Wednesday, June 25, 2008

quick update

just letting you know that I am alive and well and under 1,000 miles to go now. In Port Clinton PA - 3-4 days ahead of my posted schedule - been doing some big days. no time or access to work on blog - likely going to be another week but will have tons to add - so just hold on. oh - and for the ladies - I shaved the "beard" into a goatee - way easier to get a hitch now - don't look like I'm homeless - kinda look like a badass - a skinny badass - but badass none the less. peace for now.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

still not 100%

still not 100% on my little finger. bruising is gone, but it still hurts and can't move it all the way down with that first joint. Doctors and Nurses that are reading this - would love your point of view. Do I need to go to Dr again? should it still hurt? - happened back on the 21st of May. Don't attach to blog - please email me your thoughts directly - Thanks. Oh- and don't start with - "surgery inevitable" in the heading.

ok - so where in the hell is he again?

I'm in Harpers Ferry - the unofficial half way point. Will pass the actual half way point in about 3-4 days - as I am 1,008 miles into it - and need to get to 1088 to be halfway. The pen tip points to where I am. (will pass the Mason-Dixon line at 1,051 miles from Springer - my starting point).

Unofficial half way

Well - arrived in at Harpers Ferry this morning after a nice and easy 12 miler. (funny how a 12 miler feels like a day off at this point!) Was able to sign into the register at the ATC headquarters - making my 2008 trip real and historical. I was #290 to pass through the doors for 2008. As of now -about 1,200 people have started this year- they haven't counted the SOBO's (southbounders) yet - so that number will go up a bit. Really wondering how many of the 1,200 are still on the trail. Yes I still love the kilt. Weiged in today at 153 lbs! Started the trip at 165 (which was down 40 lbs from my 33rd birthday). Guessing I have offset some fat with muscle - as my legs are rock hard - and I have the arse of a pre-teen Swedish boy. (Bobby should be laughing at this point). Weird to think that I have now lost 52 lbs since I decided to get my life back! Assume I will still drop another 10-15. You can actually see my abs. I simply can't carry enough food. Wake up hungry and that is with 2 breakfasts, a snack, a lunch, another snack, and 2 dinners and a desert. Town days are great to get caught up on calories. Snickers aren't making it in the heat, and cheese gets a pretty bad texture quickly. Going to need some new choices. I feel amazing - and can't believe I let myself get that way prior. Glad to catch it at 33 vs 44 years old. Need to figure out a way to keep it off when I get back - you know when not burning 6,000 calories a day. 2 Snickers a day sounds good now - not sure I can keep that up after the hike. I think everyone should do a long distance hike every decade - quick way to drop the pounds - and gives you a lot of time to think and straighten everything out.


sing it with me outloud - "and I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles, to fall down at your door". (actually to walk 1,200 more!). I can't believe that I have actually made it this far. Still more to go - but wow - 1,000 miles!!!!!! (beard is even starting to fill in a bit). Feeling good again mentally.

Blackburn Trail Center

Stopped in for the night at the Blackburn Trail Center and was greeted with a hot bowl of pasta, a cold soda, and warm cookies. This old house was purchased by the PATC and its caretakers (Eric and Tina) take care of hikers. About 12 of us there last night - all sleeping on the screened in porch. Must have been some holes in the screens as the no-see-ums ate me alive - just like being in a shelter. Can't wait to have my tent mailed to me. Can't sleep on the ground - as the chiggers get me, can't sleep in the shelters - so hot - have to sleep on top of your bag - and then the mosquitoes and no-see-ums kill you. Loved this place- nestled into the side of a mountain.


Here is my first picture in West Virginia. Is it just me - or does it look EXACTLY like Virginia????? I walked 540 miles across Virginia to see the same thing? Also - what's the vote on this patchy beard thing I've got going??? let it keep growing - hoping it will fill in, or shave teh sides off and keep the goatee? post your votes please.


OUT OF VIRGINIA! Counting zero's - it took me 36 days to get into Virginia, and 37 days to get across it. Did another marathon - right at 26.2 white blazed miles. Didn't have the same high - just wanted out of that state. May have to shoot for a 30 miler next. There is the "4 state challenge". In 24 hours you hike 42 miles, going through the statelines of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennyslvania. No thanks. There is also the "Maryland Challenge" - which is to cover Maryland in one day. Think its 33 miles. I might actually try that after I get a zero in Harpers Ferry. I haven't had a day off since May 18th - and I NEED it. This will be my 4th break. Will have taken 2 one day zeros, a two day zero, and a three day zero. Mentally I need off this trail for a break.

just let me out of the damn state - please

almost out of Virginia - and what do they do - punch you in the kidney's. This is the ultimate in PUD (pointless ups and downs). The "roller coaster" is a 13.5 mile section with 10 ascents and descents. Elevation change isn't huge - but incredibly rocky - and all interior ridges - so no views. Annoying by #8. WANT OUT OF VIRGINIA!

the SNP gang

here is the group that I hiked almost all of the SNP with. starting from the left - Freebird, Aboman, me, Mr. Bones and his wife Stubbs, and then Skysurfer. Uphill had already moved on. We ended up eating at Waysides 3 times - funny that this last shelter -just outside the park was called "wayside" - they didn't have any blackberry shakes. Blackberries come from the valley - and I must say - blackberry cobbler topped with blackberry icecream is the bomb! Stayed with some Scouts for a couple of nights - they gave us food and filled our water bottles. Mentally I have lost all of my confidence. I no longer say that "yes I am going to Maine". I'm back to "hope so", and "think so". We have had 4 days over 90 degrees and one of the last days was 107 with the heat index. Completely drains you. Skysurfer told us the other day at lunch that he was quiting. He's 6 foot tall, in shape, and trains by trail running the Smokies - never would have guessed it. Had heard people quit - but hadn't had someone look me in the eyes and tell me they were done. Shook me to my core. Asked if we could talk him back - he said no - he had taken his zeros and thought it over. The bugs are unbearable - body is covered with bites from ticks, fly's, mosquitoes, and no-see-um's. He said he had enough of it. He is a hang glider and wanted to get back to the skys. Taught me a lot about the clouds - and will be missed. Soar on my brother - the trail will be here when you are ready. We stayed at a campground with the lodge and got really drunk to send him off. They sold moonshine - must say - that is quite a drink. I have also thought about quitting for a couple of days - but I know that it would haunt me - and I wouldn't forgive myself. This trail is tough, the heat, bugs, the mental game, the topo - all of it coming together now - and it hurts. The heat is going to be a bigger player than I thought. Been starting at 5:00am to get as much done before noon as possible.

more bears

never can get a good picture of the bears, always in low lighting (morning or dusk) and I just don't have the lens needed. Here is a mama and a cub (cub up on the rock). Never saw any bear till I got to SNP and finally ended up seeing 3 adults and 8 cubs by the time I left. My understanding is that sow's usually only have 2 cubs, but the vegetation has been so good - that they are having between 3 and 5 these last couple of years.


Tons more bears in the SNP so instead of everyone trying to throw their own bear rope - the park provides these poles. you take the long hook - and loop your food bag up and over. seems to work well. mine is the black one if you were wondering. everyone calls them "bear pinatas".

Marathon Man +

Ever since my practice hike with Morgan, have been wanting to hike a marathon. 6/5 was that day - putting in a full 27 miles of white blazed AT (plus my blue blazed side mileage for water -which doesn't count towards the scoreboard). Took me 12 hours total - with 9 miles of hiking - so maintained 3 miles an hour - with a full pack (6-7 days of food). This was also the day I saw my first bear cubs from the other entry. I was so pumped that night - couldn't sleep - what an amazing feeling. This was the second time that I have felt a sense of accomplishment (1st was Roan Mtn). Stayed at the shelter with Drunkin Dragon, Freebird, Skysurfer, and Uphill. Skysurfer was night hiking and a Copperhead struck him - hit is shoe and didn't penetrate. No night hiking for me. When I get back - want to try to run the KC Half Marathon - not really wanting to do the full one yet. (Morgan, Dustin, Eric - start training now!). I will be in amazing shape - and if nothing else - I know I can walk if I have to - but assuming my knees aren't destroyed - think I should be able to do 13 miles. Hell - might even wear my pack! Amazing day.

um - but where is mama?

hard to see - but this was the first time I saw bears. I was walking down the AT at dusk - rocking out to my Ipod- when I saw a scury of activity about 10 feet up and 20 feet in. It was 3 little bear cubs (two are bumps on the tree if you zoom in). I pulled out my ear buds and turned to see if mama was behind me on the other side of the AT - I knew I didn't want to come between them. Didn't see her -tried to take a couple of quick pictures and then got the hell out of there. They were about the size of beagles, super puffy, and really cute.

Look honey - a road!

Welcome to the Shenandoah National Park (SNP) and more importantly - the Skyline Drive. The park is well known for its many vistas and abudant wildlife. However- it is also home to Skyline (which I believe was put in the 30's and replaced the original AT) - which is nothing more than hot asphalt. We had the opportunity to cross it 28 times in 104 miles. Annoying. We have roads back home - and nothing like going up a mountain - then right back down - just to cross the road - over and over - usually about 6-8 times a day. Want to know what that's like - log on 8 times a day - and only look at this picture - over and over - you'll get the feeling. The only good that comes from this road - are the Waysides - little lodges and restaurants from the 30's - plenty of chances to get a real meal. Funny that we had to have "back country" permits - yet we were always able to hear a mini van or Harley going by- no matter how far into the "back country" we were. You are correct - I didn't love SNP.

more pretty

The rhody's are gone - but now we get to hike through Mountain Laural.

yes please

on a super hot day - some trail magic can be so simple, yet so rewarding. Thanks Trail Angels.

and you are worried about your phone?

ah- the first thing that we see as we climb up into the SNP - Shenandoah National Park. People are worried about holding their phone to their head - try hiking next to these bad boys. Likely not a good idea to camp here. John Denver said it best - "tear down a couple mountains, to bring in a couple more, more people, more scars upon the land." Ironic thing - I didn't have cell reception right here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Well - good morning to you as well - sleepy head

Me and Smokin Joe (younger guy next to me) made our way to the Brown Mtn Creek Shelter (I think you can google earth the shelters) on Sat night around 6:30 pm, after getting a late start due to the gin. 18.5 miler. Read in the journal that Dutch Haus B+B does free lunch from 11-1pm everyday, and I had to go there for my drop anyway. After a few mins of talking - we agree to go for it on Sunday afternoon. Talked about hiking later that night - trying to knock off another 5 miles, but some dayhikers came by and offered us beer and smores down at their campsite - which we did not refuse. It was settled, we would get up at 4:00 am on Sunday, hike 19 miles (with the start being a tough 2,700' of elevation gain in 4.4 miles - over Bald Knob) and make it to the B+B by 12:30. Set the alarm and was on trail this morning by 4:45. Stumbling off rocks and roots in the dark - only our headlamps to light the way. We climbed Bald Knob and then really started rocking. We hiked 18.5 miles by 12:15!!!!!! (That's a typical day for me - and usually ending around 6:30pm). We didn't have cell reception and couldn't hitch - so had another mile or two to walk - but got in at 1:15 and Lois was happy to feed us. Stumpknocker had also rolled in for the lunch and joined us at the table. I am staying the night - but Smokin Joe is going to do another 10-12 - HUGE day for him, considering what we have already accomplished. I'm going to take a shower, do laundry, update this and resupply - picking my mail drop up tomorrow. We are now at mile 809 - passing the 800 mark today. What a great day. Considering that it is starting to get Africa hot everyday (plus humidity) likely need to start getting up earlier any way (just not 4:00 am).

James River

Here are a couple of pics going across the James River. This is the largest footbridge on the AT. Check out the sun setting on the kayaker.

Stupid Turtles

Large swing in elevation today. Took us all the way up to 4,225' for Apple Orchard Mtn (no real views) then slammed us down to 680' for the James River. Tough on the old knees. Here we came across "The Guillotine". Legend has it that hundreds of turtles all got together and hatched an amazing plan. Working together, they pushed this rock up to the top, and were planning on smashing and killing a vegan hiker (for their soy and flax seed rich food bag). A slight miscalculation though, and the hiker walked free as the boulder lodged itself between the two larger rocks. Stupid turtles. To this day - when hiking - you never see more than one turtle on the trail at a time - as they vowed to never work together again. Ok, maybe not - but after hiking for 12 hours a day for 2 months - the mind begins to wander . . . . . . Doing 18-22 milers almost every day, would like to do a 15-16 for a "break". Really getting in shape - irony is - will miss swimsuit season. : ( Spent the night with Smokin Joe and killed a pint of Gin (and everyone knows that I HATE gin - but mixed with some Crystal Light Orange Juice flavor - sippin on a little gin and juice was alright at the end of a 22 miler.


how cool - as I climbed up out of the Black Horse Gap to the Blue Ridge Parkway - all you could see were the peaks sticking up out of the clouds. Very pretty. The BRP parallels the AT (and later Skyline Drive) for almost 200 miles. We have heard that there will be hambuger places all up and down SkyLine for the tourists (and the hikers). When the parkway was built - they took out most of the original AT, which was a large controversy back in the day. Hiking with Red, Gator, Snackies, A.B. Barakus, Ceral Killer, Mary Poppins and The Professor. Did a HUGE climb up Floyd Mtn today. Had 2,240' of elevation gain in 4.4 miles. I typically hike at 2.5 - 3 mph. For this one - had to drop down into low gear for 2 mph. So ended up hiking up hill for 2 hours straight! Even on well conditioned trail legs - everything starts to burn.

leaving the HoJo

left the Howard Johnson after a free breakfast - tons of carbs! About 20 hikers there - several that I have't seen in a while and that didn't go to trail days. Pouring down rain almost all day. Quit long enough to grab this photo - compare it back to the Virginia Blues picture - everything is in bloom. Depending on the elevation - get to hike in this for hours some days!