badger book tag

Lyme Disease on the Appalachian Trail

The follow excerpt is taken from Appalachian Trials: a psychological and emotional guide to thru-hiking the Appalchain Trail.  If you’re thinking of hiking the AT, I’ll go as far as to say, it’s a must read.

Deer Ticks are assholes.

I went into the Appalachian Trail with my share of premonitions. Most, turned out to be false.

The crazy hillbillies in the southern part of the trail, just turned out to be crazy nice.  Even if you can’t make out what they’re saying, it’s perfectly clear all they want to do is help.

That black bear that was going to leap out of tree for the sole purpose of eating my face- also turned out to be incorrect.  Black bears are big raccoons; they’re on a mission from God only to dig through trash.  They don’t seem to realize, or at the very least care about, their strength.  Watching a 300lb black bear scamper up a tree because it sees a 130lb female backpacker in the distance is one of life’s great mysteries.

My biggest fear going into the trail, however, turned out to be justified- Deer Ticks.  More specifically, the disease these micro-satans spread, Lyme Disease.

About Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States and is transmitted through the bite of one of the aforementioned micro-satans.  Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff joints, fatigue, depression, and the common “bulls-eye” rash. If left untreated, symptoms can increase in severity including permanent damage to joints, heart, and central nervous system, and eventually death.

Here’s why Lyme Disease is a big risk to Appalachian Trail thru-hikers Read more

On Trial: Technology on the Appalachian Trail

Technology and the Appalachian Trail

I recently received the following e-mail:

“Hi, Zach

Considering that you had your iphone with you the whole time, I was wondering if you’d given any thought to how truly disconnected you were?  Or to how truly connected you were to nature/outdoors/the AT because you were listening to music and audiobooks while hiking?  I’m not judging, I’m just wondering what a different experience hikers from 10 years ago would have had with no option for those kinds of distractions or entertainment on the trail.

I don’t know if that was your intent while hiking (I came to the Good Badger late in the game), but was wondering if you’d thought about it.

One day, I hope to hike the AT.  It was on my to-do list for my early twenties, but life got in the way.

Congratulations on finishing, and I look forward to the book.”

————-

Not only is this a fair point, but I’m guessing some of you have had this same question.   I feel as though this is an issue worth examining because as technology improves, becomes more mobile, more affordable, and universally accessible, it will only become more prominent on the trail, and thus a more polarizing topic.

The Complainant’s Case

The Appalachian Trail is a unique experience.  The physical challenge associated with a half year’s worth of hiking is unlike anything most humans would ever fathom.  But even more unique Read more

[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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Filling in the gaps: Badger’s Appalachian Trail Omissions (part 1)

Filling in the Gaps

For those who’ve followed my Appalachian Trail journey from the beginning, you may have noticed a couple of gaps in the story.  This has been confirmed by many of the questions I’ve received via Facebook and e-mail.

As I’m currently in the process of writing a pretty kick ass Appalachian Trail book for you all (subscribe to the Badger Book list for more info), I have been reaching into the depths of my honesty bank to best portray some of the mental challenges I dealt with during my journey.  I am doing this in hopes of offering learning lessons to help future thru-hikers successfully complete the AT.  The learning lessons themselves will be in the book, not the posts.

The following are re-worked excerpts from the (currently unnamed) book.   They should serve to bridge a couple of the biggest gaps in my story.

1) Google Giveth, Google Taketh Away

(a follow up from the post: “From Mountain Views to Mountain View)

Two weeks before leaving for the AT, I had managed to score a phone interview with a company I had dreamt of working for over the better part of the last decade, Google.

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