Friday, March 30, 2012

One Month Down!


Just an update on Matt's 30th day on trail:
Yesterday Matt took a scary fall in a stream while leaving Erwin, TN that banged up his knee and bent one of his trekking poles! However, this morning when he woke up he was feeling better and knocked out 22 miles in one day. In case anyone is wondering, 22 miles is almost exactly 1% of the entire AT, which he completed in just a single day.

Happy trails!
-Intern Shelby

Where's Matt?
I'm not entirely sure, but I'm going to guess that he is around Roan High Knob Shelter, TN.
Milage: ~370

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Ya'll goin' to Maine?!"

Wow! This update is long overdue. I enjoyed a nearo day in Hot Springs, NC yesterday and a zero today! Hot Springs is the first trail town the AT passes thru. The trail literally goes right downtown, it sits on the 273.9 mile marker. I'm staying at the Sunnybank Inn, a very historic hostel that has been serving hikers since 1948. Earl Shaffer, the first thru-hiker, stayed there during his hike in '48. I was able to send out some gear that I no longer needed yesterday (bottoms of my zip off pants, extra socks, a book etc). Today's zero is much needed after 22 days of straight hiking. My blisters and sun burn are finally healing.

Last week I was in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park -- took my time through this section since the park is one of my favorite places. I've been hiking a lot of miles with Jerusalem Cruiser or J.C. for short - we met a few days into the hike. He's a stand up guy and we share a lot of similar interests. I finally got a trail name. Fellow hikers found out my high school mascot and I was immediately dubbed, "Pretzel."

Below are an odd ball collection of photos. I would love to upload more but the internet is very slow here and I am blocked from uploading video!

First state line, Welcome to North Carlina.

That is blister on top of a blister!

J.C. Sunset on Cheoh Bald.
Sherpa & J.C., Cheoah Bald, North Carolina.

"What would Edward Abbey do?" Fontana Dam, Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

J.C. and Sherpa in all out Hiker Trash mode! Newfound Gap, GSMNP.

Sunset at Mt. Cammerer Lookout, GSMNP.
Hawkeye from Vermont, enjoying Standing Bear Farm Hostel. Just outside of GSMNP.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hello All!

Just a quicks heads-up. I talked to Matt and he is doing very well. His milage is great )109 miles in 9 days!) Also, he is surviving the rain storms!

I will be going on a trip of my own this week. I am going on a service tour across the country to do volunteer work in six different cities.

Happy spring break!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chello from the AT!

Springer Mountain the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail.                         

Hey all! I'm doing my first resupply in Hiawassee, GA today -- will head back to the AT later today. Tomorrow I will make it into North Carolina. It's very difficult to upload photos on a public library computer. I hope to uploads many more in a few days from Franklin, North Carolina. I'm feeling good and looking forward to more hiking. So far I'm averaging about 11 miles a day : ) I am so thankful the support I've been shown over the last few weeks.

Hawk Mountain Shelter, first night on the AT.

Met my friend Bob on March 4 at Unicoi Gap and hiked to Tray Mountain.He brought us Mountain Dews and all kinds of snacks, thanks Bob!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Alum Faces Tough Hike"

This article about Matt was published in our school's paper, The Western Courier. If you would like see it "in print" click here, or you can just read it below:

Starting this week, Matt Mason will be hiking through the wilderness of the Smoky Mountains on the Appalachian Trail. The trail, which runs for over 2,000 miles from northern Georgia to northern Maine, takes nearly six months to hike and often includes hazards such as unpredictable weather, bears and coyotes.
Despite this, Mason — a recreation, park and tourism administration major who graduated from Western Illinois University in fall of 2011 — is eager to hike the trail and utilize what he learned in his time at Western.
While he’s enjoyed the great outdoors since he was young, the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail didn’t come to the alum until fairly recently.
“For the past two years I have seriously been considering hiking the trail,” Mason said. “It wasn’t until May of 2011 that I decided I was going to make the hike this spring.”
According to Mason, there are hundreds of shelters for the hikers and numerous towns along the nearly 2,200-mile trail, but he plans to take a slightly different approach.
“About every three (to) five days, I will come off the trail into a town to resupply my food,” he said. “A majority of my nights on the trail I will spend in my tent in the woods. Every once in a while, I’ll stay in a hostel … they offer a cheap place to stay, showers and sometimes a meal or two.”
As it turns out, Mason isn’t the only Western alumnus braving the trail. Also making the trip will be Erin Parachert, an RPTA major who graduated in 2000 and Jules Fijolek, also an RPTA major who graduates this May. Each will start hiking in June and early March, respectively. Mason hopes to meet up with a group of other RPTA majors from Western in Great Smoky Mountains National Park sometime in March.
Mason has sought to hike the trail for quite a while, and after graduating from Western he is finally taking the opportunity of a lifetime while doing something he loves.
“I’ve always enjoyed being outside and backpacking,” Mason said.
Moreover, Mason plans on combining one of the things he’s enjoyed for so long with a charitable cause.
“(Hiking the trail) has been a goal of mine since I was pretty young,” Mason said. “But I thought if I was going to try and walk over 2,000 miles, I didn’t want to just do it for myself, so that’s why I am raising money for the Chicago Fire Foundation, a non-profit run by the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. The foundation helps promote
education, environmental awareness and physical fitness to children in Chicago and the
surrounding suburbs.”
Mason claims that his time at Western only made him want to take to the trail even more.
“I picked up some of the trail’s history in my RPTA classes, and got to take a few backpacking travel workshops with the RPTA department as well,” he said. “These classes helped me build some of the skills I will use every day on the Appalachian Trail.”
-Sandra Sepaniak, Western Corier

Pretty cool! 
-Intern Shelby.

Where's Matt?
Woody Gap, GA
Milage: 21.2

Day One Report

Hello to all!

Today (technically yesterday) I spoke briefly with Matt both before and after his daily hike. His Grandmother, Weezie, happened to be in the area and sent him off on his voyage. He make it to his goal shelter site, Hawk Mountain. Although the site is only about 8.1 miles down the trail, he really ended up hiking closer to 10 miles today because of the trail to the starting destination. 

When I was talking to him earlier this evening he said that the forecast called for rain, but as of right now it appears to be calm.

Hopefully I will have more information to share with you all tomorrow. Only a few more days until Matt can make his return to the inter-webs! 

If you have any questions for him or for me people leave the in the comment section, and we will do our best to get those answered as soon as possible. 

Thanks for reading!
-Intern Shelby.

Where's Matt?
Hawk Mountain Shelter-- Chattahoochee National Forest, GA
Milage: 8.1