Beaker in Knoxville

My last post about Beaker, the chemist from West Virginia had him snow-bound in Knoxville, TN, enjoying his son’s home and awaiting the arrival of his wife, Marguerite. The next few days were rather eventful… off trail.


Tuesday March 14

Beaker enjoyed the zero day in Knoxville hanging out with his son’s dogs and visiting the local outfitter store.

Wednesday March 15 – A cold, clear day in Knoxville. The road to Newfound Gap was still closed and the temperature was bitterly cold at the top of GSMNP. Most of Beaker’s hiker buddies were planning to move forward on Thursday. Beaker’s wife, Marguerite, was on her way to Knoxville so his plan was not to leave Saturday. “I’m just sort of bumming around town today checking out downtown Knoxville.” Marguerite arrived in Knoxville later that day. “We’re just planning to hang out until I return to the trail on Saturday morning.”

Beaker’s wife, Marguerite

Thursday, March 16 – Beaker’s blog begins, “So, we bought a house in Knoxville yesterday.”  I think Marguerite and Beaker did a little more than just hang out yesterday. It turns out that the couple had worked hard to put their house in WV on the market just before Rusty headed off for the AT on February 26. The house went on the market Monday, Feb 27th  and the very first couple to look at it signed a contract for the asking price! Beaker needed to find a cell-phone signal to be able to electronically sign the contract for the sale of their house from the trail.

“I already had plans to come off the trail to look at a potential house in Knoxville. The weather just pushed me off the trail a little earlier than planned. So, anyway, we liked the house and when Marguerite arrived yesterday we signed the contract. I plan to return to the trail Saturday morning and continue my northbound journey until mid to late April, when I will have to take a couple weeks off-trail to help move the household (including three dogs and two cats) to Knoxville.”

Friday, March 17 I have mixed feelings as I prepare to return to the trail tomorrow. On the one hand, I am excited to continue my journey north – especially in the Smokies. On the other hand, it’s very hard to leave Marguerite again.”

Beaker completes every entry of his blog with the Latin phrase, Montani Semper Liberi, Mountaineers Are Always Free, the fabulous state motto of the state of West Virginia. The state motto of Tennessee is “Agriculture and Commerce.” I hope he doesn’t change his signature when he becomes a resident of Knoxville.

 

 

Categories: Beaker, GSMNP, Knoxville, Tennessee, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker – Part 3

Beaker on the Trail

Let me continue the story of the thru-hike of “Beaker” the chemist from West Virginia. We last left him in a hotel in Hiawassee, Georgia, warming up after a very cold night on the trail without an ample sleeping bag. Let’s follow his adventure for a few more days.

Saturday, March 4. Beaker had a fortuitous late start out of Hiawassee because when the shuttle dropped him off at the trailhead at Unicoi Gap, a church group from the Raleigh area was putting on a hiker feed, complete with grilled hamburgers and all the fixings – trail blessing at its best.. Beaker’s post has the sound of a happy and dry and contented hiker, “The hiking weather was perfect – high 50s, sunny, and only a light breeze. And the views of the North Georgia mountains were incredible. To top it all off, the Tray Mt Shelter is the prettiest shelter I’ve seen so far. It sits on top of Tray Mt and looks out over a sea of mountains. The sunset was gorgeous! There are probably another 30-40 people here – mostly new faces. The Trail is getting pretty busy.”

Sunday, March 5. Beaker made a fairly easy hike to Dick’s Creek Gap and the Top of Georgia hostel. He reached the hostel by 1 pm and was able to pick up his emergency mail drop from home including a warmer sleeping bag. He decided to press on to the next shelter even though he had already paid a non-refundable fee for the bed, so “ I ‘paid it forward’ and let the next guy who arrived have my spot for free. He was so excited – my own little bit of trail magic.” I don’t know Beaker personally, but I am beginning to appreciate his character and perspective on his adventure.

Border GA/NC

Monday (16.6 miles; 90.4 total miles so far). Beaker awoke to rain on his tent at 4:30 am. He slept much better during the night with the warmer sleeping bag. It was another blustery day with rain on and off until about 2:00 pm. The highlight of the day was crossing the NC/GA border. The AT experienced several major forest fires last year and Beaker came upon one such area. He shares in his journal, “I climbed Standing Indian Mt moved into the area that was so devastated by forest fires last Fall. The standing trees appear to be OK, with scorch marks on the lower 12 – 18 inches of their trunks. However, the undergrowth is completely gone. It looks like some kind of strange war zone.”

Fire Tower on Albert Mountain

Tuesday, March 7. “It was the most miserable day on the trail so far. And the most epic!” Beaker started the day with rain, he walked in a tunnel all day with fog so thick he could only see about 20 ft ahead. The day’s hike included the climb up and over Albert Mountain (5250 ft). The last 0.3 miles is the steepest grade up to this point of the AT. Unfortunately, the climb to the summit changed from a gentle rain to a deluge. There is a fire tower at the top, but again the fantastic views were missed because of the weather. However, the fire tower stands at the 100 mile marker and the sense of accomplishment is amazing. Beaker hiked another five miles past the summit and stayed in a dry hotel in Franklin for the night.

Wednesday, March 8.  Beaker was greeted with beautiful blue morning skies and no rain! He got a late start because of the need to resupply to replace his water filter. His 8.3-mile day was filled with a climb up Siler Bald (5001 ft) during the late afternoon. The climb was well worth it. The reward was an incredible 360 degree view of the beautiful mountains.

More of Beaker’s hike coming up soon. Stay connected.

Categories: Albert Mountain, Appalachian Trail, Fire-tower, Georgia, Hiawassee, Thru-Hike, Trail Blessing, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Continues

Beaker and Friends dry in a cabin

Rusty Miller (trail name – Beaker) from Morgantown, West Virginia, began his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on February 26th by conquering the approach trail of 8.5 miles. This is no small task due to the rigor of the ascent and the challenging terrain beginning at Amicalola Falls, Georgia. Beaker made it to the top of Springer Mountain, the actual southern terminus of the AT, on day one and camped with seven other excited hikers ready to dream of Maine and 2,200 miles ahead.

Let me give you a quick fast forward and share some of Beaker’s adventures during the first week of his pilgrimage. Day two, he hiked 7.2 miles with a philosophy of keeping his mileage low until his trail legs begin to strengthen. He took his time breaking camp in the morning and hit the trail around 10:00.  Before the day was over Beaker experienced a common phenomenon on the AT – RAIN.

Day three – his journal begins, “Rain. Again. Lots of rain. Everything is damp.” Despite the moisture, Beaker managed to walk 13.2 miles and ended up at Woody Gap. The rain let up for most of the day but around 2:00 pm the rain arrived accompanied by several claps of thunder. Beaker shares, “I slogged on and finally arrived at Woody Gap in the pouring rain.

Wednesday, March 1 brought a new month to the trail but the rain continued. It had poured all night and Beaker woke up to rain in the morning. To add insult to his dampened spirits, his air mattress sprung a leak during the night. On the up side, the day’s adventure took him up and over his first 4,000 foot mountain: Blood Mountain (4457 ft). The summit displays some wonderful views, but not for Beaker, “Didn’t see ’em! At the top – nothing but clouds.” The climb up Blood Mountain was strenuous but the descent on the other side revealed a rather unnerving, slippery slope of bear rock, “the wet rocks were slick. I had a couple scary slips, but managed not to fall.” The day ended at Neel Gap and a nice warm cabin just before a downpour with thunder, lightning, high winds and pelting rain.

Beaker on the Trail

Thursday, March 2 started with glorious sunshine, although the temperature only reached into the 30’s, and ended at a campsite at Low Gap Shelter. When Beaker arrived he found a tent city involving about 30-40 backpackers. Temperatures dropped in the middle of the night and Beaker discovered that his hiking quilt wasn’t going to be adequate. He recorded, “Even wearing all my clothes, I was very cold. I lay there shivering all night.”

Friday, March 3. After a 9.8 mile hike Beaker opted for a restful and warm bed in a room at the Budget Inn in Hiawassee, GA. He called his wife and made arrangements for an express delivery of a sleeping bag to replace his quilt to be sent to the Top of Georgia hostel in Dick’s Creek Gap.

I love how Beaker describes himself: “As you can see, it’s just me in a kilt with a ponytail, bushy white beard, and a funny red hat, carrying a hiking staff.” (He forget to mention the mobster shades).

End of day five = 52.6 miles. More of Beaker’s story to come.

Categories: Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Georgia, Hiawassee, Tent City, Thru-Hike, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

High School Hiking Class

Greg Kurtz, Senior English Teacher

Greg, the Senior English teacher at my school, and I decided to offer a two-week hiking class for high school students during January. One of the academic sessions of our school year, J(anuary)-Term, occurs during a 14-day window beginning after Christmas break. J-Term is an intensive setting in which students are involved in local ministries, international mission trips, STEM classes, and other creative offerings designed by the faculty. Greg and I wanted to provide an active course designed to transfer the traditional classroom into the powerful setting of nature.

On the other hand… our concern – who would be crazy enough to hike from 8:15 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon in the depth of winter?  The answer… 24 students signed up…. voluntarily…. enthusiastically…. with smiles on their faces. Seven seniors, fifteen juniors, and two sophomores gathered together on January 3rd to begin the adventure of outdoor trails in Ohio in winter.

On day one, we caravanned about 40 minutes from campus to a MetroPark in Englewood, Ohio. We hiked every trail in the park and logged about 11 miles. We ended up at the home of a school family for hot chocolate and donuts. At the end of each hike the victorious hikers received an honorary carabiner for his/her backpack.

High School Hiking Class

I was able to take the students to one of my favorite spots in the area – Caesar Creek State Park. Snow had fallen overnight and turned the forest trail into a beautiful winter path. The slippery changes in terrain added to the adventure causing many to fall on the snowy turf. I led the way with a perfect two-armed flailing, trekking pole throwing, seat drop. With everyone’s pride still intact, the 12-mile loop trail was circumnavigated with a great sense of accomplishment and appreciation for God’s creation.

Greg and I decided to vary the context of our adventures and so one day’s agenda found the hiking class catching the public transit system and entering the downtown metropolis of Dayton, Ohio. With a 2010 census population of 141,527 and a land area (most of it cement) of 56.5 square miles, the group found little problem in walking past some historic areas like the gravesites of Orville and Wilbur Wright and enjoying a 12-mile urban hike around the city.

Another day of J-Term required the class to take a lengthy hike along the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail. Two dozen of us walked from Xenia to Yellow Springs, ending up at Young’s Dairy for ice cream – a hiker’s favorite no matter what the weather.

The brave students joined Greg and I as we visited the trails of several other MetroParks, hiked in freezing temperatures, got caught in a thunderstorm on a warmer day, and logged over 100 miles in just ten days. Not bad for January… but all the students seemed to come equipped with diligence and determination. I enjoyed every minute of the adventure.

Categories: Caesar Creek, Dayton Christian, Hiking, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Ohio, Students, Trail | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Beaker the Chemist

 

My wonderful mother-in-law is 90 years-old and lives in Wild Wonderful West Virginia. This past weekend Cathy, my bride of almost 45 years, and I piled into our 1999 Toyota Camry and drove from our house in the Buckeye state to the home of the Mountaineers in Morgantown. Our son, Matt, also lives in Morgantown and we enjoyed a weekend of reunion with him as well as a special time with Cat’s mom.

Cathy’s three brothers live close by, so Nana’s house was visited by many during our four-day stay in the Mountain State. One afternoon, my niece and her family including four fantastic, energetic children came for lunch and a time of nice conversation. In the midst of family talk, Bekah shared that a coworker of her husband at the pharmaceutical company was hiking the Appalachian Trail. Any mention of the trail perks my ears to attention and opens my eyes with more than a twinkle of interest.

Bekah shared that the chemist’s name was Rusty Miller and he had the opportunity to take an early retirement with perks allowing him to hike the trail with funds from a severance package and the benefit of health insurance. With a first name like Rusty, I thought his trail name would be an easy decision. To my surprise, I found out his name on the AT is Beaker. What a great name for a chemist!

Two minutes into my chat with Bekah I was hooked into following Beaker’s blog and taking another vicarious hike through 14 states.  Beaker began his adventure on Sunday February 26. He began in Amicalola Falls State Park and traveled the 8.8-mile approach trail to Springer Mountain, the official start of the Appalachian Trail.  This approach trail contains a brutal start with 650 steps leading up to the falls. The approach trail, itself, has been enough to discourage many hikers to the place of throwing in the towel. Beaker, however, arrived in great spirits.

When he reached the summit, he found eight other pioneers – folks from Florida, New Hampshire, New York, Philadelphia, Paris and South Africa. This country and even the world gather at the southern terminus of this granddaddy of long trails. The AT is truly an international pathway to the Appalachian Mountains. The octave of hikers decided to camp together in the shelter or pitch their tents nearby. It was indeed a great day for the chemist from West Virginia. More of his story to follow…..

Categories: Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Georgia, Hiking, Ohio, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, West Virginia | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hiking Into Retirement

My blog has been silent for several months, even though my life has been spinning in many directions. Early last summer I was given the opportunity to serve my school as both the Superintendent and the Hugh School Principal. From the enrollment of new students to the hiring of teachers to building a master schedule of classes to the faculty orientation to the start of school, my summer’s agenda was filled with variety and demand. School opened its doors in August and the return of students brought athletics, concerts, schedule changes, teachers’ meetings, state reports, faculty observations, board meetings, and the mountain of administrivia.

But then came a sense of peace. The board of trustees renewed their two-year-old commitment to find a new Head of School. As the search began, I knew that the time was right to retire. I have enjoyed an action-packed 34 years in Christian School education. And yet, the decision to pass the leadership baton to others more qualified and filled with the youthful energy of the pink rabbit was filled with relief. I will complete this school year but will erase the chalkboard for the last time in June. There is a sense of sorrow to leave my friends and colleagues but a huge anticipation to discover what lies on the other side of the retirement door.

All of that to say, one of my passions is writing…. another is hiking. So, I anticipate in retirement an opportunity to fill some blog pages with research and personal experiences on the trail. This past January one of my closest colleagues and I were able to offer a two-week class to high school students on hiking. Now hiking in Ohio in January is a risk – a risk of bitter cold weather, slippery trails, inches of snow, and high winds that can blow a man sideways. It was a blast and I had so much fun trekking the trails with teenagers (and getting paid for it). More insights into this extraordinary group of high school students in an upcoming post.

I attended two hiking workshops in the last month that were both interesting and impactful on my hiking plans for the future. One workshop focused on the John Muir Trail in California and the other on the Buckeye Trail, a loop around the state of Ohio. Stay tuned for some of my reflections in the next few posts.

The Appalachian Trail is in my blood and I experience some sort of reminder in the wind every day of Springer Mountain and Mount Katahdin and the two thousand + miles in between. Hike It Forward pages to come will highlight some of the brave (and crazy) people who have declared themselves as thru-hikers during this 2017 season.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Dayton Christian, Hike It Forward, Hiking, Mount Katahdin, Ohio, Retirement, Springer Mountain, Students, Thru-Hike, Trail | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

Dulcigal is a Thru-Hiker

Dulcigal

Dulcigal in Georgia

Dulcigal, Karla Redman, has completed her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail!

Dulcigal began her journey on March 19 and hiked to her finish line on October 29 for a total of 231 days. I have never personally met Karla, but my admiration of her character, faith, and determination grew with every post of her journal. I counted her “out” at the end of June when she suffered a serious bout of kidney stones on the trail. She landed in the hospital including two days in the ICU with kidney and liver failure and septic shock. An additional three days were spent in the hospital before she was able to travel back to her home in Georgia.

But Dulcigal was not done with her dream. After a short two-week recovery, she returned to the trail. With her two sons at her side for a few days, she continued hiking with praise to God’s faithfulness and provision. It became apparent to her that she would most likely not make it to Mount Katahdin in Maine (the northern terminus of the AT) before the threat of winter closed the mountain, so she decided to attempt a flip-flop. She hiked to the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border, then caught a bus to Hanover, New Hampshire. From Hanover, she hiked over the White Mountains, through Mahoosuc Notch, and across the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine. She summited Katahdin and stood atop the brown sign on September 22. She then traveled back to Hanover and hiked south-bound

Dulcigal on Top of Katahdin

Dulcigal on Top of Katahdin

to Delaware Water Gap on the PA/NJ state border. Her finish line was a hostel in Delaware Water Gap located in the Church of the Mountain.

I have included a few lines from the last post on her online journal. Karla writes,

“2,189.1 miles — I’m still trying to digest it all. Today was fantastic…better than I ever expected. The weather was beautiful, the walk was extremely easy and relaxing, and the fun with my 2 sons, Danielle (a family friend), and a few thru-hikers in the area, was phenomenal. The joy of actually finishing the trail is indescribable, but I can understand the bittersweet thoughts as well. It will take some adjusting to adapt to “normal” life again, I am sure….. Though this has been the most challenging life experience, it has been the most rewarding. The question I was asked most often was, “Are you hiking all by yourself?” I was never alone. Other than the many other hikers and trail volunteers I had the privilege to meet and socialize with on the trail, my Lord and Savior was with me every step of the way. I never felt alone. I cherished my talks with God and fellowship with the trail community.”

Karla, the Thru-Hiker

Karla, the Thru-Hiker

I sent Dulcigal a short note of congratulations and my standing ovation for her diligence and bravery. I was surprised to get a response back from her so soon after her completion. Her kind response reflects her humility and the character that enables a person to hike for over 230 days and 2,186 miles through fourteen different states:

“Hi David.  I’m in the lost phase of just getting home and figuring out what to do next….it will be an adjustment for sure.  Although I was so excited about finishing, I’m already missing the woods.  😦  I plan to get out and do some short hikes nearby to feed my desire to being out in nature.  Yes, the reward of being able to complete such a journey is the ultimate gift.  You understand because you have been there, done that.  Thank you for following the journey and your inspiration as well!!   Karla”

My congratulations to Karla Redman – Dulcigal.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Delaware Water Gap, Dulcigal, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, The Whites, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ducigal Still on the Move in October

Dulcigal

Dulcigal

Dulcigal from Georgia is still on the Appalachian Trail. She decided to attempt a flip-flop, leaving the Appalachian Trail on the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border, catching a bus to New Hampshire, hiking from Hanover, NH to Katahdin in Maine, traveling back to New Hampshire, and hiking southbound (SOBO) back to Delaware Water Gap: the PA/NJ border town where she started the flip. She is close to completing her journey. Let me share a summary of the two posts she made in the last ten days.

On October 14th, she was about 207 miles from her finish line, having hiked just under 2,000 miles of the AT. Her adventure through Massachusetts exploded with the beauty of fall and she embraced the magnificence of the mountains and the tranquility of the lakes. Her evenings are getting colder, but she is finding refuge in bunkrooms, shelters and lodges along the way. Dulcigal spent the night of the 14th in Salisbury, Connecticut after resupplying, washing clothes and resting some tired legs. She was projecting a completion date of October 29th in Delaware Water Gap, PA.

Six days later (October 20th), Dulcigal reported that she had logged 2, 078.9 miles on the trail – just 110 miles left of dulcigal-on-katahdinthe trek. She hiked through Connecticut in three days and was posting from New York. She was looking forward to the zoo tomorrow (the AT goes right through the middle of the zoo and all thru-hikers get free admission to the park) and the climb over Bear Mountain. Her spirits are high as she traverses the last leg of her “hike of a life-time.”

Dulcigal, Karla Redmon who has dreamed of hiking the AT for 10 years, is experiencing the thrill of the end. Her posts are short but her enthusiasm is cautiously building as the Pennsylvania border approaches. “It looks like I am still on target to finish on Oct. 29th in Delaware Water Gap. I am counting down the miles and the days!! We are having a celebration for sure…Lord willing, if nothing happens… Can you tell I’m getting excited??? :-)”

I will be anxious to share Karla’s posts and her celebration on the 29th. It won’t be a climb up Katahdin, but there is a great bridge leading from New Jersey to Pennsylvania that should make a great photo finish.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Connecticut, Dulcigal, Georgia, Mount Katahdin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Peas (Big Cypress and Animal) Climb Katahdin

Two Peas at Springer Mt. GA

Two Peas at Springer Mt. GA

Big Cypress and his wife, Moonbeam, started their adventure of hiking the Appalachian Trail on February 14 as The Two Peas, dreaming of summiting Mount Katahdin together in the fall of 2016. Moonbeam experienced a very serious fall, breaking her femur and ending her hike. However, Big Cypress returned with his son (Animal) and continued his northbound trek to Maine. October 6th brought the father and son to the end of the trail. Moonbeam was there, driving a support vehicle along the way. I love this story of diligence and victory. The thru-hike took 236 days!

My last update on The Two Peas found them on September 18 about a day’s hike away from entering the last state on the trail, and 283 miles of rugged trail in Maine. Moonbeam kept such a nice detailed journal so I thought I would take a little extra space and provide a quick synopsis of the end of this wonderful story.

9/19/16: Carlo Col shelter in Maine to Grafton Notch State Park/ME 26 for 14.1 miles

The 19th involved Mahoosuc Notch – the most difficult mile of the AT. Then they went on to Mahoosuc Arm at 3770′. Several times that day Big Cypress & Animal heard…“you can’t or you shouldn’t do the notch & arm on the same day.” Well, hind sight, they wouldn’t, but they did and lived to tell the tale. Several falls were taken. Animal thought for sure dad was gonna need a helicopter off the trail. But after a short rest, and great surprise by both, off they went down the path. Big said, “God took care of me on that one, cuz I know I should’ve been all broken.”

9/20/16: Grafton Notch to East B Hill Road for 10.3 miles.

Hiking Highlights: Baldpate West & East peaks, Dunn Notch and Falls. Slept in until about 6:30. Pancakes, coffee – Big Cypress & Animal hit the trail about 9am. After a five hour hike, Moonbeam prepared hot water for foot soaking.

9/21/16: Start at East B Hill Rd to South Arm Rd. for 10.1 miles

Hiking Highlights: Wyman Mtn 2920′ down to Sawyer Notch at 1095′ and Moody Mtn at 2440′ then South Arm Rd. They tented in backyard of Little Red Hen. Church bells were our alarm clock this morning.

9/22/16: South Arm Rd to ME 17 Oquossoc ME for 13.2 miles.

Highlights today: South Arm Rd, Old Blue Mtn., Bemis Mtn, Bemis Mtn Second Peak, Bemis Stream. The guys headed out about 8 am. After eggs on tortillas for breakfast.

9/23/16: Left at 7:45 am. ME 17/Height of Land view to ME 4 for 13.2 miles then continued on to Redington Campsite 8.0 miles for 21.2 Miles today!

Hiking Highlights: Moxie Pond, Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to, Little Swift River Pond, South Pond and after lunch Eddy Pond 2643′, up to Saddleback Mountain 4120′, The Horn 4021′, and sleeping at Redington Campsite – arrived at 5:30 pm

9/24/16:  Redington Campsite mile to Caribou Valley Rd/Caribou Pond Rd for 15.9 miles,

Hiking Highlights: Saddleback Mtn Junior, Orbeton Stream, Sluice Brook, Lone Mountain, Mt Abraham, Spaulding Mtn, and finally Sugarloaf Mountain – arrived at 7:45 pm. Big Cypress & Animal camped out last night and had a tough night with freezing temperatures.

2000 mile mark

2000 mile mark

9/25/16: Caribou Valley Rd to ME 27 (at AT mile 2000.9) for 8.3 miles

Reached the 2000 mile goal today! The Crocker Cirque campsite & stream, then up to South Crocker Mountain & North Crocker Mtn. with a well-deserved Nero & Zero at the Stratton Motel. Sunny, 38° chilly & very windy.

9/26/16: Great night sleep and Breakfast at The Looney Moose….big hiker meal & chocolate chip pancakes….delicious!! Trail planning and TV binge watching, Criminal Minds on ION channel.

9/27/16: ME 27 to East Flagstaff Rd for 16.7 miles

Hiking Highlights of today’s hike: Stratton Brook Pond, South Horn, Bigelow Mtn., Avery Peak, Little Bigelow Mtn, to East Flagstaff Rd. The hikers arrived at about 4 pm. Big Cypress, Animal and Moonbeam had dinner, and a walk down to Flagstaff Lake. After a foot soaking, it was off to bed at about 5:30-ish.

9/28/16:  East Flagstaff Rd to Otter Pond Rd for 16.9 miles

Hiking Highlights for today: West Carry Pond & Lean To, East Carry Pond, Scott Rd., Carrying Place Stream, Pierce Pond. The guys arrived early at about 230-3 pm. Trail meals and soaked feet. Hit the hay about 5 pm.

9/29/16: Otter Pond Rd to Kennebec River 3 miles then to Moxie Pond/Troutdale Rd for 15.3 miles

Hiking Highlights: Canoe across the Kennebec River, Pleasant Pond Mtn and nice hiking day. This morning they splurged and had pancakes at Harrison’s Camp. The hikers arrived at about 3:30, in good spirits and both wanting a foot bath tonight. They had a small campfire and dinner before

Moxie Pond

Moxie Pond

9/30/16: Moxie Pond to Lake Hebron parking area for 21.5 miles today.

Highlights: Moxie Bald Mountain and several stream & the East Branch of the Piscatiquis River. Supposed to ford this river, but all hikers have said it’s a rock hop, as water levels are crazy low. Big & Animal were on trail by 7 am. and completed the 20+ mile trek at 4:00 pm.

10/1/16: Lake Hebron mile to Otter Pond Near Long Pond Stream Lean-to mile 2089 for 18.6 miles

Big Cypress & Animal were on the trail about 7 am. After a 4 pancake breakfast whipped up by Moonbeam. The hikers’ voices were heard again at 4:30. Snacks, foot soaking, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were on the menu. Bed by 6 pm. “Hard to believe we are under 100 miles left, 99.2 to be exact.”

Animal met with an angry group of ground nesting yellow jackets. He suffered about a dozen stings but Moonbeam was on the rescue with anti-itch cream & anti-histamine Crisis averted.

10/2/16: Otter Pond to Katahdin Ironworks Rd for 14.5 miles.

Hiking Highlights: Barren Ledges, Barren Mtn., Fourth Mtn., Mt Three and a Half, Third Mtn. Columbus Mtn,, and Chairback Mtn.

Big Cypress and Animal were off at a few minutes after 7. Animal arrived at 2:15, Big Cypress arrived about 30 minutes later.

10/3/16: KI Rd  to Jo-Mary Rd for 28.7 miles.

Only about in the 50’s for high temp. Moonbeam arrived at Jo-Mary Rd. Paid $12 for herself & truck, plus $10 for 2 nights’ sleep out on the roads in the area. Tacos for dinner.

10/4/16:  Jo-Mary Rd to Pollywog Stream for 23.5 miles

Hiking Highlights: Nahmakanta Lake, then Nesuntabunt Mountain, Pollywog Gorge. Big miles yesterday and big miles day tomorrow!!

10/5/16: Pollywog Stream to Katahdin Stream Campground @ Baxter Park for 27.4 miles.

Biggest Highlight today: Rainbow Ledges with a view of the finish line of Baxter Peak and Mount Katahdin.

two-peas-katahdin10/6/16: SUMMIT DAY – Awake at 4:30, anxious for the day! On the trail at 6 am. Animal was hiker #1087 and Big Cypress #1088 to summit Katahdin. Cold morning (30-40 degrees) but close to 70 for the high today. Clear & sunny & gorgeous. For the accomplishment, Animal received a special card for completing his 582 miles. The trek down the mountain ended about 1:30 pm. The words of Moonbeam are quite appropriate:

1:30 pm, Big Cypress logged in the trail register that party of two returned from the summit. So….when I saw a brown hat & blue shirt through the trees, I knew it was Big. I started walking towards him and I completely lost it, I was a blubbering mess. Just about hysterical!! We hugged for several minutes and I regained my composer. We sat & talked & Big Cypress ate, while we waited for Animal.

When Animal finally arrived, I greeted him up the trail with a fist bump and congratulations!! Ok, so Big and I were talking about this last 5 miles. “If I didn’t have to go up there in order to finish I wouldn’t have, I would have turned around & went down.” “It’s a dangerous mountain & precarious edges.” Hats Off and DEEP bow to those who have reached the sign for that famous finish picture and Conquered their fear of heights etc….

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Two Peas | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon – Successful Thru-hikers

fat-hen-on-katahdinThis spunky couple from the state of New York hiked together through the 14 states of the Appalachian Trail and made their final climb up Mount Katahdin on October 9, 2016. Beginning their adventure from Springer Mountain, Georgia on March 19, 2016, Dano and Becky hiked NOBO (north bound) for 205 days (206 if you want to include the approach trail up from Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain).

Since I last reported their progress on September 13, Fat Hen (Dano) and Rooster Talon (Becky) made two journal posts. One on September 27 from the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness in Maine, and the second on October 9, sharing their victory on top of the big mountain in Baxter State Park, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

The journey through northern New Hampshire and Maine, with the exception of a few foggy days, was clear and beautiful revealing magnificent vistas with 100+ miles of visibility. Any hiker reflection referencing this part of the trail must include a statement about Mahoosuc Notch and the Arm that follows. The experience brought a mixed review form the couple and their post captured their take on the most difficult mile on the AT, “We allotted about 2 hours for it and it took us 3. The first 2 hours were adventurous, climbing under, over and through huge rocks, challenging and unforgiving… The last hour was the worst night hike of our lives, treacherous and dangerous, frustrating and slippery. We stumbled out, into a campsite and spent the evening talking about unnecessary risks.”

They stopped in Caratunk, Maine and like all good hikers searched for a good meal. They found one in the form of a foot high cheeseburger called ‘the exterminator.’ It consisted of “two, 1 pound patties of beef, cheese, fried pickles, a battered-fried chicken breast, battered and fried mac n’ cheese, onion rings, bacon, and barbecue sauce on 3 buns surrounded by spiced potato wedges… One of the best burgers I’ve had in my life!” 

The weather turned cold in Maine and the night temperatures fluctuated down at the freezing mark, but they were determined to complete the adventure and October 5th brought them face to face with Mount Katahdin. The 8.5 mile hike to the summit concluded about 12:30 in the afternoon and the picture at the brown sign shows a beautiful day with clear skies and a beautiful view from the summit.

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon

As they reflected back over their experience they were pleased with the hike they made.

“Our hike didn’t skip an inch. We walked every single step, northbound, from Amicalola GA to the summit of Mt. Katahdin in ME…. with absolutely NO ‘yellow blazing’ (taking a shuttle to skip hard or ‘boring’ parts) and no ‘reverse slack packing’ (leaving all your gear at a hostel and getting a ride north to walk difficult sections easier in reverse… to better explain: a ride to the top of a challenging climb so you can walk down hill without any of your gear). Everyone who hikes this trail does so for their own reasons and in their own way, but for Becky and I, it was important not to rely on tricks and gimmicks, but to tackle this honestly, together.”

Rooster Talon and Fat Hen – Congratulations on your successful thru-hike and the integrity of your journey and thanks for recording and sharing your journal online! I applaud your efforts, diligence, and enthusiasm.

Categories: Amicalola Falls, Appalachian Trail, Fat Hen, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, NOBO, Rooster Talon, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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