(1) Where are you from?
(2) What day did you start?
March 21 (we wanted March, and liked the idea of “321”)
(3) What day did you finish?
(4) Do you have a trail name?
(5) If so, where did it come from?
I got my first serious case of “hiker hunger” in Big Bear at Papa Smurf’s house. I ate so many heaping plates of food for dinner, breakfast, then dinner again that several of the other hikers were determined to give me a trail name regarding my appetite. I rejected names I felt were too obvious and likely had been used many times on the AT and PCT such as garbage disposal, bottomless pit, etc. I said can mean “eats a lot”, but needs to be unique. Someone suggested Noms and it stuck. “Nom nom nom” is the sound of someone vigorously eating, I think a recent invention. A lot of older folks didn’t get it, even after I explained it, but most hikers under 40 understood right away.
My girlfriend “Pancakes” and I must have eating heartily along the trail, because people were often said that we “looked too healthy and happy” to be thru hikers. It probably helped that we took over 7 months too!
(6) What did you dream of when things weren’t going well?
Usually food! But we had a rule: no talk about town food until the day we’re going into town.
(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?
Not really, aside from never having a bad injury, never getting sick on trail, always getting a ride, etc. The only “wow” moment I can think of was having a tree branch fall where our tent had been just one minute earlier. It wasn’t a huge death branch, but it could have broken the tent or given someone a nasty bump.
(8) Any memorable encounters with the elements, or wildlife?
Our hardest day was in Washington, where it was 20f at 4pm, very windy and snowing hard. The weather predicted lows in the 30s that week at rainy pass and Hart’s Pass, so that level of cold and the amount of snow was a nasty surprise. Our hands were numb since our gloves were wet (we should have had mittens to go over our gloves). It took at least twice as long as normal but we managed to get the tent set up, cooked hot food and finally warmed up completely. In fact, it was the day we me you!
(9) Think back to your “pre-hike self.” Now think of yourself here at the end. Has anything changed?
Shockingly little seems to have changed, except for fat and muscle loss. It seems like we left home a week ago. It’s weird that it’s not weird being back.
(10) Now that you are off the trail, what do you miss most about it?
I miss sleeping in the cold but being snug in my sleeping bag. I miss not worrying about what to wear, and being able to eat anything we wanted.
(11) Before you started, what were you most afraid of?
I was worried my feet or knees wouldn’t be able to handle the miles. I worried about the heat in August. I worried about the smell of stinky hikers, including myself (I have a sensitive nose). I was worried my girlfriend (now wife) would want to quit before I wanted to.
(12) Now that you are finished, what are you most afraid of?
Getting a job and getting back into the “real world”. Yikes!
(13) What’s the difference between life on the trail and life off the trail?
The trail is a known quantity of hard work, with daily payouts of amazing views and peace of mind. Life off trail is a lot more fuzzy in terms of how hard a day will be, and how often things are rewarding.