Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kinsman Notch

Ended up staying at The Hikers Welcome Hostel in Glencliff the other day after doing a 20 miler. Had taken it easy all week (15 to 17 milers) so wanted to stretch out the legs a bit. Feet are still chewed up. Ran into a ton of hikers that I knew so instead of taking a zero - hiked 10 miles the next day - over Mt. Moosilauke and through the Kinsman Notch - the "welcome to the Whites". The mountain itself isn't bad - its getting into and out of the notch. Pretty much straight up and straight down - all over boulders. Took me 8 hours to hike 10 miles - and that was without taking a lunch break and without pumping water! Check out these wooden steps that are attached to the mtn with rebar - they work - but a little scary commiting your full body weight to them. On the way down - hiked next to a waterfall/cascade for 1.5 miles. Very pretty - but a little scary to be that close to it. Check out the sign the SOBO's got (so I saw it after I was finished). The NOBO's had a basic sign that just said - "be careful in slick and wet conditions". Not quite the same warning. Took a shuttle to Lincoln, NH to stay at a hostel - "One Step at a Time" with the owner - Chet. Taking a zero to let the feet heal up a bit then back to it tomorrow. Caught up with all my friends - but they are slackpacking so will get out in front again. I am starting to think they are trying to lose me . . . . .

Might be too windy on the video (you can see it actually blow me over a bit as I pan around!) - but wanted to try making one with my camera to see how well it would turn out - they take forever to upload but let me know what you think (do you feel like you are here with me?). The view with the human eye was way better than what the camera can capture - best I can do unless you all want to chip in to buy me some better gear (if so - it better be light weight!)

looks what's next

See what I mean about different topo! Much bigger mountains up ahead. It is so much harder to get up them - but the view is worth every step. Only going to get better and better from this point north.

topo has changed

Well - made it to the Whites - and man has the topo changed! I see now why all the SOBO's were happy to be done with this section. We were welcomed to the area by climbing Mt. Moosilauke - the first time we have been really above tree line. I was hiking up in shorts and a short sleave shirt - but as soon as we popped out of the trees - it got crazy windy and really cold. I zipped on my pant legs, and put on gloves, a hat, and 2 more layers. While zipping on my pant legs I took this shot. And here I am at the top!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Live free or die

Made it into New Hampshire today! We had a 2 or 3 mile road walk - so no "welcome to NH" sign on the AT. Crossed the Connecticut river but didn't take a picture. Went to the PO and then met some hikers for breakfast at "Lou's". As we were setting there - people kept walking by and taking pictures of our packs (that's mine on the far left). Thought I should take one as well. Funny how nice everyone has been so far considering the state motto of Live Free or Die. The AT passes right through the center of downtown and across the campus of Dartmouth. Some of the Fraternities allow you to stay there - and you can camp on the soccer field - but I'm just going to grab lunch and then hike out. Picked up winter gear (hat, gloves, wool long johns, heavier shirt/jacket, and pants). Pack is heavy again. Kilt was mailed home - sorry ladies - no more checking out my legs and wondering if I was wearing anything under it. I'm going to keep my 35 degree bag vs switching back to my 10 degree bag. Saves almost 3/4 of a lb. If I get too cold in the Presidential's - can have it mailed later. Only 2 states to go and down to 442 miles. Will be in Glencliff in 3 days, then it is into the Whites - so you won't hear from me till I get to Gorham - but I should have some amazing photo's - especially after climbing the 6,200' Mt. Washington. Peace.

best spot in VT

When it isn't raining, Vermont really is beautiful. Here, someone carried up a green Adirondack chair to soak up the views. Tough to beat. There was an apple tree just to the left - but the fruit wasn't ripe yet. Sitting here, I realized, that I may not make it to Katahdin before winter sets in. They will close it on Oct 15th or any time before that if they believe it isn't safe to climb. I should be there by the end of Sept - but the changing tree's had me worried/thinking. I realized that it's ok if I don't touch that sign. I have had an amazing trip, and I am getting from the trail what I needed. I have changed. I will live a different life when I return. Don't get me wrong - I want to touch the sign, I want to be a thru hiker, I want to be part of the 2008 class - but I understand now that I don't need to. This has taken a lot of pressure off of me - and allows me more time at views like this. This is what hiking the AT is about. It is a journey and not a destination.

ol' man winter

Beautiful day - but what is that in the center- um - the maples are starting to turn crimson for fall. Winter will be here sooner than I wanted (had planned to finish on Sept 1st). Temps are a little cooler in the morning (making it harder to get out of your bag), but the big change is the amount of daylight. Used to be able to hike till 9:00 - 9:30pm before having to put on your headlamp. Now you pretty much need to be finding your camping spot by 7:15, as the sun drops fast after that. Need to get a move on, but the upcoming Whites and my out of shape body - well, neither say "go fast".

all alone

On my second day out - I stretched the legs out to 15.5 miles. Felt pretty good - though the hips and shoulders are bruised from the pack - and the backs of my feet are chewed up. I have clearly lost a step. Used to take my first break at mile 6, now I take it at mile 2. Need a break about every 2 miles - but still better than laying in a hospital bed. Feels good to have the sun on my face again. This was the first night, since I have been out here, that I was completely alone. I stealth camped by myself - and it was an amazing feeling - just me and the timber - no one else. Found a great spot in a grove of pines - forgot how good it is to sleep with pine trees. A pile of dead pine needles rivals many beds.


Just a nice view - check out the cattle down in the lower left. Vermud has changed - now that the 4 weeks of rain are over (the northeast was dominated while I was in town - rain everyday) Northern Vermont has become beautiful. (those are PUD's to the right that we had just hiked over before coimng to this pasture - see how they roll one after another - with no view - just up and down, up and down).

Lakota lookout

One of the very few views between Killington Mtn and New Hampshire. Some private land owners let hikers climb up on top of their cabin for a view. Since it was nice out, I took the 0.2 mile side trail - glad I did. Way off in the distance, the first big mountain with the flat ridge line is Mt. Moosilauke - the start of the Whites.

this one is for Freebird!

This shot is for Freebird - I am demonstrating "the ol' hubba trick". When we were hiking - we were between groups - and so usually had the shelters to ourselves. We both had MSR Hubba 1 man tents - which take up no more space than we would normally - so we started setting them up in the shelters. Stay dry and no mosquito's. Some how we started calling it "the ol' hubba trick". This was my first day back on the trail. I only did 10.5 miles, killed me to stop at 2:30 in the afternoon - but knew better since I had taken 3.5 weeks off. Big day back - tons of back to back 400' - 600' PUD's. Not easy on me - but a good way to get back to conditioning. about 10 people that night - including Keychain, Zen, and Thinker (haven't seen them since Georgia). Felt good to be back home.

that's one big tick!

ok - kinda gross - but very funny! They made me a giant tick cake - complete with licorice legs, and a raspberry center - that oozed red when I cut the head off! I have come to like carab - could almost, almost give up chocolate. All the hikers dug in and we destroyed it pretty quickly. What a great experience.

send off

The members of the 12 Tribes had a big send off for me (I was practically family by this point). All the hikers and the community members had a big breakfast together before I strapped the pack back on. Again - a huge thanks to the community for taking me in, and letting me work for stay. I would not have been able to complete this hike without them. It was also really cool to see a community of people living toghether - sharing everything - the world could benefit if we looked at this - vs having to have all of our own stuff.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

old friends

Chainsaw, Sweet Potato, and the one and only Brahma Bull. Hoot and Sundance hiked out before I was able to get a new picture - so good to see them again - and they took me out for sushi ( The Bulls are going to stay a few days - and they took me out for pizza ( Pixie and Hollar rolled in as well - so going to hang out with them tonight - and then tomorrow I'm HIKING AGAIN!!!! Ideally - the next time I post something - I will be in New Hampshire. I bet Freebird will be done in a week - I'm right behind you buddy! Mind, body, soul - all in a good place.

Monday, August 18, 2008

and its out!

look at phatty - laying in bed, eating, with no hiking for 3.5 weeks - looks like I put some lbs back on! you can see basically where the line traveled to - it was 37 cm and set right above my heart. They want me to wait 24 hours to make sure that the hole clots before I do anything physical. I could hike out Tuesday afternoon - but going to wait till Wed morning - might as well get a good breakfast and have the entire day - not sure how the body is going to respond to having a pack on again. Tons of friends are rolling in - hope to upload some pictures tomorrow of everyone. Getting REALLY excited to start hiking again - and to touch that sign.

PICC is coming out!

Monday at 3:00 - visiting nurse came to pull my PICC line - last antibiotics at 10:00 this morning. Thought I would show an action shot - of her slowly pulling it out of my arm. WAY easier than putting it in!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I know the E is backwards - thanks for pointing it out

yep - this is what happens when you get bored, have a Wal-Mart nearby and the place you are staying has a T-Shirt press. Actually its kinda funny that the E came out wrong - since Meningitis is a swelling around your brain. (For what its worth - I had to do it upside down and backwards - and it was my first time). Under a week to go - which is pretty exciting. Brahma Bull, Sweet Potato, Hoot, and Sundance should all be getting here soon. Have seen two more movies - Mama Mia and Pineapple Express (only thing left is Space Chimps and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2). If you don't live in Kansas City - you should walk outside and light your ticket money on fire vs seeing these two. Or hike part of the AT and use it as fire starter - just to watch the looks on a thru hikers face. If you do live in KC, walk down to the plaza, to the Barnes and Nobel and give it to the homeless guy that always asks for a down payment on a cheeseburger. Both movies are that bad. Went to Rutland Art in the Park festival last weekend (think Brookside Art Fair) and this coming weekend is the Long Trail Festival - so I'm keeping pretty busy. Read a book by local VT author, Bill McKibben called "Deep Economy". It is life changing and you should read it. Talks about how we have screwed up the economy and our planet - as we have gotten too efficient - replaced man with machine - and can ship produce to any where in the world. Too reliant on fossil fuels, and "more" is no longer "better" - we simply have too much stuff. We have to make changes now to save this planet. Growth is no longer the answer (if India and China live like the US - the planet can't handle it). Hits close to home when you are with Mama Nature everyday (I miss her by the way). I liked it so much I purchased another one called "Enough" - and so far it is just as good. Talks about issues of nanotechnology, robotics and changing your child's DNA before they are born via genetic engeneering (i.e. increasing their IQ). Should we be even looking at these technologies? Can we control them if they grow at their current speed? Should finish in the next day or so and plan to read one more of his called "Fight Global Warming Now - taking action in your community". He lives about 30 miles from where I am staying - emailed him to see if we could have lunch - and he replied that he would love to but is currently traveling. He thinks highly of thru hikers. I realize now that I was supposed to come to Rutland - granted would have liked another signal than the Lyme, as I was planning on going into Killington, not Rutland. I fell in love with a book that talks about how we should get back to small communities, and raise a lot of our own local food - interesting that I am staying with a group that does just that. They live in a community and have a fully self-sustaining farm in Virginia - completely off the grid - and even make their own biodesiel fuel for their vehicles. Not sure what I am supposed to do with this new knowledge yet - but was clearly supposed to meet the members of The 12 Tribes - see in action what Bill talks about in his book. I have to make a difference (beyond just changing the bulbs out to CFL's). Wait - I am lowering my carbon footprint - maybe living in a tent is the answer . . . . . (since I don't have any bulbs to change out!). This part of my journey has taught me how to relax - though I am ready to hike again. Talking to new hikers every day has been good for the soul. Feel free to contact me - I hit the library every day. Peace.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

another update

Just wanted to check in with everyone. Went to the Dr. yesterday - and good news to report. Everything looks good - and no more blood work or tests are needed. After I push the last of the antibiotics through (10 days) the visiting nurse will pull my PICC line out - and I can immediately start hiking again! He said the nose should go back to normal over time - not sure why its still numb - but as long as I gain feeling again - great. If not - I'll have a couple of good souvenirs - a little finger that doesn't work, and a numb nose. Probably will make a T-Shirt that says "Hiked the 2,176 miles of the AT and all I got was Lyme Meningitis." Actually one of their top hand surgeons looked at my finger while I was in the hospital and she said no damage and in a year should be back to almost normal. For super-overkill - the Dr. went ahead and gave me some of the oral antibiotics that they started me on. If I get bit again - if you take them right away you can head this off at the pass - and clearly I know what the symptoms are. Have had a blast working at the cafe - I have cooked diner for the hikers and the community a couple of times - and I know how to close the restaurant so I organize the hikers every night. My old buddy The Breeze took a bus into town to come see me. I love seeing all of my old friends - just wish I could hike out with them. Time is going by pretty quickly and I will be on the trail soon. Haven't seen any more movies - started reading a book instead. Feeling good - but getting fat again. Weighed in - and I have put on 3 lbs in 2 weeks. guessing that will come of quickly when I hit the Whites. Tough to go from burning 5,000 calories a day down to 7. Metabolism doesn't know what to do. Oh - and edc cl - nice touch that one of the twins is a nurse - that will come in handy. I still have a couple of chapters to write - before I can worry about the last one. My kilt hem line is pretty long - but you can tell them 1.5 inches difference. That should solve the equation and likely result in a phone call! Peace.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Just wanted to let everyone know that I am alive and doing well. Every day feels a little bit better - though my nose and part of my lip are still numb. Going to the Dr tomorrow, and the nurse brings me some more meds tomorrow. Injecting them has become no big deal. Under 2 weeks to go! should be hiking again in the 18th or 19th of Aug. Have been working a lot in the cafe - which feels good to give back - and helps to keep me from being so bored. Usually busing tables, moping, sweeping, prepping food, rolling silverware - all basic stuff - and allows me to have 3 meals a day and a roof over my head. Simply couldn't be doing this other wise. One good thing - is that I am seeing a lot of people that I used to hike with. Last night - Sunny and Share rolled in - I met them on my very first night camping. Day 1 - so we learning to cook, throwing a bear line for the first time, and checking out each other's gear. We hiked together for 3 days - then at Neels Gap - they were having a shakedown on their packs (seasoned hikers going through and telling you what you don't need) and looking at new shoes - so I hiked on. At one point they passed me, and then I passed them - never seeing each other till last night. It was fun to see how skinny all of us were - and to get caught up. They are going to be moving to a farm in Virgina when done with the trail - and I'm hoping I can fly out and see them at some point. Have also seen 3 movies - Stepbrother, The Dark Knight, and Wall-e. Email me for reviews. I think today I am seeing Mama Mia. Small town and I'm running out of movies. Likely will go buy a book soon - almost through all of the magazines at the library. Brama Bull and Sweet Potato called this morning - they had heard from some SOBO's about me - and are planning on stopping by in a week or so to see me. I just wish it was 2 weeks instead of 3 for the treatment - so I could hike again with all my old friends. I don't see any way that I can make up that kind of time. It's hard enough catching up a couple of days - let alone a couple of weeks - and I don't think we have the mileage left for me to catch up - since you have to do their mileage plus 4-5 more miles a day. Spirits are good, and I think I'm putting on weight - eating 3 good meals a day plus no hiking - yikes - I might end up weighing more than I did at the start! I check email everyday and will probably post again next week after I talk to the Dr. Feel free to contact me. Also - not sure who edc cl is - but I love your comments - and now that we are talking about twins . . . well I might start running as soon as they give me the go ahead to hike!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Blaze - now in HD!

Check out my inputs! I think I can get a converter at Radio Shack to convert these from IV to HDMI - so I can start getting HD signals! Ha. Thanks to everyone that called, emailed, text'd while I was laying for 5 days in a hospital bed. The night they told me that I had lyme meningitis and that it would take 21 days of treatment - I cried. Not because I had the lyme -but because I thought I was going to have to quit. I appreciate everyone not asking me - I just needed some time to think about it. I figured if I came "home" to get better - that I would just end up flying back out here to finish - so less money and easier logistics to stay. Plus it really is just part of my journey. I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I can't thank the 12 Tribes community enough - they are letting me stay at their hostel for the entire duration of my treatment (21 days total - I have 15 left!). They are letting me trade out work for stay at their cafe - so I work about 3-4 hours a day - sweeping, mopping, busing tables, moving stuff, dishes etc - in exchange for 3 organic meals a day and lodging. This would not be financially possible if I was in a hotel. Planning on going to the library a lot. Went to see Stepbrothers yesterday and plan on seeing The Dark Knight today or tomorrow. Weird having this much interaction with society again. Trying to walk around town to keep some kind of conditioning for my legs. Afraid I'm going to lose my trail legs right before the Whites. It is what it is. Once a day I do my meds - flush both lines with saline, then over 5 mins inject 20ml of Ceftriaxone - then flush again with saline. If you zoom in - you can see the blue catheter going into my arm. It runs up my arm in a vein, turns the corner under my shoulder, goes past my collar bone - then turns again and goes down to my heart. Allows the drug to mix with a lot of blood quickly and isn't so hard on my veins, and I don't have to have an IV jabbed in every day for 21 days. Not going to lie - took 3 people, a long wire, a big needle, and ultrasound to get it there. Not the most pleasant procedure - especially when turning to get to your heart - vs going up into your neck. But WAY better than the spinal tap or lumbar puncture as it is also referred to as. I'm feeling better every day - didn't get to spend my birthday on trail like I wanted - but oh well. 34 is going to be an exciting year for me. Thanks again for all the emotional help as I have gotten through this. Actually pretty happy with how I handled it. The trail has taught me how to flow. Can't imagine I will have much to post over the next 2 weeks - but will let you know when I am getting back on trail.

feeling better

Here I am feeling a little better - as soon as they switched my antibiotics I started feeling better every day. Had to get out for a bit of fresh air - hard to go from hiking 20 miles a day - to laying in a hospital bed for 5 days - with the lights out and the blinds shut (light was bothering me). Really thankful that this happened close to a hospital and really happy with the care I received from Rutland Regional. Is it just me - or am I rocking that gown, scrubs, crocs combo? I think since I had crocs - they were affraid to give me the scrubs top - for fear that I would try to escape - looking like a nurse.

f'n ticks

Here I am getting my ass handed to me by the bacteria. Check out the room - they put me in the kids wing - because they didn't have any other beds available at the time. I had glow in the dark stars on the ceiling - just like camping.