Wednesday, July 31, 2013
4th of July
Lighthouse, Bobsled, and I decided we have been pushing ourselves way too hard and it is time for a zero. We decide to stay in a cute little town called Boiling Springs. There weren't any normal hotels so we got to stay at The Allenberry Resort. For $40 dollars we were treated to two beds, a hot shower, A/C, and 5 channels on tv. I wouldn't consider this place a resort at all but it's good enough for any hiker. Oh, and my parents decided to surprise us, bringing watermelon and lots of other goodies for the other hikers in the hotel.
A ways into PA a fellow hiker named, Ahvo invited to stay at his parents house for a zero once we reach a certain road. I had no clue what to expect once we got there, I mean we barely know this guy. We get there and his parents immediately start pampering us. After a hot shower and a delicious home cooked meal they insist that we get in their jacuzzi. The jets on that thing massaged and rejuvenated every aching muscle in my body. We get out and BAM there is another meal waiting for us. We hit JACKPOT. Thanks Ahvo!!!!!!
Man, oh man I never thought this day would come. Since day five I have been hiking with a dude named Lighthouse and a girl named Bobsled. We became the three bestest friends that anyone could ever have. It is so rare that a group hikes together so long on the trail but all good things must come to an end. She only planned to go to Harper's Ferry but we are hardcore and made it to her home state of New York before she had to leave.
This one's for you Bobby!
West Virginia is Harper's Ferry. It seems the only reason the Appalachian Trail goes through WV is to see Harper's Ferry. Harper's Ferry is the mental half way point. All hikers that reach this point are asked to stop by the ATC(Appalachian Trail Conservancy) for a nice little photo. I was hiker number 805 to come through. I was told by a ridge runner that 50% of the people that make it to Harper's get off trail from malnutrion alone before reaching Mt Katahdin. This doesn't include injuries, boredom, and the million other reasons to get off. There isn't much walking done in WV. The moment you cross the bridge out of Harper's Ferry you are in Maryland. Oh did I mention I'm halfway there?????
The trail in Maryland goes for thirty some odd miles and has been some of the best walking so far. It features nice flat ground and no hills. The shelters here are prime. Each shelter is given a caretaker and the ones in Maryland must be competing to see who can have the best shelter. Some of the shelters include potted plants, porch swings, firepits surrounded by gravel for easy footing, and even wooden ducks(?). That is Maryland in a nut shell.
Oh what a wonderful place.... FOR TOURISTS.
The Shenandoahs is one of our last stops through Virginia. It is like the rest of Virginia (a green tunnel) so of course we a flying through. The Shenandoah Valley is so crowded with tourists it is as if the animals here are numb to humans. I've seen at least five bears and countless deer. Not to worry though the bears are practically harmless. You really have to instigate the bears if there is going to be an attack. Also, I've never seen deer just let you walk with in inches of them before stepping back.
There is a famous part of the trail in Virginia titled "The Roller-coaster". Apparently this is supposed to be one of the hardest parts of the trail just going straight to the top and right back into the valley of thirteen "hills" for 13.5 miles. Many say it is the hardest part because the state of Virginia is flat and "The Roller-coaster" is where we start to see hills again. Both are over-hyped and in my opinion just some joke that previous thru-hikers have made up. Once you finish the torturous(sarcasm of course) roller-coaster you find yourself walking into 1000 miles and right into West Virginia.. Finally.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
After hiking in Virginia for over 200 miles everything begins to looks the same. You just wake up every morning and hike, eat lunch, hike, get water, hike, set-up camp, sleep, and repeat. After being in the Green Tunnel for two months now it kind of gets a little old. Apparently there is a popular sickness hikers catch here called the Virginia Blues. I think I may have caught a minor case. I have to constantly think about how a bad day out on the trail is better than any good day out in the real world. My group (still Lighthouse and Bobsled) has started to set short term hiking goals to cope with the sickness. Last week the goal was to make it from Daleville, Va to Waynesboro, Va, 130 miles, in just seven days. Hiking nearly twenty miles every day for a week in Virginia isn't the hardest of tasks but it feels so rewarding when you finish a planned goal. I don't have many pictures to post this time but I will have some next time when I finally get out of Virginia and into Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Anyways, it is Wednesday, May 5th and I am now 1/4 of the way done with my hike. The past month and a half have gone by so quickly. In the beginning the trail was littered with thru hikers but ever since Trail Days on May 17th-19th people have been dropping like flies. The trail no longer seems like a social event around a camp fire. As you have probably guessed I am still hiking with Lighthouse and Bobsled. Lighthouse and I believe we may have gotten some kind of food poisoning from bad pepperoni or summer sausage. So for a few days it got a little tough, but we still managed to average about 20 plus miles everyday the past week. After 530 miles I am officially hiker trash.
A few things I have learned:
- Most people thru hiking the AT had no previous hiker experience. Thankfully I was not the only one.
- Hitch hiking is fun for the first couple times. After that it is pretty boring and repetitive.
- It will rain almost every day.
- It is a very small world. Forget six points of seperation; more like two points of seperation.
- Carry plenty of toilet paper.
- The trail provides.
Ramen Noodles, Instant Potatos, Snickers Bars, Trail Mix, Beef Jerky, Tuna, Peanut Butter
What I'm tired of eating:
Ramen Noodles, Instant Potatos, Snickers Bars, Trail Mix, Beef Jerky, Tuna, Peanut Butter
Oh and I miss my family.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Sorry for the delay in posts. I want toz keep this short and sweet but I have a lot to say. I haven't had the a lot of opportunities to get online. It is kind of a bitter sweet experience, I enjoy being away from technology but I want to keep everyone updated.
So, anyways, I am just over a month into this at mile 360ish. I'm right one target with the miles I need to get me to Maine by mid September. I have no injuries to report and am totally blister free. I'm not sure whether to thank my boots or the guy that told me to hike on asphalt barefoot before leaving. Either way being blister free is a blessing. I am one of very few and couldn't be more thankful.
We hopped a ride in to Damascus for Trail Days( a huge hiker festival) to keep it short.... it's a party, it's a party!!!!
I'm still hiking with Bobsled(probably the funniest girl on the trail) and Lighthouse(a guy with one of the best stories to why he is out here). Lighthouse was a robotic engineer making a REALLY good amount of money at the age of 25 until tragedy struck. His sister was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years back. She was winning the battle against cancer until she got pregnant. Apparently when you get pregnant your hormones go crazy and allow the cancer to spread at a faster rate. Unfortunately she passed away at 30 years old just after having her baby prematurely. Luckily, the baby did survive and is now completely healthy. After Lighthouse's sister passed he felt like he needed some liberation so like many others and myself he took to the trail. I'm not the best at telling his story but it should be told. He told it to Bobsled and I as were walking and I realized how close both of them were to their siblings. It really hit home that I could do a better job at involving my siblings in my life. I just couldn't grasp the idea of losing one of them. Lesson learned. Be a better brother.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
A CABIN IN THE WOODS. After walking twelve miles in the rain yesterday Lighthouse, Stick bug, and myself(Simba) packed into a shelter loaded with twelve other freezing, wet hikers. This was my first night actually sleeping in a shelter. I do not recommend these at all. Everyone snores really loud and everybody's sleeping pads crackle with every move.
The thunder woke everyone up the next morning. A fellow hiker named Walk Hard had a thermometer that read thirty-nine degrees. So not only was it storming but it was nearly freezing outside. Of the fifteen hikers in the shelter only six of us were stupid enough to not take a zero(a day were zero miles are hiked). After a long discussion we decided to walk only 7 miles in the freezing rain to Stecoah Gap where a lady named Donna would pick us up. The six of us split a "cabin" for 15 bucks each. Mrs. Donna took care of us and allowed us to shower and do a load of clothes. It rained all day and we just sat talking about nothing and listening to Lighthouse play guitar. Overall a pretty cold, boring day but heck it sure beats a day at work.
Oh yeah and my crazy parents and I had miscommunication and forgot to mail my mail drop. There was no chance it would make it in time so they drove all the way from Albany to Robbinsville, NC to deliver it and a few pizzas for the other hikers and me. I think they miss me a little too much :)
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The rain woke us by smacking the tin roof of the shelter around 7 am. Before the morning fog could fade Jess, Blue, and I set off with no real goal in mind(1). After about 4 miles and a bum knee, Blue(who I failed to mention is a guitar carrying traveler) had to tell Jess and I to continue with out him. Usually it wouldn't be so bad leaving someone but Blue is one of those people that just keeps everything so interesting.
Now I was out front setting the pace just cranking up and down hills, hitting countless switchbacks (imagine a "z" up the mountain), and then conquering Sassafras Mtn and Justus Mtn. All of this within about 6 miles.
Right after Justus Mtn we came to Cooper Gap(2) which is a decent little camp ground near a road. Ill go ahead and inform you all since I had no idea when I started that a ”gap" is just where a road or path passes low and in between two parts of the trail. Anyways, Jess and I were exhausted after hiking a tad over 10 miles by noon so we chose to enjoy lunch and take a break at this gap. Probably 50 ft from us was a dirt road intersection where there was a decent flow of traffic. Well a decent flow for a dirt road anyways. I boil me some Easy Mac and chills literally run down my spine they were so delicious. Next thing you know sliding uncontrollably these two pick up trucks came to a stop. ”What’s happenin guys?!” yells Blue running arms open wide carrying a huge smile on his face. He had hitchhiked from Hightower shortly from where we left him and was headed to a nearby town. His plan was to stay at the hostile and have them shuttle him to Woody Gap in the morning. We let him know we'd camp at the gap and hike with him.
Not too much to say about the next few miles as they were pretty easy. Probably the only exciting part was that everyone was getting a kick out of Gooch Shelter because of it's name.
After an 18.3 we finally made it to Woody Gap(3) around 6. The camp sites here were wonderful mainly because they had an actual bathroom with a toilet with toilet paper. After setting up camp I just mingled around with a bunch of people until sunset which I have noticed is when everyone goes to bed. We all said our good nights and were of to bed. ”RIIICCCOOLLA!!!" comes Blue hobbling from the woods with a different plan in mind. This guy is full of surprises including a pizza and a 12 pack of beer to share of course. The three of us just chit chat for hours having a great time before bed.
If I were to do it again I will avoid the Approach Trail and the steps of AFSP. It was brutal. In three days I have passed Blood Mtn and and in my opinion the Approach Trail has by far been the worst.
Day One: A guy named Blue introduced himself at the visitor center of the Amicalola Falls State Park as well as a girl named Paisley. Both offered me the opportunity to walk with some group. I was so ready to go that I kindly declined. I really wanted to do the first part to Springer alone. After leaving around 8:30 am I made it 8.8 miles to the top of Springer Mtn by about 12. I figured I would wait there until Blue and his group made it. Never saw them. Instead a girl and guy, Jess and Mike came along. We took off after about 3 hours on top of Springer. We reached Stover Creek Shelter(below) by 4 pm so Jess and I set up camp as Mike kept walking. We should've kept going because we were BORED. Everyone was in the shelter headed to bed at dark and we hear this belting ”RIIICOLLAAA” coming from the woods. Out comes the guy Blue I was talking about earlier. They call him that because he wears blue and plays the blues. Pretty simple, huh? Him being there completely changed the morale of the place. Blue, Jess, and I stayed up a few more hours talking about our first day. Then it was nighty night time.