Saturday, July 24, 2010

High Mileage

I got in with a group of guys moving pretty fast. Bamma, B, and Left Field are their names. I met Left Field back when I was hiking with Stucco, Neutron, and Xan. It was a ton of fun to see him again. We are done with Mass and are just about done with Vermont. Dalton, MA was a neat town and we met Tom there. He offered us a place to stay, gave us ice cream, let us shower, etc, etc. He helped us slack pack up and over Graylock. It was a long day, but was nice to know we were coming back to a bed and a shower.

Some people are critical of people moving fast on the trail because "you can't enjoy the trail experience." I have found that as I move faster I just enjoy different things than when I move slow. No I can't see the little beetles or the unique spots of the different fungi or watch the trees do their dance in the wind. I do notice the nuances within my body and I notice the affects of social pulls. You learn to appreciate different things. The relief at the end of the day is so much greater after a 30+ day than it is after a 20 mile day.

Anyhow, I'm doing big miles, I'm in the Green Mountains of Vermont, excited to get to the Whites, the end is in sight.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Well, I only had to spend one whole day in CT and I'm now in MA. So far its been great! I crossed the 1500 mile mark! Its funny how at first the 100 mile mark is so significant, so is the 200 mile mark. Then the 460. Then the 700. then half way. Then 1500. Its been a while since I was super excited to cross a certain mile marker. So with less than 700 miles to go I'm feeling stronger than ever, I feel like I've got a real good balance between hiking and having a good time, and excited for what the rest of the trail has in store for me.


I was hiking with Marty McFly near Salisbury, CT and the trail goes along the road for a bit. We decided to go to town for a hot lunch (it has been raining quite a bit) and try to find a place to dry our clothes. As we walked along this lady started yelling at us. We couldn't hear because of the cars so we went over to her. She asked if we were looking for the trail. We responded "no we're trying to get to town to get some food. Do you know the fastest way there?" Well she said "you could either take this road here, or [throws the keys] you could take my car." We refused, she insisted. Marty, trying to convince her to not give us her car said "we need to find a coin laundry too, it'll just take too long." This was a sorry argument it turns out because she says "I've got one of those too" She had to leave for some physical therapy, left us her car and the keys to her house. All she asked us to do was to not pet the dog. I was shocked and amazed by her trust of two hiker bums on a rainy morning.

Monday, July 12, 2010

done with NY

So today I just finished NY and I'm started with a pretty good chunk of CT already. I'm moving slow but strong. CT has been great so far. Swimming holes, frequent easy food, and hopefully a shower or two. These are the things that make life awesome! I mean aside from hiking of course...

So Cheeseburger and Six Course are back a half day now and I caught back up with Trashman and Ohibro just this evening. The past few days I've been running with Bodacious. He always talks about how slow he is, but somehow always ends up right behind me. He's an experienced hiker (at least 7000 trail miles under his belt) and has a lot of good information. He's a real humble guy from east TN that works for the PGA. Boundless is still a good way ahead, but i'm moving well again and with a little effort on both of our parts, I might see him yet.

Its been hot, but not like before. Water has been more common in northern NY southern CT which is real nice. I have to keep moving to make Katadin by mid Aug.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


So I finished NJ and it was awesome! Hiking through marshlands across boardwalk. It was easy hiking and there was a lot of ice cream to be found. On the 4th of July it was super hot so i called the next ice cream shop along the trail and they told me they were closing an hour early. I packed all my stuff real fast and hiked the 6.5 miles in just under 2 hours just so i could get some. It was awesome.

Anyhow, my friend Miranda told me I should call her mom and set up a time to come get a shower and maybe a bed for a night. So on the 6th I called her mom and she insisted on picking us up. It was an hour and a half drive for David (Miranda's dad) but he came anyhow. I have met up with a couple of fellows; Cheeseburger and Six Course. We ate like kings and found out that it was going to be hotter the next day so we decided to ride the train into NYC in the morning. We saw the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Times Square, Empire State Bldg, etc. We watched Germany lose to Spain (much to Cheeseburger's dismay- he's from Germany). And saw people! It was great.

Today we did some work around the house (brought a fridge from a neighbor's house and switched trailors for their boats after figuring out how to get air in the tires) and worked on knocking down some of the bever dam nearby. As part of our plan to destroy the dam Cheeseburger suggested getting some guns. This sparked a trip to the local gun range and our sheltered German friend shot his first .22. While we were there I talked to a fellow who was shooting a 1911 .45 and asked him if my buddy could shoot it and showed him his target. He said yes. It was awesome. I got some awesome film of him. It was tons of fun. But that means 2 zeros. I never felt so good about it though!

Anyhow, its' bloody hot, but i feel good. The rest has been great and I am just amazed yet again at how much people are willing to do to help people live their dreams. Life is good.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Its been a while

So I've been through several towns since my last entry. Lucky for me most of those didnt have internet access... The one that did, Duncannon, PA, the library is only open for 6 hours per week. Yeah. Not 6 per day. I ended up being an hour late. Awesome

So some thoughts so far. Harpers Ferry= awesome. Maryland= awesome (the shelters are great, terrain flattens out, etc). PA= not so awesome.

My experience so far (and it could very well be that I'm getting burned out or something) in PA has not been too great. There is lots of big rocks that you have to jump from one to the other. This slows your pace quite dramatically. As a result you twist ankles, stub toes, and almost fall several times a day. Twists, stubbings, and falls I can deal with on any normal day, but when its hot as blazes, the flies and gnats won't leave you alone, and there are snakes all in the rocks; thats when it gets under my skin. Then to top it all off I can't get a hitch 2 miles in to town! Yeah, its been a tough few days.

On a lighter note, Boundless is taking some time off with friends for the 4th of July so I should be able to catch him. I think that will be the incintive enough to get my butt in gear and get out the move on. I have a lot of support from friends and family (and previous employers) for which I'm greatful. Now it's just a matter of me finding the gumption and pushing through this mental "wall".

Night Hiking

Its 2200 hours. I leave the diner. I say "goodbye" to the other hikers staying in town. I walk to where I know there is a spigot and top off my water. 10 dry miles lay ahead in the darkening hills. Up the road I go seeing few white blazes. I remember a left turn on the map so I cross the street just in time to be blinded by the brights of the oncoming cars. I pass a dimly lit house and thank God the dog is on a chain. Two white blazes! I turn left.

Into the woods I bravely step, pushing the little button and cutting a swath of light into the darkness. The path is wide and flat. I move faster. A few twists and turns and the trail begins to narrow. I stub my tow distracting me from my next step that rolls my ankle and slams all my weight onto the outside of my right foot causing a sharp pain that elicits a sharp phrase. An expletive. The first audible word since "goodbye".

I gather my wits, subdue the pain, and start walking again. Fireflies and the moon work on spreading the evening light. still not enough to see the roots and rocks. I break out of the forest and stop quick. Not the bear or snake I fear to see, but the moonlight hitting acres of wheat about ready to harvest. The farmhouse sits lightly on the far side with its solitary porch light/ I see storm clouds off to the south and east lit in random places and times like the fireflies in the the forest I've just left. I'm glad it's not raining too. I soak up the peace, majesty, and wonder of the moment.

Pressing on. I see the gradual increase in elevation. I feel my heart rate climb until i can hear it in my ears. The sweat starts to pour despite the chill on the night air. It is summer after all. Into the forest. Into the field. Into the forest. Into the field. Forest laden with flickering flies. Fields lit overhead by the waxing gibbous and ursa major. Farmhouse after farmhouse I pass thinking of the people inside; sleeping comfortably, hear the ones they love. The thought makes me smile.

Often tonight I will feel like I am lost. Maybe I took the wrong trail. That last flash of paint was so long ago! Then, each time, just before panic reaches in to take control, I see another blaze, bringing peace to my wildly pounding heart. Its 2300.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


So I have kind of mixed feelings on the matter of the Shenandoah National Park.

Day1: Started off great! nice cool morning, met some cool people, etc. There were 2 water sources. One at 8 miles in and one at 9 miles in. I was skipping right along "in the zone" and all and passed the first water source. So thinking the second was the first, I passed that one by intending to get water at the latest possible place for the next 10 mile dry stretch. Bad choice. The sun started blazing and the trees became more sparse. I kept sweating like crazy. For a while. I definitely was severely dehydrated by the time I rolled in to the shelter where there was a little spring. Luckily Dewlap and Rainer were there and had just filled up their water and offered me some. I put a liter of water away while i was filling mine up. Oh was it delicious! I swear to never say "water is over-rated" ever again. It isn't. But yeah, that was rough. In case you're wondering, when you get dehydrated your brain doesn't function quite right- you get disoriented, paranoid, then apathetic. It's an interesting process I don't recommend to anyone.

Day 2: Came nose to nose with a Bear. I was walking down the trail, still a bit dehydrated (even after downing 3 liters the night before and 2 more at breakfast) and "in the zone", when I heard a twig snap in the woods. Now you hear lots of twigs snap in the woods while you're hiking the trail, but this one felt different. It snapped me out of my daze and right on the side of the trail not more than 5 feet away was a full sized black bear. It just looked at me. Then went back to eating berries. I backed off and waited for LJ to come up. He came and suggested we just walk by (considering the brush was way too thick to bushwack a wide berth) . And of course I was in front. I walked first with LJ right on my heels, or so I though. I locked eyes with the bear as I went past. What an interesting feeling! I got a safe distance away and stopped. LJ was back on the other side of the bear looking pretty nervous. Having seen me make it, he started his attempt. When it didn't do anything to him, he decided it would be a good photo opportunity. He grabbed his camera and brought it around for the photoshoot and that bear turned around like LJ was a matador holding his red flag. You should have seen the Englishman run! Point of the story: I saw a bear, and bears are not supposed to be so comfortable with humans.

So there is some beautiful scenery in the Shenandoahs. The Mountain Laural is out like crazy. If you're going to do a weekend trip it's great. Anything more than that and you're criss-crossing roads, staring down bear, etc.