Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Tribute To Kilimanjaro

Here is a tribute video to Kilimanjaro (aka Flosser, aka Brian Sarvis, aka Flossermnajaro-AT)...the man of many names...

Kilimanjaro hiked with us for the first 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail before he headed home to spend the summer with family.  He experienced rain, snow, heat, cold, and everything in between.  He helped us transition into "Thru-Hikers" by dropping pack weight, teaching me how to eat cold couscous from my water bottle, and giving us lots of great stories.  We introduced him to Little Debbie's snacks, the Cracker Barrel, and snot rockets (thanks Meat).  In the end we were sad to see Kilimanjaro head home, but we were excited to get the three of us back together in Santa Barbara after the hikes were completed. This is a short video we made to honor Brian's 700 miles on the Appalachian Trail.  Enjoy!

Thanks Flossermanjaro-AT!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Humor - I'm Going To Hike The Appalachian Trail

A little bit of humor today, Appalachian Trail style.  This video showcases a typical conversation when you tell someone you are going to hike the Appalachian Trail.  I don’t think that people intend to be mean about it, but leaving everything behind is such an out of the box idea that it catches people off guard.  I do have to say, I was blessed with friends and family who were very supportive of my decision to hike the AT.  Other hikers may not have been so lucky.  For other hikers it may have been more like this…
 * I did not create this video, but I think it is great! 

 I included a few of my favorite lines in text below: 

Hiker: I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail.
Person:  That sounds so cool…maybe I can go with you!
Hiker:  The trail goes from Georgia to Maine, it will take me 6 months.
Person:  Are you serious?!  You are going to hike for 6 months?

Person:  Are you going to have to hunt and kill your own food?
Hiker:  No, I will carry my own food.

Person:  Is your wife going?
Hiker:  No, she does not like to hike as much as I do.

Person:  How will you take a shower?
Hiker:  I will not shower on the trail.  Maybe i will bathe in a stream, or use baby wipes.
Person:  That’s gross, your wife is going to find a new husband who showers.

Person:  Are you going to carry a gun?
Hiker:  No
Person:  I have a gun you can take.  It is very small.
Hiker:  I have to carry everything I take, I am not going to take the extra weight of a gun.

Person:  Aren’t you afraid about being murdered?
Hiker:  No, the people who hike the Appalachian Trail are nice people.

Person:  Oh, I see, you want to get out of work for 6 months and live like a lazy hippie in the woods.
Hiker:  I am not lazy.  Hiking the Appalachian Trail is not easy.  Most people who attempt to hike it don’t finish.
Person:  This sounds like a miserable thing to do.  You are going to come back all stinky and hairy.  You are going to turn into some kind of smelly animal with no manners.  You are going to regret this.
Hiker:  I don’t know why you have such a problem with this.  You don’t have to go, no one is asking you to.

Person:  Okay, let’s see if I have this correct.  You are going to live in the woods for 6 months.  You will sleep in a tent on the ground by yourself.  You aren’t going to shower.  And I am assuming you are going to have to go to the bathroom in the woods.  And you spent a lot of money on this?  You should have spent you hard earned money on a good shrink.  You should really listen to me on what is in your best interest.  I cannot believe such an educated young man is choosing to do such a stupid thing.    I am going to Google the Appalachian Trail tonight and bring you a bunch of information on all the bad things that are going to happen to you out there.
Hiker:  Thanks for your support!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Hometown Newspaper

My hometown newspaper (the same one I used to be a paperboy for) included a story about my Appalachian Trail journey last week!  The article started with a big front page picture of me on top of Katahdin and finished on page 5 with another photo from the start of the trail.  Jim Langham called me the week before and we spoke for over an hour about the trail, how I prepared for it, and what I learned from it.  Jim constructed a great story and I am honored to be included in the Berne Tri-Weekly’s news from my home town in Indiana!

Clemens completes Appalachian Trail hike
By Jim Langham – Berne Tri-Weekly News – 8/29/2012

When South Adams graduate Chris Clemens is asked these days why he decided to walk the 2,184.2 miles of the Appalachian trail, his answer is simple and to the point.  “I don’t know,” says Clemens.  “I’ve given a couple of presentations since I’ve been back.  People ask me why I did it and I give the same answer every time, ‘I don’t know.’”  Clemens said.  Clemens does know that the seed of interest for taking the long hike up the East Coast came from a college roommate who suggested the trail to him.  “All I said was, ‘sounds interesting,’” Said Clemens.  “From then on things started to come together and I started getting ready for the trip.”
Clemens, a 2006 graduate of Ball State University, is no stranger to aggressive exercise.  He has completed 11 marathons, including a 31-mile ultra-marathon.  “I decided to do the trail in November of last year,” Clemens said.  I always did some type of training but I didn’t over exert myself in preparing to go.”  “I talked to a guy about getting in shape to go.  I asked him what I should do and he told me to go to a good shoe shop and make sure I had the right kind of shoes.  He said that was the most important part of being prepared.” Clemens said.  At South Adams High School, Clemens had been active in cross country, track and on the swim team.  In preparation for the long trail, he did a lot of preparation from reading on the internet.  Clemens, son of Tom (step-father) and Sharon Ninde of Geneva and Jim Clemens of Prescott, Arizona, had graduated from South Adams in 2002.  “It’s very hard to prepare for something like that,” Clemens said.  “The best way to prepare is to put on a 30-pound pack and run up and down a football stadium; I didn’t worry about doing that.”
The former local athlete launched his effort on March 8 from Springer Mountain, GA.  The first few days, he walked about eight or 10 miles.  As the journey advanced, he slept on the trail in a tent he carried with him.  He developed a system of dropping off the trail every three to five days to get groceries.  Usually, on those occasions, he would end up sleeping in a good bed and getting a good night’s sleep.  “I ate a lot of Pop Tarts, instant mashed potatoes and Snickers bars,” said Clemens.  “I also ate a lot of couscous.  Most of the food I ate cold.”  Clemens said that he had one moment that he considered his most perilous moment, during a thunderstorm on the Presidential Range in the White Mountains in New England.  “I was in the White Mountains Lakes of the Clouds area,” said Clemens.  “All of a sudden it started thundering and lightning all over the place.  I ran for a shelter.  The lightening was falling all over.  It was the scariest moment on the trial.
“In New Jersey I saw three bears.  I was kind of skittish about that.  Another time I saw a rattlesnake on the trail; that was a little scary,” continued Clemens.
Clemens said that he usually slept in his tent.  Often, those sleeping tried to stay close to one of the 250 shelters available on the trail.  He described the shelters as, “a three wall structure with a top on it.”
Much of the time, Clemens was seemingly hiking by himself, sometimes all day.  He noted that other hikers were never far behind or ahead of him.  One of his most unique experiences was in the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania where he came down out of the mountains and hiked through the valley, in some cases trough corn fields.  “There are three million people who step on to the trail leach year, some for just a few steps,” noted Clemens.  “There is a lot of activity, especially during the holidays.”  During much of the trail there was spotty cell phone coverage.  If there would be a need among one of the hikers, other s on the trail would usually surround that person and work to get them to help.
When asked about some of his favorite sites, Clemens replied the White Mountains, mountains in southern Maine, the Roan Highlands in North Carolina, Grayson Highlands of Virginia.  “The Grayson Highlands is a place I would definitely like to go back to sometime,” Clemens said.  At the Delaware Water Gap, Clemens’ wife, Amy, picked him up for a three-day visit.  He admitted that after that it was difficult for a short time to go back to the trail.  At one point, early in the trip, in the Grayson Highlands, the walkers experienced snow for a day.
On the way back to his home in California, Clemens stopped in Berne to visit his family during Swiss Days.  He also took a few hikes with relatives on his return trip home.  When asked how the trip impacted him, Clemens replied, “It made me rethink what I do every day.  It makes me focus on stuff I really want to do.  I learned that it’s okay to take a risk and do something different, something I really like to do.”  “I learned that there’s two kinds of people on the trails, some are always on the trail, they love the trail and want to be on it all along,” noted Clemens.  “I really missed regular, normal stuff,” continued Clemens.  “I really missed the things I Had taken for granted during those four and a half months, my wife and my home.  It made me realize how much I appreciate normalcy, I don’t know why I did it but it sure was good to be back home.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Getting Published!

Shortly after returning from my Appalachian Trail thru-hike I was asked to contribute a feature article to a fitness magazine.  The focus was to be on the sport of “Fastpacking” and since I had just hiked four and a half months on the AT, maybe I’d be able to give a little insight into the world of backpacking.

Fastpacking as a sport is a mix of ultra running, mountain racing, ultralight backpacking, and a little bit crazy.  I wrote about my own experiences, strategies I learned from fellow hikers, and my dreams of how I’d like to attack my next long trail, as an ultralight, ultrafast hiker.

I was asked to include pictures from my trip and the photo of my campsite in Vermont became the cover of this month’s issue of SB Fitness Magazine.

Click the link here to see the home page:

Click here to read the article:

Click here to see a sample gear list for fastpacking: 

A BIG Thank You to SB Fitness Magazine for including me in the publication!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tarzan Runs The Bulldog 50K

On August 25 I decided to do something I’ve never done before…run a 50K (31 mile) ultra marathon.  I didn’t just decide to do this on August 25th though…the idea was hatched while hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  I hiked for a few days with the guys from WARRIOR HIKE,, and I talked with Mark about endurance running.  He said that he was interested in trying a long run after the AT to see if he was in shape for ultra running, or just in shape for ultra hiking…I thought I should do the same.  I looked up the Bulldog Ultra Trail Race because I knew it was in Calabasas, CA, close to Santa Barbara.  I sent the race director an email and registered from the AT.  Now all I had to do was finish the Appalachian Trail and keep my legs healthy enough to run the race when I got home.  I thought that after the AT I’d make it back to Santa Barbara and trail run for a few weeks to prepare.  Instead, I finished strong on the AT (hiking 109 miles in the last 3 full days) and spent the next month stretching and struggling to get more than 5 miles of running in, my longest training run being an 8 mile jog in Arizona.  Needless to say, I went into the Bulldog a little unsure of how I would handle it, but that was the point!  When Mark and I talked about this on the trial the idea was to test ourselves and find out if long distance hiking helps improve running.  I had already tested myself in a 5K a week after I finished the AT and I tied my fastest 5K since high school cross country, not bad!  If I could do it in a 5K, why not try a 50K?  Logical, right?  We’d see!

My brother Tyler registered for the Bulldog race as well, and I’m glad he did.  If Tyler wasn’t running I probably would have backed out.  I really didn’t think I could do it.  The morning of August 25th we left Santa Barbara at 3:30 AM and drove to Malibu Creek State Park.  We entered the park at 5 AM, registered, dropped a food bag for the course, and headed to the start line.  Just before the 6:30 AM race start the sun came up and we could see the mountains we’d soon be running…hmmmm. 

The first 25K (15.5 mile) loop was my introduction to the race course.  Whether I liked it or not, I’d have to run it all again.  The morning started cloudy with a thick layer of marine fog, keeping me and the course nice and cool.  It was so thick that I had water condensation on my “not quite thru- hiker” beard.  The first ascent of Bulldog seemed easy, as easy as a 2,000 foot mountain run can be.  I felt good and was able to hold a slow jog up the incline while other runners, including Tyler, stopped to walk.  I made it through the first aid station and up over the peak feeling good, cleared the next section, and headed back down to the start/finish line for the first loop.  The downhill was what I didn’t like.  Runners around me were bombing down, balancing a fine line between being out of control and keeping their feet on the ground.  I decided I didn’t want to risk falling down and the intense jarring of my body didn’t feel right so I slowed down to a jog.  I made it to the bottom, feeling slow, but feeling good, when I heard the loud stomping footsteps of a speeding downhill runner behind me.  It ended up being Tyler.  He said he had caught me, but that his quads were screaming.  We ran the flat section of the trail, crossed a stream, hit the last aid station, and went up and over one last hill climb to the start/finish line.  My food drop had some honey buns, they had been a staple on the Appalachian Trail, but now I had a hard time eating them.  Hard to believe I ate one of these almost every day on the trail!

After the first lap I headed back up Bulldog Road and Tyler took it a little easier.  I thought I’d be able to run back up Bulldog but by the time I started my ascent the fog had cleared and the mountains were baking in the sun.  I ended up walking most of the climb, and everyone else must have too since no one passed me.  From the top of Bulldog I thought I was more or less home free, but I had conveniently forgotten about 4 or 5 more small, but tedious, hill climbs and I ended up walking up these as well.  The long downhill hurt even more the second time around as I tried to hold my momentum back and keep my feet firmly planted on the dirt and gravel trail.  At the bottom I made the stream crossing and stopped at the last aid station to refill my CamelBak.  Leaving the aid station I had only 2.6 miles to go.  I had been on the trail for almost 5 hours and covered almost 29 miles…probably the longest run of my life!  My feet and legs were tired and I had a sharp pain in my foot after the first lap, but that went away.  The downhill running had taken a toll and I had a few hot spots forming on my feet and I hoped I could avoid blisters.  By this time, 5 hours of holding my arms up at my sides had made my biceps extremely tired.  I left the aid station and started running up the last hill climb before the finish and cramps immediately started shooting up and down my legs.  I stopped and walked, trying to keep from moving too far to stimulate the cramp again.  I walked for a few minutes, tried to run until I felt them coming on again, and then walked.  At this point I was only 2 miles from the finish of a 31 mile race and I could walk it in if I needed to.  Once I passed over the last hill climb I was finally able to jog again, but there would be no strong finish on this race, just to finish standing up would be good enough!  I circled the parking lot and made the final stretch and finished in 5 hours, 28 minutes, and 54 seconds.  That is a long time to run, trust me!  Tyler finished in 6:04:03 and said that he was battling cramps the entire second loop and had to walk most of the hills.

Watch this video I made from the 2012 Bulldog 50K

We were both pleased, with very little training we were still able to finish.  Tyler was talking with an experienced ultra runner during the race the runner said that out of all of the 50K and 50 Mile races he has done, the Bulldog is the toughest of them all, by far, and that if we can run this one, we can run most other ultras.  That is good to know!  I finished 4 minutes behind a guy I had been pacing with and after the race he said I should train for more ultras because I had talent for this stuff.  I said thanks, but in my head I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad…do I really want to run this far again?

After hanging out at the finish line we made our way back to Tyler’s truck and as he got in he winced in pain and said his back was hurting really bad.  I wondered why, I mean, I felt fine.  Then I sat down into the truck and my back touched the seat, full body shock of pain!  My back was so tender from the CamelBak water bladder bouncing in my backpack for 5 hours that sitting down was extremely difficult!  That’s a whole new level or running pain!

All in all it was a great day and I’m glad I did it.  I wanted to test myself and test my body.  What had the AT done for me?  Was I in great athletic shape, or was I just in good hiking shape?  I felt like the AT prepared me for the hills and the endurance.  I was able to run more of the hills than most other runners around me and I did not feel fatigued or tired toward the end of the race, I mean back on the AT I was hiking this distance on a daily basis.  Running a 50K was much different than hiking 31 miles and I do think next time I tackle this race I will train specifically for it.

Thanks again for the staff and race director at the Bulldog 50K, to my brother for running with me, and to all the other runners for being so supportive along the trail!