83 Days and Counting

83 days and counting

I leave April 24, 2016. Boy, that just sank in.

Starting tomorrow, February 1st, I’ll begin my preparations to thruhike the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, or best known as the LHHT. I have almost three months to prepare. While I have already plotted out the departure day, miles per day, camping spots, and food preparations, I need these next few months to prepare…physically.

As I sat here this evening browsing over the map and thinking about key spots to take lunch, rest, resupply water, and take in the views, it hit me. “You haven’t done any backpacking trips since June of 2015 and that was an overnighter.” Add to that the fact I’ve gained about 15 pounds, I’m not exactly in the best shape I should or can be. I’ve hiked, but not as much as I’ve wanted. Starting a new job and moving into a new home has kept me busy, but the truth is those are excuses. My reason for not hiking as much as I’d want is a result of my own choices. Our new home does offer time for exercise; splitting, stacking and carrying wood to the basement to heat our home is very good exercise. However, compare that to the amount of time I spend sitting behind a desk staring at a computer screen and well, you do the math.

The LHHT is not a difficult trail compared to others in our area, but it does offer its challenges, such as Heart Attack Hill. Of course that ascent would be if I was hiking the trail NOBO. Heart Attack Hill is the first thing you hit when you leave from the Ohiopyle trailhead. I’ll be hiking SOBO, starting in Seward. SOBO means south bound. Still, the LHHT will throw it’s challenges at me each day I’m on it.

This will be my first solo thruhike. I’ve backpacked solo before, but each time was an overnighter. I’ll be hiking seventy miles, Seward to Ohiopyle, solo.

I’m giving myself a full seven days. Sure, a thruhike of the LHHT can and has been done in five days. I’ve chosen to give myself seven for good reasons. One, since this will be my first long distance solo thruhike I want some buffer room. If I complete the trail in five days that will be a bonus. However, my goal is not to complete it in the shortest amount of time. It’s about the journey. Second, backpacking for me is about each step, the time spent alone with my thoughts. To clear my head of the daily routine and focus on listening to Jesus. As well as to take in as much as I can see, to connect with creation and discover the harmony between creation, my soul and Jesus.

I’m looking forward to this hike. April can’t come soon enough, but then again, It can wait just a bit. I have some preparing to do. Fifteen pounds is extra weight I don’t want to carry, on or off the trail.

I have 83 days. Let the training begin.

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