Practicing a Lesson from the Trail

This isn’t the summer we had envisioned, but we’ll roll with it. Shingles ended our Appalachian Trail thru hike in April. Now, months later, North Star is still under the weather. Regaining her full health remains our number one goal. With our short-term sublet coming to an end, we decided to settle down in Fort Collins, Colorado, sign a longer term lease, and make this our home.

Storage Unit Unveiling
Unveiling the storage unit

We began by moving our possessions out of a 5 x 10 ft storage unit in California and into our Colorado sublet. Fifty square feet of storage for two people’s possessions seemed small when we left to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail, but the trail changed our perspective. We realized one backpack was enough for each of us. Soon after completing the PCT, we wrote a blog post titled “Five Lessons from the Trail”. One lesson, quoted below, is especially relevant to our current situation:

Fewer possessions is freeing.  We found that the less we had, the happier we were. Each possession was not only physical weight to carry, but also mental weight. Carrying just one set of clothes meant no decisions about what to wear in the morning. Instead of carrying chairs, which could break or get left behind, we sat on the ground or on logs. Taking only the food we needed made meal choices simple. We didn’t bring bowls and plates, all of which we’d have to clean. Rather we ate right from our pot. With less items to think and fret about, our minds could relax and be open to all the beauty around us. The simple lifestyle is truly freeing.

Moving was a great opportunity to put that lesson into practice.

Awesome Outdoor Films

When we can’t be out hiking, we enjoy watching nature-themed films. Here are four favorites we’ve seen in the past few weeks:

Chasing IceChasing Ice
James Balog’s photography captures the beauty of ice, but it’s his time lapse photos of glaciers that are truly eye-opening. His dedication amidst knee pain and equipment issues is inspiring.
goodeatsGood Eats: Whithering Bites
Alton Brown explains his simple, practical approach to food dehydration. Dehydrating your own food is a great way to make healthy backpacking food without any extra preservatives or sweeteners. As always, Alton includes some science, history, and a large helping of goofiness.
High Sierra: A Journey on the John Muir TrailHigh Sierra: A Journey on the John Muir Trail
Follow a group of high school students as they set out to hike the JMT. They aren’t so excited at first, but the splendor of the trail converts them. A fun watch with plenty of eye candy.
Rivers and TidesRivers and Tides
This documentary about Andy Goldsworthy is a meditation on the impermanence of nature and the beauty of natural forms. Goldsworthy is one of our favorite artists and his work has influenced Shutterbug’s photography.

Day 1: First Steps on the Appalachian Trail


Day 1: Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center (Mile -8.8) to Long Creek (Mile 4.7); 13.5 miles

Periodically on the Pacific Crest Trail we crossed paths with an energetic guy named Young Geezer. It turns out that Young Geezer and his wife Patricia live in Atlanta near the Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus. They offered to be our first AT trail angels. They were awesome. Yesterday they picked us up at the train station, shared a big dinner with us, and let us stay in their spare bedroom. Today they not only drove us to the Appalachian Approach Trail, but hiked the first few miles with us.


We signed in at the Amicalola Falls State Park visitor center as AT thru hikers #351 and 352 for 2013. Then we set out on the 8.8 mile approach trail to the official beginning of the Appalachian Trail.