hiking tag

Appalachian Trail Shape

Here’s a challenge for you…

You have two hours to cover seven miles by foot.

Easy enough, right?

Okay now add 1,385 feet of elevation change.

Still very doable.

Now- tack 35 lbs. on your back and add unrelenting roots and sharp rocks along nearly every step of your path.

Okay- that’s a challenge.

Oh yeah, and, you’ve already covered 16 miles of similar terrain earlier that same day.

Holy. Shit.

This was how my day ended on Saturday.

I don’t know if you are capable of this physical feat or not (if you are, hats off) but I know one person who is not.

Me – two months ago.

And I went into this in what I thought was decent shape. I’ve done the marathon thing, I got to the gym at least a couple times per week, I even carried a small library on my back while hiking in preparation for this.

But as it turns out- 10 hours of hiking per day for two months is the only way to turn into a hiking machine- which is what I’ve become. Now, eight percent incline at 3mph for consecutive hours feels akin to casually walking down a sidewalk.

20110523-111929.jpg
I eat mountains for breakfast.

I don’t claim any special genetic predisposition to walking- everyone on the trail at this point is either a machine or in the metamorphosis process. The only real variance seems to be age and pack weight – and not always then. Last week I did a 26 mile day with my buddy Peregrine. Peregrine is 63 years old.

And there’s still more than 1,300 miles to go. This hiking bot is still only in beta.

Awesome Side Note

Remember our trail angel, Jeff? Taking a day off at his house today. This story has come full halo.

The Good Badger’s Final (?) Gear List

Today’s task: figure out how to get six months worth of stuff onto my back.

zd total gear

After months of trying to obtain sponsorship from companies, diligent research, pestering The Daily Camel on a near-daily basis, and hours of aimless meandering through REI, I’ve narrowed down my assortment of belongings. This is what it looks like.

I realize that to the untrained eye, the above photo likely looks like chaos. That’s because it is. Let’s break this chaos down a bit, shall we?.

Good Badger clothes image

  • Sock Liners (2 pair) – REI
  • Medium weight wool socks (2 pair) – Hi-Tec
  • Heavy weight wool socks – IceBreaker
  • Bandana (4) – Stolen from friends in college
  • Awesome John Candy hat – North Face
  • Medium weight glove liners – REI
  • Gaiters – REI
  • Short sleeve Capilene 2 Base Layer – Patagonia
  • Long sleeve Capilene 3 Zip-up – Patagonia
  • Zip-up Wool Camp Shirt – IceBreaker
  • Capiliene Boxer Brief (2 pair) – Patagonia
  • Convertible pants – Patagonia
  • Wool leggings – IceBreaker

This is all of the clothing I’m bringing (aside from jackets & footwear) for a 2,179 mile trek. Two pairs of underwear. TWO. I will smell like a swamp creature no less than 98% of time (my current rate is 93).

Socks: Sock liners are worn underneath the wool socks to wick moisture away. Medium-weight wool socks are help to protect your feet, they’re good at not retaining moisture, and take longer to retain a stank. The heavyweight wool socks are used exclusively at camp – something clean and dry to change into at the end of the day and keep your feet warm.

Zip-up: The IceBreaker zip-up will also be used exclusively at camp. Again changing into something dry and relatively clean will help minimize backpacking insanity.

Bandana: You’re probably wondering why if I’m bringing only 2 pairs of undies (yes, undies) why in the shit would I be bring FOUR bandanas? Other than staying fashionably sound on the trail (priority #1), bandanas serve multiple useful purposes including: filtering large chunks of crap out of stream water when filling your water bottle, cleaning dishes, drying tears out of eyes (for John), and probably a bunch of other stuff that I have already forgotten.

(Also you may notice the blue bag in the top part of the screen. It’s a bug net to be worn around my face. Although the Good Badger does not love bugs, bugs do love the Good Badger.)

good badger jackets

My jackets.

The rain jacket is ultra-light weight and will be used primarily during the warmer rainy days. The Hi Tec fleece/jacket combo is my cold weather jacket and will get a lot of use in the first couple months.

Good Badger Footwear

One piece of advice I’ve been offered repeatedly – take care of your feet. I am in extremely good hands (reverse pun?) having the help of Hi-Tec.

Although this is the footwear I will be starting with, it’s not what will be on my feet come hike’s end. AT hikers typically go through 3-4 pairs of boots/shoes throughout the course of the trail. I purposely wanted to start with something a little heavier in the beginning as it serves to keep my feet warmer during the colder months. I will likely be switching to something lighter somewhere near the start of Virginia.

Good Badger Sleep Stuff

I broke in the above items last night by camping out in my friends back patio (cement). I slept like a baby. Like a narcoleptic baby. The Casper bag rocks my world.

good badger tent

Assorted gear[/caption]

  • GoPro camera – so you guys have video evidence of how dumb we are
  • Headlamp
  • 3L CamelBak Bladder
  • 1L Bladder
  • 1L Nalgene (Considering how much shit I’ve gotten for this already, it might be swapped out for a Gatorade bottle)
  • Trowel (to dig poop holes in the dirt)
  • Hiking poles

  • Harmonica (duh)
  • Everyday toiletries (basically chamois cream, toothpaste and condoms)
  • First aid kit
  • Assorted electronic accessories (headphones/chargers)
  • Multi-use towel (Shamwow technology!)
  • Waterproof journal (my tears will roll right off)
  • Assorted cooking supplies (matches/spork)
  • Benchmade knife

  • Backpack – Gregory Z65 (w/ rain cover in blue sack)
  • Compass – Silva
  • (Semi-hidden) blue rope to hang food in trees and away from tent (so bears don’t eat you in your sleep)

The mess looks a lot less intimidating once the clothes are in their stuff sacs

And this is what 6 months of stuff looks like on my back (knife in hand of course).

I haven’t showered in a while. I’m not sorry.

Post Notes:

  • No – I don’t know how much my pack weighs. I need to find a scale. I will get back to you on this.
  • There are still some items that need to be divvied (i.e. mini-stove), some items that haven’t yet been added (i.e. food), and probably some items that I’m forgetting (this is where you can chime in).
  • If you’re an experienced backpacker, and see and glaring mistakes that I’ve made (nearly inevitable) please speak up. I’m looking for feedback.
  • I’m leaving for Georgia this Sunday.
  • Don’t tell John, but I hid a 5 lb. weight in the middle of his pack.

The First 100 Days on the Appalachian Trail

100 days on appalachian trail

My friend- Lauren Lienhard- made a very nice card wishing me good luck on the Appalachian Trail. Instead of being selfish and hogging it all to myself, I made it into a video instead.

In this video, we learn of the radical transformation the Good Badger shall go through in his first 100 days on the Appalachian Trail. From sunny skies and smiles to tears and bleeding feet, this journey of a lifetime may soon be coming to an end.

I encourage all those who haven’t already – to “like” the Good Badger Facebook page as this will serve as the main feed while Zach is on the trail.

How to Prepare for the Appalachian Trail: Building a Tent [Video]

how to build a tent the good badger

For those who may be new to the Good Badger, I am a guy who is attempting to give new meaning to the term walking distance (i.e. hiking the Appalachian Trail).

Today’s post, on how to build your own tent, is the second edition of the “how to prepare for hiking the Appalachian Trail” video instructional series.  You can watch the first video on physical endurance training here.

Although I am very attached to the tent constructed in the video below, I would be open to considering taking donations from a quality camping gear company.  I demand that it be bear proof.  Or at least water proof.  Or at least have a zipper.

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.