Monthly Archives: February 2012

Power Steering Fluid

This weekend we journeyed down to Kansas to visit friends one last time before our trek. First, our adventures took us to the Newton area to visit Denise and Elton Nickel and various Hesston and Bethel College students. However, 10 miles before our destination, there was a slight hissing noise emanating from under our hood, followed quickly by loss of power steering. To top it off, our console lit up like the fourth of July!  We made it to Gossel amidst Alison groaning at every turn of the wheel and Renee calling for backup. Luckily for us, we know several mechanics in Kansas, one of them being an in-law of the very people we were staying with.  Brent discovered and replaced a melted thing-a-ma-jiggy and a torn belt.  Renee was able to use the Nickel’s car to go to Hesston and on a Druber’s (a doughnut shop) run.  We had a wonderful time catching up with good friends.

The next morning, after our power steering fluid was topped off, we headed off to Lewis, KS to visit Kelly and Amanda Ratzlaff and their sons Eli and Ethan. Once again ten minutes before our destination, our power steering became more like manual steering. Good thing we would be staying at another mechanic’s house!  This time no lights were flashing but once again Alison was driving so maybe the car doesn’t like her. 🙂 Aside from car troubles we had a wonderful time visiting with the adults and playing with the kids. We were also able to get together with Amanda’s parents, Ken and Nancy. Thanks for the food and the prayers!

Several times this weekend, we had opportunity to share about our plans and motivations behind hiking the trail. It was nice to share our enthusiasm about our journey and we welcome any and all questions people may have.

Even though it was a quick trip, it was beneficial for us. We utilized the driving time to read a book about the trail to each other, work on our chapel for March 12th at Freeman Academy, and even write this blog!

Renee especially feels unstoppable after this trip since she helped fix a broken toilet and can now refill her power steering fluid with an assist from Alison.  (we had to fill it up twice on the trip home). We are feeling very thankful that the car and us made it home safely.

One interesting tidbit: if you let gummy worms set on your dashboard in KS they turn into a warm gooey substance. Then, upon cooling, they will meld together to become one large gummy. Mmmm, yummy. 🙂

Fast Facts (Part 2)

Here are some more facts about the AT to stretch your mind:

–          When we finish we will register with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and will get a certificate…at least we hope so.

–          We will need to average around 12 miles a day. We will take zero days and our highest mileage day will be 23. That is, unless we decide to hike Maryland’s 35 miles in one day. It’s been done before.

–          People have told us to be prepared for a month long of rain

–          The Steripen is our water treatment source. It uses ultraviolet light to kill the bacteria and protozoa that live in the water and make a person sick.

–          There are shelters every 3 to 20 miles and often we will stay in or near one of these

–          We will encounter bears, but they will be more interested in our food than us. So, drop the pack and go the other way…

–          We will have 24 mail drops throughout our hike, our largest will be carrying 6 days worth of food

–          We will be packaging 90 breakfasts, 99 lunches and 90 suppers for our mail drops. The rest we will buy along the trail. Yes, there are grocery stores out there.

– So far, we have used 200 quart. 40 gallon, and almost 200 snack Ziploc bags. Anyone know the price of Ziploc stock?

– We will probably go through at least 3 pairs of boots/shoes while hiking the trail

– We will be preparing 60lbs of meat to make beef jerky which will be about 30lbs dried. Yes, we will actually eat all of this!

– The cost of our trek is about 1.5 – 2 dollars per mile, most of which is spent on food. This doesn’t include gear.

Flat Rate Boxes

The Alison

the freezer

We have completed putting together our mail drops….well almost. Unfortunately, we did not get enough flat rate boxes from the post office. We did an experiment to see if sending a non-flat rate box was cheaper than mailing 2 large flat rate boxes. To our shock, we found out it would cost over $40 to send a 22lbs box (yes our food is heavy), where it only costs $30 to ship 2 flat rate.  Much better on the pocketbook! But as you can see, mailing our packages will be one of our biggest expenses.

All but 2 boxes fit in our freezers, but we are looking for temporary homes for 2 boxes. Any takers?

The gorp

Our calculations on how much food we would need were fairly accurate, however we went slightly long on dried apples and egg powder. Any takers? Just kidding! One highlight of the day was mixing the gorp. We tapped our inner Muppet chef while tossing ingredients into a bowl at will.

The fruit

Renee is now done with retreats at camp and can focus more on trail preparations. We are also going down to Kansas to visit friends at the end of this week. We hope this is a renewing time as the last few weeks have been full with work, life, and trail planning.

Reconstituting dried eggs…

This isn't even half of it!

Today Renee took off a day of work so we could work like mad to package our meals for the trip. At first the table loaded with ingredients looked daunting but now we can actually see the wood finish. All in all we have 28 different recipes, and made 95 suppers and breakfasts. Lined up on the couch were such meals as Coconut Curry Rice, White Mountain Stew and Camp Thai. I don’t think we will get too bored with our meals. Actually, people will probably look at our Chicken Nut Stir Pot with envy after a month of Ramen noodles. 🙂 If asked nicely, we MIGHT share.

Mom got to help too!


After we were done packaging, one may have been able to make a meal out of what fell on the floor. It would have been an interesting concoction with curry, basil, egg powder, sweet and sour sauce and TVP (Textured vegetable protein). YUMMY!

Oh the fun!

This week we also made another trip to Cabelas in Mitchell to buy some random things we still need. Items included: the GoGirl, 1 no-seeum head net, biodegradable toilet paper, and some other stuff we can’t remember at the moment. Wal-Mart ended up having more of the items we needed and at better prices.

Renee is in the midst of winter retreats at camp so we are taking advantage of every spare moment to get everything ready for the trail.

We are trying to get the word out about our trip and fundraiser as much as we can. Who knows, maybe you will even see us on TV!




Fast Facts (Part 1)

For those of you that aspire to learn more about the entity that is the Appalachian Trail we have put together some fun facts for you. Enjoy!


–          The trail goes through 6 national parks and 8 national forests and is maintained by 30 trail clubs and other volunteers

–          The trail touches 14 states

–          Highest elevation: Clingman’s Dome in the Smokey Mountains at 6,643 ft

–          Lowest elevation – Hudson River New York at 124 ft.

–          The Appalachian Trail was the dream of Benton MacKaye and was completed in 1937. In 1968 Congress made it a National Scenic Trail.

–          The mileage changes every year. Last year it was 2,175 and it has upped to 2,184.2. That’s a whole extra day of hiking folks.

–          The trail is within a day’s drive of 2/3 of the population of the US.

–          The southern terminus is in Georgia on top of Springer Mountain in Amicalola State Park (we will actually hike the first day on the approach trail)

–          The northern terminus in Baxter State Park in Maine is on top of Mt. Katahdin.

–          The fastest anyone has hiked (or ran) the trail is 47 days 13 hours and 31 minutes. We plan on taking 6 months.

–          A blind man with a seeing eye dog completed the trail. (if he can, we can)

–          2,000-3,000 hikers attempt to thru-hike each year, only a couple hundred succeed

–          Nearly 9,000 have completed a thru-hike

–          It takes about 5 million steps from Springer to Katahdin

–          There are 165,000 white blazes (give or take a few) on trees and rocks to mark the way

–          The trail actually passes through several towns along the way

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