Final Preparations Before Hitting the Appalachian Trail

Somehow all this has to fit in the pack!

I leave in an hour for Shenandoah National Park and hit the trail tomorrow after breakfast.  I have packed and repacked my stuff 2 dozen times.  I have analyzed the contents, lightened the load, criticallyanalyzed it, lighened it some more.  I have now just hyper-critically analyzed it and pulled out everything I can bear to part with.  I have jettisoned alcohol, bananans, a journal (in exchange for just sheets of paper), and an entire bag of trail mix.  (I might have packed more food than I need!)

I have reduced the amount of water I will carry at one time and I have eliminated nearly all redundancy.  Still, my pack, fully loaded is 50 pounds.  The biggest dilemma is my sleep pad.  Weighing in at a full 5 pounds it is something veteran campers will laugh at but my aging inflexible frame weighs in at nearly 200 pounds and needs a lot of padding at night.

The checklist is complete and everything is ready…

I have had to make the judgement call of getting a good night’s sleep and thus being fresh enough to carry the extra weight in the morning!  The third option is an expensive pad that is both comfortable and lightweight but at this point tossing another $120 into the pot is not worth it.  I may feel differently on the trail.  The good news is that as I eat the food the bag will get lighter!

I made an urgent visit to the dermatologist this morning since my dry run camping trip last week left me with poison ivy all over my feet and ankles.  Lesson learned about flip flops in camp!  I was worried about wool socks chafing the poison ivy into hamburger so the doctor gave me a steroid spray that should be quick acting.

Many of these food items would not make the final cut…most sadly, the airline bottles of liquor!

I want to thank the many people who suggested some creative and amusing trail names for me!  These included “” from my Tony’s Kitchen Days, “Tony Yum Yum” from a longtime fan of my cooking, several variations on “Bald Man” thanks to a mean-spirited friend from college!

In the end, my favorite comes from my 15 year old daughter who caught me completely off-guard with the suggestion of “Dirty Rice”.  It suggests so many things, not to mention it’s memorable.  I belive I shall go with that.  I could just go with ToneMan, but that seemed a little dull. 

I do not expect to be connected at all during the trip, so there will not be any postings for the next 6 days, but when I return I will have lots of photos and stories.

With water onboard, the pack will be close to 50 pounds!

And to those of you who follow my blog for the food, I’ll get back to that too!

See you on the other side,



  1. My favorite food item is the jalapeno – tell me that didn’t get cut!

    Safe travels and have a wonderful time! Hope the poison ivy mellows out before you hit the trail – good luck!

  2. My favorite item is the jalapeno – please tell me that made it in.

    Good luck, safe travels and most of all, HAVE FUN! We’ll be waiting to hear your stories when you get back.

      1. My final post on this will be “lessons learned” and what I will do differently the next time! Definitely some on-the-job-training on this one! Thanks for reading!

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