Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 48: Up and Downs

Up at a normalish hour with lots of kids eating breakfast. I could already tell it was going to be hot. Left by 8:15 with Achilles and Left Field and walked through a bit of forest and a few open fields. So hot in the sun and it wasn't even 10!

We ran into Rocky sitting under the Keffer oak. This is the largest oak tree on trail in the south. Pretty big tree. The girth is 18 feet, 3 inches, and it's estimated to be 300 years old. We sat in the shade for a bit. Little Foot, Sandbagger and Rock n Roll caught up to us and joined. After the break, there was a steep climb. The sweat was pouring down, and we were under almost full canopy. Not sure if it's possible to sweat out more liquid than you consume, but I'm pretty sure that's what was going on...

We got to the shelter where we thought Xan and Brian had stayed, and according to a few other hikers hanging out, the boys had only just left 30-40 minutes ago. We were hot on their trail... We kept going and came upon an exposed ridge. Nice view! (and cell phone service to upload entries)
More walking up and down (as we do), and as the thunder started to rumble above, we stopped for lunch at a shelter. The boys were there with a few others, so we had caught them.
Walked on after lunch at different paces. I was lined up with Achilles for a while, and we made good time. Ended up coming to the road a mile away from our target shelter. Got water then hiked the longest mile ever AND it was uphill, but we arrived at the Pickle Branch shelter around 7pm.

I cleaned up in the river and we all made dinner. Stud Muffin and Sandbagger were there with our new crew (Achilles, Xan, Neutron and Left Field). Dinner and chatter and a good fire after a long day of hiking. Life doesn't get much better.


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Pickle Branch Shelter

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 47: Back to Hiking

Pancakes for breakfast and sleepy faces all round. People packed up all through the morning and left at different times. We four made it out by 10:30 after taking a few photos with the Captain and transferring all our packs over the stream. Xan thought it would be a good idea to try to launch his hiking pole over the stream like a javelin. It fell short and began to float away. I tried to loop it with one of my hiking poles on the "throw to" side, but just barely missed. Xan was forced to leap in the water dramatically and save it. Crowd pleaser. Being an idiot sometimes makes you a hero in our world...

So! We were back on the road!! Xan was a bit damp, but feeling good. It was hot, and there were a LOT of steep climbing all day, but we all felt pretty good. Took a break at a view point that was really nice.

More walking walking walking. Huge, long climb up to Kelly's Knob just as the sky was getting dramatic. It was definitely raining in a few places out there, and it could be headed our way. Beautiful beautiful skies!! Left Field and Little Foot caught me there.

Xan and Brian were ahead, but we didn't catch up to them until the Laurel Creek shelter. They were going to press on to camp a few miles away and I was game to join after a short break. They left, and I snacked with Achilles and Left Field. As we were packing up to follow them, it began to sprinkle. We three thought about it. Then we decided to stay put. The sun would be going down in 30 minutes and a storm was coming. We hunkered down and it started to pour. We were hoping the guys had made it to a campsite by then, but we were pretty sure they were getting soaked. Unlucky. I guess we will get the story tomorrow!

The rest of the night was spent stsying dry, hanging out, eating and listening to music on Left Field's speakers. Nice and chill. And so happy to have remained dry. TC and Indigo showed up soaking wet in the dark. Soooo glad I managed to avoid the wet. We'll catch the boys tomorrow.


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Laurel Creek Shelter

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 46: The Captain's Cook Out

We didn't leave. It wouldn't have made sense to leave. The weather was perfect for a backyard party, and so many of our friends who were behind us kept showing up! It's memorial day weekend and we aren't at the beach, so party we did.

Captain's three sisters (Kathy, Suzanne, and [sister #3]) and his hiking partner, Martha, were there with Shirley, and they were coordinating the games and food. We woke up to coffee brewing under the tent and biscuits baking in the oven.

As the day got warmer, a few kids went tubing in the stream. The water was COLD and the stream wasn't exactly calm after the big rains yesterday and the rocks, but I had a go. Made it down without any injuries, and I laid out in the grass to dry. There were a lot of people and dogs by now, then the games began. First there was "aluminum foil creations," where teams made things out of aluminum foil. The foil bikini and the kitten captain won a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream each.

Next was the bear rope toss. Then "pack attack" scavenger hunt in contestants' packs. Then there was a nature scavenger hunt. Then there was a water toss. Then limbo.

I may be forgetting a few events, but it was a great time, and luckily I was in close with a few ice cream winners... Food was served all day as the grill kept running. There was a guy who had an old school ice cream maker (on a trailer with an engine) so there was homemade strawberry ice cream, too! Lots of food and dessert. I think Xan said he had six cheeseburgers and a few hot dogs. Neutron probably at least tied him. Apparently, there were 100 burgers made and 150 hot dogs, and there were lots of salads and desserts. A few hikers collected money and went on a beer run. And it never rained!!

I caught up with a bunch of kids, met a few new faces - including some I'd heard of but had never crossed paths - and I hung out with Captain's sisters. Fun fun bunch of folks. A really great day. It was completely ok to take another zero day. This was a do-not-miss opportunity. And we didn't miss it!

The day rolled into the evening and eventually were all around the fire as the full [ish] moon rose. Stayed up a bit too late, but I made it to bed finally. We've got miles to make up, and I don't think we will make The Homeplace now (boo). Guess there's something to come back for next year...?

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:The Captain's House

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 45: Easily Distracted

Woke up early to a beautiful sunrise. The sun was bright and there was no fog in the valley, then there was very thick fog all of a sudden, and then the sun came up over it all. Very cool.

Early start. Neutron and Achilles were off before 8. Xan and I left just after. Nice easy morning for walking, minus about a half mile of a steep climb. Many mountain laurel plants were blooming... We made it to a shelter and had an extended lunch break. I hung my tent to dry, and Neutron and Achilles took a short nap. After more than an hour, we took off again.

Not even a mile later, we saw signs for "Captain's Hiker Feed." Four signs in all, then an arrow pointing to a side trail that lead to the stream. There was a zip line with a pulley system to the yard across the stream. I whistled over to a guy and asked about the signs. The feed was tomorrow! Darn.

Well, the guy I whisteled at, Slack, is a thru hiker who has been hanging there at Captain's house for three days. He helped me and Achilles get across the stream with our bags to have a soda. The hiker feed will be the 6th annual, and Captain is expecting close to 70 people tomorrow! (including family and old hikers friends). And he's gonna have volleyball, a limbo contest, cornhole, other games and lots and lots of food.

So, when Xan and Neutron finally showed up, and then the storm clouds built up, and Captain and Slack were so nice..... Welllllllll... we decided to stay.

We had only hiked 11.9 miles yesterday and today only 7.7. Ha! It's nice to be flexible. I just hope we can still make it to The Homeplace by 6 on Sunday and Daleville by Monday!!

This feast/party is gonna be worth it, though, I think. And chilling here with Captain's family is very nice And it IS memorial day weekend....

We helped the Captain put up one of the tents and got it up and staked right before the storm hit. It POURED for a good 30 minutes with thunder and lightning. Then it let up for 45 minutes, and then it poured again. Glad we weren't out in it.

Lots more hikers ended up showing up all the way until 11:35pm, and they expect loads tomorrow. Maybe all our friends will catch up...? Such hospitality from Captain and Shirley. I got to shower soon after 15 of us feasted on spaghetti and salad and brownies and cake, and there's talk of laundry in the morning. I hope we can manage to leave sometime tomorrow... These miles aren't gonna hike themselves...


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:The Captain's House

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 44: See You Later, Ladies!

No, seriously... We will see you later... in Daleville!

Once again, I could've slept forever on that bed, but the call to make banana and blueberry pancakes was on me at 8am. Up and at 'em and whipping up breakfast with Jeanne and Wendy in the kitchen. The boys slowly rolled out of bed and soon we were all noshing on pancakes, fruit, sausage, and bacon. Neutron was having as much trouble this morning as I was last night with the tacos. Too much food! We all stuffed ourselves as much as we could. Then we had to pack up. Boo.

But good news! The ladies have offered to pick us up again from Daleville on Monday! And this time, the sleepover will be at Wendy's house with the dogs. (as if these two haven't already given us enough...) It's nice we don't have to say goodbye juuuust yet... Thank you both sooo sooo much for everything - especially the delicious food. Special thanks to Jeanne for checking me for ticks!!

So, we packed up and made it on the road. My pack seemed quite heavy even though I took out 2 lbs of stuff... Definitely the heaviest out of the four of us. Maybe I've got too much food...? I wasn't sure on timing for sending home my winter stuff (the boys sent all winter clothing home), but I thought I'd wait till June at least. Maybe Daleville.

85 degrees today. Jeanne took Xan and Neutron to the post office to send a few things home, and Jeanne took me and Achilles the Red back to the Rendezvous Motel, where they picked us up. It didn't feel like it had been almost 48 hours. As we put our boots back on, Jeanne and the boys showed up and we were soon on our way, with Wendy snapping photos as we walked away. I forgot to take a blog photo of Jeanne and Wendy!!?! (they were both off to get their hair cut, and we will be seeing them in a few days, soooo I will make sure to get a photo up then...). See you later!

Back on the trail. Feeling full, but heavy. It was hot and the first few miles was a steep climb. We were all sweating profusely and wishing we hadn't eaten so much. But we marched on. About 3pm, we stopped at the Rice Field Shelter for a snack. There was a girl named Scrabbit who had recently adopted a kitten from a bush off the side of the road where she'd been hitching for a ride. It was so small and weighed about an ounce. We were all glad to play with Yogi - especially Xan.

As we were preparing to leave the shelter, the eastern sky was looking quite dark and a storm was rolling in. We decided to wait it out in the shelter (with the kitty) and watch the storm from under cover.

The wind blew, the thunder clapped, and there was lightning, but it never poured down rain. Just sprinkles and strong wind. After about 90 minutes, we were back on our way.

Nice ridge running until the trees opened up into a beautiful meadow. Deets, Power Pack, and a few others were camped out, so we decided to do the same. No need to rush after a zero day!

Relaxation and dinner, and now it looks like a very early bedtime. Looking forward to sleeping soundly.

[Unfortunately, I didn't get as much admin done at Jeanne's house as I'd hoped. I will try to get new mail drop addresses up soon and make any changes to the schedule if it's needed. Skip & Liz - I meant to call you this morning! Will try hard to remember to do that when I get to Daleville.

Also: the Syracuse women's lacrosse team has made it to the final four this year, and they play Maryland on Saturday. If anyone watches that game or finds out results, can you text me scores?!? Thanks and GO CUSE!
(making me look good...)


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Symms Gap Meadow

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 43: Zero with the Ladies

Breakfast!!! Oh yeah to biscuits and eggs and bacon and fruit. I could've slept forever, but I knew what food would be waiting for us in the morning. Delish!

And a beautiful day to boot. Wendy brought her dogs over (adorable newfoundland, Dora, and a great dane/greyhound puppy, Baron) and we watched them romp around the yard a bit. Got a text from Still Steve that he had finished the trail - awesome!!!! He must be ready ready for a kick-arse holiday/celebration weekend... Wish we could join...

The boys helped Jeanne pump up her car tire and Wendy drove Achilles and Xan into Pearisburg to pick up a package at the post office (which was closed yesterday). I talked with Jeanne while Brian uploaded photos. When everyone was back, we headed out for lunch at Red Robin. Feasted and then headed over to Walmart. Good times there, as always.

Home to food organization hour. We had to figure out how many days of food we would need to get to our next stop and factor in The Homeplace in Catawba, which is widely known among hikers as the best all-you-can-eat meal on the trail. We look forward to it! And to seeing Jeanne and Wendy again in Daleville!!

For dinner, it was taco night. I concentrated on the guacamole while Jeanne and Wendy sliced and diced the toppings and cooked the meat and beans. I had snacked too too much before dinner and could only handle one over-stuffed taco. ONE!?!? I felt pathetic as an eater... But I knew I could redeem myself on dessert [as long as I could lie down for a few minutes first...]. We cleaned up and half-packed up and ate ice cream in front of Gladiator. It's amazing how back-to-normal a hiker can feel on a couch in front of the tv... I can't wait to get back out on the trail.... (but first: pancakes in the morning!!)

Glad I got the blog back up to speed!! Thanks again to all who read and all who comment!!! I really really appreciate it and hope to keep it coming...


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Blacksburg, VA

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 42: Into the Arms of Jeanne and Wendy...

Wet tent again in the morning. Slow pack up, and we three were the last to leave. Then holy steep climb out of the lowlands!!?! We knew we'd be climbing 1200 feet, but thought it was spread out over 4 miles. Clearly, the real climb was in the first mile, then the slight incline up to the summit was the next three... Ugh. I was feeling lightheaded and had to go slow. Perhaps my oatmeal and honey bun hadn't hit yet? I stopped to eat half a Clif bar and kept going. Really felt out of it, which was weird because my pack was so light (last half day before town).

The guys had stopped at a look-out for a break and a snack so I sat with them a bit and ate the other half of my bar before taking off. We had planned to meet Jeanne and Wendy at the Rendezvous motel at 4:30, and we had almost 15 miles to go.

Hiked and hiked. Luckily, the hills pretty much went away, and we were ridge-running most of the rest of the day. A couple nice views, too. Made it to Doc Knob shelter for lunch, and we basically feasted on anything we had left. The boys had an extra dinner, so Xan and I split that while Brian ate four pbj tortillas. (my ramen/pb was not cutting it - I think I was just not getting enough calories after the big day yesterday). I felt much better after lunch. (thanks for sharing, boys)

Eight more miles till family hugs! We all cruised along at our own speeds. Caught up with Xan for a while then we ran into Powder, Russell and Brian as the downhill began. Muddy muddy, steep downhill, but we knew we were getting close.

Achilles had run off ahead, so someone would actually be there at 4:30. Xan, Brian and I emerged from the woods at about 4:45. And there they were! Jeanne and Wendy! Live and in color! Achilles had found the two ladies and we all converged and greeted each other. Jeanne and Wendy have been following the blog closely, so they feel like they know the boys, but now they got to actually meet them.

We threw our bags in the back of the two cars and jumped in. We gave Dewlap and Rainer a ride to the Food Lion, and we gave Powder and Russell a ride to the Plaza Motel where our packages were. The ladies were more than happy to help and I was glad they brought two SUVs! Picked up our packages and guess where that missing package was.... Whoops! I had bounced it from Demascus to HERE and not to Atkins. Hiker brain fart.

Brian's mom had sent a box from her office where everyone threw in random stuff. This is the second box from her office like this and it's been fun to see the surprises some of her co-workers throw in there. (good idea Brian's mom!!) The favorite random item so far: Hannah Montana powdered juice mixes. Ha!

We all needed a snack so we walked over to the Dairy Queen and snacked. Best Blizzard I've ever had...? Then we were on to check out an outfitter to pick up a few needs. The outfitter near Pearisburg really didn't have much, so we drove to the one in Blacksburg. Jackpot! I got bear rope, more fuel, and water treatment drops. Brian got drops and Dr Brommer's soap. Achilles got a new section to his bent hiking pole (finally!). And Xan got a shiny new pair of shoes. It was a golden stop.

Then we were on our way back to feast at Jeanne's house. Luckily, Jeanne has a beautiful, big house with a big basement and porch area, so we spread our stuff all over the place. The tents were all wet, so we aired them out, threw laundry in the wash, scrubbed down our packs and sleeping bags, and laid out our boots to dry. All the while, Wendy was grilling up the steaks and ribs on the grill. Jeanne was whipping up the salad and corn. I showered up (ah) and borrowed a shirt, and as soon as the dinner bell rang, we were all ready to go. Delicious meal!!! Sooooooo good. And so much, too. And there was dessert! Homemade brownies with homemade ice cream and strawberries and hot fudge. Ohgodyesivediedandgonetoheaven!!!

I had seconds of dessert.

After everyone had their fill of food and had showered, we went back to chatting and organizing everything as best we could. At one point, Xan, Brian and I were going to try to make it to Carolina Beach to celebrate our friend Still Steve finishing the AT, but we figured it would be way too much of a hassle to get all the way over there and back without taking a week off the trail. Congratulatins, Still Steve!!! We wish we could join you!! Make sure to catch up with us up north!!

So because we opted out of the beach, we decided to take a zero day here with the ladies in Blacksburg. It was kind of unanimous. Jeanne and Wendy are being too good to us!

Off to bed with a day of errands and organizing ahead of us tomorrow. The boys are going to help Jeanne with a few things around the house before a trip to Walmart for supplies. So nice to be in a bed - a double bed! - aaaaaallllll to myself.

Big smiles as I drift off....
(much love to Jeanne and Wendy :)


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Blacksburg, VA

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 41: Dismal Falls

Wet tents in the morning.... and a slow start. I got out and on the road first of our group. Twas a quick 10 miles to Jenny Knob shelter for lunch. No water sources the whole way, though. Lunched with a group and stayed until the boys showed up. I hung my tent to dry even though there were still a few spinkles here and there. The boys arrived and made pizza pan biscuits which entertained everyone. They did a MUCH better time this time than the first try on that snowy day in the Smokies.

So, I ended up having a 2 hour lunch break. It was ok though. We were planning a long day of hiking. After leaving the shelter, I came across another bright orange salamander. Last time I saw one, my phone was dead, so I couldn't take a blog photo. This time, I caught one. Very cute.

Kept walking and the guys caught up with me. Hiked together for a while and hit the suspension bridge. Deets, Power Pack, Slow Go and Cuz were there celebrating crossing the 600 mile marker by mooning Deets as she took a photo. Yay for 600 miles!!

That group was going to camp at Dismal Falls (great name, right??), which was .3 miles off the trail, but we said we'd see them there. Hiked on - kinda tired. Got to the falls and it was a great little spot. We were hot and sweaty from hiking and the water was cool. Xan, Brian and Slow Go jumped off the edge (15 feet?) and were instantly refreshed. (I stuck my feet in and thought about wet hair in the evening and decided to tick this off my list later on in the summer...) I took photos.

We decided to have dinner there since we'd be rolling into Wapiti shelter kinda late. Made dinner in a beautiful setting as the water rushed by. While I was cleaning off my spoon and stove, it began to rain. The boys had only just finished making their food! We all hustled to pack everything up quickly and get our boots on. I threw everything in my pack, buckled down and got the rain gear on right as it started to really come down. How does this weather sneak up on us so!!?!

So I ended up leaving early since I had finished eating and was all packed up. The boys found a dryish spot under the trees and ate their dinner.

I hiked on and digested and hoped for short miles. It would be 6 more till the shelter, and we'd already done 18. I took a short break after walking am hour or so in a beautiful tall, redwood-type forest, and the boys caught up. We walked the last LONG two miles through lowlands and muddiness till we FINALLY came across the Wapiti shelter around 8:50pm. And everyone was in their bags ready for bed! No room in the shelter, so we three tented in the sprinkles. Late snack before bed (24miles = lots of food), giggled a bit with the kids in the shelter (Achilles, TC, Powder and Russell, and Dewlap and Rainer), then went to bed. Glad we managed to keep going, since tomorrow should be another good one (16), rolling into Pearisburg to see my aunt Jeanne and Wendy. Excited to spend a night with them in Blacksburg!!


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Wapiti Shelter

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 40: Magical

Up and out. Set to arrive at the feast right at 10. Perfect!! After a quick, steep climb right at the beginning, it was a beautiful and easy walk for just about all 5 miles to get there.

And then we were there and they were so happy to see us!! It was a group of friends who got together to organize it, and two of them had hiked the trail. They put on an awesome spread, and we didn't know what to do with ourselves. We ate. I ended up having two hot dogs with chili and slaw, a slice of blueberry bread, a few lemon cookies, a hard boiled egg, a handfull of nutty/honey candy, strawberries, a brownie, nachos, a Dr Pepper, a banana, a tomato/cucumber salad, macaroni salad, a Sunkist soda, a bluberry muffin, an orange, a bottle of water, and a bag of Cheetos. (and this was nothing compared to what the guys ate...)

Oh yeah. We feasted. And there were chairs set up around the campfire. So nice! And they'd brought a box of other things (batteries, floss, safety pins, tp, etc) for us to rummage through. Very very cool. And helpful. There was a group of 15 of us enjoying every second if it, and the weather was holding out! We stayed for FOUR hours just hanging out, eating, digesting, then eating again. Neutron even took a nap.

It came time to leave, and it was hard to say goodbye to the people and the food. We were allowed to hike out with as much as we could carry, but I think most of us were still too stuffed to think about more food. I swiped an apple.

Luckily, the hike onwards wasn't too bad. And the weather was still holding. We all leapfrogged a bit until we came to a road 7 miles down. Apparently, there was more trail magic as a guy had pizza. I'd gotten there too late (which was fine), but we hung around for a bit on the side of the road, as vagabonds do...

Walking on over I-71, Xan, Neutron and I tried to get truckers to honk, but to no avail. It was only 2 more miles to the shelter, but there was a STEEP climb to get there. Finally we arrived and set up our tents. Then it started to sprinkle. Xan and I went down [the steep hill] to get water and got caught in the brief thunderstorm. Ugh. Wet socks and poncho, but that's all. Sat in the shelter while the storm passed then dried out by the fire. I ended up burning a hole in one of my socks!! Whoops!

The whole gang showed up again, and we all chatted while we ate. Left Field brought a raw steak and cooked it on the fire. We passed it around like cave people and each had a bite. Perhaps we've been out here too long...?

Today was a magical day. Full bellies and good times.


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Helveys Mill Shelter

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 39: Weird Weather

Early morning. Like, pre-7am (early for us). And Xan was up and at 'em before me or Neutron - NOT typical. Rain was predicted again, so we wanted to get in a few miles before it actually started. I took off before the boys, and had a nice morning walk. Lots of climbing today. Over 3000 feet. After a few hours, there were sprinkles. Then the rain began right as I entered a clearing, and very close to where a shelter should've been. At the top of a mountain, I found the shelter in the fog. Very cool shelter with four walls and a door and the picnic table INSIDE.

Everyone showed up - some more rain-soaked than others. We all snacked and lunched and reveled in the excitement about a poster we all saw. Trail magic feast tomorrow 5 miles from the shelter we'd be sleeping at tonight. Fantastic!! We daydreamed about what all would be there...

The rain let up and people began to leave. The sun ended up coming out and I caught up to Deets, Power Pack and Achilles the Red. We four walked and talked together over the slippery rocks and occasional viewpoints. Achilles actually fell on his hip at one point, and I came to find out later that most all the boys did that day (including Xan and Neutron, who weren't going to tell each other - ha!). I escaped with many close calls.

Got to the beautiful Jenkins shelter before 5 and set my stuff up in the shelter. Cleaned myself up in the river and organized a bit. Ate, then caught up on blogging. With a dead phone, I couldn't keep up last week... (sorry!)

So, tomorrow should be a feast!! We are all excited, but we know we shouldn't get TOO excited. The meal begins at 10 and will last until the food ends...

Can't. Wait.

Sweet dreams of food tonight!


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Jenkins Shelter

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 38: Rain Coming?

The forecast was looking pretty bad for today and the rest of the week,

but we'd try to go as far as we could. Woke up and slowly rolled out of the motel by 10. Neutron found a pair of shoes his size in the hiker box and would try them out. Xan was ready yo get going. Achilles and Chopstix were still hanging in the room. It was very overcast out, but only sprinkling a little, on and off. Tons of purple flowers and other wild flowers out. (urple owers, dad ;)

Great hike. A few spikes, but not bad. Lots of cows all over the place. Almost ran into a couple of them on the trail. After mile 8 or so, there was a sign for trail magic up ahead! There was a cooler with sodas, pbj sandwiches, sugary sweets and a weather report. Everything a hiker could need!! As I munched on a sandwhich, a guy parked in the lot nearby and came over with more supplies. Well, hi there Lumberjack! Thanks for the stuff!

[A serious side note: if you want to make a few weary hikers smile and/or make a few new friends for life, drive to the AT with a cooler of cold drinks and a few snacks and wait for the bait to work. You will make their day. And if you REALLY want to go for it, do burgers and dogs and beers and fruit. They will bow down to you...]

Powder and Russell showed up, then Earthling and Logos. We were all taking a break before the last steep hill before the shelter. Last push! Made it there as it started to sprinkle again, and chatted with Roadrunner who'd rolled in earlier.

Slowly but surely, the whole crew from the Atkins motel rolled in, too. The shelter was full and a few kids tented. The sky was so threatening (it did rain for 20 minutes or so), but it never stormed. We made a campfire and had a nice relaxing evening. Left Field was full of stories and tea and music from his awesome $20 speakers. And he ate spam toasted on a rock next to the fire. It's so nice when the weather is good. Makes it a lot easier to hang out and chat round the fire.

I guess we will push on for a bigger day tomorrow...


-- Posted from the trail...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 37: A Nice Short One

Up and lazy. Pizza for breakfast... aw yeah. Sunshine! We headed over to the visitor center to charge phones for a second. quick stretch and then we all took off to hike into Atkins. We'd picked up Chopstix in our crew now.

Oh, what a beautiful day! We made a couple stops for snacks. One of them was at a shelter by a stream where we met Left Field and Indigo. Indigo had sprained her ankle - boo. She planned to go slow till Atkins and take a few days off. She'd only just begun in Demascus! Poor thing. Left Field was writing poetry on the shelter wall, he ended up helping her with her pack later...

After the break, i ended up walking with Chopstix until we ended up at the Shell truck stop in Atkins. I called the hostel where my package would be, and she said she would drop it off. When she arrived, there was a letter (thanks so much, uncle Don!!), but no package. What the...?! I'd only just bounced it from Demascus on Saturday, but it should've been there by now. Oh well.

I raided the hiker box at the Relax Inn and resupplied at the truck stop. I could make this work, for sure. Out intention was to move on and camp, but the growing group staying at the hotel was persuading us to stay. Ok! We threw laundry in and got a room. Me and four guys in one small motel room. No problem. We all took showers, got clean, made dinners on our stoves and ate.

Chopstix got some bad news about his grandfather's health, so it was s bit somber. We snacked and chilled out as Black Hawk Down ended on the tv, and slowly we made it down for the night. I doubt this will be the last time I share a motel room with so many hikers...


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:The Relax Inn in Atkins, VA

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 36: Long Day, Long Night

Started out by 9, but the three of us somehow made a small side trip that cost us an extra 20 minutes or so. Whoops! It's weird how that can happen...

It was going to be a beautiful day. And we passed the 500 mile marker! Well, there isn't any sort of marker, but we came to the landmark at 502 and realized we could sing the song... La da dat daaaahhhh! La da dat daaaahhhh! Lun dudda dun dadda dun dadda dun dadda dun da dah... It was a great feeling of accomplishment and such a great place to enjoy.

We made it to the Old Orchard shelter for a lunch break (beautiful), and a guy named Dwayne hustled in 20 minutes afterwards. Apparently, Dwayne had never hiked before, but he had left April 28 and was pounding out 30-40 miles a day since starting. He was crushing this trail! (and he could totally pass for Joe Dirt's cousin...)

After lunch, we all took off on our own pace for the next 14 miles. I was feeling really really good, the flowers were blooming, and I wasn't far behind the boys. Achilles the Red was somewhere ahead of all of us. We had planned to stay at the Trimpi shelter, which would've made it a 20 mile day.

About a mile before I got to the shelter, I heard some strange noises up ahead. It sounded like someone was beating a tree with a wooded stick. Real loud. Then it stopped. As I got closer, I assumed someone was breaking wood or something, but no one and nothing was around. I stopped on the trail to listen and soon realized that a tree 10 feet up the hill from the trail was creaking - like as if it was coming down. Yikes! I ran ahead as small creaks and snaps continued. Found a safe distance and figured out which tree it was. In my first week I had wondered if any of us would see a tree fall in the forest. I knew that I was a few seconds from witnessing this very event! My phone was dead (which is why I'm so behind on the blog) and my camera memory card was filled up yesterday. I had no way to record it, so I stood there and watched it happen. Less than a minute after passing it, the tree (about 2 feet in diameter...?) fell right across the trail in a giant thump. It took out two small trees, too. Wow. I walked over to it after I figured all was settled and cleared space on my camera to take an [unexciting] "after" photo. No one was around!

I left to meet everyone at Trimpi with wide eyes and an extra spring on my step. What a cool thing to witness! Got to the shelter and told my story to about 10 hikers. They were kinda wowed too. Xan, Neutron and Achilles the Red were going to push on another three miles to a bonfire someone had heard about. I was game. Left five minutes later.

Got to the road and there really wasn't a bonfire going. But there was an old guy named Loon there with two friends. (Mom - I met Loon!) This guy has walked the trail a few times and was mentioned in the book On the Beaten Path. He was pleased that I'd heard of him and shared Ginger snaps and peanuts with us.

Our new plan was to camp as soon as we found a decent space. We walked a bit and thought about one spot. Then we decided to keep going to find something better. Then we all thought about the next shelter, seven miles away from the road we'd just passed. The next shelter was Partnership and you can order pizza to get delivered there. We stopped at the next possibility for a campsite and made the collective decision to go for it at Partnership. We weren't sure what time the delivery stopped, but we could probably get there by 9:30pm if we hustled. And it would be a 30-mile day. Xan and Achilles the Red took OFF. Neutron and I shouted our orders as they began their 6 mile sprint (they weren't actually running, but they're both very fast). Neutron and I were kicking it in gear, too, because we knew it would be dark before we got there.

Long hike. Good thing the hills weren't too bad. We had pizza on the brain... Oh, and this shelter has a shower! Coldish water, but very do-able.

The next hour+ was a blur. Neutron stubbed his toe twice (he was walking in his Tevas) and I was afraid he'd lose it, but we made it there by 9:20. Achilles got there at 9:05!!?! He and Xan had ordered three pizzas, cheesy bread and soda, and the place didn't close till ten. We'd made it!!

Gorged on pizza, and I took a coldish half shower. Goofed off with a bunch of fun kids we'd caught up with, including Chopsticks. He's hiking for charity: Very cool.

Great day. 500 miles. Gorgeous landscape. Big miles. Pizza. Fun friends. Good times...


-- Posted from the trail...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 35: The Day of the Disappearing Landscape

Woke up at 1:30am to POUNDING rain on the tent... very loud even through the earplugs. Got my headlamp out to check my stuff and make sure everything was staying as dry as possible. Things were good, but without the bathtub bottom my tent has, I could've been soaked! Outside the front, there was at least one inch of water, and if I pushed down on the bottom, it would move like a waterbed. It was raining pretty hard. But I was dry.

...and then I had to pee. Ugh. Looked around the tent for options. Water bottle. Plastic baggie. The possibility of the perfect angle/arch/trajectory if I unzipped the tent door a little...? I decided to just sit tight until the rain let up. Kind of hard to concentrate on anything else when there's water everywhere and you have to pee. Luckily it did let up by about 2:30 and I snuck out and returned. Then it started to pour again! Good timing. Popped the earplugs back in and didn't wake up till 7 or so when the only drips were from the trees. Everything was damp, but nothing was soaked. At least one person who had tented that night was flooded.

I dried off my tent as best I could and stuffed it in its stuff sack then in my backpack, then I took off earlier than the boys who were taking their sweet time getting everything together. Beautiful crisp morning and a very good mood. There were a bunch of funky mushrooms all over the place from all the rain - ones that I doubt John/Pawel/Patrick would even eat for a dollar.

About a mile or so past the shelter there was a few stairs down to a small bridge over a steam then stairs back up to a road (see photo). The wood looked old, worn and wet, so I took extra precaution before stepping down. The only time I'd fallen so far was on a wet log coming down from Clingman's Dome, so I knew to be wary of wet wood.

First step down, both legs slipped out and flew out to my left. I came down hard on my right thigh, thumped down a few steps, then lurched forward and "surfed" down the rest of the steps on my stomach towards the stream. I didn't know which way my poles went, but they weren't helping me stop heading head first into the water. My right arm was pinned under my body. My backpack was still on my back. When I finally came to a stop, my head was hanging over the bridge, looking down at the water (only a foot or so below). Am I ok? I'm ok... I'm ok?! ((new year's day ref: "is it bad??!!?!" - shout out to Karly and Ray))

I couldn't believe that I didn't do any serous damage! After a minute of self-assessment, I started walking again. There was gonna be a huge bruise on the outside of my right thigh for sure, one on my right forearm, and my watch band broke all to pieces. But I was ok! I'd just survived what could've been a game-ending fall... I felt great.

And then there was trail magic! Someone had tied a bunch of spherical coke bottles on string over the trail. It looked like Christmas ornaments. I enjoyed my coke with a few other kids who had tented at the shelter. We all took off as a big group and slowly spread out again.

It started to rain more. On and off all afternoon. Made it up to the Thomas Knob shelter for a snack before the rain got harder. Xan and Neutron hadn't caught up yet, so I'd wait for them. Full shelter for the lunch break as everyone wanted to stay dry. There were ponies off on a not-too-far-away hill. The clouds would roll in and out, so we could see them then we couldn't. It was kinda mystical.

When the boys arrived, they were ready to keep going. They'd already stopped to eat. So off we went, and about 10 minutes in, there was a group of ponies right off the trail. A guy named Puma went up close to them and tried to pet the baby. It was pretty cool. I got a few good shots. Thank goodness it had stopped raining for a bit.

Onwards through the beautiful Grayson Highlands. The sky was dramatic, and the rain was only light. The boys raced off ahead and I found myself perma-smiling as I climbed the rocks alone and took in the gorgeous views. I came up one hill and my poncho went flying up over my head. I definitely plan to go back to my rain jacket. (mom - if that could be in the next package...? Love you!) I came over another ridge and three ponies raced by at full speed. Two kept going and one paused. Then he raced back at full speed right back from where he came. All this less than 40 yards away. It was beautiful. Life is good.

About 15 minutes later, Xan and Neutron were taking a snack break. We all hiked together the rest of the way to Wise Shelter. And there was room for all of us! We put up a closeline and hung the tents to dry. Made dinner, settled in, and chatted it up with Dewlap, Rainer, Roadrunner, and Achilles the Red (ATR).

We're at mile 496.6. Tomorrow we reach mile 500!! Crazy!

Note: the deepest part of a puddle is not always the middle.


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Wise Shelter in the Grayson Highlands

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 34: Leaving Demascus... go to Abingdon to go see a movie. We heard Iron Man II was good, and we weren't in too much of a hurry to leave, so we took in a quick flick at the cinema.

Ok, just kidding... We left. Woke up at a casual 7:30/8am and ate breakfast. Packed up slowly, then stopped by the library for one more small shot of wireless internet. Ran into a guy we knew named

Zinan who begged for me to punch him Saturday night. After MANY attempts to get out if it, I punched him. I didn't expect there would be a welt, but a day later, I saw exactly what I had produced. (yikes!) Then we stopped by the laundromat because Pee-Wee was there and he said he had peanut butter cookies to share (he did and they were awesome!). Then we stopped by the Cowboys Cafe because Xan wanted a sandwich. Then we ALMOST stopped at the coffee shop... But luckily we were able to keep moving on. It was 10:45am.

Back to the woods!

Felt pretty good to get back out there, though saying goodbye to luxurious town services after enjoying them for three days was a little sad. The meds I'm taking for the poison ivy is supposed to make me a little hyper, so that probably helped to boost myself up the hills.

Not too bad of a hike today. Good grades and lots of flat. The AT connects with the Virginia Creeper Trail (a bike trail) for a bit, so the hiking wasn't bad, but the weather couldn't decide what to do. It rained, then poured (as I was putting all my rain gear on, of course). Then the sun came out for a while. Then it sprinkled. Then sun. Then rained/poured. I think I put on / took off my rain gear four times. Finally, when I knew we were near the shelter, I just left it all on. In the future, I plan to put on the rain pants if it starts raining hard. My boots ended up getting a bit wet inside because I was caught un-panted when the skys opened up after a long session of light sprinkles. When in doubt, put the pants on.

Got to the Lost Mountain shelter around 5. It was full (we were sure they ALL would be full early with the heavy flow of hikers leaving trail days), but had lots of good tenting spots. We thought about pushing on a bit, but with the rain, it's hard to enjoy it all if you don't have a covered place to stand under to make your dinner. I don't mind a wet tent, but setting up in the rain and/or waking up and packing up in the rain just sucks.

So we stayed. And it didn't really rain. Ate a feast of dinner (the more you eat, the less you carry), then hung out by the fire, trying to dry 12 pairs of socks, boots, tshirts, gear, and other items... (it kinda stunk around the campfire) It will probably rain again, but I'll be sleeping. (dreaming of a dry morning!)

We're getting close to 500 miles!!!


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Lost Mountain Shelter

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 33: Back to the REAL Trail Days...

Morning chat and pack. Early again. More than a few kids were a bit hungover. And the place was a mess... As we packed up tents and backpacks, we cleaned up cans and styrofoam coolers, plastic beads and empty Doritos packages... A few broken tent stakes, cups, lawn furniture and random socks... The fire was still smoking... All evidence of a good night.

Jessica was going to give Still Steve a ride back to Kincora on her way back to Atlanta, so they got a move on while I stopped to take a shower. Bye Steve! Met back up with Xan and Brian (who has officially accepted his trail name as "Neutron" for how his hair gets after a few days without shampoo) at the general store as they organized their food. We caught the trolly shuttle into town with our packs and headed to the outfitter (to buy a tent stake). Ran into the Connecticut kids and Little Foot. Stopped in Dollar General to fill in the holes in our food schedule, then finally walked up to laundry, which was on the way out of town. Brian and I were gonna do a final load while we did all final organizing before leaving this town. The laundry finished. I did my final ointment and blister bandage applications and wasn't sure about my left foot. There seemed to be a few new couple of poison ivy patches. Ugh! Luckily, there was am ER nurse hiker doing laundry next to me and listening in, and she gave me some advice. Basically, her advice was: if it gets much worse, go get antibiotics. Xan was next to me and realized that Brian had gotten/brought those antibiotics proactively from his doctor at home in the event he ever did rub up against the wring plant leaves... Brilliant!! Not sure why none of us had thought about this before, but Brian gladly offered his antibiotics to me. Huge thanks and smiles!!! I can't start the meds till tomorrow (can't wait), but it should, according to the nurse, clear up in a few days. Yay!

After that exciting exchange, the three of us were mulling around about leaving. I was a little uncomfortable about my foot, and the boys were still a bit lethargic and tired from the weekend's festivities. After hemming and ha-ing, we packed everything up and sat outside the laundromat. Powder made a poncho for Russell. It was 1:30. It started to rain. We will be staying another night.

We waited for a break in the weather and walked to a hostel called The Place. There were bunks still available and it was only a $5 donation per person per night, so we threw our packs down and walked about a mile to Food City to get some produce and dinner items. I was hoping to run into Backwards somewhere since I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. His plan was to section-hike from Springer to Demascus only. Then he was headed to Portugal for two months with his sister, but was now thinking about coming back to the trail to finish. It can be hard to try to contact someone who doesn't have a phone and the library (internet) is closed on Sundays. Boo.

Anyways, we hitched back to town and had snacks while talking with other hikers at The Place. Found that we could use the wireless from the outside of the library, so I was finally able to upload a few blog entries. Hung out and ate more, then Fields showed up! More hanging and eating, then the sun went down and it is now time for bed. It's been raining all afternoon, so we're pretty glad we stayed in town (though the forecast is calling for rain all week...).

Said goodbye to Fields. He's still back the Smokies, so we are not sure when we will get to see him again. It's a shame you can't make all your favorite people have the same pace as you. But you've gotta hike your own hike, I guess.

We WILL leave Demascus tomorrow!!


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:E Laurel Ave,Damascus,United States

Day 32: Two Zeros!?

Woke up early. Went to the library for internet and to print a page out I needed to return my SPOT locator. Next was the post office to send the SPOT back (hope it gets fixed!! I will update...) and to bounce a package up the trail. Errands DONE! Also stopped by the Baptist Church which puts on a free medical clinic every year to get my blister and poison ivy checked out (they were too busy yesterday). They said I should use a Cortizone cream and that I should take a week off and keep it dry. Ah... Not gonna happen doc. But I will get the cream.

[Btw, sorry about not getting blog entries up!! I write everything out on my phone, and if my phone doesn't have service, then I can't post entries. And sometimes, if I have spotty phone service, it doesn't mean I can upload the blog bits. Frustrating? Yup.]

Sooo, I wandered back to Tent City. Hung out for a bit before the parade would start. Many hikers (most?) hike in the trail days parade down main street and it always turns into a water fight! Tradtionally, there are always water balloons, water guns, super soakers, hoses, and buckets/bottles of water all over the place... I went over with a few kids and it was very fun to be a part of it. Little kids going at hikers with water guns and then getting pegged by a water balloons.

I lost my group, but somehow found Backwards again near the vendors (he's tall). There would be a hiker talent show (after the auction), so we sat down in front in the shade (it was HOT out). He got a funnel cake and deep fried Oreos (wow good), and I got a big fat burrito. The talent show was, um, interesting, but pretty entertaining. Definitely some good talent in the group, but a few question marks as well... Good stuff.

Back to tent city. Still Steve was there! Caught up a bit (and showed him the picture of him in the paper I clipped out) and then a group went off to dinner. Time for a nap. Blogged a little, tended to my itches, and rested, but tent walls are thin. Between the strong wind, the close-by conversations and the sporatic rain, I don't think I slept, but I rested.

Tonight was similar to last night. Big fire. Drum circle. Dancing. Drinking. Wandering around... There seemed to be a little less energy in the air than the night before, but still lots of good times running into different people in the dark and just joking around. Late night s'mores were a nice bonus.

Tomorrow back hiking?? Um.... wha?


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:E Laurel Ave,Damascus,United States

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 31: Trail Days Begins...

Good morning, trail days! Wow, I must've missed a big ole party last night. The drums began after I put in my ear plugs, but I still managed to fall asleep.

Woke up groggy, but I had a plan for the morning. I wanted to walk to town with all my shower stuff, stop by Dollar General to pick up a pair of cheap shorts to wear with my one clean shirt left, then stop by the Baptist church to take a free shower (that church offered SO many wonderful free services for hikers - it was grand!), then I was going to head to the laundromat to take care of all my poison ivy clothes... THEN I would be free to try to find folks and organize myself. Not sure if I was going to break out of my not-so-happy mood until I got clean.

Headed into town, which is about 3/4 miles away from tent city. 200 yards after beginning my walk, a pickup pulled over and offered a ride. Instant good mood! He picked up 3 more hikers before we got to town. Thanks, pickup! (side note: it seemed a bit weird a first to set up my tent with all my belongings and just leave it, but everyone did it, and it wasn't on my mind at all. Plastic bag wallet in my pocket, though, of course.)

So, I got a ride into town and went into the Dollar General. They didn't have shorts cool enough, so I got a two-pack of boxers for $5. Almost walked out the door before remembering to get a big bottle of water. Had to get back in line behind a lady who had a million things to buy, bit I waited patiently. Good timing is usually NOT my thing, but I walked four steps out the door and a car beeps. Carrie!! Holy cow, it was Xan and Brian with Xan's friend Jessica from home!! They were heading back to a hotel room they got for a night which had a full kitchen to make a huge breakfast and shower. Yes, I'll join!! Ha! My mood just kept getting better.

We stopped in Food City to pick up all the ingredients for an amaaaaazing breakfast feast. I got to shower while Xan made bacon and eggs and biscuits, which was course #1. Delish. Then we had huge cups of oj before I started on the pancakes - blueberry AND banana pancakes - course #2. Awesome. Then we were going to wrap it up with potatoes and sausage, but no one could fit any more in!! Oh, sweet full stomachs and clean hair... Ahhhh.

I still had to get laundry done, so when we drove back into town, that was our first stop. Then to pick up packages at the outfitters, then to check out the free medical screening at the church. We ended up seeing Backwards, Puma, Mick (who is now "Spambo"), and a few other familiar faces. I left to flip the laundry into the dryer and ran into a few more kids. Got back to the church and the group had left to go check out the vendors and gear tents. I wandered down there and didn't find them. Got ice cream. Went back to get my laundry, then headed to see one of the documentray films being premiered at a local school. Met up with Fields there and enjoyed the movie about three of the most well-known trail angels: Mawa (TN/VA), Miss Janet (TN) and Trail Angel Mary (Dunncannon, VA). Very cool little film!

Fields' phone was working in town, so we texted Brian's working phone. They were back at tent city so we headed back with Scatters (Adam - I finally met her!). Reunited again, we all hung out and laughed it up with the Connecticut kids (Closeline, Sprite, Snowflake, Aqua) and a couple beers.

I took a short break to try to dry out my poison ivy, and then it thunderstormed for 30 minutes or so, cooled the whole place off (thank goodness), and the big ole fire ring was a-blazing. HUGE fire. There were about five guys with drums who were banging it out, and the vibe was good. The rest of the night was just hanging... By the big fire, then over by the fire shaped like a dog bone, then back to the big fire for a few laps of dancing. I got a limbo stick out there for a bit. Great times. Stayed up too late and stood up still for too long. Nice to be horizontal now and about to sleep....


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:U.S. 58,Taylor,United States

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 30: Day 30!!?!!?

Thirty miles on day 30. Holy hell. So tired. Ok, it was only 29.1, bit still my biggest day so far. Rolled into the Trail Days around 8:40pm - 12 hours of hiking! Sandman and I pushed through. My left foot was killing me, but I'm glad we made it. I got seperated from him at Tent City (where all the hikers tent) and ended up just setting my tent up in an open spot. It's a maze in here! Not an open field at all, but a collection of areas in trees by a stream. So confusing not coming in here while it's light out! I just want a shower and laundry and to deal with my poison ivy, but I'm just gonna go to sleep. I'll deal with it tomorrow. Maybe find Xan and Brian. I already ran into a bunch of familiar faces (Backwards, Mohawk, the Chicken Pot Pie group...), so there's hope!

The story of today was basically walking. Started at 8:30am. Stopped at 8:30pm. LOTS of snacks. Big miles. I led the whole day (hopefully at a good pace...?) Great weather. Two doses of trail magic (cold sodas (orange box photo) and hot bean soup (man and umbrella photo)). Hurty feet.

We shall see what madness trail days brings tomorrow!

Oh, and I am now done with Georgia, North Carolina, AND Tennessee!! I'm in Virginia now!! (and will be for about a month...)


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:E Laurel Ave,Damascus,United States

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 29: Four Weeks (Wed, May 12)

Woke up late (just like I'd planned) at 8am and was the last one out of the bunks. "Paradise" was making bagels - homemade bagels! It smelled great and it was enough for everyone. A handfull of people had already left, but I hung around. There was an offer from "Mountain Camel" to drive up to Demascus on Thursday. There was an offer to slackpack (to hike without a pack, which gets dropped off) to the lake campsite, chill there, then get picked up Thursday at 3 to head to Demascus. There was an offer to just stay at Kincora right on through Trail Days... I still wanted to walk. 52 miles in two days tho...?! I figured it would depend on my heel. I would hike to the lake (11 miles away) and reasses the situation there.

Left at 11:30 after Little Foot made a frozen pizza and I had a slice. I also had a bowl if Sideway's Lucky Charms with banana and strawberries. Aaaand I got a sweet package from my aunt Jeanne that I dove into and shared a bit (big thanks Jeanne!!!). Basically - lots for breakfast/brunch/lunch.

Felt good on the trail. Got in the zone quickly walking on my own and made it to Lake Watuaga by 3ish. Nice lake! Hiked around to where a few new faces were hanging out (Rock n Roll, Dibs and Bimbo (a boy)) and shared some of their food. They had two friends meet them out to grill and fish and hang, so I got summer sausage, trail mix and cookies! The continuous eating continues...

Hung for a bit. "Sandman" was there, too (he'd stayed at the hostel). "Winging It" showed up and passed by, then Sandman left, then I decided that I was going to press on, by foot. It was hard to leave that group by the lake, but I knew I wanted to walk to Demascus.

Caught up to Sandman and walked with him for a while. Over the dam, uphill, a little flat, then more uphill... He set a good pace, and the time flew by. We talked about maybe pressing on after the shelter, after 19 the miles from Kincora. We agreed to eat dinner at the shelter then night-hike for a bit.

Made it to the Vandeventer shelter atop a lovely ridge (beautiful view!) and it was quite crowded with tents everywhere. There was a college professor who had a philosophy class of 11 up there. Sounded like a cool two week course about the spirituality of the trail. We ate and chatted and found out about the good, large campsite with a spring about 4 miles up. Perfect. We took our time and digested a bit. Puma and Little Foot showed up (not sure how I passed LF) and Puma said he'd probably push on, too, but he'd wait for Low Rider (too many names...? sorry. I try to note them so I can remember later...)

Sandman and I took off as the light was fading at 8:45pm. Once again, he set a good pace, and we made it to the campsite in less than 90 minutes! Night hiking was a bit thrilling, but also a bit more clumsy. There were a few other tents set up, zipped up and sleeping, so we quietly set our tents up and crawled in them. Now it's 11:15 and I'm tired and I'm supposed to do 30 miles tomorrow...?!

(there's always the hitching option.....)


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Campsite near mile 434

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 28: Itchy

Well, my poison ivy is getting kind of annoying. And I unintentially pulled off a layer of skin off my left heel last night before bed while un-bandaging my blister. But other than that, I'm good. Woke up early because it began to sprinkle. Delayed getting out of the tent until it stopped and started and stopped and started and then began to rain a bit. Quickly got myself in gear and packed up the tent. Had a quick breakfast with the group in the shelter and then did what I could with the heel. I think this should be the last round of hurt with that heel. The right one seems to have finally callused (sp?) over. The left one is about a week behind.

So! Adam (we tried to call him "Cuddles" but he pointed out that he never actually cuddled anyone on this trip... despite sharing a tent with Robert) and Robert/Iron Horse led the way to the end of their AT-cation, with me and Backwards in tow. The threat of rain went away, and it turned into a nice day! A short 6 miles later, and we were at the road to the Kincora hostel. Backwards kept moving on the trail (I was sure I'd run into him at trail days in Demascus, tho his trip will end there - sad face), and we took our exit back to Adam's car. I dropped my pack and the three of us headed into town for lunch.

Pizza Plus had an all-you-can-eat pizza and salad buffet that we crushed. Probably too much, but good and filling. They drove me to the Dollar General where I resupplied and then right up back to the hostel. (no phone service for four days and then only while in town?!! maybe it'll be better in VA...?) They got on the road shortly after, and I was sad to see them go... Good times! I hope they had a great AT experience (they got mountains, snow, rain, cool AT hikers, hostels, all-you-can-eat, and pooping in the woods*, so that's pretty much everything!). Robert/Iron Horse had found a four-leaf clover somewhere along the way and he gave it to me before leaving. I shall keep it in my AT book for luck. Thanks Peej!
(*note: Adam somehow avoided this with ultra marathoner mind control...)

There's a great big group of kids here at the hostel now, and I'm lucky to have a bed. Many hikers are racing to make it to Demascus, VA for the big Trail Days festival this weekend, so most places have been crowded. I had planned on a zero tomorrow, but since I feel like I had today off, I'll probably keep moving (after sleeping in late and eating a big breakfast). Two hikers made an enormous pasta dinner for everyone and we all stuffed our faces. Communal candy, sodas, and jokes were passed around and there's a nice excitement in the air. Oh, and Little Foot, Pee-Wee and Yetti have caught me! Good to see them again and catch up.

I've laundered everything and ointmented my poison ivy. We will see what the heel looks like tomorrow, and hope the oily itchy PI spots shrink down and dry up. I can handle the itching; I just don't want it to spread!

Not sure what tomorrow will be, but there's a 20-50 percent chance of showers/thunderstorms for the rest of the week. Hope it holds off for Trail Days!!


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Kincora Hostel

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 27: Blaze Awareness

There are white "blazes" on trees and rocks all the way along the trail to let hikers know they're still on track. It's pretty cool that a person could potentially (and many do) walk from Georgia to Maine without a map. The blazes usually occur about 50-200 yards apart and are fairly consistent. More on this after breakfast...

Breakfast was ohmygoodnesssooooo good! Biscuits, gravy, shrimp, grits, French toast, two egg dishes, fruit, yogurt, sticky buns, bacon wrapped asparagus, potatoes, honey ham, oj and tea/coffee. Right!!?! It was amazing, and we all woke up early to feast. I think it was better than the blueberry patch!

We hung around inside the B&B and watched the weather report before packing up our slightly wet tents (it got cold and wet last night by the stream, so there was a bit of condensation...), and then we were off! At ten. (and we began breakfast at 7:30...!?) Robert/Iron Horse was raring to go (see photo).

But off we were. Backwards stayed with us and we began what was going to ge a long, but fairly easy day. Nice cool weather and a good pace, but about a mile or two in, I was leading, and we got to a hill. There were two other hikers who stopped to let us pass. Morning! We got to the top and didn't see a blaze. There was, however, an arrow in the dirt that said "AT -->." We followed and eventually found the trail going off to the right. We followed it down in what seemed like a circle and came out at a hill that looked just like the one we'd gone up a bit ago. We weren't convinced, so we continued on until we realized that we'd gotten turned around. Robert/Iron Horse was threatening to just keep going back to the hostel, but we had to figure this out. I hiked back up to a sign I saw with N and S on it and realized that we were indeed hiking the wrong way! Aparently, those two hikers who had stopped to let us pass were blocking the blaze sign that told us to take a sharp right in the middle of the hill! What are the chances...? Ugh. So we went back up the correct way and finally got to where the trail was supposed to go. Though I felt bad that I had been leading, I think it was just one of those things... bound to happen.

Back to walking. We passed a turn-off to a waterfall and three of us checked it out while Robert/Iron Horse walked on ahead. Lovely and high falls and a lovely couple from Florida/Colorado. Since they were going south, they gave us distance tips, extra bars, and perscription ointment (she was a nurse) for my poison ivy. (yep - I managed to get some on my left foot, with flecks on my legs and one arm... boo me, but yay ointment!!)

Kept walking till we caught up with Robert/Iron Horse. Snacked at a shelter. Kept moving. Played a few games while walking. Powder and Russell joined in. And we eventually made it to the shelter! Biggest day yet with Adam and Robert/Iron Horse. 18.2 miles. (plus maybe .8 miles of doubleback...) Oh, and in the way, I passed the FOUR HUNDRED MILE marker -a stream (see photo).

The group that calls themselves "chicken pot pie" was there (Tiny Dancer, Salty, Mister T, Hot Sauce) and we set up our tents since they were in the small shelter. There was a chance of rain, but there always is... Nice big fire. Good chatter. Mac n cheese with bacon bits. The DC guys brought dehydrated ice cream and we all shared it. Bed.

Pretty tired. But only 6 miles to the Kincora hostel in the morning!


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Mooreland Gap Shelter