New York

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

Lots of Silence on the AT

My View from the Washington Monument in Maryland

Four of my seven thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail have been silent during the last few days. As you may know, I am following seven online journals of folks that began their AT adventures in either January or February. Let me give you a quick update on each hiker.

The silent ones are

1). Hard Knocks (last posted in his journal on May 25 from High Point Shelter about 30 miles from the NJ/NY border).

2). Sour Kraut (his last photo was at the Mason/Dixon line on May 21).

3). RTK (who posts a week behind his location has been silent since 5/23 when he posted from Bear’s Den Hostel in northern Virginia).

4). Pigweed (posted on May 30 from Pearisburg, VA).

Bamadog, Chip Tillson, and WhichWay/Next Step have faithfully journaled and their last posts were 6/4/2018.

Bamadog – June 2018

Bamadog has been averaging 14.23 miles over the past six days and has traveled almost 100 miles – from Mashipacong Shelter (three-quarters of the way through New Jersey) to a shelter about 25 miles from the New York/Connecticut border. On May 30 he hiked by High Point, NJ on a beautiful, cool day. He logged 19.5 miles that day and enjoyed a beautiful sunset despite the forecast of a raining night. Bamadog awakened to a cloudy May 31 with temperatures in the low 70’s. Then, he hit the mosquitos – there were awful as he crossed into New York and faced the challenging climbs of the Prospect Rock area. June 1 proved to be a short day (9 miles) as he stopped at Greenwood Lake for breakfast and a short, 3-day resupply of food. Bamadog did not make an entry on June 2, but on June 3 he recorded his hike through the Bear Mountain Recreation Area (including the zoo) and across the Hudson River near Fort Montgomery, New York. It rained on the morning of June 4 delaying his start till 8:30 am. It was chilly as he hit the trail and he began his day in a long sleeve shirt, but within an hour of hiking, Bamadog was down to his short sleeves looking forward to finishing up the state of New York by Thursday.

Chip Tillson (he does not post photos!), for the last six days, has been hiking through the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. He averaged 10.7 miles per day covering just over 61.5 miles. May 30 was a short hiking day logging in 6.2 miles and finding shelter at Loft Mountain Campground just off the Skyline Drive. He took care of some laundry needs and picked up some resupply at the camp store. A downpour of rain overnight left the trail like a river on May 31. He wrote that the path “went from running water to muddy quagmire” and yet he was able to hike his longest day of the week (16.2 miles). He ran into his first bear on the trail and caught eye on his second running away from him later the same day. June 1 brought a little discouragement as he discovered about an hour into his journey that he was hiking the wrong way. He met a Ridge Runner along the path who encouraged him with words of assurance that all good hikers make similar mistakes. He spent the night in another “official” campground: Lewis Mountain Campground. More rain greeted Chip on June 2 bringing slippery mud and prohibiting a clear view of the Shenandoah Valley. More hard rain continued on June 3, and more discouragement occurred during the night. Critters chewed a hole in his food bag and ate some of his instant oatmeal. By 4:00 pm, the rain let up. Chip paused for a hot supper and then continued for two additional miles before making camp four miles south of Luray, Virginia. Chip spent the morning of June 4 getting dried out. He stayed at camp with his gear hanging from a clothesline. It was early afternoon before he began to hike. He observed another black bear along the trail before he reached his destination: Pass Mountain Hut.

Which Way and Next Step in Harpers Ferry

Which Way and Next Step have hit a major hurdle in their thru-hike. Which Way (Alicia) became very uncomfortable with an older back injury that was raising its ugly head. On May 30th she knew she needed to get the back checked out and so she was able to arrange a ride into an Urgent Care in Charles Town, WV, about 7 miles from Harpers Ferry. Next Step (Darrell) continued to hike. He logged 19.6 miles into Harpers Ferry and met Alicia at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Which Way was told that she needed rest for the next 5-7 days, so they revised their hiking plans. Next Step would continue to hike north and Which Way would drive a rental car enabling them to meet up each day. Darrell logged 20 miles on May 31 ending his trek in Washington Monument State Park, Maryland. On June 1 he generated 21.5 miles with a final destination at Pen Mar County Park on the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. Another long hike (18.5 miles) on June 2 brought Next Step to Caledonia State Park in PA. Which Way and Next Step then drove 30 min to Chambersburg, PA, where they stayed with good friends from their time in the military. They enjoyed a zero-day in Chambersburg on June 3 before Next Step continued northbound on the AT. Having undergone some physical therapy on her back in Charles Town, Which Way received news from the doctors that she would need to stay away from hiking for four weeks. This sad news was devastating to both of them, but they have decided that Next Step will continue and Which Way will go home to recover. So, Next Step hiked 20 miles on June 4 and met Which Way at the halfway point of the AT at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Alicia is on her way home and Darrell continues without her. She still hopes to join him in a month and complete the hike together to Katahdin.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Bamadog, Bear Mountain, Black Bear, Chip Tillson, Class of 2018, Harpers Ferry, Maryland, Mosquitoes, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Pine Grove Furnace, Thru-Hike, Which Way and Next Step | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opa’s Thru-hike

Opa, Reinhard Gsellmeier, lives in Rochester, NY.  He is a 66-year-old retired engineer. Opa is happily married to his wife, Kayanne, and they have a wonderful family including two children/spouses and five grandchildren. His grandchildren call him Opa and his wife Oma – thus his trail. Opa has done a fair amount of backpacking/ hiking/ snowshoeing in the northeast. He has most of his experience in the Adirondacks but also has had adventures in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

Opa’s plan for his AT thru-hike will consist of 2-parts.  He began on the 10th of February and part one will run through the beginning of June (he hopes to be somewhere in New Hampshire). He will then get off the trail for family reasons and resume the thru-hike in early September.

In a pre-hike journal entry, Opa listed several reasons for making his hike of the AT. Two of them touched my heart and made me an instant fan:

Opa and one of his grandsons

Reason No. 2:  I want to complete the AT for my wonderful grandkids. Maybe someday, at a time in each of their lives when they are faced with their own challenge, they’ll be inspired by their old Opa.  Maybe they’ll say to themselves that Hey, if Opa can hike the AT, then I can overcome my challenge as well. Who knows, maybe they’ll someday even be inspired to undertake their own AT thru-hike – now wouldn’t that be grand!

Reason No.4: It is my understanding that there are just over 500 people 60 or older that have completed an AT thru-hike. That’s a relatively small number. I’d like to add my name to that list!

The Adventure Begins: February 10, 2018

Opa’s adventure began with an Amtrak ride from Rochester, NY to Gainesville, GA. The bad news was Amtrak was about 2 hours late pulling into Gainesville, but the good news: the shuttle driver, Ron Brown, was ready to go as soon as Opa got off the train. Opa was on the approach trail of the AT in Amicalola Falls State Park at 10:30 in the morning. He registered at Amicalola as hiker number 62. The approach trail is 8.8 miles to the summit. These miles obviously don’t count, so Opa’s total AT mileage was only 0.2 miles. It did rain all afternoon, but it was a vertical rain and not blowing in his face and the temperatures were mild. The trail ended up being wet and muddy, but the rain provided a good shakedown of his rain gear. Opa ratings: “all systems are a go.” He spent the first night in the Springer Mt. Shelter with Greg and Big Load.

Hawk Mountain Shelter

February 11, 2018: 7.9 miles of hiking (total 8.1 miles)

Opa was so glad he spent the night in the shelter because it poured down the rain most of the night. The heavy rain didn’t let up till about 10:00 so Opa got a rather late start. Once he, Big Load and Greg began hiking they found the trail in decent shape despite all the rain. Somewhere along the way, Greg dropped behind. The heavy rain started in again about 3:00 and the radar indicated more rain to come (flash flood warnings), so Opa and Big Load elected to stay at Hawk Mt. Shelter for the night.

February 12, 2018: 19.4 miles!! (total 27.5 miles)

Tent at Woods Hole Shelter

Monday was a long day but a delightful one. Opa and Big Load got a 6 AM start, hiking by headlamps. There was no rain for a change but the weather was misty and foggy all morning. The sun broke through in the afternoon turning the day into a sunny but cool one – it ended up being a perfect afternoon for hiking, enabling Opa to pound out some long mileage. He decided to sleep in his tent, as opposed to the shelter, to avoid the annoying mice. Opa was the only one at Woods Hole Shelter. He was not sure where Big Load was along the trail, although Opa hoped that he will show up at their rendezvous point before nightfall.

What a good start for the retired engineer from New York State.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Georgia, New York, Opa, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Congratulations Beaker!

Today’s post is a tribute to Rusty Miller, a chemist from West Virginia, and his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He began his journey on February 26, 2017 and crossed his finish line on September 12, 2017 for a total of 189 days.  Many of you have followed my blog and his adventures over the past seven months. This post will be a photo diary of this man’s trip across 14 states and his 5 million steps to the finish line. All of these pictures come from Beaker’s online journal found at: http://www.trailjournals.com/journal/photos/18636

He began at Springer Mountain, Georgia with red shirt and kilt.

North Carolina brought the Smoky Mountains and cold weather.

Tennessee included a bike ride in Erwin to do some laundry and a lovely waterfall with hiking buddy, 1st Sgt.

There’s always a possibility of snow in April in Virginia, but the wild ponies of Grayson Highlands are always a highlight of a thru-hike.

Becker actually sold his home in WV and bought a new one in Knoxville while on the trail. He took three weeks off trail to move his home from West Virginia to Tennessee. This gave him an opportunity to change his trail persona.

Harpers Ferry, WV is the home of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the emotional half-way point of the trail. The true, linear, half way point is in Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania.

The month of June brought the rocky trails of PA, NJ, and NY.

July led Beaker above tree-line in New Hampshire.

August 12 was the day for Mount Katahdin, Maine, the northern terminus of the AT.

20. Mount K

Beaker on lower left

After Katahdin, Beaker went home to Tennessee for two weeks before completing a section of Virginia that he skipped on his NOBO journey to Maine. He returned to the trail on August 27 to complete his 2,200 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail. Moving SOBO, he was dropped off in Waynesboro, VA. by his son, Zack, hiked 315 miles in 19 days, and finished his adventure in Adkins, Virginia at The Barn Restaurant.

What a great journey! I give Beaker a standing ovation and two thumbs up.

Categories: Adkins, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Beaker, Dover Oak, Erwin, Georgia, Grayson Highlands, Harpers Ferry, Maine, McAfee Knob, Mount Katahdin, Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Palmerton, Pine Grove Furnace, Springer Mountain, Tennessee, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Peas – On the Trail in Connecticut

Without the Beard

Moonbeam and Big Cypress

My last post about the Two Peas (Moonbeam and Big Cypress), thru-hikers from Florida, found the adventurers in Port Clinton, PA ready to take on the rocks of Pennsylvania. That was May 31. They have made great progress since then, so let me catch you up on their journey.

They completed their hike through Pennsylvania on June 4th, plowed through New Jersey by June 10, trekked on through New York and arrived in Connecticut on June 15. Their post on June 17 came from Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut where they are enjoying a much needed zero day of rest, pizza, and soaking sore feet.

The last two weeks have been rather difficult for the Floridians, especially for Moonbeam. The journey is taking a toll on her physically and emotionally. On June 6 she shares, I am “struggling to find happiness with this hike,” and again on June 14, “I’ve been very very emotional since leaving Greenwood Lake. My tears have been flowing unabated….daily! Tough on hiker bodies and feet. I want to finish, but I don’t want to hike anymore! It’s a difficult mix, not wanting to be a person that quits but on the same hand not wanting to hike anymore! They have been on the trail for 126 days and have about 715 miles to reach Mount Katahdin. My prayers are with them as they make decisions moving northward.

Lehigh Gap, PA

Lehigh Gap, PA

The two made it through Rocksylvania and commented on the scary climb out of Palmerton and Lehigh Gap. This is one of the most challenging climbs outside of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Moonbeam’s adjectives: scary and precarious! They arrived in Delaware Water Gap on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey glad to enter a new state and needing a trip to urgent care for Moonbeam’s infected toe. Church the next day filled their ears with an encouraging message seemingly “aimed” just for them.

The 73 miles of New Jersey was accomplished in just four days as the Two Peas averaged 19.5 miles a day! They commented on the beauty of Sunfish Pond, the sunny days, and filtering/drinking clean mountain-stream water the color of tea.

CreameryThe hike across New York brought little rain and drinking water became more difficult to find. Their journal records the special treat at the creamery of Bellvale Farms (some of the best ice cream of my thru-hike), the “joys” of the Lemon Squeezer (a rock formation that requires a skinny body and gymnastic-like moves to navigate without taking off one’s backpack), the walk-through of the zoo (the AT goes right through the zoo), and the pause at the railroad station located right on the trail.

The last journal posting, written from their zero day in Connecticut, reflects the refreshment of resting tired legs and sore feet. There seems to be a renewed communication between the Peas and a deep trust in God for moving forward. I will try to keep you up-to-date as they record their journey.

Quotes from Two Peas Journal: http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=538604

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bellvale Farms, Connecticut, Lemon Squeezer, New Jersey, New York, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update from the Trail

Cypress and Moonbeam 1

Two Peas – Big Cypress and Moonbeam

Of the many thru-hikers that I selected to follow this season, only three remain on the trail: Two Peas from Florida, Dulcigal from Georgia, and Fat Hen & Rooster Talon from New York. Let me give you an update on these brave hikers.

I have heard nothing from Fat Hen and Rooster Talon since April 26 when they arrived in Erwin, Tennessee. Rooster Talon (Becky) was experiencing some hiking difficulties with a very sore in-grown toenail. The two of them conducted some backwoods surgery on the toe prior to hiking into Erwin. I am anxiously awaiting a revitalization of their online journal.

Both Dulci and the Two Peas updated their journals on May 10. It was great to hear from both of them. Both are still plowing ahead and making northern progress toward Maine.

The Two Peas took a nero (near zero) day entering the town of Waynesboro, VA. They then remained in Waynesboro for three zero days: resupplying, refreshing, and healing from the demands of the trail. Mrs. Pea (Moonbeam, aka, Kristin) had been fighting a UTI and a few days off trail appeared to be needed. Once they left Waynesboro, they hiked 9 days in a row averaging 11.4 miles per day. The last post (May 10) found them on day 88 of their journey and at the northern end of the Shenandoah National Park – over 960 miles of the AT behind them. They took advantage of the wayside restaurants along the Skyline Drive. I stopped at every one on my thru-hike and enjoyed the food immensely.

Moonbeam continues to struggle a bit physically on the trail. She is walking with painful shin splints. I am amazed that she continues to put in the miles every day. It is obvious that she has very little quit in her spirit. She picked up new boots in Waynesboro and thinks that the sore shins might be related to the boots.

Ducigal and the Wild Ponies

Dulcigal and the Wild Ponies

Dulci also posted on May 10, her 59th day on the Appalachian Trail. She has arrived at Marion, Virginia having hiked five days out of Damascus. She is “hoofing it” at an average pace of 12.5 miles per day. Her journal describes her excitement at Grayson Highlands enjoying the wild ponies. She also shared that she was greeted one morning this past week with 4-6 inches of snow and freezing temperatures. Fortunately she had not sent home her winter clothing yet.

Marion, Virginia is about 530 miles north of Springer Mountain. I remember very clearly having to stay in Marion. I got norovirus just outside of Marion (the only time I got sick during my journey) and ended up taking 2 days off the trail throwing-up and inspecting the bathroom every half hour. My cheap hotel had fairly nice facilities.

To provide a little idea of pace on the trail. The Two Peas arrived at the 530 mile marker on Day 51 of their journey while Dulci arrived on Day 59. After my two days off in Marion I hiked out of the town on Day 38. Everyone hikes at a different pace and the total mileage logged in any given day can vary greatly. Fortunately a thru-hike is not a race against man. It might be a race against the seasons, a race against one’s personal budget, a race against the available days to spend on the hike; but, all things said and done, the finish line only greets winners – 64 days (world record pace) or 200 days doesn’t really matter.

I am rooting and cheering for the Two Peas from Florida and Dulcigal from Jackson, Georgia. Hike your own hike (HYOH) and keep Katahdin in your sights.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Damascus, Dulcigal, Erwin, Fat Hen, Florida, Georgia, Grayson Highlands, Hiking, Journaling, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New York, Rooster Talon, Shenandoah National Park, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, Two Peas, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rambunny – Part 2 – The 2004 thru-hike

RambunnyI discovered one of Rambunny’s trail journals on line at trailjournal.com. It was written in 2004 as she attempted yet another thru-hike (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=69015). This hike was a SOBO attempt that began on Katahdin, Maine on July 15, 2004 but ended 464 miles later at Fahnestock State Park, New York on September 29, 2004. I was curious to discover the why of Rambunny’s decision to walk off the trail. I doubted that it was her determination, or her physical ability to meet the challenges, or a sense of homesickness since she had hiked the hike three times before this 2004 journey.

Carole’s hike was tough from the beginning. She attempted to climb Mount Katahdin on July 15, but a major thunderstorm forced her back down after a 3 mile climb. The next day (July 16) the weather still dictated an impossible ascent to the brown sign. So on July 17 she got a ride to Abol Bridge, 15 miles from Katahdin, and began her SOBO adventure. That same day, she tripped going over a rocky area and bruised her ribs. She writes in her journal on July 18 the she thinks her rib is probably cracked and she is in quite a bit of pain. Five days later (July 23), the rib is causing a great deal of discomfort, so she take a zero day in Monson, Maine to evaluate. Carole concludes that she needs some time off trail to heal, so she makes arrangement to stay and help Honey and Bear, owners of the hostel, The Cabin. She stays at the Cabin for 29 days (July 25 to August 22) allowing the ribs to recuperate.

Rambunny 2Carole decides to skip the Whites and jump back on the trail in southern New Hampshire, about 45 miles from the Vermont state line. The trail adventure goes well until August 22nd when she takes a faceplant, literally on her face. Her glasses bruised the bridge of her nose with a resulting major nose bleed. The next day Rambunny describes herself looking like a raccoon. With the soreness, she concludes that she might have broken her nose. On September 24 she records “I feel like someone has punched me in the upper chest. The purple and yellow are traveling down my left eye and I’m purple ½ way across each eyelid and across the bridge of my nose. The chest hurts not the face. Thankfully if you have to do a face plant I did it well.”Then on September 26 she writes, “At the end of the day yesterday I realized the fall has definitely re-injured the muscle around the broken rib. No big deal but ouch! Going to keep ibuprofen close.”

Here is a portion of her journal dating Tuesday, September 28, 2004:[brackets contain my commentary/information]

“Sometime before morning the backlash of another hurricane came in pouring all night. My chest hurt whenever I turned. It woke me up with an ouch. Then I put my glasses on my hurt nose. Ouch!…..There’s a shelter 9 miles from here then none for 20 some miles. I hate setting up tent in the rain especially with a wet dog trying to help…..This is the first time in over 7,000 miles I’ve thought about quitting. Since I skipped some earlier, this is a section hike. Just got the feel sorry for myself pity party going on. Hope it and the rain let up soon. Going to try to hike in the camp shoes. 9 miles it is. Yes, I’m a wimpy hiker.

Financially it’s not looking good either. Maybe hiking in the rain will help my attitude. I hope so. Carrying 5 to 6 days of food at time isn’t helping. I’m way over 25lbs with that dog food [Sobo is an Autralian shepherd making the journey with Rambunny] and cold weather stuff. Financially though it doesn’t make sense to stop and buy food between mail drops. Whine. Whine. Whine. Do I serve cheese and crackers with this whine?

Set out in the pouring rain. Couldn’t see 5 feet in front of you. Sobo kept shaking and looking at us like we’re nuts. We are….Fell flat on my butt twice. No injuries though, just splashed water and mud all over me and the bottom of my pack. All day I had fantasies of getting off trail renting a car seeing what I want to see and going home. I’m going to give it to Delaware Water Gap [135 more miles] and if it continues I will.

Aqua made hot raspberry tea. Yum! I do love the trail and all about it. I think I’m just tired of hurting. We got the pizza. All 3 of us appreciated it. Sobo’s still grumpy though.”

Then Wednesday, September 29, 2004: “Cobweb, Aqua and Sobo are still trying to sleep as the sun is just now waking up. Torch is making breakfast and I’m sitting here looking at another wet day with everything wet. Oh boy. Six miles later with the trail a pond in most places I confessed to Aqua my feelings. I’m done this year. Went through a week of weighing it out and I’m fine with it. I did a 455.3 mile section hike, enjoyed every minute of it and learned a lot. Sobo too. I’ll add my other three section hikes to it and continued filling in the blanks over the years to have a 4th End to End hike. Eventually I want own or run a hostel on the trail. It is my passion in life. [This is accomplished via the Hiker Hollow Hostel in Adkins, VA.] We got off and walked a mile to Fahnestock State Park to the Ranger’s Station. She called us a taxi that took us to Cold Springs, NY Countryside Motel. Nice little place.”

HikeItForward-Final-MediumAt least on virtual paper Rambunny writes with a positive flare reflecting a lot of grit and dogged determination. How does a three-time thru-hiker deal with an injury-filled attempt and having to walk away after a valiant display of diligence and determination? Often with guilt, and disappointment. Rambunny is no different but notice her ability to see the big picture and put the hike in a proper perspective.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

“Ok. I’ve walked 7,332 miles on the AT. I can release the failure feelings.”

 

Photo on porch: https://sites.google.com/site/sedentarysteve/may24.(continued2)

Photo on the phone: https://www.gofundme.com/yiaqk

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, New York, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Trail, Vermont, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ida Sainsbury – First Canadian to Hike the Appalachian Trail

Ida in Background, Mary up front

Ida in Background, Mary up front

Ida Sainsbury from Toronto, Canada was the first woman outside of the United States to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  It was a section hike that bridged four years. Ida traveled to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania in May of 1970 to attend a weekend convention of the Appalachian Trail Conference. On the last day of the conference, she met Mary Years of Newark, New York, who had been looking for a hiking partner for three years. The match seemed to be ordained. They began the journey as perfect strangers but soon became life-time friends.

Although Ida had minimal backpacking experience, she and her husband were long time mountain climbers belonging to the Bruce Trail Club of Canada. The two ladies, both in their 50s, began their adventure the hard way. The tackled their first leg of the journey by hiking 300 miles through Maine. The thirty-day trek involved some of the most difficult terrain of the entire trail. They entered the trail with 37 pound packs and lots of enthusiasm. Despite a struggle with a serious water shortage, the women successfully completed their first exposure to the AT.

A four day adventure over Easter, 1971, allowed Mary and Ida to hike through Maryland and West Virginia. In August of 1971, they completed phase two of the plan covering 430 miles in five weeks beginning in New Hampshire and trekking south through Connecticut. 1972 brought the third phase taking on New York and moving southward once again through the rocks of Pennsylvania. Mary and Ida kept a regimen on the trail. Their typical day began a dawn with the goal of stepping onto the trail by 7 am. They hoped to hike 10-15 miles per day and make camp around 4:30.

bruce-trail-2

Bruce Trail in Canada

Before completing the final phase of the AT, Ida was selected to lead a hike on the Bruce Trail in her homeland. According to The Canadian Champion, on January 17, 1973, she was to lead the Moonlight to Midnight hike from Crawford Lake to Rattlesnake Point. Returning to America, Ida and Mary completed their trek in 1973.

Ida returned to Toronto having conquered the White Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains of America. She served for 20 years with the Canadian Cancer Society but managed to walk the Bruce Trail at least three times. In 1984, at age 70, Ida climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The Ottawa Citizen in 1986 tipped their hats to this amazing woman of the trail that challenged the myths and stereotypes on aging. Ida was part of a learning series on aging called The Best Years, which aired on TVOntario in 1986.  

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2194&dat=19861208&id=i8EyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ze8FAAAAIBAJ&pg=1405,4692482&hl=en

Photo of Mary Years and Ida Sainsbury (Mary foreground, Ida background)  The Geneva Times 1971

http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2011/Geneva%20NY%20Daily%20Times/Geneva%20NY%20Daily%20Times%201971%20Sep-Oct%201971%20Grayscale/Geneva%20NY%20Daily%20Times%201971%20Sep-Oct%201971%20Grayscale%20-%200280.pdf

http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/MPL/MPL002496075pf_0056.pdf

Map and more info regarding the Bruce trail found at http://www.carp.ca/2015/03/21/halton-chapter-community-meetings-in-april/

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bruce Trail, Canada, Connecticut, GSMNP, Ida Sainsbury, Mary Years, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, The Whites, Thru-Hike, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Snakes!

HikeItForward-Final-MediumOne of the aspects of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike that I am not ready to warmly embrace is the presence of snakes. I totally understand and affirm that I am treading on their land and their homes. I am the visitor and they are the residents. I want to be a good pilgrim and pass by without confrontation. I am not seeking times of fellowship and sharing. I am not hoping for long conversations and philosophical exchanges. I have read and have placed my confidence in the “fact” that these snakes are extreme introverts when it comes to human social interaction – they would rather not fight or kiss but rather hideaway off line or off trail.

I really don’t like any snake – probably because I am never sure that my identification is correct. My research confirms that nonvenomous snakes, such as the garter snake and the black rat snake are much more commonly seen than either the rattlesnake or the copperhead, and that they too shy away from hikers. A common warning from several sources: “Remember that any snake will bite, so watch, but don’t approach or try to touch, the snakes you find along the Appalachian Trail.” I will try to keep this in mind when I have the urge to pick one up or invite it to tea and crumpets.

Rattlesnake2

Rattlesnake

There are two cousins that I hope do not make my photo album of the adventure – the rattlesnake and the copperhead. The big boy rattlesnake is normally 3 to 5 feet long (although they will be magnified in length through the bifocals of a 64 year-old thru-hiker). They love to make their homes in Pennsylvania and Virginia but they can certainly “strike” a pose in any state along the AT.  They do enjoy using their rattles to welcome or warn all passersby. Although several rattlers together might make an interesting percussion section, I would prefer to sing acappella so I will try my best to heed the maracas of the wilderness.

Copperhead

Copperhead

The shorter cousin (between 2 and 3 feet long) is a bit stealthier on the trail. The copperhead with the stylish triangular-shaped head and hour-glass body tattoos has a beautiful tan denoting his favorite daytime activity – sunning on the rocks. The bronze camouflage makes the copperhead difficult to see on a leaf laden path or on the reddish clay that is common in the southern sections of the AT. The copperhead is mostly found in the drier, rockier parts of the trail. They have been spotted as far north as Massachusetts but they are more abundant along the trail between Georgia and New York.

I hope to avoid these good neighbors and allow them to freely roam without us making acquaintance. But if we do meet I will let them speak with forked tongue and I will try to keep my wits and sidestep their bite.

http://www.trails.com/list_1913_poisonous-snakes-appalachian-trail.html

Poisonous Snakes on the Appalachian Trail | Trails.com http://www.trails.com/list_1913_poisonous-snakes-appalachian-trail.html#ixzz2t7RXK91W

Photo Rattlesnake http://earthshinenature.wordpress.com/tag/eastern-diamondback-rattlesnake-roundup-conservation-education/

Photo Copperhead http://www.copperhead-snake.com/

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Georgia, Hiking, New York, Pennsylvania, Snakes, Virginia | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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