Since hiking the 30 miles of the N/S Trail last year, I’ve had plans to hike the whole trail this year. I spent all year daydreaming and planning for this trip. You never expect a dream to happen until the time draws near to actually do it. Then you get nervous that all the planets line up and Murphy keeps his laws miles away.
As the new year came, I began to exceedingly get excited. My wife on the other hand was dreading the week with me away and just her being at the house with a 3 year old. Nevertheless, the time was drawing near and my heartbeat was getting faster. There was so much to do. So many supplies to get, menu to plan, physical conditioning to work on, excitement to contain.
Most people won’t make a menu but I did. I knew if I was going to carry 6 days worth of food, or at least three with a resupply on Wednesday, I needed to make sure I didn’t over eat and ruin my food supply. So I created a menu with everything down to the candy for dessert, cocoa at night and morning and each day’s calorie intake considering the mileage. I made a trip to REI to acquire a tarp for my hammock since this go-around I would be using a hammock instead of a tent to help with back pain. I made a few visits to Walmart and made sure I had the hiking essentials. Don’t be too hard on me because I went to Walmart instead of the elitist stores for my backpacking needs. Somethings can be bought on the cheap and work just as well as the more expensive stuff.
When the new year came, I began stretching and doing calisthenics and minor weight lifting focusing on core muscles used when hiking. I wanted to be sure my body was in much better condition this year because last year in only thirty miles, my body flat out hurt. My pastor decided to go along with me. From this point I will refer to him just as Carlo mostly to keep down on keystrokes (cause I’m lazy like that). February, we both decided to do a hike a week to condition our bodies so we hit the trail and hiked four miles once a week. We also exponentially multiplied our pack-weight to prepare our shoulders and back for long distances. I also began going to hot yoga with my wife to better condition my body with proper stretching and mind preparation and proper breathing techniques.
I was ready.
As the week neared, excitement began to boil. I had my pack ready a few days in advance with the exception of a few items that I use everyday. I had my pack weighing in at 42 pounds. This was about seven pounds more than I liked. But I had it at thirty-two pounds counting food. When I added my water (6 lb) and my iPad (.73 lb) and a few non essentials, it brought my pack-weight up a little more.
The hardest thing for me leading up to my hike was not my pack-weight or my physical preparation. It was the idea of being away from my family for a week. This would be the longest time I have been removed from my wife and son. I didn’t know how I would handle it emotionally. I knew it would be difficult but I didn’t know how difficult till I was out on the trail. It proved to almost be disastrous (more on that on Day 2).
Monday morning was the day that we would leave for six days. Sunday night I put everything in my pack and set it by the front door. Everything that I would need to sustain my life would be in my blue Teton Explorer 4000. I was prepared. I was as ready as I would ever get. Someone would think I was heading to the Appalachian Trail but it was just the North/South (N/S) trail. A little unknown trail that connects Kentucky and Tennessee through Land Between the Lakes.
When I opened my eyes, I would say bye to my wife and my son for a week. This was it!