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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

SassySunshine's Unexpected Summer

It's been 11 days since I left the trail and had to tearfully say goodbye to Daddy Long Legs. I miss my husband, the hiking community, our tent, hiking and the trail itself. When we started our adventure I never imagined that I would develop such a love for hiking. Don't get me wrong at times I wanted to chuck my backpack over the side of a cliff, but there was never a time where I would have changed my situation. My biggest challenge now is finding enough to do to keep me from going crazy. It's frustrating not being able to run, walk or hike due to the pain. Going from hiking 15-20 miles everyday to 0 has been torture. Whatever it is that God's trying to teach me through this I have yet to figure out, but I trust Him.
Though this wasn't the turn of events I would have chosen I am enjoying the quality time with my mom, step dad Joe and grandma Reba. Another benefit has been the family events that I would have otherwise missed. Last weekend was my cousin Katie's wedding. It had been three years since my mom had all three of her kids together, she was glowing the entire time.
Yesterday I went with mom and Joe to Traverse City for Joe's nieces' (Wesliegh and Hannah) graduation party. It was nice to get out of the house and Lake City for a night.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Change of Pace

A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the library closes shortly so I’ll do my best to summarize. Sassy Sunshine made it to mile-mark 892.6 on June 16th before having to get off due to a swelling of nerves in her foot, also know has neuroma There is no quick fix for this and Sassy needed to throw in the towel. In a very unselfish and noble act, Sassy asked me to go on and complete the AT. This was the hardest “trail” decision imaginable and we had prayed and hoped we would never come to this point. My wife is my best friend, and up to this point the trail had been our adventure without an agenda other than to enjoy our time together. Moving on alone would result in being apart for almost three months. We considered our options carefully and we both agreed that I would continue on.

Sassy got on a Greyhound bus the next day and I was back on the trail by 2pm thanks to a Trail Angel named Tom Reider. Tom drove me 40 miles into the Shenandoah’s where I got back on at Roach Smith Gap, and he got Sassy to the bus station in Charlottesville. She went back to Lake City, MI where she is spending the interim with her mom and grandma. The plan is to spend considerable time baking and learning gluten-free recipes and also taking care of her feet.

As for me, I’ve been able to move along relatively quickly and get bigger miles in; 245 miles in the last 10 days. Hiking vigorously has been sort of my way of coping with the absence of Sassy. I hope to move up my arrival to Katahdin from early October to August 31st. Sassy plans to ascend Katahdin with me for a climactic end to our journey.

Everything has a way of working itself out. I found encouragement in reading Ecclesiastes 3:15 this morning. “That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.” This time alone from Sassy is part of His divine plan that has been perfectly thought out. My conscience tells me to just go with it even though it’s difficult and sometimes tear-jerking. The Dude abides.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


It's a day off for Sassy and me (aka the Seattle Sleepers) in Waynesboro, VA. A day off is also known as a “zero-day”, and it is a glorious occurrence that happened 13 times for us in May - partly due to the wedding in Milwaukee and Trail Days in Damascus. Zero-days in motels are our favorite because we can relax and watch movies like Roadhouse and a League of Their Own and shows such as Top Chef and the Colbert Report. Sassy usually likes to devour Ben and Jerry’s and I like to pretend I am a sponge imbibing a 40oz. Highlife. These times are essential to enjoying the trail because they help us keep our perspective on why we’re out here and not becoming overwhelmed by just hiking.

I think for many people inspiring to hike the AT there are visions of copious free time. With all this free time, one can find clarity in life, devise how they'll earn millions and retire early, or just bask in Zen moment after moment. Either way, if this individual plans to a hike the AT in less than six months, they will find out - like us - that free time isn't as abundant as they once hoped.

In March, Sassy and I did the math on how much hiking we would do in a day. We figured our typical week would consist of 15 mile days for six days and one zero-day. If we averaged 2.5 miles an hour, we'd be on the trail for six hours a day, seven hours tops, and still hiking 90-mile weeks. Wow, with hiking only seven hours, we would be left with about nine hours of awake time to do whatever we wanted (i.e.. read, nap, play cribbage, play air drums, check for ticks, swim, nap again, scratch mosquito bites, snack, start a fire, poke at the fire, think about absolutely nothing, think about world peace, think about how to avoid having a job when we're back in Seattle, get disgusted at our feet, write in our journal...). In March, we could only dream how fantastic the next six months will be!

It occurred to me after the first month that hiking the AT is much more arduous and time consuming than expected. Outside of the hiking, there is the setting up and tearing down of camp, filtering water, somehow consuming 4-5K calories each day, washing dishes, blocking and tackling all the little aches and pains that come up. Also, contrary to popular belief, the AT is not a flat and smooth trail - hence the trail has the name of a mountain range in it. The AT is quite a difficult trail to hike because of the often rocky and insanely hilly terrain; as a result, the days fly by without much free time and we're just happy to get miles in.

2180 miles of mountainous trail is a lot to cover and become overwhelmed with. Without zero-days, the trail becomes a job and one really loses perspective of the experience. Thank you zero-days!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The story of our little friend Oreo

So here I am minding my business walking the trail when Daddy Long Legs stopped up ahead. All I can see is a black ball in the middle of the trail at his feet. I yelled out "what is it Nick?" He yelled back, "A baby skunk!" The little skunk looked dead as he laid there not moving with flies buzzing around him, but once Stewball our hiking buddy tried pushing him off the trail his tail began to twitch. At first the guys started saying that he must not have died too long ago since his nerves are still making his tail move, but within seconds the critter started moving around to let us know he was indeed still alive. We all took a few giant steps back before realizing that spraying us was the last thing on his mind. The skunk was too weak and was curled up into a little ball once again. As we looked at each other, the question that came out was "what should we do with him?". Daddy Long Legs thought we should just leave him, but Stewball and I thought we should 'rescue' him. We soon found out that we are completely uneducated in wildlife rescue. Stewball wrapped his bandanna around and carried the little guy in the palm of his hand. We named him Oreo after about half of a mile. The first road crossing from where we found him was 1.5 miles, so we thought we could call animal rescue from there. After trying to get a signal for over a half an hour another hiker walked up. She was kind enough to let us borrow her phone. I finally got in touch with a trail coordinator who said to leave the skunk since they're pretty self sufficient at a young age and he'll either bite or spray you if you try to handle him. Oreo had tried neither and was actually trying to burrow into Daddy Long Legs' shoe while he still had it on. The trail coordinator also said that if wildlife rescue were to come get him, they'd first need to get a permit from the national forest. In short, we did what we could and it was time to say goodbye to our little white-striped friend. We found him a cozy little bed off the trail in some leaves. He was curled up into a ball sleeping when we left him. It stormed that night and we all thought of little Oreo. Hopefully he grows up to be the best skunk he can be, and more importantly, learns how to spray people like us who try to pick him up and move him. Good luck little guy!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Green Tunnel

This is Sassy Sunshine's other half, Daddy Long-Legs, updating the blog; in fact, I think this is my first official posting. We're currently 'comfort'ably dry at the Comfort Inn in Daleville, VA. Since coming back from the wedding in Milwaukee 10 days ago, it has rained or thunder stormed everyday but one. As a result, we've been spending quite a bit of time in motels catching up on unmissed TV and Dairy Queen Blizzards. I will say that the Raspberry Truffle Blizzard is well worth the 900 calories and the $4.09 plus tax.

Currently, Sassy Sunshine and I are 718 miles through the trail; about a third of the way through which leaves us half-way through Virginia. VA is a 550 mile monster of a state that makes up just over a quarter of the entire trail. Many of the NOBO (northbound) thru-hikers that are physically strong enough to complete the entire trail end up quitting in VA. This is due to the "green tunnel" or "Virginia Blues" that people often fall into as a result of endless days in the depths of the forest; in other words, they just get bored of the woods and the trail. To the contrary, I'm finding that making friends and spending time off the trail makes the hike continuously exciting and intriguing.

Two things have really been on my mind through the first third of this journey:

1) The trail restores my feelings about the common good in people. I wish I had the energy to elaborate on this right now, but I just don't... maybe the next entry. In short, it's all positive.

2) Functionality is everything - No one cares how you look or what brand of gear you use; everyone just cares if it works. One of the most refreshing aspects of this hike is getting away from any concerns of image.

Thanks for keeping up with us and our whereabouts. We appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and brownies and beef jerky!

Daddy Long-Legs