Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Thru-Hiking Year Comes to an End

Well...2007 has finally come to an end. I have survived my first semester of Grad School and my mind has never fully left the A.T.   It's amazing how much I couldn't wait to be finished...and now all I want is to be back out there. I feel almost compelled to thru-hike again in 08. People always talk about how it gets "in their blood". Well, It is in mine. I don't know if it always was and I simply woke it up, or if it was a newly added thing...but regardless, it's there now.

2007 will always be one of the most important years of my life. I set an incredible goal for myself and actually accomplished it. All the things that I had hoped to "sort out", I was able to....and I also was surprised by a lot of other unexpected experiences.  Whether or not I'm hiking next summer, I am definitely going to go to trail days...since I missed it by a few days this year. So hopefully I will see many of you there.  Happy Holidays to everyone and for those of you still on the fence on whether or not you can make an 08' thru hike CAN. I was in the same boat, and was able to pull together a plan in less than a week this year.   It might be a little stressful, but it will be worth it. I only wish I could thru-hike every year.

I want to personally thank the following people for helping me to make my hike a reality:

My Mom:   For sending all my PO boxes, taking care of my bills, and for her genuine support. Love you mom.

My sister: For watching my cat, and taking care of my car.

Aaron Nolan: For driving from Providence RI, to meet me in Ft. montgomery NY and hike with me for a day and a half. (And for sharing a few beers and good 'ol times)

Patrick McGinty: For driving over 10+ hours round trip from Cleveland to Shendandoah to hike with me for a day and feed me the best food on the entire trail (Thanks for the cornish hens!!!!!)

"Nature Boy"/Willy Syndram: For the good company throughout the Smokies and into Hot Springs

"Wrongturn"/Michael McDaris: For the awesome company from Gorham NH all the way to Katahdin. I sincerely do not know if I would have made it through Maine alone. Take care of yourself Mike. I hope someday we cross paths on the CDT or PCT.

My Cousins April and Patrick: For printing out a large AT map and following my progess every day. And patrick...I was honored to be the subject of your show and tell in school and loved sending you post cards at every town stop.

My Fegy Family: For hosting the Fegy Fest (reunion) at the perfect time so that I could take a break mid-hike to see everyone.

and most importantly:
My Dad: for hiking every step of the 2174 miles by my side. I know that every time I wanted to quit, I thought of you dad, and refused to give up. I hope that I make you proud.

take care everyone, and again....Happy Holidays/New Year.
-john "lakewood" fegyveresi

Lakewood 2007 NOBO

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Reconstructing Paleoclimates On West Antarctic Ice Sheet Using Ice Core Bubble Number-Density

woooo...that's a mouthful.

this is the tentative title for my master's thesis as of Dec 6th. I have officially chosen Dr. Richard Alley as my advisor...which I'm extremely excited about. Dr. Alley is literally world famous when it comes to climate change, ice-sheet response, and glaciology. (google him) He co-wrote the IPCC report on climate change and indirectly just co-won the Nobel Peace Prize (with big Al). I couldn't have picked, in my opinion, a more fascinating person as my advisor.

Tentatively, it looks like I'm going to be going to Denver late next semester to the NICL (national ice core lab) to take measurements on some ice cores. I was hoping to actually get to antarctica, but that probably won't happen until next season. The core I'm going to study is being drilled right now. Oh well. This is all very tentative. I am also excited to be taking some cool classes next semester. On of them (tectonic geomorphology) has a week long field trip to study the geology in southern California!


that's it for now. I'm hoping if I do end up in denver, I might try to hike the Colorado trail. I've always wanted to...and since ending my AT hike, I miss being out there. I hope to someday do the PCT. I really do.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Into the Wild

Last Saturday I saw "Into the Wild" down at the Cedar Lee with a very good friend. During my thru-hike this summer, like most other hikers, I read this book. Guess it's kind of a rite of passage. There are varying opinions about Chris McCandless. Some say he was a sort of jack kerouac free spirit that needed to roam....that needed a block of time to find himself. Others say he was a selfish idiot, that put his parents, sister, and those around him through hell, so that he could have some unnecessary long-hair hippy-dippy experience. I've spent the last 4 days thinking about this movie. Whatever you believe about Chris, this movie will change your life. I can't imagine watching this and not coming away with a sense of "life is too short" and "we must live-it" kind of attitude.

I could spend hours talking about this movie...what I liked, how amazing the soundtrack is, analyze it to the bone...But I don't want to do that. While I may not have gone roaming into alaska, I can honestly say that I can empathize with Chris. I know what it means to have to roam, and "breath in the air" as it were. I know that hiking the A.T. is not even close to spending 2 years roaming the country, but at the heart of it, I think I have a small clue as to what he was looking for.

for any of you want to know what that feeling is, I will tell you. There is a scene in the movie about 30 minutes from the end, where Chris climbs to the top of a mountain in Alaska. He stretches out his arms, closes his eyes, and it is right that moment, that you will know what he was looking for. I have felt it, and I think before we leave this earth, we all should.

Please people, you don't need to spend two years roaming in alaska to find it. You just need to recognize it. There is so much unnoticed awe in this world....make time to find it for yourself. It really is worth it.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Final Update - Katahdin Defeated!

Well for days I dreamed about writing this blog update. I am sitting at a coffee house in Millinocket Maine about 20 miles from Baxter State Park and Mt. Katahdin. Yesterday morning I climbed the 4000+ feet to the summit and laid my hands on the sign stating "Katahdin - Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail". It was truly one of the greatest feelings I've ever had in my entire life. I have never worked so hard for something, and put myself through such hardship in order to reach a goal. Without question this was the hardest thing I've ever done, but also without question, the most rewarding. I don't know if I'll ever again be able to match the feeling I had on top of that mountain yesterday. I am very anxious to get back to life and start my Masters Program at Penn State. In my final trail journal entry at Baxter State Park, I wrote something that pretty much sums it up:

"I learned more about myself over the past 100 days than I ever thought possible. I met people and made friends that I will keep for a lifetime. I was finally able to say my much needed goodbyes and truly clear my head. Most importantly though, I have filled my empty heart and mind with some of the most amazing memories that any person could ever ask for. I know that I will never forget the summer of 2007. Good luck to everyone reading this and to all those that will thru-hike in the future. Good luck also to all of the amazing people I met along the way. I will miss you all. Signing out for the last time:

Number 85 up Katahdin in the Class of 2007 Thru-Hikers:


I will see you all back in the real world...real soon,


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 18 - Monson, Maine

Well I made it to Monson Maine (Mile 2060) ...the last town on the A.T. From here, all that remains is the 100 mile wilderness and then the climb up Katahdin (114 miles to go). I wish I could explain just how glad I am to be almost done, but there's just no way to put it into words. I am very ready to be done though.

Tomorrow I head in to the "100 mile wilderness" which is considered the most remote part of the entire trail. There are no roads, no stores, and no places to go. Just me and the wilderness. Supposedly there are a lot of moose and other wildlife in this area. In less than a week, I'll be on Katahdin.

I have a load of videos and pictures that I will post as soon as I am finished.

See you all soon.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 17 - Stratton, Maine

I'm writing this message from the Hostel in Stratton Maine (Mile 1986). I'm not quite sure how, but I have managed to make it past most of "Southern Maine". There is not a square inch on my body that doesn't hurt right now. I have one more big mountain tomorrow (Bigelow Mountain), and then I actually get a break from the climbs until the end at Katahdin. It is impossible to do big miles through Maine and I am glad that I was 2 days ahead in New Hampshire. I've been able to add those days in giving me shorter days of hiking. In a few more days I'll be in Monson, the last town before the "100 mile wilderness". Then all I'll have is the finish up Katahdin. As bummed as I'll be to go back to "real life", I absolutely cannot take any more hiking and will be so glad to be done. I don't know how anyone can want to do this trail more than once. I have my reasons for doing this...and once finished, I don't plan on ever doing it again.

On a positive note, I'm still hiking with Michael and it's made the days go a little faster. Yesterday I hiked up and over Saddleback Mountain...probably the best above-treeline hike in Maine. Tomorrow I will hit the 2000 mile mark too, so I'm pretty pumped about that. Last night from the summit of Sugarloaf, I could actually see Katahdin 198 miles away...It definitely got me excited.

Gonna go and enjoy my short half day now. Hope everyone is well back home. Can't wait to see you all.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 16 - Southern Maine

I don't have much time to update so real quickly here's an update from Andover Maine (mile 1909...~265 to go):

I would love to tell you all that I tackled the Whites with fortitude, bent them over my knee, and spanked them...but the thruth is that they quite literally destroyed me. I never could have possibly imagined just how hard that they were going to be. Don't get me had the best views of any part of the trail, but I am in the roughest and most banged up shape I've been in yet. Here's the ultimate kicker though: When I finally got to Gorham I though, "thank god its over, now i just have 280 miles of maine and I'm home free". Well...Southern Maine has actually been more difficult than the Whites. Even the guide book describes Southern Maine as the "most difficult and challenging part of the trail". I honestly don't know if I physically can stand one more day of hiking in these conditions. It is very frustrating to get this far and have to deal with such horrible trail conditions.

The good news is that I am two days ahead of schedule and can afford to slow down a little. I have also unofficially found a hiking partner (guy named Michael) for the last few days. It's nice to have someone to talk to and to keep my mind of the horrible climbs and descents. We may end up keeping the same pace all the way to Katahdin...don't know.

I may stop in Rangely or Stratton on my way to Caratunk. I don't know yet. Today is going to be a horrible day hiking though....and it is supposed to reach 92 degrees.

well gotta go. only 265 to go....


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 15 - The Whites

Appalachian Trail - Update 15 - The Whites
Well...I'm at the doorstep to the whites. I made it to Glencliff and climb my first beast tomorrow. Mt Moosilauke. I can't wait.

I will fill you all in from Gorham when I make it out in about a week...


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 14 - Vermont

First off let me say that Murphy has his law in full effect today. Let me explain....

From the moment I stepped into Vermont it has rained continuously. Basically 5 straight days. The entire 105 miles from the border to Killington has been mud. The trail should be renamed the "AMT" for the Appalachian Mud Trail. Of course today...I hit Killington at 11 AM and am taking my usual Post Office half day........and its beautiful, sunny and 72 degrees. DOH!

Vermont has been slightly more difficult hiking than Massachusetts, but still not too bad. I have made the turn at Maine Junction here at Killington and am officially heading towards my end goal 484 miles away (at mile 1690). It was nice though sharing those miles with the famous "Long Trail" of Vermont. Killington Mountain was the first 4000+ ft mountain since The Priest Mtn in Virginia. Come to think of it, it's kind of crazy to think that I have less miles left than were in the entire state of Virginia....hmmm.

Anyway....I made the mistake of looking ahead at the elevation profiles for the White Mountains and I am terrified. I have 80 miles to Glencliff NH which is where the whites officially start. As soon as I leave the town, I head from 1000 ft up to 4800 ft in one shot up Mt Moosilauke. Nothing like a smooth transition.

On a side note, in the past few days I've passed 4 South Bound thru-hikers. It's kind of interesting hearing their side of the story. They all have the smirk as if to say "nah nah, I have the hardest part already completed". I just smirk back and think "yeah but I only have 480 miles left and you have 1700". I also think "I get to finish at Katahdin...and you get to finish on the completely uninspiring and underwhelming Springer Mtn." Seriuosly though, I have received a lot of good wisdom from the south bounders about the Whites and Maine. I can't wait to be hiking above treeline. I am getting tired of the "long green tunnel".

In two days I get to hike right through the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover. That should be intersting. It will be tough trying to fit in with the students...and look "Ivy league" with almost 90 days of facial hair. Oh well.

Guess that's it for an update. I honestly don't know when/if I'll be able to update again. The lodging and internet access is real sketchy from here on out. I'll try but if I can't...just remember I'll be in the Whites from around the 26th to the 31st. If there's ever a time you feel like rooting for me, or cheering me on...that's when I'll need it the most. Say a few prayers to the weather Gods while you're at it too. There would be nothing worse than going through the entire Whites in rainy crappy weather and never seeing any of the amazing views. I am going to try and stay in the famous White Mountain Huts by doing a Thru-Hiker "work-for-stay" program they offer, so I'll at least hopefully get some good meals and warm places to stay. I'm shooting for Katahdin somewhere between the 14 and the 16th of August. I've been getting real tired lately so I may slow down a bit and hit on the 17th or 18th. It will all depend on how I feel in Gorham, NH (end of the Whites).

I've got LOTS of pics and videos from the 2nd half. Can't wait to upload them.

be well everyone, and I'll be back soon.

-a very tired, yet excited, john

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 13

I am writing this from Cheshire Massachusetts (roughly mile 1560...or 614 to go). Today marks a pretty important day on the trail. It marks the last "easy" day I will probably have. I hiked a short day today and am purposely sucking the proverbial marrow out of this near-zero day. I have stuff to get at the post office so I had to stop for the day and wait until tomorrow morning. I got here about noon and am staying at a small B & B. Tomorrow I head out and up Mount Greylock....MA's highest peak. From there I head into Vermont and into tougher mountains again. After 100 miles in VT, I turn east and head into NH and finally get to tackle the White Mountains......arguably the toughest part of the entire trail. So like I said, today is my last day to enjoy taking it easy. Believe it or not, a lot of people quit the trail at this point because they see the elevation profiles for VT, NH, and ME...and lose hope. Again I will say that I have come too damn far to quit now (as tempting as it is....and oh man is it tempting). I know if I quit now, I would be sitting on my couch roughly one month from now saying to myself, "had I not quit, I'd be summiting Katahdin right now...DOH!" I have spent too many nights dreaming about what it will be like to summit Mt. Katahdin to give up.


I was talking to another hiker here about just how much faster the 2nd half seems to be going. We both agreed its because there's no Virginia. No state of 500 + miles. I remember hiking in Maryland right after my break and it seems like only a week ago. Yet North Carolina seems like last year. NJ, NY, CT, and MA have all gone by so fast.

I can't wait to be writing an update from Caratunk Maine, my last PO stop before Katahdin.

Thank you everyone for all your words of encouragement the last few has certainly helped. major stop will be Killington, VT. Right at the Maine Junction. (where the Long Trail and A.T. Split)

till then,

-a tired and sore, john.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 12

I am just leaving the small town of Salisbury CT (1485 miles // 689 miles to go) this morning and heading up Bear Mountain (CT's highest peak). By the end of the day, I'll be in Southern Mass. Less than 700 miles to go now...and honestly I'm very glad. I am starting to get the "hiking blues" as they are called. Just kind of want to sit on a couch for a few days and do a whole lot of nothing....But I know I've come way too far for that. I didn't hike 1500 miles to quit now. Besides New Hampshire and Maine are still to come...the best two states on the trail.

Don't know when I'll be able the write again. I hope everyone is doing well, and I'm looking forward to starting the new chapter of my life this fall at Penn State.

If everything goes according to plan, I should summit Mt. Katahdin on or around August basically, I have one month left.


Monday, July 9, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 11

Well, it has been a long time since I've had access to a computer. I'm writing this from Kent Connecticut. (mile 1452 - 722 left). Since my last update, I have completed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. The hiking through these mid-atlantic states has been pretty average...nothing too exciting to write home about. I should be in MA later this week, and VT by next week.

Overall I'm doing ok, but I can honestly say that I am starting to get a little bit tired of hiking. I did pass the 2/3 mile mark this morning so I am on the last leg of the trail, but I still can't help feeling that I want it to be over soon. I should be done in about 1 more month. I know once I'm in the White Mountains of NH and up in Maine I'll feel a lot better.

Hope everyone back home is doing great and I'll try to write again from Cornwall Bridge tonight.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 10

Greetings from Joisey! Well...almost. I am actually on the PA/NJ border in the town of Delaware Water Gap (but techinally still in PA). Mile 1288 I think?...I don't have my book in front of me.


Even though PA was 230 miles, it actually went by fairly quickly. Also, the "horrible, terrible, dreaded rocks" everyone kept warning me about really weren't that bad. Only the last 10-15 miles of PA were really bad.

I'm really excited to be hitting NJ tomorrow because I will have 4 states in a row now with less than 100 miles. I should knock all 4 out in less than 2 weeks.

Also, I'm supposed to be meeting my buddy Aaron for a day at my next P.O. stop in Fort Montgomery NY.

I started a trailjournals journal as well, because apparently thats were all the hikers post their blogs (not here on myspace).

That's pretty much it I guess. Pennsylvania was a very nice state to hike through (except the last 15miles of course). There was even a 1 mile long intense boulder scramble by lehigh gap that required me doing some ol hand over hand rock was actually pretty fun.

I broke my distance record again....34.9 now. Before I'm done, I will hit a 40 miler at least once.

Finally.....Katahdin is now less than 900 away. I believe its around 896 or something.

well, I do miss all my family and friends....I'll be back soon.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 9

Well...after a 6 day hiatus, I'm back on the trail! I headed out last Friday from Harper's Ferry and have made it to Duncannon, Pennsylvania (mile 1132.9, 1041.1 to go). Tomorrow I head east across PA to Delaware Water Gap and cross the infamous "rocks". Eastern PA is notorious for destroying shoes as the trail is littered with giant boulders and rocks. It is very tough hiking. Luckily I'm getting some new shoes sent to me about half way into it at Port Clinton.

I am officially past the half-way point too. When I made it to mile 1087 at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, I celebrated by participating in the "Half-gallon challenge". It is tradition that any hiker making it half-way, must attempt eating an entire half gallon in one sitting. If you finish, you win a wooden spoon and an honorable membership in the Half-Gallon Club. I am pleased to say that I did in fact finish, although it took me 1 hour and 5 minutes to put it all down.

I Probably won't update again until the PA/NJ border, but I may be able to in Port Clinton...we'll see.

It is definitly nice to know that Mt. Katahdin is officially closer than Springer. I am going to start counting down the miles instead of counting up.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 8 - BREAK TIME!!!!!!


Well, everything worked out perfectly. I made it to Harper's Ferry (Mile 1009) Friday afternoon, celebrated at the AT headquarters, got a rental car and headed up to surprise my family at the annual Fegy reunion. I am actually writing this post from my cousin's house at the reunion. It is so nice to be not hiking today. I'm hoping during these few days off my body will heal all up and be ready to go at 100 percent again. I am looking forward to seeing my friends in the next couple of days too.

Everyone keeps asking me what I'm most excited about with regards to the trail...and honestly I think it's that I'm done with Viriginia. I was really starting to lose hope that the state would never end. 550 miles of trail is too many for any one state to own.

See you all soon....and I will post all my high-res pics and videos as soon as I get my hands on my mac book.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 7

Only have time for a quick update. Made it to Montebello today (mile 809). In a couple days I'll be in Shenendoah. I can't wait for my break in a week in a half. I am in desperate need of a rest.

The last few days have been extrememly difficult. Multiple 3000 ft climbs and descents. On top of that, I've had a stomach bug that has made it rather uncomfortable hiking. Looking forward to Shenendoah because it is relatively easy terrain. Also, my friend Pat is coming down to hike with me for a day, so it will be nice to see a familiar face.

On friday I will be in Waynesboro and finally done with "central virginia"...thank God. Today is really the last day of rough hiking and I'm doing low mileage so it shouldn't be too bad.


oh and sorry about the uploaded pics being such bad quality. I had to seriously dumb them down in order to upload them. I plan on uploading the full resolution pics as soon as I'm home.

don't think there'll be another update so...the next time you here from me, I'll be on my break.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 6

Well, I made it to Pearisburg...mile 622. I got in this morning around 9:30. So far Virginia has been getting slightly easier...but I'm also in better shape so the climbs don't seem as bad. It was a long 7 days from Damascus to here, but it finally came. My toe hasn't really been getting any better with the antibiotics, so I might actually go to the Clinic here in town today. I am about to head up and get my post office stuff and do my laundry, but the motel I'm staying at had a public internet I figured I'd do a quick update.

I have finally run into the big crowds of hikers that all left in mid-april. Every shelter I get to at night has consistantly been full with other hikers. I kind of miss the smaller crowds.

I honestly don't know if I'm going to be able to update very much between now and Harper's Ferry. My next three stops are real small towns that probably won't have internet terminals, so you may not hear from me again until my break around the middle of June. (Or sooner if my toe doesn't get any better).

Hope all is well with everyone. I can honestly say that doing this hike has allowed my to clear my head of a lot of things that have been gnawing away at me. I hope that whenever it is that I stop, I will have a clean head, and a positive attitude that I can take to grad school. I certainly needed this time away.

take care everyone and I will try to update again. Pics and vids will be posted during my break.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 5

Greetings from Damascus Virginia...Mile 459. It was a long, brutal hike into Damascus, but well worth it. I busted butt the past few days so that I would only have 10 miles to hike into town today. I got here about 10:00 am and already found a b & b to stay at. They do my laundry, have free snacks, internet, and give me free beer. Like I said though, I earned it. I did 29.5 miles yesterday, and 34.5 the day before that (a personal record). From everything I have seen, it looks as though there's about 100 more miles in Virginia of tough mountains before things even out. So I guess I'm not to the easy stuff just yet. I had a set back with my antibiotics. The place they were sent to were closed the day I got there, so I couldn't pick them up. My toe hasn't really gotten any worse, but not any better either. I asked the place I sent them to, to forward them to the Damascus PO. Hopefully they are here. I'll know in about 30 minutes.

I am very glad to be done with North Carolina and Tennessee. Now I have Virginia to deal with for a long 550 miles. I will say the few mountains I climbed after Roan Mountain were probably the most amazing yet (Specifically Hump Mountain).

I hope all is well with everyone back in C-town and Rochester. I miss everyone. I am still planning on taking at least 5 days off in mid june when I get to Harper's Ferry (the half way point). I have taken a lot of pictures and short videos with my camera and will upload them to my johnfegy site as soon as I'm on my break (roughly June 18th or so)

I still can't believe I've walked almost 459 miles straight. It occurred to me that I've basically walked from Cleveland to New York City. 459 down, 1715 to go.

I'll write again soon...but at worst, in Pearisburg 7 days from now.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 4

Erwin, TN...Mile 338

Well, overall I think the zero day was a good thing. I got to spend a whole day in Hot Springs with some really good people. It was tough to say goodbye to them all....but I must move on. I made it to Erwin this afternoon and decided to stay at a Hostel (Uncle Johnny's) for $15.00. Great little place. Every hostel on the trail has the same type of feel. Very welcoming. Extremely friendly people.

My toe is not really getting any better, but I have antibiotics coming tomorrow. Hopefully, it will finally clear up with the help of a little amoxicillan.

I am really looking forward to Damascus, VA. Both Georgia and North Carolina have been roller coasters. They are loaded with what hikers call "PUDS"...pointless ups and downs. (and MUDS...mindless ups and downs)From what everyone tells me, VA gets a little bit easier...especially Shenendoah. Seriously, for the past few weeks, I've climbed 3000 feet...then descended 3000 feet....then climbed 3000 feet...all day, everyday. I've lost about 10 pounds already and I eat everything in sight when I'm in town. Its great to be able to eat anything and not worry about gaining weight. Average thru-hikers burn 5000-6000 calories a day. I'm doing 25+ miles a day, so for me its more like 6000 calories. Every try to eat 6000 calories? It's like 2 pizzas...a day! Anyway....I found out that the A.T. has more elevation gain than both the Contintental Divide and Pacific Crest trail combined. Amazing. If you hike the entire A.T....its like hiking from sea level to the top of Mt. Everest and down, 16 times. That's right 16!

In two days I will summit Roan Mountain...the last 6000 + ft mountain until Mt. Washington up in New Hampshire.

That's it for now. I'm gonna go make some phone calls. My cell phone actually has a signal here in Erwin.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 3

Well, I made it to Hot Springs (Mile 270). Not much to this town. When I asked a local hiker how big the town was they said, "If you threw a dead cat from downtown, it would land outside of town". That pretty much sums it up.

I got a small motel room...not nearly as nice as in Fontana, but anything is better than sleeping on the ground. Its amazing how much we take for granted. I am simply amazed that there's a thing that you can turn, and water comes out of it..I'm just so used to filtering from streams.

As far as an injury update: I am pretty sore all over. The good news is that my right ankle has gotten better...that bad news is that both my knees are really sore from all the recent down hills, and that I have an infection brewing in my big toe (due to bad cutting of toenail).

As much as I want to stay on schedule, I am seriously considering taking a "zero day". This is what the AT hikers call taking an entire day off from hiking. In all honesty, I think the body needs it once in a while just to heal up a bit. Otherwise, you risk running yourself into the ground.

I'll have my cell phone tomorrow, so I can finally call some of you. I decided it was just easier to carry it. This way I can call towns ahead of time to book rooms too.

take care everyone!

-john "lakewood"

Friday, May 11, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 2

Hi everyone!

I am staying in a Hostel tonight called "Standing Bear Farm". It is a quaint little place right on the trail. I was supposed to camp tonight, but this place was within a mile of my campsite. I am writing this from the owner's personal computer (on a 24.4 modem no less - yikes). I am 3 miles north of the Great Smoky Mountains and 2 days from Hot Springs. I was able to blow through the Smoky Mountains in 3 days. I took a video with my camera from the observation tower on the top of Clingman's Dome. (The highest peak on the entire 2174 Mile A.T.). I'll write a more detailed message from Hot Springs. Hope all is well with everyone. I miss all of you!

-john a.ka. "lakewood"

by the way, I have officially been given the trail name of "lakewood". Every hiker on the trail has one and that is what you introduce yourself as to other hikers. Mine came from a combination of a town by where I live...and the brand of acoustic guitar that I play.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Appalachian Trail - Update 1

Well, I'm sitting at a computer terminal at the general store in Fontana Village NC. It sits right outside the Smoky Mountains (southern side) at A.T. mile marker 160. So far I'm on schedule but my body is definitely paying for it. I have many sore joints, ligaments and muscles. Tomorrow I will head into the smokys and will try to update again in about 6 days from Hot Springs, NC. So far I've met some of the most amazing people in the past 8 days. Young and old, people of all ages have so many reasons for doing this trail. There's definitely been a lot of trail magic too. Every single hiker I've met, has been extremely nice.

Take care everyone, and I will write again soon!


Monday, April 30, 2007

My last post from civilization...

Well I've gone over everything on all my checklists and I've got everything packed and ready. I guess you could call this the proverbial "calm before the storm". I am down the street from the house I grew up in, at a small coffee house enjoying an awesome cup of "Jamaican me crazy" coffee. It may be my last really good coffee for a while. When I get home, I'm going to enjoy a nice cold beer before I go to bed. It might also be last one of those in a while too.

I have to admit...I am a bit conflicted. Part of me is very excited to be starting this amazing challenge...while part of me is reluctant to leave family and friends. I have to think with a "half-full" mentality or I'm not going to make it longer than a week.

....So with that being said: This is a chance of a lifetime and I'm going to go into it excited.

The next time you here from me, will either be from the trail, or after I get back.

Wish me luck.....

Saturday, April 28, 2007

AT - Update

Well I was up till 3:00 AM last night updating my itinerary for my AT hike. It is still very tentative and will probably get changed quite a bit. I actually wrote it out all the way to Maine....just in case. I also included a one week break in the middle so that I can go back to Cleveland to visit friends, check on house stuff, and visit with my family.

I realized today that I forgot my camera upload cord, so I cannot upload any pictures until I take my break in the middle. Wish me luck everyone. I will post once more Monday night before I head out tuesday morning.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Appalachian Trail

Well its official. May 1st I start my AT hike. I don't know how far I will go before I decide to stop, but I will be gone for at least 3 weeks. I have all my gear and food...and reservations...all that remains is for me to sort out my "mail drop boxes" and my "bounce box". I have each post office figured out, i just need to figure out my daily itinerary so that I don't end up at one on a sunday when its closed.

I am very excited about this. Ever since last spring when I was hiking the Smokies with a 50 lb pack, I've wanted to do some/all of the I will be (about 35 pounds lighter too). I am going to take a ton of pictures but may not get them uploaded until I'm done with my hike. If I make it through a town with an internet cafe' or something, I will post blog entries.

On a side note, I found a journal I had started writing in last year and I realized despite it being a very long/difficult year, I have actually accomplished many things that I set forth as goals for myself last year. On April 14th '06 I wrote this:

"So I'm pushing 30 with no real direction. Here are some things I've come up with that I want to do:

- Take a class or classes in Geology and Geography locally
- Write some songs and play out more
- Volunteer for U.S.G.S
- Volunteer for Habitat For Humanity
- Go on 3 or more hiking trips
- Study for GRE and take
- Investigate Graduate Schools...Apply???
- Investigate a Europe trip
- Visit Aaron and/or take Road Trip
- Get passport
- Buy MacBook
- Sell House and get Apartment
- Get out of the house more....go to more open mics
- Play more pinball!
- Get a new car
- Record 1 or 2 songs at Mike's Studio (Ante Up)
- Start my own open mic night"

Looking at that list now I realize that one year later, I have done every single thing on it (except "Start my own open mic" and techinally my house hasn't sold yet). In my mind, it seems like I haven't done much over the last year, but now I know that I have at least tried (even if it was subconciously) to accomplish some goals. I think I will write a new one for next april:

- Complete at least half of the Appalachian Trail
- Complete sale of house and pay off car
- T/A freshman Geology course
- Decide on Advisor
- Decide on Research interests
- Decide on Thesis
- Investigate possible career paths
- invite family and friends to come to PSU to visit.....often
- email Cleveland Clinic engineers
- Play out acoustic in State College

Thats it for now...


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Random stuff

Well I found a place in State College PA. Its Very small, but it is perfect for me. I spent the weekend u-hauling the big stuff there so that if the house sells, I don't have to move out on a moment's notice. I've come up with my first travel destination for the summer too. The first week of May, I'll be leaving for Amicalola State Park in Georgia. (Fly to Atlanta, shuttle to Amicalola). What the Hell is in Amicalola State Park John? Incidentally, it is the Southern Terminus to the Appalachian trail. I've decided I'm going to hike as much of the trail as I feel like (until I get bored or too sore). I have enough food/supplies to go for up to 45 days If I want. I will sending myself supply packages along the way to Post offices along the trail...and will hopefully be sending postcards out too. No matter where I finish, I can always continue where I leave off later on in my life. Should be pretty fun. There will be a lot of people on the trail around this time, so I hopefully won't get too lonely either.

I am also hoping I can coordinate with some friends and have them meet me at certain points to do a few days with me. I know my friend Pat said he'd do 4-5 days when I'm in the Smoky Mountains. if there's anyone reading this that also wants to do a few days with me, let me know.

I made myself a "to do" list of things I have to do before May 1st. Lets just say, its going to get a lot more stressful, before I can finally de-stress. I am determined to get everything done though.

I am a little nervous about starting school this fall....mostly just because I haven't decided specifically what I want my research to be in. Most incoming grad students already know their advisor and research before they even start. I hope to take a few classes my first semester and figure it out from there.

Can't believe I'm 30...and going to be a student again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

long awaited sigh of relief...

first the short answer factoids:

As of today...I am officially a Nittany Lion.
As of 4/15...I will be unemployed (yikes)
As of 5/1...I will taking some well deserved time off traveling (still planning this)

without going into too much detail...I will say that the past two months have been extremely difficult. Making this decision has been the hardest I have ever made. Every time I would come to a decision, I would literally change my mind the next day. It never seemed that I had a good enough reason to go....or stay. I just kept researching and researching....and looking for that true answer to this. I had lists full of pros and cons for both staying and going. It seemed that I was consistantly trying to convince myself Not to go. Every time I would, I would realize that the reason wasn't quite good enough. I really thought that if I waited long enough, I would have some kind of epiphany....a moment where i would know for sure my answer. I asked every person close to me what their opinion was, and everyone had a different take.

In the end it was somthing very simple that did it for me. I was listening to someone give a talk on friday and she said something like "how many of you said when you were a kid that you wanted to work in a cubicle when you grow up?"

I know I didn't. When I was a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a scientist. I was never sure exactly what kind...but I knew I wanted to study science. Here I have the best offer I could imagine in front of me, and I was actually considering turning it down.

Three days later, I put in my two weeks at work.

All that being said, I am so far out of the fegy comfort zone it is insane. As excited as I am, I am also terrified. It is not in the fegy blood to take risks like this. I literally quit a job of 8 years of which I was vested at...with a nice 403B and great benefits.

Maybe I'm inadvertantly starting a new fegy trend here. hopefully. The world needs more risk takers.

If I crash and burn....I can't ever regret not-trying.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

some tough decisions

more than anything, it is crucially important to me that i take some "john time" this summer to refresh my mental batteries. Any of you that have spent time with me in the past month or two, know just how passionate I am about this. More so than grad school or a change of career itself. There is no point diving into a whole new life situation, if I am not mentally ready for matter what it may be.

With that in mind, I find myself in a tough position. to a normal outsider, it is a no-brainer. I however, see things a bit differently.

I have not said anything about my Penn State visit, becuase I've needed time to think a lot before saying anything. I still do.

Exactly what I did not want to happen is beginning to happen. I am stressing about my house, school, work, insurance, where to go this summer, will i have enough time for "myself", new zealand, blah blah blah.

long story short: I did in fact get an offer letter from penn state....with a nice financial package as well. Putting aside New Zealand for sec, if i accepted this offer at PSU, financial it would be great move. Plus i could start in the fall. The problem is...with all that I have to take care of, I worry I may not have enough time for myself this summer. this may sound arrogant to anyone else....but i absolutely need this time...and i need it stress free. I want to travel, you know? finally say the mental goodbyes that I've needed to say for a couple years now.

so the way I see it is that I have 3 realistic options:

- I could accept, and bust ass in march and april, and probably still have june and july to do what I need to do....but i might not. If the house doesn't sell, or something else comes up, its too late, I've already accepted.

- I could accpt, but defer my enrollment for one year. The school had already told me i can do this and that I don't lose any of my award money or the TA position i was offered. problem here is...I don't really need a whole year...and I'm already in my thirties as is. I'm not getting any younger. If i were 25...there's no question I would defer.

- I could forget it all together and not go. (this goes back to the whole, stay at my job and suck it up thing)

i have spent the whole day so far thinking about just what things might hold me in Cleveland this summer, and most of them I could have taken care of by either friends, by hiring someone, or by granting power of attorney to someone.

I'm starting to think that It might just be possible to have my cake and eat it too. I can tell you one thing though. I refuse to fall back on my Fegy gene, of over-cautious conservatism. Maybe just once, i need to say "F*** it" and just do it.

I have a 5 day road trip that I leave for on the 12th with best friend. I respect him and his opinion more than just about anybody on this planet. I am setting a date of march 18th to make my final decision. I cannot procrastinate, or stall on any of these decisions

One last note: The school and department were amazing. I was extremely impressed. I plan to write more about the school experience itself a little later.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blue Monday

I like winter...really I do. In fact, I like all seasons.  I spent my lunch break at work today thinking a lot about last year....not about bad things, actually quite the opposite.  I thought about how much fun I had last summer with my hiking, playing live out at the bars, prepping for grad school apps, taking classes, and seeing family and friends.  Normally I don't get in "ruts"...but today I really thought back to all those good memories and realized how apathetic I feel right now...particularly today.  I don't know why.  I just feel really unmotivated with little if any desire to "get out there" and "do things".   I just don't feel like doing much of anything.  My shows have been cancelled, Its too cold to hike, I don't know whats going on with grad school, and I'm only taking one easy class.  (among other things)
Then sure enough...I end up on, or fox news or something and I read that today, Jan 22nd, is actually the most "depressing day of the year".  It's actually called blue monday.  Some professor in the UK determined some formula based on all these factors and determined that today, of all days, is when I should feel the crappiest. 
Does this explain this? Or is it just a my way of rationalizing it?  Heck, maybe its just a coincidence.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Mentality of a Pack-Rat

I have recently found myself going through all of my closets and cleaning up. A sort of mother-of-all spring cleanings. Throughout the process something became very clear to me. Let me explain...

I remember right after I graduated from college I lived in my own apartment for 1 year. When I moved, it took my 2 evenings to box stuff up, and a single day to load one UHaul truck. I moved my entire "life" in one truck load. It was simple....I lived simple. I had what I needed an no extraneous stuff. I liked it that way.

Over the course of the past 8 years I have been acquiring....and acquiring....and acquiring. With the extra room in the house, I would simply store something away in the attic if I didn't need it for a while. Well...if you don't use something for 3 years, you probably don't need it.

There are boxes and boxes of stuff in my attic. things I bought that I thought I needed, and things that I've acquired through various birthdays, christmases, and other occasions. Why do I have all of this crap? I don't need any of it.

Why don't we ever throw stuff away? Its just material stuff anyway. Most of it, we don't need. It's amazing how much our houses just "fill up".

Well, I'm done with it. I'm going on a Goodwill, Salvation Army, Purple Heart...rampage. Everything I don't need is getting donated, thrown out, or garage saled.

I made a 2007 resolution to start fresh and new....and I am. Sure there'll be some things I keep, but not many.

I am going to be very busy the next few nights. But it will all be over soon.