Sometimes We Carry too Much Weight…

The Shake Down! This is random but I thought I’d share since I’ve not posted in a few weeks.


As I am reading and studying about what I should be carrying in my backpack on my hikes, I realize much of the weight I carry is on items of comfort. Some of these items are necessary and will provide me with a pleasant and successful hike. While other items  may provide me with comfort they may not be necessary, but they do add extra weight for me to have to carry.

Some of these items are so heavy that they weigh me down making my walk, at the very least, a miserable hike.  I would think it could even be such a burden that I’d quit. Give up.

There are experienced hikers that have walked a thru-hike and have the experience of what should be carried and making suggestions for what would make for a better journey. They help you look at each item and you decide if it’s a necessary item or not. Tossing items that are just ounces lighter can make a huge difference. This is called a Shakedown.



I’m not sure why but this morning I was thinking or comparing my backpack with my life… And in it I have packed away many memories, experiences and lessons that are both negative and positive.  Sometimes we carry so much weight on our shoulders, that’s not necessary to move on or to leave in the present. Or worse, we just get in a rut and quit trying to move forward. We may be in the middle of our long hike, and our pack/life is just so heavy we just give up and stay stationary. We live off of what we are carrying in the pack, both the negative and the positive. While we are stationary we soon run out of our food supply which is a positive and we start to starve for life. So, we need to carry less negative and unnecessary thoughts and make more room for more positive thoughts to survive and be happy and healthy in our life.

I told you this was random.

I think it’s time for me to have a life shake down….Time to take some action and prepare my life for a better journey.  Toss out what’s dragging me down, and keep or add only the necessary and positive.

If I subtract the unnecessary negative from my life, then I make more room for the positive!

Happy Hiking,

Chickadee Hiker (Cindylee)



Why the Trail Name, Chickadee?



It was not something that I just thought of. It’s been with me for years, from the beginning really. But I didn’t find out till years later.

In 1998, I opened up a consignment boutique, and I named it out of the blue, Chickadee’s Boutique. I liked the way it sounded together and the little cute bird was my favorite little bird. This was the only reason I knew of at the time.I was only in the process of opening up the shop, doing the remodeling and painting of my space, no business license yet, no sign outside and I hadn’t shared with anyone that I was going to name the store Chickadee’s Boutique yet.

I had been going to a prayer group at my church, but needed to miss this one night. The next day, I had a call from a lady from the group and she asked if she could come by the shop, that she had something to share with me. I thought she was probably bringing in some clothing to consign. When she arrived she said that she wanted to share something with me and it was “A Word” that she felt I needed to hear. She said that this had never happened to her before, but after the prayer meeting the night before she had gone home and had quiet time and felt compelled to write her thoughts down. She asked me if it was okay to share them with me. Honestly I felt apprehensive and a little guarded, but said Okay. She handed me the piece of paper and as I started to read it, I soon filled with emotions, mostly awe struck, but at the same time a huge sense of comfort.

You see, for weeks before this “word” came to me, I was having a very hard time dealing with the death of my father. I won’t go into all the details, or this would soon be a book. I was missing him tremendously and I felt guilty because he died alone. I didn’t find out till one month after he had passed, because no one knew, who his next of kin were. I moved from Florida and now was living in NE Georgia. The V.A cremated his body and held him for that one month trying to locate his next of kin. When they did my sister and I went down and basically they just handed us the box of ashes and we drove them to the V.A cemetery to have him buried. No words were spoken no clergy was there, just awkward silence between my sister and I and unsaid words to my Daddy. I had a hard time dealing with this.

So back to this Word I received, it spoke only of things that no one could have known. Certainly not this lady that I had only met maybe three times before and never talked with her other than in short pleasantries. This Word, spoke of things like how he missed the long walks on the beach with me. She had no idea I grew up in Fl and spent my childhood on the beach. My Dad and I, would take long walks looking for sea shells and even camped on the beach. This letter said a few more things that were just as confirming that I knew this was a real word for me.

But it was the ending  I needed to hear. And that was; Your heavenly Father has always called you His Little Chickadee from the beginning, and your Earthly Father carried it on. He may not be with you now walking on the beach, but he and I AM, are always with you.

I didn’t remember that my dad called me his little chickadee, but I knew I was going to name my shop Chickadees.

About a month later after my “Word” was given to me, I was in business and Chickadee’s Boutique was open. My brother who was 14 yrs older than me came through town and stopped by for just a few minutes. We stood outside on the sidewalk talking and he looked at my business sign, and said he had to ask me why I name it Chickadees? I explained how I just liked the way it sounded; He looked at me for a second and said “you do remember that is what your father used to call you his Little Chickadee when you were a little girl, right?”
(my father was not my brothers biological dad so he always referred to him as your father)

Happy Hiking,
Chickadee (Cindylee)

Facing My Fears and Just Doing it A Little at a Time

The feeling I had on my first 2 night solo hike began with the feeling of being  excited and being empowered. My gear was organized and packed well, I had what I needed and was prepared for a cold night. It was suppose to drop down into the 20’s and would be breezy.

I was planning on doing a 20 mile hike, breaking it up into 2 nights, just for the experience of a 2 night solo hike. It would be easy to do with a late afternoon hike, overnight, leisurely walk a full day, and a couple hours for the last day.

On my ride to the drop off point my excitement stayed with me, but   added to that were sweaty palms and letting out nervous exhales.

When I arrived at the trail head, I could see 4 young  men that appeared in good shape gearing up with what it looked like a day hike. And they are doing leg stretches….really? should I do leg stretches? I never considered that even though I used to run long distance and knew the importance of them, but I hadn’t thought about doing them before a hike. I was already a little embarrassed about my 25+ year old Rucksack, and I hadn’t gotten the hang of gracefully throwing it on my back yet. In fact it was sometimes a struggle. So I fiddled around with it for a few minutes, hoping those guys would start before me. I didn’t want to start before them and have them whiz by me hearing me wheeze up the mountain. My stalling payed off-they took off and to my relief they headed north, I was heading south.

Okay, it’s time to get real, I lifted the pack up on the tailgate of the truck with about all I had. It seems so much heavier to lift than to carry on your back. I positioned myself so I could easily wiggle into the straps and buckle up. Once all the adjustments were made I started across the road to my trail. Since it’s early December there are no leaves on the trees and I could see Brad watching me go up my first swithback. This started the thoughts and memories.


( the above picture I can see I’m concerned and doubting myself by the furrowed forehead)

I thought that first mile was going to be my first challenge because it was going to be an elevation change of 1100 ft, and my pack was the heaviest I had carried yet. (47lbs is too heavy, still working on that with getting new gear)

But, my first real challenge was a mental challenge. I was reminded of when I was a child going to school on my very first day. My mom walked me into class, said our good-bye and she left. I could see her walking to her car from that big window in my new classroom. The next thing I know I’m chasing her as shes driving out of the parking lot. I was petrified. I don’t even remember if she saw me and turned around for me or if a faculty member or other parent caught me. I just know I freaked. I started having that same feeling again, as I saw my ride drive down the road. ~RUN!~ call him to come back, I have made a mistake, I can’t do this!

Thankfully I knew this game. I had played this mental game many times when I was training to run a marathon. I just had to have a long pep talk with myself and besides I had no choice but to continue on, I had no phone service.

I did make it up that first incline easier than I thought and I overcame that mental challenge, so now, I was thinking of what are my next challenges, like who would I meet on the trail, would I be sharing my campsite with other hikers and who would they be. I was beginning to think I had nothing to worry about because I didn’t pass or meet anyone for the first 3 hours.  Which I’m not sure I liked that feeling either. Of course when I did meet someone, it was when I was taking a pee break. My pack off, found a good log to semi-hide behind and my belt buckle almost unbuckled when a young fella walked up with a full pack. Awkward!

We chatted for a bit  He was meeting friends at the shelter which was another few miles.  Since it was now  3:30 pm, I didn’t think I could make it that far by dark and I had already decided I was staying in my tent at a campsite. He went on and I finished my business and then went on.

(Some of the trail)

The next 2 people I met were a guy and gal, In their mid-20’s, they were finishing up a break when I walked up on them, and they started walking just in front of me. I kept up with their pace, and I felt good about being able to do that. They didn’t talk much and I was fine with that. I was just glad to have them close. Its now getting cold and the guy stopped to put on his jacket, the girl was in the lead and just kept going like she didn’t even notice he had stopped. I was behind them so, I had to go around him As I passed him, I asked where they were heading and where they started from. He told me they were on their last few days of their A.T. thru-hike. They started in Maine and met each other in Harper Ferry and walked off and on together from there. I had such a feeling of admiration and was a little envious too.

I finally came to a small but nice looking camp spot….flat ground for my tent, good fire ring with even some wood piled up. It was getting late, already 5 pm and I had to set up camp, have dinner and hang up the bear bag, preferably before dark.

The Bear Bag.….ugh, my next challenge. It sounds so simple, but I haven’t found it simple yet. I looked around for a good tree and there wasn’t really anything around, or I should say far enough away from my tent. I finally found one and it’s now almost dark. After many, many, attempts to get my line up over the branch, and fighting other small limbs that kept snagging my rope, I finally got it up and over. Perfect! Now, I just have to pull the bag up so bears or other critters wouldn’t get my food. And I’d be done. As I am pulling the line, the limb breaks and almost clonks me on the head. Just great! Lesson: make sure the limb isn’t a dead limb. I was getting frustrated with this whole system by now, but I do see another limb about 50 ft away and walk over. I go through the whole thing again, slinging the rope up and over, fighting with the other small limbs and brush that snag my line from going over, and I finally succeed. I remember I left the black food bag on the ground just 50 ft away. It is now dark and I can’t find the dumb bag with my headlamp. I was about to give up and just hope that nothing would steal my food or coffee and come sniffing around my tent looking for more. I just happened to glance down to walk back and there it was!…now just find my rope hanging in the tree. Among all the other vines dangling around. OK it’s all up and hanging just perfect and off to my tent for bed. Too tired to start a fire and it was getting cold. Lesson: put reflective tape on your food bag!


I got into my night clothes, and put on my clean dry socks, I even doubled them up, I like warm toasty toes when I sleep. I could hear the wind picking up making it a noisy night. I was tucked up under my sleeping bag head and all, and I’d hear a noise and I’d stop breathing so I could hear better then realize it was my own breathing I heard. The woods are full of noises at night. An owl kept me company for a while. Or at least I told myself it was an owl.  I’ve read some people use ear plugs to block some of that noise out. I’m not sure I would want to do that. I think I want to hear if something is creeping around. Any thoughts on that?

sunrise hogpen

Sunrise finally came and I put my shoes on and walked to get my food bag so I could have my oatmeal and coffee. It was suppose to be down in the low 20’s, that night but it was around 31/32. I had breakfast and totally enjoyed my coffee. I decided to leave my sweat pants on and put my fleece jacket on, and started to tear down camp. A few hikers passed me as I was breaking down camp, we exchanged hellos, hows it going, good mornings etc. One couple said good thing you stayed here last night, the shelter was packed. There were 12 people at the shelter and a few in tents. Which to my surprise was less then 1/2 a mile away..meaning I hiked 9.2 miles in just 3 1/2 hours carrying 47 lbs. I was pleased with that.

2nd Day

This will be short, basically after 3 miles into my walk I felt like my socks were folded over or something in my boot and it was getting sore. I should have stopped at that moment to change socks, but I was going to wait till I was going to have to pee too. So 2 more miles I cold hardly walk on my foot and I took off my socks and I had a hot spot the size of a half dollar on the pad of my food just below my little toe. I had to decide if I wanted to go on, 5 more miles with 3 good inclines or cut my hike short and call for a ride home. Since I had a few hikes planned in the next 2 weeks I chose to call home. I felt disappointed and let down but very pleased with what I accomplished. I could have made that 5 miles in a few more hours, and I’d be camping at the end of my hike just to camp. Which would have been fine, but my hot spot would have been a bad bad blister by then. Oh I passed another couple that were eager to say hello and talk. I asked where they were headed and he said tonight or finish at? That enticed me so I went with finish? He said Maine!!! My response was “You’re just leaving now?  the beginning of winter? Going Northbound?”… wow…is all I can say, Their trail names are Bonnie and Clyde…

Biggest Lesson…I didn’t change my socks from my sleeping socks, they rubbed and caused friction. Secondly, I should have changed socks immediately when I first noticed the discomfort. That could have been a bad lesson to learn if I didn’t have that cross road right there to call for a ride.

Happy Hiking

Cindylee (Chickadee)





The Verbal Commitment has Been Made

It’s already been a few months, but I have made the public announcement that I am hiking the A.T. (Appalachian Trail)  whiteblazeYes, Yes, I am, fully committed to myself. It won’t be until my son graduates from high school. I have 4 years and approximately 3 months before my tentative start out date. I’d like to go 9 months earlier, the summer he graduates, but that would be pushing my time to get to Maine by Oct 15, when Katahdin closes for the winter. I’ll be 63 by this time so I am not planning on breaking any speed records. They say 4-6 months even 7 for some. I hope to make it in 5. The closer I get to leaving the better of an idea, I’ll have.

Anyway…I have a feeling this is going to be a roller coaster ride till that day comes. Most of the time I’m so excited, busy researching gear out, watching YouTube and reading stories of other hikers….but then there’s that one minute that I think, “What am I thinking?” Five to six months equals a lot of days walking and sleeping on the trail. In all kinds of weather conditions. But then I get excited all over again, for the challenge. I’m looking forward to being in nature and taking in all the experiences, the good and not so good, and mostly looking forward to what I personally gain from the experience.

So, about blogging, well, people have said you should blog about your hikes. I do share on other social media sites, but I don’t get too detailed, mostly share pictures, because I don’t want to bug people about my hiking all the time. So I guess  my main purpose for this blog is to share what I’m doing to prepare for my big hike and the many hikes I take until then, what I learn that works and what doesn’t work for me, etc.

I will also be posting some other things I am doing to get ready. For instance, I have to get healthier and stronger, so nutrition, recipes, workouts and just thoughts I have along the way. The mental training I guess, will be shared in venting my thoughts. I’m a creative person and I’m always doing something to up-cycle, re-purpose, make or paint. I also am a hobby photographer and that will also be here. Maybe something for everyone…I’m not an expert at any of these things, just enjoy doing and trying. I always am learning from my mistakes…maybe I can save you from making some too.

I welcome you to follow me, would love any advice or other blogs or articles you’d like to share with me, please send them my way.

Happy Hiking,

Cindylee  (Chickadee)