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Off-trail

Day 175: Atlanta

So, I got to sleep far too late and woke up to the wake-up call at 4am. Maybe 4 hours of sleep. Ouch.

What with the bathroom visit and repacking a few items for the plane I had out, I could see I wouldn’t make the shuttle I had scheduled for 4:30, but I didn’t need to leave for the airport that early anyway so I didn’t worry about it.

I ended up going down to check out around 4:45 with my two microwave breakfast croissants in hand. I left behind in the room my last root beer and my last beer and the remnants of my carton of iced coffee.

The shuttle driver was in the lobby and said he could take me right away. So I popped into the breakfast lounge to nuke the sandwiches and hopped straight into the van. He had me into the airport by 5:30.

I was able to walk right up the counter and check my backpack, but they said I could not leave my butane lighters inside. I had flown with them in a checked bag previously without knowing, but I was good and took them out. They said I could carry one of them in my carry-on, so I tossed one and kept the wolf design one that had consistently worked the best on the trail.

ABQ is not a particularly large airport. It’s one of the bigger ones in the southwest, I think, but at that hour, there was basically no wait for security either. I was through security and headed to my gate within ten minutes. Said gate was all the way down at the end of the terminal, of course. I sat down and waited 45 minutes to board and totally forgot to go to the bathroom before getting on.

I didn’t go on the plane either. It was a five hour flight back to Atlanta, so there was only one full drink service, unless I slept through one. I tried to work on this blog at first, but ran out of steam. I had downloaded some shows, but fell asleep before I could get to them, or watch any of what was on the seat-back entertainment system. The lack of sleep during the night just caught up to me all at once.

I woke up before the final trash collection and descent. Right before landing, I joined the multi-seat game of word scramble being played just ahead of me and absolutely crushed them in the two rounds we got in before the plane parked.

ATL is, of course, home ground and deeply familiar. I could get home nearly on autopilot. I had to ride all the way from concourse E to baggage claim, so of course my bag well and truly beat me there.

I got out my coat and put it on because it looked like a cold, rainy day out, then went to the MARTA station. I could get halfway home on the trains and save a solid 50 bucks. It would just take a little longer, and I was in no hurry.

An hour and a half later, I was getting into a Lyft and heading home. My mom must have been watching out the door like a dog with separation anxiety because she was coming out to get pictures the moment I arrived in the driveway.

I was very sleepy, and I only got a handful of things done before I fully ran out of steam and headed to bed. You’d think my sleepiness would compensate for the change in time zones, but daylight saving time undid that and I would end up being up late for several following nights. And there was just so much to be done with regard to upcoming life events but also finishing these trails off.

Firstly, some things need fixing. I need to fix the zipper trucks on my tent. I checked out the website for my tent, and it looks like I can do that repair myself in a few minutes.

My sun gloves need stitching. Again, I can do that by hand in an hour or so.

I need my Darn Tough socks replaced. I’ve already got the warranty slip for that, but I need to mail them.

My old Big Agnes sleeping bag could use restuffing. I’ve got to pay them for that service. But they’re pretty good to hikers and they’ll give a reasonable price. Still, it’ll be a lot of shipping cost.

I really want to look into some alternatives to my gear I’ve heard about on the trail that are much lighter and smaller than what I carry. Obviously, summer packs are already lighter, so I think, with a relatively small expenditure, I could end up with a much lighter pack next year.

Next year? I hope to get back out there next year. What do I have left on these trails? Let’s see…

  • 358.9 miles of official CDT in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico
  • 349.5 miles of official CDT in southwestern Montana and Idaho
  • 29 miles of PCT in Socal (east of LA)
  • 86.5 miles of PCT in Central Oregon
  • I’d also like to do the Gila Alternate of the CDT (105.2 miles)

That totals 928.9 miles. At an average pace of 18 miles a day with a 3 day transition time between trails, I can get that done in 61 days. Here’s how I would choose to do it IF the sections in question reopen. I don’t know why they wouldn’t reopen the PCT sections next year, but there could be parts of the Montana section closed:

  • Start with the Oregon section in mid-June, maybe flying into Portland or Butte or Eugene
  • Head out to Montana (method to be determined) at the end of June. Section should take about 3.5 weeks
  • Fly Bozeman to Silver City (or to somewhere with bus service there), do the Gila River (about 6 days)
  • Hitch, etc. through ABQ to Ghost Ranch and hike north at the end of July to catch the tail end of the nobo season. Actually, the bubble will be way ahead, but the weather through the San Juans should be the best it gets all year (about 4 weeks).
  • Hitch etc. from Monarch Pass, fly out to LA to finish off the PCT last at the end of August (about two days).

This is just an ideal scenario, and there’s a lot that has to happen between now and then for it to be possible. Most of it is on me. Mostly, I need to raise the money. And to do that I must work and not hike. Which means no more daily posts for a while. Doesn’t necessarily mean no posts. I may throw up some random unscheduled things related to these trails, but the daily thing is on hiatus as of today. Thanks for reading this far!

(NB: Day 171 failed to upload for some reason and I only just realized it a couple of days ago. If you were looking for it, go back and check. It’s in the timeline where it should be now.)

5 replies on “Day 175: Atlanta”

I have thoroughly loved every minute traveling vicariously with you. My knowledge of the trail and hiking has grown exponentially. I know your mom is glad to have you home. I look forward to the next adventure.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey and seeing your pictures! Look forward to reading and seeing more pictures when you decide to start back.

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