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   Welcome. You're about to hop on the Appalachian Trail and become part of the 2009 thru-hike of Chris Hennig, whose trail name was "Feed Bag." While Feed Bag took in all the personal benefits of spending hours alone in the woods (getting in better shape, crying, pondering the meaning of life), there is a purpose greater than that for which he hiked: to make the world a better place for children. And you can be a part of this journey starting now...and help make a difference!

Start Date: 3/29/09 End Date: 9/5/09



Yum!

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 5:03 pm December 4, 2009

Ok, so this is not exactly where I got my trail name. However, it’s hilarious, gross, and completely satirical. Enjoy, then read on!

Hahaha…wasn’t that funny? Wearable Feed Bags…ohhh…anyway…

Here is a summary as to how I spent my adventure on the Appalachian Trail:

————————————————————————————-
Total days experiencing the trail: 161 

Total zeros (0-mile days) = 30! Wow…a whole month off :)

Total neros (less than 10-miles hiking into or out of a town) = 9

Average nero = 6.1 miles hiking into or out of town

Average mileage per day including neros = 16.7

Average mileage per day without neros = 17.5
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It’s hard to believe that three months ago I was easily hiking up and down mountains for 17 miles/8-10 hours a day. It seems like such a distant world now. I do miss exercising all day long. I’ll confess I’ve been rather lazy now that I’m away from the trail. I’m sure a few of the 40 lbs have snuck back on being that we have catering here on the road three meals a day, not to mention bus food every night.

It looks as though I’ll have most of the months of December and January off. And then, Lord willing, I’ll be back on the Spring portion of the Casting Crowns tour sometime at the beginning of February. So I had better come up with some exercise routine that works at home and on the road…or else all that hard work on the trail will reverse! I’m tempted to do some winter hiking and spend Dec/Jan on a trail somewhere…

I’m a little disappointed that NO ONE has contacted me for help in planning their March 2010 departure on the Appalachian trail. Come on people…you only have around 3 months left to plan :) Who is going to thru-hike next year?

Lastly, I’ve filmed a new video containing the gear I used during the summer months of the trail. I’ll be posting that soon as well as a summary blog containing the expenses incurred while hiking. I’m dreading that one..

Hope y’all are doing well. Dare I say…I miss having a Trail Report here at the end?

Appalachian Trail Beard Time Lapse

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 8:03 pm October 14, 2009
I forget how to blog. So here’s a video to sum up the hike to the tune of “Don’t you wish your boyfriend had a beard like me?” Kidding. The song is actually an aria called “Nessun Dorma” from the Puccini opera Turandot. Many 2009 AT hikers will already be familiar with the tune as we were forced to listen to it for inspiration at “The Mayor’s House” in Unionville, NY. I ended up loving the song :) The application to our hike was winning, hence the last word you hear in the song: “Vincero!” (I will win!)

And yes, there will be a few more blogs before the website is set in stone.

Out of the Wild, Into the Dentist’s Office

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 3:07 pm September 24, 2009

About three weeks ago, on September 5th, I, with the help of you, ended my 161-day trek on the Appalachian Trail. The only bitter part is that once you summit Mount Katahdin and reach the sign, you have to turn around and hike back down to the parking lot at the campground. Other than that, the day was sweet! Here’s how the week went leading up to the final day.

Final week/100-Mile Wilderness

Rocket and Daddy Long Legs

Rocket and Daddy Long Legs

While the 100-mile wilderness was truly remote–as in, we crossed a few logging roads, no paved roads, and only saw one car during the five days–it wasn’t lonely. Several thru-hikers all entered on the same day, and there were plenty of section hikers as well. This section wasn’t without challenge and strife. Upon leaving town I was a bit worried about my stomach. I’ll spare you the details only to say I’m glad I carry Pepto Bismal pills. Thankfully the problem went away after a few days. But it messed with my energy level…attitude…it wasn’t easy.

However, the weather during the final week couldn’t have been more beautiful. There were still a few big hills to climb, but none that would compare with Katahdin at the end. A few days into the 100-mile Wilderness, you catch your first glimpse of Katahdin and it is breath-taking…probably cause I first saw it from a smaller mountain about 70 miles in and I was out of breath. But it was still an amazing sight!

Snarky

Snarky

There were several familiar faces during the last week, including Daddy Long Legs and Rocket. Snarky Snarkerson surprised us all by catching up to us around midnight a few days in while we were all sleeping. We had hiked ahead of him upon leaving Gorham, NH, because he needed an extra healing day. But he is crazy and caught up to us somehow. It was good to see him!

Final Day
The last day of hiking started out like any other. Wake up before 6am, pack up my sleeping pad and bag, eat some breakfast, and get dressed for the day. It had been quite chilly at night for the past week, so I normally started out the day in several layers until I worked up a sweat while hiking.

Like I mentioned in the previous blog, the trip to the top of Katahdin and back is no walk in the park. However, because it was a holiday weekend, there were lots of people out to hike the mountain on our day. The climb involves more boulder scrambling than any other section of the trail. In some sections, rebar hand-holds have been drilled into the rock face. I can’t imagine how people make it up and back on a day with less than perfect weather; if it would have been the least bit wet, it would have been treacherous!

You can first see the sign from about 30 yards away. 2,200 miles later and the finish line is in sight. Of course I was mostly exhausted, but I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear those last 20 feet. And then as I touched the sign, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears of joy/exhaustion/being overwhelmed/completion/thankfulness. All of this was caught on film, of course, as Jason the producer had hiked ahead to catch the moment.

We proceeded to hang out on top of the mountain for about half an hour to take in the view and the moment. The view from the top is probably the most beautiful of all the mountain top experiences on the trail, yet the moment is really hard to explain. All the depression, doubt, exhaustion, injury,  loneliness,  uncomfort, and worry that were working hard to end the hike early ceased to be an obstacle anymore. Relief. Success. “Vincerò!”

And then we hiked 5.2 miles back down and stopped hiking for good.

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Transition

I’m not going to lie. It felt amazing to sit in a car and be whisked away from the park. It added to the relief and realization that it was all over and time to return to civilization. Myself, Jason, and several other hikers all stayed at a hostel in town, and then Jason gave Snarky and me a ride to the Bangor airport Sunday morning. It was fun to look out the window as the connection flight headed towards Laguardia and not only cover 1/3rd of the trail in about an hour, but see the expanse of Manhattan, all its inhabitants, the 9/11 vacuum, and the Statue of Liberty. Back to civilization, indeed.

Another short flight to Columbus, OH, and I walked off the plane and into the hugs of my family who were there to pick me up. Home, sweet, Ohio home. They promptly drove me to Chipotle where I inhaled a burrito, and then onto good ole Ross County, average elevation 700 feet, highest point 1,200 feet.

I had already scheduled appointments with my doctor and dentist to make sure 5 months of living in the woods didn’t create any coliforms or cavaities. The doctor’s appointment revealed that I had lost almost 40 lbs since January of this year! Wow…and my blood pressure dropped from 150/100 to 130/80. Yeah, neither are perfect…but that’s a big change!

I’ll post “before and after” pictures soon (should have taken the “after” picture before I started this tour as there is a LOT of food to eat back stage…and bus food at night…), but burning calories for 5 months shaved off inches from the waist, as you can imagine. Not much gain on the calf muscles…I may be doomed to chicken legs my entire life.

The dentist visit didn’t reveal such positive information. No cavaties. However an x-ray revealed that not only did I need all FOUR wisdom teeth removed…I also needed my first root canal. YIKES. While there was no pain during the procedure, the pain proceeded to increase over the next several days…and weeks. I had to go for Round Two of higher power painkillers and antibiotics. TBD whether or not I’m all better. But it took a strange toll on my energy level upon returning to Nashville…I didn’t feel like doing anything! Thus, a very late blog and stacks of mail on my desk yet unopened.

The Road Ahead

On the road with Casting Crowns

On the road with Casting Crowns

So I hopped on a tour bus on Wednesday, September 16th, just shy of a week of my return to Nashville and will be on this bus for the first 3 weeks of tour until returning home to Nashville. I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Roseville, CA, on our day off and for the first time in over a week I don’t feel as though I could lay my head down on the table and immediately begin napping. While I’m not walking 15-25 miles a day anymore, I’m also not getting 8-10 hours of sleep a day. More like 6 or 7. So this has been a different kind of tired. But I am VERY thankful to have such a great job with people I love being around. This tour will primarily be 3-4 days on, 3-4 days off after this first 3-week run is over. So I’ll have several days a week in Nashville to put that part of my life back in some sort of order.

As far as the website, plans are underway for a small renovation and turning the corner on version 2.0. The main goal is to have the site appropriate for first time visitors who may hear about my site through the TV show that will air this fall on Jason’s Comcast network, but only in the DC area. (I’ll let you know if a purchasable or online version becomes available.) Also up and coming will be one last gallery from the last several weeks of hiking, more reflection and summary blogs, as well as the highly anticipated beard growth time-lapse video…yes, get excited.

Finally, many people have had great questions about the trail and my thoughts about finishing. It’s really too soon for me to have a lot of profound thoughts or realizations. However, the main feeling or thought I want to convey is that of thankfulness.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness to me as demonstrated by the constant prayer of friends and family as well as provision and safety while hiking.

Secondly, I like to thank my web team again for an OUTSTANDING job. If it hadn’t been for Brian’s building and web-know-how and Allison’s…well, Allison possibly put more work into the success of the website than it took me to finish the trail! So a word to the wise, if you ever want to attempt a thru-hike of a long trail, you’re going to need an “Allison” to get you through. Someone who can not only logistically keep things in order with mailings, emails, and blogs, but who can encourage you and remind you that you’re not totally insane for attempting such a long hike. Just partially insane. :)

Thirdly, thanks to anyone who gave me the chance to share my story, including newspaper articles, online articles, as well as radio interviews on CDR!

Lastly, thanks to YOU, friends and family. I’ve said it before, but if it hadn’t been for your encouragement and prayers, I WOULD NOT have finished this trail. Certainly not this year, possibly ever. While there were “lonely” moments in the woods, there were not hopeless moments. I knew who was cheering for me and waiting for me when I returned. Thanks for being there for me.

While the banner may not reflect this, our total sponsorship is up to 14 as of the end of August! What a cool achievement! If only we could get 14 more by the end of September…September is the end of our fiscal year…28 is such a cool number…oh, and I happen to have turned 28 today… :) That would be an awesome present, to find out 14 more have been sponsored!!!

Being on tour has freshly reminded me that a great need for sponsors still exist. On our tour alone we will be attempting to get 1000s of kids sponsored, 100s every night. In a recent email from our president Richard Sterns he reminds us at the end that there are currently 24,000 girls awaiting sponsorship. The number for boys is surely higher. Our work is long from over, but we are reaching our goals everyday by reaching out to one life at a time.

Speaking of goals, here’s one last Trail Report to break down the last week of hiking! See you again soon!

Trail Report
8/30 15.1 miles. Not a bad day. Nice sun. Still tired from the 35.4
8/31 20.8 miles. Windy, chilly day. Stomach is not good. I feel terrible.
9/1 18.9 miles. Stomach still uneasy. Big fall today. Head first, pack kept me going down hill. Saw the Big K from White Cap.
9/2 21.5 miles. Energy is a little better as is appetite. I hike onto the last page of my guidebook tomorrow!
9/3 23 miles. As usual, long hard day. Nice short day tomorrow. Snark, DLL, Rocket, and I were hoping to hang out tonight but the mosquitos are horrendous. Thankful stomach is mostly back to normal.
9/4 9.9 miles. Beautiful last day of hiking towards Katahdin. I feel like I’ve been too tired to take it all in. I’ll meet Jason in the morning to do the final hike!
9/5 5.2 miles. (+5.2 miles back down) Beautiful day, couldn’t have asked for better weather. Done hiking! WOOT.

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