Written by Grounds Keeper Gretchen "Dirty Bowl" Matt
Our first Grounds Keeper has hit the trail! Here's a sneak peak into how Gretchen "Dirty Bowl" Matt prepped for her thru-hike of the Florida National Scenic Trail.
"I drank too much coffee and locked myself in a room with THREE scales, all with fresh batteries. That’s when you know you have a slight ultralight snobbery problem… For the first time in all my hikes, I itemized my gear. I know I don’t have the lightest base weight (10.75lb) BUT I do think I have the cheapest. It’s a personal mantra that you may have heard me chant. FAST. LIGHT. CHEAP. I am honored whenever I am called the “thriftiest” hiker people have met. In my Florida Trail Gear List weight sheet, I described where I acquired a lot of my gear from. In some cases, as with my spoonula, I just love it so much, I don’t want to get anything lighter. In other cases, it’s a part of my Grounds Keeper sponsorship, and I’m honored to carry it. I’d like to think my gear has a little bit of character. But! I would love your comments or questions. Check out my pic, check out my graph, and comment below!
In other preparation news, I created a google spreadsheet with possible food stops along the trail. I couldn’t find a precise one online, so if you are reading this blog and are thinking about doing the FT, check out this info below:
I also noted a couple Burger Kings that I will be walking past, because I am a vegetarian and they make a pretty ok (its fine, but when you are thru hiking….) DELICIOUS veggie burger. Nom.
Otherwise, I have made only 2 resupply boxes. I partially made them because I wanted an excuse to send myself fancy aged gouda cheese blocks that I got for Christmas (Thanks Aly) and have been hoarding. Admittedly, I wrapped the blocks of cheese in aluminum foil so that I forgot they were in the fridge. Otherwise, they would be destroyed by now. Other than that, some mini alcohol bottles, backpacker’s pantry LASAGNA (my other trail craving), and enough Starbucks VIA ❤ and Carnation instant breakfasts for EACH day. Check this “prep” picture out. HAHAHA I sure know how to parrrrrrty at Costco.
Another part of my preparation has been intentional weight gainage. I have been stuffing my face with costco pizza, Tillamook cheese, ice-cream, and whatever else I can get my face on. I have seen results. This is good, because I have lost a lot of weight on my last 2 thru-hikes. I recognize that this hike is flatter and shorter, but hey, it’s good to be prepared right? heh heh
THIS IS GONNA BLOW YOUR MIND. I am doing the unthinkable. Dirty B is attempting to get tech savvy. Uhhhhhh this is coming from a girl who was doing “laundry” in a lake and killed a flip phone just a few short months ago… Now I have found that my new Iphone and I are in somewhat of an obsession-based relationship. I hate myself for it, and I’m working on changing that. But honestly, it’s kind of hard when I think about how much I am going to have to rely on my phone over the next 40 days…
I am going to rely on the Florida Trail App, podcasts, audiobooks, and phone calls from people on a daily basis. The FT app has been helpful in creating my itinerary. I have downloaded a lot of podcasts, but please let me know your favorites!
Currently, as I continue to type this A++ blog entry, I am testing out my bluetooth “ultralight” keyboard. It’s a Logitech Keys to Go: 6oz, waterproof, mini-usb rechargeable. And, I got it for $7 on Ebay. (Cause I’m thrifty like that) It’s my only hope if I truly want to blog on the trail. I DESPISE typing on my ❤ Iphone ❤ and hopefully this wasn’t a big waste of $$ and weight. Let’s see if it can last a thru-hike!
And in other notable gear changes, I am going to attempt to bring a synthetic vest instead of a down puffy. Since FL is going to be wet/damp (I imagine?) and I feel good about my other layers, I’m going for it. If it sucks, Salami can mail me my puffy. Thanks Salami!
OH!!!!! Other news! Big news!!!!!!! Since I have posted about being a part of the Grounds Keepers crew, I have been feeling very supported by a number of people down in Florida. It’s awesome. The Florida Trail Association has been so inspirational! Also, a photographer/videographer from the Naples Daily News reached out to me about doing a project about the FT. She is going to backpack with me the first 5 days, check in with me in the middle, and hopefully finish it up with me.
Tomorrow I fly to Miami, where I will see my college friend Tom, who has seen me at my two most embarrassing moments. Last time I saw him, I literally broke my face. So, wish me good luck. If I survive the weekend, a trail angel is going to drive me out to the Southern terminus on Monday. Then, Katie the videographer and I will meet up and hopefully not die from the controlled burns along the trail. Hopefully that’s not a big problem?? Wish us luck!"