Ready for Departure

Only a few more days to go until I leave my home, and my family, for the Walk of Britain.

I've decided to blog vigorously while on the walk, both for the sake of my friends and family at home, and for future posterity's sake - read: I'm typically pretty terrible at documenting anything worthwhile in my life.

At the top of the site I've added a section appropriately titled: Walk of Britain. There's a link to the Walk's main website (which has an incredible deal of information about the Walk), as well as a WoB Journal section for my own, personal writings.

I plan on updating those at home with maps, pictures, and my musings along the way - although it may be a few days between posts depending on internet connectivity.

I'm absolutely stoked, and honored to be a part of the Walk, and really can't express how much I'm looking forward to it. I hope to get as much healing from being apart of the Walk, as we're able to provide for others through the awareness and exposure we garner, and the raised funds as well.

The Walk of Britain

I have recently been selected for a charity excursion that I am extremely excited about, the Walking with the Wounded's Walk of Britain. Myself and five other wounded warriors will hike over 1,000 miles through England, Scotland, and Wales, in order to raise awareness both of the charities who are sponsoring us, and of the aftereffects of the war (and how we continue to live our lives, post-conflict).

Unlike previous treks, which went to extreme and far off places (North and South Poles, and Mt. Everest), this expedition is targeted specifically at the People of the United Kingdom and will be conducted solely in the UK.

There will be no 'ramp up' or time to get our trail legs on the expedition and we will be starting out at 20 miles/day, and keep that pace for the entirety of our three months on the road... off I go to get some legs under me before I depart in August for the Walk.

Out and About

If you would have asked me a few months ago, before I caught 'the bug' while I was still active in the Marines, "What do you plan to do when you retire?", hiking would have been the last thing on my list.

For various reasons, a thru hike didn't work out this year - but what started as a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, blossomed into a section hiking adventure, and a new, dare I say, love in my life.

The trail brings perspective to my life. It removes me from the doldrums that are the day-to-day life of someone with PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression. I intentionally capitalize them because they currently define who I am. But for the briefest of moments while on the trail, I no longer feel depressed, or anxious at the world, and at times, the rarest and fleeting of moments, I even forget the nightmares that haunt me.

I leave yet again for another section hiking adventure. Tomorrow I will depart for Baxter State Park's southern-most border, and hop back on the Appalachian Trail to begin a 30-40 day section hike of the trail in Maine through the White Mountains ("The Whites").

I will continue to post, as I typically do, to my Trail Journal while I am out hiking about.

Apple Watch

Got myself an Apple Watch on Wednesday, thought I'd post a few thoughts, opinions, and experiences I've had over the past few days.

  • Small, sleek design. Opened the package and thought I had accidentally ordered the 38mm instead of the 42mm.
  • While not a necessity, the Apple Watch has already filled a niche in my life.
  • If you let them (and I have), the activity rings will gently motivate you to complete daily fitness goals.

Regarding activity, the only ring I initially had trouble filling was the 'active minutes' ring. Not knowing how 'active' one must be, or how the minutes were tracked, I assumed taking a long walk would count towards my minutes. This was not the case. After a day or two of deliberately forcing active minute through strenuous exercise (burpees, push ups, ab workouts, and dive bomber push ups - exercises which I couldn't keep up daily over time), I looked for another outlet to satisfy my new activity taskmaster overlord.

I found that merely raising your heart rate for an extended period of time was enough to count the minutes as 'active'. So far I've been able to have mowing the lawn, stacking firewood, the intentional exercises I mentioned above, as well as strength training (olympic lifts) count as active minutes. Pro-tip; the time between, and after your workout while your heart rate is elevated seem to count towards your 'active minutes' (so don't hit stop on your workout until your heart rate is sufficiently decreased).

The Apple Watch has allowed me to notice how active, or inactive I am, and to adjust. I'm not falling prey to the 'gamification of fitness trackers' as John Siracusa has mentioned, but more akin to Merlin Mann's 'more data = better decisions'.

On a separate note, for any of you out there with treadmill desks, I've discovered that if you walk on your desk with your Apple Watch on (hands resting on your desk/keyboard), AND your phone in your pocket, the steps logged by your phone will be canceled out by the non-steps logged by your watch. I do hope this gets fixed in the future, but for now I take my Apple Watch off when logging steps on my tread desk.

(I have an additional fitness goal outside the three that the Apple Watch sets that I like to meet each day of 10,000 steps - but alas, because the activity rings on the watch are currently one-way only with the Health App on iOS, none of my tread desk activity yet counts towards my activity ring goals [but is reflected in Health App on my phone])

No, How Are YOU Feeling?

I wouldn't call myself a liar, per se. But when it comes to my own personal difficulties, my illness let's call it, I'm a minimalist in what I communicate to others.

It took me over eight years to seek treatment, and that was only because symptoms began severely interfering with my ability to perform at work. If I was still able to cope, and mange, I might still be an active duty Marine today.

But that's not what this post is about. The what if's and could-haves. This post is about something entirely different:

I'm returning to the Appalachian Trail, and MAN am I excited about it.

It's been about a month since I left the trail, and since then I have been internally conducting my own post moratorium on what exactly went wrong. I know what I told my wife, and I know what I told my counselors, I even know what I told myself.

Suffice to say, I've learned a lot about not only my first attempt at the trail, but what my current capabilities and limitations are as an individual. The trail makes the most sense for me in my life right now - if only because I'm not ready, or able, to take on anything else at this point.

That being said. Sometime in June I will be packing up and shipping off down to the NY/CT border, to head off for Round II of this Appalachian Trail Adventure on what those in-the-know call a "Flip Flop" run of the AT (check out this page from the ATC for more information on various ways to hike the AT). The plan is to hike north to Baxter State Park, reassess how things feel, and if continuation is on the plate, get dropped off back at the NY/CT border and begin hiking south once more.

I'll be updating mytrail journal exactly where I left off, upon my departure.

Finally, thank you everyone for your continued support in both this endeavor, and my life. I may not be the most emotive and appreciative person on the outside, but what you do matters.