Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Day in the Hike

The reward.
The hard work.

I know, I know...our posts are way too infrequent. We get it. I'm going to try to make up for it in this post by generically describing a typical day on the trail. But first I think I should give a quick update on what's going on in our lives. We recently finished the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and we are now about 30 miles into Maine. We have about 250 miles left and we're hoping to get it done in about 18 days, but who's counting? We are. We're so ready to be done. More on the White Mountains and a section of trail in Maine that is infamously known as the most difficult mile of the trail is "soon" to come in a later post, but for now I'll bore you with an example of a typical day on the trail. Maybe after reading this you'll be glad that we don't post more often.

6:00 AM - The alarm on my digital watch sounds. When we set off on this trip I pictured us waking up naturally with the sun every morning feeling refreshed and carefree. Not so.

6:01 AM - Team meeting to discuss the costs and benefits of sleeping for a few more minutes.

Anywhere between 6:01 and 6:30 AM - Begin to pack up all of our gear. Also called "breaking camp" if you're down with the lingo.

7:00 AM - Breakfast. Consists of 2 Cliff Bars each and either Green Tea or Coffee. Starbucks Via is a surprisingly delicious option for coffee on the trail. Favorite Cliff Bar flavors for me include Peanut Toffee Buzz, White Macadamia Nut, and the elusive Apricot. Are you guys bored yet?

7:30 AM - Start to hike. That's what we do. Hike, hike, hike.

9:00 AM - Start getting hungry and try really hard to focus on something else. Not a whole lot of stimuli to distract you on the trail, so this is tough.

10:00 AM - Snack Break. We usually try to snack near a beautiful view if possible, but often times we're just sitting on our packs in the middle of the woods. Snack consists of nuts, protein/granola bars, crackers, and fruit snacks. This helps to quell our hunger, but we're pretty much never full on the trail. We just can't carry enough food and still have our packs be a reasonable weight.

10:30 AM - Hike some more.

2:00 PMish - Lunch. You're probably thinking "Man, this guy is on an amazing adventure that he has dreamed about for years, and the only notable thing he can think to talk about is food." At this point of the trip...yeah, pretty much. Lunch is usually Velveeta shells and cheese, Ramen noodles, or a dehydrated backpacker meal if we're lucky enough to find an outfitter that carries them. We try to eat lunch near a water source so that we can replenish our supply and enjoy a powdered drink like a Gatorade or lemonade. If we're lucky we grab water from a crystal clear stream flowing across the trail. If we're unlucky, I have to hike half a mile down a mountain to a mud puddle, struggle to soak up enough water to get us through the day, and lug it back up the mountain where Bearcub is waiting for me with lunch all cooked up.

2:45 PM - Dessert. We've been trying as many different types of candy bars as possible and rating them 1-10. Some surprise hits for me so far include Take 5 and Zero Bar. Snickers is pretty much the gold standard. This is how we entertain ourselves.

3:00 PM - Hike some more. So much hiking.

6:00 PM - Another small snack. Food...I just can't stop thinking about it.

7:30 PM - By now we've either made it to our destination, or it's getting dark and we find a flattish spot on which to sleep.

8:00 PM - Dinner (usually in the dark). Dinner food options are pretty much the same as lunch food. Dessert is always M&M's which are right up there on the scale with Snickers in the 9 range. I'm seriously worried about my post-trail eating habits.

8:30 PM - Bear-bagging. I have a very complicated relationship with bear-bagging. In case you're not familiar with the term, bear-bagging is the process of hanging a bag that contains all of your food from a tree limb. The bag should be about 10 ft off the ground, and 4 ft from the trunk of the tree so that the tallest of bears can't get to the bag. Typically this is done by tying a rope to a rock, throwing the rock over a sturdy tree limb, replacing the rock with the bear bag, pulling the other end of the rope until the bear bag hangs high enough, and tying the rope to a tree. Sounds easy enough, but it can be surprisingly difficult to find a tree limb that will work. It's either too high, or not strong enough. If you haven't already guessed it, our food bag can get pretty heavy. I've broken many a tree limb trying to hang it. Sorry, nature. Not-So-Fun Fact: One guy on the trail this year broke his wrist bear-bagging when the rock he threw came back down on him. I'm telling's harder than it sounds.

9:00 PM - Read our Kindles for awhile. They are wonderful for this trip. I've spent most of the trip reading the Lord of the Rings series. Perfect reading for a backpacking trip. I like to think I'm the Samwise to Bearcub's Frodo.

10:00 PM - Sleep.

So there it is. This is why we don't post daily. I don't mean to sound jaded, but after 5 months on this trip, the days all start to blend together. And even though we get to see beautiful scenery and meet amazing people, we're still trying to accomplish a pretty difficult goal, and it's a lot of work. However, I must admit that it's also incredibly rewarding. Expect more philosophical insight as we get closer to the end. I'm gonna get all preachy and deep up in here!

- Guyline


  1. You guys are SO close. Can't wait to give you both a big celebratory hug. Btw, Guyline's beard is outta control. We are impressed.

  2. I think the MM's should be rated higher than the Snicker's. They got me through 9 months of pregnancy with Guyline; now they are getting you through 6 months of hiking. Carry on and stay strong. Much love!

  3. I'm so excited for you guys! Can't wait to see pictures of you at the end. Bearcub, you always look so pretty even after struggling up a mountain :)

  4. September 22- I'm guessing you may be climbing or have finished climbing Mt. Katadin. Congratulations on your perserverence,
    and thanks for sharing your journey. Although I met you in the first days of your journey and got off (as was my plan) in
    Hot Springs I have hiked the trail in my mind with you two and sarah and sam (we talk infrequently by phone when their in
    a town). They say they are a few days behind you. Thanks again.