Starting in May 2011 Cindy and I will be hiking the American Discovery Trail, going 5,000+ miles from Point Reyes in California to Cape Hanlopen in Delaware in a year. I’ll post our progress on this site. Check out The Hiking Humanitarian web site for more details on the humanitarian aspects of our journey.
I just got out of the shower where I spent a good bit of time savoring one of the four remaining dependable showers I’ll take. Certainly I’ll have opportunities to shower over the course of the next year, but when and how often are unpredictable.
The second time I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, in 1980, I took only three showers over the course of 109 days. I made up for lack of showers by jumping in virtually every large stream and lake no matter the temperature or weather. There was something satisfying about the “natural” approach to cleanliness, while at the same time making those three showers quite special.
Before I left for my first thru-hike I did not think twice about my “last showers.” You don’t what you’ve got until it’s gone. You certainly appreciate them when you get back from a long-distance hike; and I appreciate them now as I contemplate a year ahead when they become few and far between.
Cindy and I are busy preparing for the American Discovery Trail Humanitarian Hike starting in May 2011. We intend to have a support vehicle, which means we need one or more support vehicle drivers over the course of the year. Anyone interested can contact Kirk Sinclair at hiking.humanitarian (at) gmail.com.
For more information about this journey visit The Hiking Humanitarian web site. You can also sign up for the Hiking Humanitarian Newsletter which will keep folks updated about our journey and other content related to hiking and humanitarian causes.
With the new year it’s time to step up our game with planning our American Discovery Trail journey. There are five areas of planning:
Collaborating with Lions Clubs along the route
Soliciting business sponsors
Generating publicity for our humanitarian cause
Making the journey Internet friendly
Oh, yeah, and then there are the logistics of planning a 5,000+ mile year long journey that includes a support vehicle.
I’ve started to read the journals of others, beginning with Lory Mitchell’s 2008 journey.
I started out this site with an idea that I would comment occasionally on backpacking equipment. The trouble is, I’m not really a “gearhead.” I’m basically easy to please with most things material, which precludes me from making a discerning fuss about equipment. However, I do have a perspective on how backpacking equipment has changed from the time I completed the Triple Crown from 1975-1985 up until now, when I am soon to hike the American Discovery Trail. For this and other comparisons of “then and now” I’ll start a new category.
Last week I posted a picture of the ’75 AT Expedition celebrating our “finish,” though we had to come back two weeks later to actually climb Katahdin. Here is a picture, taken just a short time before the other one, that shows our dejection upon first hearing we could not climb.
I’ve been digitizing old color slides. This is one of the oldest, a group shot of the first expedition on the Appalachian Trail in 1975, taken near the end at Katahdin Stream campground. The mountain actually was closed off that day and the group had to return two weeks later to finish our 2000 mile hike. I’m the one kneeling, wearing a cap. Our leader, Warren Doyle, is wearing the Georgia to Maine shirt.
After reaching the New York border along the Appalachian Trail, the final leg for TRAIL Journey 2000 was canoeing down the Housatonic River from Gaylordsville to the Long Island Sound.
We ended up with only one day available to look for logging jobs. We filled out one application at Weyerhauser. The receptionist asked us what kind of job we wanted and when we wanted to start. Savitt and I answered “anything” and “in five months,” respectively. Her look told us all we needed to know about our prospects.
By the time we packed up the Camaro for the return journey home there was not much time left to spare but, fortunately, we did not have to get to Connecticut by way of Miami. The highlights of the return journey were: purchasing tire chains to negotiate snowbound passes; getting a ride down a ski slope in rescue sleds; and changing pants while driving. I don’t know why the latter upset Savitt and Zwiebel so.
We delivered the Camaro with one hour to spare on our contract. The owner reimbursed us for our deposit on the car with a check (that later bounced and the money never recovered) and dropped us off at the bus station. This did us little good since our anticipated funds for the bus fare was now in the form of a check. We called Warren Doyle at 3:00 a.m. and he immediately came down to rescue us. Savitt and I made it back to school the afternoon before classes started.
Oh, yes, I mentioned this has to do with hiking the PCT. We were driving along the Columbia River on the return trip, with the weather typically overcast and drizzly. To our right were a number of spectacular waterfalls spilling forth from the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the drifting mists lending a mystical aura to everything. Someone, I forgot who, spotted a sign for the Pacific Crest Trail. I knew nothing about the trail but, not surprisingly, Zwiebel did. He suggested that we all hike it the next year. Savitt immediately took to the idea. They both pressed me to commit then and there, but I remember my response clearly:
“No, thanks, one long-distance trail is enough for anybody.”
If adventure is defined as heading out into the unknown, then that trip to Seattle and back surpasses my thousands of miles of wilderness backpacking as the most adventurous thing I have done. We met some unusual people, like the charitable inner-city teenage girl in Los Angeles who offered us her prized knife for protecting ourselves while we hitchhiked. We did some unusual things, like camp out in back of a dumpster, and play cards in the back of a brand new mobile home being delivered to a dealer. More memorable than any of that was the camaraderie we shared. Sometimes we got on each other’s nerves. Yet the more ridiculous the situation we found ourselves in, the more good-natured we seemed to become. Was this always one of the rewards of adventure? I wanted to know.
My first Appalachian Trail hike, while thoroughly enjoyable, was thoroughly planned by the foremost expert of the trail, Warren Doyle. In retrospect, that thru-hike was more of a happy lark for me than an adventure. Back in the seventies the Pacific Crest was not even a finished trail–an unknown quality unavoidably built in. With a bunch of yahoos like us behind the planning efforts, well, anything could happen. So a wonderfully foolish journey, and a 1971 National Geographic article subsequently sent to me by Zwiebel, were the two reasons why I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.
After completing the Long Trail in Vermont our TRAIL Journey continued south on the Appalachian Trail through Massachusetts and Connecticut. There are no photos of Connecticut be cause we did a “Superhike,” the entire 51 mile portion of the Connecticut trail in one day. Here are some photos of the Massachusetts AT.