Saturday, August 29, 2015

Three Ridges 2015 (Introducing: Positive Scott)

So yeah.  I’ve received quite a bit of hate mail lately.  

“Where’s your stupid blog, Scott?”

“Hope you break your ankle or something, because there’s no excuse for the delay.” (Almost got your wish…more on this later) 

“I know where you live, Scotty Poo.”  (you’re all talk, Corey…but I’m leaving a case of Jack on the front porch to distract you…just in case).

Relax, people.   
This entry has been extremely difficult to write. As I told Bob on the trail: “It’s easy for me to write about all the bad shit… and there hasn’t been anything bad to write about.  It’s tough to write about the good stuff.”  This entry was going to be a little more challenging to write than ones in the past…and I just needed a little time.

A month (or so) ago, I was about 3 miles into our team training hike at Three Ridges Wilderness and climbing to the first overlook.  As the ascent got a little steeper, Bob asked if I’d written the blog entry in my head yet—assuming the hill’s difficulty level would certainly make the blog .  The entire day hikers asked if certain events were going to ‘make the blog’:

Howabout…the nest of angry wasps in the middle of the trail and the ridiculous route we took to avoid them?

Or…The horseman guarding the canyon’s entrance and warning us of its dangers?
The Knight Who Says Neigh
Or….The hellacious climb out of Harper’s Creek canyon?

Rocks are fun, right? Woo hoo!
Or…. Amy’s Hunger Games and her sociopathic tendencies?

Or….The injuries that several of the hikers incurred during their trek? (Tracey, I hope you’re doing better!!)

Or… The deer that challenged me to a duel (spoiler alert: I won).
Outta my way, deer

Of course I could write an amazing blog entry about all the crap we faced on the trail that day, but I’m not.  Instead, I’m going to describe the transformation I experienced on that trail.  

Anyone who’s read my blog entry about the 2013 Three Ridges training hike knows how much I HATED that hike.  I’d never hiked a trail of that length and difficulty level before…and I did it in the pouring rain, nonetheless.  Three Ridges tore me up from head to toe.  Afterwards, I couldn’t walk for a week.  That hike kicked my ass, but it gave me confidence.  I started to understand that I was capable of accomplishing much more than I thought I could.  On that day I knew that I’d need to push myself further for the 31-mile hike, but I knew I could do it.  That hike was one the most physically demanding things I’d ever done, and even though it sucked…it was rewarding.

This year, the hike was different. Three Ridges was easy.  Well, not walk-in-the-park EASY—but easier than it was a couple of years ago.  It wasn’t easy because I was in better shape. I’m not.  I’m a couple years older, have less time to work-out, and I my BMI is way too high.  Apparently I’m doing something wrong? (hint: everything)

Diagnosis: FAT
So why was it easier this time?  Well, the lack of rain probably helped a lot, but that wasn’t the sole reason.  At the top of the first overlook, Michaela asked how I was doing, and my unfiltered, gut response was: "I’m doing awesome."   Two years ago, my gut response may have been: ‘F@#% off,” and then I would’ve spent the next 5 hours swearing at rocks.
I still hate you, rocks.
I think everyone was expecting a different Scott that weekend (and on this blog), but instead they witnessed the emergence of Positive Scott.  Who is Positive Scott? I’m not sure yet.  He's a little weird, but I like having him around—and I think others do too.

Do I know where he came from?  Not really, he just kinda showed up after our team meeting at the trailhead.  They say positive thinking is contagious, so I probably caught it from the other hikers.  As they introduced themselves and told their stories, Negative Scott just faded away.  On this day, there wasn't a place for him on the trail.  Imagine you’re a hiker with cystic fibrosis, and you have to listen to some dude complain about rocks all day.  Or imagine, you’re a recipient of a double-lung transplant, and some asshole is bitching about a blister on his little toe (for the record, we never hiked together because he RAN the trail with his wife).  Most of the hikers have children suffering from CF—and it’s unfair for them to be stuck on a trail with someone who sees the world as three-quarters empty.  It’s IMPOSSIBLE to view the world that way when you’re hiking alongside someone who’s lost a child to a horrible disease.  All of a sudden, hiking 14 miles doesn’t seem like its worth complaining about.  And the amazing thing about all these hikers….NONE of them seem to hate the world…and they have every right to hate it.  But they don’t.  My challenge isn’t hiking 30 miles.  I can do that.  My challenge is waking up and seeing the world like they do.

My old POV (Three Ridges 2013)
My new POV (Three Ridges 2015)

I want people to know Positive Scott.  I owe it to the other hikers. I owe it to my wife and girls, who model what they see at home.  And I owe it to myself—because I’m stuck with myself 24 hours a day, and I know who I’d rather hang out with.

Cookies for breakfast!?
I kicked Three Ridges ass this year—and it felt great—and my body felt great afterwards.  To paraphrase the great Emmet Brickowski : Everything was awesome.  I didn’t get down on myself or the situation, and it’s amazing how much easier everything became. It may seem like common sense—and it confirms all those times that I’ve heard I lack common sense—but life is a whole lot easier if you don’t allow things to trouble you.

Will the blog suck without Negative Scott? Maybe a little. Hell it took me almost a month to write this entry because it’s a huge challenge to write happy, positive stuff without throwing up.  I could write 18 entries about the little wasp that stung me at the post-hike cookout—after I hiked up a hill at an 85-degree grade to avoid a wasp nest.  It would be super-easy to blog about why I hate wasps (the insects…not the people), but I prefer the challenge of doing what's hard.

If you'd like to donate to Positive Scott's hike and support Cystic Fibrosis research, please click HERE:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


I had promised my loyal readers a Three Ridges post by Friday...but there are more pressing matters to address.

My 28-mile Xtreme hike of Dolly Sods, West Virginia is about to be de-railed by SQUIRREL HUNTERS.

Two years ago, our Xtreme Hike covered 31 miles of Massanutten Mountain on the first day of bear hunting season.  Considering that my eyeballs are the only part of my body without hair, there was probably a slim risk that a bear hunter could mistake me as their potential trophy.  To ensure our safety, we wore fluorescent  orange bibs that bears wouldn't normally wear-- and 100% of the hikers lived.  None of us were shot, or even encountered a hunter.  It was a great day.

Not a Bear

A few days ago, the Xtreme hikers learned that the final hike was being moved from Saturday, September 12 because it's the first day of West Virginia's squirrel hunting season.  The National Board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation didn't think it would be safe for us to hike during squirrel hunting season. Instead, the hike will be held on SUNDAY, September 13, because it's illegal to hunt rodents on the Lord's Day.  Personally, the new date is presenting some significant logistical challenges-- and Di has had to back out of volunteering at the aide stations.   The entire situation is unfortunate, frustrating, and confusing. The only way I'm able to deal with this SNAFU is to vent on this blog (and to a few CFF employees who accidentally gave me their email).  It's Festivus in August, which means it's time for the Airing of the Grievances.


Grievance #1: There's a season for squirrel hunting?? Shooting squirrels for food seems like a lot of effort, especially for people who would normally scrape them off the asphalt the other nine months of the year.   Imagine how many squirrels it takes to feed a family at Thanksgiving.  There would be a squirrel holocaust to feed one West Virginian adult.   And please don't argue that squirrels are tasty, because they aren't unless you're my grandmother, my dog,  someone lost in the woods and eating them for survival, or the resident Fox News chef: "I'm happy to say I have crossed over and become one of those Americans. Eating squirrel that I've harvested with my own hands, in fact, makes me feel distinctly more American and undoubtedly more human"


Grievance #2: There are people who enjoy hunting squirrels?!  Apparently, there are 1.8 million squirrel hunters in America, which makes me wonder, "How can I get Canadian citizenship?"  At least I can understand why people go after big game.  It's a challenge to hunt large, wild animals (unless you pay a dude $55k to open a zoo gate to let a lion out).  But c'mon... squirrels?!  Where's the thrill in hunting down the most over-populated rodent in suburbia.  It's like going to the beach and hunting sea gulls.  On any given day, there are no fewer than 37 squirrels in my yard, but I've never ever thought of putting on camo and stalking them from my backyard squirrel blind.   

Big Game Hunter

Grievance #3: I AM NOT A DAMN SQUIRREL.  I'm over 4 feet taller than the average squirrel. I weigh 100 times the average weight of a squirrel.  My teeth are not bucked --thanks to six years of orthodontics.  Squirrels have gray hair....shit...just ignore that. They have beady, little black eyes, and mine are a mysterious shade of hazel.  I bite my fingernails, and they have claws. Unless Stevie Wonder is on a squirrel hunting expedition this Fall, there's absolutely no way I'm being mistaken for a squirrel.  (correction: meth heads with rifles could mistake me as a squirrel...assuming there might be a few meth heads with rifles in West Virginia, then the national CFF board could have a valid safety concern).


Not Squirrel!

So  there you have it: My 28-mile hike is in jeopardy because crazy people hunt tree rats and may mistake me for one. America.

The local CFF team is working behind-the-scenes to accommodate us losers who have children and jobs, and I'm going to make my best effort to hike with the rest of the VA Chapter on September 13. No matter what, I'm hiking--I'm just not sure where or when.  Regardless, please support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by making a donation  :

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Elliot Knob Part 2

Okay. So I hiked 15 miles at Three Ridges Wilderness yesterday, and I discovered that my fan club is a little disappointed that I've fallen behind on the blog.  I have a million-and-one excuses that no one wants to hear, so I'm making a public declaration that the Three Ridges Blog Entry will be done by Friday, August 7.  In the meantime, enjoy the continuation of the Hillbilly Hill Hike PLUS an upcoming bonus entry about my hike with Team Cornbread Nation:

So what happened atop Elliot Knob? Who was the person lurking in the tower? What happened to Zed and Maynard? Did I make it out alive!?

NOTHING happened atop Elliot Knob and NO ONE was lurking in the tower.  The hike was so damn boring that I had to invent stuff in my head to keep me entertained.  Some of the hikers may have seen me swinging my hiking poles near the end of the hike...I was having a light-saber duel with weeds to keep my mind off my busted ankle. (spoiler: the weeds won, and my ankle still hurts)

Darth Weedkiller
Once we got to the top of the mountain, we went back down the mountain on the same trail.  The trail may have been boring, but at least I crossed off a couple things on my to-do list:

My daily list

So what about Maynard and Zed? They were real, but we never passed them on the trail.  A couple of weeks later, I learned that the Austin's saw the men walk out of the woods with bags of mushrooms...which could explain why they looked so happy in this picture:

Duuuude, wanna to listen to some Pink Floyd with us?
Zed and Maynard making their getaway!!

In summary: the Elliot Knob hike has a stream, weeds,  gravel roads, and a big ass hill.  Don't even think about doing this hike.  Instead, go to a local construction site and climb a hill of dirt for a few hours.  If you do feel compelled to hike this special trail, bring along an ultra-cool team of hikers to enjoy it with.  Hiking with this crew makes every trail enjoyable:

"We will move mountains for Cystic Fibrosis. If we can't move em, we will climb em!"


After the hike, I stopped at Charlottesville's finest Waffle House to celebrate my good fortune and to wait the return of my children.  The girls spent the night with their grandparents while I was hiking in the mud and rain and Di was watching the Tour de France from the sofa.  Wait, Di is one of the 8 people in America who enjoys televised cycling? No. Of course not. She was enjoying a quiet child-free morning, and didn't want to waste her precious energy and time by looking for the remote control.  There's probably another explanation, but this one's probably the closest to the truth.

While my in-laws were en-route, I sat in my van listening to T-Swift and visualizing how I would kick ass at the next team hike (aka: Three Ridges). This experience led to valuable lesson in automotive maintenance: the radio will drain a car's battery, and if you have a weak battery... the radio will drain a car's battery COMPLETELY.  Duh.

I'm not an expert in batteries or parking
I'm an expert in taking pics while driving (not really).

A few hours later, I  bid farewell to the Waffle House, and returned home with our children. It could've been a much worse situation... I could've been stuck at the base of Hillbilly Hill, waiting for AAA with the future stars of the Discovery Channel's upcoming reality show "The Deadliest Mushroom Hunters."  <cue Deliverance banjos>

Ok... so now that you've heard the story of how we owned that dumb little hill, it's time to do TWO things:

First, go sign the petition that Amy is a nice person: Sign Here

Second, make a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and support research for a cure. Your donation is helping to save the lives of our friends and family.  With 40 days left, I've raised $800 of my $2,500 goal... Donate Here.