Friday, October 24, 2008

to help guide me . . . .

Here is a close up of Rhett filling in the color and the finished product. I had been thinking about another tat for years but never had something that meant that much. Accomplishing the AT (with everything that I went through) justified it. If you remember the very begining of this blog - the moto for the journey came from an Eddie Vedder song lyric, "gonna rise up, find my direction - magnetically" (and a close friend had that engraved on the back of my ipod). The compass is high up on my back - to look over my shoulder and always make sure my life is going in the correct direction. I chose to only call out the N - as a reminder that I was a NOBO on the AT (actually never slackpacked - so went North 100% of the time - which was important to me). The daisy in the middle - reminds me that I should always center myself with nature and the environment. Orange and Navy Blue are two of my favorite colors (and yellow just looks good with orange). The daisy is white - but still had some blood seeping through so it looks a little pink - that will change with time. I LOVE it!

getting new ink done!!!!

Here is Rhett (from The Illustrated Man) outlining the new tat. He had sketched it up for me that morning - and let me make several small changes - but overall I loved what he had come up with. He had heard my story and knew how important the meaning was. He has also done quite a bit of hiking and snowboarding when he lived in Colorado so he was able to relate - and loved what I was doing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

cleaned up with professional help

Well - been back for 3 weeks. Still don't have a job - but ok with that. Friends have helped out by letting me stay on the couch. I have a second interview with a local gear shop - hope to know more next week - it is really where I want to be. I remember how Katie (the girl from another outfitter) helped excite me and talked me into hiking (as well as helping me with my pack selection and starting the ball rolling). I want to do that for someone else. I want to change their life, like Katie changed mine. I have also found an apartment that is only 1 mile from the retail store. I will be able to ride my bike to work and to the grocery store - which is very important to me. Our environment should be the #1 concern of our next President. Each of us can do our part - but we need a strong leader to make massive, and quick changes. Feeling pretty good with my life right now, had to get a new cell phone (found out that 6 months in the woods is hard on them.) Bought a laptop - so with those 2 things I am highly mobile, which I love. If I can get a small (under 700 sq ft) appt and ride a bike to work - I will be in a very happy place. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. Hope to purge a lot of stuff when I move - be checking Craigs list! I set up a Facebook account to keep in touch with everyone - and the best part about having a professional photographer as an ex wife - is being able to get a great head shot for free! Thanks Amy (well, actually David - he gets photo credit - he created this image a couple of days ago). Quite a bit better than my handheld shot up against the bricks, standing outside of a Panera (borrowing Internet). I am leaving in a bit to go get my tattoo! I'll have pictures uploaded of it soon. Probably will post pictures of my apartment as well - will be the first time I have ever lived in one (always had a house, and lived in the dorms at college). After that, don't know - everyone might just have to wait till Hoot or Freebird call me and talk me into hiking the PCT! Peace.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm not crying . . .dammit - and if I was . . . lots of men do

well - here it is - me summiting at K! So thankful that Sundance was there to capture it on film. Good news - its tough to see my crying as I walk up - and you can't see me when I put my head on the sign - so if you can't see it - then I wasn't crying! : ) granted - Hoot named the CD "Blazecry". Thanks Hoot. Listen closely and you can hear me say "can I just touch it" which is an easy "thats what she said!" I also let you know how I feel about ticks. That moment - it was so amazing and life changing - and everyone cheering me on - well - it just hits you pretty hard. I remember it like it was yesterday. Over the last few days - I have gone through my entire blog, from the beginning at Springer, probably 3 or 4 times. Hard not to keep looking at it. Some days I am amazed that I made it. Some days its sureal, like I wasn't even gone for 6 months. And yes - I want to do the PCT in a couple of years - so keep me in mind. Enjoy the closure. Its weird to think that the SOBOs are still out there - some are tyring to finish by Thanksgiving, others by Christmas. Godspeed to them all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I believe the expression is . . . shaved

Well - here you go - a picture of me all smooth. I'm not going to lie - I was pretty skittish for the first couple of days that I was back. Driving on the highway was a bit much. I freaked out on the second day - I was still wearing the same clothes that I hiked in, and still had the facial hair, but I was no longer Blaze. I got up early the next morning and shaved which made me feel a lot better. I know that I am no longer Kevin, but I am no longer Blaze either. Have to find out where on the spectrum I am. Because of that - I am not making any major life decisions till Feb or March of 2009. I let my Leave of Absence run out - so I am no longer at my previous company. Maybe again someday, but the fluorescent lights and cubicles were freaking me out when I went down to save my hard drive and see friends. That's a tough transition from the trail. They are having a "welcome home, see ya" happy hour for me tomorrow night. For not having a job - I have been really busy! Figuring out bills / insurance, spending time with friends and family, and getting my truck running again - its filling my days. Miss the quiet solitude that the timber provided. Miss the trail a lot. Already. I've looked at my blog several times. If Hoot mails me the video of my summit - I might add it. Need to watch it again and then decide. Have been in email contact with a lot of hikers - seems like everyone is in the same place. Not sure what to do - and already missing aspects of the hike. Had a job interview today for some seasonal work, and am trying to get on with a local gear shop - I need to be close to the people and the gear for awhile. I'm passionate about it - so should make my soul happy - which is my only objective right now. Happy and a little bit of cash - as the medical bills are daunting - even with insurance. Just going to bounce around with friends till spring. Then, who knows, maybe still in KC, maybe Portland, maybe Austin, and researching several cities in Colorado. Note - AT Thru hikers in those areas - email me and I will come out to see you / sleep on the couch / work for stay. : ) Oh - and I met with a premier tattoo artist this week - shared my journey with him, and came up with an idea for a new tat. He should have sketches done next week - and of course I will put the pictures on my blog. If you want me to post pictures of me sleeping on friends couches or floors - just let me know. : )
Go get some sun on your face. Peace

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm back!!!!!

Summited on the 30th and Brahma and Sweet P had rented a minivan to drive back down to Virginia. They were dropping Hoot and Sundance off in NY and offered to drop me off in Boston - so we made a little road trip of it. Didn't want to pay for a room - so just went to the airport and slept on the floor. Pretty nice to carry your bed with you everywhere you go. Since my ticket was for the next day (the 2nd) I couldn't go in - so I just laid down right by the front door. Didn't get much sleep - they kept buffing the floors and people walked by all night. Got up at 4:00am to switch my flight to an earlier one - and, well, here I am. I am Kansas City right now!!! Getting ready to go sit outside and decompress for a bit. WAY to much to jump back into when you have been in the woods for 6 months. Hope to add a few more images and the clip of my finish - so you can make fun of me for crying. Peace to all - and thank you so much for following my journey - I couldn't have done it without the support of friends, family, and everyone that I met on the trail. Your first question, I'm guessing, is would you do it again? I'm glad I did it, and it has changed me, a lot - but no - once is enough. If I had the time and money I would go hike the Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico to Canada via California, Oregon and Washington). But honestly would like to just do some short weekend hikes or hell - even car camping! Now what? Not sure. No money, no job, no house. Anyone interested? Clearly have shown commitment, desire, persistence, strength and the ability to deal with logistics of a large project. Email me. I could also be a cabana/pool boy for a Cougar - this is the one time in my life I think I can pull off the tight, white shorts! I need to get away from this for a bit - like I said - I'll add some more - but kinda freaking me out to still in the library when it is sunny outside. Feel free to email me with any questions about the hike - or take me out for a drink and I'll talk your ears off. Plan to shave the poor attempt at facial hair in a day or two - and might upload a new picture. I don't even remember what I look like! Go get some sun on your face.

just burn the damn things

well - it took 6 pairs of socks and 4 pairs of trail runners to hike the 2,176.2. I retired these into the trash and slipped my crocs on for the journey "home".

the "after"

I really don't want to re-post the "before" picture - you can go back to the old one if you want to see it - but would say that the AT transforms you - mentally, emotionally, and certainly - physically. Can't wait to jump on a scale - betting that I lost another 20 lbs on the trail (after the 40 that I lost in training). Can't let myself get back to that again.

no loitering

check this out - almost 20 of us - and someone kept coming up every 30 mins or so and we would all scream for them. No one wanted to leave. The kicker is - well - you finish at the top of a mountain - so you still have to hike those same 5.2 miles back down - but this time, with no adrenaline. Probably set up here for an hour or more - just couldn't walk away yet.

good looking summit photo

what a turn of events - to be able to summit with so many friends. from left to right - Sundance, Hoot, me, Sweet Potato, and Brahma Bull. Weird how the world works. 6 months ago I had never met them, then hiked with them in the Smokies for a few weeks, then got way ahead, then got sick, then saw them in town, then would catch up, then fall behind, then catch them, then fall behind, then finally caught them - and here we are. Gotta love it.