Appalachian Trail '15
Taekwondo master. Hikes about about 3~4 times per month, tries to stay in generally good shape.
July 1st from Devil's Juction, north to border. Started south on July3rd from the border.
Reached So. Kennedy Mead.
Made it to US/Mexico Border
Solar Body was raised by Buddhist parents and has been practicing philosophy and background of Buddhism for several years. He believes that each mountain has its own character and spirit. Not only do mountains have spirits, but all parts of nature like trees, rocks, water, sun, and so on are living things and they can talk to him. Solar Body has been communicating with nature’s spirit since the AT. He is certain he was able to finish the AT and the PCT successfully not because he was strong enough, but because of the help from nature and everything surrounding him. You don’t know how many times he had said, “Thank you” on the trails. He probably said it roughly about 1,000 times. Mother Nature, listened, guided him, and protected him. After all, he was able to finish the PCT as he had planned without any barriers such as skipping, flipping, or getting off the trail.
Things were not always easy for Solar Body. He had a hard time hiking the desert in Southern California. Solar Body is from New York, home of the green tunnel. Therefore, he got tired easily in dry conditions with no shade and no water. Sometimes he would even blame the person who built this trail. However, he would quickly realized how much he appreciates all the water that is set up by someone else.
Solar Body also kept a video blog of his PCT trip that can be found on his youtube page.
KEEPING A VIDEO JOURNAL
"Originally, the reason why I started recording my hikes was for my future generation. I want to give them inspiration and challenge their spirit. Then, all of sudden, I asked myself, “Why only for my family? It could be for everyone all over the world.” This is why I added subtitles in my videos even though my English is not perfect. I wanted everyone and anyone to deliver a message to young Korean citizens who are struggling in the rat race in a tiny country. I want to tell them to get out! Be adventurous! Challenge yourself!! This is the message I wanted to send to them. In order to do this, I thought video recording was the most effective way than any other method.
When I hiked the AT, my cellphone (Galaxy S5) was the only device for recording. I was happy with that for sure. But this time, on the PCT, I brought a mirrorless camera (Panasonic G7) for better results, especially to take landscape images. I also used my cellphone for self videos. Personally, I don’t like fish eye images of the GoPro.
If you plan to film the trail, you can be flexible and take whatever you want. Video recording is time consuming work for the thru-hiker but it is totally worth it."
"I began hiking the mountains in 2010. I had never heard of the Appalachian Trail before then. Actually, I never even hiked before then. One day in 2011, I ran into one stinky AT thru-hiker in Harriman State Park New York. He inspired me in various ways. I then began dreaming about AT thru-hiking.
In order to fulfill my dream and train, for a couple of years, I hiked sections of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, in that order, by myself. I’ve also done solo backpacking trips in several National Parks. During this time, I realized that I prefer to hike solo due to the flexible time management. However, this isn’t the case all the time.
In 2015, I tried to find someone to hike the entire Appalachian Trail with me but I couldn’t find anyone. So I went solo. It went well. I learned a lot from the hikers, nature, townies etc. As you know, the trail life is like this : You meet other solo hikers on the trail, form a group, and then separate as you go along your different ways. You may meet people that have more backpacking experience than you or you may meet people that have no backpacking experience. Either way, as you meet people, you can pick at their brains. You might end up changing your gear setup, your maildrop strategy, or even food ideas based on what you learn from others. So you say you are not an experienced hiker? That’s fine. The execution is what is more important."
HIKING BIG MILES
"Believe me when I tell you this, I’m not a fast hiker. Therefore, I tried to hike out earlier than others and called it a day later than others. I set my own rules such as, start hiking before 6am. My average hiking time was about 14~15 hours every day until I finished the journey. Sometimes I hiked until 10pm or 1am depending on my condition. I carried 6 extra batteries for the head lamp for the hike during the night. The only reason I spent lots of time on the trail was because of my video recording. I had to stop a lot. Some of the hikers that I hike with know how often I stopped to take a shoot. Stop and go, stop and go, and you continue this.... Sometimes, I didn’t want to lose the momentum but I had to stop because it was so beautiful. I just couldn’t keep going.
At the same time, as a thru-hiker, there are certain miles I have to go everyday. Especially Sobos who have relatively a shorter window should be in a hurry. There is no secret to make big miles for me."
PCT vs. AT
"This is one of the most common questions I’ve received on the PCT. When it comes to comparing between AT and the PCT, I need 5 pages. But I’m going to make it short here. Which one is harder?
Weather : PCT is colder and hotter and drier. AT is a wet trail. Your feet get wet almost half of your trip.
Resupply : There is not big difference. You need to hitch anyway. I’ve never felt that the resupply on the PCT was harder.
Water source : You will have no problem with water on the AT. I carried only 1 liter most of the time on the AT. On the other hand, the PCT is no joke! Lack of water is one of the difficulties of the trail.
Trail : In my opinion, AT is 2 times harder physically. Let’s do the math. It took 5 months for 2200 miles of the AT. It took 3.5 months for 2650 miles of the PCT. Consecutive 20 miles on the AT is very hard. On the PCT consecutive 30 miles is doable."
HIS TRAIL ADVICE...
"Be thankful for everything that surrounds you and say it.
If it rains 3 days in a row, say thank you for sending the rain. All living things need the rain.
If you see the trees, say thank you for giving me a shade.
If you see the rocks, say thank you for letting me sit.
If the sun is hot, say thank you for giving me a breath of life.
If the wind blows, say thank you for touching of life.
They all listen to what you are saying. And they give it back to you.
Treat all the nature and animals like a friend. Then you won’t be afraid of anything anymore.
Stop complaining and start being positive.
When you start complaining, there is no end.
Don’t get upset about the never-ending road walking or sandy trail, no natural water source, no shade etc, it’s over before you know it.
Treat it like a vacation.
Think how lucky, how happy you are. Your job is to wake up whenever you want, walk for as long as you want, eat whatever you want. And you will meet the most amazing people ever on the trail and in trail towns."