Tag Archives: preparation

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!


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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 Hour Sponsored Hike!!!

Ok guys.

This is it.

This is where I see how much you value me as a blogger, friend, colleague or family member!

A very good friend of mine was recently diagnosed with liver cancer. This was obviously a huge shock to everyone who knows him. I felt in need of doing something to help in some way but I didn’t know how.

He receives help from Macmillan Cancer Support and I know that they have really helped him and his family. I’m going to do a 24 hour sponsored hike to help this WONDERFUL charity. 

I’m currently at mile 1490 of 2183 of the Appalachian Trail. I’m in New England and now the terrain is starting to get really tough! And will get much much much harder soon. I’ll be hiking some HUGE mountains before I know it! And will be in the sponsored section.I aim to do a 24 hour hike, starting at midnight and ending at midnight the following day. I hope to cover around 40 miles in that time. But who knows, maybe it could be much more! I will take short breaks during and will try to keep up a speed of approximately 2mph. This will likely take place in Vermont.

Click here to DONATE NOW! Two miles per hour might not seem much but I will be going up and down huge mountains, clambering over rocks, through muddy swamps and more than that I’m already exhausted! Trust me, this is going to be hard, if not hell at times. I know I will try my very hardest.

Please donate what you can!
$1 would be greatly appreciated.
$10 would be AMAZING!
$100 and I will give you a foot rub!
$1000 and I will likely marry you!
PLEASE PLEASE donate what you can, even if it’s the smallest amount! If I ever made you laugh out loud or provided you with some mild entertainment or tip or advice, that’s worth at least a dollar or pound!
I know my friend, his family and many many others like him will greatly appreciate all the help you can give to Macmillan Cancer Support and therefore to those directly affected by cancer.
Macmillan Cancer Support supports local information and support centres, cancer support groups, benefits advisers and cancer support specialists, and can help with practical, medical, financial and emotional support.

Mile 273 – Hitting my stride

I’m currently in Hot Springs, North Carolina camping outside of town next to the river, reminds me of home sitting by the river. No Bull in the Barn pub to go to for a pint, but a gas station just up the road for beer. Didn’t make it in time for the Bluegrass festival unfortunately. All good though!

French Broad River in Hot Springs

Sitting in the public library uploading photos and doing bits and pieces. I used to spend half my day in front of a computer back in Mexico and now this day is turning into one of those days, but a good one as I get to share all the goodness with you folks.

My tendon is doing pretty awesome at the moment. It can still get a little sore, but I met a nurse in Fontana and she taught me a great routine of stretches and they have worked magic! I did a 16 mile day the other day to Max Patch and beyond. A BIG day for me.

My first month I averaged only 8 miles a day including days off (zeros) and short days (neros), so far in the 2nd month I’m averaging about 11 miles, so I’m getting better that’s for sure.

If you’re a one-day hopeful thru hiker reading this and you’re out of shape, I highly recommend NOT doing the approach trail and keeping that mileage down for the first month. I definitely don’t regret it! I’ve seen MANY people go off the trail because they did a 15-20 mile day in the first few weeks when they weren’t ready for it. Your tendons and ligaments etc develop slower than muscles. I mean some trail leavers are super sporty folk in great shape that move out in groups and listen to the group not their bodies.

Which gets me to the next thing. How hard this is. This shit is hard.

It is not just a walk in the woods. It’s up and down constantly. Some days, 20 metres of flat trail is a blessing. El Camino de Santiago was a piece of cake in comparison.

Have you ever climbed Snowdon in Wales before (without the train!) ? My short days are similar to starting at the bottom of Snowdon, hiking up and then back down again with between 17 and 20 kilos on my back, and starting dirty and stinky, without a pub at the end.  That’s just 10 miles.

You know that really steep scree slope near the top of the mountain? That’s my life! 🙂

What’s happened recently?…..

I saw a eagle attacking a wild grouse the other day. That was cool. A family of deer came walking straight past me the other day in the Smokies, I mean like 2 metres away from me! Wish I could upload the videos but I’m filming in HD. Think I wrote that before.

Had a sunset and super moon sunrise from Max Patch bald. That was sick. Awesome end to the best day of hiking I’ve done so far. I was crushing miles at a fast pace (for me!) and really booking it up the inclines. I think I’m starting to get my trail legs…. basically when you can just go and go and go with little pain. I don’t feel like doing that today though after so many PBRs last night!

Max Patch Bald Sunset

I stayed at Standing Bear Farm the other day, a cool little hostel that has all you need. We stayed in a cool cabin and the stream runs right under the building. Pretty neat. Take your own beers though as the guy who’s running it temporarily is charging $2 for a PBR!!!

We got some great trail magic when we arrived there as Mike “Shots to go” left us a 12 pack in the fridge for us. He hiked the first 100 miles then got off the trail as he only had about a week. Now he’s back to hike the whole thing!!! Aquaman and Tricks did the same thing recently. They just headed out of Hot Springs this morning.

I’ve met some really cool folk recently. It’s nice to not be overtaken by everyone as I’m doing better mileage these days and that way I can keep up with friends and so on.

Skirt, Tintin, Manybags, Pinky, Suds.  (yep, he hikes in a skirt-chafe)

As you probably know we have trail names, it’s kinda weird to change your name, especially the first few times you introduce yourself to someone. It kind of felt a bit lame at first, but it makes life soooo much easier. I think I met 5 Johns in the first week, just impossible to know who someone is talking about “You know, John from Canada….?”    “nope”.

So I’m Suds, I’m sitting next to Driftwood in the library, hiking with Pinky, Manybags, Skirt, Tintin and Shots to go at the moment. So easy to remember, especially as there are hundreds of hikers out here.

Anyway, I’m off to buy my resupply my food for the next 5-6 days to Erwin, Tennessee.

If anyone wants to send me some mezcal, let me know and I’ll give you an address for a town coming up!!!!! 😉

You can see more photos on Facebook. If you’re not my friend on FB you can check out more photos here:

Facebook Photos


The first 200 miles

So here I am, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee… chilling in a nice motel. It is hot as hell down here!

206 miles down….1978 miles to go!

There seems to be an issue here…at this rate, I’d finish sometime in 2073, but things are going to be picking up from here.

The past few weeks have been awesome but also tainted with doubt about my tendons ability to do the miles necessary to complete it. I think I’ve got a good hold on things and some yoga stretches are reducng any issues I’m having. Been doing well the past few days.

The scenery has changed a lot in the past few days. I’m in the Great Smokies National Park…things just got all pine on me…. theres a lot balds and great views, I’ve seen wild deer up real close, an eagle trying to kill a turkey and chipmunks getting up to no good, no bears yet though… I hve 2 bear lamp bases in my room. Where all the bears at, yo?!

Half way through the Smokies…. gonna try to arrive in Hot Springs on Sunday morning for the last day of a bluegrass festival. If I can do that then I’ll be stoked as I’ll be really upping my game. Getting into this!

In other news, I’m getting stinkier. Today was my first shower in 5 or 6 days. Still smell pretty sweet in comparison to other hikers though. Showers are awesome, yep.

This morning started hiking at about 4:45am. Yep. Hiked up to the highs point on the AT….Clingman’s Dome for sunrise. We had a tal of 5 hikers with headlamps shooting up the mountain to catch the sunrise… we took a wrong turn even though the guide book advised us! we still made it….just, the fog swooped in 10 minutes later.

Weather is awesme. Probably only hiked 10 of 206 miles have been hiked in the rain. I’m not trying to avoid it, it just doesn’t rain when hike. Pretty sweet huh!

Will post photos next week…this phone typing just doesn’t nake for great blog posts!

oh n I hitched for the 1st time today….. nice


The NOC

I’m taking a zero day in the Nanthala Outdoor Center here in North Carolina. I’m about 140 miles into the hike. I’m going slow. This las section hasn’t been very good on my tendon. I had a 5 mile day yesterday which felt pretty goo but it was mainly downhill which i prefer because of the issue. It’s getting better now. I did 2 12 mile days and did them both far too quickly. Need to break more often through the day and start earlier. The past few days have been the way not to hike the AT for me. HYOH (hike your own hike) as they say…

I know I can continue hiking and will have to cntinue this slow n steady method. The question is if I will, or more specifically my leg will develop enough to finish the whole 2184 miles in 6 months. This next 30 miles is going to be an experiment in my new way befoe the Smokies.

anyway, enough of my leg.

theres a free style kayak competition today in NOC. going down for some beers n so on. resupply from the bad n expensive selection of food n just chill basically. A zero day is called so for a reason.

Let’s see now. Crossed border a while back with North Carolina. Ate very authenic Mexican food in La Poblana in Franklin…why that isn’t in the guide book I don’t know. South of La Rana Renata. Almsot as good as Mexico.

Hiking is pretty stunning at times. I climbed an observation tower the oher day….daaammmmnnnnnn…. one of the best views ever. Watching spring spring up around me….flowers coming out. Birds finally singing as there seemed to be no animals at all the first 10 or so days. A couple days back I saw HUGE wild boar crashing through the woods about 5 metres below me as I spooked it coming round a corner! Saw a black thing and for half a second figured it was a
bear…..flight or fight kicked in a was buzzing after! Shame I didnt have my camera in hand.

In other news I stayed in a shelter 2 nights on the trot because of the storms. Got to say I don’t like shelters at the moment. Too many people. They’re dry though!

I was named the other day. My trail name is Suds.


2184 miles?! PAH!

It’s going to be a huge challenge, it’s going to be difficult, but am I scared or nervous about these 2184 miles?!

Hell no.

On the other hand, the first 30 miles to Neel’s Gap scare the s**t out of me.

This evening is my goodbye drinks. Los Insurgentes, Roma.

Pulque, mezcal, good times. If you’re not living in Mexico or some hipster type who pays 1000% what you should in NY, you probably don’t know what pulque is. It’s a prehispanic fermented  maguey plant sap alcoholic drink.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m quite a fan.

 

Mr. Cogswell’s favourite plant

I will have a baggie of dried chile de árbol in my backpack to spice things up a bit while I’m away, though I’m going to be missing all things Mexican. If you feel like sending me a litre of mezcal or a couple hundred grams of tamarind while I’m away don’t hesitate to ask me for an address to send it to! Or Marmite, for that matter. Or whatever you think I’d like to eat on a rainy morning in the woods!

This might be my last post until I’m on the trail. Very busy and will be for the next few days. Leave to Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, shopping for a day and a half in Atlanta, go to the Hiker’s Hostel and Neel’s Gap on Tuesday, will start the trail on Wednesday morning, will arrive in Neel’s again on Sunday, I hope (very slow start).

Watch this space for the result of the first hurdle. If it’s a positive post then I’m sure I’ll go all the way; they’re by far the most important miles for me, what with my dodgy legs.

Wish me luck!