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 hitch-hiked for the first time…

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 9:51 pm April 4, 2009

Today was my first car ride in a week. Boy, are cars fast. At one point we were going 1 mile-per-minute!! (That’s 60mph if you don’t want to do the math.) I’ve been averaging 2-3 mph. My hiking gears are similar to the speed of trucks on a highway. Steep uphill = super slow. Easy uphill = decent pace. Level ground = normal to fast pace. Slight downhill = fast as possible without falling. Steep downhill = slooooow.

Tonight is my second hostel night, this time in ridiculously beautiful Hiawassee, GA.  It’s so rewarding to emerge from the woods after a quick 11 miles, have free lunch as trail magic, get to a great place like the Blueberry Patch hostel where they do your laundry, feed you breakfast as their ‘ministry’ (donations accepted), and get a warm shower. Hiking is rewarding in and of itself. But I’m learning half the joy comes from setting a goal for a town 3-4 days away and relaxing there.

Anyway, thanks again for your encouraging messages. I’m planning on taking a full day off in Franklin, NC, where I plan to catch up and respond to all of them! That is if I survive the rain/thunderstorms tomorrow and Monday, and the freezing cold and snow we’re expecting on Tuesday. Oh how ironic that just a few hours ago I was sunning in the backyard, skin slightly burned in the 75 degree April sun.

Too tired to type my Trail Report. My thumbs are about to give up. (Update typed on cellphone.)

See you in Franklin, NC. I’ll post some pictures on the site when I’m there. Goodnight!

40 miles down. 2,160 to go!

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 11:21 am April 2, 2009

Oh man. Talk about all forms of highs and lows during the first 3.5 days. This is day 4 and I had only planned to walk 4 miles to arrive where I am now, Mountain Crossings Outfitter at Neel’s Gap, GA. The rains came down HARD last night for the first time. On top of Blood Mountain it was so foggy that I didn’t know if it was raining or if I was walking through the clouds as the drops were being formed.

Here’s how the days have been:
Pass or get passed by a few people while walking from 10-12 miles a day. Then at the end of the day all the familiar faces arrive again at a shelter. We cook, we chat, we go to bed as soon as the sun goes down (some before). Then, when the sun comes up, eat breakfast, tear down your tent, walk another 10-12 miles, lunch on the go, arrive at the next shelter 4-5pm, and repeat.

My morale was pretty low yesterday evening. Around 3 it got cold and rainy. I had it in my mind that I wanted to go another 5 miles and get to Neel’s Gap, but thankfully I stopped at the first shelter I came to. Everyone else I’d seen for the past few days had the same idea and trickled in after me. That’s why this morning I was able to make great time with only 4 miles, get to Neel’s Gap, and rent a bunk for the night. There’s probably room for 16 of us in here, again, mostly common faces. When I arrived around 11:15am there was a church cooking hamburgers for hikers. My first instance of what’s called “trail magic.” I had 3!

It was great to take a shower, do laundry, and talk to the store owner about how to make my pack lighter. Starting tomorrow, sending a few things on up the trail and reevaluating whether or not I need them in 8-10 days.

I was very encouraged by your messages and notes on Facebook and the website. I’m sorry I don’t have time to respond to them all individually. Until then, thanks for being on this journey with me, invite your friends! I’ll leave you with what I’m going to call the Trail Report. It’ll have my miles, any notable site or achievement, weather, animals, mood, and pain.

Trail Report
3/29 – 11.6 miles, went from 1700 ft to 3782 ft by the end of the day, chilly all day, really cold on Springer Mountain, happy, excited, positive, pain in hips and knees, thankful, tired, ice formed on small part of my rainfly overnight

3/30 – 12.3 miles, cold start, warm finish, tired, worried about pain, salamander, squirrel, chipmunk, more pain in knee

3/31 – 12.3, cold to mild, rainy finish, happy and tired, chipmunk, worried about knee, rained all night

4/1 – 4 miles, easy and fast, happy to be at Neel’s Gap and the Mountain Crossing outfitter, lots of familiar faces, had my pack and its contents evaluated to reduce weight, excited about tomorrow.

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