Identity Crisis: Ryan or Kodak? Bikepacker or Backpacker?

It is time to resume walking. Two weeks ago, Mountain Goat and I hitchhiked to Washington D.C. taking a break from the Appalachian Trail. Mountain Goat flew to Italy for a few weeks with family while I went to Pittsburgh with my brother. We hung out for a day in D.C. before deciding to drive back to the Burgh. Leaving at midnight wasn’t the best idea. My brother drove for less than an hour before pulling into a lot where we slept in the car until morning.

Being in Pittsburgh was weird. It is my hometown; though, it no longer feels like home. There, I am lost in a former self. Returning home is never easy after a long journey. I struggle every time but, I’ve learned a lot about dealing with post “trail” depression. I’ll write an article on the subject. It will be good for me as well because this trip will not be easy to recover from.

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Our packs lean against the wall of a convienence store as we wait for a ride to the highway.
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Six different rides and a few subway stops saw the two of us into the Nation’s Capital.

Why have I not updated the blog in so long?! Well, now there is a question. I began with the intent to record every day of this Appalachian Trail thru hike, but quickly fell behind. Walking consumes most of my time and the day’s chores consume the rest: eating, setting up camp, hanging bear bags, sleeping. What little time remains, I socialize with friends and I make new ones. The AT is all about the people. Blogging daily is also expensive requiring more time in towns using wifi. My budget is broken.

Then, as I set about to catch up on posts, I became depressed! Looking through photos of the month before I realized that those moments are already memories. It became harder and harder to relive those wonderful moments when everything is so different now. One month ago, we were still in the honeymoon phase of the journey. Everything was fun and exciting. Then, we entered Virginia and the infamous “Virginia Blues” took hold splitting up our trail family and nearly my soul.

Now though, I am ready to finish this thing so I can get back on my bike! I’m enjoying the hike, but travel on a bike is true freedom. Walking requires more planning and just consumes more time.

So, this being said, I am changing the format of the blog. This will no longer be a daily journal of a thru-hike, but random Tales of Wandering from wherever I may be, the Appalachian Trail for now. 

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Kodak or Ryan Brown? I faced an identity crisis of sorts while in my hometown. Whenever new people would ask my name, I’d have to think about the answer. Who am I? What’s in a name?

How did I spend my time in Pittsburgh? Well now. You’d think I’d crave rest and the luxurious sleep of a soft bed. Nope. I drug my bikes from my mom’s basement. I pedaled. And I camped. When I did stay at my mom’s, I slept on the porch or the couch rather than the empty bed upstairs.

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I bought this bike after flying home from El Salvador. After the Appalachian Trail, I’ll resume my travels on it. Cycling is SOO much better than hiking =). 
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Riding my Surly Long Haul Trucker through the city of Pittsburgh and it’s many bridges.
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Camping at Ceder Creek State Park.

Thanks Mom for letting me crash at your house while I was in Pittsburgh!

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My Mom in her pilates studio.

A major reason for leaving trail was the need for a new backpack. My Osprey Exos, while comfortable with no food or water, was hell to carry with a full resupply. The pack is designed for ultralight backpacking. Not for a travel blogger carrying ten pounds of electronics… My new pack? A Gregory Baltoro 65. This pack is referred to as the Cadilac. It does seem to be as comfortable as they say.

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A mirror selfie wearing my new backpack. Notice the money on the mirror for good luck.

What else did I do? I pedaled and I pedaled a lot. Staying active is most important in staying sane. I visited with friends and family. I read and I rested.

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A Surly ECR setup for the long haul over gnarly terming. With 3″ tires, it’ll handle just about anything.
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Someone hung a steelers flag in a shelter on the Great Allegheny Passage.
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Why did the snapping turtle cross the trail?
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To pose for this photo! He wasn’t happy about it.
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This snake was soaking in the sun across the middle of the trail. Of course I had to pick it up. But only to move it to safety…
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The cicadas were out by the billions.
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Natures symphony, their noise was nealry enough to drown out the trains.

And I ate LOTS of goodies.

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This is an Icecream sundae from Paiges Dairy Mart in Pittsburgh. It boasts fresh, blonde brownies from a local bakery in addition to heath bar, caramel, hot fudge, whipped cream, and nuts. Indulgent for sure!

Monday evening, Dr. Kool-aid (who went home for a couple weeks as well) picked me up on his way back to the trail and dropped me off in Waynsboro, Va. I skipped over a hundred miles of trail to continue walking with Firecracker I’ll walk this section after Katahdin. Purists be damned! I’ll still be walking the entire trail even if not in complete sequence. Life is the journey, not the destination and the journey is more enjoyable with Firecracker. Most days =)

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Firecracker wearing her new “laundry clothes.” We need clothes to wear while our hiking outfits are in the wash. Then again, need is a relative term. Some wrap themselves in ponchos or sleeping bag liners while they wait.
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Mailing home 4lbs of gear. Goodbye sleeping bag and base layers! She’ll see you again in the North.
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Firecracker dressing up as me, Kodak, while she waits on me to pack my new bag. It’s hard learning a new setup!

So where are we now? Sitting in a library in Waynseboro, Virginia about to walk into Shenandoah National Park. Our next resupply is in 80 miles in the town of Luray, Va. We plan on five days. See ya’ll then!

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Me working on my computer in the library.
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What does it feel like waiting on Kodak?!?!

 

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Identity Crisis: Ryan or Kodak? Bikepacker or Backpacker?

  1. RE: “Why did the snapping turtle cross the trail?”
    To go to the Shell station, of course!”

  2. Ryan or Kodak…which ever one reads this I hope your journey continues to be a great one. I had been missing the daily reports, but understand how challenging it must be. I agree that biking, or triking in my case, is better than hiking. Stay well and happy.

    • Hi Sam! Kodak here, now that I’m back on trail =) Thanks for the support! And sorry for slacking. I lost focus but I’ve found my way back. Take care!

  3. Why not both? I’m hiking Glacier this weekend. All your points definitely resonate with me and sadly there’s no answer but I do have three rules for you: lighten up, every day is a gift, and if it ain’t working do something else.

    The grand depart for the tour divide was last Friday. I’ve been running into all the stragglers. Seeing the bike packing setups reminded me of you. Be good man

    • What’s up man! Enjoy the hike. Your doing things the right way by traveling on the bike but stopping for occasional hike 😉 By lighten up, do you mean mood or weight?!? Cause I’m not ditching my computer or either camera

      • Oh I Guess I mean both lighten the mood and paxk! I created those 3 simple rules for myself when I had been on the road for a while and I suddenly stopped enjoying myself. I felt oddly constrained to do things a certain way and I had to remind myself there are no rules on the road.

  4. Sorry? No need! Great pictures and commentary occur no matter what your adventure. Looking forward…

  5. Great read! I’m planning a bikepacking trip later this year to do the Arizona Trail or the AZT for short 800 miles from Mexico to Utah. I plan to raise awareness for veteran suicide I plan on doing it in 22 days cause the number represents the number of veterans that commit suicides a day on average. I would love to get in contact with you see your set up and what not. Lastly how did you get your trail name?

    • Thanks Travis! Are you a veteran? Your raising awareness for a great cause. My email is RyanBmtb@gmail.com. It’s the most convenient way to contact me but my phone number is 412-867-5694 if you prefer. My phone lives in airplane mode, but leave a message and I’ll call back when I can. My trail name comes from a “Kodak moment” and for my camera that is always at the ready to capture those special moments.

      • Yes I am I officially get out of the military in October this year served for 3.5 years and my father in law who is joining me on the trip is retiring from the military around the same time he served for 25 years so it’s our way to celebrate and do something that will have a lasting impact for many to come! I will shoot you and email and text!

  6. So good to catch up with you again! My kids and I went home after reaching Fontana Dam. It’s only been about 2 weeks and we are DEEP into Trail depression! We are so sad it’s over for now. Lovely blog, it’s great to read your adventures while we were ‘just behind’ you guys!

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