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Michael "Shorts" Alowitz
City: Des Moines
Begins: Mar 20, 2010
Date: Mon, Mar 8th, 2010
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There are a lot of questions that come up when I tell people what I’m planning so here are some FAQs and responses. It will be interesting to see how these change by the end of the hike.
Opener: I’m taking six months off to hike the Appalachian Trail.
Q: Are you going with a group?
Nope, going solo. There will be a lot of other folks out there and most likely I’ll fall in with some fellow slow walkers.
Q: How far is it? Where is it? Where do you start. When do you start. Will there be a lot of snow still?
The trail itself is 2,179.1 miles in 2010. Due to changes in the trail each year, the mileage is slightly different. The AT runs from Georgia to Maine. I’m starting in Georgia and heading north. There will likely be some snow still on the ground and it wouldn’t be surprising to encounter some snow showers in the mountains.
Q: Are you packing? What are you doing for protection? What about bears?
I have never even fired a real gun. My water gun won’t do me any good. I’m not terribly worried – crime can happen anywhere. I’m going to see and take a picture of a bear. Bear attacks are very rare and the bears, for the most part, are not socialized to look to human for food.
Q: Where will you stay? Camping every night?
There will be many camping nights, but I’ll also stay in hostels, hotels, and friends houses.
Q: How many people do it?
In 2009, 1425 people registered at Springer Mountain in Georgia with the intention of finishing the whole hike. 28% made it. You can get more stats if you’re curious here:
http://www.appalachiantrail.org/site/c.mqLTIYOwGlF/b.4805579/k.DA92/2000Milers_Facts_and_Statistics.htmQ: Did you quit your job?
No – I’m taking a leave of absence.
Q: Mike, you’ve never been a fit guy – are you sure you can do this?
Hey, it’s just walking. I’ll go slow and by the end I’ll probably be 40 pounds or more lighter. I’m hoping at some point to do a 30 mile day just to say I did one. For some folks, a 30 mile day is nothing.
Q. What will you eat?
The trail goes through or close to towns with frequency. I’ll resupply in towns with things like oatmeal, poptarts, turkey, tuna, couscous, bagels, peanut butter, snickers, and other things that look good in the store.
Q: How much will your pack weigh?
Should be less than 40 lbs fully loaded. I’ve learned a lot from the web on cutting weight down to make the hike easier, but I’m still not what would be called an ultra-lighter. Q: Have you been training?
Not much. I think I’m underprepared. I’ll just get out there and learn some on the fly and get into trail shape by hiking.
Q: Do you have all your gear?
As of today (5/8) not quite, but very close. And its really just the gear I’m going to start with – a lot of it will probably change out.
Q: You’re wearing some sturdy boots, right? Will they last the whole hike?
Actually, I’m planning to wear some low cut hiking shoes. I’m not expecting them to last the whole hike.
Q: What made you want to do this? Has this been some life-long dream?
I need some adventure. About 2 years ago, the thought came to me to try to do this. 2010 seemed to be the good year to shoot for and it has been working out.
Q: Do you really expect to make it the whole way?
Of course, but I’m not naive enough to suggest it will absolutely happen. I didn’t burn bridges at work, etc. I’m obviously going with the goal of doing the whole thing.
Q: Are you going to shave your head to start so you can get pictures of it all growing in? Are you going to shave?
I want to end up with big giant hair so I'm not going to shave my head and give up the head start I've got. Not planning to shave the beard or cut the hair, but I'll see how hot, sticky, and itchy it gets.
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