Virginia

Grateful 2 Still On the Trail

On Easter Sunday (April 16) Grateful 2 was staying at Standing Bear Hostel, just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike through the GSMNP is always a highlight for thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail and making it through this section is a hiker’s badge in and of itself. He had hiked over 240 miles of the AT and was pleased with his progress.

Grateful 2’s last journal entry was on May 21 and he has made it to Pearisburg, VA, about 630 miles into his thru-hike adventure. During this month on the trail two things have changed his approach and his progress: a truck and a fall.

First, the truck. On April 22, Grateful 2 and his hiking buddy, Persistent, came up with the idea of a “key swap” technique of hiking the trail. His journal on the 23rd included their plan,  .

“We are on our way now to Chattanooga for a zero day at my house where we will retrofit the truck bed for a sleeping station for the trail. We are going to try a thing called a “key swap”. Every day one of us starts out on the day’s trail section from the south. The other one drives to the north end of the section, parks the car at the trailhead, and starts walking south. We meet in the middle, “swap keys”, and when the northbound hiker gets to the truck he returns to pick up the other hiker. The beauty of this plan is threefold. First, we don’t have to carry heavy packs (5 pounds versus 30 pounds). Second, we have a truck to use in the evenings to go out to eat or run errands. Finally, we have a dry place to sleep with a comfortable bed.”

Six days of the key swap seemed to provide a more comfortable pace for the two hikers. But then, on April 30, the second change occurred, “At 13 miles in I had a fall. I caught my toe on a root while going downhill and face planted. I lacerated my forehead and nose, and broke my nose. Blood everywhere; on my arms and legs, on my clothes and pack, all over the ground. The first hiker to come by stopped and asked me if I was ok. Haha. Several hikers stopped to help, and we got the bleeding under control. CTscans showed no broken facial bones except for my nose. They glued and taped my forehead back together and sent me back to the Hostel. Michael and Rikki have been so caring; I don’t know what I would have done without them. Don’t know what this injury means to my hike. I know I won’t be hiking tomorrow.” 

Seven days later, Grateful 2 returned to the trail to continue his adventure. He maintained his “key swap” technique but this time with another partner, Chip. The hike progressed well until Thursday, May 18th when the truck began to suffer mechanical problems. “…I realized that my truck has transmission problems. It almost stranded us on the highway, and now we are in a motel in Wytheville near a transmission shop. Looks like I will have to have a new transmission. Big bucks! I won’t know until tomorrow how long it will take either.”  

It took several days to repair his vehicle but his entry on May 21 indicated that the “key swap” will continue on the 22nd with another new partner, Peter Pan. There has been no update since. I am anxiously awaiting word on their progress.

Categories: Adversity, Appalachian Trail, Grateful 2, Key Swap, The Fall, Thru-Hike, Virginia | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker: From Damascus to the Wild Ponies

Bo, Beaker and 1st Sgt in Damascus

In the last few blog posts, I have been providing a quick journal tour of Grateful 2 and his son, Gooseman, from Tennessee as they have begun the thru-hike attempt of the Appalachian Trail beginning in Spring Mountain, GA. Yesterday’s post found him in Gatlinburg, TN. Meanwhile the chemist from West Virginia, Beaker, has been on the move. On April 8, Beaker and his two hiking buddies, 1st Sgt, and Bo, arrived in Damascus, VA, the ending spot for BO’s section hike. Let’s pick up the adventure as they move through Damascus and make their way to the wild ponies of Grayson Highlands.

April 9 Broken Fiddle Hostel, Damascus, VA to Lost Mountain Shelter, VA.  = 15.9 miles

Beaker and 1st Sgt. headed to the Country Cafe for breakfast in Damascus before leaving the iconic trail town. The dynamic duo hiked on or next to the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail most of the day. It was a beautiful sunny day, with temperatures reaching almost 80 degrees. They arrived at the Lost Mountain Shelter around 6:00 pm.

As they were setting up their tents, fellow-hiker Courtney came bouncing into camp with a slack pack. Her parents had come to visit and were bringing her regular pack to the shelter, which was located only a mile from the road. When her parents arrived, along with her pack, they brought pizza, sodas, chips, bananas, and brownies. Dinner was served!

Beaker and the Ponies

April 10 Lost Mountain Shelter to Thomas Knob Shelter, VA.  = 12.3 miles

The hiking buddies began today’s hike by descending 1.5 miles to Rt 58. Then the climb started – 2000 ft climb to the top of White Top Mountain. They continued to climb with steadily rising temperatures, we reached Buzzard Rocks. They experienced a little reprieve by descending to a road crossing at Elk Garden,. Beaker began to realize that the heat and the climbing were beginning to wear on him. He knew that he and 1st Sgt. had to climb back up to Mount Rogers (the highest peak in VA). As they approached Thomas Knob shelter, 1st Sgt agreed that the climb had beaten them up enough that they were ready to stop. When we reached the shelter, we were met by four wild ponies – a stallion and three mares. The ponies were very tame and very much interested in licking the salt off of us and our packs.

April 11 Thomas Knob Shelter to Stealth site 3.0 miles north Hurricane Creek Shelter = 19.1 miles

Beaker awoke this morning to the clip-clop of little hooves as five ponies arrived at the shelter. A couple of the bolder ones even stuck their heads in the shelter to check on the sleeping hikers. 1st Sgt and Beaker headed out into another beautiful morning and saw many more ponies as they hiked across Grayson Highlands. They arrived at Hurricane Creek Shelter around 5:30 pm; but found that it sat on sloping ground and the tenting area was located quite a distance from the shelter. So they ended up hiking another three miles before finding a suitable spot to set up camp.

“We are on a tight timeline because we have to be at mile marker 544.0, where the AT passes under I-81, by 4:00 pm on Thursday. We are getting picked up by Enterprise Rent-a-Car and we are then driving to my mom’s house in Charleston, WV, where Marguerite will meet us. 1st Sgt will then return the rental car on Friday and continue his hike while I go back to Morgantown with Marguerite to pack our house for the move to Knoxville, TN. After much internal debate and weighing of alternatives, I’ve decided that when I return to the trail …. I am going to jump ahead to wherever 1st Sgt is … and complete the hike with him. I will then return and finish the portion in VA that I missed.”

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Damascus, Grayson Highlands, Thru-Hike, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dulcigal Into Pennsylvania

Dulcigal and dulcimer

Dulcigal and dulcimer

Dulcigal, Karla Redman from Jackson. Georgia, is attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Stepping out from the southern terminus, Springer Mountain, Georgia on March 13, Dulcigal made solid progress through Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. As she entered Virginia (the state with the most miles on the AT), she faced 550 miles of trail before reaching West Virginia. She entered the Shenandoah Nation Park and had conquered 469 miles of Virginia and then, it happened…. On June 19 (day 99 of the adventure) at 4:00 in the morning, Dulcigal woke up with intense pain from kidney stones – it was a debilitating case of kidney stones that resulted in an emergency room visit, two days in ICU, and a trip back home for recuperation.

Honestly, I did not think she would return to the trail, but her resolve is more than incredible. Less than a month after the episode, she is back on the path. On July 12, she returned to mile marker 932 and the trail head at Pinnacles Picnic Area with her two sons to continue the quest for Maine, Mount Katahdin, and the brown sign marking the northern terminus of this very long trail.

Dulicgal has posted several times since resuming her trek. The entry dated July 13 records that her hike through the Shenandoah Mountains was complete. She loved this part of the hike (as did I) with the beauty and freshness of the mountain canopy, but she was pretty excited, anticipating her arrival at Harpers Ferry, WV – only 54 miles away. During her time away from the trail, she lost some of the endurance and strength gained from hiking 930 miles, but she posted that each day was bringing more energy.

Dulci at the ATC

Dulci at the ATC

July 18 found Dulci at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, WV. She got the traditional photograph taken and entered into the historical record of thru-hikers of 2016. When I arrived here in 2014, the date was June 30 and I was hiker number 924 – Dulci’s official number was 1,436. There are definitely lots of hikers on the trail this year.

Her sons (Jeremiah and Isaac) were able to hike with their mom all week to help her get a safe start back on the path. They returned home when the trio arrived at Harpers Ferry, but Dulcigal decided to stay in West Virginia a couple of days to allow a pulled muscle to recover. She had hiked 87 miles in 5 days but it was the 13.5 mile “Roller Coaster” (endless ups and downs), climaxing the end of the hike through Virginia, that tested her trail legs.

Dulci’s journal on July 20 relates a special story of receiving and carrying a dulcimer along the trail. She got the instrument in Waynesboro and began playing it some during her hike in the Shenandoahs. She shared that she played it every day in Harpers Ferry. I just love this part of her entry, “After the boys left, I carried the dulcimer with me when I went into town in case an opportunity arose to play. One of those times I came across an elderly lady sitting at a park picnic table. She was waiting on her son and his wife to finish a day hike. It didn’t take me long to realize she had some dementia and was struggling with general conversation. When I played her music on the dulcimer, her entire countenance changed. It was a blessing to me to see her enjoy such a simple gift.”

Dulcigal at Midway Point

Dulcigal at Midway Point

July 26 is the date of her most current post. She is in Boiling Springs (one of my favorite trail towns along the AT), having passed by the true half-way point of the AT in Pine Grove Furnace State Park and having walked over 1100 trail miles. She continues to gain strength and to make adjustments to the physical demands of the adventure. On the down side, the past week has been quite tough mentally. The hiking community she knew before leaving the trail is now 300 miles ahead of her. She is really missing her children after spending 3 weeks with them during recovery. And the heat, humidity, and bugs have made the recent days rather difficult.

She writes, “Now I understand the mental challenge piece of the hike. Getting to the halfway point sign at 1094 miles was not exciting to me. I’m ONLY HALFWAY!!! I still have 1094 miles to go!!!! That’s what was going through my mind.”

She began to reflect back on her excitement about returning to the trail. She experienced several deep conversations with herself and with God to sort through the distracting mental struggles and frustrations. She found strength in the ordeal with the kidney stones and being convinced that her journey was not over. She concludes her past journal entry with this insight: “We may not always understand the hills and the valleys in our lives, but we must still go on.”

Keep on hiking on, Dulci!

All photos are from Dulcigal’s online journal at http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=523064
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Boiling Springs, Class of 2016, Dulcigal, Georgia, Kidney Stones, Pennsylvania, Roller Coaster, Shenandoah National Park, Thru-Hike, Virginia, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dulcigal Back on the Trail

Dulcigal posted an encouraging entry on her online journal last Wednesday, July 6.

Peach tree road raceHer entry on June 29th reviewed her severe case of kidney stones on the trail, two visits to two emergency rooms in two different hospitals, two days in ICU, followed by three more days in the hospital, and finally, a road trip back home for rest. Since then, Dulci has been enjoying some time with her family while getting the much needed rest and relaxation. She met her family at Piedmont Park as her children ran to the finish line of the world’s largest 10k…the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, GA. Running the Peachtree has been one of her favorite yearly events but this year she needed to just sit, cheer, and watch.

The post on July 6th reads, “Every day I am getting stronger, but I still have to take it easy. With that being said, my sons (Jeremiah and Isaac) are bringing me back to the trail this weekend (July 9th/10th). I will be taking it nice and slow, slack packing as well, and seeing how it goes. They will be with me for the week to hike so all is good. I am excited about getting back to the trail.”

Dulcigal.quarter of the wayDulci writes about the real possibility of doing a flip-flop. A flip-flop is a thru-hike that begins down south in Georgia and then at some point leaves the trail, travels to Maine while the weather is still good, and hikes southbound back to the spot of the flip-flop. She shares that she has several options to get to Maine if she needs to change directions.

After a recent visit to her urologist, she found out that her kidneys are full of stones, but they are too small for “invasive treatment”. The doctor prescribed lots of water with lemon juice and a careful eye on what she eats. For a thru-hiker with hiker hunger, a discerning eye on one’s diet will be no small task.

Dulci is so excited to get back on the Appalachian Trail. She and her sons planned to leave this past weekend. She has not posted since but she was headed to Pinnacles Picnic area in the Shenandoah National Park where her kidney stones forced her off trail.

Her excitement to hike again is captured in her last journal entry, I cannot wait to get back to the trail. I needed the rest and recovery and I know that I will be starting slow and will have to rebuild my strength. However, even during this difficult time, I have believed that my journey was not over…at least not yet…that God got me this far and He will continue to carry me until He tells me otherwise.”

I’ll keep you posted as Dulcigal adds to her journal.

Road Race Photo: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/road-closures-2015-ajc-peachtree-road-race/nmp5r/

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Atlanta, Dulcigal, Georgia, Injuries, Journaling, Kidney Stones, Maine, Shenandoah National Park, Thru-Hike, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dulcigal: Down But Not Out

A View in the Shenandoah National Park

A View in the Shenandoah National Park

Dulcigal updated her journal on June 29th. She really enjoyed her hike halfway through the Shenandoah National Park. The mountain terrain was easier, the views were different, and lots of camp stores along the way made food options more appealing. She began to pick up the pace, averaging from 18 to 22 miles a day, She especially loved the wildlife including deer and bears.

Unfortunately, the hike took a different turn at 4:00 Sunday morning, June 19th. Dulci was safely tenting near the Pinnacles Picnic Area (around mile 936 on the Appalachian Trail) when she began to feel very ill. In her journal she write:

“I was awakened by a horrible pain in my back. Fortunately nearby, another hiker was tenting who had a car. He took me to Page Memorial Hospital ER in Luray, VA – the closest hospital. The doctor confirmed it was a kidney stone, prescribed pain medicine and I was on my way to hiking again. I took Sunday off and rested at a local hotel. By Tuesday, June 21st, my conditioned worsened and was shuttled back to the ER. The stone had blocked my kidney causing kidney and liver failure and septic shock. Page Memorial sent me via ambulance to Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital (45 minutes away to Harrisburg, VA). I was in ICU for 2 days and then a med/surge floor for 3 days. I was one very sick hiker. Family was able to come and be with me during those difficult days.”

Dulcigal.HinkerDulcigal was discharged from the hospital and has made her way back to her home in Georgia. She seems to be in such good spirits, reflecting a positive response to the trauma on the trail. She concludes her post with a perspective of hope and faith.

“It was a long 2 day ride back to GA after being discharged on Sunday, June 26th. I am slowly recovering, but daily getting stronger. I met with my Doctor today, who is an avid hiker and plans to hike the PCT some day, who believes I can finish the hike…but only after 2 to 3 weeks of proper rest and recovery. The CAT scan shows I have 2 kidneys full of stones, so I will have to be careful, but life goes on and with God’s blessings, the hike will continue. Thank you to all of you who have been praying.

Throughout the entire ordeal, I could feel God’s presence and knew that I was in His care. The fervent prayers of the Saints…God is so good. ….. I will keep you all posted as to when, where and how the hike will continue!!!”

As Dulci continues to post in her online journal, I will keep you abreast of her decision making. Meanwhile, join me in praying for her complete recovery and a time of reflection with her friends and family.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Dulcigal, Shenandoah National Park, Thru-Hike, Virginia | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Fat Hen and Rooster Talon Hike Over 1000 Miles

1000 Mile Marker

1000 Mile Marker

After a couple of weeks of silence, Fat Hen and Rooster Talon have posted to their journal. On June 21, they posted with the excitement of reaching the 1000 mile marker. It is only a small sign nailed to a tree but it is such a motivating sight when you are on the trail. To walk 1000 miles is quite an accomplishment and something to celebrate. This young couple have been on the trail for 95 days and are staying at the Blackburn AT Center about a dozen miles south of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters. In Harpers Ferry each of them will get his/her picture taken and receive a thru-hiker number, putting Dan and Becky into the annals of trail history.

Fat Hen GlasgowTheir June 3rd post was from Daleville, Virginia. Several days of hiking and 56 miles later, they arrived at Glasgow, Virginia, a town about 5.9 miles off trail. Catching a ride into town brought back three-year-old memories of a visit the couple made to the town while driving through the area. They remembered the fiberglass dinosaur that graces one of the town’s major intersections and the incredible fried chicken the purchased from the Natural Bridge Country Store. The also remembered giving a thru-hiker a ride into town – what a change of roles this time around. On this return visit, they took a photo with Dino and purchased a 16 piece bucket of chicken, a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper and a half gallon of ice cream from the country store. They enjoyed their stay in Glasgow at a town shelter with electricity and a hot shower.

After leaving the town with the dinosaur, they made their way north past Waynesboro, Virginia and into the Shenandoah National Park. Their hike through the SNP was filled with a menagerie of wildlife and lots of good food. During a four-day period in the park, Dan and Becky saw 12 bears, 2 rattlesnakes and 1 copperhead. They did not share the details of these animal encounters but I can image that they have some exciting stories to tell. They also enjoyed the Waysides along the trail – these are great car-stops along the Skyline Drive that are easy walking from the AT. Th389ey serve some great ice cream as well as some good food. Fat Hen and Rooster Talon specifically commented on the blackberry milkshakes!

After their journey through the national park and a quick stay in Front Royal, Virginia, they hiked through the brutal Roller Coaster (13.5 miles of tightly packed ascents and descents) that will test the calves and shins of any hiker. They safely arrived at Blackburn AT Center and now have their sights on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Stay tuned for a picture in front of the ACT Headquarters. My hiker number was 924 when I arrived on June 30, 2014 – I am curious to see how their numbers compare.

Photos or Dan and Becky: http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?trailname=20168

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Fat Hen, Glasgow, Harpers Ferry, Roller Coaster, Rooster Talon, Shenandoah National Park, Thru-Hike, Virginia, Waynesboro, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lighterknot – God’s Provision

Book Cover 2I recently received a review on my book, Hike It Forward, that was rather critical of my experiences. The reader noted that I was very quick to see God in the good times – the missed rain storm, the surprise trail blessings, the finding of needed water, etc. – but I was rather silent in sharing God’s presence in the adversities of the hike. I am very disappointed in myself, if this is true. Honestly, I was more aware of God’s faithfulness to me in the midst of difficulties than in the warm, sunny days under the canopy. I thought I would take this post to remember a series of coincidences that revealed God’s sovereignty of provision and protection.

Sons of Encouragement

Archangel, Motown and Rowdy

God’s faithfulness began as I left Damascus, Virginia. I was planning to hike out of town with two great young men that I called my Sons of Encouragement (Motown and Archangel), but Motown got very ill in Damascus and needed to stay to recover before moving on. I hiked out alone. I decided to stop just out of town at Subway for a quick breakfast. I got to the restaurant 5 minutes before opening so I sat outside the place to wait for my anticipated egg delight. Another hiker came along willing to wait, so we began the normal thru-hiker introductions and chit-chat. His trail name was Lighterknot and we enjoyed some kindred-spirit time. We ended up eating breakfast together but hiked out of town at different paces. Soon we were out of sight of one another and I doubted that we would see one another again.

213

The Ponies of Grayson Highlands

I hiked 20.2 miles that day without seeing another thru-hiker and pitched my tent at a campsite near Whitetop Mountain Road. The next day I crossed over Mount Rogers and experienced the wild ponies of Grayson Highlands. It was a hard hiking day with lots of hot sun and without lots of tree cover. After making it through the rugged terrain of Grayson, I decided to set up my chair and have a nice snack at Wise Shelter. It began to sprinkle and then came the downpour. I moved my chair into the shelter and was soon joined by eight other hikers seeking shelter from the storm. Among the refugees from the trail was Lighterknot.

As we all sat in the shelter swapping our trail names and our stories of adventure, the rain danced on the metal roof of the shelter. After about an hour, Lighterknot announced that he was meeting his wife the next day at Fox Creek and they were going to zero day in Marion, Virginia. He would have room in the car for two or three others if anyone wanted a ride. I quickly dismissed the announcement as I had just zeroed in Damascus a few days earlier. The rain delay lasted two hours and then God moved the clouds and filled the sky with the sunshine of His grace.

I folded up my tent, flopped my backpack in place, and headed down the trail. A few hours later I found a stealth campsite and nestled in for a good night’s sleep. All was good until dark-thirty am. I woke up to a very distressed stomach. I did not realize what was going on until I knew I had 20 seconds before I was going to throw up all over myself. I barely had time to unzip my tent, bail out of my sleeping bag, and stick my head outside, before my dinner and half my intestines came flying out of my mouth. That first dreadful experience was followed by a second round. I ended up in a dripping sweat and with the taste of warmed over death in my mouth. I had eaten some dried vegetables before going to bed and even the thought of them now makes me ill.

Lighterknot

Lighterknot

As I made my way back to bed and got some control of my thinking, I knew I needed to get off the trail. Lighterknot’s invitation came flying back into my mind and I was hoping that the morning and God’s sovereignty would allow me time to walk the four miles down to Fox Creek before Mrs. Lighterknot (Deb) arrived. The morning brought stomach cramps and dizziness. I was up and packed by 7:30. I arrived at Fox Creek at 9:30 feeling nauseous but elated to see Lighterknot and Gizmo sitting on a log waiting for the limo to arrive. I asked if there was still room. A spot was indeed available. God’s hand was evident and my Father was faithful in the midst of adversity.

I made it to Marion. Mr. and Mrs. Lighterknot dropped Gizmo and me off at a cheap but appropriate hotel. My wife, Cathy, who had come to Damascus to see me, was still in North Carolina visiting our daughter and her family. She drove over to Marion, so I had her counsel and special nursing ability to help me through the 48-hour bug. Cathy drove Gizmo and me back to the trailhead at Fox Creek and I was able to continue on the AT knowing that God was truly in charge of the details of my thru-hike.

Photo of Lighterknot: https://lighterknot.wordpress.com/2014/05/

Categories: Adversity, Appalachian Trail, Archangel, Damascus, Grayson Highlands, Lighterknot, Marion, Motown, Thru-Hike, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dulcigal and Fat Hen/Rooster Talon – Both in Daleville, Virginia

DalevilleDulcigal (Karla from Jackson, Georgia) began her thru-hike on March 13 and on Day 83 (June 3) of her adventure she posted a journal post from Daleville, Virginia.

Fat Hen (Dan) and Rooster Talon (Becky) started their trek on March 19 and on June 3rd (Day 77 of their thru-hike) they arrived at the same trail town of Daleville, Virginia.

Will they meet? Will they show up in each other’s journal? It is kind of like an Appalachian Trail soap opera. If not in Daleville, maybe soon. I will keep you updated.

My last post regarding Dulcigal, found her in Pearisburg, Virginia (mile 631) on May 26. She submitted a journal entry on May 29 from The Captain’s Place, a camping area about 30 yards from the trail. She had just missed a big hiker feed the night before – 200 hikers were there (I would have purposely missed that huge of a gathering). In order to get to the camping area, the hiker must ride a zip line over a creek. Dulcigal commented on the fun zipping into camp. She spent the night at The Captain’s Place before moving on down the trail.

McAfee Knoc

Dulcigal at McAfee Knob

Five days of hiking and 72.2 miles later, Dulcigal posted from Daleville, VA. She commented on reaching McAfee Knob and loving the view. Lots of rain had fallen over the five-day trek and so had many hikers. Rain mixed with the rocks and dirt of the path result in a very slippery trail.  One female hiker had fallen and broken her leg. On another day, a male hiker took a tumble and fractured his wrist. It only takes a slippery step to end your adventure.

Dulcigal has heard that there is a hiker festival being held in Troutville, just a few miles down the road. She is planning on heading that way to enjoy the festivities.

Fat Hen.6.1.16

Fat Hen near Tinker Cliffs

Meanwhile, Fat Hen and Rooster Talon posted a journal entry on June 3 after 19 days of silence. They were in Damascus on May 15, they spent the Memorial Day weekend with Dan’s family (they did not share where Dan’s parents are from but they drove 7 ½ hours one way to pick them up), and then they put things in high gear, hiking over almost 60 miles in 3 days. One day they hiked until early in the morning! Only the young bucks can do stuff like this. Here is part of their post:

“We hiked 56 miles in 2 1/2 days. Two of those days were at 23.5 miles. thats a lot for us and we picked some of the roughest (and prettiest) terrain we’ve seen in a while. One day we hiked until 1:30 am. We don’t recommend it. It was all worth it though and it was fun to see the limits of our abilities. We hope to increase our daily mileage from here on out.”

Dulcigal, Fat Hen and Rooster Talon continue to be in my prayers as they hike northbound toward the incredible state of Maine. They have completed approximately 1/3 of the AT, but still have 1,460+ miles to go. Multiply the days on the trail by three and Dulci will need a total of 249 days to complete her thru-hike and Hen/Rooster will finish after 231 days on the trail. Unfortunately, the trail gets more difficult as the hikers move north. After a zero day in Daleville, I left this restful town on Day 49 of my thru-hike (and I was not a very fast hiker).

Map of Daleville: https://acornhikestheat.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/trail-report-pearisburg-va-to-waynesborova-857-miles/

Dulcigal photo: http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1034207&back=1

Fat Hen photo: http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1033423

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Captain's Place, Daleville, Damascus, Dulcigal, Fat Hen, Georgia, McAfee Knob, Pearisburg, Rooster Talon, Thru-Hike, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rooster Lives!

The Pony at Grayson Highlands

The Pony at Grayson Highlands

My last touch with Fat Hen and Rooster Talon was April 26. That journal post left me with grave concerns about this young couple and their Appalachian Trail adventure. Rooster Talon (Becky) was struggling with a chronic problem of ingrown toenails to the point that hiking long miles was become very painful. She and Fat Hen (Dan) opted for some backcountry surgery thru-hiker style, so they literally took the problem into their own hands. Using some mini-scissors, and tweezers their AT surgery went well. The toe, bandaged and lathered in antibiotic ointment (the healing balm of any successful thru-hike), cooperated in carrying the Rooster into Erwin, Tennessee.

With no news for almost a month, I was beginning to assume that the forest operating room resulted in a more sterile OR and a ticket home for the rest of the hiking season. But, no! The Rooster Talon is proving to be one tough bird.

The journal come back to life on May 15, finding the young team in Marion, Virginia. Having traveled through 50 miles of the state of Virginia, Becky and Dan seem to be hiking well. They took several photos along the way including the one posted here with one of the ponies at Grayson Highlands (a highlight for almost every thru-hiker).

Tent City at Trail Days

Tent City at Trail Days

The couple made a decision to delay their NOBO adventure and returned to Damascus, Virginia for Trail Days. Dulcigal made the same choice although neither journal mentions a connection between the hikers. That is not a big surprise because (Fat Hen notes) Damascus, a town whose population is about 850, sees 20,000 to 30,000 visitors to this festival. Most of those visitors are not thru-hiking the trail, so Dan and Becky decided to opt out of tent city (a place with lots of late night celebration and loud parties). They rented a tent site on the yard of a church for $5.00 per night. They were very happy with their choice.

Trails Days was a boat load (maybe that should be a backpack full) of fun. Neither hiker won any free gear, but the AYCE pizza dinner and AYCE pancake breakfast made the journey memorable. The highlight for Dan was some disparate repairs on his backpack. The maker of his backpack was not represented in the Damascus event but he took his sick pack to the Osprey booth. They did a wonder repair and charged him nothing. Dan was overwhelmed with the quality of work and the trail angel spirit of the company. I think Dan’s next pack will have the Osprey decal printed on the back.

It is so good to see this couple alive and well on the trail. They are not making great time but they are on the move. My prayers are with them. The weather should turn in their favor and miles should begin to increase.

Photo of tent city: http://www.appalachianjosh.com/2015/11/days-149-151.html

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Damascus, Dulcigal, Fat Hen, Grayson Highlands, Marion, Rooster Talon, Tent City, Thru-Hike, Trail Days, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dulcigal Travels to Trail Days

Dulci on Blood MtDulcigal arrived in Marion, Virginia on May 10 (Day 59 of her thru-hike), having hiked over 530 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The weather, during the first two weeks of May, was rather unpredictable. One night during the trek to Marion, Dulcigal encounted freezing temperatures and 4-6 inches of snow. After warming up in Marion, a group of hikers, including Dulcigal, hatched a plan to rent cars and return to Damascus, Virginia. The plan to go backward had a purpose: Trail Days. Trail Days is the premier hiker festival along the AT and this year it was celebrated on May 13-15.

Dulci had a great time at the festival raving about gear discounts, give-a-ways and the three basic needs of all thru-hikers: food, showers, and laundry. One of the traditions of Trail Days is the Thru-Hiker parade down through Main Street lined on both sides with the locals, who shoot the hikers with water guns. Quite a strange “gauntlet-like” custom but everyone seems to enjoy the event accompanied with grand laughter and cheers. There is a hiker talent show one evening where the hikers are able to demonstrate their gifts that are often hidden by their beards, backpacks, and trekking garb.

Dulcigal gave the festival high marks and felt the trip was well worth the time. She picked up a lighter backpack (this will provide benefits for days ahead) and was able to obtain some repairs on her trail runners.

In her May 19 post, Dulcigal journaled from Adkins, Virginia. She continues to experience foot pain and is resting for a day or two. She is frustrated trying to balance a longing desire to be hiking the trail with the patience needed for the body to heal itself. Her hope is to be back on the trail in a day or two.

I am a bit concerned for Dulcigal. She has averaged about 8 miles per day during her first 68 days on the trail. I did not stay in Adkins but I passed by the community on day 38 of my adventure. At the current pace, her journey will demand 274 days and a projected end date of December 11. She will be forced to do a flip flop (at some point traveling to Maine to climb Katahdin and hike across the Presidential Mountains in New Hampshire before winter) and finish the hike moving south bound to the spot of her flip flop.

My hope is that she will be able to pick up her pace and increase her daily mileage. If she could increase her daily pace to 12 miles per day for the rest of the journey, she could finish on October 3 (very close to the closing down of Katahdin for the winter). This is still very possible. My cheers and prayers are with Dulci as she attempts to reach this major accomplishment in her life.

Dulcigal - Photo approching Pearsiburg

Dulcigal – Photo approaching Pearsiburg

Update: Dulcigal posted just a few days ago and had arrived at Pearisburg, Virginia – about 634 miles on the AT (an average of 8.45 miles per day). The good news – she is feeling stronger physically and seems to be in excellent spirits. Let me share a little of her most recent posting:

“My knee is great…my feet are better… and life has been good. These past days I’ve been able to stop and enjoy the views, take pictures, think, meditate, pray, and still complete the miles I’ve needed to complete. I’m at 634 miles in Pearisburg, VA. More of God’s creatures are being seen as the weather gets warmer. Unfortunately, the annoying bugs are coming out as well. We’ve had LOTS of rain over the past week or two. Even the locals in the trail towns are complaining about the rain. We’ve been slipping and sliding a lot on the trail. I do want to say, that in spite of the rain, I LOVE VIRGINIA!!!!!!! This is such a beautiful state. I really love the contour of the mountains, the trail, etc. It is just beautiful. God’s handiwork is very much present.”

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Damascus, Dulcigal, Hiking, Marion, Thru-Hike, Trail, Trail Days, Virginia | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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