Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Shakedownish Trip

Smokey Mountains March 21-23 (Easter Weekend)
Mt. Sterling loop

This past weekend I took a trip to the Smokies upon a suggestion from Allison that went something like this.

Allison: What are you doing next weekend
Daniel: I don't know.
Allison: Let's go camping in the mountains
Daniel: Okay dokay.

And so the trip was set out for us. This is one time that a short notice 'lets do this' type thing worked out for us. Other times, for whatever reasons, the big plans just eventually fall through. I also got in touch with Jason Toutloff aka Toot to go with us. I also called some other people to go with us and make a party out of it but those other people would have none of it.

I haven't been packing in a long time and no more than two miles in one direction. Toot has never been backpacking before and Allison is Ms. Hudspa when it comes to packing. She went to Philmont Boy Scout Reservation back in her Boy Scoutin days. Toot and I were able to get off of work early so that we could leave early on Friday and do some amount of hiking that evening or night. Allison didn't have any school and fed jobs observe Good Friday so it was easy to schedule around her busy day. Toot rolled in to the house in Wake Forest around 3:30p and then we got to packing up his bags. We left the house around 4:30p or 5:00p, bought groceries @ Food Lion and finally left Wake Forest around 6:00.

Excepting a small detour down Interstate 85, smelly feet, and a stop at a gas station, we made relatively scary good time. We got to the campground around midnight:30 and set up shop. The next day we proceeded to hike our planned route which was 6.1 miles to the first campsite then an additional 5 or 6 to the site for the night. The going was steady and we stopped ever 45 minutes or so to rest and let everyone catch back up with each other.

Seven hours and several stream crossings later, we managed to put the first 6.1 miles behind us and make it all the way up to the top of Mt. Sterling. Did I mention that it was all uphill? For three relative city slickers, I say we did all right. The temperature fluctuated from the upper sixties down into the 40's or below depending on elevation, the direction the hill faced and the vegetation that sheltered us from the sun's rays. A mile or two before the top of Sterling was the coldest, even cold enough to allow fallen snow not to melt in the shady patches. Almost all the layers came out for this section.

Toot and Allison weren't gung-ho about going any further but we conferred with our good friend Martin from Knoxville and he agreed that the rest of the trail was going to be downhill. We made down the first 1.4 in about 45 minutes but the dark, tiredness, hunger, resulting in stumbling falls and a mandatory get-wet stream crossing resulted in slow goings. Toot zoomed down the trail ahead of Allison and I and was in fairly good spirits but slipping and falling into the stream changed his demeanor. Allison had troubles with the stream crossing too but all is fair in love and war. An hour later we reached the campsite, ate, set our stuff up and passed out which could have never have been so welcome.

We did our camp in reverse order and were out of there by 1:00 (yeah I know that's late) for the easiest hike ever, a 5 mile doubletrack next to a creek, downhill.

Things I Learned
  1. The penny stove worked out pretty well, but cooking for three people isn't what it was designed for, at least thats what I think. I will revisit the stove trying to make a better one and I will test it before I take it out this time to figure out the best height to cook at as well as settings for the holes of the burner.
  2. Tarping it may take two people, but it works and the stuff that I have for us to use will do fine for just two of us.
  3. I went a pace this past weekend that was probably too fast when it comes to realistically completing such a long trail. One of the most common reasons for hikers leaving the AT early is going too hard too soon and not letting their bodies adapt to such a different physical demand.


  1. Bowl
  2. Spork
  3. Duct Tape
  4. Pants
  5. T-Shirt
  6. notebook & pen
  7. first-aid 'kit'
  8. camera (if I finally buy one)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to Send Us Stuff

Although there isn't much here now, this space will be crucial to you, our supporters, when the time comes. You will find:

  • Instructions on how to address mail to us
  • Information on what we do--and do not--want to receive while on the trail.

This post is a work in progress, and the two of us will collaboratively add to it as is appropriate for each.

Town and Date Estimates

(Note that we may be behind or ahead of schedule. Because post offices will only hold general delivery for a certain number of days, perhaps a month, it is probably best to aim on your mail to arrive at the post office a week before we are scheduled to arrive. This gives us the best chance that we will receive what you send, while still allowing us to get off-schedule)

We will post scheduled stops here when we have an idea of our pace. Until then, our parents may be able to forward letters sent to our Wake Forest address. As always, check back for updates. Thanks!

How to Address Mail

Daniel or Brittany Lewis
c/o the business sending to (General Delivery if sent to a PO)
Please Hold For Thru-hiker
(estimated date of arrival)

If you want to find out where we are exactly or where we have been, Daniel will be soon setting up a Google Map that will be updated along with the blog by one of our internet minions, to show where we have been along with dates and where we will be going along with updated estimated dates of arrival.

What to Send

For now, visit this page for info and etiquette: Packing and Sending the Perfect Maildrop

If you send a care package, you will be our favorite person for the week! In general, remember space, weight, and quantity. Three dozen cookies we can put away before leaving town, but three dozen Clif bars might spend too much time on our backs.

Daniel's List of Things That Would Be Fun to Get in the Mail

  1. Guy stuff
  2. let you know later
  3. love...

Brittany's List of Things That Would Be Fun to Get in the Mail

*Don't forget that I'm vegan, and I'm looking for no animal ingredients and no animal testing.

  • vegan jerky (Primal Strips) or textured vegetable protein/TVP
  • dairy-free chocolate, cookies, fudge
  • dried fruits
  • powdered soy milk
  • coconut oil
  • a tiny dab of vegan conditioner?
  • letters and stuff
  • interesting newspaper/magazine/internet/journal articles
  • blank stamped postcards
  • love

Remember, check back for updates.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Daniel - The low down

I have been thinking about doing the Appalachian trail for some time now. It started a year ago when people started asking me about school.

person: where do you go to school?
me: North Carolina State
person: when do you graduate
me: next December (2007)
person: what do you want to do when you get out?
me: I don't know?

I didn't really know what I wanted to do. For some time I had been stressing over the importance and validity of being a Parks and Recreation Major and wondered what the hell do I do when I get out? Talking with other students in PRTM I found that a lot of them felt the same way. For some reason or another we all stumbled into PRTM and loved it (except the jocks, no offense jocks).

Anyways, like I said, I thought that doing the entire trail would be an awesome thing to do and what really inspired me was three dollar book that I got back during sophomore year about hiking the triple crown. The triple consists of the three north to south hiking trails in the United States. The Appalachian Trail is the shortest(but not short by any means other than teleportation which the scientists have not invented yet) and best well known, the Pacific Crest Trail is also somewhat well known and also a defined trail, and the Continental Divide Trail running through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana is the longest and best described as an idea in the process at this point in the game. So the book roughly outlined the
all the trails noting certain landmarks, weather and notes of the surroundings as well as trail culture. I read on thinking about what it would be like to be on my own in the woods with no real obligations for four to six months. All in all, after completing 44 million years of school, I figured that I deserved it or at least a shot at it.


I am not completely ready for the trail gear wise as well as monetarily. I have worked for the Raleigh Adventure Program for a while now (since summer 2006) and they have been a steady source for trail funds but 18 hours per week in an introductory office job doesn't earn much. I started at the YMCA as a lifeguard in the middle or in the later of January pulling in 13 hours per week and three weeks ago I started at Pullen Aquatics Center in Raleigh also as a lifeguard amassing a tremendous additional 9 hours per week. Since everyone at the YMCA always wants a substitute and getting the extra time working Pullen, the money situation has been looking better and better so at least thats one thing that won't be holding me back. At keast I'm half way there now

Gear wise I scored pretty big with some sales at REI and Great Outdoor Provision Company. I got some hiking shoes, a water filter, a tarp, and a ground cloth. The only additional pieces of gear that I want/need are:

trekking poles
a new pack
a camera
a bowl (preferably a collapsible one)
a pack cover
a couple water bottles
and some p-cord for my tarp

I planned to leave on April 19 but I think that I will leave a week or two later than that, every extra bit of work that I can squeeze in will help. Right off on week two or three, Allison (my baby's momma, but not literally) will be meeting up with me to hike for a week or two. On May 16 [ha! no longer true!] Brittany will be graduating with her Masters in Museum Studies and join up with me shortly after that. We will be finishing it out together as long as all goes as planned. So far these two are the only people that have decided to come join the fun. If you want to join up with me and Brittany and hike, plan to go sometime early in the summer so that we'll be closer by. After June, it'll be a good little ways before you are able to join up with us since we'll be closer to the midpoint by then which is in Harpers Ferry W.Va. We will be sending mail home so that the blog can be updated and you know what is happening with us out in the woods.

That's it for now. I can't wait, only five or six weeks and counting, see you on the trail.