The Gear is Here and the Trail is Near – You are way overthinking this . . .

Planning for the AT has been a blast and the very best part of that has been studying and tracking down all of the gear. I’ve put in tons of research and talked to everyone that I would listen. I have test-hiked everything and woke many a night to make notes and minor adjustments. Sure, most of of them ridiculous minutia but it has been fun all the same. My go to source has been Mountain Crossings at Neel’s Gap. They are amazing – zero BS in this place. Everyone that works there has done a through hike of some kind and they cut right to the chase. I started working with them about a year ago when they did a pack “shake down” for me. They go through all of your stuff and throw out just about everything that you thought was cool and useful. It’s humiliating. A few weeks ago, I had convinced myself that I needed to spend $500 on a new sleeping bag to save 1 ounce of pack weight. Yes, I am what they call a “weight weenie.” I cultivated this expensive and unnecessary obsession in triathlon and its stuck with me. So, after hours of online research I drove 2 hours back up to Mountain Crossings and told them that I absolutely had to ditch that crap of a bag that I have and save that precious ounce. In the nicest possible way the salesperson told me to shut up and hike. Seriously, she asked what my set up was and told me that I was way overthinking this. Just stop planning and go hike was her advice. She told me that she didn’t start pulling things together until the day before she started the AT and she was able to figure everything out at the first few resupply places along the trail. I left elated – and with $500. You just couldn’t ask for a better retail experience.

After all that, here is what I’ve ended up with. Total weight 19.4 lbs (without water, food or the pit)

ULA Circuit Back Pack
Montbell Rain Shell
Arcteryx Down Jacket
REI SubKilo 20 degree F Rated Down Sleeping Bag
Thermarest Neoair Ultralight Sleeping Pad
Sawyer Squeeze Filtration and Two Bags / Camelback Bladder
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 Tent
Tyvek House Wrap (for tent pad)
3 Sections of Thermarest ZLite
Noble Camper Dog Bed
Travel Pillow
Two Dog Bowls
Ruff Wear Dog Back Pack
Dog Jacket
Bear Bag Cable
Two Pair of Darn Tough Socks
2XU Compression Shorts (Hiking)
Running Pants (Sleeping)
Long Sleeve Running Shirt (Hiking)
Short Sleeve Running Shirt (Sleeping)
Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Trail Shoes with Superfeet
Oofos Flip Flops
Dr. Bronners Soap
Camp Towel
Blister Kit
Musher’s Secret
Coconut Oil
Toilet Paper & Trowel
Swiss Army Knife
Hiking Poles
Go Pro 7
Tough Tested Solar Charger
Mess of Charging Cords
MS Isopro Fuel
Pocket Rocket
Titanium Bowl, lid, cup and spoon

MSR Wind Screen
Coffee/Tea Filter
Black Plastic Garbage Bag

Pit Bull Mix -Tuxedo

The Appalachian Adventure

This is happening. After 10 years of planning and dreaming I am finally heading out on the trail with my hiking buddy Chuck to have fun and figure a few things out. Please join me starting February 29. In the meantime, here is a poem by David Wagoner that I love.


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

— David Wagoner 

My Hiking Buddy Chuck