WELCOME TO APPALACHIANJAKE!

WOW! What can I say?!

THREE YEARS AGO TODAY I was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee after just doing Clingman’s Dome. It seems like a lifetime ago. My life has been turned upside down and inside out since the trail and I’m sure yours will be too!

You’re likely here because you want to learn about the trail. This blog is in chronological order in the style of a trail journal.

I hope you enjoy it.

before after

(2015 edit)


Your new home for Appalachian advice!

 

 

My guess is (though in reality I don’t actually have a clue) that most of my readers of my blog are people who one day would like to walk the Appalachian Trail. Friends and family read my blog and also some people who have hiked the AT before, but I think most of my 20,000+ views (woah!) are wannabe thru-hikers.

Maybe you’re an aspiring hiker thru-hiker who’s going to hit Springer in the matter of months , maybe in a few years, or it could be when you retire or, very possibly, you’re just dreaming at the moment. Either way, I want to make this blog an advice page specifically for you guys! Future 2000 -milers!

 

Me on Katahdin 12 days ago!

It felt really great to get positive feedback about my blog from you guys during my journey and that inspired me to continue writing. I now want to produce a blog that hopefully can cut through some of the crap on the internet and help you guys prepare with bullshit-free advice.  I want to know what you want to know. Please click on “leave a comment” below this post to tell me!

DISCLAIMER! 

I am going to dish out advice up in her’!

One of the most important things that you must realise about walking the Appalachian Trail successfully is that you should always always always Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH). I will be advocating this throughout my blog. Take my advice with a pinch of salt. My advice will not be for everyone, but it may be useful to you.

I’m going to give you as much bullshit-free advice as I can give you. However, what I really mean by this – is – other people’s bullshit. I am going to give you your fill of mine.

I am British, so I will sometimes I will sound/spell weird. However, I am still right.😉

OVER TO YOU

Click “leave a comment” just below this post.

Tell me what you want to know, I really will base my blog entries on your comments.

If you want to know about stretches, gear, mental preparedness, yoga, alcohol, ibuprofen, bad days, Mexican restaurants, resupply, food, towns, zero days, nearo days, types of hikers, whatever the hell you want – tell me in the comments section.

This is a blog for the people, by the people Suds.


Getting home plus the future

After summiting Mt. Katahdin we shuttled back to the AT Lodge in Millinocket. I watched on enviously as Waldo tucked into two starters, a 2lb lobster, dessert and several Martinis! I on the other hand had a chicken burger (more on this later). The following morning I was up at the crack of dawn to go to the supermarket to resupply for the journey home  and also for some supplements I knew were at least half the price that I’d need to pay in Mexico. Fully stocked up, we headed to Bangor, Maine on the morning bus with other thru-hikers JoeFour, Madhat, Mr. Breeze, Witch, Stargazer, Waldo and Kevvers/LC. Most of the above jumped on another bus to Boston and Waldo and I had the rest of the day to explore Bangor a little. We both flew the following day.

Waldo about to tuck in!

After saying goodbye to Waldo on Friday evening, I walked across town to Bangor airport in the rain. As Journey (the band) were playing in town that night, hotels weren’t an option so I went to the airport to hang out all night. I had the pleasure of getting to know another successful thru-hiker that evening, Renaissance Man. He’s a proper down to earth dude and it was great to have his company that evening and through the morning till he took a flight to Charlotte, and I to Phoenix. We chatted about our experiences, our plans and hopes for the future and had several good bitching sessions over the fact we could no longer eat whatever the hell we liked. Sleep was almost non-existent that night as at around 2am a flight from New York landed with a couple of hundred wet-behind-the-ears and pretty scared looking new army recruits heading off to Kurdistan. I made the mistake of climbing out of my sleeping bag, greeting a few of them and saying, “hey, welcome home, guys”. “Uhhh, thanks, but we’re heading out”, came the reply……D’OH, foot fully wedged in my mouth. Oh well.

I was honoured to have a long conversation with two of the volunteer greeters who are always at Bangor International to greet those in the service. They do an amazing job by giving them advice, love, support, free snacks, free international phone cards and much more. They’ve been there since 1993 I believe and so many of those in the service would be utterly lost without them by the sounds of it. They’ve met and greeted over 1.3 million troops! It was pretty sobering to be looking at this group of clean, newly buzz cut, innocent looking teenagers heading out to a war zone knowing at least some of them will never even see Bangor airport again, let alone their families.

Challenge coins in the airport

The next 20 hours or so were spent sitting in airports and airplanes on my three-plane journey back to Mexico City. I consumed too much caffeine and too little food for such a trip. Arrived around midnight in Mexico City and was met by Yhalí (my girlfriend) and her family. A short car journey later and I was back at home. It’s been a tough couple of days since then, but now I think I’m resettled slightly and feeling at home. This evening I’m out with friends for some welcome back drinks. I’ve chopped the beard (finally) and so I’m looking a little like a tennis player with a hairband over my lionesque afro to keep it under control. It’s going to be great to catch up with people and get back into the flow of things.

At this moment, a lot (if not most) thru-hikers are eating and drinking too much and getting fat. Yes, that means you! I have known for some time that this was going to be a serious danger for me on returning. Unlike some, who were in good shape at the start and have stayed at more or less the same weight or even put on weight, I went from around 192 pounds to about 150 over the 6 months!!!!! I flatly refuse to be one of the overwhelming majority of thru-hikers that gain all the weight they lost plus more in half the time. I’ve even heard stories of one hiker gaining 30 lbs in 30 days, plus other such horror stories.

Zach Davis in his book, Appalachian Trials, offers some great advice about this problem and that chapter has always been in my head (by the way, Appalachian Trials is by far the very best bo0k to own for all budding thru-hikers). This article also offers some pretty in depth discussion of why we as thru-hikers get fat on our returns. I have heeded most advice and researched more so that I do not balloon on my return. Actually, I have gained zero weight in the past 5 days since summiting. I may have actually lost an extra half pound. Most people pile on several pounds in the first week. My success so far will continue.

My strategy involves:

*close to zero processed foods. Only natural, traditional foods as far as possible.

*as close to zero carb diet as I can possibly manage (this is of course impossible, but I’ve only slipped a little – tonight will be an exception, but it also means lots of exercise tomorrow.)

*protein shakes after exercise

*2-3 hour walks each day since finishing

* lots and lots of protein

*low density foods and lots of them so I feel full but keep the calories low

*buying of Men’s Fitness magazine which this month is chocked full of tips that are great for my situation

I’m 100% determined to not only keep the fat off, but to gain weight in lean muscle and be the exception to the rule. So far it’s working just fine. Feeling good for it.

The future?!

Stick at this, keep healthy, keep happy, start some new hobbies and go to England at Christmas happy with the previous 3 months. The future of the blog? Well, I´m going to continue writing in it on some reflections, plus I’ll be writing Suds’ Very Own, By Far the Best Blog, Bullshit Free Advice Page about the Appalachian Trail! 

Coming soon!



Katahdin!

This is me on top of Mt. Katahdin yesterday morning!!!! This means I’m finished! My goal for 2184 miles, 14 states and nearly 6 months has been acheived and my slowly growing dream for 12 years is now done! It’s been a massive physical, emotional, psychological and nutritional rollercoaster and one I’m sure I’ll never forget. It’s almost impossible to understand such big endings immediately and I’ll likely mull this one over for some time to come, but huge things like this always mean new beginnings and I’m over the moon to have succeeded. I’ll write more on my blog soon. Many many thanks for all the support, friends. And a massive thanks to those of you that supported my 24 hour hike with your donations. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I didn’t die during the attempt, I hiked 40 miles in a day!  A great day!!!😀

24 September, 2012 15:29

MY HEROS! Joe4 (carried them), Mr Breeze and Lost bring me my tent poles just as the rain starts to spinkle!!! Over the moon happy that I have my poles back! You really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. One little bag of metal and I’m really ecstatic! hahaha


Eve of 24 hour hike!

I’m sat in my sleeping bag (it’s colddddd!) on the shore of the lake at Antlers Campsite 51 miles before Katahdin!!! I’ve been here nearly 24 hours already. Taking a break from the easy terrain! It’s ABSOLUTELY beautiful here, utterly tranquil and not a soul in sight. Almost done reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley….my second read of it in the last couple of years. Do read it if you haven’t already. You must stay at Antlers when you walk through the 100mile wilderness. Probably the best camping I’ve ever had.

Ironically though as it’s also the worst. haha! I left my tent poles 10 miles back a Crawford Pond and was hoping someone might drop them off. No such luck as I’m in a huge gulf between two hiker bubbles at the moment. So, cowboy camping it is. Fingers crossed it won’t rain though maybe I just felt a drop! oh well, only 51 miles to go. Water never hurt anyone….errr….well a bit of rain didn’t at least.

At midnight I start my 24 hour sponored hike. So far I’ve raised 525 pounds ($775 more or less) THANKYOU SO SO MUCH to everyone who’s sponsored. I, but way more than that people who receive help from the amazing Macmillan Cancer Support charity deeply appreciate it. You will all get a message of my real thanks indivdually when I get some time on the internet that isnt on a phone the size of a Clif Bar!

I’m aiming to hike at least 35 miles to the shelter just before Abol Bridge Campground. I expect and hope to do more though. I MUST resupply at Abol though as only have enough food for the hike tomorrow. So, should I be able to do more I will walk past Abol for half the time remaining of the 24 hours then head back to finish there. The longest hike I’ve done so far on the AT was 26.3 I believe and on the Camino de Santiago I did about 34 miles on my last day in only about 14 hours.

This hike is over some pretty easy terrain BUT this hike is NOT about BIG miles. This hike is about a long hard slog, a tiring journey that I wish to reflect on many things, mainly on the way in which cancer affects the lives of our loved ones. There will be no success or failure hanging on my hike tomorrow. If I start earlier or later than planned, I’ll finish earlier or later than planned ~just 24 hours is the goal, if I need an extra long break, I’ll take one. This has always been about the journey. Tomorrow this is especially the case.

Wish me luck and tomorrow (September 25th) give a thought to those affected by cancer. Please help me reach my target of 1000 pounds by donating as much or as little as you can:

http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/jakerussell

Once again, a million thanks and much much respect to all of my family, friends and blog readers who have already donated.

Have a great day!!!


Entering the 100 mile wilderness

I’m sitting on the bank of a lake, just about to enter the 100-mile wilderness. As you can see, I’m supposed to have 10 days of food. Actually I have about 6 days worth. Also several German WWII-era grenades (for dramatic killings of the evil North American Red Squirrel). I only have 6 days of food because that’s all it will take including a zero day in preparation for my 24 hour hike. I’m in tremendously high spirits today. Monson has revitalised me. Cleaned me, my gear, given me new music, food, friends (hey and thanks to Canadian Mike) and a massive sense of positivity about this next week and my life in general. Today really is a great day.😀


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