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Tuesday, July 7, 2015
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Vermud…

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Vermud lives up to it’s name. I suppose it doesn’t help that I hiked it during the rainiest month on record. The first two days were glorious, the trail conditions wonderful. The trail actually felt like a trail, there were no big climbs, and I got to go through fields (I’d been looking forward to fields). After those two days, though, it deteriorated quickly. The afternoon storms started, and then the day long rains started. It got cold and windy, and the trail became one giant creek/mud pit/pond. I thought Maine was bad as far as mud, but it had nothing on Vermont. The mud would seep in over the top of my shoes and soak my socks as I trudged through. It actually ate my shoe at one point. It was so bad, the only thing you could do was laugh at it. One day, it was all I ... Read More »

Indecisions

Being rescued from hyperthermia

  This picture is from my day 2 of this backpacking adventure! In March the weather went from misty foggy spring to an icey slushy wintery mix and I was fucked. Like completely fucked. My sleeping bag was soaked, my feather down jacket was soaked, I was convulsing shivering in FreeChild’s sleeping bag when Nurse Jackie and Young Gun invited me to dry my gear at Nurse Jackies parents place in GA, I remember smiling while convulsing and saying, “It’s okay guys, I’m fine!” while my sleeping bag is hanging from the shelter dripping wet. They flat out told me; “You have great spirit, but you are not going to be fine in the morning, come home, dry your gear, have a hot meal and a hot shower.” How could I run away from that? The A.T. will always bring me to tears with the amazing huge amount of unconditional ... Read More »

White Blazin’

White Blazin'

“How are you here?” I asked Cups in surprise.  We had crossed paths the day before at Devil’s Backbone Brewery, but unlike the two thru-hikers we met there, T and I kept hiking a few more miles after our beers.  We wanted the following day into Waynesboro to be as short as possible. “Oh, we hitched from the brewery, bartender gave us a ride.” I’m sure he could read the judgment on my sweaty, dirt-stained face so he quickly explained that he was allowing himself 50miles of yellow blazing on his way to Maine. Now I’m typically not one to judge.  Ok, ok, you got me.  I’m a human so naturally I judge everything.  When T and I started this journey though, I didn’t see myself as a purist.  I didn’t even know that term existed as a category for thru-hikers.  But it’s definitely what we are.  I don’t even want to slack pack ... Read More »

Social Pariahs–Bland to Pearisburg

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Posted from Pearisburg, VA @  635 miles Days 76 to 79   June 29 to July 2 After our Trail Angel dropped us off at the Walker Motel in Bland, the first thing we did was take off our stinky, nasty clothes and wash them in the sink so they would have time to dry overnight on the clothesline behind the motel. (Sadly, there was no Laundromat in Bland). We then put on our ‘sleeping clothes’ (shorts and shirts that aren’t as stinky as our trail clothes that we only wear to sleep in–or wear around town when our stinky clothes are wet) –so that we could go across the street to the DQ for something to eat.     But before we could eat or shop, we had to look up recipes online for getting skunk smell out of clothing! The consensus seemed to be a combination of either vinegar ... Read More »

Happy Independence Day

Over Lehigh Valley Pa

The Appalachian Trail literally binds Old America together, passing through ten of the original thirteen states. Tennessee, Vermont, Maine and West Virginia were states formed as a result of westward expansion, political compromise, or civil war. As much as a hiker treks into the mountains to escape public life, there it is waiting for the hiker when they get there: the sites and artifacts of American Civilization, with its gems and warts, historical narratives and social significations. Perhaps a subordinate concern to conservation and ecology, but no doubt important and probably a byproduct of the good vibes generated by outdoor recreation, hiking the Appalachian Trail fosters the American democratic instinct. The Appalachian mountains are many millions of years old– older than most mountains on earth. The American nation which spawned in the watersheds of those mountains will be merely two hundred and thirty nine years old on July 4, 2015. ... Read More »

Who’s in Charge Here?  Apparently My Stomach!

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Today probably illustrates like no other how flexible things become on the trail. We got up at 5 this morning with the plan of reaching the Hall Mtn Lean To. Lt Dan slept in, but he walks much faster than us (me) so he would catch up.     Anyway, we made good time, crossing All the Bemis peaks plus Elephant Mtn. Lt Dan caught up to us on the summit of Old Blue Mtn. There he stopped to chat with a northbounder who told him about all-you-can-eat pizza in Andover. Lt Dan caught up to us again, and told us about the pizza.  That’s all it took. We started racing down Old Blue for the South Arm Road crossing, visions of pizza dancing in our minds. We got to the road about 1:30, with sore knees from the steep descent.  Now in Andover, we found out that the pizza doesn’t ... Read More »

Solitude

Flume Gorge, NH

The journey we choose to embark on is a Herculean one. Hiking nearly 2,200 miles is an act of lunacy to the average person. But there is a calling to we few that decide to make the journey, a lot of times one that we ignore for years before finally submitting. That call started for me in my teens, when I hiked avidly around the White Mountains of New Hampshire and parts of Western Maine where I grew up. Then I went off to college and the dream fell dormant for many years. From time to time, it would rise up like a beast clawing in the back of my mind, but life always got in the way. The repetition of the day to day lulls that beast to sleep. Many people have those types of dreams, of greatness, the road less traveled, that fade as time marches inexorably on. I woke ... Read More »

Harper’s Ferry to Peekskill, NY: Having and Getting Over Pennsylvania Blues

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Well, I’ve walked home to New York. I actually passed the start of my shakedown section on Friday en route to the agreed upon pickup spot, and it blew my mind. Now, I’m laying in my childhood bed after washing everything in my pack, trading in for new socks, and re-packing my down jacket for the colder times ahead. Within the next week I’ll be in Massachusetts, and then the real hard work begins in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. I’m actually really excited, though. I’m ready. Pennsylvania was rough. Up until Duncannon all our spirits were high– we saw a play (actually a musical– Shout!) in Boiling Springs, and my former roommate Monica came for a weekend backpack visit. In Hamburg Click Clack, Beast, Six Strings and I shared a room at the super nice Microtel and visited the Cabela’s to gawk at the stuffed animals. North from Duncannon, ... Read More »

The Rollercoaster

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The Rollercoaster is a 13.5 mile section of trail in Northern Virginia of tightly packed ascents and descents. It’s a last “hurrah” of sorts before reaching the 1,000 mile mark and departing Virginia. Most thru-hikers’ bodies are hill-crushing machines by the time they reach The Rollercoaster, so it’s not as tough as it looks on the map. While The Rollercoaster was fun, this blog post is about a different sort of rollercoaster: an emotional one. Since my last post, my days and weeks have been filled with lots of ups and a handful of downs. Those of you who know me well know that I’m generally very positive, but I also want to be realistic with you about some of the difficulties I’ve faced. Thru hiking isn’t easy; in fact, it’s really hard. But rest assured that every challenge and hard day I’ve had pales in comparison to the amazing ... Read More »

Glasgow to Waynesboro – Completely FLAT!

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Glasgow and Waynesboro are two very hiker friendly towns – and therefore, hard to escape. Free camping, friendly locals, hiker boxes and FOOD! Well, every town has food, but usually you have to eat it and beat it. Here, not so. The climb out of Glasgow was monstrous. And just like all but one day in the past couple of weeks, the air was hot and stagnant. No breeze. Hot and humid. Imagine a tall and slick waterfall, where the rocks appear to be coated in glass as clear water pours down their cascade polished surfaces. That was sweat coming down my face and body. Not so majestic after all. However, nothing beats the feeling of finishing such a climb, especially when you’re greeted with a slight breeze and an eyeful of downhill at the peak of a mountain. That particular peak, Bluff Mountain on Virginia’s Blue Ridge, also offered ... Read More »