11 months and counting

The calendar says today is May 1st, but looking across our frozen lake, two foot high snow banks and barely 0C temperatures – you’d think it was January 1st.

As bleak as this sounds, there are signs of Spring. I see a few patches of brown under the pine trees. The chickadees are hanging around the backdoor of our house waiting for breadcrumbs. And the sun now sets around 8:45pm – nearly 40 minutes later than when we lived in Ottawa.

We still need to rely on our wood stove for heat for the time being until temperatures start rising. Next week we’ll see double digit temps. Woohoo! Warmer temperatures will lead to more bike riding, hiking and hopefully getting into our new property that we acquired in March. With all the snow, we’ve not been able to walk and survey the property…but soon.

Really enjoying my new fat bike. Unlike traditional mountain bikes, the tires are five inches wide. This wider surface allows for better contact on the road when there is ice, snow and mud. I went for a ride the other day and got totally covered in mud.

My mind is working a million miles a minute with all the Spring stuff we have to do here. Returning to the Appalachian Trail in 2020 consumes a lot of my mind. I’ve been reading an interesting book by John Desilets: Appalachian Fail: What I Learned From My Failed Thru-Hike. Unlike the dozen or so hiking books I read prior to my 2019 hike, this book delves into some interesting thoughts. As I read though it, I realize how much this book speaks to me. Not as a failure, but not being prepared. And, I was overconfident…which isn’t a bad thing, but I could have been better prepared.

I’m now doing a series of 7 stretches that will help strengthen my hamstrings, quads and knees. Best part, I will do these when it is winter and unable to spend as much time outdoors. Once it gets a bit warmer, I’ll be back on our road and side trails hiking. I foresee a few overnight backcountry hikes to Pukawaska National Park, Algonquin and Killarney.

Today is opening of Spring bear hunt, and while I have a tag I doubt there are bears around here as yet. John said he thinks he saw bear tracks at our other property last week. I’m more interested in the Fall season when it is bear and deer season. I’m planning come August to do some scouting trips north of Kirkland Lake and Lavant County near Renfrew. These trips see me walking a lot of miles backcountry – so great exercise at the minimum even if I don’t see anything. Hopefully it’ll warm up soon so I can get outside and hit my outdoor archery range to begin upper body strengthening and practice. I haven’t shot my bow since last September, so I’m sure I’m a bit rusty.

That’s it for now.

Thank you! What’s next?

First off, and most important, I want to thank all of you who began to follow me on this journey. I also want to say how much I appreciate the comments. I may have been a bit hard on myself calling myself a failure. I was angry at myself for giving up, but I knew at the time after a long descent down Sassafras Mountain that I couldn’t go on. A hiking adage rang true: listen to your body.
When I think back at what went wrong, I can narrow it to be unprepared. I joked around in hiking groups online that I would get my trail legs while hiking. Well, I was dead wrong. Physically, I was maybe 5% prepared. I know if I had hiked more, stretched more and had built up my calf muscles, no doubt my joints wouldn’t have been so sore.
I know I didn’t drink near enough water. Another hiker said you should be drinking a litre of water about every couple miles. Day 1, I drank only 1 litre over 9.1 miles. This of course led to leg cramps.
So, I know what I did wrong. Now comes the decision do I attempt again? Before I decide, I’m going to commit to doing some things differently.
First off, we’re getting a non-electric exercise bike. The bike will be perfect for us as it uses no electricity as we’re off-grid. And, with icy/snow conditions that run from November to June, the bike will give me a way to make sure I don’t lose muscle mass during the winter.
Once the weather gets a bit better, I plan on a few 4-5 day backcountry hikes at Algonquin Park. I’ve done these trails before and will give me at least some elevation change. Nothing even remotely close to the Appalachian Trail, but better than where live. I may even try challenge myself and hike the Coastal Trail at Lake Superior. This trail is 120km and takes about 6-7 days.
I’m not committing yet to trying the Appalachian Trail in 2020, but it’s in the back of my mind. Do I need to do this? I don’t know.
For now, looking forward to Spring/Summer back home. Really looking forward to close friends who’ll be visiting us. That puts a smile on my face.

Thanks again everyone.


If you want to look up the definition of failure look no further it’s me: Nina.
For two years I’ve dreamt of hiking the Appalachian Trail. I thought it was something I could do. I thought the Appalachian Trail would be the one thing I could look back on and say I finally have accomplished something big in my life. I’ve felt something was missing in terms of something that I can say I did something big.
Today I have ended my hike. The first 4 miles of today’s hike was so grueling. I’m not sure if it was the difficult climb up Sassafras Mountain. Descending was just as tough as the climbs. My left knee is screaming out in pain my and my ankles are sore. Every step was a wobbly one. I knew going into this hike I had arthritis, but though I could somehow hike thru it.

Some said to me today at least I tried. I doubt that as I hiked a total of 12 miles. I bawled on the phone to John telling him I couldn’t continue.

I feel I let down a lot of people. Clearly I was physically unprepared for the hike. I just know I have to listen to my body, and it screams for relief.

That’s it. Sorry


Day 1 – Springer to Hawk Shelter

April 3 

Day 1 – Springer Mountain to Hawk Mountain shelter 9.0 miles

What a day! It’s near 5pm and I’m laying in my tent. I’m pooped. 

I’m so out of shape lol. 

It was a beautiful day – mid 60s and blue sky. Trail was up and down, rocks, roots and mud. But I made it. Barely. 

Met a lot of great people along the way. Spent the last hour hiking with a couple from Washington State. 

Doubt I’ll push myself tomorrow as hard. Next shelter is over six miles and no water in between. That means I had to fill up at a stream and will have to carry extra water tomorrow. I’m carrying 3 litres, or about six pounds. Ugh!

Anyways, I’m doing well. 

Camp area I’m at has at least another 20 campers. 

That’s it for now, soon it’ll be dinner time, then I’ll roll out my muscles and hit the sack. 

Friends – Thank you!

An unexpected detour on our way to Georgia, took us back to where we lived before we moved off-grid last year – Ottawa, Ontario.
Ottawa was my home for 16 years, so stopping in before my big hike was nice. Staying in a hotel and eating out feels like a luxury, and while it was a short visit, seeing friends was the best part.
I had an awesome hair appointment with my favourite hair stylist. Something about getting my hair done gives me a boost, especially since it’s been about a year since I last had it done.
Next, we went to Kanata to visit – hard to put into words – because friends doesn’t seem like the right word. You know who you are, and what you mean to me. For 10 years, you’ve been not only close friends, but you know more about me than anyone on this planet. Guaranteed had I not met you, and how you’ve encouraged me, there is no way I’d be attempting this hike.
Finally, we stopped at our favourite pub – one that I made close friendships with for over a decade – O’Grady’s Pub. Totally unexpected, the night was magical in a way. From old friends to new acquaintances, I was able to share my pre-Hike jitters, worries and dreams. Your encouragement and well wishes hit me emotionally and will not be forgotten. I knew I had friends at the pub, but not that many. I mean, who come from NY state early to see me off? And, who returns from Cuba, to not go home, but to come to the pub and wish me well. Awesome! Unbelievable.
I could name names, but I won’t, but you know who you are. You all made me feel special last night for the challenge I’m undertaking. Your kind words, your interest, and positive vibes will be remembered.
I wish I could have spent more time in Ottawa to see everyone, but I will be back.
Today we drive to Guelph, the Cincinnati tomorrow, and finally Georgia on Sunday. While I’m a bundle of anxiety, this recent trip will comfort me.

Thank you.