Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm still here

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know.  I said I was going to keep blogging and I didn't.  Time has just absolutely FLOWN by since I got home.  Here it is the middle of November and it has been almost two months since my re-entry to the "real world".  The good news?  My knees and feet are feeling much better.  The plantar fascitis has almost completely gone away and thanks to my morning yoga ritual, I have regained some flexibility and can now even squat!  I have been doing some low-key, and I mean low-key, hiking, mountain bike riding, road riding, and plenty of stretching.  Oh, and yesterday I got to ride on a tractor which is way cool.  I highly recommend it.  Even if its just around the block. 

One exciting thing that has happened since I got home...I got married!  Drew and I had an outrageously fun wedding that was a quite a surprise to most people, in the middle of our Halloween party! Yes, completely wacky and someone even called it "zany".  I was the bride of dracula, already in my wedding gown, complete with gory bite marks on my neck, and Drew was a groom disguised as a vampire.  When the Queen of Hearts showed up to marry us (She was Awesome!), he switched his cape for his tux jacket and bowtie, and I hurried away to scrub the bite marks and blood colored lipstick off my neck.  It was truly a fun and memorable night, topped off with a really funky orange wedding cake.  So there.  Betcha didn't see that one coming.

So what's next for Rabid?  Well, for one thing, she is an amazing artist.  Yep, it's true. So I will probably start a new blog with the progress I make on getting my work OUT THERE.  So stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Re-entry...part one

Coming home from six months in the woods, almost exactly, is like being released from the zoo. A realization that the world has been spinning on and on with no concern for me or my recent activities. Everything is the same, yet totally different. Although it has been only a couple of weeks, it seems like a lifetime ago that I was waking up in my tent for the last time, or collecting water from a stream to drink. Faucets are amazing! You turn a handle and water comes out. And it's potable! And don't even get me started on the wonders of refrigeration!

At first I tried to hide from the world, but that only worked for about a half a day. As friends, family members, neighbors, and curious strangers began to learn of my arrival home, the questions commenced. "What about the bears?" "What about spiders?" "What did you eat?" Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to share my experiences. However, my hike was so much more than that. It was absolutely the most incredible experience I have ever had. It is difficult to put into a few quick words all the amazing places I saw, the incredible challenges I overcame, and the wonderful people I met.
I swore I would never hike again towards the end. The funny thing is....I already miss it. At least the adventure of it all. I also thoroughly enjoyed sharing my days with you...friends, family, friends of friends, and even complete strangers. So here's the deal. As I move on to a brand new and exciting adventure, I would like to continue to share my experiences with you. So stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A few post hike thoughts...

As you can obviously see by the somewhat clear (ha!) picture I posted
earlier, I completed my thru-hike of the Appalachian trail today. The
summit of Katahdin was nothing like I expected....In a million
years. First of all, I have never, to this very moment actually seen
the mountain. Except for a glimpse of only part of it the other day,
it has been completely enshrouded in clouds from afar and very much so
close up. This will give you a little bit of insight into the weather
we have had in Maine. I would even have to go so far as to say, this
was the most intense hike I have ever done. Compounded by being the
end of an incredibly long journey, was the fact that I think I picked
one of the worst weather days possible. I say this now knowing that
tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and in the 60's as opposed to today
in the 20's with driving rain, sleet, incredible winds, and you
guessed it...snow.
I wanted to turn around and get someplace warm and dry more than once
today. But I had no intention of hiking 2,173.9 miles without
completing the last 5.2.

Remember my pants? Well. Today was their victory dance because one of
the issues I was having today was wrestling them into submission while
I climbed up the sides of slick rock faces. Not only did the snap come
off the other day, but today, the zipper fell apart (in addition to
the now 5" vent hole I had working in the back). Now,don't get me
wrong...I'm not really complaining, because they have given me not
just six months, but actually years of service. And they picked today
to die. So what happens when material gets fully saturated with water
and ice? They become really heavy. That's what. And what happens when
pants you can't keep up already become really heavy? Trouble. That's
what. So, in addition to the superbly horrific conditions, I was like
I said earlier, wrestling with pants all day. I did not see the naked
guy on the mountain today, but thankfully I didn't join him either.

As I sit here in Millinocket, Maine, warm and dry (finally!),
reflecting on the day, I am really still in shock that I am finished.
I do not have to get up and hike tomorrow? Saying goodbye to people
all afternoon that have been like family has been unbelievably sad.
Even though we were all celebrating and yelling and screaming and
wahooing all day, I will not see any of these people probably ever
again. Finishing is bitter sweet I must admit.

So what did I learn in six months of living outside? Simplicity, my
friends. There is so little we truely need. Shelter, food, water, and
a little help from our friends. Speaking of which, I want to send a
special thank you to all of you. All the support, love, comments,
emails...I cannot tell you how much it helped me through this entire
odyssey. This journey has completely restored my faith in humanity
and I am full of gratitude.

I CAN DO ANYTHING!

Last night on the trail...

I am actually here. I am only 5.2 miles from the conclusion of this
adventure (not including the return trip down the mountain...unless I
just stand on the summit and declare I am through....no more hiking).
Hmmm. I am in the Birches Lean-to at Katahdin Stream Campground. It is
so surreal to be here. I cannot say this is what I thought it would be
like. Because I certainly did not picture the hike here today to be a
cold rainy endurance test, complete with two deep, fast moving fords.
I was soaked after the first one, not because I fell in, but that it
was raining, and it was so deep I was in up to my shorts and then I
leaned over to grab a boulder to keep from falling and my boots got
wet. Wetter I should say. Yes, it has been a really really long
journey here. But that is going to make it all the sweeter when I grab
that sign tomorrow and let out a WAHOOOO! this world has yet to hear.
That's what I'm talking about.

(Monday) 15.1 miles to go...

Yet another rainy day on the AT, this one of course only stands out
because it is the second to last one. I am camping at the Abol Bridge
Campground, just past the 100 mile wilderness and just outside of
Baxter State Park. I am really here! Baxter State Park! A place I
have dreamed about for what seems like forever. It is absolutely
nothing like I expected. Shockingly, it's just like being outside a
logging camp. The only vehicles you ever see are logging trucks
carrying full loads of slaughtered trees.

We will be climbing Katahdin the day after tomorrow. It's a 30 percent
chance of showers. Or does that mean it's only going to rain 30
percent of the time? Hmmm. Today was 60 percent and it's been raining
off and on all day. But what else is new.

I also have a new blister on my toe. Yes, a new blister. I would be
surprised except it's from hiking in wet boots with wet socks. All the
time. It was nice to get here to this campground, though. Although
they do not have laundry facilities, they do have coin operated hot
showers which is a total luxury on a cold, windy, rainy day. Even if
you have to dry yourself off with a dirty wet bandana and put dirty
clothes back on. Two more days!

Monday, September 13, 2010

(Sunday p.m.) miles to go: 30.1

First of all, a huge THANK YOU to Kumquat's parents for the great
trail magic! Your homeade pralines and brownies are exquisite. It's
amazing how much enjoyment you can get out of eating sandwiches on the
side of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. And I mean nowhere. How
they found their way to that logging road in the middle of the 100
mile wilderness is beyond me.

Did I ever mention the water in Maine?Well, for starters, there is a
lot of it. I mean everywhere. Ponds, lakes, streams, brooks, bogs, and
even all over the ground. Yes, I am talking about mud. You thought
Vermont was muddy? Think again. You see, apparently there is not
enough dirt here, so under the tiny layer of topsoil is rock, so there
is nowhere for the water to go, so it sits there. And makes mud. And
bogs. And muddy bogs. And the wonderful MATC and AMC (thanks for all
your hard work) have constructed all these "bog bridges" out of
planks...in 1964. Some of them seem more recent, but I have to say,
one of the more dangerous parts of hiking around here is the half-
rotten, slimy algae covered wood planks propped up on rocks and other
rotting chunks of wood that sometimes sink down lower than the muddy
water when you step on it. When I put my poles down, sometimes they
just keep going...as in feet deep. My favorite is when the bogs are
large and they put up signs that say "Please stay on trail. Fragile
bog environment". Really? You have to tell me to stay on these little
pieces of plywood? I can't step off, maybe up to my armpits, or who
knows...maybe my neck, not even once. Please? Trust me people. I am
trying my very hardest to stay on the "trail". Even where the bog
bridges have completely deteriorated beyond recognition.

Oh, I was talking about the water. I digress. Yes, the water.
Sometimes it's brown. In fact, it's brown a lot. I don't mind it now,
at first it was a little disconcerting. Back when we first noticed
some of the streams were brackish, we all made fun and joked around
that it looked like pee. Hahaha. But here, it is not only brown, but
sometimes tastes like dirt with a peppery bite to it....mixed with
Aqua Mira. Yum. Yeah, I gotta say, I won't miss drinking Maine
water. However, I will say, some of those ponds, streams, and brooks
have been some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. Even
the ones with brown water.

Having hiked almost 44 miles in the past two days, I am now staring at
the very last page of my guidebook. It is completely surreal to think
this hike really is almost over. I saw my very first glimpse of
Katahdin today. It was ordinary yet extraordinary all at the same
time. I wonder how that will change once I am standing upon it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

(Sunday) Miles to go: 51.1

I watched the most beautiful sunrise this morning across the Mary Jo
Pond. It truely was a serene moment, complete with loons calling out
in the distance. The sun has finally come out and the terrain has
completely mellowed out. For the first time in a while, I am really
looking forward to hiking today.

Thursday (mile 2095.0 miles left 84.1)

I am camped next to a loud gurgling river, with a cascady waterfall
about eight feet from my head. It's very peaceful even though it's
raining and has been off and on all day. The sun peaked out a few
times, but that was usually right before it rained the hardest.

We climbed the "Chairbacks" today. It was a set of four or so brutal
little peaks that were just enough to completely wear me out. Where do
these mountains get their names? I have noticed that you never see
"fluffy bunny" mountain or "strawberry shortcake" mountain. They all
have to sound mean and scary. Tomorrow's mountain of the day is White
Cap. Yeah, that sounds easy, although I left my ice axe and climbing
rope at home. Even though it looks particularly steep, it's the last
gasp before Katahdin. So there.

I am trying to really enjoy these last few days, knowing some day I
will long for this time again. I find it difficult, not because it has
gotten cold, or that it seems to rain every day now, or that all my
gear and clothing is basically falling apart before my very eyes
(remember the duct tape on the butt? The hole, complete with new duct
tape, is about 4" long now), but because I am ready to go home now. I
am tired of hiking. It seems with all this walking, I should have
gotten some where by now.

Tuesday

I am camped at the Long Pond Stream Lean-to with 99.4 miles to go.
Finally double digits. It is pretty obvious when you talk to most thru-
hikers at this point that we are all weary and ready to be done. Not
to say that in two months I will not miss the trail and this
lifestyle, but it feels, at least for me, that I have been out here
forever. It is time.

It rained off and on for most of the day. The terrain on the profile
map looked fairly benign but was misleading. Besides the four river
fords, it was constantly up and down. The hundred mile wilderness so
far has been rocky, rooty, slippery, rainy, and steep. Yep, that
pretty much sums it up. Oh, yeah, it's pretty too.

Monday, September 6, 2010

One more pair of shoes....

Well, my first pair of boots that I began hiking with have been called
back into action. I had bought my first new replacement pair after
about 400 miles and retired the originals because of so many foot
issues. (Marge and Lefty did not properly articulate to me at the time
that it was the inserts, socks, and sock liners that could be the
problem.) Four pair of boots and shoes later....It feels like I just
bought my most recent trail runners just a few weeks ago, but it was
back in early Vermont and I knew they would not last the whole rest of
the trip. So thanks to mom for sending the boots along with some yummy
goodies to Caratunk. It is odd to finish the hike with the same pair
I started with. But alas, I digress. The whole point of this
ridiculously long story about footwear is where my old ones ended up.
So I noticed a while back that this hiker "Cowgirl" had the same
Montrail trail runners that I was wearing. Hers were in much worse
shape than mine were in. I told her as long as the boots still fit,
she could have my old ones. We were only a half size apart and she was
absolutely thrilled to get them. One hikers trash is another hikers
treasure. Even old smelly shoes coming apart at the seams.

I have to say, the hiker box resupply has made for an interesting day
of food. Gobs of peanut butter on a dry crumbly bagel and smushed
granola bars for lunch (along with a full day supply of Starbursts
that came from the trail magic I am going to talk about in a
minute....) And for dinner? The forever loved Ramen noodles with
handfuls of everything I could find in my food bag, which today was
trail mix and Combo's. (Really? Man am I ready to eat real food again
soon!) Ok. So there was this big plastic tub by the road and a cooler.
The cooler was empty and the bin was almost empty except for the bag
of travel size deoderants and a bunch of Starbursts. Thanks trail
magic person whoever you are!! The candy is always appreciated but the
"Petal Bliss" scented deoderants hit the spot. Even Safari got in on
the flowery smelling armpit action. I of course made fun of him all
day long for smelling so girly even though the occasional wiff of
"Petal Bliss" that eminated from the both of us was a pleasant change.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Miles to go: 151

I am enjoying the day off in Caratunk, Maine (Or Car trunk as it has
been enthusiastically named by dad). It's especially nice when the
long sought after rest coincides with the passing by of a rainstorm,
or perhaps maybe a hurricane. (We won we won we won! We got here
before the storm!) We did thoroughly enjoy the canoe ferry across the
Kennebec river. What a treat.

Unfortunately, it looks like I will be in a cell service black hole
for part of or even most of the remaining hike. Here at Northern
Outdoors (a most awesome outdoorsy hiking rafting dirt biking kind of
lodge) I am fortunate enough to be in the presence of wifi. There
apparently is no cell service for miles... As in many, many miles.
This remains true for the 100 mile wilderness I will be entering in
just a few short days. I will however, keep writing the posts, they
may just get posted all at once.

One thing we did not fully take into consideration when we decided to
come here was the inability to get to any kind of store to do a
resupply. This is where the magic of the "hiker box" comes into play.
I might have mentioned these random boxes of goodies and the not so
great cast-offs of other hikers before. Safari and I completely
resupplied ourselves from the hiker box here at Northern Outdoors.
Shocking, I know. "Sleepy" got a resupply box in the mail here with
too much food and we just happened to be there when he dumped his
entire box into the hiker box. So, thank you Sleepy's mom! As usual,
the trail provides.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Disclaimer:

This is for entertainment purposes only. If this were an actual
emergency... well, you probably would not here about it until it was
resolved, actually. Although I appreciate all the offers of new
apparel, I assure you all that I will not, I repeat will NOT, be
standing at the summit of Katahdin naked. If for some reason, my
clothes continue in their haste to disintigrate, I will take action in
some appropriate fashion. Ok, now that I have that cleared up, I will
confess, the whole part about the snickers in frosting? Truth. In
fact, when we hitched into town today to resupply in Stratton, I was
looking for chocolate frosting. Thank goodness I got distracted and it
was not on my shopping list. Ugh.

We actually hiked up and over several large mountains this morning,
hitched into town to eat and resupply, and hitched back to the trail
to hike another five miles. Uphill. With full bellies. Very full
bellies. In fact, I had eaten an entire small cheese pizza and about
40 glasses of root beer. And chocolate milk. And OJ. I didn't think
I was actually going to make it to Horns Pond. But here I am. Whew.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mile 1984.0 (Tuesday)

Yep. That's right. Only 195.1 miles left. It was a huge excitement for
all the thru-hikers we saw today to hike past the "under 200 miles"
point. With the big mileage days we have been doing the miles are
going fast. People are planning their rides/flights/buses/trains home.
Me? As anxious as I am to pick "the day", I do not want to put that
kind of pressure on myself. Like, what if say, a HURRICANE comes this
way and I want to take a day off to try and avoid it??? I know, very
unlikely. Hahaha.

Here is the most recent trail food development. Well everybody knows
the best trail snack is the snickers bar, right? What about a
snickers bar dipped in chocolate frosting? Yep. That's the snack I
had up on Saddleback mountain yesterday. I can't take credit for this
magnificently decadent treat. I was just eating the plain ol' snickers
bar when "Rock-N-Roll" offered his can of Betty Crocker fudge frosting
for me to dip it in. Man, I tell you what...that's sweeter than a
Whoopie Pie. Ooohweee. I think we are on to something here.

Another really cool thing is that the leaves are starting to change
colors here. Not like Georgia where it's usually November before you
see the reds and yellows. August in Maine. Wow. The maples and the
birches are beautiful. What a treat! I get to experience fall twice.
In the woods over the next couple of weeks and later after I go home.

Hanging out with the locals

I cannot tell you what an experience it is to wake up to the sound of
loons. Although I have heard them on one other occasion, they always
surprise me with their distinctive calls. They began their eerie
chants this morning around 5am. When we began hiking we saw them on
the beautiful pond we were camped near. This afternoon in the middle
if another pond, we saw a moose with her calf near by. This has been a
special day for wildlife sightings. We were very close to the cow. She
didn't seem to care we were there at all.
The last wildlife encounter I had today was the game of chicken I
played with a red squirrel. He was in the middle of the trail with
some huge nut in his mouth staring me down as I approached. I won, but
just barely. He looked as if he wanted me to challenge him for the nut
and kind of ran toward me. Huh.

We are camped just past Saddleback mountain. It was a long arduous
17.4 miles today. At least we can mark one more huge four thousand
footer off the list. We are trying to get some big days in while the
weather is so nice. It was absolutely beautiful today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How Rabid got her mojo back

What a super hike today! It was a difficult 17 miles, but it felt
great. We climbed huge mountains, saw several beautiful ponds, and
made excellent progress in a northernly fashion. It did, however, take
us almost 12 hours.

Tomorrow we summit Saddleback mountain, and another 17+ mile day.
That's alright, I am feeling much better than just a few days ago. The
weather has a huge amount to do with it. It was an absolutely
beautiful day. I also have been hiking with someone the past day or
two that is finishing up his 10 year section hike by doing the last
section to Katahdin. I am lucky because he's a psychotherapist. I
traded him a quart sized ziploc bag for my session today. As much of a
fan of ziploc products as I am, I think I got the better end of the
deal. It was a fancy double zipper one, though.

One potential issue that I see developing rather quickly is the rapid
deterioration of my hiking clothes. The duct tape is not staying on
the back of my shorts and a new tear has begun as well. My wicking
shirt is in the process of coming apart at every seam. If I counted
the holes in it, it would probably be around 20 or so. It's like they
get so funky and overworn they begin a slow suicide. Its like it just
doesn't want to be a shirt anymore. I am going to be standing on top
of Katahdin with nothing on but a few scraps of material. I talked
with one guy who said he was going to summit naked (you're a total
freak). So at least I will be in good company, right?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What a difference a day makes.

Today was an absolutely magical day on the trail. First of all, the
weather could not have been nicer. Seriously. Blue skies, not a cloud
to be found, cool and breezy, and the best part, there was not a
single moment I thought I might die. We are staying the night at a
lovely hostel in Andover, ME, and David picked us up from the
trailhead this afternoon with a cold jug of lemonade. Now let me tell
you about yesterday.

Yesterday was a little different. After climbing the Mahoosuc Arm the
day before, we camped at the Speck pond shelter just before the climb
up Speck mountain. When we awoke yesterday, it was drizzly, cloudy,
foggy, and windy. By the time we climbed (or crawled, as the case may
have been a time or two) up and over this horrific summit, clinging to
what seemed like near vertical rock face, wet and slippery, with
nothing but small toe-holds, I was having some, let's just say...some
anxiety. The trail ever since just before crossing the Maine border
has been the roughest terrain I have ever seen. Ever. I had no idea
it would be this difficult. And, I had never had the thought of not
finishing this journey...until yesterday morning.

I continued down Speck mountain, and arrived mid morning at Grafton
Notch. A truck pulls into the parking lot and out steps "Soda Mike".
He asks us if we are thru-hikers and if we wanted a root beer (my
favorite soda amazingly enough). Unprompted, he proceeds to tell us
how a lot of hikers he meets at this point are extremely discouraged
and fatigued. He said that most of the really tough stuff was behind
us and it will begin to seem a little easier soon. These few simple
statements changed my outlook on things immediately and gave me a
renewed hope I had lost earlier in the day. In fact, when Safari told
him that he might have just saved my hike, I went over to him and gave
him a big hug. I think I surprised him half to death, getting a bear
hug from a complete stranger...that smells like a homeless person.

After speaking with Soda Mike, as well as two other hikers (older men)
that confided their own fear of these beastly summits, I feel so much
better about the remaining miles ahead. As I have mentioned numerous
times, we are all provided with exactly what we need at the exact
moment we need it. What an amazing gift. I am so full of gratitude
for not only the wonderful people I have met along this incredible
journey, but everyone that has sent all the positive encouragement
along the way. Thank you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rabid 1 Mahoosuc Notch 0

(Thursday)
The Mahoosuc Notch. The guide book poses it as a question. The most
fun or the hardest section on the Appalachian Trail? I cannot say it
was the most fun but it was scary as hell at times. I was so happy it
wasn't raining but it was slippery as could be. I had been anxious
about this section including the infamous Mahoosuc Arm (crazy uphill
climb afterwards) for several days. Our daily mileage has taken a nose
dive the past two days. It is taking us two more days to get to
Andover than we planned. It's a good thing we both pack too much food!

Some exciting milestones this week though...crossing the Maine border.
The last state line crossing. That just seems unreal. Also, we are now
camped at mile 1,907.7. The next 271 miles do not seem like easy ones
from what I hear from the sobo's. Beautiful? Yes. Easy? Not so much. I
am going to have to say, so far, Maine is kicking my butt.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another one bites the dust

It's true! I have found yet another use for duct tape! This magic
tape will fix just about anything. Who needs needle and thread when
you have this shiny sticky miracle in your pack? Yes, I am sad to
report that I have duct tape all over the seat of my ass. I have hit
yet a new low. The whites killed my shorts. I think I slid down one
too many rocks on my butt. Sometimes there is just no better way down
and I am not too proud to admit it.

We have successfully made it through the white mountains and tomorrow,
amazingly enough, we will be crossing the Maine border. It seems hard
to believe, really. I have heard a lot of great things about Maine and
I am totally stoked. The Mahoosuc Notch is just a day away and
everyone says that's by far the hardest section of the entire trail. I
try not to get worked up too much about what others say about upcoming
sections. It never turns out to be as bad as "they" say. It has only
taken me almost 1,900 miles to learn this valuable tidbit. What do
"they" know about anything anyway, right?

So, here we are in Gorham, NH trying to dry everything out once more.
You're totally right. We were here before. Fortunately, there are two
highways into Gorham that the trail crosses at different times. You
know you have spent too much time in a trail town when you start
recognizing locals. We have become "regulars" at the bar/restaurant
next door. I have become totally addicted to their grilled veggies on
rosemary ciabatta bread sandwich, as I am about to go eat my third one.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

That's right, he called us ridiculously awesome

The, "youngster"...I know I know they don't use that word anymore but
that's what he is, that picked us up hitching back to Pinkham Notch
this morning called us "ridiculously awesome" when he learned we had
hiked here from Georgia. Now there's a compliment for you. He was a
nice young fellow, (There is that better?) and was slightly obsessed
with "driving fast, but not fast enough to hit a moose". At least
that's one thing I don't have to worry about. Thanks Adam, and watch
out for Bullwinkle.

The Wildcats today proved to be steep, never ending and at times, hair-
raising. We did some actual rock climbing which would be fine save for
the ridiculously less than awesome 35 pound beast clinging to my back
at all times. To add some excitement to the mix, it began drizzling
after lunch which made the even more hair raising "OMG, how am I going
to get down this" downhills slippery. It was a long day on the trail.

The other fun part of the day was Safari and I got to make fun of what
eachother bought for lunch when we "resupplied" in town. This is what
happens when you buy food in a town that doesn't have a real grocery
store close by. Yep, that's right.... The convenient store. The
selection is bad, but at least you pay more. Did you ever see someone
go into a Circle K and spend $35 on junk food? It's just sad. So, as
I watched Safari eat his English muffin topped with nacho cheese dip
and jerky for lunch, I enjoyed a bag of nuts, candy bar and Combo's
for lunch today. Combo's hold up well in the pack, but they have this
new flavor called zesty salsa tortilla. It's very spicy and they give
me heartburn. For some reason I keep forgetting this and I have bought
them now three times. Hmmm.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mile 1860.1

Gorham, New Hampshire. We hitched in with super nice guy Jim from
Pennsylvania in his beautiful clean nice smelling Audi. Sorry Jim. I
know we made your car smell like death. He was kind enough to chuckle
and only say that we smell like thru-hikers. Of course I always blame
it on Safari. Ha. One time we caught a ride with this nice lady that
had two small kids in the back seat. I was lucky enough to sit in the
back with them and one of the little girls said, "Mommy can you roll
her window down?" A few moments later all the windows came down, as
they usually do. Yay. It's laundry day.

Well, tomorrow is the Wildcats. Apparently these peaks are quite
ferocious, but different from the presidentials. I am still in shock
at how nice it was on top of Washington. It was a completely calm
sunny morning. I have been told this only happens a about 14 or so
days a year. What a gift.

I am feeling much better and ready for whatever the last 19 miles of
the whites has to throw at me. It is supposed to be 43 tonight, highs
in the 60's, and sunny. Can't get much better hiking weather than that.

A day full of victories

No, I did not fall off the face of the earth (or thankfully the top of
one of the presidentials). I have, however, spent the last two days at
the Lakes of the Clouds hut, one mile from the summit of Mount
Washington, very sick. Thankfully I can report now, from the other
side of Mount Washington, that I have made a nearly miraculous
recovery and hiked out this morning on one of the most beautiful days
I think that mountain ever sees.
The day before yesterday, I was getting weaker, and slower, and more
ill by the minute. By the time I made it to the hut, I had a stomach
ache, nausea, and a fever. I reluctantly went to the "dungeon" to
sleep. This is an emergency storage shed under the building that looks
like it hosts more mice than people. Creepy as it was, it was the only
option at that moment in time and I slept down there for 12 hours.
When I woke up yesterday morning, I could not see more than ten feet
in front of me let alone any mountain peaks. And, I still felt sick.
Very sick. So we each donated 91 bucks to the AMC and bought bunks as
a guests. (Safari was kind enough to stay the night as well...thank
you Safari!). I went right back to sleep and slept all day long. I am
so grateful to feel well enough to hike up and over not only
Washington, but Madison, and all their friends today. Being sick for a
couple of days has made me very appreciative of the days when I feel
well.

On a brighter note, the hike today will be one I will remember
forever. It was above treeline and it was so crystal clear you could
see for miles. The scenery was truely stunning. It was one of the more
challenging days, complete with a hard fall.

We are camped at a tentsite about 4 miles from Gorham, New Hampshire.
It has platforms that you are supposed to set up your tents on. Well
whoever designed these square sets of wooden planks clearly was not
thinking about non-freestanding tents. It took us, let's just say, a
really long time to figure out how to get our tents up...and not
without much cursing and frustration and a lot of extra rope. It was
dark when we ate dinner. What a day. It certainly was a day full of
victories.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rain delay at Crawford Notch...

Well, Mount Washington is just going to have to wait a day. I awoke to
steady rain this morning with a forecast of possible thunderstorms.
This is a mountain that calls for clear skies. Of course after we made
the decision to wait until tomorrow, as usual...right on cue, the sun
popped out. Uhuh. That's okay, I needed the afternoon to dry
everything out from setting my tent up in a depression in a mossy bog.
That's right. There was a nice brown puddle of water in/under/around
well, not much, just everything I own. That's okay too, because the
sun that popped out unexpectedly dried everything nicely. Again.

Today, makes exactly five months I have been on the trail. My
calculations put me on Katahdin almost exactly six months from my
start date. With 345.1 miles...approximately... left, I can sense the
end drawing closer. With so many pages from my guide book gone, the
reality of finishing this amazing adventure looms large.

I am going to sleep now. I have to rest up for a FIVE THOUSAND foot
elevation gain climb in the morning. Why do all the big mountains have
such low river valleys in between them??? A hiker from Maine, in his
thick Maine accent, told me back in the beginning, "If you don't like
the gaps you're gonna hate the notches!" Well let me tell you. NOW I
know what he was talkin' about (in a thick Georgia accent). I'll be
okay, I am eating a Whoopie pie for breakfast!

A moose on the loose

Of course the highlight of any day in the whites is the peak of
whatever enormous mountain you happen to be climbing, however, today
we saw a moose. My first moose on the AT, and my first bull moose
ever. He was huge! He was in a pond mostly with his head under water
feasting on whatever aquatic plants there are, but when he lifted his
head out of the water... Wow! It was very exciting.

So far, the most amazing views have come from the Franconia Ridge
including mountains Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette. There are no
words to describe this above the treeline ridge walk on top of the
world. This was so worth the truely exhausting climb. In fact, the
past several days have left me so anxious to crawl into the sleeping
bag the second I reach my campsite I have not been writing any blogs
or journals or anything. Today was no different but I am excited about
the next section of trail and of course the whole moose encounter. The
next mountain to summit is the one and only Mt Washington. I have been
looking forward to this for a very long time. Unfortunately, they are
calling for thunderstorms and that could certainly put a damper on
things. We agreed we were going to delay summiting Washington until
nice weather since it can get really nasty up there. Someone even said
something about snow. Huh.

Friday, August 13, 2010

High on Whoopie Pies

Did I mention New Hampshire was steep? These mountains go straight up
and straight back down again!
All I can say is wow. Moosilauke is absolutely beautiful. We were
above treeline, saw alpine meadows, and followed a waterfall all the
way down to the bottom. The hike was not even as hard as I imagined.

Today we climbed the Kinsman(s) and saw more beautiful scenery than I
can even describe. Due to some confusing trail intersections and a mob
scene of tourists at the Lonesome Lake Hut, we ended up tacking on a
few more miles than we anticipated. It turned out to be over an 18
mile day, which for the Whites, is a lot. Needless to say, I am
totally pooped.

However, I have made an amazing discovery.... The WHOOPIE PIE. Those
of you from the south, like me, may not be familiar with the whoopie
pie. Apparently this delectable treat is as well known and well loved
as the moon pie is in the south. (Yuck! I say!) These things are way
better. They are nothing but pure sugar in one form or another. Two
round pieces of chocolate cake with a hurt-your-teeth sugary icing in
the middle. Someone first gave me half of one last night, that's right
half of one, and I stayed awake with a sugar buzz for I don't know how
long. We decided that was definitely what we were going to buy to take
with us today to eat before the second 2,000' elev gain climb and we
all ran up that mountain like we were on fire. Seriously. The power of
sugar.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

398.5 miles left

I am camped at a hostel at the base of Mt. Moosilauke in Glencliff,
NH. Yep that's right. I have made it to the Whites. This mountain,
"The Moose" as I have affectionately come to call it, has been on my
mind since, like, I don't know...Springer??? When I used to flip to
this page in my guide book, it would literally scare the heck out of
me. It's HUGE! It's a 3,700' elevation gain. Did you hear me??? That's
three thousand seven hundred feet!!! It's not even the climb up that
has had me worried. It's the steep downhill and the warning in the
book about it being steep and slick. Yikes! But you know what? I am
not worried anymore. I am so excited. I have been hearing about how
"the whites are so beautiful", "the whites are your dessert", "you've
done 80% of the trail but only 20% of the work", and my favorite, "the
whites are going to kill you". Well I am hear to say HOOOAH! Bring it
on.

(P.S. This didn't get sent until the top of Moosilauke)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mile 1,766.2

Wow. New Hampshire is...well...how should I put this? Let's say,
steep. So far in the last day or so we have climbed up and down
several mountains I like to call "A-frames", including ones with
ladders and metal rungs bolted in. One even had a knotted rope hanging
down to assist in climbing. What's that sport they use ropes to climb
the side of mountains? Oh yeah, it's called ROCK CLIMBING. Each day
has been an amazing adventure. Some days, the trail designers get
called nasty names. Sorry, it's just fact.

The water has been really scarce the past few days. We had heard from
a few sobo's that the first few shelters had no water but it seems to
be as dry as PA, NJ, and NY had been. Until today. Today we learned
the lesson of "Be careful what you wish for". As we summitted Moose
mountain yesterday, the thunder became louder and louder. We were
heading for Trapper John shelter and barely made it before it started
bucketing. We hung out with a young sobo named Radar, that gave us a
lot of information about the campsites, huts, and shelters in the
whites. Which, by the way, we enter tomorrow. It was so cool. It was
like talking to someone from the future. I asked him if he was named
after Radar O'Reilly and he didn't know who I was talking about.
(Read: old fart).

He said he had been passing nobo's for quite some time and said the
early ones he had called "katahrded" which I know is horribly un-p.c.
but I couldn't help laughing. Ok. Laughing hysterically. Because it's
true. These "uber hikers" we will call them are just all about the
miles. They are not taking the time to enjoy the scenery they are
running past at 4mph. To me, they are missing the point entirely. It's
not about summiting Katahdin, it's about the journey there.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Hampshire, baby! New Hampshire!

I crossed over the bridge with Safari and Hollywood into Hanover, NH
this afternoon. We were all very excited and nearly got ourselves run
over with all the running across the road taking pictures and what
not. There is a couple of miles of road walking on the trail just
before town. Several people had put cookies and other homeade baked
goods out beside the street with signs that say "trail magic". It was
so sweet. One guy that had hiked the trail in 2002, (Thank you
"Chief"!), pulled over and gave us each a cold bottle of juice.
Vermont and now New Hampshire have been very good to us. Like I said
before, Vermont, so far has been absolutely my favorite section. I
hear many good things about the last two states remaining.

Unlike trail magic, there is the darker, unfortunate side of things
that we now call "trail tragic". This is the Coleman cooler you see
just ahead on the side of the trail after that long grueling
climb...beckoning you to come peek inside. Cold water? Cold soda? Some
kind of treat? No! It's empty! Thank you all for all the trail
magic...we know it has to run out sometime...it's
still...sometimes...tragic.

So yet once again, I have indeed lightened my load. Yes, it's true. I
threw my Big Agnes pad in the garbage! It leaked. Again! So I broke
down and bought a Thermarest NeoAir. (Short!). I am so ultralight I am
totally ridiculous. The BA was 24oz and this thing is a whopping 9.
Thats right, 9oz! I am sleeping on it tonight for the first time. I
will let you know. Hmmm.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I have cankles

Yes. It's true. And don't let any hiker tell you they don't get them
because they do. You take a day off (two days ago had a great day off
at the Inn at Long Trail near Rutland, VT...a terrific lodge and one
of my favorite places along the trail) and blamo! You don't know
where you feet start or your calves stop. Cankles. I am not sure what
happens exactly.

Today was blackberry heaven. They were everywhere. I feasted for
thirty minutes in this one patch. Of course when I finally dethorned
myself I look like I had lost a fight with a cat....or twelve. It was
totally worth it.

After a couple of really hard long days, I am camped in West Hartford
in the back yard of two of the nicest people. The trail goes right
through town and Steve and Kathy let hikers camp in their yard and use
their water spigot. We ate sandwichs, chips, ice cream, and drank
sodas at the little general store two doors up. The weather was
fabulous with a bright blue sky all day. I used my sleeping bag for
the first time last night and it was so cold I stayed zipped up in it
all night. Life is good.

Remind me to tell you the story of the privy pig some time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

As usual, the trail provides...

It's a well known fact that there is nothing on the trail that cannot
be fixed with either duct tape or "Shoe Goo". Today, I fixed a pack
strap with duct tape, kindly provided by another hiker via the "hiker
box" here in Killington, and a shoe insert with Shoe Goo, kindly left
at the last shelter I temporarily inhabited....along with an enormous
mice colony. But that is another whole story.

I remember my mom using Shoe Goo to fix her running shoes when I was a
kid. Who knew one day I too would come to value this amazing yet
totally toxic viscous "goo". I have needed it to reglue soles back on
boots before, just as most hikers will to try and squeek out a few
more miles before buying new boots. I found this tube just as I
realized the metatarsal support, which had been taped on with two-
sided tape (like that had any chance of sticking in MY shoe), began
floating around freely inside my new fancy-dancy shoes. The goo worked
great! Thank you, whomever, for sharing your goo. Timber had found a
tube just laying on a bridge bannister one day, amazingly when she
needed her own boot repair. Like we always say, the trail always
provides.

In case you don't know what a hiker box is, it is a box of discards
(food, clothing, half used tubes of Shoe Goo, one wool sock, etc) that
you usually find at places frequented by hikers. Of course usually
they are filled with ziploc bags filled with mystery powder (What is
in all those baggies of pink stuff???) and dubious recipe components
that are mailed to hikers in their resupply boxes. People! Before
placing that bag of ambiguous powdery mixture in the box that will get
tumbled around just enough to create a hole in the bag, and leak
indeterminate sticky stuff all over everything else, label it with the
sharpie that is almost always present in the bottom of the box.
Really. Mommy would be so proud of you.

Another handy thing to have on the trail is the device I hold in my
hand this very moment. Timber notoriously always said, "Just ask the
Superphone". Just yesterday, Safari and I were crossing the road to
Rutland, VA that my guide book indicated having a restaurant a short
distance away. So naturally we headed that way for breakfast and hot
coffee. Whenever I have good service, I always check the weather. I
realized as we sat there with about six other hikers that there was a
huge blob of dark green and yellow heading right for us. (Read: Green
bad. Yellow worse. Red really ugly!) So we completely chilled out and
waited for the rain. One guy didn't believe me and started back toward
the trail. I told him to wait TWELVE minutes but he went on. And about
fifteen minutes later we all, well most of us, were celebrating our
success at avoiding a huge storm. Of course we had to sit outside the
Whistlestop restaurant for three hours. Ha. "Tree, ALWAYS trust the
superphone!"
There have been numerous times it has saved us as well as helped us
find hotels, restaurants, laundromats, our way back to where we got
dropped off, etc. It even tells you the best route to walk there! I
love this thing. Thank you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

A note I saw in the middle of the trail:

Seedless Joe,
We are going home. Good luck.
Signed Bill

I don't know Seedless Joe or his (former) friend Bill, but hopefully
Seedless Joe wasn't counting on Bill for anything important.

The new shoes are feeling a little better today. At least the numbness
and tingling in my toes is beginning to subside somewhat. I still feel
the plantar fascitis in the left foot (Marge of course) but I have
high hopes of a full recovery.

Today was a very nice 15 mile hike. We took a side trail to the White
Rocks Cliff and also had a nice break at a beautiful waterfall. There
was this one place where over the years hikers have built an entire
city of cairns. They were everywhere. One on top of the other. It was
quite the display. And of course we had to go search for more rocks to
add to them.

I have come to the decision now that I have less than 500 miles left,
that I want to once again eat hot food. In fact, if I have to eat one
more tuna in a tortilla meal, I might go totally nuts. Plus, I miss
mashed potatoes! I have come to the realization that cold food is
much heavier than dehydrated food. So now that I am getting my heavier
winter stuff back, I need to cut back on weight as much as possible.
And I hate tuna. And peanut butter. And tortillas. But especially
tuna.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Another day in the life...

I am sitting at the base of Bromley mountain, waiting for the chair
lift to open up for the day. I sure am lucky to need rescuing on a
weekend day. They only run the lifts up to the summit on Saturdays and
Sundays. Wow. Marge and Lefty's temper tantrums have good timing, eh?
Otherwise I would have to hike this mountain twice.

Later today...
So I was able to get back up Bromley on the chair lift this morning
and hike a moderate 12 miles to the Lost Pond shelter where I am
camped with Safari and some section hikers. Yep, Safari caught up to
me today where I was having lunch. The second new shoes are okay, I am
still having a lot of foot pain and numb toes. The light meshy
unsupportive trail shoes are totally different from the heavy
clodhopper sideshow bob boots that I have been used to for 1,650
miles. The jury is still out whether these are good or not. Marge and
Lefty just cannot be pleased these days.

The weather is lovely, cool, partly cloudy, 40's-50's at night, so
pretty chilly still. It is supposed to rain tomorrow. That is never
fun so we shall see. I bought a new pack cover in town so hopefully it
works better than the "rain insulating" p.o.s. I had before. It ended
up in the hiker box along with a note attached to it for the future
owner to use at their own risk. I thought it might work better on a
larger pack. Or maybe I just couldn't stand the thought of just
throwing it away. Who knows.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rabid is STILL in Manchester, VT

Due to some plantar fascitis (Don't know what it is? Me either but all
I know is it means extreme foot pain like someone has taken a hammer
to the soft tissue on the bottom of your foot.), I have decided to
stay the day here in this very cool little Vermont town. I bought TWO
new pair of hiking shoes...yes, two!! I returned one after trying to
hike out of town this morning.... Got to the top of Bromley mountain
and thought the torture. Must end. Soon. Now. The new boots almost
got thrown off the mountain. But alas I remembered the $150 and they
were saved from a brutal ending and will remain in tact to torture yet
another unsuspecting hiker. I was rescued from the top of the mountain
by the fortunate coincidence of there being a ski lift, shockingly in
operation in the middle of summer, going down to the road at the
bottom and Jeff, the owner of the Green Mountain House, the
absolutely best hostel on the Appalachian Trail. So under the advice
of Jeff and Boomer, another hiker with P.F., I went to the Mountain
Goat Outfitters back in the town I had just attempted to hike out of.
Those guys are terrific (thanks Ron and Matt!) and helped me with a
new pair of trail shoes (not boots) and arch support inserts. I think
they feel like slippers. Ok, slippers with a lot of support. Ok, maybe
thats a stretch...maybe running shoe slippers. I am going to try this
hiking thing again and see if I can make it further than three miles
tomorrow. Ha.

The good thing about staying the day here is that I get to hike with
Safari again. Safari, you can run...but you can't hide. I caught you!
Again! But Timber unfortunately got away. Due to a COMPLETELY
UNREALISTIC hiking schedule, that's right...There. I said it. Yeah, a
completely unrealistic hiking schedule, and the amount of pain my foot
has been in lately, I don't think I will be able to catch her again.
She is meeting her boyfriend who is going to hike the last month with
her, so she was having to do really large days to meet him on time.
Goodbye Timber! Have a great hike! I miss you already.

It is truly amazing how close friends you become with people on the
trail. Life on a trail is like a condensed lifetime. A week feels like
months and months feel like an eternity. You can spend a few days with
someone and feel like you truly have a friend for life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mile 1634.4

Second day of 21+ miles and last night I was too pooped to post
anything (actually I did not have service where I was camped
anyway...or here either for that matter). Speaking of poop, I saw my
first moose poop on the trail yesterday. Moose poop is very
interesting because it looks like a pile of little chocolatey robin
eggs. They kind of look like some kind of Easter candy, but made of
poop. Yes, I just wrote a paragraph and used some form of the the word
poop six times.

I also had the unfortunate experience of pretty much running out of
food today. We are going into Manchester Center tomorrow so I
certainly am not going to starve, but I definitely ran low on energy
today, and had to ration out what was left in the food bag. I knew
everyone else was running low on food when I noticed the ridiculous
"lunch" we were all having. Let's see.... I was having, "put
everything I have left in one of my last tortillas and roll it up"...
which consisted of some peanut butter, the last of my granola, some
m&m's, and topped off with honey. Timber had some squished cheese on a
bagel with ketchup, and my favorite...Safari was eating a sandwich
filled with peanut butter and combo's. You just never know what kind
of crazy stuff a hiker will eat (answer...just about anything...
especially right now!).

We climbed up and over Stratton mountain today. We gained over 1800'
in elevation to turn around and drop back down to below where we
started. Vermont (or Vermud as we have come to say.... frequently) is
beautiful. On these larger climbs, we enter the odoriferous spruce/fir
forest with the blanket of soft pine needles covering ground. I think
Vermont has been one of my favorite sections so far. It just gets
better every day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I have never been to Vermont...

...until today! This afternoon after about 14 miles of hiking, we
finally crossed the MA/VT border. Frankly, it looks a lot like
Massachusetts. However, it is beautiful, full of white birches, firs,
and spruces. Oh and very big mountains.
We are getting back into the longer climbs and higher elevation
mountains. Only 589 miles of bigger and bigger mountains to go. Wow.
It's hard to believe with just a few miles here and a few miles there
that you can actually walk to Maine. Or at least VERMONT!

The weather was so nice today. It was probably high 70's and breezy
with passing clouds. It really was perfect hiking weather. It is so
chilly right now, I am actually wearing my down jacket. It's been a
while since I was using it for more than my pillow. Of course now I
have no pillow. Hopefully I will come up with something other than the
stuff sack full of smelly socks. Even the clean socks smell like dirty
socks. Yes I know. It's really something.

Vermont is very muddy. We have had an extraordinary amount of rain
lately. We are beginning to pass a few sobo's and they said not only
is water not an issue here, but that half the time the trail IS a
water source. Today we passed some hikers doing the Long Trail (105
miles of the A.T. are concurrent with the LT), and they said "Welcome
to Vermud". Huh. We had never heard about this notorious mud problem.
My legs, socks, and boots look like I lost a fight with a bucket of
tar. The mud here is black as night. Who knew? I has no idea I could
actually get dirtier than I usually do.

Unexpected surprises!

This post is dedicated to Dick and Marge Saari, affectionately now
known as Houdini and Gingersnap. We gave them trail names for their
amazing trail "Magic" and scrumptious homeade gingersnap cookies.
These two wonderful people are Safari's parents. Not only did they
invite Timber and I to tag along, bought us wonderful meals, put us up
in the same hotel as they were staying, but also "slackpacked" us two
days, up and over Mount Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts.
Thank you both for a wonderful time! You both are just delightful.

Today was a terrific hike up Greylock. It was cool, windy, and partly
cloudy. It also helped that all I had was a bottle of water stuck in
my pocket. We absolutely flew up that mountain. Actually, we covered
over 16 miles in 6 hours. We even had an ice cream cone, right on the
trail, as we hiked through the town of Cheshire. By the time we got up
to the peak, it was getting very overcast and dark. We went inside the
Bascom Lodge for lunch and it began to rain. A cold rain. A cold windy
rain. We were not thrilled about finishing our 20 mile day in that. We
only had 3 miles left so we decided to stay in the hostel here in the
lodge instead. What a pleasure to watch rain from indoors, with all
your gear completely dry. My pack and boots are still wet from the day
before yesterday's hike in the all day rain. So yes, Rabid, Marge, and
Lefty are all thrilled to be dry. Once again, the universe has
provided everything I could possibly need.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A river runs through it...

The trail, that is.

Remember how just yesterday I said it was the most perfect day on the
trail? Well, today was not. I really cannot complain, because lately
the weather has been terrific. But today? Not so much. Timber and I
hiked 18.7 miles in 7 1/2 hours. This was due to the fact it was
pouring, we were freezing, and we were making a serious effort for the
October Mountain shelter. I have often commented to myself how well
the trail has been maintained up to this point... (Thank you trail
maintainers for spending countless hours doing such hard work!)
until...Massachusetts. The trail today was really overgrown with
briars and tall wet grasses. It was like walking uphill through a
carwash...with thorns. So in a nutshell, today was the antithesis of
yesterday. I knew it was coming, too. Yesterday was TOO nice.

That's okay. I am in dry clothes in the shelter and beginning to warm
up. Everything is hanging from nails, dripping all over the place.
Once again, a soggy hiker explosion of various dirty socks, wet
shorts, and dripping gear. I was so cold when I got here, that I
immediately arranged to have my cold weather gear and clothing sent
back to me next week in Vermont...a week or so earlier than I
anticipated having it sent. I am quite sure that as soon as I have
baselayers, heavy fleece, gloves, hats, and a winter bag, it will be
in the 90's again. Thanks mom!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Town day"

The day a hiker goes to town can be equated to a 9-5er's Friday.
Unlike the dreaded day you leave town, which means always among other
things, your pack is heavy. Very heavy. In fact, the heaviest it will
weigh until the next town day....fully loaded with probably too much
food, possibly even leftover pizza from last nights' delivery...and
lately, as much water as you could possibly carry.

Regardless of how many days it has been since the last "town day", it
brings great joy to know that town food awaits you, as well as a
shower (possibly); and that clean clothes may be in your future as
well (cleaner anyway). Of course food is always the main
motivator...exciting food basically consists of anything someone else
makes, that is not in your food bag. But resupplying your food is what
MAKES you have to go to town in the first place. Of course there are
the hardcore people that go in, get what they need done and hike back
out the same day. Uh, yeah...that usually doesn't happen here. The
promise of clean sheets and a pillow typically lure us into a "nero"
here and there. A nero means nearly zero. Although, a lot of the time
we do big days to get into town. My personal definition is anything
less than 10 miles. We hiked a fairly strenuous 13 into Great
Barrington yesterday, and spent the night in town. It was a cool
little city with a great market and a nice little hotel. We are now
camped 18 miles away with Great Barrington being only a distant memory.

Also, today was by far, the closest thing to a perfect day on the
trail as I have seen. Especially the weather. Today was cooler, like
maybe 75 or 80, breezy, and low humidity. It was absolutely
spectacular! We also had a scenic day here on the trail in MA, with
some rocky outcroppings, a walk by a river, and the pond. The pond was
the highlight...a gorgeous breezy lake, nestled in between two
mountains, surrounded by ferns and white birches, with some smooth
rocks perfect for stretching out on and taking a relaxing break. Today
was an amazing day on the Appalachian trail, at least for Rabid,
shared with good friends.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mile 1498.2

Yep that's right ladies and gents...we actually stopped short today of
rolling over the ol' 1500 mile mark. However, we did cross the
Massachusetts border shortly before throwing down the packs for the
day. It was a great day...some climbs, some rivers, a few short
breezes, a couple of milestones, a nice waterfall this morning...
Yes. Imagine that. A waterfall leaving the town of Falls Village. None
of us even thought to look for a waterfall and there it was.

I have to say, Connecticut was a beautiful section of trail.
Absolutely one of my favorite, although one of the shortest. I am
looking forward to seeing what Mass has to throw at us in the upcoming
week. We will be hiking into the town of Great Barrington tommorow
afternoon. It certainly sounds majestic, doesn't it? I will be
thrilled if it has a shower somewhere and a grocery store. Ok, and a
laundromat.

Falls Village, CT

Some days you just never know where you will end up. Right now, I am
waiting for the inevitable rain to accompany the heavy thundering
going on over my head. Believe it or not, I am camped in the yard of a
toymaker in the tiny town of Falls Village, CT. He allows hikers to
tent on the property, order pizza from the local delivery restaurant,
and use his spigot for water. Thank you so very much Greg! However, I
am still waiting for my lesson in toymaking. I did, however, have a
most excellent spinach, tomato, and (REAL, NOT CANNED...for the first
time on the trail) mushroom calzone. Mmmmm.

In fact, this post is dedicated to all the trail angels on this
incredible journey. There have been countless gallon jugs of water
left by road crossings in areas where streams and springs have run
dry. Thank you very much bringers of magical water! And then there is
Gene. The trail angel from Bear Mountain. He not only picked us up a
while back, from 15 miles away, but brought us back to the trail the
next morning. He would not accept a single penny for gas money. Thank
you Gene, a true trail "magician".

Of course today had it's own unique set of challenges. We keep looking
at the profile in our books each day and the trail "appears" tame...on
paper. In reality with the heat, the humidity, the incessant bug
activity, and the constant elevation loss and gain of 200-1000', we
are all completely zonked every day. We keep asking ourselves what
it's going to be like in only a couple of weeks, when the elevation
loss and gain is more like 3,000-4,000'? Is it fall yet? When is
annoying no-seeum, mosquito, horse and deer fly season over????Huh???
When? When?
And then there was "the bridge". Ok. So the trail had a "recommended
reroute" on a few busy roads and highways that added a mile to the
day. They are rebuilding the bridge over the Housatonic river.
(Doesn't that sound like a mixed drink?) Anyway, it's only a one lane
bridge with zero shoulder that the cars take turns via traffic light
to cross. So yes, I will admit we were being lazy and did not want to
take the fancy new... turn here on this road, and turn there on this
road...reroute. We thought we were being "old school" by taking the
original white blazed A.T. Well, we couldn't get across the bridge.
So while traffic going our way was stopped at the red light, I asked
this guy in a pickup if he would take us across the bridge in the back
of his truck. He said no problem (he had Maine tags of
course...Connecticans don't seem to like us smelly hobos all that
much..but that is another whole can of worms...) and he dropped us off
at the other end. So a long story, even longer, we are officially
"yellow-blazers"! This of course being a much dreaded term, an insult
if you will, meaning that you "skipped" a section of trail by hitch-
hiking north. Even though it was only 100', we joke around and call
eachother "yellowblazer" and "section- hiker" now. Ha.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Connecticut!

State number ten! So far, Connecticut has been lovely. Today was a
good day despite the high 90 degree temps. There were some scenic
rocky overlooks and a nice big river. The river was extremely low but
very wide and still deep enough to get in and cool off. We took a
side road to a market....a mile long side road. Yep. We were
motivated by extreme hiker hunger and thirst, alright!?! Dont mock
me! You would have done the same thing. Although they were a DOLLAR
each, I feasted on bananas and blueberry muffins. And chips. And
orange juice...ok so I had a Gatorade and a Mountain Dew as well. Oh,
and a nutty buddy ice cream bar. Ok? So there. Then we had a 1,000'
climb and I almost threw up.

Tomorrow we will be hiking into Kent, CT to resupply. We are not
staying there, just passing through. We are trying to maintain our
average of 18-20 miles per day. We have been talking all day about how
close we are to the Whites. Apparently, the average mileage plummets
when you hit New Hampshire for all the huge steep mountains...even
Vermont, too. We are trying to take advantage of the moderate terrain
here in CT and MA and step up our miles... or just see how well we can
torture ourselves. I don't really know what I'm talking about...we
barely made it 18 today. Town got us.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"The day that will no longer be mentioned"

I am sitting in my tent listening to a thunderstorm. It's just one if
those pop up types...probably will not rain long enough to say...fill
all the dry creeks we keep hiking past. Today was sweltering. Between
the high heat and humidity, I felt like I was ready to pass out. It's
amazing how it can zap your energy. On the positive side, we found a
lake in the middle of the day. Of course it was called "Nuclear Lake"
and we found out later it was the site of a nuclear plant, but it was
still refreshing and nobody seems to be glowing. Around here you just
never know about the water. Several places have these old timey well
pumps, but every one we found had a note on it that ecoli had been
found in the water. Really? Even the well water is bad?

So, poor Safari is the one with the complete gear malfunction today. I
can totally empathize of course. His water reservoir started peeling
apart and when he pulled out his spare, it had a leak in it, which got
his backpack all wet. His food bag fell from the bear rope this
morning breaking the line and splitting the bag when it hit the
ground. And, yes there's more, he bent his trekking pole AND lost one
of the baskets. Because we all were having such a hard day, we now
refer to today as "The day that will no longer be mentioned" and we
have already planned tomorrow which amazingly includes a hike right by
a fruit stand! We are all very VERY excited.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yes my pack still feels heavy but I don't know why

I hiked 19 miles today to the RPH shelter in NY. Today was cloudy,
unlike yesterday, which was stormy...all day....which made it much
cooler. They said it was 91, but fortunately it did not really feel
like it. When you're outside all the time, you really get used to it.
When I go inside places with air conditioning I now freeze to death.
Especially when covered in sweat...oh excuse me, the p.c. term is
perspiration. I don't perspire, I sweat. A lot.

I never shared this before, but back in Rocksylvania, I ordered a
Tarptent and had it shipped to Port Clinton, and shipped home the
tent. That night in the town pavillion was the first time I set it up
and slept in it. They are a little finicky and take a while to tweak
the guylines here and there to the point where it is functioning
properly. Just tonight, maybe three weeks later(?), I feel like I have
the process down. Night before last was the first night it rained
really hard and I got to see how it would hold up in a storm. Besides
the fact that the seams do NOT come seam-sealed which I don't
understand, but that is another matter I won't get in to, I was mostly
pleased with it's performance. During the storm it was fine, but after
the evening rain, staying wet all night, and more rain in the morning,
it began to mist a little inside. (Not incredibly surprising being
single- walled syl-nylon and all.) When the heavy drops fell on the
taut material it sprayed a little water inside the tent. I miss the
space of the Big Agnes, but I do not miss the extra 3.5 lbs. The
Tarptent is 24oz. Yep that's right a pound and a half. It has no
poles, it uses a single trekking pole. I love it when gear performs
more than one function. I have not been able to weigh my pack lately
but I am figuring it to be around 17 lbs without food or water. I have
sent home just about everything that wasn't being used every day. So,
I decided to make another list of everything in my pack.

Gregory Jade 50 backpack
Tarptent
Big Agnes insulated air core pad
Thermarest tech blanket
Sea to Summit silk liner
2 short sleeve shirts
I long sleeve shirt
2 pair socks
1 pair sock liners
Legs from my zip-off pants
Montbell down jacket
Camelbak 100oz reservoir
Princeton tec headlamp
50' paracord
15L dry sack for food
3L Nalgene canteen
Sea to Summit x-mug
Sea to Summit UL spoon
Notebook and 1 pen, 1 pencil
AMK .7 UL first aid kit
Ziploc with TP and hand sanitizer
Ben's 100% deet
Aqua Mira
iPhone and battery charger
Useless pack cover
Useless UL rain jacket

Pretty slim pickin's, eh? I have absolutely nothing in there I don't
use every day. I even sent my B.A. Ultralight chair kit home. That was
the last luxury item to go. There is no time to sit around anyway.
When I get to camp, it's all I can do to stay awake long enough to
write this, let alone laze around goofing off in a chair. So with
that...I will bid you all goodnight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rainy day in NY

What an interesting day on the trail today. About halfway through the
day, we were all huffing and puffing up our second large climb of the
day when we reach the summit of Bear Mountain. It was a lovely
mountain complete with three vending machines on top....two soda
machines and a Pringles machine. Yep, even Pringles got in on the
vending machine business. We realized that instead of enjoying the
nice view from the top of the mountain that we just climbed, we were
all lounged out in the middle of the pavement in front of the vending
machines. (Of course we all went over to the viewpoint and oooohed and
aaaahhed because you could see the New York skyline...sort of.) It
was pretty funny when I looked over and Safari was curled up on the
ground in front of the Pringles machine nursing his fourth Powerade.
Another interesting part of today's journey was the fact that the
trail went right through the middle of the Bear Mountain Zoo. Although
I am not a fan of animals in cages, I still thought it was something
different and entertaining...even in the pouring rain. It was still
pouring when four of us crossed the Bear Mountain bridge over the
Hudson river. That is another very very long bridge. I noticed that it
had signs about how life was worth living with hotline numbers for
help. Needless to say, it was also a very tall bridge.

Speaking of walking along, near, or across the many super busy roads
of the Northeast, we also did the hiker equivalent of "Frogger" on the
Palisades Interstate Parkway this morning. All I can say is running
across a divided highway during the morning rush hour commute will get
your butt moving...fast. If you didn't get my Frogger reference, you
are too young and you missed out on one of Atari's best low-tech video
games ever.

So I am camped in a monastery ballfield at mile marker 1399.7. The
monks are kind enough to let hikers tent in their nice ballfield and
use their water spigot. As nice as it is to have spigots nearly
everywhere on this part of the trail, the water around here tastes
terrible. We all have become water snobs and I am pretty certain that
the water from the springs in Georgia tastes the best.

Lemon Squeezer

What a difference a state can make. New York has varied terrain with a
lot of ridges and mountains of nothing but huge boulders. We did more
climbing today than walking. Seriously. I am absolutely pooped. 19
miles of rock climbing. We climbed through something called the
"lemon squeezer" which as the name implies, is a skinny little slot
canyon. If my pack had been one millimeter wider, I would have been
wedged.

We did have a nice long break at the lake in Harriman S.P. It was a
great place to sit at the picnic tables and eat dinner. Plus they had
vending machines. It's just shocking how excited you can get over a
cold drink. The "beach" area they had roped off for swimmers was like
an aquarium full of kids hyped up on too much sugary soda screaming
their heads off. So needless to say, I chose to skip the swim. It was
getting cloudy like it might rain anyway.

We have all been commenting on how we have lost our big mountain
climbing leg muscles. Since the northern part of Virginia, the
elevation losses and gains have been minimal, but the terrain has been
more difficult for the feet because of all the rocks. Now, it's rocky
and getting steeper so we are all feeling the difference. I am more
tired today than I have been in a long time. It's okay though,
because we all know we need those muscles back for what's in store in
the days ahead.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hello New York!

Good news on all accounts. First of all, last night and today have
been a hiker reunion of sorts. I was hiking with Ace yesterday, caught
back up with Safari and Timber, and then caught back up with Supermax
and Fig! I have not seen them since Tennessee. What a sureal day
hiking with people from all different parts of my hike! It was great
seeing everyone again. In fact, we all saw many other hikers that we
had not seen in a while, it was the most hikers I have seen on the
trail in a long time. Just after lunch time, we all crossed the New
York state line together.

Another exciting part of the day was due to the fact that there is not
a whole lot of stuff going on in the towns surrounding the trail
around here... except dairy cattle grazing. And where there is dairy
cattle grazing there is dairy. And where there is dairy, there is ICE
CREAM. Yep, two miles before the Wildcat camping area, our
destination for the night, was Bellvale Creamery. I ate the biggest
mound of ice cream I could get my grubby paws on. It was soooooo good.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Goodbye Unionville

This has been a very interesting day and a half to say the least. I
have had too many unusual experiences to even put them into words. I
have been at the "Mayor's House" in Unionville, NY. Dick Ludwig is not
still the mayor, but a wonderful man that opens his home to hikers.
With the help of Butch, who runs this unique hostel, and 82 year old
Bill, an eccentric man who does the cooking, this place provides
everything a weary hiker could need. Safari and Timber hiked out
yesterday morning, but I stayed on. I already miss them and hope to
catch them someday. I found my old friend Ace, who is recuperating
here from Lyme Disease. She is planning to hike out today, and not
knowing if there is anyone behind me that could keep an eye on her, I
decided to wait until she is ready to leave and hike with her. Before
she was diagnosed, she collapsed on the trail and Butch picked her up
and took her to the doctor. She is one of about a dozen people I have
heard that have gotten Lymes since beginning the trail. The county
with the highest percentage of Lymes is Dutchess, just across the
Hudson river and a day or so away. It's time to pull out the 100%
deet. I don't like using it and have only been annoyed enough to pull
it out and sparingly spray it a couple of times. Hearing about all
these hikers getting Lymes has inspired me to be a little more cautious.
Another interesting aspect of being here at this particular time is
being here with Bulldog (Mike Hanson the blind Appalachian trail thru-
hiker) and his cameraman Hitchcock. I have really enjoyed being here
with them, getting to know them better, and watching some of the
incredible footage of Mike accending Lehigh Gap (the mountain of
boulders sometimes called Dante's Inferno). I know I will not always
remember, but I can truely complain about nothing.

Although it is raining heavily now, I must pack my stuff and head out.
Katahdin calls my name. Until next time...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Yo bear!"

Yesterday, I was able to confirm the rumors that there was in fact a
blind guy hiking the trail this year. I met him with his...cameraman.
That's right they're making a movie. He said he had only fallen six
times. Heck, I have fallen more than that. In fact, this guy has
ultimately changed my entire attitude about this hike. So many things
seem really petty when you know there is someone out there doing this
completely blind. Amazing. This is what got me in a better mood this
morning when I realized my Camelbak has a leak in it and drained
almost all my water inside my pack and all over the bottom of my tent.
Fortunately, the sun was out in blazing form and I was able to spread
everything out and dry all my stuff thoroughly. I was, however, very
dehydrated for half the day because all the water sources are drying
up. My book said I would cross two creeks today...the first was a mud
puddle and the second did not even exsist. It was just a pile of
rocks. So needless to say, when the trail crossed Culvers Gap and
Gyp's Tavern loomed in the distance, I went and sucked up some air
conditioning...for five hours.

You know how I have mentioned seeing all kinds of tree trunks that
look like bears? Today I saw a huge backpack sitting in the middle of
the trail. I was wondering who's it was when it got up and ran away.
It didn't go too far...just off the trail a bit so it could sit and
eye my backpack full of delicious thru-hiker food (ha). Near that
very spot, another hiker said he was awakened this morning by that
very bear stealing his pack from UNDER HIS HEAD! wow. He said all he
could say was, you guessed it..."Yo bear!". I think I would have had a
few more choice things to say about that.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hello New Jersey!

I spent a hot and humid night last night camped at the Church of the
Mountain Hostel in Delaware Water Gap, PA... yes, my last night in
Pennsylvania. So far, Jersey has mostly been a nice, less rocky ridge
walk with the exception of the 98 degree super humid day. I thought I
might just melt today. A small victory was claimed this afternoon as
the 1300 mile marker was passed. I have to say though, crossing the
Delaware river this morning, mere feet away from I-80 was a
frightening awakening to the day. The screaming 18 wheelers careening
by at 65-80 miles an hour was something I will not soon forget. I
swear that bridge was a half a mile long as well.
Today we also hiked to the Mohican Outdoor Center where we paid an
extraordinary sum of money for a mediocre egg salad sandwich with a
few chips thrown in for good measure. Apparently, in this kind of
extreme heat and drought, a dollar becomes a great deal for a cold
soda...excuse me, I mean a pop. But at least it was a nice place to
cool off for a few minutes and fill all our empty, dusty water bottles.
Another cool thing about this area that I had no idea about is the
abundant use of the word "you's", as in, "Hey, how're you's doin'?" I
love it! I just do not hear stuff like that! Don't get me wrong, I
have been up this way a time or two, but I don't think I participated
in many conversations with people in a day to day kind of way. I
guess you could say, I am more used to hearing "y'all". Anyway, that
is one of the things I love about this journey.... experiencing places
that at times can feel completely foreign.

Sunfish Pond

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Osma must die"

The day started off well with an easy hitch back to the trail from
Slatington. We immediately started to climb the mountain of boulders
affectionately known as "Dante's Inferno". There was some graffiti
painted on some of the larger rocks at the top including the title of
today's post as well as a giant spray painted American flag. How
ironic to see that on the fourth of July. It's always so funny to see
how much graffiti is misspelled.

As soon as we began the climb (literally), we saw some firefighters
standing around in the middle of the trail. They were looking for a
fire that we had actually seen from the bridge in town. We hiked with
them for a while and we were excited at the prospect of being a part
of the operation. But alas, they found the fire a good distance away
from the trail so we continued on up the mountain. It was brutally hot
already, and it was only 8am.
It has been hot...like high 90's-100 degrees the past couple of days.
It's supposed to get even hotter and unfortunately dryer. The springs
have been dry when we try to find them and all the hikers have been
forced to carry a lot more water than some of them are used to. I
always start out with 3 liters because I slurp it down so quickly. Now
I have added a fourth and I still run out. I never thought I would be
wishing for rain. Ha.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oops...the text did not show up with the picture

Fourth of July weekend, eh?  I would have had no idea except for the multitude of dayhikers and local loafers at trailheads I hiked by today. There were a couple of view points accessible by short sidetrails that were packed, make that infested, with kids, families, and teenage hooligans. Don't you just love that word?  Hooligans!  Yeah, yeah I was once one if those too.  Anyway, it's amazing how the quiet peaceful woods change on a holiday weekend.

So let's get back to these rocks. Yes, more rocks today. Mostly huge slanty ones that you had to crawl sideways over...for seventeen something miles.  Yep. Today wore me flat out. It's only 8pm and I will probably be asleep in less than an hour.
Tomorrow we are stopping in Slatington and/or Walnutport PA for a resupply. Who comes up with these names anyway? We have chosen to skip Palmerton, PA...where hikers are permitted to sleep in the jail for one night. I am really disappointed I am going to miss that one.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Just another day in Pennsylvania...

Today's post is dedicated to power line cuts. These are interesting
swaths of land that allow you to see in both directions, left and
right, for as far as the eye can see sometimes. It is amazing to me
how you can leave a dark, cool (ok, cool-ish) tunnel of green
deciduous trees and enter a really hot, bright, sunny space filled
with what most people would term "weeds" that grow only in disturbed
areas because somebody has come through and wacked down every tree in
a line...for miles. Of course this is usually a great place to pick
blackberries and such. Sometimes you can follow the power line with
your eyes up an over several mountains. Pennsylvania, like Virginia,
has alot of these. Did I mention Pennsylvania has a lot of rocks?

So again, another successful day on the trail without poison ivy rash.
The new boots seemed to do well today...no new hot spots. Although
having bought boots TWO sizes bigger than my last pair REALLY make
them look like Sideshow Bob shoes. I now have the biggest women's feet
I have ever seen.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New boot day...

Good news...no itching...yet. How long does poison ivy take to show
up? Today was a very tough 18 and something miles here to Port
Clinton. The rocks! Wow. They are everywhere...big, small, sharp,
pointy....yikes! No wonder Marge and Lefty feel like they have been
beaten with rocks...they quite literally have. But today, they got new
shoes and new liner socks. Hopefully they will be happy soon.

As I sit here drinking warm funky tasting water that came out of a
garden hose from a Gatorade bottle that came out of a garbage can
(don't worry, I at least know the person that threw it in there), I
realize why hikers are obsessed with cold sodas. That's all I have to
say about that. Timber, made us all proud by taking the "extra value
menu challenge" at Wendy's by ordering one of everything on the extra
value menu and proceding to (mostly) eat all of it. Even the local
onlookers and Wendy's staff were shocked and awed by her thru-hiker
appetite.

So I am camped with several other hikers at a pavillion tenting area
in the middle of the tiny town of Port Clinton, PA. Other than being a
mile from Hamburg, a town that has restaurants and the biggest
Cabela's you have ever seen in your life, there doesn't seem to be a
whole lot going on here. However, it is nice of them to let us camp
here. So thank you, tiny town of Port Clinton.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Only 989 miles to go...

Well I am happy to report that Marge and Lefty are feeling much better
these days. Remember back when I caught my sock liners on fire? It
dawned on me that shortly after that was when I started getting
blisters again. I have not found anyone who sells them yet but
somebody told me they had tried pantyhose and it worked. No, I am not
wearing pantyhose, but it got me thinking about those thin socks
people wear instead of pantyhose, and sure enough I found a pair of
black trouser socks at the Amish grocery store! Of course I am
stylin' in my shiny black stockings sticking up above my hiking
socks...I might just start a new trend here. Black socks pulled way
up...yeah that's cool...oh wait that's already been done. Oh well.

Last night we stayed in town so we could shower and do some laundry.
Everytime I watch tv now I am stunned at not only the stupid
commercials that incessantly scream at you to actually "ask your
doctor about blah blah blah" (really? I should tell my doctor what to
prescribe me?), and "if you've been in an accident call such and such
attorney to get the money you deserve..."(oh, that's right, I'm an
idiot but I should sue somebody...), but the reality tv shows that, I
guess, somebody is watching, are what truely make me wonder about the
future of humans. I mean really...."Dance Your Ass Off"??? I guess
because they put asterisks instead of the "s's" it makes it an
appropriate name for a television show? Somehow "Dance Your A**" Off"
is better??? Really? And then there is the show itself. Have you seen
this? It's like the Biggest Loser meets The Gong Show. You don't
remember The Gong Show? Good. That means either you're too young or
you had more sense than to watch stupid tv shows way back then too.
Anyway, the point of this rant is that we had an idea. We are going to
make our own reality tv show, since apparently any ridiculous idea is
not only considered but actually made....It's called "Hike your Ass
Off". And we would find unhealthy, unfit people that didn't know
anything about hiking and put heavy boots on them and give them a
really heavy pack and drop them off at Springer, and tell them to walk
to Maine! Oh wait, that already happens. Okay, so here's a
twist...other hikers can vote the mean ones off the trail. Cool! We
are still working on this one...so stay tuned.

We hiked about 19 miles today to this really nice campsite near where
two streams intersect. It is about 18 miles from Port Clinton, PA.
This morning the trail was a 6 inch swath of dirt and rock completely
surrounded by poison ivy. It was impossible to avoid touching it and
sometimes I brushed past it on trees at shoulder height and arm level.
I am thinking as positively as I can about this situation but I think
the next few days should prove to be pretty interesting.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hurray AT and T

Tonight as I sit here in my tent, I have no cell service for the first
time in days. I heard a lot of grumbling before I left on my hike and
still hear complaints about AT&T, but I have to tell you, I have been
thrilled. I tell people they clearly don't know when to turn their
phones on! Except for a couple of small towns (Hot Springs, Damascus)
I have had excellent service and can climb just about any mountain
around and get at least a bar or two. Except tonight. Anyway, I am
sure I will find somewhere to send this post from tomorrow. I will be
in the vicinity of the metropolis that is....Lickdale, Pennsylvania.

One sad item I feel compelled to acknowledge is the Hemlock situation.
I noticed a few infected trees in North Carolina, some in Virginia,
and a lot here in PA. Almost every Hemlock I see is either infected
with the Wooly Adelgid or dead. I came through an entire forest
yesterday that was nothing but dead Hemlocks. It saddens me greatly.
They are one of my favorite trees. One day they will have gone the way
of the Chestnuts, and our forests will be forever changed.

Last night, Timber and I camped at the Duncannon campground on the
Susquehanna river. All I can say is when we hiked into the campground,
we didn't know if we were walking into "Sanford and Son's" backyard or
what. This was not your regular campground. Tires littered the
"beach", and most of the "campers" had their rigs up on cinder blocks.
I don't think these were summer vacationers. Anyway, it was a hoot,
but we did skip the swim in the river.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mile 1,126.3

Aaahhhhh Pennsylvania. I am just figuring out what this state means in
terms of the Appalachian Trail. This is what I know so far.... I am
definitely not in the south anymore. For sure. They say "pop" here
which is so cool. "Do you want a pop?", "Why yes, I would love a
pop!" They also don't go for any of that chitchatty southern small
talk. When I pass someone on the trail and yell out "Well haaayyyy,
how y'all doin'?" They just give me a little nod AT MOST. Sometimes
they don't even look up!!! Another hiker (from Pennsylvania) said,
"They just don't want to get involved". What??? Ok, whatever, I won't
go there. I had NO idea I came from such an over-the-top friendly kind
of place...but I sure am glad!
Oh, and the other thing I have learned about Pennsylvania? It's
nothing but a huge pile of rocks. No offense, but I am totally
serious. There is a little dirt sprinkled here and there...I guess
enough to grow some corn...ok, LOTS of corn...but the rest is all
rocks. And they say I haven't even gotten to the rocky parts yet. Huh?

I did really enjoy Boiling Springs. I stayed a day and a half at the
most wonderful Allenberry Resort Inn and Playhouse. Yes, you read
correctly...Marge and Lefty got most of their demands met with an
extended amount of recuperation time and yes, I said playhouse. I
missed the dinner theatre, but I had such a wonderful, relaxing visit.
The food was outstanding. Hurray!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Truce!

Well I have read the list of demands and I have agreed to meet as many
as I possibly can. They will get a half a day off tomorrow (I am only
12 miles from Boiling Springs, PA) and POSSIBLY part of the day
after...IF they are good. I cannot guarantee a pedicure or a massage
but I can tell them that there is a new pair of boots and a dip in a
swimming pool in their immediate future.

I have no idea how I was actually able to make it 17 miles today or 21
yesterday for all the blueberries everywhere! They are along the
entire trail around here. It's absolutely wonderful. Free range
blueberries. I'm all full of antioxidants now. The blackberries are
ripening as well. Mmmm. Breakfast has never been sweater...or
sweeter. Whichever.

So I stopped today at a shelter for a quick break and met this sobo
named Siren. Were you not paying attention? I already told you that
meant southbounder. Anyway, he turned around and pulled a giant IGUANA
out of his pack. No, I am not kidding! A huge beast of a lizard. And
he was actually carrying fresh apples and grapes for "Moe" to eat! If
I was carrying fruit, let me tell you, I assure you I would be the one
eating it. Wow. That is even wierder than Star Wars action figures.

Today was also the last of the parks. Every day for the last 4 days, I
have hiked through a state or county park. The park du jour was Pine
Grove Furnace SP, which is the home of the "Half Gallon
Challenge".... Where hot and sweaty thru-hikers stop in this store,
pay way too much for a crummy not even half gallon...1.5 quarts...(ok,
like that isn't enough), carton of ice- crystally, low quality, (I
don't like Hersheys ice cream but I have been scolded for saying that
out loud since we ARE in PA, but oh well...) ice cream as fast as they
can without vomiting. I am glad to report that I was able to
gratefully decline the fine offer, happily ate two nutty bar ice cream
bars, and I am sitting here WITHOUT a stomach ache.