New Hampshire

And Then There Was One

Ferry Service Kennebec River

Last February, I started following 14 thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail via their online journals. Three have completed the trail (Which Way, Bamadog, and RTK), another has reported climbed Katahdin, but has not reported doing so on his blog, eight have come up short of their adventure and two remain on the trail. One, Opa, returned to the trail on August 29th, after some major physical problems and several weeks at home. He is hiking SOBO (southbound) after traveling to Maine and moving back toward Vernon, New Jersey, where he left the trail in May. The other, Chip continues to hike NOBO (northbound) racing against time and the coming winter in Maine.

My last update was September 9. Chip was in Gorham, New Hampshire with 300 miles to go while Opa was in Stratton Maine having hiked 188 miles in 12 days including the 100 Mile Wilderness and the Bigelow Mountains.

Chip Pre-hike

Fast-forward to September 26 and Chip is in Caratunk, Maine, having crossed over the Kennebec River (where hikers are shuttled over in canoes as the official part of the trail, including a white blaze in the canoe). He has 152 miles to Katahdin. This portion of the trail took me ten days to complete. If he can duplicate my pace (which should not be that difficult to accomplish) he should summit Katahdin on October 6.

Chip has had some chronic physical injuries throughout his hike including difficulties with his left shoulder due to a fall and knees that have taken a toll over the rugged terrain. He provides some interesting insights into the physical problems still facing him as he progresses toward the finish line.

…..injuries, here’s the current report: I’m hiking with my arm in a “sling” again because of my shoulder re-re-injury. I had a minor fall on the other arm and now my right shoulder hurts too. My knees are screaming for time off (at least I’m not limping because they BOTH hurt). I’m also beginning to get a chest cold accompanied by a nasty cough. I have some antibiotics left over from my mid-hike root canal that I’m taking for that, it seems to be working.”

Opa’s Viiew at Mahoosuc Notch

Opa appeared to be going at a strong pace through Maine averaging 14.8 miles per day. On September 17th he hiked 12 miles including the Mahoosuc Arm and the Mahoosuc Notch, two of the most strenuous obstacles on the trail. Then came the concerning news in his September 18th post,

Looks like I’ve contracted Giardia, which comes from a parasite in untreated water. I make it a point to always treat my water, but I have recently had a couple of instances where I was careless. A few days ago I do recall mixing up water bottles, and not being certain which one had been treated. One bottle may have gotten a double dose of AquaMira, and the other no dose. Also, you are supposed to let Parts A and B mix and sit for 5 minutes before adding to the water. 5 minutes can be an eternity when treating 3 bottles, I maybe gave it a minute. Stupid on my part. I started having a bout of mild diarrhea along with an upset stomach a few days ago and didn’t think anything of it, but last nite….. I was up about 6 times trotting to the privy, and when I woke this AM around 8 (very late for me) I was an exhausted wreck. At one point during the day, I literally laid down right on the trail and took a 30-minute nap I was so exhausted. I didn’t eat anything all day, except for a cup of hot chicken broth tonite for dinner. Every step was a struggle. Not to mention that about every 20 minutes I had to go trotting into the woods….. Of course, the trail had no sympathy, on a couple sections, I thought I was back in the Mahoosuc Notch. I kept thinking of bailout options, how to get to a road, but nothing. On the last climb of the day up Mt. Success, I felt so wasted that I was contemplating calling 911 for help. Lo and behold on that climb I ran into a couple of NOBOs, who turned out to be my salvation.

Opa

Turns out that one was a nurse, and he asked Opa a lot of good questions concluding that he most likely Giardia. He offered some good advice. The other hiker gave Opa some electrolyte pills and some Flagyl pills, which is a prescription drug used to treat Giardia. Opa was able to hike 13 miles the next day and made it into Gorham, NH. He was able to see a doctor who gave hi a prescription for Flagyl and recommended rest for a few days. After zero-days on September 20 and 21, Opa was off again. His next three days averaged 8.7 miles per day, which is not bad through the Whites.

Then on September 26, Opa was hiking over Mount Hight and into Zita Pass in New Hampshire.

Opa and the Brown Sign

“The day started so promising today, I felt pretty good  – except for that incessant C Diff diarrhea which won’t seem to go away and is a real annoyance while on the trail…. Then all of a sudden at Zeta Pass I got very dizzy/lightheaded to the point that I thought I might faint. This happened to me once before since I’ve been on the meds for my C Diff, although not as severe. Anyway, today I tried to regroup and regain my strength, and started up the trail towards the next peak, but there was just no way – I was a wreck. My hike was over, my body was trying to tell me something. Fortunately, there was a 3.6-mile bailout trail at Zeta Pass that took me down to the road. I stumbled on down that trail, going ever so slowly so that I wouldn’t fall (as it was I fell once), then hitched a ride back to the hostel. I have no regrets, I gave it my absolute best shot, but my thru-hike attempt is over. I am very comfortable with my decision. I always told my family, and myself, that I wouldn’t do anything stupid and press on with my hike if that entailed compromising my health. The time has come to get off the trail. 

I am very grateful for the time I had on the trail: I met some great people, was the beneficiary of the kindness shown me by others, got to see parts of the country that I had not seen before, and had the time of my life. I have memories to last a lifetime. The good Lord watched over me for 1700 miles, I am grateful and thankful for the many blessings he has bestowed on me.” 

I am very sorry to see Opa have to leave the trail again. He was a warrior and should be very proud of his efforts.

Kennebec River Photo from https://appalachiantrail.com/20150827/hikers-fording-kennebec-river-on-foot-ignore-danger/
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, Opa, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

September 9th Update from the AT

The AT in Maine

The last time I shared an update on the thru-hikers that I am tracking on the Appalachian Trail, two hikers had successfully completed their journey (Next Step and Bamadog), nine were off the trail having to abandon their thru-hike, and three were still on the trail (RTK, Sour Kraut and Chip Tillson) making their way north to Maine.

RTK’s photo of the Shaw’s Hostel in Monson

Bamadog reported seeing Sour Kraut on the summit of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, but Sour Kraut has not updated his journal since August 22nd. I am still awaiting his victory picture, although he might forget to complete his diary even though he has completed his journey. RTK has recorded his progress a week in arrears from the very beginning of his trek. His last post, August 24th, found him in Monson, Maine about to enter the 100-Mile Wilderness. He has had 15 days to hike 114 miles, so unless he has experienced an injury, he has completed his hike as well. Why RTK has not posted his photo from Katahdin, I don’t know, but I will let you know when he does.

Chip before the hike

I was scanning over some of the journals of those who have had to exit the trail before completing their goal and I discovered that Opa is back on the trail. I will post his story soon, but today’s update is on Chip Tillson. Chip crossed over the Vermont/New Hampshire border on August 22nd and since then he has hiked 142 miles to Gorham leaving only 17 more miles to the border of Maine. His pace has been rather slow, averaging 8.9 miles per day, but the terrain in New Hampshire is some of the most strenuous on the AT. (Chip does not post photos so I cannot give you a visual of his adventure.)

Chip has 298 miles to go and at the current pace, he will be hiking for another 34 days. Finishing a thru-hike during the first 10 days of October is risky because Mount Katahdin often receives a winter’s blast with a generous snowfall before mid-October. Freezing winds and ice can make a climb to the mountain’s summit impossible.

Chip is experiencing sore knees and has considered doing a flip by traveling to Katahdin, climbing the mountain before the snow comes, turning around, and hiking back toward New Hampshire. Chip’s journal post on September 2 reflects his thinking but he continues to hike NOBO (northbound), “This morning at a road crossing I got some great Magic from Stitches (NOBO class of 1999). She had soda, doughnuts, and a bag of baby carrots (I so miss baby carrots). She also shared info on conditions ahead and suggested I consider flipping up to Katahdan soon and hiking south to finish up. I’m glad she brought it up as it’s something I’ve got to consider.”

Most recent pic of Chip – Day One

Chip made it to Mount Washington on September 3 but found minimal visibility and crowds of tourist, “At noon I arrived at the top of Mt. Washington. Visibility was less than 100ft and the place was mobbed with tourists who had driven or taken the train up. It was bizarre being amongst so many people so suddenly. There was a line of perhaps 50 people waiting to take a picture in front of a sign right outside the gift shop marking the summit. I went to the cafeteria for pizza and chili ….Then I headed back out into the fog, took some pictures, and wandered around looking for the trail: it was behind the gift shop and I had to cut through the picture line to continue my journey. Then just like that I was alone again in the cloud.”

September 4 brought a strenuous hike over Mt Madison and a rocky descent into Pinkham Notch leaving Chip with sore knees.  The soreness continued for the next several days. September 5: “My sore knees want to take another zero but I cant loose momentum right now so I’ll cut the miles down for a few days instead. The views back towards Mt. Washington as I climbed out of Pinkham Notch were awesome. I can’t believe I was just walking around way up there.” September 6: “Another knee wrecking day of scrambling over and through the steep, wet, and rocky terrain. Thunderstorms rolled through before noon and the mountains were enveloped in clouds the rest of the day.  September 7: “It was cold this morning, a reminder that pleasant hiking days are numbered. The mountains have me pretty beat up and I reluctantly concluded that a zero is necessary – just had to coax my sore knees over one more set of peaks then down to the Rattle River Hostel, right on the trail, for food and rest. …..Tomorrow I’ll rest, take inventory, then catch another shuttle to Walmart to buy food for the next leg.” 

September 8 marks day 201 for Chip on his thru-hike adventure having started his trek on February 20th. I pray he uses wisdom in his decision-making concerning his knees and the weather ahead. I will continue to check his journal daily and keep you posted as he completes his hike.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Mount Madison, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pigweed Goes Off Trail – August 25

Pigweed’s Snowy Trail

Pigweed hiked NOBO from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Buena Vista, Virginia, logging in about 805 miles. The class of 2018 experienced some good snowfall in March. He took some time off the trail (from March 24 to April 8) to heal from a bad back and sore ankles. Pigweed also took a break from the trail at Buena Vista to spend 25 days with his wife at the beach from Mid-June to Mid-July. Coming back rejuvenated, Pigweed travel to Maine, climbed Katahdin, and headed SOBO (southbound) back toward Buena Vista.

Pigweed injured his foot and struggled with his injury for many days. He even took six days in Gorham, New Hampshire trying to strengthen the foot and purchasing new boots before taking on the Presidential Mountain Range in the White Mountains. Two more days of hiking and his foot proclaimed Uncle! Pigweed decided that it was best for him to exit the trail and head back home.

Pigweed

Here is a section of his online journal for August 25, 2018, “Climbed Mnt Madison and up the ridgeline to Mnt Washington.  Here my journey comes to an end I’m afraid.  My foot is still unhappy even after spending a week of zeroing in Gorham and getting new boots. So, I will hitchhike off of Mount Washington and work my way back home to get some treatment for plantar fasciitis. My research tells me this is not a quick recovery, so I am pessimistic about completion of the AT at this point. 

Mount Washington with its pay road to the top and cog railroad is a tourist attraction. Kind of interesting at over 6,000 feet.  The weather was good, so I took lots of pictures and had an easy time hitching a ride back down… Indeed, I did make it home by bus and train after camping near Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to catch the morning bus.

Pigweed Shaved and Home

Pigweed began his thru-hike attempt of the Appalachian Trail on February 26th by hiking the 8.5-mile approach trail from Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain and then stepped out on the Appalachian Trail on February 27th. His adventure lasted 180 days and he hiked about 1,160 miles of the 2,190 miles of the AT from Georgia to Maine. The AT experience is not just for those who complete the grueling, brutal trail. The trail has deep lessons and impact on most of the brave pilgrims who walk the path blazed in white. My hope for Pigweed is that his experience on the AT will change his life, bring him closer to his family, and reflect seriously on the Creator of the universe. May the AT inspire him, challenge him, and restore him in unique and personal ways.

With Next Step and Bamadog already completing their thru-hikes, I am still tracking three hikers. Sour Kraut has not posted a picture since August 22, but Bamadog commented on my blog that he took a picture of Sour Kraut on Mount Katahdin during his summit on August 25. I am just waiting for Sour Kraut to post his victory photo to share my congratulations with him. RTK lasted posted a photo on Instagram on August 24 from Monson just about to enter the 100-Mile Wilderness. He should be standing on the big brown sign any day and I expect a photo from him declaring victory. Stay tuned for updates on these two hikers in the very near future. Finally, Chip Tillson is in Lincoln, New Hampshire, close to Franconia Notch with about 375 miles to go.  I love his attitude and determination, but his time is running short. One never knows when winter will shut down Katahdin, but assuming he has until October 15, he needs to average 8.2 miles every day to reach the finish line. It is still very possible so I will continue to cheer for him, follow his blog, and keep you posted on his progress.

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Maine, New Hampshire, Pigweed, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Update on the Remaining Five

Bamadog’s Taxi to White House Landing

Out of 14 thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail, I started following at the end of February only six remain. One has completed the trail, Next Step! Five others are still on the trail. Let me provide a quick update on those five who are still hoping to complete their journeys. The update is based on their progress.

Bamadog – Bamadog is on his fifth day into the 100-Mile Wilderness. He arrived (8/21) at the White House Landing (a hostel only approachable by boat) for a resupply of food and then last 30 miles of the wilderness into Abol Bridge. White House Landing is located a little over 44 miles from Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park, the northern terminus of the AT. Bamadog is making plans to summit Katahdin on August 25th. My prayers are with him as he completes his dream.

Sour Kraut fishing in Maine

Sour Kraut –  After 32 days of silence online, I had counted Sour Kraut as off the trail having to abandon his attempt to thru-hike the AT. Then, on August 22, he posted 30 photographs. None of them have any titles or captions. They are all dated with the same date. They range from Mount Washington to the Bigelow Mountains to the Kennebec River without any strict chronological order. Many of the pics show beautiful mountain vistas that could be a lot of place along the trail. However, I think there is one of Moxie Bald Mountain in Maine. I am projecting that he is at least this far along the Appalachian Trail, leaving him about 135 miles to reach Mount Katahdin.

RTK on Top of the Rocks in NH

RTK – Although Bruce Matson, RTK, posts a week in arrears and his last journal entry (August 7) records his location in New Hampshire at Gentian Pond about 290 miles from the finish line, he posted a photo on Instagram on August 19th from Pierce Pond in Maine only 155 miles from Mount Katahdin. Hopefully, I will not have to wait for two weeks after he summits the great mountain to hear and see his victory. Instagram might be my best source of up-to-date locations.

Chip – Despite a shoulder injury, Chip continues to hike that AT. He has just crossed over the Vermont/New Hampshire border. He is taking a zero-day on August 22 at Griffin’s Cabin on the border, trying to give his body some time to heal and refresh. He is about 437 miles to Katahdin’s brown sign, but he has the most difficult terrain in front of him – The White Mountains and southern Maine are brutally challenging.

Pigweed –  The last journal entry from Pigweed was August 14, penned from Gorham, New Hampshire, north of the White Mountains. Pigweed flipped directions and is now headed south to Virginia. He has hiked through Maine and is now headed over the Presidential Peeks of the Whites. With his 802 NOBO miles (from Georgia northbound to Virginia) and 320 SOBO miles from Katahdin to Gorham, Pigweed has logged in 1120 out of the 2190 miles of the trail, leaving another 1070 miles to complete his journey. He still has a great distance to cover before the cold weather makes it doubly difficult.

 

I am very excited for Bamadog, Sour Kraut, and RTK as they are in sight of the finish line. I will keep you posted as they complete their thru-hikes. I am more than a little concerned for Chip and Pigweed. I will be watching their progress closely and will try to update this blog regularly.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bamadog, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, Pigweed, RTK, Sour Kraut, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Update from the AT – 8/17/18

Next Step starting the 100-Mile Wilderness

I identified 14 hikers attempting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. All of them began their journeys in either January or February of 2018. And all of them were keeping an online journal via trailjournals.com. Three individuals took to the trail in January while the other eleven waited until February to begin their treks.

Eight of the fourteen are no longer on the trail. Zin Master embarked on January 23 but had to leave the trail after 130 miles because of a nagging injury on February 27. David Snow and his dog Abbie started on February 26 and ended his journal on March 11 in Franklin, NC. He had hiked 110 miles. Class Act, retired physician Alan Conlon, hiked just shy of one month, from February 18 to March 17, logging in 183 miles of the AT. Hickory, another strong hiker on the trail, began his journey on February 27 and then on April 17, he decided to change his approach from a true-hike goal to the completion of a section of the trail instead. He had arrived at Daleville, Virginia, and had hiked 725 miles of the AT. Genesis, Rick Miller from Pennsylvania, started his hike with his sister on January 14. He hiked on the weekends in Pennsylvania and then traveled to Georgia on March 1st. He began hiking NOBO (northbound) but he returned home after some difficult days on the trail. He and his sister returned one more time in April to try to complete the trail but could not make it. Vagabond Jack left Springer Mountain, Georgia on February 1. He hiked 675 miles through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and over 200 miles into Virginia. He left the trail on May 1 but then returned on July 12th. He continued his attempt until July 22 covering 82 more miles before a painful injury forced him from the trail. Opa, Reinhard Gsellmeier, from Rochester, NY, hiked from February 10 to May 21. He was such a strong hiker and had traveled over 1350 miles before a foot injury made it impossible to continue. Hard Knocks, Patrick Knox, began his hike on January 31. His last post found him power hiking through New England and then he just stopped journaling. On July 4th, he had arrived at Franconia Notch (about 1815 miles along the trail) in New Hampshire about to enter the hut system of the White Mountains.

Bamadog’s Photo at Bald Mountain Pond

Of the six remaining hikers, two are about to complete their journeys, one has been silent for over a month, one has suffered an injury in Vermont, one is hiking in the White Mountain in NH, and one is still over 1000 miles from the finish line.

The two hikers that are drawing wonderfully close to the end of the hike are Next Step, who is within 45 miles of Katahdin, and Bamadog, who has just arrived in Monson, Maine with 115 more miles to the big brown sign. Next Step began his adventure on February 24 and Bamadog stepped out one day later on February 25.

Next Step’s post on August 16th was from Whitehouse Landing. This wonderful hostel was not open in 2014 when I walked the path, but it reopened in 2016. It does provide a welcomed stopping place along the 100-Mile Wilderness for thru-hikers. Next Step’s wife and hiking companion for the first 1000 miles, Which Way, will join her husband on the 19th and they plan to summit Mount Katahdin together on August 20th. When he posts photos from the top, I will share his celebration with you. I am excited to see him finish.

Sour Kraut at Mt Mooilauke

On August 16, Bamadog had arrived at the last community before the 100-Mile Wilderness, Monson, Maine. His knees are sore, but he has the end in sight. The first 40 miles of the 100-Mile Wilderness contains many rivers to ford, steep ascents, root-dominated trails and challenging terrain, but the last 60 are much easier and enjoyable for the hiker. The entire wilderness experience is absolutely beautiful. Bamadog is so close to the end, but perseverance is still critical. He saw a moose along the trail on the 16th as he dodged thunderstorms throughout the day.

Sour Kraut rarely posts in words, but he has been fairly regular in updating his journal with pictures since his first on the trail, February 21. However, it has been 27 days since the last photo. He was on Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire about 1795 miles into his trek. The number of days between pictures over the last three months has varied between 5 and 14 days. This long period of silence has me concerned. He might post tomorrow from Maine or even atop Katahdin, or he may be off trail without notification.

RTK Above Treeline

Chip Tillson started on February 20 and on August 16th he was in Vermont. He posted from Cooper Lodge close to the summit of Killington Mountain. He has reinjured a shoulder during a fall. He writes, I had a bad fall this morning, slipped on a rock and went down hard re-injuring the same shoulder I hurt back in March. I was able to keep going dispite the pain but it was all uphill; it’s relatively easy to walk uphill with one arm in a sling – downhill not so much. At least I know what to expect: it’ll hurt a lot so use it as little as possible for a few weeks. Taking much time off at this point is definitely not an option. Fortunately, Superfriend Dan is coming up early next week with my fall weather gear so I’ll take a zero with him while kicking back at Ted Griffins cabin, maybe I can get in some slack packing with his help. Chip has some very difficult terrain ahead of him and I hope he will be wise in resting/healing that shoulder.

RTK, Bruce Matson began his hike on February 25. He usually posts on Thursday and reports a week in arrears. I have not heard from him yet this week, so his last entry was August 1. On that date, he was in the White Mountain about eight miles north of Zealand Fall Hut and 15 miles south of Mount Washington. My guess is that he is into Maine and could be as far as Stratton with about 190 miles to go. I will give you an update as soon as he posts this week.

Pigweed into New Hampshire

Pigweed, Lee Richards, took his first step on the AT on February 27th. He hiked a little over 800 miles NOBO (northbound) then traveled to Maine and began walking SOBO (southbound). He has logged in 319 miles heading south and posted from Gorham, NH, on August 14th. He is headed into the heart of the White Mountains with Mount Washington less than 15 miles away. My greatest concern for Pigweed is the number of miles left to travel – he has over 1000 miles yet to hike. I hope that time will not run out before he is able to complete his trek.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Bamadog, Class of 2018, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Mount Moosilauke, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, Next Step, Pigweed, RTK, Sour Kraut, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Katahdin is Drawing Close for Some

Next Step’s Photo of Moxie Bald Mountain

Of the six thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail that I am following, a couple of the adventurers are getting close to the big brown sign on top of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the trail. Others have quite a few miles left to complete their treks.

Next Step is still hiking strong as he has conquered New Hampshire and is trekking through Maine. On the 11th of August, he was hiking toward Monson, the last spot of civilization prior to the 100 Mile Wilderness. However, after the 100 miles to Abol Bridge, he is only a 10 miles hike to Katahdin Stream CampgroundowH – the base camp for the climb us Katahdin. His published plan was to meet his wife, Which Way on the 19th of August and hike the last 10.4 miles together (5.2 miles one-way to the summit and 5.2 miles back down). My guess for them is that they could do it on August 17th is they wanted to move up the plan. Either way, Next Step has been so strong throughout New England and he is so close to recording his name in the roster of the class of 2018. My prayers are with him as he tackles the wilderness and the great mountain.

Next Step

I have not heard from Sour Kraut since July 20th. But, if he has maintained his regular pace, he should be right behind Next Step. In fact, if Which Way and Next Step delay their summit until the 20th, they may summit together. This is just a calculated guess. If Sour Kraut took some time off, or sustained an injury, or developed some trail sickness, he may be behind this schedule. On the other hand, if he has picked up his pace and made incredible time through the Whites, he may find himself atop Katahdin in the next few days.

If he would just post a picture, I would let you know where he is along the AT.

Bamadog is hiking well along the trail. He is over 70 miles into Maine – about 11 miles north of Rangeley with approximately 210 miles to go. The terrain is tough, and the daily mileage tends to be lower through this final state. I am estimating 16 days more days for Bamadog and a target summit of August 24.

RKT around Crawford Notch, NH

RTK posts a week in arrears so it is more difficult to suggest an ending date for him. A wild guess is August 28th if he progresses at the approximate rate as Next Step. As of August 1st, RTK was in Crawford Notch about 14 miles from Mount Washington in the White Mountains in New Hampshire with about 350 miles to his final destination. He will need to average 12.5 miles a day over difficult terrain to make my prediction, but he is a seasoned, strong hiker with deep determination.

Chip is about 25 miles into the state of Vermont. He needs to hike another 570 miles to reach Katahdin. From this point on the AT, it took me 47 days to complete my thru-hike in 2014. At my pace, he will summit the great mountain on September 26th. If he can manage a pace of 13.3 miles per day, he can cross the finish line on September 22nd. Either way, that is a lot more sleeps and miles to hikes through challenging mountains. If he arrives on the 22nd, his journey will have taken him 184 days. Keep going Chip – you can make it.

Rangeley, ME – Unusual Half-way Point

Pigweed has flip-flopped along the trail having completed a little over 800 miles headed north, then travel to Maine, climbed Katahdin, and began his southbound (SOBO) journey back to Virginia. His last post was on August 8th from Andover, Maine about 260 from Baxter State Park, the home of Mount Katahdin. Pigweed has the longest hike of the six hikers to complete as he needs over 1100 miles. My best estimate for completion for Pigweed is the middle of October. The next 185 miles will be the key to Pigweed’s success. I think if he can make it over the southern part of Maine and through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, he will have a real shot of completing his thru-hike. Since he began his adventure, he went off trail for 15 days during the last of March and first of April and then again in June/July he took 25 days to recoup at the beach. I will be anxious to see how much he wants to complete the trail. It will take a great deal of perseverance to maintain his journey.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Abol Bridge, Appalachian Trail, Bamadog, Baxter State Park, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Maine, Monson, ME, Mount Katahdin, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, Next Step, Pigweed, RTK, SOBO, Sour Kraut, The Whites, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

THRU-HIKERS – Update End of July

Steep Trail close to the NH/ME border

My original fourteen thru-hikers are down to six. I started to track fourteen brave explorers of the Appalachian Trail who began their adventures in either January or February. Three started in January while only one remains – Hard Knocks who started his adventure on January 31 (Genesis and Zen Master had to leave the trail after giving their best effort). The other eleven began their quests in February and of these eleven only five are still active on the trail: RTK (Return To Katahdin), Sour Kraut, Chip, Next Step, and Pigweed. Vagabond Jack made a brief second attempted, but after ten days and 82 miles through some of Massachusetts and Vermont, a medical condition ended his thru-hike hopes.

Let me provide a quick update on the remaining six:

I have not heard from Hard Knocks since July 4th when he was camped at Garfield Ridge Shelter about 10 miles north of Franconia Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. That is quite a long time of silence and in the past, I have assumed that a hiker has left the trail after three weeks of no entries. But I will continue to monitor Hard Knocks because he was such a strong and determined hiker plus he has entered the Whites where cell phone coverage makes it quite difficult to update an online journal. On July 4th he was about 1825 miles along the trail.

RTK in Vermont

RTK’s last entry was July 17th. He typically posts on Thursdays and communicates a week in arrears. He was in Manchester Center, Vermont enjoying a zero-day while being safe and dry in the midst of a thunderstorm. RTK has been hiking with Hawk, a hiker following the Long Trail, which junctions the Appalachian Trail through the state of Vermont.

Sour Kraut’s last photo was posted on July 20th indicating that he has made it safely to Mt Mooslilauke in New Hampshire about 1795 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia. Mt Mooslilauke has incredible views and introduces the hiker to the White Mountains ahead. It only has an elevation of 4800 feet but the climb to the summit involves a descent of 3750 feet in six miles.

Sour Kraut at Mt Mooilauke

Chip has been consistent in his journal. On July 29 Chip was camping at the Belters Campsite in Connecticut about 35 miles from the New York/Connecticut border. He is not the fastest hiker on the trail having only covered 1486 miles since he started the AT on February 20, but the thru-hike is a marathon, not a sprint. Chip shared in his journal on July 29 an attitude of concern for me. I hope that he is able to work his way through the discouragement. “I’m pretty sure I have (or am about to) hit a physical and mental wall. I’ve felt it coming for several weeks. Don’t worry, its not surprising or unusual as it happens to most thru-hikers. Let there be no doubt that I’ll push through but it’s unavoidable, and perhaps necessary, to sometimes be overcome with fatigue and negative thoughts.”

Next Step at NH/ME border

Next Step began his trek of the Appalachian Trail with his wife (trail name Which Way) on February 24th. The hiked together until May 29 when Which Way needed to “back” away from the trail when a nagging back injury demanded some rehab. After 156 days on the trail, Which Way has reached the final state of the hike – Maine. He has logged in about 1,910 miles with about 290 tough miles to reach Katahdin. On July 29 he was staying at Full Goose Shelter just short of Mahoosuc Notch and Arm tomorrow (the most difficult 2.5 miles along the trail). I found the Arm just a little easier than the Notch, which was brutal.

Pigweed in Maine

The last hiker still on the trail is Pigweed. On June 15th, Pigweed took a 25-day rest from the trail with his wife to the beach. He left the trail near Buena Vista, Virginia, then on July 11th, re-entered the trail in Maine, climbing Mount Katahdin and heading south. In the last twenty days he has hiked SOBO (southbound) for 188.2 miles and on July 30 was enjoying a zero-day in Stratton, Maine where he is celebrating his first 1,000 miles. He is significantly behind the pace of the other hikers and I hope that the flip-flop (stopping in Virginia and traveling north to Maine) will allow him to finish before the weather turns too cold to continue.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Connecticut, Hard Knocks, Maine, Manchester Center, Mount Katahdin, Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire, Next Step, Pigweed, RTK, Sour Kraut, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Vagabond Jack, Vermont, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sour Kraut Posts Photos of the AT

Bridge at the VT/NH

Sour Kraut, aka Tim Pfeiffer, began his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on February 21 from Amicalola Falls, Georgia, hiking the 8.5-mile approach trail to Springer Mountain. Sour Kraut is a man of few words and his last written post in his online journal was May 17th when he reached the 1000-mile marker of the trail. However, Sour Kraut posts photographs about once a week. He seems to provide a visual post at the border of each new state. On June 13 he posted a shot from the New Jersey/New York border; then the June 19th post captured the Shenandoah Mountain in New York; a selfie in front of the Connecticut/Massachusetts border was shared on June 28th; the 4th of July was celebrated with a photo at the Massachusetts/Vermont border; and then this past Monday (July 16), Sour Kraut posted a posted a photo (dated July 15) of himself crossing the bridge over the Connecticut River from Vermont into the state of New Hampshire.

Prospect Rock

Bromley Mountain

Since Sour Kraut posted his last set of photos on July 4th, he has hiked 250 miles averaging about 21 miles a day. I have included several of his photos to give you an idea of his hike over the past 100 miles: Prospect Rock over-looking Manchester Center, VT (mile 1642); Bromley Mountain (1650.2); Killington Peak (1690.7) and the bridge at the Connecticut River (VT/NH border).

Sour Kraut has been on the trail for 138 days and has trekked at a pace of just under 13 miles a day. The last two states of the Appalachian Trail are comprised of about 450 miles. Sour Kraut has the most difficult terrain still ahead of him as the New Hampshire and Maine include the White Mountains, Mahoosuc Notch (and Mahoosuc Arm), over a dozen streams to ford, and the 100-Mile Wilderness.

Killington Peak

Because Sour Kraut is a little selfish with his words, it is hard to know much about him. He has shared in his profile, however, that he is hiking the Appalachian Trail in memory of his father and in honor of those still fighting ALS (Lou Gehring’s disease). I hope that Tim gains a measure of peace and comfort with each memory of the trails he connects the miles with the thoughts of his father.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Class of 2018, Maine, New Hampshire, Sour Kraut, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-July – Lots of Silence from the AT

Sunfish Pond from RKT’s photos

I have been waiting for a current update from each of the six thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail that I am following via trailjournals.com before making this post. This does not seem to be coming together well, so let me share what I know and catch you up on those who are posting regularly.

Pigweed has been off trail since June 14, taking some time with his wife at the beach. He posted from Buena Vista, Virginia (about AT mile 803), on June 14 and projected his return after the 4th of July weekend. He was considering a flip-flop experience by driving up north, completing the trail in Maine, and then finishing the section that he skipped.

RKT’s look in New York

RTK (Return to Katahdin) posts a week in arrears and his last update was on June 30 (13 days ago). Bruce Matson (RTK) was at mile-1,456. Earlier that week, he spent three zero days at Bear Mountain Bridge Hotel in Fort Montgomery, New York, before hiking north toward the Connecticut border. He crossed over the border on June 29, spent the night close to Bull’s Bridge and then traveled to a family reunion off trail.

Hard Knocks last posted on July 4th. He checked in while he was at Franconia Notch, New Hampshire (mile 1,823), sharing that cell phone coverage was extremely poor and that he would update soon. That was ten days ago and without an update. Entering the White Mountains, he does encounter extreme terrain which is infamous for cell phone blackouts. I would not be surprised to hear that Hard Knocks is hiking in Maine – looking forward to hearing from this strong hiker.

Sour Kraut last photo update was ten days ago (July 4th) picturing himself at the Vermont border and about mile 1,593.

Sour Kraut in Vermont

The number of hikers has increased back up to seven with the return of Vagabond Jack to the trail. Jack left the trail back quest for medical reasons at the end of April while he was hiking close to Newport, Virginia (mile – 671.5). He has taken a long break and now is excited about continuing his a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He has re-entered the trail close to Dalton, Massachusetts (mile 1565), hiked 9 miles to Cheshire, MA, and plans to hike north to Maine and then complete his hike southbound from Massachusetts to Virginia.

Chip has done a very nice job updating his journal almost every day of his recent experience. On July 13 he was in New Jersey, his home state, enjoying a brief relieve from the rocks of Pennsylvania. The rocks will reappear very soon, but his walk around Sunfish Pond soothed his feet from the brutal terrain of the Keystone State. Chip was traveled over 1,300 miles and I hope he will make it to the summit before the winter snows force him from his goal.

The Lookout

Next Step continues to hike solo. His wife, Which Way, who took a hiatus from the hike close to Harpers Ferry at the end of May, rejoined him in Great Barrington, MA, on June 28. She tested her back injury for a couple of days and realized that she was not able to fulfill her dream at this time. Next Step has decided to continue without her and continues to make strong hikes to the great mountain in Maine. He has traversed 1,715 miles of the AT and enjoyed a night at The Lookout (a cabin with an observation tower) in Vermont (about 30 miles from the New Hampshire border).

Name Mile State Last Update
Pigweed  803 Virginia 6/14/18
RTK 1456 New York 6/30/18
Hard Knocks 1823 New Hampshire 7/4/18
Sour Kraut 1592 Vermont 7/4/18
Vagabond Jack 1574 Massachusetts 7/12/18
Chip 1315 New Jersey 7/13/18
Next Step 1715 Vermont 7/13/18

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Class of 2018, Maine, Massachusettes, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Sunfish Pond, Thru-Hike, Vermont, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Week of July Update on the Remaining Six

The fourteen thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail that I began following this winter are now down to six. All fourteen kept online journals at trailjournals.com and each one began their treks in January or February of 2018. Let me provide a quick update on each of the six remaining hikers.

Latest Photo of Hard Knocks, February 9, 2018!

Patrick Knox, trail name Hard Knocks, had been silent in his journal since June 26th. He updated the record of his journey on July 3rd sharing his hike through July 2. During the past 5 days, he has hiked about 52 miles including a zero-day at Trapper John’s Hostel about 18 miles into the challenging state of New Hampshire. He spent a night at the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel in Glencliff, NH, and on July 2nd he was safe and sound at The Notch Hostel in Kinsman Notch in Lincoln, NH.

Hard Knocks makes very short entries so it is difficult to read between the lines and discern his emotional and physical condition, but let me share his post for July 2:

Destination: The Notch Hostel                                                          Today’s Miles: 9.30

Start Location: Hiker’s Welcome Hostel                                          Trip Miles: 1791.30

Today was a slack pack and whereas the mileage may not look big the hike itself was.  We covered little more than a mile an hour because of the steep, rough terrain and because of the heat and humidity.  That, plus the fact that we are trying to set ourselves up for our first foray into the White Mountains that are looming just before us.  “Looming” sounds a little too depressing so how about “Rising just before us like the sun on a Spring Day.”?  No matter how you say it I suppose it will be a challenge but after all these miles I am confident that it will be a mere bump in the road.  Tomorrow I am planning another slack pack to set put me right where I want to be.  I am still a walkin’.

 

Latest Photo of Chip – Day One!

Chip Tillson, who does not appear to have adopted a trail name other than “Chip,” is about 580 miles behind Hard Knocks in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania. The thru-hike is not a race and there are many paces adopted by the hikers. The biggest concern on a NOBO (northbound) hike is arriving at Mt Katahdin, Maine, before the snow closes the path to the summit – usually the middle of October.

On July 2nd he arrived at Port Clinton. I always breathe a sigh of relief when the thru-hiker travels beyond this nice little community in PA because I spent 5 days there in 2014 trying to recover from injury. v found a hotel in Hamburg (less than 2 miles down the highway from Port Clinton) and enjoyed a zero-day there avoiding the heat of the summer with no injuries involved. I found his post very interesting because in 2014 (four years ago, I watched the championship game of the World Cup on a small B/W TV in my Port Clinton hotel. Chip shares, “Yesterday I checked in to a hotel in Hamburg, PA to get cleaned up buy food. The recent heat has not felt uncomfortable but it’s clearly taken a toll. I woke this morning feeling very fatigued and my feet are sore from stepping on rocks all day every day. Recuperation is in order so I’ll stay here another night There are plenty restaurants nearby for healthy meals and I can catch some World Cup action while I rest. Weather should be cooler tomorrow for the climb back into the mountains.”

Sour Kraut in Massachusetts

Sour Kraut, Tim Pfeiffer, updates via photographs. His last set of pictures was dated June 28th and Sour Kraut was at the Connecticut/Massachusetts and had hiked to the 1500-mile marker.

I gave a brief update on Which Way and Next Step, Darrell and Alicia Brimberry, in yesterday’s blog, but they are in Massachusetts about 1550 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia. Which Way has rejoined her husband after several weeks off trail and they are moving forward hoping Alicia’s back injury will cooperate and allow her to finish the hike.

RTK, Bruce Matson always updates his journal a week at a time, but in arrears. He typically updates on Thursdays, so a post should be coming any day. His last entry ended with June 19th and Bruce was camped at Pochuck Mountain Shelter in New Jersey. He is only about 12 miles from the New Jersey/New York border having covered approximately 1350 miles of the Appalachian Trail

Pigweed, Lee Richards, last posted on June 14th. He shared in that post that he was taking some time off the trail to spend some time at the beach with his wife. I’m going to get off Trail, go to the beach for a while with Cindy then bump to Maine in a flip-flop hike and start hiking South to get some cooler weather. So I won’t be posting for a little while until I achieve that. Probably after the July 4th weekend.” True to his words, Pigweed has not updated his online journal. I am anticipating his next entry sometime this weekend or early next week. Either that or he will decide that the beach and the company of his wife are too beautiful to leave.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Hard Knocks, Massachusettes, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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