Appalachian Trial tag

[Guest Post] Reunited and it Feels So Good

[editor's note] I am hesitant to post the following essay from good friend Jack Borgo only because I hate to be the second best writer on my own website. I spent the previous weekend in my old stomping grounds, Madison, WI, to watch my football team disembowel the #8 team in the country, and more importantly, to catch up with old friends. Jack was the first person that I met up with. Little did I know he was leveraging my friendship merely to further his writing career. Just kidding. Not really. In all sincerity, Jack, thank you for the kind words. Your enthusiasm for the great outdoors was an inspiration in my undertaking. And, please, keep writing.

Jack Borgo

Jack.

Last weekend I was reunited with one of my closest friends, Zach Davis (aka “Badger” to his trail-mates, “Good Badger” to his readers and “Undeliverable Address” to child-support collectors), at our former education/inebriation grounds at the University of Wisconsin. Though excited for 48 hours of bad beer and worse decisions, I was also pensive.

I knew and loved the pre-trail Zach Davis; a perpetually witty, easy-going Chicago sports fanatic who preferred a coffee-shop and laptop to “wilderness”. This Zach was so ill-equipped for time in the woods that if you asked me to list his Top Skills Essential to Survival in Nature, “an affinity for bandanas” would have been #1. Despite this outdoorsy ineptitude, when Zach told me that he had decided to hike the A.T., I knew his determination and love of exploration meant inevitable success.

However these conversations, coupled with postings on his blog, were also unnerving. For 5+ months Zach would trade his Apple for the Appalachian, baristas for bears. He was embarking on a potentially transformative journey…did the beginning of Badger mean the end of Zach?

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Filling in the Gaps: Badger’s Appalachian Trail Omissions (part 2)

filling in the gaps: badger's appalachian trail omissions

In the first edition of Filling in the Gaps, you learned how Google took a big dump on my heart.

In this edition, you will learn how a mosquito took a big dump inside my head.

For those who have followed along closely with Badger’s journey up the Appalachian Trail, you already know that I battled some pretty debilitating health issues (as many thru-hikers do). In June, I went to the hospital just outside of Duncannon, PA. The doctor ran some blood tests. They all came back negative. She suggested that because the previous week had consistently been reaching into triple digit temperatures, I was suffering from dehydration. She told me to “drink more water and avoid hiking during the afternoon.” I did the first and ignored the second as intense fatigue had me sleeping 10 hours a day.

Three weeks later, not only were the headaches still persistent, they had gotten worse and my vision was starting to blur. Back to the hospital. This time, along with a series of blood tests, I had a CT scan as I was now concerned that perhaps I had a brain tumor. Thankfully, all tests again came back negative. This doctor was more adamant about my symptoms being related to dehydration. He told me to start consuming more sodium and to intake an electrolyte supplement as regularly as possible.

This time it worked.

For a while.

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Post Appalachian Trail Depression: Advice from Miss Janet

post appalachian trail hiker depression

It was July, 24 2011, a group of 20+ hikers huddled around a large picnic table in the backyard of the Happy Hiker’s Hostel in Glencliff, New Hampshire.  The night’s menu offered home-cooked meatloaf, grilled corn on the cob, mayonnaise-rich pasta salad, coleslaw, homemade buns lathered in liberal amounts of butter, and of course Miller High Life (obviously).  We were shoveling plate after plate of the delicious homemade fare directly into the deepest part of our throats, as if we unlearned the lost art of chewing.  A week of consuming only Ramen has that effect on people.

We were fortunate this evening for the home-cooked meal.  The typical hostel culture leaves a hiker on his/her own to walk or catch a shuttle to the nearest restaurant; the Happy Hiker Hostel is usually no exception.  This evening, however, we were graced with the presence (and culinary skills) of Miss JanetMiss Janet is an Appalachian Trail celebrity.  I remember my first week on the trail, a fellow hiker (who I had never conversed with), came up to me and excitedly said, “did you hear that Miss Janet is hiking the trail this year?!?”

“Are you serious?! …  By the way…who is Miss Janet?”

Apparently that was a dumb question (I’m good at those). A legend of the trail (objectively speaking – she is featured in the documentary “Trail Angels”), Miss Janet has been involved with helping AT hikers since she was only 13 years old.  Miss Janet’s hostel in Erwin, Tennessee was regarded as arguably the best hiker hostel on the entire AT (in competition with over 60 others).  Some hostels are known for their cheap price, some are known for the quality of their setup, Miss Janet’s was known for, well Miss Janet.

That’s why when Miss Janet talks, hikers listen.

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How to Prepare for Hiking the Appalachian Trial: Physical Endurance Training

physical endurance training

If you could be inside of my brain right now, you’d be punching yourself in the face because everything was moving too fast.

That’s the byproduct of realizing that you’ve just committed to spending a half year in the woods.  Shit.

As long as I’ve signed myself up for this bout of insanity, I’m going to take the steps necessary to make sure that I’m a highly tuned hiking/camping machine before I ever step foot onto the Appalachian Trail.

The following video demonstrates how far I’ve already come.