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

“I’m what you call ‘Indoor-sy’”

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 11:08 am April 27, 2009

I guess that’s not totally true or else I wouldn’t have made it this far. Actually, I like the fact that even podunk hostels like Uncle Johnny’s in Erwin, TN, have wireless Internet while sitting next to a beautiful river and being surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains. In 2009 technology and nature can hold hands. So let’s have them do that now, here’s a short clip from one of my favorite comedians Jim Gaffigan and his opinions on camping and the great outdoors:

So I’m going to round up and say I’ve hiked 350 miles so far on arguably one of the toughest sections of the trail. Physically, I can do this thing. For me it’s the mental/spiritual exercise that is challenging. The first few weeks were a mix of silence and music on the MP3 player while hiking. But I got tired of my music quickly, and my times of silence were often filled with doubt. Not doubt that I could hike 2200 miles, but doubt that I was doing the right thing, or spending/investing/losing my money wisely.

Not that the doubt has passed. I’ve shared with some of you my whole AT/2200miles.com plans were almost completed demolished towards the end of last year when I realized just how much I would owe on taxes. It was exponentially more than I had expected, and it was 3-4x more than the estimated payments I had already made (as I’m self-employed/an independent contractor for World Vision). Lesson learned; I now know more about different tax brackets than I ever wanted to know. Yes, I use an accountant.

So I started selling things and I’m still selling things. Things I really love and have enjoyed. In a way, I would say it’s been a “hike of faith,” trusting that if I’m supposed to be out here I’m relying on God to provide because before I thought I could just rely on my earnings from last year. If He wants me to leave the trail, He’ll open the right door I’m supposed to be hiking through. I mean, I had been thinking about this hike for well over a year, and planning on it for months.

ALL that to say…(ok, in defense of the mission of this blog, if you ever consider hiking the AT you’ll need this information, things like having your finances in order, knowing what you want to get out of your hike, your personal goals, etc.) I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’ve got my MP3 player now loaded with books, Scripture, and sermons; things that are important to me but I’ve not really dedicated any time to over the past several years. I’ve got a new pair of shoes that are lighter and more comfortable than my boots. I’ve got beautiful stretches of trail ahead of me just waiting to be conquered and explored. And yes, I have trail towns to visit and locals to befriend (and hopefully a Starbucks in one of these towns).

Ok, reading back over that I’m now worried it looks like I’m asking for a “bail out” or financial help. NOT so. I can literally say that I have everything I need. My closest friends and family know that I’m terrible at giving and receiving gifts. I’d rather just call it “even” with everyone. :)

mosquito-headnetI’m so thankful for the support and encouragement I’ve had up until this point that I feel comfortable sharing what’s really going through my mind so far while I’m hiking. Like the fact that I’m mildly arachnophobic and I’ve spent the last several mornings collecting spiderwebs across my forehead while hiking. And now that it’s heating up, all other forms of bugs are making their return to the warm world, more specifically, dive-bombing into my eyes and ears. The verb “to bug” was no doubt first used in spring, redundance being the catalyst. “UGH. These bugs are…bugging me!” I’m going to lower my pride and be the guy wearing one of these head nets to avoid further contact with spider webs, mosquitoes, and no-see-ums. I just have to travel to China and find one of those hats to support it.

Speaking of mosquitoes, did you know Saturday, April 25th was World Malaria Day?

“I didn’t know there was such a thing. Why does malaria have it’s own day?”

I’m glad you asked! It gets its own day because 1,000,000 people die a year (80-90% of which are children under the age of five) and it’s a preventable, ERADICABLE disease.

“How can a disease be prevented or eradicated?”

Also glad you asked! One last video for the day, this one is only one minute long. It’s like a movie trailer (except it’s real life) and YOU have the opportunity to be the HERO and help defeat the villain:

Sleeping under a treated bed net. No bites, no disease, no death. No caskets, mourners, processions, broken ground, broken hearts. Bed nets.

Can you give to that cause? www.endmalaria.org

More importantly, can you give monthly? Please do me a favor this week. Click on one of the banners in my sponsorship page. On the left-hand column under “Find a Child to Sponsor,” choose your own birthday under “Child’s Birthday.” See if you have a pen-pal waiting for you who shares your birthday. Sponsor a child and become their hero. “Me, a hero?” Yup. World Vision makes it easy. Put that kid’s picture up on your refrigerator.

If you already sponsor a child…awesome. Write to them this week! Fill out and return the cards WV sends you for your child. You can even email them! Let them know you’re still thinking about them, not just sending them money.

Wow. Thanks for sticking with me. Trail Report, then we’re outta here!

Trail Report
4/17 15.6 miles, cool ridge walking out of Gatlinburg. Still small patches of snow here and there. Trying no-cook meals for a few days. Tortillas, PB and Cheese. YUM.

4/18 18.1 miles, walked with Highlander for a good portion of the day, made it go faster. TRAIL MAGIC in a cooler closer to a road. Had a Mt. Dew and oatmeal cream pie. Staying @ Standing Bear Farm. Played guitar around the camp fire. Lots of cool people here. Soundtrack, Nature, Kaybar, Poptart, Highlander, Pellet, Bear, Dr. Perky.

4/19 20.3 miles, Hard but good day. Rained and chilly.

4/20 13.1 miles, first trail visitor SCOTT PHILLIPS! Good times at lunch in Hot Springs, NC. First night sleeping alone. Stayed at Duckett Hostel. Elmers was full :(

4/21 11 miles, left at 11 am. Went to a coffee shop that had a piano and a guitar. Played all morning, did some reading before taking off. Re-weighed my pack = 43.5 lbs with 4 days of food and 3 liters of water. New shoes. Right foot hurts.

4/22 15.4 miles, Poptart left his hat and guide book. Carried it 8.6 miles and met him at the next shelter. He left and then forgot his Crocs. Carrying them now.

4/23 14.7 miles, nice warm day. Drank a lot of water. Learning to take quality breaks during the day. Sun is still hot on the skin as of 4:30. All sorts of colorful flowers that smell wonderful in the morning. Passed the 300 mile mark today.

4/24 20.7 miles, new best. Comfortably started in just shorts and t-shirt this AM. Very warm day. Going to start buying more food. Big Bald was amazing.

4/25 6.3 miles, began hiking before 7am. Staying at Uncle Johnny’s hostel two nights. Spent the day downloading new sermons/NPR/books for MP3 player.

4/26 0 miles, very hot day. Went to a small country church. Chinese buffet for lunch, Subway for dinner. Bought groceries. Leaving tomorrow after lunch!


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