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[at-l] What Happened To Me...

Some of you may wonder what ever happened to me, Will Strickland and my
attempted thru-hike......

Here's a brief version:

I started June 18th and after a couple of weeks decided to not have my
journal posted (it was just too personal). I had some fairly serious knee
problems at the time and skipped from mid-Maine down to Williamstown, MA.
I then hiked to the Vernon, NJ area. My knees were marginally better by
then, but as it turned out it didn't matter. Just south of Vernon my pack
and most of my gear was stolen. It was a curse and a blessing of sorts. I
personally don't feel that I could have held out physically for the long
haul. I refused to take painkillers early, but by the time my pack was
lifted I was starting my day with four Vitamin I and it just knocked the
edge off. The physical pain was such that despite all the good things, I
wasn't enjoying myself much. All total I lost about $700 -$1000 worth of
gear. I got 100% piss-drunk the night I got into Vernon, and every day for
the next week. Then I concoted a long term scheme that gave me a little
direction. I will now graduate Ga Tech in mid-March and probably start
grad school in September. I did figure out a little about what I want to
do with my future and the grad school is part of that. I also now have
another shot at the trail, and I know what to expect, and how to prepare.
This way i can focus my energies on getting in physical shape, and not on
planning, etc.

Truth be told, I was in good shape, actually very good shape when I
started my hike, but I'm a very-low body fat, small legs, muscular upper
body build. I'm a rock climber, and my body was not well suited to the
rigors of hundreds of miles of backpacking. I've quit drinking, and
refined my diet to organic foods, no red meat, no processed sugars or
refined grains. I work out six days a week with a main focus on building
strength in my legs. I'm backpacking every weekend when possible, and I'm
going to try to get in a lot of climbing before the weather turns cold. I
know that i won't be able to follow the same diet when I hike again, but
in the mean time I feel much better than during my pre-hike days.

I saw more beatiful things than I can remember and met alot of very kind
people. I found out alot of things about myself, and regained some of my
drive. I already can tell a huge difference in my leg strength from the
hike and my subsequent working out. So, If I had any two pieces of advice
to give to the '98 ers (which I may be one of, Northbound this time) it
would be this:

1. The most redundant thing you will ever hear......go as light as
I traded my tent for a bivy, and sent home the camera, flashlight,
clothes, etc. I eventually got down to 32 lbs with five days of food  and
a liter of water.

2. Backpack - every chance you get before you start, rain or shine, heat
or cold, get used to it. 

I have spent lots of time in the woods and the adjustment of getting used
to sleeping outside every night, having no showers or flush toilets, etc
only took me about three days. The physical rigors were still kicking my
butt when my stuff disappeared. The more fit you are, the more you will
enjoy the hike. I just wanted to get my miles out of the way every day so
I could sit down and relax.  As a result, I never took as much time to
enjoy the views or just chill in the woods and listen to the birds as I
should have. The only way to improve is to push yourself a little, test
your limits, so go hike some rough terrain, burly ass-kicking stuff
that'll test you out. If you can't get out with a pack on during the week,
do anything, bike, run, stairmaster, whatever.

My thoughts on gear?

Gore Tex is great until warm weather hits, then you might as well send
it home. 
Underwear is not necessary, if anything it's bad
A bivy sack weighs 2 lbs, my tent + poles was 4 lbs, if you need to ride
out a long storm sit in the shelter then sleep in the bivy outside
Spare socks work fine as gloves
18% DEET does not work in ME
Dromedary bags are great, but Platypus's are lighter and much cheaper,
and can have a solid closed top or the hose-hydration thing
Don't skimp on your pack, I just replaced my stolen one with a Terraplane
A +20 bag is way too warm for the whole trip, buy a fleece blanket (btw,
Feathered Friends bags are awesome!)
Less is more......

Good luck '98

I will not be subscirbed to the list for a while if at all, so any
correspondence you wish for me to see you sohuld send directly to me. And
finally, many thanks to Wingfoot, words can't do him justice......

Will Strickland -ANTELOPE- ME->GA '97
"May the four winds blow you safely home..."
  -- Grateful Dead--
Internet: gt0556d@prism.gatech.edu

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