Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hello from Georgia!

This was sent to me in an e-mail from Matt, enjoy! :

Today is a big day. There is a lot ahead of me— countless mountains, soon-to-be great friends, bad weather, amazing experiences and a lot of sore joints. It's not even worth thinking about the destination of Maine at this point. That makes me feel minute— it's all about the small goals, trying to make it to this shelter by lunch or that outlook by dinner, etc.

Thank you to all that have reached out to me via phone, email, facebook, or smoke signal in the past week. There have many and I’m sorry if I have not gotten back to you but trust me, your words were not wasted! I want to recognize a few people publically: Andy Golz, Andrew Busker, Tim Mathieu, Mark Olsen, and Egan Franks. Hearing from you today was just what I needed before this all begins. Thank you!


Thanks again for everyone's support-- all of us here at Team "Matt's AT Hike" really appreciate it!

Where's Matt?
Hiker Hostel-- Dahlonega, GA

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Urban Initiatives

An important piece of Matt's AT hike is his mission to raise money for the Chicago Fire Foundation. His goal is to raise $2,184, one dollar per mile, to donate so that the Foundation can work to improve the quality of life in some of the Chicagoland Area's communities. One organization that partners with the Chicago Fire Foundation is Urban Initiatives.

Urban Initiatives is a nonprofit organization that runs a health and education soccer program, called the Work to Play Program, in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). By actively engaging participants in our extracurricular activities at a young age, Urban Initiatives empowers youth to live a healthy lifestyle, value education, and enhance their personal and social development. Urban Initiatives takes a collaborative, whole child approach to development in order to provide children with the opportunity to reach their full potential.
In 2003, Urban Initiatives founders, James Dower and Daniel Isherwood, began their careers as teachers for the CPS. While teaching at Byrd Academy in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood, they witnessed firsthand the hurdles that at-risk children must overcome in order to reach their full potential - specifically education underachievement and poor health conditions. As sports enthusiasts and professional soccer coaches, they recognized the power of sports programming to address youth issues. Thus, they organized a before and after school soccer program with donated equipment and nutritious snacks that were purchased out-of-pocket.
Students immediately embraced the opportunity to play in a safe and structured environment as well as to be a part of a team. They also worked hard in the classroom in order to meet their coaches’ high academic expectations because their participation on the soccer field was contingent on their classroom performance and behavior. What began as a grassroots program comprised of two coaches, one school and 12 students has since expanded to serve over 540 students per season in 18 schools throughout Chicago.

You can support The Chicago Fire Foundation, and Urban Initiatives by donating here.

Where's Matt?
Memphis, TN

Monday, February 27, 2012

From the desk of Intern Shelby:

Thanks to Mr. Mason, I am the proud new owner of the 2012 Northbound AT Guide! Now I'm all set to track Matt and calculate his milages.

Good luck my dear-- to infinity, and beyond!

Shelby Rogers
On The Loose Official Intern

Sunday, February 26, 2012

T-Minus Three Days

Tomorrow I will be taking Megabus to Memphis, TN. My bus arrives late and I won't be able make it to the National Civil Rights Museum, which is a real disappointment. On the 28th I'll head to Atlanta, and be picked up by the wonderful staff of the Hiker Hostel. Where I will meet up with my Grandmother, Weezie. My travel expenses will be a whopping $11.50, thanks Megabus! Years of planning and day dreaming of hiking the AT, will become a reality on the 29th!

Oh I almost forget to mention...

After nine years I thought I would try a "new do" for the Trail. It will be great not having to worry about caring for my lovely locks on Trail. Thanks Katie Nava, for the cut!

I also go the chance to meet a "hero" of mine on Friday, Steve-O.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blog Curator

This is my awesome girlfriend, Shelby. She is wicked smart and wants to be an optometrist when she grows up! She's currently studying Mathematics at Western Illinois University. When I am unable to access the internet, Shelby will update my blog, facebook and twitter accounts. She is one amazing and supportive girlfriend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's in that pack of yours?

After several takes and a few camera malfunctions I finally got an acceptable take. I wanted to shoot this video because I enjoyed seeing what previous hikers brought with them. A detailed list of my gear (including weight) can be viewed in the "Gear List" tab above.

Today the Chicago Tribune featured an article about my hike on their website (We are still trying to figure if out if it was in the actual paper). The article was originally printed in the Journal Standard this past Sunday. Nonetheless it was very surprising!

What do hikers eat while on the AT?

Above is a look of my first mail drop on the AT and what food I'll be eating.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Questions, Questions, Questions

Thanks for your questions -- I hope you three enjoy your Emergen-C! 

"So, realistically, what do you think your chances of reaching Katahdin are? This ain't no walk in the woods, despite what Bryson claims! =)" -Ryan Carpenter, Hiked the Appalachian trail in 2003 and Pacific Crest Trail in 2010 and is the creator of

Tough question, I like your style Ryan! Well, as I'm sure you know roughly 20% of hikers make it to Katahdin. That is why I frame the conversation about my hike as an "attempt" because there are so many variables. One careless step can force a hiker to leave the trail due to injury, which is not the even the number one sited reason for leaving the trail. I have had several backpacking trips under my belt, so the day to day camp operations are not much a worry. I think the mental aspect of the hike will be my challenge -- as it is for must. All and all if I have to put a number on it, I'd say I have a 67.33% chance to make it to Katahdin! My goal for this hike is to have an amazing journey and raise as much money for the Chicago Fire Foundation as possible. 

"Are you cutting your hair for your hike? this is a legit question. Cause if its going to be hot during your hike then you should buzz it." Katie Nava, Freeport High School grad -- Go Pretzels!, Studying Art Education at Western Illinois University, and a great date for any high school dance. 

That's an interesting question you pose there. Similar to an injured athlete I think this is going to be a "game time decision" as in when I'm sitting in your apartment and you have the clippers in my hand I'm going to have to make that choice. I've had my lovely locks for nine+ years and it will be hard to part with them. However, my receding hairline is already helping me do so, dang it! 

"Have you planned ahead on where you will be stocking up on supplies and what is the average weight of your backpack you will carry during the hike?" -- Frank "El Guapo" Cardenas, Legendary member of Section 8 Chicago and the best trumpet player on both sides of the Mississippi. 

The first month of my hike is generally planned out. I have post places that I will stop and resupply highlighted in my A.T. Guide. This book features most major landmarks on the trail (streams, shelters, intersections with other trails, roads, towns, etc.) At just 8.4 ounces this book maps out the entire trail. My pack will be about 19 pounds, without consumables (food, fuel, water) and about 29 pounds fully stocked with five days of fuel and food. My gear list with weights can be view here.


One week from today I will be summiting Springer Mountain in Georgia with my Grandmother and will begin my hike! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Want to Hike the AT in Less Than Five Minutes?

Green Tunnel from Kevin Gallagher on Vimeo.

Kevin Gallagher took 24 photos a day to create this stop-motion video of the AT. This video illustrates why the Trail has the nickname of the "Green Tunnel."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Everyone likes free stuff...

300+ Envelopes of Emergen-C
The good people at Emergen-C are sponsoring my hike. They have provided me with a whole lot of Emergen-C and stickers. I would love to share some with you. The first three people to ask me questions about my hike in the comments below that are not in the FAQ section, will a sample pack of Emergen-C and a few stickers. I'll answer them in an upcoming blog. This was the first photo I took with my new camera!

**Persons that won the facebook contest are not eligible, sorry!**

UPDATE 2.21.12 :: Contest is not closed, questions should be up soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Donations !

After lots of hard work from the ISA Board, I finally have a donation page set up through the Section 8 website, donate here. I have set a fundraising goal of $2,184 -- a dollar for each mile of the trail.

My hike has also revised some favorable press from the Hot Time Old Town blog!

Just two weeks until I start my hike.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Halfway There

The SoBo (Southbound ME-GA) hiker, Amplexus, decided to celebrate reaching the 1090.5 a little differently than most, enjoy!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where in the world is the AT?

Searching Appalachian Trail Map on Google Image search does not do the Trail much justice. On these maps it's nearly impossible to tell how close the trail is to cities along the way. The best way to see where the trail passes through is to use the map of the AT that has created. It is interactive, you can view distances, shelter/campsites, water reports, points of interest, among other things. It has been a great resource for running logistics of my hike.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finalizing Things...

After running lots of logistics my grandmother, Weezie, will be seeing me off on my journey, or at least from the Springer Mountain parking lot. Depending on the road conditions she may even be hiking a mile or two from Springer Mountain. We will meet at the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega, Georgia on the night of the February 28th. She is spending the month of February in the Florida panhandle so it's just three hour detour, as she returns to her home in Madison, Wisconsin. I'm very excited to spend this special day with her!

This past Saturday at the Section 8 Chicago, Annual General Meeting, I made my official announcement about hiking the AT to raise money and awareness for the Chicago Fire Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. I spoke with many Fire fans and Front Office staff after the meeting -- all of them gave we words of encouragement and wished me good luck. Hopefully the donation page on the Section 8 Store, will be up and running very soon, so we can start raising money for the Foundation.

My last piece of gear, wool long johns, are on their way to me. No more gear purchases need to be made!!

It's 29 days before I have my boots (well, trail shoes) on the ground in Georgia.