Saturday, March 20, 2010

Plan B

I should have realized Plan A never quite materializes for me.

Instead of tomorrow, I'll be hitting the Trail next Saturday, on March 27th. Which coincidentally is 1 year to the day of my starting date last year.

That's what I like to call a Sign.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Other than large amounts of time spent waiting, the dental thing went pretty well the other day. Several of my teeth are in rough shape and are going to need a considerable amount of dentist’s attention. Which comes as no real shock to me. Per my customary habit of procrastination, I’ve avoided anything resembling a dentist for quite a number of years. But a lifetime of poor brushing & flossing habits, an overly sugary diet (damn those tasty soft drinks), 15 years of smoking cigarettes, and a long genetic history of brittle teeth (thanks Dad) have finally taken their toll.

It’s going to be a bit before I can get anything done though. They’re booked until mid-May and I can’t get an appointment any earlier. Of course if something happens like another toothache or infection before May, then they can work me in earlier. But otherwise it’ll be roughly 2 months before I go back. There’s no way around it though, I’ve avoided my toothy problems for far too long. Which adds a rather large twist to my previous plan.

Initially I had intended to get dropped off at Max Patch and continue my trek of the AT this Spring-Summer. I briefly thought about starting the whole thing over again from Springer Mtn in Georgia, but that thought didn’t last very long. The 250 miles I’ve already done aren’t much in the entire 2,200-ish mile length of the AT, but I’d rather not do them again right now. That technically makes me a section-hiker at this point, but I’m cool with that. Hike your own Hike, and all. But I now have 3 dental appointments scheduled from May 18th-June15th that can’t be skipped…so the hiking logistics require a bit more than a “start here and go north for as far as I can” strategy.

With all three appointments spaced out like they are, I’ll be off the Trail for about 3-4 weeks. The first two appointments are within days of each other but there’s a 2½ week span of time between the last two. I figure I’ll want a few days of recovery time after all the toothwork, so that leaves me with roughly 2 weeks of lost hiking time. Two weeks that I’d rather not lose. Since I’m lucky enough to live within an hour’s drive of several places where the AT crosses roads, I came up with a tentatively modified plan:

Instead of starting where I stopped last year at Max Patch, I’m going to skip ahead 75 miles or so to a little place called Spivey Gap, near Erwin, TN, and start there. I’ll go as far as I can from this Saturday ‘til just before my first appointment in mid-May, and then head back home. Then in the 2 weeks I have between appointments, I’ll do the stretch from Max Patch to Spivey Gap and head back home again. Once the final appointment is over I’ll hop back on where I stopped initially and continue from there.

So for a timeline of sorts:

  • Springer to Max Patch…Last Year
  • Max Patch to Spivey Gapskip for now
  • Spivey Gap to “As Far As I Can Go”…March 20, 2010 to Mid-May, 2010
  • ---Icky dental stuff happens here---
  • Max Patch to Spivey Gap2 week downtime
  • ---More icky dental stuff---
  • “As Far As I Went Before” to Katahdin…Early June 2010 to whenever

It makes it kind of a hodge-podge hike instead of a single straight shot, but it’ll add an unusual spin to things. And I tend to like things on the unusual side anyway.

Slotting 2 weeks to do the 75 mile stretch from Max Patch to Spivey Gap may seem like a generous estimate but there are several factors involved in that time frame.

  1. I’m a “smell the roses” type of hiker, so I tend to go slower than the usual AT-autobahn that many hikers seem to be on (not that there’s anything wrong with that…Hike your own Hike).
  2. The stretch of the AT between Hot Springs and Erwin is notorious for being on the strenuous side. Quite a few of the books and journals I’ve read cite Erwin, TN as a place where many hopeful AT hikes come to an end due to injuries. I want to be able to take my time and not hurt any body part I may need later. I don’t want this year to end like last year.
  3. After all the initial dental work I may not feel like doing much besides resting anyway.

So slotting 2 weeks for it seems like a good idea to me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Concrete is Cold

It's 5:15 in the morning and I'm sitting on a cold concrete curb in a parking lot. I'm here because I have a toothache but I don't have dental insurance. Even if I did it's notoriously bad for only covering 10-20% of costs anyway, so odds are good I might be here regardless.

I'm sitting outside the division of the local Health Department that covers adult dental care, and I'm not alone. They only see 6 new patients per day, so if you want affordable care you gotta get here early. I'm person #5 sitting outside waiting for them to open, and #6 just walked up and got in line behind me. The first person in line has been here since 3:00 am! I wonder how many people will show up and not get a spot this morning.

They open in 3 hours so it's going to be an interesting wait. I brought a book to pass the time but it's a bit hard to read by street light, so it's purely a waiting game at this point. I haven't spent too many mornings sitting in a parking lot watching the sun come up.

At least it's not raining.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Arrested Development

Frozen chocolate covered bananas on a stick.

I'm sure they're tasty but there's just something that's not quite right about them.