Sound the Trope Alert, he's about to open with a dream sequence. In this case that particular siren is fitting, because this dream opens on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. For some unknown reason, I have the con. Now, I'm not Jimmy T, but I am his pointy eared sidekick. My ears are hidden beneath a knit cap like the kind you'd see him put on before beaming down to Earth in the 60s, or the Gangster Planet. My communicator badge is a bright orange emergency whistle, and my phaser a small collapsible walking stick.
I have just given the order to jump to warp speed through an asteroid field.
"Captain, this is Engineering..."
I tap my whistle. "Go ahead, Commander." Meet Commander Katie. My wife.
"Sir, you do realize that our shields are at seventy percent and falling!" In my dreams she calls me sir.
"I have done the calculations and we can absorb most of the likely impact scenarios." She grumbled her reply as I turned to the view screen.
This morning I spoke with a dear friend who asked me what it felt like to quit my job and tackle my dream of hiking the AT, and I was reminded of this moment in that dream. A wise man once told me, "Always remember, Spock was also half human." I was also scared shitless.
I hit the trail in ten days. Most of my "real world" cleanup has been done, and now I'm shifting my focus to the gear closet. Two weeks ago I was pricing flights to Manhattan and scoping restaurants; this morning I'm holding balled up long johns like fruit at the market. How much does that weigh versus how warm it is versus how often will I need it, and so on.
I'll leave Asheville, North Carolina on the morning of Saturday May 10th and head down to Amicalola or maybe just north to Springer Mountain, Georgia.. Choosing the latter bypasses the notorious eight mile approach trail, which veteran hikers advise adds nothing to the overall experience. From there I head north.
For the first 20 or 30 miles, I'll be joined by my good friend and long time hiking partner, Mark Calcagni. After that, I'll continue in a northerly direction and get as far as I can by August 10th, or 11th, somewhere thereabouts. At that time, my Trail Boss (Katie) will fetch me on her way up to Maine. She will deposit me atop Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the AT, and like some confused salmon I'll work my way back to the place she picked me up.
Will you be off the grid?
Not entirely. I'll be in a town on average every three to five days. I'm bringing a smartphone, which will be my only piece of tech unless you count my headlamp and a small stove.
Where will you sleep?
I'll split my evenings between either my tent or the shelters along the trail. Some of them are quite nice!
What will you eat?
Whatever I can! Remember, I'll be in towns every few days, so this is really just a whole bunch of short trips, right? I'll burn roughly 5000 calories a day, so I'll eat as much crap as I can while in towns. Pizza, ice cream, handfuls of Snickers bars, pop tarts, entire jars of peanut butter, and more ice cream. I'll load my pack with bread and cheese and apples and pop tarts and whatever else I can carry and then march back off into the wood for three more days. I will lose thirty pounds despite this.