so.

Truth be told, I have hiked a very small section of the AT near the Nantahala Outdoor Center in western North Carolina; by my calculations about .13% of the total distance. And last spring, I hiked more than 300 miles in various locations over a 3 month period preparing for the 28-miles-in-one-day CureSearch Ultimate Hike. That brief glimpse into endurance trekking brought me to an understanding about just how difficult it really is… and how poorly suited I am for it. While I found the physical rigors challenging, it was the mental aspect of hiking mile after mile after mile that wore on me the most, and that is why I attended the REI event. Continue reading

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Ultimate Hike 2012: The Best Laid Plans…

I want to start out my final Ultimate Hike 2012 update by thanking CureSearch for putting on such a wonderful event! It was very well-managed from start to finish and I am glad to have been a part of it. Over the past three months, I have met some amazing people, have pushed myself beyond my perceived limits and have developed a new appreciation for what a few truly inspired individuals can accomplish. As of hike day, Charlotte Ultimate Hike had raised over $196,000 for children’s cancer research, and that figure is expected to exceed $225,000 when all is said and done. That’s nearly a quarter of a million dollars! Thanks to you and the hundreds of other financial supporters, we set a new single hike record for funds raised.

My goals for Ultimate Hike 2012 were to: 1) Raise money for children’s cancer research; 2) Raise awareness for children’s cancer research; and 3) Finish the 28.3 mile hike in 11 hours or less. I am disappointed to say that I was only able to achieve the first two of these goals, as an accident on the trail forced me to withdraw at Aid Station #3 (22 miles).

The day started out great. It was cool and overcast when I hit the trail at 7:15 AM. I covered the first 4.7 miles — to Aid Station #1 — in an hour and 22 minutes… a solid 18 minute mile pace over some moderately difficult terrain. The next seven miles to aid station #2 took a little longer (20 minute per mile average), but I was still making great time as I headed out on the longest and most difficult part of the trail, the ten miles between Aid Station #2 and Aid Station #3. This part of the trail was very rocky and uneven, with multiple elevation changes as it wound along the banks of a river. Somewhere between the 18 and 19 mile mark, I was crossing a shallow stream and lost my footing on the mossy rocks. I took a pretty good fall, bruising my left knee and cutting my shin.

Fortunately, one of the CureSearch team was hiking right behind me with the first aid kit and got the cut disinfected and bandaged. At that point, I thought I might be able to finish, albeit limping the rest of the way, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that it was going to be all I could do just to make it out of the woods and to the next aid station. And that was the end of my Ultimate Hike 2012 experience.

I did finish 22 of the 28.3 miles, but obviously I am disappointed by the outcome. After all the hours and miles of training, I would really have liked to cross that finish line. But, looking on the positive side, I know that I gave it my very best shot and ultimately made a difference — with your assistance — in the lives of children battling cancer. Thank you again for your support.

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Ultimate Hike 2012: It’s All Over But the Hiking

I completed my last long training hike on Saturday; 25 miles at Latta Nature Preserve. It was set up to be a sort of simulation of the real hike on the 19th, starting at the same time and with the rest stops at the assigned mileage marks. It went about as well as could be expected. Honestly, it was as much about confidence as it was about physical training. I needed some personal reassurance that I can actually hike for 11 hours. This was the first training hike in which I made extensive use of my iPod and it made a BIG difference. A change of socks at the 12 mile mark also seemed to help. Although my feet were very sore at the end of the day, they seemed a little less so than at the end of the 20 mile hike the previous week. Of course, that might also be due to the relatively easy terrain at Latta compared to Crowders Mountain. I will be hitting the gym on Monday and Wednesday this week, but will limit my time on my feet to a mile on the treadmill each session; just enough to keep loose. The Ultimate Hike has been an interesting experience, but I am ready for it to be over and to get my weekends back. Too many little jobs have been piling up around the house, and I haven’t been out on the water in over a month.

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