The New & Improved Dasek Family

The New & Improved Dasek Family
Clive Nicholas Dasek (2 days old)

The Dynamic Duo

The Dynamic Duo
Daddy Longlegs and Sassy Sunshine sketched by Stewball

Monday, November 9, 2009

Um, we're home sleeping in our bed. Wierd.

I like the idea of blogging even though I feel like I’m always behind with posting updates. This is definitely something I’d like to keep up on; but as I’m not a particularly good writer, I think it’s getting tougher to update as we get back into the swing of things.

Anyway - Six months and 26 days after flying out of SeaTac, we arrived home in a one-way rental car around 10:00pm. Our housemates had pie and good Seattle beer ready to go. Molly, our Shitzu-Tibetian Terrier mix dog, greeted us with some uncertainty. She spent a few seconds sniffing out Rachel until she realized who she was and then she went nuts! It has been wonderful being back with her, although, it took a week or two until she came around.

Rachel’s cousins were subleasing our place while we were gone. Since they’re responsible family and we had good communication, we had a smooth transition back into our place. The biggest challenge has been to simply organize all the stuff we brought back to Seattle (accumulated hiking gear, three boxes of china from Rachel’s grandma, boxes from mom’s basement in WI, etc…) and get bills and the house organized before going back to work. I’ve been able to get some hiking in with Molly and I’m enjoying getting back into tennis too.

Rachel and I are sort of putting our 12-month plan together right now. Rachel is currently looking for an Admin Assistant position and working on her gluten-free baking, I’m starting back with Ajilon Finance on the 16th. Prayer is appreciated as we settle in – it’s kind of like we have a fresh start to our lives again, so we feel it’s as important as ever to start off making good decisions.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's the Hard-Knock Life for Us!

This morning:

7:30am – hit the snooze
7:35am – hit the snooze
7:40am – reset alarm for 8:00am
8:00am – hit the snooze
8:05am – turn off alarm
8:49am – suddenly wake up, check time, look outside to notice sunny San Diego isn’t sunny as usual. Roll back over and close eyes.
9:15am – sit up, lay back down. Quick dream about interviewing an overqualified candidate for a staff accounting job.
9:28am – Rachel sits up and says, “We should get up.” I agreed.
9:42am – Both our feet touch the ground. We’re up.

We’re staying with the Jacobs who are good friends of my pop's. They recently moved from Scottsdale to escape the heat, and I will say they made a wise choice. They have a nice size home about 50 miles north of San Diego. The house is very comfortable and in a gated community. The terrain is hilly much like Seattle with a back yard that overlooks their orchard. I counted 55 orange trees, 30 avocado trees, lemon and lime trees, and several apple trees. The abundance of fresh fruit is overwhelming! Rachel and I can’t help but pick fresh oranges and squeeze juice in the morning. I just washed my hands again hoping the orange pulp in my fingernails is gone for good – my fingers are sticking to the the commputr keyes causinng typOs...

Rach and I arrived in San Diego last Wednesday after leaving Milwaukee one week earlier. We took three days to get to Albuquerque, stopping in Des Moines and Denver before reaching our first destination. We stayed with the Philips who are a wonderful family I met on the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains. When I first met them, they asked me about my thru-hike and I explained that Rachel and I were going to road trip from Maine to the southwest before heading north to Seattle. They told me about their home in Albuquerque and invited us to stay with them so we could catch Balloon Fiesta, the largest annual hot air balloon festival in the nation. We had a very enjoyable time with them and their two kids.

I was the entertainment for the evening at the Philips. It was Samuel, Sophia, Eva, and Bella (dog) versus me in some sort of game. I'm still not sure what we were playing, but I reigned victorious contrary to the picture.

We left Albuquerque on 10.12 and headed west. As we traveled along I-40, we saw signs for The Petrified National Forest but didn’t have intentions of checking it out. Rachel and I had one of those verbal exchanges like, "You want to stop?"
"I don't care, do you?"
"Um, it doesn't really matter."
"Yeah, I don't really care either."
"But when else are we going to ever see it?"
"Who knows. Are you saying you want to go?"
"No, not really."
"Uh, okay. I have to use the bathroom."

We ended up stopping for the bathroom and also decided to pay the $10 park fee. I will say it was cool. The park is about 25 miles long and we spent two hours driving through it snapping pictures of the odd land formations and eerie martian-like landscapes. The petrified forest was actually the least exciting portion. Once you have seen a petrified log, you've seen them all; although, the whole petrification process is quite interesting if you're into geology.

On we went stopping just outside of Phoenix for the evening. The next morning we left with the intentions of heading directly to the Jacobs' home, but as usual, we called an audible and checked out Joshua Tree National Park. Man, oh man, Joshua Tree is a very cool place to see. The inhospitable Mojave and Colorado deserts coupled with twisted rock formations make the landscape unparalleled to anything I've ever seen. I definitely suggest stopping there if you find the opportunity (avoid the 115+ degree heat of the summer, of course).

This leads me to San Diego which has been the Promise Land for us. I'm pretty critical of most cities, but San Diego is definitely an area I would consider retiring in. The proximity to the ocean, cities, mountains, and the weather are unparalleled. In addition, we saw Steely Dan on Saturday which left us with only positive vibes. All good things do come to end though - Rach and I leave tomorrow morning for San Francisco and we'll be back in Seattle by the 25th.

Us happy kids enjoying boogie boarding in Carlsbad

View from our seats at the Steely Dan concert on Oct.16th

This time after the trail has been awesome. Whenever Rachel and I look at our pictures, we can't help but be amazed at how much we've seen and done. I even get to celebrate my 28th b-day in San Fran! In the end, we won't be able to say 2009 was lacking much in the way of excitement and adventure.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Get Your Kicks Not on Route 66

Tomorrow morning, Rachel and I embark on our lengthy road trip back to Seattle. A one-way rental car, an iPod full of sermons and podcasts, and dried mango bites should helps get well on our way. Our first stop will be Des Moines, Iowa to visit Rachel's good friend from college. Then, we'll plan on spending several days in Albuquerque before heading to San Diego and San Francisco. Finally, we'll cruise the Pacific Coast Highway back up to Seattle. We originally thought about taking Old Route 66 for some of the way, but after viewing directions - or lack there of - it seemed painfully obvious to us that the interstate will be our route of choice.

You see, since we've been married four years ago we have never had the flexibility and opportunity to spend significant time with family. The unemployed lifestyle has afforded us much more time since we don't have to rush back home.

A quick brief on what's been happening since our time off the trail:

Jill (Rachel's mom), Rach and I road tripped from Millinocket, ME back to MI to hang out with her folks and Andy (Rach's older brother). We hit up Bar Harbor, ME and Niagara Falls on the ride back. We spent about a week in Northern MI and then headed to Grand Rapids to spend the weekend with friends. Enough of MI already, on to WI! We've been in Milwaukee since 9.21 and we've had plenty of time to catch up with all of my relatives and friends.

Rachel and I with Jill, Andy, Patsy Poo-poo, and Grandma Reba

Cribbage with my Grandma Krueger and Rach

I wish I had time to write a longer entry as there has been much to tell, but I haven't done well with finding time to post our happenings. I hope to find down time on our road trip to post pics of the southwest. Expect us back in Seattle around 10.22

Monday, September 21, 2009

Exciting Trail Stats and Fun Charts

Now for a boring blog on Appalachian Trail mileage statistics...

How many miles per day do you average? Do you take days off? What's the most amount of miles you've done in a day or a week? These are all questions I have been frequently asked on and off the trail. Having a finance background, I like to serve up concrete numbers that can be analyzed and articulated, so I took time this morning to pull numbers from my daily mileage. I maintained a mileage log with the help of the "2009 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion".

A 2180 mile hike is overwhelming for most anyone, but when broken down to bits and peices, it can seem more obtainable. Below you'll find statistical data and a column chart that illustrates the type of mileages and rest days of my hike. I usually had an idea of what I wanted to hike each day, but even through the end of my trek did I ever stick to much of a plan. Also, most of my days off were unexpected and definitely unplanned. Altogether I hiked 127 days out of 158 total days on the trail. I consider 16 of the 128 days to be Neros - less than 10 miles - since I don't believe there was a full day of hiking where I hiked less than that.

I have little experience with editing Html, so no savvy graphics for you. This first list of data includes average and median mileage along with the standard deviation (standard deviation is a statistic that tells you how tightly all the data points are clustered around the average in a set of data). I have three categories because I wanted to know how my averages varied with and without taking days off. All of my statistics only include miles logged on the trail. Obviously, there is no way to quantify miles I walked in towns, on my days off, or to gather water or shelter off the trail. I did not add the .9 I had to walk to get to the southern terminus in Springer or the 5.2 miles I decended from Katahdin's summit. I hiked 2171.7mi of the 2178.2mi AT for various reasons (yes all you purists, I'm still a thru-hiker).
All days including 0-days: 158 days
Mean Mileage: 13.74
Median Mileage: 15.8
Standard Deviation: 8.86
All days excluding 0-days: 127 days
Mean Mileage: 17.10
Median Mileage: 17.40
Standard Deviation: 6.32
All days excluding 0-days and Neros (less than 10 miles) 111: days
Mean Mileage: 18.69
Median Mileage: 18.20
Standard Deviation: 4.97

This list indicates how many days fell within mileage categories. I think this is a better illustration of how how often I hiked certain mileages.
0 Days: 31
0 < 5 (miles): 5
5 < 10(miles): 11
10 < 15(miles): 22
15 < 20(miles) : 53
20 < 25(miles): 26
25 < 30(miles): 7
30 < 35.4(miles): 3
Total Days: 158

I'm often asked about the most miles I've done in a day. I was also interested in the most miles I've completed in two days and a week.
Max Mileage (Consecutive Day Total)
1 Day:35.4
2 Days:62.4
3 Days:83.3
4 Days:106.6
5 Days:124.5
6 Days:144.2
7 Days:172.5

Here is a column chart of my daily mileage from beginning to end. The gaps between the columns are zero-days.

I hope this statistical information is helpful and interesting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

So Nice to Summit Twice

Sassy Sunshine is a trooper!

It had been a month and a half since I had seen Sassy at the Vermont hiker party. I figured after Sassy’s 21-hour drive from MI to Millinocket, ME with Marmy (my mother-in law), she was going to be spent and would want to do nothing more than veg out with me and watch reruns of Top Chef. I was dead wrong.

A week earlier we tentatively discussed summiting Katahdin together on the 6th even though I would climb it first on the 5th. We thought this would be an especially good way for her to put closer to our journey since she was unable to complete the whole thing. Quite honestly, I was content climbing the toughest mountain on the AT only once; furthermore, I was certain that the road trip, sheer difficulty of the climb, and waking up at 3am would be enough to make the veg out option more appealing for Sassy… I was just fine with that, however, Sassy was not.

We woke at 3:05am, just in time for absolutely no coffee shop or any sane person to be stirring in podunk Millinocket. Sassy and I scrambled out of the motel to get in line at the Baxter State park gate; we made it just before 4am to find a good 50 cars ahead of us patiently waiting for the park gates to open. We made it to the trailhead around 6:00am and hit the trailhead at 6:20, and then we climbed, and boy, did we climb. According to Sassy, the climb up Katahdin was without doubt the most treacherous and grueling climb she had ever attempted. There were slabs of granite so steep the park drilled pieces of rebar into the rock; what’s more, Katahdin is a 5.2 mile and 4,200 foot ascent. Most mountaineering expeditions climb no more than 3-4000ft in a day.

Sassy rocked it out without any help from me considering she forgot to bring insoles for her shoes. She said, “My feet have really shrunk since I last hiked!” Later, she took her shoes off to empty out rocks when she noticed her mishap. If her feet weren’t already temperamental from the neuroma, then the lack of cushion and support from the insole surely wasn’t going to help either. By God’s grace, we summited in three hours and then descended without incident – side note: Sassy incurred a serious wedgie while scooting off a boulder. Her reaction was priceless. Good thing I captured the moment on camera rather than help her down.

In all, we really had a fun time climbing Katahdin. We both got some tears out and we truly relished that we will never have to be apart like this again (we pray we wont). I love my wife!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's Done

Dasek vs. Appalachian Trail: Dasek, 2178 miles; AT, one giant goose egg.

I’m sure I kept all of you in suspense as it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted anything…eeek! You’ll be glad to know I summited Katahdin on Sept 5th at 5:52am just in time to catch the sun crack the horizon and see a glorious sunrise. My goodness, was this a spectacular moment!

A few days before we got to Katahdin, Rocket and I met a section hiker in the “Hundred Mile Wilderness” named Hopper. Hopper and his brother were the only lucky ones who hooked up a campsite next to the AT on the base Katahdin on Sept 4th. Without a campsite, we would have had to camp at a designated long-distance hiker shelter about .5mi off the trail. We relaxed with a campfire and a few refreshments before heading to bed around 8pm so we could wake up by 2am to begin our 5.2 mile trip to the summit. Wait, did I say 2am… what was I thinking?! We knew there would be a full moon that night and we thought it would be very cool to have moonlit path to the top. I’ve tried night-hiking with a full moon in the past months and it’s generally not real exciting due to the heavy tree cover. However, the top half of Katahdin is alpine zone meaning we would have no tree cover and no obstructions. In addition, the weather was some of the clearest and most comfortable weather of the entire hike. How could we not take advantage of this?

Rocket and I eagerly hit the trailhead at 3:15am with the full moon illuminating the horizon and treetops. The first mile was very gradual and quite nice for a warm up before getting into the more technical and difficult terrain. After the first mile, we began to hit large boulders that required scrambling or grabbing thin trees to pull ourselves up; our trekking poles were rendered useless. 2.5 miles through and about 2800ft of elevation later we hit the alpine zone and we had a spectacular view of the surrounding horizon filled with coniferous forest and lakes illuminated by the full moon. The next mile consisted of boulders ranging from the size of washing machines to railroad cars for us to climb, scramble, boulder, and squeeze through. I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline but the climb was fun and much easier than the significantly smaller scrambles I had through the White Mountains.

It was 4:30am when I took a breather and Rocket had pushed past me about 200meters. I was looking back at the landscape and realized the moon lit the trail and barren rocks much better than my fading headlamp. I turned off my headlamp and let my eyes adjust before continuing my ascent. I think the next hour of hiking and climbing – in my mind – is the coolest thing I’ve done. I wish I had a picture to do this memory justice, because being completely alone and silent I was looking off at the soft moon lit glow of hundreds of square miles of wilderness and lakes without obstruction. At 5am, I saw the silhouette of Katahdin darken as dawn approached lighting up the sky behind the mountain. Above the crest of the mountain to the east of me, the sky began to fill with light blues, magenta, reds and oranges; behind me, the sky was a washed-out purple and grey. I hit Thoreau Springs, about one mile from the summit, around 5:20am and I had a great view of the tundra on top of Katahdin, treeless and rocky with many different types of shrubs, grasses and moss. I enjoyed my time taking pictures and eventually seeing the summit in the near distance. Finally, at 5:52am I reached the summit and found Rocket, Chance and Union Break in high spirits and congratulating each other. Rocket and I had both packed up a beer and enjoyed a cold one at 6am atop a cold windy mountain. We did the traditional pictures with the Katahdin sign and enjoyed an hour of joyful shivering before we headed back down to the base. We had completed the entire Appalachian Trail.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

One Final Stretch

Monson, ME. Yeah! We were going to ease into Monson today but we heard that Tropical Storm Danny's threat to Eastern, ME was imminent. As a result, we ended up hiking 35.4 miles into Monson yesterday, my biggest single mileage to date and surely my biggest for my 09' thru-hike.

Monson is 112 trail miles south of Katahdin. It looks likely that Rocket, Feed Bag and I will summit next Saturday (9.5). Before we do that, we have to hike through the "One-Hundred Mile Wilderness". This section starts after we leave Monson and is not really wilderness or one-hundred miles, but it is absent of any paved roads, meaning we have to carry a little more food and it's probably not a good place to break an ankle and have to get rescued.

I'm happy the trail is wrapping up. Two and a half months apart from Sassy is much more time than I'm ever willing to bare with again. I realize how much of an awesome friend and partner my wife is. Truly, truly there is no one I enjoy my life with quite like Sassy.