Monday, January 23, 2012

Countdown to the Appalachian Trail

Ok I guess it’s time to officially start my countdown. 38 days and counting! I have been watching and counting silently all this time and have made absolutely no time to write about my experiences in getting ready for the trip of a life time. On March 1st I will be starting not just a journey of self discovery but a change in lifestyle that will certainly require a change in perspective… in everything I do. What I hope to discover is something more about myself, my abilities, what my current expectations of life are or what they could be.

That’s deep. So much so that I can’t fry my brain about it right now. LOL

I’ve been spending months planning for this trip, well aware I will not follow my plan because I never do. I’ve also been taking several weeks to develop my thesis study, which I’m including in my hike. The study is on Pack Weight and the Endurance of Long Distance Hikers.

For those who do not know the background and why I'm doing a thesis, let me first explain that. I have, after several years of working in Information Technology, decided to make a career “shift” from working with computers and web to working with aircraft and spacecraft systems. This has caused me to go to school first in New Jersey for an FAA certificate to work on aircraft. That was followed by further schooling in Florida for avionics training and a bachelor’s in Aircraft Maintenance Science. Now I’m working on bridging the gap between IT and aircraft systems by working towards my Masters in Human Factors and Systems. It’s in the domain of ergonomics and a place of great excitement for me. This bridge will make my previous work experience relevant in my new career field.

The study of pack weight is an ergonomics issue and will be very exciting to work on. However this takes my typical trip planning much further than just figuring where I’ll be doing mail drops. This requires the right timing and new ideas for other hikers to participate in the study. It’s been tough getting ready, and also the reason I’ve been almost non-existent on Facebook.

OK so REALLY I haven’t been on Facebook much since I started dating Mary, my wonderful new girlfriend. We keep each other very busy. :)

This brings me to something else I want to mention. I want to thank a few people who have been more than supportive in my efforts to hike the trail. THANK YOU to Mary, Mom and Dad, Vinnie, Neill, and all my friends who have given me other ideas for the hike. I’d also like to thank the folks in the Human Factors department at Embry-Riddle for their support and feedback on my thesis. Thank you Dr. Kring, Dr. Doherty, Dr. Boquet, Diane M. and the students for sharing their experiences with their thesis projects. If not for these people I would not have been able to get my ideas out there or the hike planned.

Ok so my list of things to do: Move out of my apartment by Jan 31st into my girlfriend’s place temporarily, get my thesis proposal completed by the same date, run to NJ for a few days of down time with the family, and spend time in several towns setting up the announcements to my study. That’s going to keep me busy. However as I progress I intend to share my thoughts and ideas on my trip right here on Tony’s hike ( I hope you’ll want to share this blog will all our friends and family as I make progress towards Maine.


  1. I'm so proud of you my friend, but scared to death of the wildlife as well. Be careful, take pictures for as long as the battery-life will let you and please share what you can with your friends who love you and could never do this for themselves. Much love, Katie.

  2. You, my son, never cease to amaze us. We are so proud of you and scared at the same time(what parent wouldn't be.) We know how hard you have worked planning for this trip of a lifetime. I pray for your safety, for good weather, for NO mishaps and for this trip to be everything you hoped it would be and more. Good luck, be careful as you can be. Know you are loved beyond words and will be in our hearts and thoughts aways. Hurry home to your sweetheart, Mary. All our love, Mom and Dad