Honest, I'm still here.
Honest, I'm still making preparations to start hiking the Appalachian Trail, April 1, 4 weeks from yesterday.
I'm up to my ears in bags of dehdrated food. Organization is a challenge, considering we live in a 300 sq-foot RV with nowhere to spread stuff out except the table, sofa and bed.
24 servings (one a week) each of:
Chili (with dried ground beef, beans, dried tomatoes and tomato sauce, seasonings)
Turkey Rice Tetrazzini (dried ground turkey, instant brown rice, broccoli that Fiberjoy is drying for me, isn't she unbelievable?, seasonings)
Corn chowder (instant mashed potatoes, dried corn, powdered milk, dried onions, seasonings)
Ham/Potato Casserole (Packaged scalloped potatoes, individual-serving-packs Spam, green beans)
Lentil Soup (Lentils, dehydrated carrots, dried onions, dried tomato sauce, seasonings)
Red Beans and Rice (as implied, plus ham soup base and seasonings)
Split Pea Soup (Split peas, packaged instant mashed potatoes, dehydrated carrots, seasonings)
That's 6 suppers per week. The 7th day (or whenever I hit town) I'll eat Real Food in town. Probably from the McDonald's $1 menu but it won't be dehydrated. A bonanza will be an AYCE buffet.... AYCE meaning "All You Can Eat" like Shoney's, which happens here and there on the Trail.
Lunches: tricky, since I don't eat much wheat to save digging cat holes. I figure on trail mix, beef jerky, peanut butter out of the jar, dried fruit, PayDay candy bars. Snickers bars are traditional on the Trail, but PayDay has more protein, isn't as sick-sweet, and doesn't melt.
Breakfasts: Oatmeal is the standard. I like granola, but often it contains wheat. I could also cook exra rice with dinner and save it for breakfast, add powdered milk and sugar and a handful of raisins, maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon, and have something resembling rice pudding.
I've spent the evening with various combinations of clothing and 2 sleeping bags determining the warmest arrangement. I have a 20*F synthetic youth-size mummy bag, given to me by someone who no longer needed it. Yes, the youth bag is plenty large enough for this little old lady. If I encounter a cold snap in April in the mountains, I'll start adding layers of clothes:
Running tights + fleece top
Sweater-knit tights + acrylic cardigan
Rain pants + rain jacket
+ Sleeping bag with nylon liner
Even if it's cold enough that I'm not toasty warm with that arrangement, at least I won't freeze to death. I slept out in this bag in Winchester, VA to 24*. I won't say I was cozy but again I wasn't in danger of freezing. And I didn't have all those clothes on.
I've got a Therma-Rest Women's Pro-Lite 3 sleeping pad.
And a square of closed-cell foam from Wal-Mart to give additional cushioning under my hips.
I've got a little bag with emergency fix-its: first aid and gear-mending.
I've got another little bag (that I got in church) for toiletries and bedtime needs (including the earplugs that came in the bag when I got it in church.)
I've got a JetBoil stove given to me as a surprise by my good friend Carlene from Ontario. It boils a pint of water in 2 minutes (faster than a microwave) and/or simmers until the Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes are done.
I've got mid-weight and warm-weight clothing (as described above) mostly scored from Goodwill and the Salvation Army but also including my Road Runner Sports running tights and a nice fleece top from my friend Sally, who's hiking with me to the halfway point (assuming either of us old ladies makes it that far.)
I've got 3 pairs of SmartWool hiking socks and a pair of NorthFace gaiters to keep stickers and gravel out of my shoes. These were all sold to me for less than the retail of 2 pairs of the socks by a member of the Women Hikers Yahoogroup.
I've got Marmot Precip rainwear.
I've got a one-person Eureka! tent that Steve got for a bicycle trip about 7 years ago. Still good.
I've got my Go-Lite Women's Quest backpack.... trying to fit everything into it.
I've got my Achilles tendons taped. Yes.... they're bothering me again. They seemed good, I'd hiked as much as 11 miles carrying 20 pounds, then one day about 10 days ago I decided to jog a smooth easy mile (jogging was OK'd by my physical therapist, up to 5 miles/week in addition to hiking) and they've been sore since then. I alternate between panicking and shrugging. Shucks, I've had Achilles tendonitis for years. At worst I've taken a week or two off and then continued marathon or Ironman training. Crap on it. I've got 'em taped to limit motion. I'm taking ibuprofen to decrease inflammation. I'm stretching my calves (not the tendons.) I'm icing. I'm continuing to plan. I've got a month. I've been here before.... a month out from whatever and my tendons ailing. Crap on it. I'll hike with a lift in my shoes and tape on my legs if I have to. I'll hike till I can't walk. I'm going. This is a setback. This is a scare. This is a test. Everything is ready to go. I'm going. People hike the Trail with knee braces; I'll hike it with Achilles support. That's why God made hiking poles, to take the weight off. I'm going.