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  • Joel Widman

Stephen & Wes's Appalachian Adventure | Part 6 | Slackin'

Since April 13th (the last blog post), a lot has happened with the boys.

Here’s an exhaustive list of all the things they’ve been doing:

1. They hiked

2. They hiked some more

3. They kept hiking

4. They had moments of doubt, pain, suffering, enjoyment, laughter, hunger……….and then they kept hiking

All kidding aside, these two guys have amazed me. As of yesterday, they have walked a total of 384 miles. 384 miles! I remember one time, I walked 9 miles. I didn’t enjoy it, so I didn’t do it again. Sometimes I don’t want to walk to the refrigerator to get myself an unhealthy snack, because it’s such difficult work! If you take the distance from my bed to my refrigerator, it’s 30 feet. This means that these guys have “walked to the refrigerator” a total of 67,584 times. That’s a lot of stromboli!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of their journey (via text). Being in the loop on their journey is an honor and I’m glad I can share it with you all!

One very gracious thing these guys are doing for Venture Hiking, is giving me feedback on some products they’d like to have. Venture has decided to work towards launching some new gear, specifically designed for guys like Stephen and Wes. One of the most exciting products we’ll be launching soon is a RuckSack (also known as a slack pack).

Slack-packing is basically hiking with a lighter pack.

“We just slack packed today actually. We got dropped off 18 miles ahead and hiked south back here with just water and food in our packs. it was awesome. We just used our regular packs but left most of the stuff at this hostel. So tomorrow we'll get dropped off at that same point 18 miles ahead again and hike north again from there.” Wes Carter (4/24/17)

When I asked them the advantages of hiking with a lighter pack, here’s what Wes said:

“Mostly just the weight thing. Although today was nice because it meant going south which meant going down a big hill we otherwise would have had to climb up!”

To many of us, this doesn’t sounds like a big deal, but once you’ve hiked 384 miles with a pack on your back as heavy as the amount of weight many of us would like to lose, I’m sure this slack packing thing would be a blissful change!

Speaking of losing weight, Stephen (I’m sorry, Upchuck) informed me that he has lost 32 pounds!!!!!!! How crazy is that??? I honestly didn’t think the man had 32 pounds to lose!

Here’s a sneak pack at the RuckSack we are developing (made from Patagonia hip waders):

If you’d like to preorder this bad boy ($100), give me a call or shoot me a text: 574-527-3761

And speaking of Upchuck losing a lot of weight, here’s a picture to prove it:

Passing into New Jersey

Wes asked me to say something nice about him, but I'm honestly drawing a blank....

...Ah, got one! Dear Wes, I like your scarf, and also you have a nice smile!

And her's a picture of Wes, as they crossed into New York:

I honestly thought I would have more nice things to say about Wes in this picture...but....

Put those guns away, Stephen!

As far as the social scene goes on the trail, the boys had some news…“Well right now we got our lunch paid for by a guy we've been hiking with for a couple weeks. His trail name is Freight Train because he's a terrible snorer. So Stephen and I are out getting some hot dogs!” Wes Carter (4/24/17)

“He's a super nice 50 something fatherly type guy. A Christian. Has a lot of stories and stuff.” Stephen Level (4/24/17)

In addition to Freight Train, they had other visitors. Ethan and Leah (two of Stephen’s siblings) went and visited the boys for the weekend.

I asked Ethan how their trip went.

“It was good! On the first day they were really happy and eager to see a friendly face! It was really nice to see them. They seemed really well and they haven't changed at all. Given the circumstances they seem to be staying positive. I hadn't realized how much I missed them until I saw them. But it was a great weekend. Probably a nice break for them.”

I then asked him what all they did.

“On Friday we were at Buffalo Wild Wings and then just hung out at the hotel. On Saturday we went to the west point museum and ate at a local restaurant for lunch. We then came back and shopped for a bit because Wes and Stephen needed to restock on some things. That night we went to a local brewery and ate some good food. We then came home and just hung out for awhile. When we were all going to bed Saturday we ended up telling a lot of jokes and laughing a lot. I don't think any of us wanted to wake up Sunday and take them back to the trail haha but Sunday we all woke up around 6 and took them to the trail. We took some pictures with them before they left and then they walked off.”

And last but not least, here are some more photos for your viewing pleasure:

Wes, surveying the land

Mrs. Carter, I heard your son sent this photo to you in hopes to frighten you…..I’m sorry about the way he is

So serious, so poised

An Appalachian survey marker, used for mapping the trail

I hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to share it with your friends! And please subscribe.


Joel Widman


Venture Hiking

#stephenandwes #appalachianadventure #appalachiantrail