Thursday Mar 13, 2008

Day Pack review

It is that time of year again, time for me to start telling you all about my love of backpacking. This year we are going to try to get a couple day hikes along with the multi day trips. The first one that we have planned is a 19 mile day hike... So to enter this new endeavor I picked up a day pack. No for those light weight packers this will not be the pack for you, even though it is a day pack it still weighs in at 3 lb 14 oz. I am going to feel it out for a few days and then make the final call to keep it.

First impressions of the Bigelow Day Pack:

  • positives
    • side load as well as top load the main compartment
    • built in rain cover
    • small strap above the water bladder compartment to help the bladder up even as it becomes empty
    • nice cross tightening straps to keep the load tight and secure (load should be minimal for a day hike, but could be use if I can find out how to use this for a short multi day, or multi day pack for my wife when I carry my full pack)
    • nice venting in the back panel
    • full waist belt for load control
    • top lid even in a day pack
    • big back and side stack pockets for the times you don't want to get into the main compartment
    • two large mess pockets
  • negatives
    • weight... there are lighter day packs on the market
  • undecided observations
    • small stack pocket in the waist belt

Time to hit the trails...

For what it's worth.

Wednesday Oct 24, 2007

Backpacking Pictures

Just posted pictures from the last two backpacking trips.

For what it's worth.

Tuesday Oct 23, 2007

Jordan River Pathway (take four)

This is the fourth year of the JRP late hike. We moved this years up from mid-November to late October. The first two years [1] [2] were great, the third year we did not make it and this year cannot compare. So the trail is the change so here are the changes that made this years great:

  • fall color in late October is far superior to that of mid November (duh)
  • we hike it the opposite direction 10 then 8, make the 10 mile day seems a lot easier
  • deadmans hill at the end of day two is daunting, only took 7 minutes to climb with full gear strapped on
  • weather was wonderful, 50s at night, 70s during the day
  • ponds below dead man's hill are a great place for the dog to swing and play fetch while you soak in the views
  • tons of day hikers on the short loop on Sunday
  • same feeling of having the back country to yourself, very few full loop hikers
  • extra energy at the end of day one lead at least 3 miles of day hikes after the 10 mile hike in

Well, closed down backpacking for the season. My main hiking buddy is off on a mission trip to Haiti and we should have our second child coming along at the end of November.

For what it's worth.

Update: Pictures from the hike, mostly of the color.

Tuesday Oct 16, 2007

Upcoming Trek

So this up coming weekend looks to be the last planned backpacking trip of this season. With the birth our second child sometime in late November the mid-November trip was pushed up to late October. We are going to be hiking the Jordan Valley Pathway. It has been a while since we hiked it and we plan on hiking the loop in the opposite direction as we have in the past. Back on the main land this time so the dog is coming along and sounds like a new hiker as well... we have talked another into wandering with us.

For what it's worth.

Monday Oct 01, 2007

Backpacking North Manitou Island

Last weekend I headed out with my backpacking buddy Dave and we had to leave Nuba home this hike, she was a depressed doggy from what I am told. We headed out for a three day hike on North Manitou Island. Before heading up there I had warned my wife that the ferry only runs on Friday and Sunday so if I miss the ferry I was going to stuck there for a week. We joked about this the week leading up to the trip and she joked she was going to check my pack to ensure that I did not pack a weeks forth of food and claim that "I missed the ferry".

Day One:

As it generally starts out for a backpacking trip with me is an early rise and departure off to our hiking trailhead. We left Midland shortly after 5 am and off to Leland, MI. After a very scenic drive that could have been more if it would have been in the day light we arrived in Leland shortly after 8 am. Checking in to see if the Manitou Island Transit was open yet.. which it was not. So up the docks we headed stopping into the Village Cheese Shanty to ask where where we could get the best breakfast and were informed that there is only one place, The Early Bird Restaurant right up at the corner. Great breakfast special and bring your cash, no credit or debit. As were are sitting eating breakfast we noticed a trunk pull past with a trailer full of backpacking gear... I was a little worried that we were going to be swamped on the island. Shortly after bus roll in from Lansing Christian School, ah so we placed 1 and 1 together... turns out all 29 of them were headed to South Manitou Island for a seniors weekend. Picked up the tickets and paid the park fees.. all aboard. Turns out with the way the wind was blowing the day we headed to the south island first and then to the north which meant that we were on the boat that much longer... a 3 hour boat ride. No motion sickness here but I can't say the same for some of the high school students.

After finally reaching the north island we disembarked and headed down the dock to the shore to check in with the ranger on duty. After a quick orientation with the ranger about the island and a warning that the ferry may not be able to make it on Sunday if the weather is not right but to check in on Sunday about 9 am for a status... note we might be on the island until Monday. With that we headed out but not without watching where the others went. All of the groups headed straight for the north or center trail so we headed south, take not folks you might not always want to follow the crowds. After a very pleasant hike south on the main train we took a side tail to see the cemetery and the Bourniques homestead. After meeting back up with the main trail we headed west across the bottom of the island and set out to camp at Fredrickson Place. Wow, there was a great clearing with a gorgeous campsite on the north side of the field. The site had a wonderful view over the bluff and onto Lake Michigan. After dinner we had a short stroll down the dune and to the water to collect up water for the next day. We then hiked down the shoreline south to reach Donner's point, the geographically southern most part of the island. While hiking down we watched an amazing Michigan sunset that was wonderful blues, white and orange as is sank down on Lake Michigan. Now to hike back to camp in the fleeting daylight and off to bed. End of day one and 10 miles under the feet.

Day Two:

Now Dave and I are really not ones to sleep in on the mainland but we slept in soundly until 8:30. After a leisure breakfast we broke camp and headed north on the main trail. We turned off into the woods to check out Swenson's barn. Not finding right away the secondary trail down to the shore we blazed a bit... well we are glad we found the secondary trail since our blazing was a bit rugged and tight. As we approached the back side of the dune we scared up two canadian geese... where Dave resounded with "that is reason to upgrade right there" in referring to his camera which has a 3 second delay in turing on instead of an instant on. As we crested the dune we were presented with an magnificent site a huge sandy shore that seemed to go on and on and a very blue Lake Michigan. No need to say but we grabbed the camp chairs and had lunch on the beach right at the waterline. We snapped some great shots of the Crescent dock ruins and of the scenery. After a relaxing lunch were headed back across the marsh on the secondary trail back to the main trail and onward north. In enter the opening just north of Swenson's barn we were reminded of several other hikes we had taken on the mainland until we turned around to a panaraminic of the open field and Lake Michigan in the backdrop. As we entered in deeper now into the forest started to encounter mosquitoes... no problem right? Right, unless both of you forget mosquito dope. That is right, we both did not pack the good stuff and faced the hike without protection from the little buggers. After a quick stop at Stormer camp where we thought we would end for the day we were being plauged with those nasty little buggers so we headed Bennon's Place where they were worse... so down the trial to Lake Manitou. That is an amazing site to see the largest lake on the largest freshwater island in the world. Heading up the hill a bit we found a clearing four our site. We setup our tent quickly without the rain flies just to get inside and away from the mosquitoes. It felt great to lay there an let a gentle breeze blow through as I relax, napped and watch the chipmunks forage. After trek back down the hill for water we decided to have dinner and finish setting up camp. After that we headed back down to the lake to just sit and soak it all in. As we were chatting there and the light fleeting more and more, something caught my attentions behind us. Turning my head around slowly I noticed a doe deer 15 to 20 feet behind us walking very slowly out of the woods and toward us and the shore line. We watched her behind us with our necks twisted around as to not spook her. After just sniffing us out for a while she walked up the other hill and off into the woods. After a that we headed off to the tents. Shortly after getting settled in the wind picked up and boy did it pick up. It was like a freight train rolling through the trees. You could hear it start on the east side of the island and roll all the way across in waves. It was soothing enough in an odd way that I fell fast asleep until about 12:30 when at least two deer raced through our camp scaring the ... out of me and keeping me awake for a while. End of day two and 10 more miles under the feet.

Day Three:

Knowing what the wind was doing during the night and heeding the rangers warning, we enjoyed a light breakfast and took tally of the food we had remaining and were confident that we make it if we had to stay over until Monday. I generally break camp fairly fast after breakfast and get my pack ready for the trial, well this morning Dave challenged me and we set out to fast pack as if it were raining. As both of us packed up with a decent pace we finished in almost a tie, I would like to think that I finished ahead but we will leave that up to the judges. After that we broke camp and headed out for the village area and the dock. After a short hike out we reached the village area around 9:15 with no word on the ferry posted from the ranger, well that makes you stop and think. The ferry is suppose to leave dock at 10 if it is coming for the day. So all the hikers were sitting around talking about their treks and waiting to hear from the ranger what the work was. We could look out on the lake and see some swells that were nice sized. About a quarter after 10 the ranger came on by to tell us all that the ferry would be coming and would be in at 11:15. After pick us up at the north island it would head the the south and then back to the mainland. Fair enough, were were headed home and many prayers had been answered. I was ready to stay another night if need be but I did want to make it home on Sunday for various reasons. As the boat became visible off in the distance we all grabbed out packs and headed out the dock. End of day three hiking and 2.6 miles under our feet. As we climbed aboard and stowed our gear I mentioned to the ranger that I thought a group f three that we had chatted with on the ride out had not made it back... sure enough after a head count the ferry was three short. The captain blew the horn and off we went. Now in talking with these three I gleaned that they were experienced hikers, been to North Manitou numerous times and did plan on going home Sunday and not staying the week. We can only speculate what happened with them or if the really did plan on staying the week... I think the ranger would have known that though. Rumor has it that if you miss the ferry the ranger will be glad to take you back to shore in the small boat that he has at a charge of $300 payable to the state of Michigan... don't miss you ferry folks. So as we cruise on down to the south island there were some nice 6 foot swells and the boat was certainly rocking. After picking up the group from the south island we headed for the mainland on a bit of a different route based on the weather. There were again several of the seniors that were not in the best of shape riding the waves. After coming ashore and getting our gear packed up we sought out a place for some lunch. We stopped back into the Village Cheese Shanty and were going to ask for directions to a place when we noticed that they had a great selection of hand crafted sandwiches server up on fresh baked pretzel bread, oh yum. I had the Third Coast sandwich. After a fabulous lunch we hopped into the ride and headed for home, almost. We took a different way home so that we could swing by and pick up some cider donut and cider.

After dropping Dave off I finish down the block to home to be greeted by my loving wife and daughter yelling "daddy, daddy, daddy". That is a welcome home.

Wow, three days, 22.6 miles, six hours on a ferry and a huge hug from my family. That was an awesome hike and weekend.

For what it's worth.

Links:

Update: Pictures from the hike.

Thursday Sep 27, 2007

Off to the island

Tomorrow morning very early I am headed out for the second to the last backpacking trip of this season. Dave and I are headed for a three day hike on North Manitou Island about 6 miles off shore in Lake Michigan. If you are a follower of my hiking adventures you will know that I normally also take along the furry hiking buddy (my dog) but there are no dogs allowed on the island... guess she has to sit this one out, she is going to be depressed and confused when I leave with the pack and without her, sorry girl there is another one coming up in mid-October that you can come with.

After I get back I will post the pictures that we get. I hear there are some awesome sights and Dave love his camera so I am sure that there will be some great photos to share.

For what it's worth.

Tuesday May 01, 2007

GPS: Lost or Found

As I mentioned I headed out for a hike last weekend on the North Country Trail / Manistee River Trail loop for a three day / two night. The trip was a bit of an adventure. We left early on Friday morning and headed out with a quick stop to pick up a last minute meal for the trail. After reaching the trail head we were off and on a very leisure pace. We found a nice stop right on the creek bottom to stop for lunch and let Nuba splash about. It was interesting the whole trip that Nuba did not hike in front of the pack as she has in the past, but preferred to hike between myself and Dave this time out. We treked int 6.8 miles the first night to a great bluff that we have stayed before. After setting up camp and having dinner (mashed potatoes with garlic and parmesan with sauteed chicken) we headed down the valley for a side trek. Dave decided to bring his GPS in the event we might get disorientated. As we reached the valley floor we joked that it was good to have the GPS since it was easy to see how one could get quickly disorientated... as Dave glanced down his GPS was lost. That's right, the plastic clip had sheared and the GPS was laying on the forest floor someplace. We attempted to retrace out steps in search of the bright yellow unit but could not find it. We made out way back to camp and decided to try to take a look again in the morning. Dave joked that at least the GPS knew where it was. The moon was almost full and the night sky was well lite up. After a great night of rest we awoke to watch a simply gorgeous sunrise and some great blueberry pancakes. After letting the sun dry of the tents a bit we broke camp to hit the trail. Due to some family matters I headed back to the truck while Dave went on to complete the loop.

Great trip, next I hope to be doing North Manitou Island

For what it's worth.

Thursday Apr 19, 2007

Backpacking Coming Soon

The first backpacking trip of the season is coming up very soon. We are headed out for the North Country Trail / Manistee River Trail loop. We will be starting from the from Marilla Trailhead and heading south on the NCT. I have been telling one of my trial trail buddies and she is getting very excited. All the snow is gone and I am hopeful for a dry weekend but a rainy day hiking is still a good day.

For my coffee addition on this trip I am thinking of trying out Java Juice. If I take it along you can be sure that I will leave a review here for you.

For what it's worth.

Friday Nov 10, 2006

Hike in a blizzard?

Well the weather did not call for a all on blizzard but somewhere from six to twelve inches of snow where I had planned on going hiking this weekend... so I am staying home and working on framing up walls in the basement. This hike would have been the third annual [1] [2] hike of the Jordan River Pathway. I don't know who is more bummed out, me or the dog. Now to get ready for winter and the basement ready for drywall.

For what it's worth.

Tuesday Oct 24, 2006

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Day One:

I am back and all in one piece. This last weekend I hiked a portion of the North Country Trail here in the great state of Michigan. We through hiked about 24 miles from the Marilla trail head to the High Bridge trail head. We started by dropping all of the gear and two of the guys at the Marilla trail head and then Dave and myself dashed the over vehicle to the other end and got back to the start. We figured the other two had about an hour lead on us. We had man plans for the lead group to stop and wait for us so we knew we could catch them. The trail was in good condition, very leaf covered but that was to be expected. The main portion of day one I have hiked before when I did the loop with the Manistee River Trail. After meeting up with the other two we continued on, the plan for the day was at least 8 miles with the late start. As we were approaching Red Hill Outlook we started to search for a camp site... someone thought they knew where a great one was located. I had found one just south of Red Hill and overlooking the valley but we decided to keep on... we ended up in a nice little valley back about 300 ft. from the trail. It was a nice site that I doubt anyone had camped at for a long time. With it being cloudy we did not mind being under tree cover since we were going to miss the meteor shower anyways. We had a nice small fire, a warm mean of tuna and couscous. It was an early night for us all.

Day Two:

Ah up bright and early to stumble around to get the dogs food and feed her... she like to eat way to early for the trail. Just before sunrise we all crawled from our tents and had a nice breakfast, how good instant oatmeal tastes on the trail... and only the trail. Of course I had coffee, I shared a large press pot of Black Cat with the other Dan on the trek. After cleaning up camp and getting everything packed away of the trail we went. I figured that we would not run into anyone on the trail and only minutes after thinking this we cross a group of three just packing up their camp and heading the direction we came from. Okay that is going to be it right... wrong later in the day we cross five mountain bikers and a young solo hiker. Young Dave was on his first hike. He turned 18 and wanted to take up backpacking. Young Dave was hiking with borrowed gear from his uncle, no map... well a photo of a map on his digital camera, flip flops, jeans and a t-shirt. He was straight hiking as we were (in the opposite direction) and was hoping to hitch hike back to his car when he reach one of the road crossing on Sunday. I hope he did all right on Sunday, I am still getting to that part. The portion of the NCT that we hikes on day one and the beginning of day two does not really cross any water so you need to be aware of how much you have, how much you need and where to get some. We opted to take a side hike down to this gorgeous inland lake to pump. After a bit of hike down the steep banks to the waters edge we sat on a mirror lake and watch some long neck geese fly by as we pumped out water... AWESOME. We had some nice lunch (jerky, gorp, cheese) and headed off down the trail. It was a very leisure hike. We found nice camp site in large clearing right on the bend of the Manistee River. Just about the time we picked a spot it started to lightly sprinkle. So we quickly setup camp, found some wood for a fire and then started to explore around. There was a small feeder stream right behind our camp in which we saw no less than four large salmon attempting to swing up stream. The sprinkles did not stop but only increased until sometime around 11 pm the sky just opened up and the wind came howling in... thank goodness for the rain fly.

Day Three:

Lying awake in a toasty sleeping bag with the dog curled up next to me listening to the rain, ah it was a good nights sleep and a good way to wake up. Around 6:30 or 7 we started talking between tents about what the plan was for the day. We came to the decision since it was not letting up to pack, eat, and hit the trail. I got dressed in the tent, packed up my pack (as much as I could) from inside the tent and then got out to retreive my food bag. After a quick breakfast in the rain I finished packing my food and tent up. After all of us were packed up we hit the trial. We did not have that far to go so we headed out with the end in sight. As we headed down the trail we ended up broke into two groups of two (and the dog). Dan, Nuba and I were out in the front pack and treking at a very comfortable pace. After a nice long section of walking the river bank the trail heads back in the woods and hills. It was right at this point where I slipped on a section of board walk and placed one of my feet into a stream. Ugh. Well time to finish with one soaked foot. At the base of the stream there is a section of tight switch backs that take you right up the side of a nice sized hill across a small plateau and then up another nice sized hill. It seemed like we circled the top of the second hill and hiked off the ridge right close to where we had come up. The rain has not let up and won't for the rest of the day. After some time back in the wood we end up back on the edge of the hill and hike back to the rivers edge. We passed by the historic high bridge and could see the destination off in the distance. After a short distance on the marshy bottom we popped out right on the road and our parking spot. Treking over to the vehicle we opened it up and quickly changed into the warm and dry cloths awaiting us. I like to ride home in clean fresh pair of street cloths. The other two partners where only 20 minutes back so we had the vehicle warm and waiting for them.

It was a great hike and I would do it over again. We are going to head out next time (spring) to do a new section of the NCT and the goal is to hike all of it in Michigan (at least). The next trip in few weeks is back tot he Jordan Valley Pathway for out "before deer season" hike. Happy Trails.

For what it's worth.

Update: Stitched together map is parts from this website.

Thursday Oct 19, 2006

Time To Stretch The Legs

Off for a long weekend all to hit the trail with my dog and three close friends from church. We will be doing about 20 to 25 miles of the North Country Trail here in Michigan. We are starting just north Hoden-Pile dam and heading south. Looks like the weather could try to catch us on the last day... everyone think warm thoughts for me. Happy Trails and I shall see you all Monday.

For what it's worth.

Wednesday Aug 30, 2006

Practical packing

Just found a new podcast for my hiking passion. Head over and check out Practical Backpacking podcast.

Don't forget to check out all of the podcasts that I am subscribed to. It also looks like I am going to be able to get two more hikes in this season... a three day two night in October, and a two day one night in November. If you are interested in hitting the trail with me let me know.

For what it's worth.

Monday Jul 10, 2006

Pack a little extra

I forgot to mention this in my entry on my recent backpacking trip, but I will be adding a couple of new items to the supplies that either Nuba or I will carry. Those items are:

  • benadryl: for those times the dog decided to gets to friendly with stinging insects
  • lightweight multitool with pliers: for those times the dog gets to friendly with animals such as a porcupine

I can't believe that I left on this trip without any benadryl for the dog, I know that she will swell up if she get's stung by a wasp or the likes. The switch from a standard pocket knife to a multitool just seems like a good idea in case I need to repair the pack on the trail as well as the time if the dog would mess with the wrong animal. We ran into a couple on the trail that had to pull spines from their dog's snout that mornign when it decided to visit a small porupine. I can't even imaging trying to hold down a dog while pulling the quills out... maybe I should pack some pain killers for the dog as well.

For what it's worth

Wednesday Jul 05, 2006

High Country Pathway Hike

Over the break I was able to get out for a couple days and get some hiking in. Three of us headed north to hike a portion of the High Country Pathway. We hiked a portion called the Shingle Mills Pathway. The loop was only 10 miles so it was a rather short hike for two days.

Day 1:
We ended up not leaving home until Saturday morning... one side effect of hiking with a doc is that sometimes he is on call and can't break away when we would like. Saturday the weather man was predicting massive severe thunderstorms for the area we were going to be in so we headed out relativly early so that we could get to the trail head and underway. The plan was to get in about five miles and get camp setup before the rains hit and we were stuck in tents. So off we went. The trail is very well marked and well maintained. We were not even a mile down the trail when our other hiking companion jumped into the river... I am sure glad that her back is somewhat waterproof and that I packed her food in ziplock bags. No worries though, she was having a great time and plenty of time to dry off. A few miles in from the trail head is ranger station, if you hike the trail make sure you stop in and say hello, they are very nice people and it can get boring in there if you just show up and get water and leave without saying hello. The trail weaves it's way through an isolated state park and past an artisian well... that is some good water. Off again onto the trail were we started to feel some sprinkles... no problem it passed before it even really got started. Just after the state park there is an amazing site of a sink hole lake that is crystal clear and a great view, no swimming, fishing or camping by the lake so enjoy the veiw and move on. Just a little further is the half way point and where we camped for the night. It was a huge site for two tents but very nice and setback off the trail with a pumpable water source near by... well pumpable and drinkable but not really more than that. Nuba did enjoy an afternoon swim while we set up camp. Just about the time the tents were up the rain came... well at least for 15 minutes. That happened off and one for a couple of hours and that was it... not huge storms rolled through and the night was calm and clear by 9 .

Day 2:
The next morning after a leisure breakfast we packed up camp and headed off the trail. After a short walk through the woods we headed up the only major hill on this portion of the loop... and that was only 1000 feet rise. There is a nice overlook and if you search around a bit one can find the tie down points from an old antenna tower... you do have to search a bit though. Down the hill and across some flats where you then come across a great camp site... if the first one I stayed at was full then keep moving a couple more miles to this great one on the other side of the lake... wow it is right on the water and huge. Now I don't know if they officially sanction this as a site since it is not 100 feet from the water but it is nice. Moving on down the trail we passed some almost ripe berries... a couple more weeks and we would have had a great treat. Then through a clear cut area where one can see the devistation that clear cutting does even on a small scale. Back into the the woods and past Ford lake... not much to say there. If you are on the 10 mile loop don't turn off here... take my word for it you want to keep going. After pushing on to find a place for lunch we came right along side the river and found a great little site right on a bend in the river. It had great shade and soothing water flowing, what a great place for lunch. The river is only about 8 inches deep the entire width of the river so kick of the boots and roll up the pant legs and get in. Off down the trail for the last mile or so... it doesn't looks like this portion is hiked that muched, it is almost over grown but the trail is still very visable and passable. There is one long stretch of boardwalk. Right at the end you push through an tall grown section of brush and pop right out onto the road... get your dog on a leash before you get there so you don't have any accidents. It was a great hike and would make a nice hike for beginners or anyone looking for an easy 10 miles.

Happy trails.

For what it's worth.

Update: Pictures from the hike.

Tuesday Nov 15, 2005

The dog takes the trail, I take the Gu

Jordan River Pathway with three friends and my dog.

Day One:
We set out early Saturday morning and headed up to Gaylord where we stopped for breakfast and a few last minute supplies. Then off to the trail head... of sorts. One of the guys was only able to do the first day so we dropped off a vehicle down at the backwoods camp sight. Now we debated if we should be parking a vehicle there or not, the DNR wants the campground to be a hike in only place. We all then jumped into one vehicle and headed to the trail head.

Once we arrived we back at the trail head we strapped on our packs and off we went. At first I had Nuba (my dog) on a leash... okay that is a challenge to use trekking poles and hold onto a lead of a dog that just wants to run all over and take in the smells. After we got down the trail a bit I took her off her lead. To my excitement she did great off the lead. Nuba basically trek along about 20 to 30 feet in front of us and stop to make sure we were still with her. With a quick whistle she would stop or come running back to my side. Oh that made trekking so much easier. As we dropped into the river bottom we came across a couple places where the beaver dams we causing the water to run over and down the trail for short sections. One of the best parts about day one and the entire trek is the differing terrines you go through; everything from marsh, meadows, ridges, to forested back country.

We stopped at the same little spot in the river bend for lunch. The rushing water is so loud that is drowns out all other sounds and you have to speak up to be able to talk to each other. After lunch we got back on the trail and only made it a short distance before we noticed some salmon spawning in the river. That is the first time that I have seen salmon in the wild and that close up.

Knowing a large hill was approaching I thought I would try out some of the Gu Energy Gel that I brought with. That stuff is tasty and does give a boost to ones step. Strolling along we finally made it to the base of the only major hill on the first day, nick named Awful Awful by one of the members of the group. This little hill sneaks up on you and then the assent is steep and rapid... well steep for Michigan. But once at the top you are presented with a wonderful vista of the valley below. We stopped to take in the view and Nuba finally laid down for the first time all day. The camp grounds are only a quick trek down the trail.

We setup camp and started to collect up some fire wood. After that we kicked back and played some euchre. Joe and I schooled (maybe not that bad) Dave and Dan in both matches while Nuba looked on from a deep sleep. For dinner we had the following: Jamaican BBQ Chicken, Cashew Chicken Curry, and Beef Stroganoff. I would not recommend the cashew chicken curry. After dinner we really stoke up the fire and kept warm. This year the temps did not drop as low as last year so we did not have to huddle as close just o keep warm. The night also brought quick ribbons of rain followed by a huge down pour just about the time I crawled in the tent... that was good timing. So as I attempted to fall asleep the rain poured down and the wind really kicked up. I could hear some sizable branches and trees falling down.

Day Two:
Ah the joys of bringing the dog... she decided that it was time for breakfast and her potty break at 05:00... that is right 05:00. I did get up and let her out to go to the bathroom but I refused to feed her at that point. I held her off until 07:00 when I could not take her pawing at my sleeping bag any more. About that same time we all rolled out of the tents and started in on breakfast. I had brought blueberry pancake mix and started whipping those up for everyone. My little stove has great temp control so it was easy to get the pan to just the right temp for cooking... the down fall was I did not have a heat resistant spatula to flip them with... so I ended up melting my lexan fork through the process... note to self, get heat resistant spatula.

After cleaning up camp we said good bye to Joe and headed out for the second day trek. Thats right... day two starts out with an ascent up steeper hill than Awful Awful.. and the ascent is longer. Oh, but by the time you hit the top of the hill you need to stop and take off outer layers and get down to your base layer because you are warmed up now. As we trekked along we could see the mild devastation that the wind had caused the night before.

As we approached the first creek crossing I attempted to get Nuba to come down stream a bit from the bridge and get some water... she had other plans. Across the little walking bridge she went and then right to bank to get a drink. Well that is all well and good but she just jumped right on in with all four feet. The water was a little deeper than she thought and was then swimming against the current across the stream to the other side where Dan (not me the other Dan) was. At the same time I was on the bank were she jumped in and I called her back... she turned around and proceeded to get of her front legs trapped between to branches. Just as I was about to jump in and rescue her Dan reached out and grabbed the handle on the back of her pack and lifted her up on to the bridge. Wet but not shaken. I took minute to readjust her back and off we went again.

Now we worked our way down the portion of the hike that weaves in and out of the ridge. While out on the ridge it was a bit nippy from the wind. After we stopped for lunch at the overlook I ended up having to put my fleece back on and kept it on the rest of the trek. As we approached were the trail meets up with the day hike loop we kicked up our pace. Next thing we know Nuba is on full point. What is it girl.. she had spotted a flock of about a dozen wild turkeys. Those things look freaky when they fly.

Almost there... a top dead mans hill for the victory yell. The wind was really whipping up now so we took in the view quickly and headed down to the vehicle.

Well that is about it. I did manage to bend the mid section of one of the trekking poles but I called up Leki today and they are sending me out a replacement. Nuba has been totally sacked out for a couple of days and I think is ready to go again... she is going to have to wait for another big hike until spring, I am not up for winter hiking yet.

For what it's worth.

Friday Nov 11, 2005

Off for a weekend hike

The dog is ready. She is now comfortable with her new pack. My gear is packed up. We leave tomorrow morning along with three other guys to hike the Jordan River Pathway. Since we did this hike last year about the same time I understand the weather we are going to be in... yeah I am backing warming sleeping equipment. Should be a great hike and a great time to just be out in nature. For dinner the first night we are having Jamaican BBQ Chicken and Chicken Cashew Curry and for a change we are going to have blueberry pancakes for breakfast the second day. I thought that it was time to try something other than the instant oatmeal.

Assuming that I make it back in one piece I will post an update of the hike on Monday. Have a great weekend all and don't forget to head on over and add yourself to the Frapper Map.

For what it's worth.

Tuesday Oct 11, 2005

Dog on the trail

It looks like the we may have started a small tradition after last years hike. We are heading out again for a hike the last weekend before opening day of rifle deer season here in Michigan. We decided to take the same trail this year and capture some the unbelievable views, Dave is taking his camera this year. So what else has changed, we are taking along a couple additional friends as well as my dog. I just ordered her pack. Now I have to spend the next few weeks training her and getting her use to the pack. I know that she will have a great time. She is going to basically be packing her own food, water and bed sheet. I shall let everyone know how the training and trip goes.

For what it's worth.

Sunday Jul 31, 2005

Update 11 from an AT through hiker (final update)

Start the Celebrations!!!

I made it! I'm done!! I actually finished the entire appalachian trail!!! Can you believe that I walked 2170 miles from Springer Mtn in Georgia to Mt Katahdin in Maine??? I'm looking at a map right now and i can barely believe it myself, it's sooooooooo far, how did i ever drag my ass all that way? So yup, i climbed mt. katahdin today, and let me tell you, it was an ass-kicker of a mountain, they saved the best for last, but i didn't care. In the beginning, i was literally bouncing up the mountain, similar to how i felt when i started in georgia, strange. it was a beautiful day too, i don't think we could've picked a better day if we'd tried, it was amazing! I finally found people to hike with too, She-Ra and Ranger-Super-Danger, they're awesome girls who hike like i do, they walk really slow but do big miles cause they wake up early and hike late. it took me until maine to find people who hiked the same way that i do, craziness. they're really fun too, they made the last week of the trip the best one for me, i wish i'd found them months ago, but i'll take what i can get ;-)

Oh man, there was so much i wanted to write in this final email from the AT, but it's after 9pm, which is extremely late for hikers, i'm usually very much asleep right now, so i'm having a hard time thinking of things to write.... arghhhhhh, my last email and i can barely type... figures. Looking back, i think that the trail definitely broke me, it beat me to a bloody pulp and then kicked me when i was down, just because it could, but then it built me back up into something that's (hopefully) better... it's just what the trail does. Through all the pain, suffering, boredom, lonliness, injuries, and whatever else, it all brought me to a better place and taught me so much about myself, the world, the people around me, i don't think i'll ever look at things the same way again. I actually never thought that i would make it to Katahdin, even when i was in Maine, heck, even when i was climbing the thing, i thought i would fall and break something or somehow i wouldn't make it, but somehow i did. somehow i managed to drag myself out of my sleeping bag on the days when it was raining, snowing, cold, hot, humid, buggy, and just get up and keep hiking. somehow i always managed to pull myself up and keep going, i'm not sure how, but i did it. i guess that impossible dream that i had to hike the appalachian trail wasn't quite as impossible as i thought it was. You know, i really thought that when i actually got to the top of Katahdin that suddenly everything would be different, that i would feel different, see things differently, but i really didn't, it's not an instantaneous process, the trail changed me little by little, each day and each mile, slowly. I don't think there was anything special about Katahdin, but it was a nice way to close out the trail and end the journey. There were so many good times along the way too, at hot springs, waynesboro, duncannon, rutland, caratunk, katahdin itself, i'll never forget the people i met and hiked with. We really formed a strange sort of family out there and helped each other out when we needed it the most, they're all amazing people. The important thing is that now that i'm done, there's so much more that i want to do! Ranger-Super-Danger is crazy, she's done an ironman, now i want to do one too because of her! i also want to do an ultralmarathon, and ride a bike across the country, and i haven't even been to asia or africa or south america yet. There's so many amazing things to do, i can't wait to get started on my next adventure =) I know I complained a lot about hiking the AT, but now that i'm done, i'm feeling the urge to hike the PCT. it's another trail, it goes from mexico to canada, through california, oregon and washington. Anyone want to go with me? probably won't be for a few years, after grad school, or when i need a nice long break from grad school. it just seeps into your head and before you know it you're out there hiking, that's what happened to me with the AT, think about it and let me know if you'd like to take a little walk out west =) One last thing... no one hikes to Katahdin alone, all the emails, phone calls and care packages that people sent all helped get me to that mountain in Maine. No matter how small, it could've been a single email that said, "Hi, we miss you", and that could've been all it took to turn a miserable, crappy day into a wonderful day. never underestimate the small things. so a big thank you to everyone out there who helped make my hike a little better! So now i leave you with the same thing i left in the final register on the appalachian trail, it's a quote from Calvin and Hobbes (of course!):

"It's a magical world... Let's go exploring!"

Wednesday Jul 20, 2005

Update 10 from an AT through hiker

Sometimes I Tip Over

I don't know how it happens, usually i'm just not paying attention (imagine that) and i go one way, my pack goes another way, and suddenly i'm laying on the ground. How is it that I've managed to walk 1950 miles when I just randomly tip over? I don't understand it. Oh yes, that's right, i've almost made it 2000 miles, i'm in Rangeley, Maine right now, a wonderful little tourist community, but the more important point is that i only have 220 miles to go!! In about 2 weeks I should be finally finished with my journey. I know I said in my last email that I was hoping to get done at the end of july, but that might've been a little optimistic, especially with the White Mountains. Oh the Whites, they kicked my ass pretty good, whatever my daily mileage average was before hitting the Whites, you can just about cut it in half and that's what I did through them, they were that tough. I'm not sure how to describe it, but the trail was everything i hated about GA/NC (steep trail that goes straight up and down mountains) and everything i hated about PA/NY (rocks). Combine them and you get the White Mountains in NH. Fun stuff. There was one point when i was walking down the trail and i couldn't see anything in front of me except sky. i was really hoping the trail took a sharp turn left or right, but when i got up there, the "trail" went straight down a 20ft cliff. Somehow trees manage to grow next to this stuff, so i threw my hiking poles down to the bottom and grabbed a branch of the tree and swung out. So there i was, hanging from this branch, trying desperately to find a place to put my feet. Once i found something, i would lean over and grab the next branch down. Can you picture it? me swinging from branch to brach hiking down this trail. I wish i had a picture of it, i'm sure it was ammusing. Sadly, that didn't happen only once, there were several times when the trail either went up or down stuff like that. In another section, there weren't any trees or anything to grab on to, so what they did was take blocks of wood and bolt them to the rocks with rebar. Basically they made a set of stairs down this slab of rock, which was very nice, but if you have to drill rebar into a rock so hikers don't die, is it really a hiking trail? i'd like to think not, but apparently i'm wrong. The final hiking test that we go through in the Whites is the Mahoosuc Notch (which is actually in Maine), it's basically a ravine that's filled with boulders the size of cars, houses, whatever. We have to crawl over, and yes, under those boulders for about a mile through this notch. It actually wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. I'd been dreading the Mahoosuc Notch for weeks and when i got there i was like, is this it? it was more annoying than anything. Other hikers think they're going to die in the notch, whereas i thought i was going to die in the earlier parts of the the Whites, i guess that's just how it goes. Oh the Whites. I'd really like to meet the person who finds something like the Mahoosuc Notch or the cliffs and thinks, this is a perfect location for a hiking trail! I've decided 2 things about whoever designed the AT:

1) He loves rocks.
2) He hates hikers and wants to see them die. Or at least suffer horribly.

I say he because it was obviously a man, if a woman designed the trail, it would be much more reasonable and enjoyable. Well, that was the bad part of NH, the good part is that i loved being above treeline! there are 2 ridges, the Franconian and Presidential that each stay above treeline, the Franconian for about 8 miles and the Presidential for about 14 miles. It was cloudy, foggy and rainy when i went over the Franconian, but i had beautiful weather for the presidentials. One was good, one sucked, i figure that it all evens out. I'm not sure why i enjoy being above treeline so much, it's not the views, they're nice, but i get bored looking at more mountains and valleys and trees. i think it's just the wide-open, barren landscape, it's probably the same reason i like the desert so much, who knows, all i know is that i really enjoy it. So mt washington, i don't know what all the fuss is about, it seemed remarkably easy to me =) i'm just kidding, i was very very very lucky and got amazing weather the day i hiked up it. there was no wind at all and the sun was shining, i couldn't have picked a better day if i'd tried. especially after i heard all the other hikers talking about how they had winds of 80+ mph or fog so bad they couldn't see the cairns and got lost trying to get down the mountain. The other really nice feature of the Whites is the hut system they have there. the huts are basically mountain lodges, with bunk rooms, running water, and a staff of college kids who cook dinner and breakfast. usually these huts are fairly expensive ($77 a night, and they fill up quickly), mainly because those poor college kids have to haul up all the fresh foods on a weekly basis (there are no roads to these huts, only hiking trails). They're exceptionally nice to thru-hikers though and allow the first 2 that show up to do work-for-stay, where we get to eat dinner and breakfast (the left-overs, not with the guests, but that's fine) and sleep inside on the floor. In exchange we have to do an hour of light chores. One time i had to sweep out the bunkrooms and the next time i had to clean the stove, stuff like that. It's wonderful to get real meals and a nice warm, dry place to sleep, i loved it! So the Whites are pretty much the best and worst of the AT, the best scenery and the worst trail, so again, it all evens out. And that was New Hampshire! My next resupply point is Monson, Maine, and that's also my very last resupply point, it feels so strange to say that, only 220 miles to go. Anyway, i'm not sure that i'll be able to find internet access there, so the next email you get very well could be the "woo hoo! i'm done!" email, but we'll see, i might get lucky and find something. Things are getting better, now that i'm through the Whites and in beautiful Maine, my mental outlook has definitely improved, it's all downhill from here =)

Tuesday Jul 05, 2005

Update 9 from an AT through hiker

Am I In Maine Yet???

No, i'm not quite in Maine, but i'm close. I'm in Hanover, New Hampshire at the moment (the home of Dartmouth College, who's nice enough to let me use their high-speed internet, it's sooooo nice). Lately i've been in sort of a down phase, it's been hard to keep myself motivated to keep hiking day after day. it happens, i think everyone goes through a period where they don't want to be out here and they can't remember why they decided to take a fun little hike from georgia to maine. it'll pass. if not, at least i'll be in maine soon, so it won't matter! So no worries, i'm not going to quit anytime soon, unless i trip and break a leg or something equally silly happens to me. Let's see, the mileage tally so far... i've walked 1730 miles and i have 440 to go, and the end of july, that's when i'm hoping to be done with this madness and reach Mt. Katahdin, the ending point of my journey. So, vermont, it was a pretty little state, i remember it being really wet and muddy, lots and lots of mud. i think they only have 2 seasons in vermont, snow and mud. it's not so bad though, once you get covered in mud, it's fun to intentionally stomp through it, there's something very childlike and innocent about splashing around in a mud puddle =) the other interesting part of vermont is that the AT runs along the same path as the Long Trail for the first 100 miles of Vermont. The Long Trail is just another trail, it runs from the MA/VT border to Canada, it's about 250 miles long, so it's a nice little trail. we join it right where it starts, so i met all of these people who were just starting out on their hike. they were all happy and clean and excited and said things like: "We get to go hiking for 2 weeks, this is so much fun!! Yay!!" Oooooohhhh, i wanted to kick them. all of that naive happiness isn't welcome on my trail! Just wait til they have blisters the size of their toes and it's been raining for a week. wow, when did i get to be such a grizzled, bitter, old AT hiker? I need to fight the bitterness, or just give in and be totally bitter. No, must fight! I love hiking the trail! I love climbing over rocks! I love smelling like a water buffalo! ahhhh, there we go, now i'm back in my happy world, no more bitterness (for now). Hmmmm, so what's next. New Hampshire is the home of the White Mountains, it's suppose to be the most rugged and difficult section of trail that I'll cross, but also the most spectacular. I suppose you can't have one without the other. The Whites are home to Mt. Washington, which has the worst weather on the planet, they've clocked the highest recorded land wind speed at 231 mph. wouldn't that be fun to hike through? they can also get snow any month of the year. it might actually be fun to say i got to hike through a blizzard in july, or maybe i'll just cross the mountain when the weather's nice, as if i get a choice. So how was the 4th of July for everyone? mine sucked, i was about a mile from this tiny little town that the trail goes through and as i'm hiking down the hill i can start to smell something... it was actually funny, i'd stop and sniff and go, yup, there's burgers grilling... a little later i'd sniff again and go, yup, i can smell the doritos... i'd just keep walking down the hill identifying all of the wonderful foods that i could smell. when i got into town, i probably passed 3 houses where people were grilling burgers and eating food. none of them invited me over. come on people, share the love! it was almost torture to smell all of that food and not get to eat any. oh well, such is life. Well, this is it for me, no fun stories this time, it's been a boring section of trail, but don't worry, hopefully good times are ahead in the Whites. Wish me luck!

Saturday Jun 25, 2005

Update 8 from an AT through hiker

So the first one isn't very interesting, but i saw a bear. i think. it was running away from me, of course, so i'm pretty sure it was a bear, but who knows. Let's just say it was... my first bear sighting, woo hoo! but come on, how hard is it to have a bear chase you down the trail and growl at you a little bit so you get a good story out of the deal? is that really too much to ask? anyway, on to the funner story... so there i was walking down the trail, when off to my right i hear a strange noise. i stop and try to figure out what it was, thinking it was a bird or strange insect of some sort. then i walked forward a bit until it stopped. i turned and looked behind me, and yup, it was a rattlesnake, stretched out with its head a few inches from my foot where i stopped to look around. yes, i'm a smart one, i'm surprised i didn't lean over and stick my head in the grass to investigate this strange rattling noise that i heard ;-) The very next day, i was walking along, lost in my own little happy-travis world, when i look up and there's another rattlesnake sitting in the middle of the trail, rattling away and getting quite pissed that i'm so close to it. As you can imagine, it's a little disturbing to look up and see a huge rattlesnake in front of you, so i gracefully back peddle and tumble over some rocks behind me as i try to get the heck out of there. the snake, upon seeing this, decides that either i'm absolutely no threat whatsoever, or that i'm a tasty snack, because he starting moving down the trail towards me. This upsets me just a little bit to have a snake headed right for me, but luckily he's fat and not moving very quickly, so i calmly get up and move off the trail and into the woods, as if this happens to me everyday. The snake just slithers right on by. I guess he wanted to hike the trail. Maybe he heard good things about Georgia and wanted to move there? who knows, but i watched him for quite awhile and he stayed on the trail for a long time, he must enjoy scaring people and watching them fall backwards over rocks, i imagine it's good entertainment for him. of all the places i would imagine running into rattlesnakes, connecticut isn't at the top of my list, but that's where all of this madness happened. connecticut. anyway, i'm in Dalton, Massachusetts right now, 1555 miles down the trail, only 620 to go!! it's strange, maine seems so close and yet so far away. So lately, i've been battling the heat and the bugs. call me crazy, but i think i'd rather be hiking in the snowy april weather than this stuff. it's hard for me to find a part of my body that isn't covered in bug bites, rashes, bruises, cuts, scrapes or something like that. i'm very pretty right now. Oh well, off to go do some laundry, can you believe that i haven't showered or done laundry in almost 2 weeks? i'm smell very pretty right now too. Only a day or so left in MA and then i'll be in Vermont. Crazy, 'eh? Oh, and i've decided to take the worst-rocky state award away from PA and give it to NY. At least with PA you're walking along a ridge and then you hit nasty rocks, but it's all fairly level. With new york, they just have entire mountains of rocks that you're constantly climbing up and over, no ridges to be found there. Grrrr, but i've come to peace with the rocks, i no longer think of the AT as a hiking trail, it's really a low-level rock climbing course. But that's the trail that we all come to know and love! Anyway, i'm out, hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful summer!

Saturday Jun 11, 2005

Update 7 from an AT through hiker

So there i was, just walking down the trail, minding my own business, when i hear something just off the trail. I turn to my left and flying towards me is this strange bird that has a plume of feathers in back so it looks like a mini-turkey (really, that was the first thought in my mind when i saw this thing, that i was being attacked by a mini-turkey). I, of course, scream like a little girl and try to vaguely defend myself with my hiking poles, when the bird literally flies in a circle around me and goes back to the grassy area it came from and started making these really pathetic whimpering noises. Yes, i truely am a savage mountain man to have survived such a vicious attack from the mini-turkey. I wonder what kind of bird it actually was? doesn't matter i suppose. Hmmm, as long as i'm on the subject of wildlife, people always ask me what i've seen, so here goes: the best was a bobcat, at least i think it was a bobcat, it was running away from me at the time, which was rather irritating, i wanted to yell "come back here so i can properly identify you... you, you annoying fast animal you." I haven't seen any bears yet, but the next section of trail is suppose to be loaded with them, so keep your fingers crossed and maybe i'll get lucky. Oh, the best was on my last day in the SNP, down a hill a little bit i saw 5 or 6 huge birds, probably hawks or falcons, i don't know (i'm not a wildlife expert, in case you couldn't tell) and when i got closer they all flew away, but they were standing around eating some large dead animal. i was really really hoping it wasn't some poor, unfortunate hiker, so of course i had to walk down there to find out what it was... it was a deer, so i can still sleep at night. they had picked the ribs clean, but the head was still there (not the eyes though), it was awesome! the birds weren't very happy that i had interupted their lunch, so i left rather quickly. i've also seen tons of deer, they were almost tame in the SNP, i passed within 2 feet of one and probably could've petted it if i'd wanted to, since he didn't seem to mind me, i sat down and watched him for awhile. the things i learned from watching deer in SNP:

1) ferns are not very tasty.
2) leaves on low-hanging branches of certain trees are extremely tasty.
3) hikers are strange creatures, but fun to watch.

i love that the deer was watching me just as much as i was watching him. or maybe he was just waiting for me to rush over and attack him, which i find silly, he could easily trample me to death. the bobcat could certainly shred me if he'd wanted to, and the falcons, with their razor sharp beaks and talons could take care of me quite quickly, yet they were all running from me. how man became the dominate species on the planet completely baffles me. we must not be very tasty. I've seen tons of turtles on the trail too, they must like it there for some reason. now there's an animal that probably wouldn't be able to kill me, i'm reasonably sure i could survive the deadly turtle attack, but i'd still run screaming like a little girl if one ever did decide to chase me ;-) Are there any flower people on the list? i was walking down the trail and 2 ladies were coming the other way and said there was a pile of rocks up ahead and when i got there to look to the left and i'd see a very rare flower... it was a yellow lady slipper. does that mean anything to anybody? it didn't to me, but i took a picture anyway. I think that's it for now, almost out of time again (damn this relying on public internet access!), but i'm in delaware water gap, pennsylvania, right now, just across the border is beautiful, wonderful new jersey. i'm not even being sarcastic, i'll take any state other than PA right now, i hate hate hate this state! it's the rocks, the horrible PA rocks. i'd try to describe them, but the memories are too painful right now, maybe later. ok, i'm off, only 900 miles to go!!!

Saturday Jun 04, 2005

Update 6 from an AT through hiker

Hey Everyone! I finally found a computer... and beer!! but more about that later. I have really good news, I made it to the halfway point! i'm over half done with the trail, can you believe it??? i've now walked 1130 miles, yes, that's right, i've walked over a thousand miles so far. Right now i'm in Duncannon, PA, which is a wonderful little town (mostly because i found cheap beer here). Anyway, back to fun hiking stories... So the Shenandoah National Park (SNP) was interesting, it rained for the first 3 days i was there, which i love, but the tourists don't seem to, i'm not sure why, there's nothing better than hiking to the top of a mountain and being surrounded by fog. hiking through the clouds is great! But my last day in the park was beautiful and sunny, so the tourists were out in groves. There's a road (skyline drive) that goes right down the middle of the park and the trail pretty much runs parallel to it the whole way, and it crosses the road about 30 times. Anyway, i was hiking along and the trail passed below a parking lot, about 20 feet down a hill, and all the trees were taken out so the tourists could get a nice view, but that also meant i could easily see the people and they can see me. There i am, walking along, about to re-enter the woods when someone shouts out, "You hiking the trail?". so i turn and shout back an answer and we shout back and forth to each other for awhile before i finally notice that the guy is holding a video camera and recording our entire shouting conversation. who does that? so now i'm on some random guy's home video from his trip to SNP. wonderful. once again, i felt like i was an exibit at a zoo. when did i become a tourist attraction at our nation's national parks?? "Come one, come all, see the dirty, smelly, hairy hiker! Hurry up now, maybe we can get this one to dance for food". I really don't mind that much, i like the tourists, they provide much needed entertainment =) I noticed something when i was walking by all of those tourists though... they smell. it took me awhile to figure out what it was and then it hit me, it was soap, it was the smell of clean. you know you've been living in the woods too long when the smell of clean offends you. Ok, i've gotta get rolling, there was lots more i was going to write, oh well, guess it'll have to wait until the next email. Halfway done! woo hoo!!

Saturday May 21, 2005

Update 5 from an AT through hiker

Hey everyone, sorry, but I only have 5 minutes on this computer and then the library closes, and they won't be open tomorrow either, so no long, moderately-funny email this time =( Just wanted to send something quick so everyone knew I was still alive and doing fine. I'm in Waynesboro, Virginia, which is right before the Shenandoah National Park, which means lots of tourists and hopefully lots of free food! Anyway, gotta go, there's a chinese buffet down the street just waiting for me ;-)

Leisure

Wednesday May 11, 2005

Update 4 from a AT through hiker

Hello everyone! well, here I am in Pearisburg, VA, it's actually one of the bigger towns that I've come across (they have a Wal-Mart!), but that's not saying much. I got here yesterday, and I've just been relaxing and eating massive amounts of food. They had a special at Pizza Hut, buy one large pizza and get a medium free. Of course I had to try, but i could barely finish the large, how sad, i'm a disgrace to thru-hikers everywhere. to comfort myself, i went to the grocery store and bought a 1/2 gallon of ice cream. It's one of my rules, always get ice cream when you get into town, you have to enjoy stuff like that while you can. It's amazing how little things like ice cream can make you happy, or things like finding a new flavor of pop tart that you've never tried, i found a cookie dough kind in the last town, which in theory would be really tasty, but it wasn't that good, pop tarts are hit or miss like that. Anyway, so what've i been up to since the last email? Not much, it's just been a lot of hiking, I did go through the Virginia Highlands the other day, which are beautiful! People have compared them to the big sky country of Montana, I've never been to Montana (except to drive through it), but i suppose they could be right. I think thru-hikers like stuff like that just because it's different, all day long we pretty much only see trees, and look, more trees, and hey, there's a bush next to a tree, wow! but when you get to something like the highlands, which are just huge areas of grass lands with big boulders everywhere, it's different, and we can actually see more than 20 feet on either side of us, it's amazing. They also had "wild" feral ponies in the highlands, i say "wild" because they really weren't, i mean they are, but not really. when i saw the ponies, i dropped my pack to get my camera out, well, as soon as i started digging through my pack, the ponies all ran over and swarmed around me, cause they thought i was going to feed them. so there i was, dancing around, trying to keep them from eating my pack and hoping to get a good picture. they were closed in so tight around me that the best i could do was a picture of a horse's ass, but there was a pony off a little bit who was too slow to mob me, so i took a picture of him. then as i was putting the camera away and one of the ponies realized he wasn't going to be fed, he bit me. the little bastard. so i kicked him. oh ok, i didn't kick any ponies, but i was tempted. it's not my fault stupid tourists have fed them in the past, they're not getting any of my granola bars! i never thought i'd have to fight off wild ponies, but yup, it happened. Then, a couple of days later, i'm walking down the trail, and a couple of guys come up behind me, The Pied Piper and Goat. For those of you not familiar with trail customs, people tend to get trailnames as they're hiking the AT, they're usually funny or reveal something about your personality or whatever, some examples are: Serenity, Feelin' Free, Swamp Fox, SwampThing, Cold Feet, Wookie, Blotter, Baseline, Geezer, Get 'er Done, Alice (who's a guy), Mud Pumpkin, and sometimes groups of people get names, like the Four Horsemen, Full House (which is 3 girls and 2 guys), and so on, you probably get the idea, some people choose their own name and others wait to find one on the trail. I waited to get a trailname, and I finally got one the other day, the Piper gave it to me, it's Leisure. Yup, you can call me Leisure. I kinda like it, it seems oddly appropriate. Hmmm, where was i, oh yeah, the Piper and Goat. So we start talking as we're walking down the trail, and they ask if i want to go to Troutdale with them to drink beer for Cinco de Mayo (May 5th, i have no idea if i spelled that correctly), so i'm contemplating it as we're walking down the trail, and about a mile later we get to the highway that we have to walk down to get to Troutdale. I decide, hey, why not, it's may 5th, you've gotta drink some beer! So we walk the 2.5 miles to town, get there and find out a harsh truth about life... it was a dry county. When will this madness end??? And when will i finally learn? So the moral here, never trust a goat. It wasn't a total waste though, turns out the Piper wrote a book, and he had a copy sent to him with his mail drop so he gave it to me. He's self-publishing right now, trying to get the attention of the big publishing companies by hiking the trail (he has some book signings coming up along the trail), so if you'd like to support a young AT thru-hiker, check out his book, it's called Providence Vanished, by Adam Hoch (aka The Pied Piper). He has a website, www.providencevanished.com (i think, i forgot to bring the book with me here), i haven't even been there yet, so i have no idea what's there, but i'm assuming you can buy the book there. The book is actually pretty good, i was impressed, it's a fantasy/epic type of novel, a series, it's book 1 of 7. And that's my story about Troutdale, VA, which is also a very small town, and i come from a small town, but this one takes the cake, they had about 6 houses, 2 churches, and a Trading Post, which had a gas pump, a convenience store on one side, a restaurant on the other, and in the middle was a thrift store with some clothes, toys, various electronic stuff, etc, it was a crazy place! I was hoping the food would be good, meatloaf sounded wonderful to me, so i ordered that. What was brought to me somewhat resembled meat, but once i smoothered it in ketchup, it was ok. Ketchup, that's the secret to everything. Hmmmm, i think that's it, oh one more thing. I think i'm cursed. On my way into Pearisburg, i was coming down the mountain, about 2 miles from town again, and a thunderstorm rolls in. i get just soaked, and yes, there was hail, but not nearly as bad as the stuff in hot springs. what's with thunderstorms hitting me when i'm 2 miles from town??? It usually doesn't bother me when it rains, the only thing that sucks is that the trail pretty much turns into a stream, well, it does, but it's more of a, um, slip-n-slide, you just sorta slide down the mountain on the mud, it's kinda fun, but a little scary, cause you tend to fall, at least i do, i nearly twisted my knee a little while back, but i survived. Anyway, that's all from me, i'm just slowly making my way through Virginia (the longest mileage state on the AT), the trail is suppose to flatten out and get much easier somewhere in Virginia, so I'm looking forward to that! I'll catch y'all next time =)
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dlacher

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