Time to get back to the AT!!  It’s taken a while to get my life back on track since I left the section AT hike planned from GA-West VA in 2011. For those new to this blog, here’s the highlights: I had weird facial twitches and speech loss that forced me off the trail in week 1 of the 2011 trip only to find it was a brain tumor.  I had a awake-craniotomy, subsequent chemo and am now monitoring any new growth with a routine MRI schedule. So far, so good with MRI’s showing “no change” for the past two years. My speech is about 80-95% recovered (unless I’m tired) and although the Navy career, and other communication-dependent careers, is gone, I’m now half way through a Welding Certification program and love it. I started painting enough to sell art during the chemo year and continue to blog about that artist journey in my other blog, En Plein Air.

It’s always been my goal to get back on the trail at the GA/NC junction where I left off and continue my march toward Maine, even if it means hiking it in sections.  Now it seems my artist journey and this trek have collided into a revised goal.  I want to hike the AT and record the experience by not only writing about it, but painting scenes on location to fill in the surreal experiences of trail life.  I have so many mental images from my last AT trip that were beyond description.  If I can even paint a few of those moments this trip, it will be invaluable and hopefully inspiring.  Plus, in my artistic journey over the past couple of years, I’ve met a “art angel” (exactly like a “trail angel”), who has not only helped me with art jobs and displays in art festivals, but found benefactors to help me fund this trip!!  Thank you, Amanda!!

It’s one thing to daydream about a vision or goal, and another to do it. As I put my goals down on paper, I try to contemplate “How in the @!$& could I possibly carry art gear with my backpack??”. Just my backpack weight alone gave me a raging case of PT (knee problems) last time, even with the trekking poles!  To those of you new to big distance hiking, every gram/ounce counts. You’ll see sawed off toothbrushes, towels the size of napkins (or bandanas), and hear constant talk of how its worth big $$ to get new gear that shaves off a few ounces! The other concern is space. Take your house, food, clothes … everything needed to get by and imagine that carried on your back. My previous backpack was stuffed so tightly it had visible tension lines resembling Tommy Boy doing his “Fat Guy in a Little Coat” dance.  Now stick an easel, paints, canvases and a pallet on there.  Yes, it’s an image of the Clampetts with an over-sized truckload squeezed onto a single-track trail.

In any case, it will happen, it will be fun and I have no idea what to expect (as it should be).