Zachsquatch’s Secret Weapon

Every protagonist in the history of the universe has a special something that helps them weasel their way to the top of the totem pole.  Think about it;  Robin Hood had his tights, Superman had hair gel, Harry Potter had his scar and The Dude had white-russians on the reg.  Without a special something to keep you ahead of the pack, you will be damned to a life of mediocrity.

“Hey Zachsquatch, does that mean you have something special to help you on the AT?”

YEP!!! YOU KNOW IT!!! CHIA SEEDS!!!

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If you’ve ever been backpacking, you have a deep understanding of what it feels like to have an inanimate object attached to your back.  When a heavy backpack is attached to your back, it is like a leech that can never be removed.  Like our friend, the leech, your backpack will suck the life out of you if your not careful.

When a novice backpacker ventures out into the backcountry, they usually realize that carrying less weight is a good thing.  They can carry less weight by ditching the camp chair, the dutch oven and the hatchet, but unfortunately there isn’t much a backpacker can do to make their food weigh less.  Since food weighs a bunch, backpackers do their best to carry foods that will deliver the largest amount of nutritional value for the least amount of weight.  Thats why when I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail, I’ll always have chia seeds in my food bag.

Chia, otherwise known as Salvia Hispanica, is a member of the mint family and has been used as a food source by the Aztecs for thousands of years.  The seed itself is an oval that is only about 1mm long but it packs a punch.  Chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium and protein.  Three tablespoons of chia seeds contains about 160 calories and give you a sustainable boost of energy.

See that little guy? Thats a chia seed!!!

See that little guy? Thats a chia seed!!!

One of my favorite things about the chia seeds is how easy it is to prepare them. There is no cooking required and they don’t really taste like anything at all.  You can literally put a teaspoon or two in a cup of water and let it soak for a few minutes and it turns into a gel that you can drink.  If you aren’t into drinking the gel, you can put them in anything you eat (like your morning oatmeal, a scoop of peanut butter or your mid-day tuna packet) to add extra nutritional value.

Well . . . thats about the extent of what I know about chia seeds.  I’m not a dietician or anything and I sure as hell don’t know much about the human body.  All I really know is that when I eat chia seeds they give me a boost of energy that I can really feel.  If you’re in tune with your body, you’ll feel their effects too.  Then again, maybe it’s the placebo effect… I don’t know for sure…..but I’mpretty sure its not the placebo effect.  Try it out for yourself and you be the judge.

You can visit the following websites to learn a little bit more about the nutritional benefits and the history of chia seeds if you don’t (and you shouldn’t) want to take my word for it:

http://www.survivalsuperfoods.com/index_home.html

http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/lindsey-duncan-nd-cn/chia-ancient-super-secret

http://blog.outdoorherbivore.com/camp-tips/backpacking-superfoods-chia-seed/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/24/business/chia-seeds-gain-popularity-for-nutritional-benefits.html

Shalom,

The Zachsquatch

You are what you eat...I'm a chia seed.

You are what you eat…I’m a chia seed.

On Mother Nature and her Twisted Sense of Humor

Ever since I was a young boy, I had this natural tendency of gravitating towards activities that have a natural tendency of injuring/killing people.  From ages 7 to 11, I played full contact football with kids who were twice my size.  Who cares if age 7 marks the time when the human brain undergoes extreme developmental changes in the frontal and temporal lobes?  Strapping a helmet onto a boy, giving him a ball and telling him to dodge as many people as possible while running full speed down a field is just part of life in America.

When I wasn’t playing football as a child, you could find me zooming past trees on my motorcycle at speeds of up to 45 mph on deadly, rocky, slippery trails.  You may be saying to yourself, “But Zach, what if you slammed your head into a tree?  Wouldn’t that have killed you or something?”  To which I would have replied, “PSHHH, Damn trees!!! I’ve got a helmet on for cryin’ out loud!!!  What’s the worst that could happen???” (A lot of bad shit could’ve happened but I got away clean with just a few broken bones)

So now that I’ve made it this far in life, it isn’t surprising that I’m still trying to occupy my leisure time with life threatening activities.  I’m voluntarily going to be living outside in Mother Nature’s ‘Doom-Tomb’ (the woods) for about six months.  There are more things that can go wrong out in the woods than I can even think of.  As a matter of fact, nobody wants you to die more than Mother Nature does!!!  She wants you dead SoOoOo BAD!!!  Have you seen what happens to people when Mother Nature decides to assert her dominance????

…Ahem…

With all of that being said, I’m going to try my best to venture out into the woods and not let Mother Nature have her way with me.  So in order to shield myself from Mother Nature and her murderous tendencies, I’ve got to arm myself with common sense and oodles of fancy gear.  I don’t think common sense can be taught via blog, so for now I’ll just talk about six notable pieces of gear that I’ll be carrying with me on my adventure.

1) A backpack!

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First and foremost, if I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail, I’ve got to have a vessel worthy of carrying my odds and ends.  After a great deal of experimenting with packs,  I’ve chosen the Osprey Atmos 65 to accompany me on my maiden voyage through the Appalachian Mountains.

2) A tent!

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When you venture into the woods for months on end, you need to have a safe little place of your own to sleep off your hard days work.  For backpackers, our safe little place is our tent.  There’s nothing in this world that does a better job of providing you with that much needed false sense of security than a tent.  My tent of choice for my thru hike will be the almighty Nemo Meta 1p.  (It sure is fancy and wonderful and I love it)

3) A sleeping system!

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When a guy like me walks rigorously through the woods carrying 30 lbs on his back, he usually likes to sleep at least once a day for an extended period of time.  In order to oblige myself with the beauty sleep that I need, I’m going to bring some things that will keep me cozy when the sun goes down.  For me,  I’m going to be bringing a Therm-a-Rest Neo-air All Season sleeping pad,  a Marmot Plasma 15 sleeping bag and a Nemo Fillo camping pillow sans memory foam to save weight.  I’m also bringing ear plugs to drown out the sound of the snoring hikers when I stay in the shelters.

4) A bear bag!

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As we all know, bears are mother nature’s minions of death.   They are sent out from the deepest depths of hell to eat people and steal their food.  Luckily for us humans, we have thumbs, strings and carabiners.  We have mastered the art of tying knots and throwing bags of food up into the trees and out of reach of the bears.  I will be hanging my food in a tree every night to keep the bears and other food stealing critters at bay.

5) Clothing!

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One thing I like about consumerism is that it has provided me a lot of really really cool things that I need to hike the Appalachian Trail.  One of those things is clothes… I’m taking these clothes:

For hiking:

-Smartwool 250 weight l/s crew neck shirt, Patagonia Convertible pants, a beanie, Ex Officio undies, Nike running shorts, Capilene 1 bottoms, Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer hooded jacket, Arc’Teryx Beta AR rain shell and Arc’Teryx Beta SL rain pants.

For sleeping:

-Patagonia Capilene 3 top/bottom and Smartwool Lightweight hiking socks

6) Water purification!

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If bears are Mother Nature’s minions of death, bacteria inside of streams must be Mother Nature’s version of an improvised explosive device.  You dont see anything out of the ordinary and then BOOM!  You’re dead.  In order to prevent Mother Nature from planting bombs in my lower intestine, I’m going to be filtering my water with a Sawer Mini water filter.  It’s really light weight and it should get me all the way through the AT (unless it breaks or I lose it) since it is guaranteed to filter 100,000 gallons of water.

So folks, I’m fairly confident that these pieces of gear will be enough to get me through the tough times with the rain, the cold, the bears and whatnot.  There are sure to be some good times ahead in the VERY near future too.  Cant wait.

Signing off,

Zachsquatch

– See more at: http://blog.appalachiantrials.com/#sthash.YpRYoWzK.dpuf

Why I want to Thru Hike the Appalachian Trail

7 reasons for thru hiking photo

You already know about how I got the idea to thru hike the Appalachian Trail, so here are seven reasons WHY I want to thru hike:

1) It’s my party, I can hike if I want to

One of the main reasons I want to thru hike the AT is simply just because I can.  I’m lucky enough to realize I’m in control of my own life and that I can pretty much live however I choose.  As long as I don’t get begin trusting politicians or get thrown in jail I figure I’m doing okay in life.  (I dont think I would make it very long in prison or politics so I’ll stick to thru hiking)

2) I like backpacks

I’ve been working at an outdoor retail shop called Quest Outdoors since May of this year and I freakin love my job.  I’m lucky  enough to work in a place that allows me to learn more about backpacking and it has helped me realize how much I enjoy the outdoor industry.  If I don’t end up going into teaching I can safely say that my career will be somewhere in the outdoor industry.

3) I want a really, really…..really long beard

I’ve had a beard for about three years and I’ve always kept it fairly clean… but I’ve been growing (no, farming) this beard on my face for about 8 months and it’s as rowdy as is it red.  I’m telling you, ladies and gentlemen, this beard keeps me going!  It’s like a motivational speaker that follows me everywhere I go!!  I look into the mirror sometimes and my beard just seems to say, “You got this, Zach.  Go out there and show the world what you’re made of!”  And I just look back into the mirror and say, “Alright, beard.  Challenge accepted.”

But anyway…I’m not shaving until I reach Katahdin.  (Sorry Chelsea)

4) I put my future career on the back burner to thru hike the AT

When Adam and I had the “Ok, we’re really doing this?” conversation, I made the decision not to apply to be a Jefferson County Public Schools teacher.  It was really hard for me not to go straight into a teaching job because it would have been the smartest move (from a professional/economical standpoint) on my part, but then I wouldn’t have been able to try and thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.  As of right now, I think putting off the teaching job for an opportunity to take part in an adventure of this magnitude is going to be completely worth it.

5) I want to learn more about myself

I’ve always been the type of person who loves a good challenge.  When I went to college it was pretty tough at times, but it was the best thing that has ever happened to me.  I’m much more happy with who I am today versus who I was when I started college.  I think the people I met and the challenges I faced in school helped mold me into the person I am today.  I can only hope the people I meet and the challenges I face on the Appalachian Trail will be as significant to my life as college was.

6) I’ve told everyone I know that I’m thru hiking

If you’ve talked to me for more than five minutes in the past few months, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ve told you what I have planned.  I mean, I’ve literally told everyone.  You think I’m joking, don’t you?  Hows this; I was on the phone with my bank trying to sort out some stolen credit card issues (screw you drugstore.com) and I wound up having a 15 minute conversation with the dude who was settling my dispute about my thru hike.

The point is,  if I come home with my tail between my legs I’m gonna have to explain myself to people.  I’m not doing that. Thru hiking isn’t supposed to be easy so when the times get tough I’ll try my best to consider it character growth.

7) If Sasquatch is out there, I want to find him

Self explanatory.  So folks, If he’s out there, Zachsquatch is gonna find him.

Thanks for reading, friends! You can follow my blog by clicking the link in the bottom right corner of your page.  Please be sure to share!!!!

Cheers,

Zachsquatch

YOLO

My name is Zach Barger and I’m from Louisville, Ky.  I graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelors Degree in Middle/Secondary Education.  About 6 years ago when I was in high school, one of my best friends and I were doing what we did best; dicking around in Randy Penner’s Woodshop Class.  On this particular day, Adam and I were being about as productive as a slug when he told me about his uncle who hiked something called “The Appalachian Trail.”

Upon listening to Adam tell me about his uncle’s journey through the woods, an idea popped into our heads… “HEY, LETS HIKE THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL TOO!!!!!! IT’LL BE SO FUN!!!!!!”  Adam and I had always been the type of people that live by the motto you only live once.  (For the record, the term ‘YOLO’ had not been coined yet)  So on that very day in Woodshop, Adam and I made a pact that one day, we too would become champions of the Appalachian Trail.

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(Fast forward to High School Graduation in 2008)

Zach: “See you later Adam! Good luck in the Marine Corps!”

Adam: “See you later Zach! Have fun in College!!”

(We both drank copious amounts of fun juice and completed our goals)

(Fast Forward to 2013 when Zach and Adam reunited)

Adam: “Lets leave for the Appalachian Trail on March 3rd next year…Monday seems like a good time to leave huh?”

Zach: “Yep.  Lets Do it.”

Adam: “My buddy Justin wants to come too.”

Zach: “Cool.”

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So you’re up to speed now.  On March 3rd of 2014, my best friend and one of his friends from the Marine Corps named Justin will be undertaking the most challenging journey of our lives.  We are actually going to attempt a thru hike of the ~2,200 mile long Appalachian Trail.  We’re gonna poop in the woods, walk, eat, poop, walk, sleep in the cold, take advil, walk and then eat some more.  ITS GONNA BE THE GREATEST ADVENTURE EVER AND I WANT ALL OF YOU WHO CANT COME TO EXPERIENCE OUR JOURNEY TOO!!!!!

So please share this page with anyone who would like to follow Adam, Justin and I along the Appalachian Trail.  I’ll try my best to keep this as entertaining and honest as possible.  I’ve never done a blog before so bear with me as I figure this whole thing out.

Check back soon to hear some of the reasons why I want to thru hike the Appalachian Trail.

Cheers!

(That’s me on the left and Adam on the right.)

Zachsquatch

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