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[ft-l] Thanks to all -- especially the list "table mates" and a few questions

Hi, all --

First and perhaps most important -- Joan, not only was it great seeing you
again, but I very much appreciated the chance to meet "list people". Folks
were generous with information and anecdotes, and it really was fun. It's
moments like that which are slowly moving me out of "total greenhorn" status.

This was only my second conference (I'm literally JUST beginning my third year
as a Recovering Couch Potato and my second year in the FTA) so I was an avid
attendee at a number of presentations, especially those on long-distance
hiking. And I have several questions guaranteed to reinforce my greenhorn
status, but of serious interest to me. 

First -- what the heck IS a long-distance hiker? Is it measured by consistent
passage of a certain distance in a certain number of days, or by uninterrupted
travel on the trail. or what? If I go out and spend a long weekend on the
trail, and average, say, 6 or 8 miles a day for four consecutive days, am I a
"long-distance hiker", or must I do one of those incredible life- and psyche-
threatening treks I heard about at the conference? Or is the real definition
somewhere inbetween, as I suspect?

I have figured out that I am not really a "segment" hiker, though my goal is
to eventually walk all of the FT and all of the AT. I think I am a "patchwork"
hiker, because I walk little tiny pieces whenever I get a chance. (For
instance, I sneaked out of the conference early this morning and drove down
Route 19 to the trail head and walked into Buck Lake -- just 2.1 miles in and
back out, but another little patch accomplished. A couple of weekends ago I
walked the little side loop in Hillsborough River State Park, about 3.2 miles,
as I recall. And there was the afternoon when Sidney McDonald drop me off on
Rattlesnake Ridge, etc etc. So what the heck am I? Jus' a plain ole hiker, I
guess, which is just fine. But I'm still curious about what really constitutes
a long-distance hiker.....

Oh -- another question -- anyone else out there play with those so-called
"space blankets"? I love mine, for the great warmth and very light weight, but
gee whiz they rattle a LOT. This trip was my first time out in my very own
tent, and I had the blanket with me and used it the second night. But it
sounded so horribly loud inside the tent that I was afraid my tent-neighbors
would bludgeon me in the middle of the night. Is the rattle as bad as I felt?
Is it considered poor form to use one when camping with or near a group?

Also -- can you all fill me in on the way the hikes work during the
conference? I was way too cowardly to try them this year. (My trail name is
Tortoise for a reason! LOL) I tend to walk a 10k (6.2-mile) urban walk in
about 2 hours and 20 minutes, and require about 3 hours or a bit less for the
same distance in the woods, if there is a decent trail. But (a) I was unsure
whether the distances listed were one-way or out and back and (b) I was very
concerned about the pace. (Because of my arthritis I also tend to stop for 3-5
minutes once an hour, when I need to sit down, not just stop walking.) I very
much wanted to go on at least one of the hikes, but was embarrassed to think I
might drastically slow everyone down.

And an aside -- did anyone else have any tick encounters this weekend? Ran
into two -- one on my body, one exploring the outside of my tent. Was very
glad we had the handout in our packet, because I had forgotten -- if I ever
knew -- that the Lyme-carrying tick has a distinctly elongated body. The two I
saw were your basic circular, annoying Florida type that I grew up with. 

Anyway, thanks again for a delightful lunch, and for any advice you all want
to toss in my direction.

MoiraLynn Mefein ("Tortoise")

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