If you haven't already heard, I am reporting on the progress of Mike as he hikes the AT in his pursuit to raise money for under privileged children.
Welcome to Q & A with Mike, aka Standing Bear, as he hikes the Appalachian Trail. I'm going to be sending him questions from time to time and Mike's going to answer them when he stops in towns to re-supply.
Mike after 963 hiked miles....
What do you like the best about being on the trail?
I'm not really a big fan of hiking, so what I've liked best has been the many acts of kindness shown toward me by people along my hike. I've had people invite me into their home, prepare me dinner, give me a ride into town, and hand me a Gatorade on a cold day. It's nice to know there are so many people out there who are eager to help out!
What do you like the least?
Hiking in the rain is extremely unpleasant. Even if you have raingear and waterproof shoes/boots, you will still get wet at some point. The ground turns to mud and rocks become slippery, so you move slower and have a greater risk of falling down. If you cannot make it to a shelter and have to set up your tarp or tent in the rain, that is even worse. Many people have quit the trail after hiking just a few days in the rain. It is downright demoralizing!
Tell me your typical meals for a day.
Breakfast: fiber-rich cereal with a Clif bar
Lunch: 5-6 Clif bars throughout the day
Dinner: Tuna in virgin olive oil, peanut butter, and a Clif bar
When I get to a town, I load up on fruit and ice cream!! I don't carry fruit on the trail because it is too heavy.
Are you cooking meals or eating all cold, raw food?
I am a "cold camper" which means I do not have a stove and eat all cold food.
How do you push yourself to keep going when you’re exhausted and want to quit for the day?
I don't typically have trouble pushing myself. In fact, I typically have the opposite problem: I push myself a little too hard. Many, many times I have reached a shelter late in the day, looked at the time, and decided to push on to the next shelter even though I had little daylight left. This often results in me showing up at the shelter after dark. I almost always push on if there is daylight remaining because I figure whatever miles I don't hike today, I will have to hike at some point in the future. Some people will stop at a shelter at 3 o'clock in the afternoon to socialize with other hikers and hang out. It's great talking with other hikers, but my main priority is to finish the trail, so if it's daylight I'm almost always hiking!
Do you listen to music or audio books while you’re hiking?
I have listened to music for about 10-20% of the hike. I recently tried my first audiobook, The Trial by Kafka. I enjoyed the book but it was difficult concentrating on the narration while trying to navigate rocks or difficult terrain. The trail isn't always an easy path, and sometimes you really need to pay attention to where you're walking. Music is easier because I can tune for a few minutes and simply miss a song instead of an important part of a book.
What part of the hike is more difficult than you expected it to be?
The elevation changes and climbing are much more difficult than I expected. I knew the trail followed the mountains, but I expected to climb perhaps one mountain per day. Instead, I frequently climb several mountains in the same day. Some of the elevation changes are very strenuous, such as The Priest and Three Ridges Mountain in Virginia, where I descended 3,000 feet and then immediately ascended 3,000 feet. It rained that day which made it extra challenging, especially when I neared the top of Three Ridges and was basically climbing up a pile of rocks!
Mike has just passed Harper's Ferry....
And this weeks exciting news is that his wife, Brooke, has joined him. I'm looking forward to hearing how Brooke is enjoying her hike on the AT! Visit his Hike4Kids site.
(all photos property of Mike Mclaughlin. Please do not reproduce without permission)