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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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PREP #3:  THE PLAN, PART 2         January 21

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” - Moliere

Dragon's Tooth approach trail from the north

On this beautiful snowy day in the Roanoke, Virginia area where we now live, I'm dreaming of being on the Trail in the spring.

Our winter has been such a tease – 60-degree days followed by smatterings of snow that melt in a day or two. Jim's happy that we haven't gotten much snow here; he considers "snow" a four-letter word.

Although we moved here last year from Montana partly to escape the harsh winters, this beautiful white frosting (only a couple inches deep) in the woods does my soul good. I love running trails on freshly-fallen snow when it is so peaceful.

However, one reason I don't want to start the AT trek until late April or early May is to avoid as much snow in the Smokies as possible. I realize it can snow there or in the mountains in New England just about any month of the year, but I'll increase the odds of avoiding it by waiting until mid-spring to start in Georgia. One reason so many thru-hikers drop out in the first quarter of the journey is the harsh weather they encounter in the Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee mountains in March and April.

What's ironic is that I prefer running in cold or cool weather, and I'm going to be on the AT trek mostly in the heat of the summer. It takes me a while to acclimate to heat with humidity. It was better when I lived in Montana from 1999 to 2004 – dry heat really IS more pleasant! I remember all too well the stifling humidity I lived with for 25 years in Atlanta, and that's what I'll have to deal with throughout the entire AT trek.

Think of all those lovely green leaves transpiring . . .

It dawned on me recently that one reason I'm looking forward to this adventure run so much is that I'll be incorporating many of my interests and hobbies the way I'm doing it:

1. running/physical activity (of course) -- my major passion the last 25 years. I've been doing trail ultra races since 1992 at distances from 50K to 100 miles.

2. writing -- I'm doing this journal with Jim's help as web master, and plan to write an entry each day I run on the Trail.

3. photography -- I plan to post one or two photos per day with each journal entry, and add more to our AT Photo Gallery on Picasa (link on left side of each journal page). There are already some pictures there from training runs and trail maintenance work we did during 2004 and early 2005.

4. reading -- I have a stack of reading to keep me busy this winter as I get prepared for my run – articles I've saved since the 1970s about the AT and the people who've hiked it, books written by thru-hikers and runners, all the maps and guide books from the AT Conference that we bought in December, considerable information on various internet sites, and hundreds of thru-hikers' journal entries on the web.

5. meeting interesting people who share my love for the outdoors and physical activity.

6. flora/fauna -- it'll be so inspiring to experience the awesome natural beauty and life all around me in the mountains. I love gardening and animals (except for the poisonous snakes I may encounter).

7. camping -- not the way most thru-hikers do it, but the way Jim and I prefer (more on that in Prep14).

8. scrapbooking -- "some day" I'll incorporate my journal entries and photographs into as many memory albums as it takes (I have many more ideas and photos for scrapbooks than finished scrapbooks!). This hobby combines several skills and interests into meaningful, lasting treasures.

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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© 2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil