Another thru-hiker volunteers for testing by Dr. John 'research guy' Davis.
Dahlonega, Georgia (near the start of the Appalachian Trail) — Research is going very well. Testing is complete for 24 subjects. Of the twenty-four tested so far, only one has dropped out after a few days and about 20 miles of hiking. Too early to tell, but it appears as if fitness plays a role in completing the initial stages of the trail.
The subjects have been great and have tolerated all of the torture that I have subjected them to. Because I see them right before they start the trail, they are excited and nervous about the adventure they are about to undertake. If you allow me some creative license (come on, I am a scientist), many are like the early pioneers. No covered wagons, just expensive backpacks and camping gear. Much like the early settlers, during the first 20 miles or so of the hike they realize what is important and not important. Supposedly the first ten miles of the trail is littered with clothes, food, and other extra stuff that weighed thru-hikers down. Hikers realize very early that weight adds to the work that you need to do going up hills. Yesterday we had a hiker with a 76 pound pack!!!! Most are in the 20-40 pound range. Utralight hikers hike with 10-20 pound bags and average 20-30 miles a day. The record for thru-hiking the trail is 47 days. He averaged 40-50 miles a day, hiked 18-20 hours and slept for only four hours a day!
On lighter note, living and more importantly sleeping with multiple people every night in the bunk room has given me an appreciation of different snoring styles. Over the past week and a half I have been able to document several snoring varieties. One style is a continuous loud grating noise interrupted only by short uniform breaths, resembling most closely a saw on rough wood. The second variety (commonly associated with sleep apnea) is the snore, stop-breathing-then-gasp-for-air type. Finally, there is the peaceful, quiet almost soothing snore that wafts throughout the room. As you can see, the fresh air and mountains are having an interesting effect on me.
I now officially have a trail name. What is a trail name? It is a name you are given because something eventful has happened to you, or it is how other people see you. It replaces your real name for the months that you are on the trail. I have run into or tested Scholar, Terrapin Flyer, Cimarron, Bearbag, etc. I am ashamed to tell you what name has been given to me by my subjects, because it is pretty plain. The 'research guy.' Yes, the 'research guy.' I wanted something exotic like the Gladiator or the Svelt Scientist, but no…just the 'research guy.' Oh well, such is life.
Well, I have rambled on enough. Gotta go and test another subject!
Posted: Mon, March 19th, 2007 at 3:12PM