As a change of pace, I thought I would provide an update on the seven Appalachian Trail thru-hikers with their own words. Since my last post of May 10, each hiker has been making progress. As of their last posts (most of them on May 16th), here is where they are:
Hard Knocks – Port Clinton, PA.: mile 1,214
Bamadog – ten miles north of Boiling Springs, PA.: mile 1,127
Chip Tillson – 25 miles north of Daleville, VA.: mile 750
Sour Kraut – Luray, VA.: mile 938
Which Way and Next Step – VA 56, Tye River: mile 828
RTK – Big Meadows Campground, VA. (Shenandoah National Park) mile 921
Pigweed – Shady Valley, TN.: mile 452
5/ 10 It was raining on us after a few hours and the rocks got slick and the dirt got muddy. I lost the end of one of my trekking poles in the mud and it was lost and gone forever. With this terrain, functional trekking poles are a necessity…stop in Duncannon….so I could buy new poles. Since we [Hard Knocks, Roam, and Happy Feet] were there and wet, we decided to call it a day. We checked in at the Doyle Motel. If passing this way you should know that this is NOT the Hilton!
5/13 ‘Rocksylvania’ has truly earned its name among hikers. Lots of different rock challenges here. We have had mazes to go thru, boulders to climb over, and general walking hazards in uneven and unstable steps.
5/16 [After a zero-day in Port Cilton, PA] Just a quick object lesson I guess. In addition to staying hydrated you must provide plenty of fuel for the fire, and the calorie fire is huge when you are hiking the AT. So now I am off to burn more calories!
Shenandoah River, Harpers Ferry, WV
5/10 The roller coaster was rough. I got overheated. It rained and made everything slick. I turned my foot over again. Very painful….Hope to get into Harpers Ferry tomorrow afternoon. Hope everyone is doing well. Thank you for your prayers
5/13 I have a shin splint on my other leg now. Went into Waynesboro and resupplied. Had wonderful people bring me to town and take me back to the trail head. Very much appreciated.
5/16 Started walking at 7:20. Walked in rain most of the day. It was a beautiful day in the forest. Climbed boulders in the morning and walked in mud and water in the afternoon. Had to set my tent up in a jungle. The trail is 6 inches wide and on both sides it is grown up with who knows what.
5/10 The day started nice enough through pasture lands and past the Keffer Oak. At 300 years old it’s “the 2nd largest oak tree along the AT”. Apparently there’s a bigger one in NY, I’ll let you know….I have just enough food to get to Daleville, three days away. There is a small store halfway where I’ll pick up some extra calories to be sure.
5/13 Sunday’s weather was hot. I heard some hikers say it had affected their mileage but I had no problem, maybe I’m not moving fast enough to get overheated. The Rhododendrons were blooming and the Mountain Laurels are getting ready. Late in the day I passed through a long tunnel of Honeysuckle bushes, sweet!
Saw my first rattlesnake. The rattle end was two feet into the trail, the rest hidden in leaves. Hmmm…what to do. I spotted it easily but it wasn’t hard to imagine someone else coming along and stepping on it. I tossed a few sticks to move it along but that only prompted it to lift its head and look at me, flicking its tongue…unnerving.
5/16 It rained nearly all day but was warm enough so that I went without rain gear. It’s just water, it’ll wash off. The big millipedes seem to have been replaced by little orange newts, they’re everywhere! I wonder what they’re thinking as I thunder through their world like Godzilla. The trail paralleled the Blue Ridge Parkway and crossed it several times at pullover viewing spots. Unfortunately it was foggy: no views…
Sour Kraut – No words – only pictures
Which Way & Next Step
5/10 [After a Zero-day in Daleville, VA.] It always seems to be a little more difficult to get going the day after a Zero…. Fortunately the first couple of miles were relatively flat. The trail here paralleled I-81, eventually crossing under the busy interstate, another open pasture, and finally we were back in the forest, where we belong.
5/13 Mother’s Day… our hike started at 0645, because Which Way wanted to get to town so that she would be available to talk to our kids when they called. I usually get flowers for Which Way on Mother’s Day…. As we departed camp I told her that all of the flowers on along the hike today were hers to enjoy for Mother’s Day. Of course, the trail did not disappoint.
Mother’s Day Flowers for Which Way
We had a single significant climb today and it came early in the hike…. At the top of the climb we paused for a break and to worship. It is so easy to count our blessings and give thanks out here. The wildlife was out and about this morning. We ran across a bunny hopping up the trail, two chipmunks playing chase, squirrels, birds and butterflies fluttering about, a deer just off the trail and two snakes. Some of the wildlife actually posed long enough for a pic.
5/16 We started hiking a little before 7AM with the intent of making it 17 miles to VA Route 56 by 3PM. We wanted to be off the trail on Thursday so that we could be in contact with our daughter who was having surgery.,,,, We emerged soaking wet from the forest at the VA 56 parking area at 2:45PM…. trail angels Dave and Jim…drove me to the Enterprise rental car agency located another mile or so away. We knew that at some point in the hike we would have to make a quick sprint to Washington, DC so that I could get a Retiree ID Card and we could pick up our 90-day refill of meds…. After shuttling a couple of hikers to a local AYCE Chinese Buffet, we hit the I-64, headed to DC. …We arrived at my cousin Bill’s place in Old Town Alexandria a little before 10pm. Bill had brownies and ice cream ready when we walked through the door. Death by chocolate—Perfect!
RTK – last post 5/8
RTK at Big Meadows
5/8 Wally and I broke the day – which we knew was a tall order: over 18 miles – into thirds. The first was a six mile stretch that included two, 2-mile climbs. By focused attention to a steady pace, we conquered the first third. The morning was brilliant weather but clouded up most of midday. The next six miles rolled through woodland without any views or points of interest except we were able to have lunch at Lewis Mountain campground. After climbing Bearfence Mountain, Wally waited for a ride at a Skyline Drive parking lot and I finished the last 6 miles by myself. The afternoon changed back to the brilliant sky with a cool breeze – wonderful conditions for the hike. The late afternoon light seemed to help illuminate the wildflowers. I made very good time on an excellent trail….tented at Big Meadows campground.
Pigweed last post 5/12
Pigweed’s AT Barn
5/12 Today started rainy and the rain actually came intermittently most of the day. However, it never actually broke out into a hard rain, just enough to make me put my umbrella up and down several times in the morning in the afternoon. I was kind of dragging in the morning and came to about a 5-mile mark and at a shelter when the rain was threatening so I stopped and cooked a hot meal and made some coffee. A hot meal at lunch time is a rare thing but… the real pick me up. Rest of the day went quite well and I ended up doing 16 miles stopping at Low gap. A thunderstorm was raging to the north of me and threatening me so I put up my tent and let it pass with barely any effect, just enough to wet my tent. It caused a late dinner as I did not start cooking until close to 8 but I need the calories after 16 miles.
Today’s hike had an interesting pastoral section where I walked through some actual pastures that connected to Mountain sections. The barn had a big AT symbol on it so the farmer is obviously a friend of the trail.