Tag Archives: thru hike

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!


Advertisements

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!!! 😀

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!!!


Monson, Maine

Yesterday I walked about 26.something miles. A full marathon. Not bad considering the last 11 miles were in the rain and the last 8 in the dark. Seen as my “Packa” has the worst hood in the world I can’t use a headlamp in the rain and therefore had to hold the headlamp up my sleeve the whole way! Though it held up well against the pounding rain and my torso kept dry the whole time. Not bad. It was fine though because the terrain was pretty easy, with the exception of two river fordings. The rain was pounding down and the wind howling as I set up my tent. Right next to a cooler full of sodas! Right at the finish line of my marathon! What a stroke of good luck, hey?! Plus a granola bar. This spurred me on to completion as a southbounder told me about it, plus the idea of a beautiful “nearo” in Monson, Maine today. A “nearo” is a near zero hike. This classes now as anything less than 10 miles now. 5 months ago this was a reasonably big day.

Image

This morning I arrived before 9:30 after 7 miles for a four of everything breakfast at Shaw’s bunkhouse. It was beautiful and greasy and heaven! All I did today was eat that, a Ruben, a few packs of cookies and a round of All-American Trivial Pursuit. Oh, and a shower. It was my first shower in a long, long time. I won’t tell you exactly when, but it was longer ago than any of you would probably ever like to take. After 5.5 months in the woods it becomes the norm. I can see how homeless people get so filthy and not seem to care. Us humans can get used to any sort of filth.

Tomorrow morning I head out to the 100-mile wilderness.I will spend 4 days hiking the 65-70 miles of the last 117 miles to the summit of Katahdin. Then I’ll take 24 hours off before I hike for 24 hours with the aim of completing around 40 miles in order to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

One in three of us will get cancer and it’s the toughest thing most of us will ever face. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, or a loved one has, you’ll want a team of people in your corner supporting you every step of the way.

Macmillan Cancer Support provide practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care.

Please donate if you haven’t already! 

Click below to see my recent photos including my moose encounter!

Photos


2000 Mexican moose…err…miles

I just got to Horn Pond shelter (lean-to is just silly, let’s face it) and no fires allowed. aghhh I wanted to cook some mac n cheese (no stove) and get warm as it’s mighty chilly up this mountain.

I just passed the 2000 mile marker! Wooo only about 183 to go! Not bad, hey?! I’m really looking forward to being done now. It’s still great but really, why more than 2000?! Is it really necessary?! 😉 well yeah because I still have my 24 hour hike to do for Macmillan Charity. I’ve raised about $750 so far. That’s amazing! Thank you to all who have donated. Please do if you haven’t! I’ll give you a foot rub post-hike if you do!

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

I’m looking forward to going home to my adopted country, Mexico. By the way, happy 202nd birthday, Mexico! ¡VIVA! I’m missing some great parties tonight! It’ll be great to see everyone and catch up. That in itself will be exhausting! Plus I’m really excited to be going home to spend time with my family and friends at Christmas. No rushing around, just lazing around and catching up! While doing as much exercise as possible. I’m 100% determined not to be one of the vast mjority of thru hikers who put all their weight back on!

Anyway, I’m still on trail and most people that read my blog are people I don’t know, so back to the trail!

Maine has been pretty challenging and very unique. The Whites were beautiful and the views were breathtaking but it’s great to be out of AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) territory and into the wilderness again. I might tackle this subject another day. Maine is where we have been aiming for this whole time! so YEAH!!! “no rain, no Maine” so they say. B******t, I say. You could easily have arrived in Maine even if you didn’t walk every day it rained this year. We have been very very fortunate. My feet didn’t even get wet till Hot Springs! Good luck class of 2013! I’m sure you’ll have a wet one to make up for this year! mwahahaha!

I met a moose yesterday. It was HUGE. At least 8 foot high with his antlers (are they called that?!) I know this because his eyes on his GIGANTIC head were a clear 6″ higher than mine. How do I know? Because he was 2 yards in front of me. I could hear my heart pounding in my chest. I stalked one at Eddy Pond at 5.55am in the near dark but there was another just behind me!!! He walked right up to me. I was mainly in awe but pretty terrified too as I have no idea what bull mooses do or how they react! Needless to say, they’re not called bulls for nothing. I was next to a big tree so I had that as a shield and knew I could outmanouve the 1500lb + (?) beast but he just loped over to me, there was no agression or fear in either of our movements. We stared at eachother for probably 20 seconds and he walked around me giving me lots of space. The only animal I could think of at the time in terms of comparative size was a small elephant. It was HUGE.

Unfortunately the light was so low the pictures I got are dreadful as I had the wrong setting and I genuinly feared a flash would have possibly resulted in me being crushed, kicked or antler-mauled to death. Or some combination of the three! I pursued him though through the bush to try and get more shots, but to no avail. On returning to pack up my tent about 15 minutes later I heard Sir. Moose-a-lot over on the other side of the pond and have some sweet shots and a cool video. I’ll link photos once I get a real computer.

So yeah, that was pretty awesome. I’d like to see more moose but nothing would top yesterday morning!


Entering the Whites!

Finally, after the past 1000 or so miles of rolling hills, small rocks and mediocre views (though it was all fantastic) I’m about to enter the Whites! Now for steep and insane mountains, huge boulders and awesome (dictionary definition) views. Today it feels pretty good to be alive! This is what I signed up for! On Smarts Mountain fire tower looking out to my upcoming days! 🙂


New Hampshire!

Here I am in Hanover, New Hampshire. We crossed the state line yesterday from Norwich, VT and were bombarded with free stuff! We first got a free $4 egg salad sandwich from the general store in Norwich. A guy whose brother hiked the trail gave us a box of $5 ginger cookies. Plus there were numerous coolers along the way into town outside local homes that contained cookies, watermelon, all sorts of stuff! And all for us! Coz we’re real hikers or something, I guess! ha

Then in Hanover (a college town – Dartmouth College is here – an Ivy League school) we got a free bagel with cream cheese, a free slice of pizza and I think there was something else. Then off I went for some not so free, but delicious IPAs in the local boozer, the Salt Hill Tavern, or something. I love the ale scene in the USA (did I already mention this?!). There are hundreds and thousands of local brews all over, just like the UK, except it feels way more young and vibrant as opposed to the British, equally as delicious though very doddery old scene of geezers in the corner of the pub.

So, starting hiking in New Hampshire! We’ll be climbing into the White Mountains in a couple of days! Pretty excited and slightly (though only slightly) nervous! We have REAL mountains to climb! LOOK:

Image

I have recently inflamed my old injury in my right achilles tendon and also I have some weird muscle problem in my left calf. It doesn’t hurt but the muscle kinda bulges out in one spot. Pretty freaky, but whatever, worse things happen at sea.

Anyway, I’m going to wait until I get home to worry about that. The lack of universal healthcare in the United States means I would pay $100 just to speak to a doctor, never mind any type of treatment or medication. RIDICULOUS! You guys are insane. Really 🙂

For this reason I’m going to delay my charity 24 hour hike until the end of the 100 mile wilderness so that if I do cripple myself, I’ll be right at the end and can just crawl up the final mountain, Katahdin! So that means there’s still time to donate to my excellent cause! Macmillan Cancer. Please do, because none of my blog readers have thus far donated! GUILT TRIP! Here is a recent news article about me in my hometown’s paper.

DONATE HERE! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

ImageDONATE HERE! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂