Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Here Guys Lemme Buy You Lunch"

6-26-09 day 24
start: Stealth Camping South of Brink Road Shelter
end: Rutherford Shelter
daily mileage: 18.9
total mileage: 313.1

We heard yesterday that the Brink Road Shelter was in a swamp so we decided to "stealth camp" south of it in a pine grove. "Stealth Camping" just means not camping in designated campsites. We woke up to rain and waited for it to subside before breaking camp. It cleared up and we had a pretty nice day. We needed supplies so we thumbed it into town. The lady that picked us up was super nice and told us her son had hiked last summer. She took us to the grocery store and dropped us of. In the deli section we were deliberating about lunch, and she came and found us. She said, "Here guys let me buy you lunch", and gave us 10 dollars. We were totally floored and super grateful. We bought an 8 piece fried chicken and 2lbs of mac n' cheese. Going back toward the trail we eventually got a ride from these two chicks. They told us they had always wanted to pick up hitchers, and we were more than happy to oblige them : ).

Ants Would Make Terrible Sailors

6-25-09 day 23
start: Mohican Outdoor Center
end: 'Stealth Camping' south of Brink Road Shelter
daily mileage: ~13
total mileage: ~294.5

The mosquitoes last night were outrageously bad, biting our faces and exposed skin all night, ugg. Today was relatively easy other than that I am fighting a summer cold (the worst kind) and the super hot muggy weather. After lunch we came upon Crater Lake. We had actually lost the trail but could see the lake through a thicket. Instead of looking for where the white blazes picked up, we decided to go swimming. After bushwhacking through shoulder high weeds we found a small boulder on the lake shore to leave our packs and jumped in. The lake was beautiful and felt incredible. The shoreline was brimming with bullfrog tadpoles but try as we might they are impossible to catch. We also spent a half an hour or so putting ants on leaves and setting them adrift like boats. We'd watch as the ants freaked out and invariably were eaten by fish. Sadistic but awesome. Connor and I are pleased that our lifestyle for the next 5 months allows us to swimming in mountain lakes on a whim. : )

The PA Spoon Bandit Gets One More Caper

6-24-09 day 22
start: Presbyterian Church of the Mountain Hostel @ Delaware Water Gap, PA
end: Mohican Outdoor Center
daily mileage: 10.4
total mileage: 287.5

Surprise, surprise we got out of town late again. We had to go wandering around to find something to replace our pot stand for the stove because somebody lost our old one >: (. Additionally, I discovered that I lost my spoon again! AAHH! I got new one at a gas turned out later that day that I had not in fact lost the old one. It was in my pack were I looked already...I'm freakin' out man, there are spoon gnomes or some kind of space time nexus of spoons or something. We left PA and walked across the Delaware River into New Jersey. Hopefully the rocks will end quickly. Also, Jersey is know bear country so hopefully we will see some. We stopped for lunch at Sunfish Pond, touted as one of NJ's "seven natural wonders". It is a naturally acidic glacial lake, and it is truly gorgeous.

Big Push to the Border

6-23-09 day 21
start: Leroy Smith Shelter
end: Presbyterian Church of the Mountain Hostel @ Delaware Water Gap, PA
daily mileage: 20.2
total mileage: 271.1

Today we had only planned on ~15 miles but it ended up as our longest day yet. We were headed to a shelter but decided at lunch to go ahead and push on to Delaware Water Gap, the border town between PA and NJ. It added another 6+ mile to our trek but we were feeling good and blasted out ~20 miles. We pulled into DWG late, around 8:30, and found the church hostel. It was free and we got showers again. We went down to the Deer Head Inn for 35 cent wings and were crushed to find the kitchen closed at 9:00. David, our friend from Edinbourogh, was there, however, and had been drinking for a bit. We found him chatting up a rather "weathered" looking older lady with great enthusiasm. We went inside and shot the bull about the US and the UK as well as David's new love interest : ).

We Took a Long Day in Palmerton, PA

6-22-09 day 20
start: Borough Hall @ Palmerton, PA
end: Leroy Smith Shelter
daily mileage: 15.9
total mileage: 250.9

The Palmerton library doesn't open until 10 on Monday so there was no need to get up early. We did our grocery shopping and packed up waiting to get in. Connor updated the blog while I ran other errands. I got some more fuel fr our stove, and more excitingly I got dry erase markers and dice for travel RISK! The library was also having a book sale where I was able to get a decent paperback to replace the crap I've found in the shelters. We had 16 miles to go today and got started around 1:30... super late, and had 1oooft climb in under a mile right off the bat, merciless. While the rest of the day was mostly along the ridge the "Rocksylvania" rocks pounded our feet. The last 5 miles seemed to drag, especially as the sun went down. Both mine and Connor's feet will be glad to get out of this rocky mess and on to NJ in a couple days.

Hike Naked...Feel the Sun on Your Cheeks!

6-21-09 day 19
start: Allentown Shelter
end: Borough Hall @ Palmerton, PA
daily mileage: 17.7
total mileage: 235.0

It's June 21st, the summer solstice. Also it just so happens to be Hike Naked Day! While it was too chilly to actually hike naked we showed our support later in the day. We ate lunch at a great rocky overlook called Bake Oven Knob. We met a family or day hikers who came up for the view. We had our little alcohol stove and they were thoroughly impressed with us : ). Later on we found a huge formation of rock walls and cliffs just off the trail so we did some bouldering. In honor of the holiday we each climbed up a big rock and stretched to the sun sans clothing. Very liberating...We pulled into Palmerton, PA around 5:15 looking to stay at the Borough Hall, a municipal building with a basement open to hikers. After 4:30 you are supposed to check in at the police station. However the one cop in Palmerton wasn't there and after waiting around for a hour we ran into a fellow hiker who showed us how to get into the Borough Hall. So we stayed unannounced. Walking down the main avenue we saw signs prohibiting "cruising" (driving 3 times past the sign within one hour) and parking on odd Fridays. Seems like a lot of silly laws for old Barney to keep after... After showers and laundry, we were feeling saucy so we went up to the Palmerton Hotel for drinks. We need groceries and an Internet fix tomorrow.

Returning to the Subject of Care Packages...

Jointly, Connor and I have decided on a new system. I has come to our attention that many of our readers are not super current on our posts and only check every weeks or so. Since it will be too difficult to estimate where we will be further than a week out we suggest a new system:

If you want to send us something either send Connor an email or call my cell and leave a message. This will let us know you are trying to send a package and we can give you up to the minute information as to our whereabouts. So to reiterate, please don't send something and then first...because we might pass by the post office and not know to stop! All the information for shipping is in post by Connor from a week ago so you will have the address format. Thanks so much, we adore everyone who has enough interest to check out our site!

(513) 550 1917 Travis's Cell Connor's email (5 n's)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spoon theif actually imagined; intrepid hikers pleased

6-20-09 day 18
start: Eckville Shelter, PA
end: Allentown Shelter, PA
daily mileage: 7.6
total mileage: 217

Travis found his spoon in a far reaching corner of his pack (don't worry, dear reader, I'll find mine too... wait for next post). The spoon theif, incredibly, appears to have been imagined.

It rained all day today. We were going to hike 17 miles today, but got to this shelter for lunch as it was pouring and decided to call it quits. We're getting to Palmerton one way or another tomorrow, so instead of a nice short day it will just be a longer one tomorrow. We're hoping the weather will clear up by then to make it worth it! It's actually kind of rained a lot over the past three weeks, and we've gotten quite used to being wet... it's really not so bad! So, arriving at our shelter by lunchtime, we had all day to sleep and read. Sea Monster finished Hatchet, and I'm still reading The Stand (which is really long, but proving to be quite good).

We met Gus (from NC) and David (from Edinbourough) and enjoyed chatting with them all day, as well as Matt and Wendy. Looking forward to Palmerton tomorrow!

Curse you, Spoon Theif!

6-19-09 day 17
start: Pavillion @ Port Clinton, PA
end: Eckville Shelter, PA
daily mileage: 15.2
total mileage: 209.6

We mailed off our Whisperlite and our waterfilter today, so we're now totally dependent on our alcohol stove and our new method of water purification, chlorox. The stove has been working beautifully, and we're 90% sure that chlorox won't kill us... and anyway, it's incredibly light comparitively. (Just kidding, we're at least 95% sure.) I lost my spoon somehow at the 501 shelter! I tore apart my whole pack looking for it... it's crazy, because this makes 2 spoons that I've lost now! I bought a new one in town as we mailed off the stuff, and Sea Monster was making merciless fun of me... until lunch, when he discovered that he had lost his there as well! It was excellent karmha, but we are also suspicious of the spoon theif that is clearly about.

We bought lots of warm lunches, and had mac and cheese today... tasty. We saw what is supposedly the best view in PA off Pinnacle Rocks, and found a few copperheads, which Sea Monster poked recklessly. We found Eckville Shelter, which was fantastic. It has a caretaker, and a shower, and really feels more like a clubhouse than a shelter. Lazee (the caretaker) even gave Sea Monster a new spoon.

We broke 200 miles today!

Adventures in the bustling metropolis of Port Clinton, PA

6-18-09 day 16
start: Eagle's Nest Shelter, PA
end: Pavillion @ Port Clinton, PA
daily mileage: 8.8
total mileage: 194.4

It was a short hiking day today as we hiked into Port Clinton to resupply. A tiny little town with no grocery store, it has a great pavillion that it lets hikers stay at free of charge! About 10 or 12 other hikers were all staying there as well, a lot of faces we knew and a few we didn't.

The biggest outfitter in the US, Cabella's (250,000 square feet) was a mile and a half away, and the grocery was about a mile and a half beyond that. We were getting ready for the unpleasant walk down the highway to cabella's by asking a woman for directions, when she said "You know, Fred takes hikers down that way sometimes, let's see if he'll drive you." Sure enough, Fred was sitting there watching his chickens, and was more than happy to drive us there! At Cabella's, we got insoles for our boots and some other knick-knacks (the insoles have been fantastic, incidentally). It was huge... we later heard that the taxidermied deer and bears and stuff they used for decoration, of which there were literally hundreds, were worth more than all the merchandise in the store. I beleive it!

We hitched to the grocery up the road, got some food, and hitched back to the shelter. People are SO friendly to hikers around here! It's really easy to get rides and such. We had dinner and a few drinks at a cool little place in town with massive burgers and an order of fries that must have weighed 2 pounds. Another great day in the life!

Lets be honest, we need adult supervision

6-17-09 day 15
start: 501 Shelter
end: Eagle's Nest Shelter
daily mileage: 15.5
total mileage: 185.8

Sorry if not all the mileages add up quite right... it makes sense in our heads.

It was a very chilly day today, and we had our first experience (the day after Pogo, our navigator, left) of getting super lost. The trail opened up to an amazingly cool boulder field after about 5 miles. It was about 100 feet wide and maybe an eighth of a mile long, and just covered with huge boulders. We could even hear a stream running underneath, but they were stacked so high that we were never even close to being able to see water. We decided that we wanted to climb them and assumed that the trail went over them (when we later found our way back it was very obvious that it didn't), and hiked all the way across them. There, we boldly entered the woods and found a white blaze! No trail, though. We kept finding blazes (the white blaze denotes the A.T.) and so we kept going through dense brush. There was no trace of a path anywhere, and we eventually found a blaze with a marker on the tree... "Pennsylvania state forest boundary." Oh yes, dear readers, about an eighth of a mile off the trail, the state of PA was using white blazes to mark something else! We managed to find our way back to the boulder field eventually (despite having no idea which way we'd even come). We enjoyed pretending to be intrepid explorers for that hour and a half or so, however, but in reality were less "Lewis and Clark" than "2 Morons Lost in the Woods."

Morning sadness, but evening awesomeness!

6-16-09 day 14
start: Rausch Gap Shelter
end: 501 Shelter
daily mileage: 17.4
total mileage: 170.7

Pogo and Mama Bear left today... after only a few miles, they had gotten to the road that branched off the trail to their car. They will be missed, of course, but Sea Monster and I are looking forward to integrating ourselves into the groups of hikers we meet, rather than existing in the clique we brought.

We hiked with the Smith Brothers and Sleddog all day today until we got to the fabulous 501 shelter. This shelter is freaking awesome. It's totally enclosed, and has a skylight in the middle so that (unlike the other shelters) it's nice and bright inside. We hung out with everyone for a while (and met a section hiker named Billy) while Travis and I sat down and drew out a Risk Board in permanent marker on a piece of groundcloth we're carrying. It looks awesome! We're going to create a risk deck by writing countries and units on the deck of cards we're carrying, and get some dry-erase markers to mark infantry numbers on the groundcloth to play! The only weight we'll really have to carry for this operation (other than what we already have) are the markers and a few dice... awesome!

We took showers in the "solar shower," which heats water in big black tanks. Except that it was overcast all day, and the water was freezing... but I'm not complaining, we only get showers about once a week and they feel great, cold or warm!

We were a bit disappointed to read in the trail log that a trail angel had been there last night with tons of hot food for the hikers, but had a fantastic surprise instead! An italian pizza place apparently delivers to the shelter (which is pretty close to a road), and as Sea Monster and I were talking about whether or not to order, a pizza guy walks in with a pepperoni pizza! He's on the phone with a girl from Jersey who ordered it for her hiker boyfriend, but whose hiker boyfriend wasn't showing up there tonight! They decided to leave it with us for free!!! It's the sort of thing that only happens in movies. We were, needless to say, pretty pumped.

Trail Names all around! (well, mostly)

6-15-09 day 13
start: Peter's Mountain Shelter
end: Rausch Gap Shelter
daily mileage: 17.5
total mileage: 153.3

Today was the last day on the trail for Eric and Emily... or, as I should say, Pogo and Mama Bear. So far Emily is the only one with a trail name given to her by a hiker we met out here (Siesta dubbed her), whereas I dubbed Eric "Pogo" for no reason my conscious mind can think of. We've been meeting some great people - last night, another two section hikers and a few through hikers. Our mileage has been so variable recently that we definitely aren't staying with anyone too long, but we suspect we will soon.

At the bottom of a huge hill today we found some delicious "trail magic." Someone (a "trail angel") had left a cooler full of pop, gatoraide, animal crackers, fruit roll-ups, and all kinds of other things. It was a delicious break. It's been amazing to me how many people have had to work so hard to make this trail happen... the volunteers that built and maintain the trail and the blazes, and the fantastic shelters we sleep in every night. Each of them undoubtedly represent hundreds (or thousands) of man-hours worth of work, and undoubtedly thousands of dollars worth of money. On top of that, trail angels in most towns that drive hikers around, and people that leave random snacks for us on the trail? Awesome!

We found a huge pile of coal just a mile or so from camp today... it was at least 20 x 60 feet at the base, and probably 15 feet high at the top. We climbed up of course and marvelled at it for a while, then we got to the shelter. Met up with a new friend Sleddog, who is finishing her flip-flopping through hike tomorrow!

Travis has officially dubbed himself "Sea Monster." He's started drawing awesome pictures in all the logbooks. :-)

Oh, Jake

6-14-09 day 12
start: Clark's Ferry Shelter
end: Peter's Mountain Shelter
daily mileage: 6.8
total mileage: 135.7

We feel like we're getting soft after hiking through 2 towns within a week, and only 4.5 miles yesterday and 6.8 today! But it's nice taking it easy. We stopped at a beautiful ridge for lunch and met a weekend camper named Jake while we ate. Apparently, his friends ditched him the night before when it rained for 20 minutes, and he stayed behind "to guard the beer." They hadn't returned by midday the next day (but it was OK, he assured us, as he knew how to "hunt and trap and stuff"). Perhaps the most amusing (?) bit was when he misheard something we said and thought we were fellow hooligans, and went on for a few minutes about how easy it was to shoplift around here... indeed, quoth he, it was how he got all his food for this weekend! Oh, Jake.

After saying goodbye to our clearly inebriated friend, we moved quickly into camp. We used our awesome new alcohol stove for the first time, and it was a thing of beauty watching it boil a quart of water. We can't wait to ditch Eric and Emily now so we can use it full time! (Just kidding)

Antsy day waiting for the internet...

6-13-09 day 11
start: The Doyle Hotel @ Duncannon
end: Clark's Ferry Shelter
daily mileage: 4.5
total mileage: 128.9

We didn't have far to go today at all (we've been intentionally hiking short days so Eric and Emily can stay for as long as possible), so we woke up nice and late and checked out of the fabulous Doyle Hotel around 11. Emily and I grabbed some eats at the grocery while Travis updated the blog and Eric worked on building a new "pop can stove." Sadly, when we returned Travis had been unable to secure a computer... in fact, we hung around town until about 7 PM waiting for the blogs to get updated. The trouble we go through for you people! :-)

Eric and Travis did manage to build a fantastic pop can stove though. We'll keep the MSR Whisperlite for a few days to make sure it works out, but we have high hopes. It weighs less than a penny (we know because we use a penny as part of it, and it weighs more than the rest combined). It burns quite efficiently though, and we've boiled water on it a few times to test.

Travis finally got the blog updated, and we hiken an hour and a half to camp. Delicious spam stroganoff tonight, and a fire besides! We fell asleep feeling fat and sassy.

If you are only going to read one June post, make it this one!

Greetings from Connor and Travis, from Palmerton PA! This is Connor updating, and inviting you to take a break from the daily updates for some very important information... on the subject of care packages. :-)

We'll be trying to post updates with the blogs for where would be good to mail packages to, and the approximate dates we'll be there. Here's what to do with that information, when we provide it.

We'll give you the name of the town, the zip code, and what kind of mail drop location it is (post office, FedEx, or UPS). Post offices will be most common, and are definitely easiest.

Label the packages like so:

Connor Burke and Travis Smith
General Delivery
City / State / Zip Code
Please Hold for Thru-Hiker
Estimated Date of Arrival: ##/##

"General Delivery" keeps it at the post office until we get there, so is important. It's a bit different for Fed Ex and UPS, but we might not even bother with them.

So, we (obviously) haven't planned ahead more than a week or so, but we think we'll be in Unionville, NY (10988) on or about Saturday 6/27 (it's a Post Office) and Arden, NY (10910) on or about Monday, 6/29 (also P.O.).

When you send us stuff, be aware that we'll be carrying it... so unfortunately, probably no meatloaf. But we love cookies, beef jerky (anything salty really), and other reasonable quantities of baked goods. Although with our appetites recently, we could probably get through quite a bit!

That's it for packages for now. Now returning to your regularly scheduled day-by-day updates!

P.S. You may notice that my new tag is "Disney." My compatriate and I have settled on trail names. So Connor = "Disney" and Travis = "Sea Monster." So you know!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Doyle Rules! The Doyle Rules!

6-12-09 day 10
start: Darlington Shelter
end: The Doyle Hotel @ Duncannon
daily mileage: 11.4
total mileage: 124.4

We hiked our 10ish miles into the Emerald City today. I have super hyped it in my mind as the greatest town ever, and it is fabulous. The best part of this redneck backwater is The Doyle Hotel. Built in 1904, it is super run down and has $10 rooms for hikers. With a bar on the ground floor, the Doyle is perfect, a must stop for any thru-hiker. We got our room, did laundry, and showers, then Eric and I explored the town. At the hardware store i bought some plastic sheeting for our tarp shelter as well as a surface Connor and I plan to draw board games to play at camp. We have internet at the bar but I got kicked off at 8:00 to make way for live music. We had a fantastic night with good music and cold beer.Everyone at the Doyle is a hiker or hiker friendly, it's awesome, and will be missed. We are taking a long day in Duncanno tomorrow so we can get more errands done, befor we go back out into the wilderness.

I Hope #175 Will Get A Chance To Read This

6-11-09 day 9
start: Tiny House @ Boiling Springs
end: Darlington Shelter
daily mileage: 14.3
total mileage: 113.0

Leaving Tiny House was heart breaking but we did get fresh eggs for breakfast. Unfortunately Emily slipped and broke half of them, but no worries, we still had plenty of food. We messed around at the AT office and got a late start on our 15 miles. It was the flattest terrain we have had so far, all pastures and farm fields. We saw some horses and met some friendly cows (or coos as MaKey would say) #175 was our favorite. We stopped at a trucker dinner (touted as the best in the state) for coffee and some fantastic French Onion soup. We found more blackberry bushes where we stopped for 20 minutes to gorge on the delicious fruit. The last mile or so up to the shelter was a bit of a climb, but we found an awesome car about 1/2 way up. It was a flipped over, rusted out frame, that was wrapped around a tree. It looked like it had been there for 50 years, but how it got there it is a mystery. Eric also helped me rip a dead tree out of the ground so i could carry it to the top, just for fun, you know. We will be in the highly anticipated Duncannon, PA tomorrow, or as like to call it, the Emerald City!

Two of Your Party Have Died of Dysentery...or...LOOK A LITTLE HOUSE!

6-10-09 day 8
start: James Fry Shelter
end: Tiny House @ Boiling Springs
daily mileage: 12.2
total mileage: 98.7

This was the last day on the trail for Ryan, whose car was waiting ahead. The good news, though, was our impending arrival into the quaint town of Boiling Springs, PA. The last ~mile before town was through and open field where a thunder-storm looked to be rolling in. Not looking forward to the prospect of getting wet again, I ran, with pack, into town, stopping momentarily to pick blackberries from a thicket of trees. I ran straight to he tavern to wait for the others, assuming they would look for me there.Well after an hour and a half and 2 beers i went out to find them. They were across the street at the local AT office, were i was told Dustin would be punching out a week early with Ryan on account of his knee trouble. We found a campsite for the night on a private lawn, owned and offered graciously by a guy who looked like Alan Alda. We got to his place and found, in addition to his open yard, a miniature house (imagine a Victorian tool shed). He built Tiny House for hikers, so Connor, Siesta, and I squeezed in and shared some chow before hitting the sack. We fell in love with Tiny House and took many pictures. Beer and pizza were an excellent break from the trail, and we will truly miss Tiny House.

Mommy Come Get Me, Your Baby Boy Made Himself Sick!

6-9-09 day 7
start: Tom's Run Shelter
end: James Fry Shelter
daily mileage: 10.9
total mileage: 86.5

IT'S ICE CREAM DAY! The reason for the tradition is that it takes place within a mile or so of the physical halfway point of the entire trail. We hiked the short 3 miles to the Pine Grove Furnace General Store and bought our half gallons. I tucked into my Cherry Jubilee with great gusto, while my nausea grew steadily until about 2/3 of the way through, then leveled off and allowed me to finish before Connor and Eric. MaKey and Siesta watched, having done the competition in years past, and the Scott told us how back when he thru-hiked in '87 he put away 3 half gallons! Imagine a 1/2 gallon brick compared to your body then triple it, wowzers...After letting the ice cream settle we went on down the road and swam in the lake swimming hole. As we left the lake the thunder hit and it rained buckets. We hiked totally soaked up to the shelter for the night. My pack stayed dry and really that's all that matters. Overall and excellent day, and tomorrow we head into the small town of Boiling Springs where we will say goodbye to Ryan.

Cold Bath Feels Good After 19

6-8-09 day 6
start: Rock Mountain Shelter
end: Tom's Run Shelter
daily mileage: 19.2
total mileage: 75.6

We put some miles down today, boy. Up at 6:00 the hike wasn't too bad, and we met a new friend, Castaway. It seems like every shelter we pass by is better than the ones we stay at, but that's OK because the shelters are in pretty good shape across the board. Lunch came late and consisted of mini bagels and peanut butter, way too much peanut butter. I could definitly feel it roiling around in my gut a ways down the road. Once we got to camp we took frigid baths in the stream, but don't take that as a bad thing it felt incredible...After lazing about for awhile i turned to napping and was woken to Ryan hollering about another snake in camp. I ran excitedly out of the shelter to find a 4 foot black snake ready to be caught and pestered. After the capture, some pictures, and a couple of snakebites i let him on his way...great success! We are all super excited about the 1/2 gallon challenge tomorrow morning...

We Got a Little Behind ...

6-7-09 day 5
start: Deer Lick Run Shelter
end: Rocky Mountain Shelter
daily mileage: 10.2
total mileage: 56.8

We knew we were in for a low mileage day today so we slept in and got a late start around 10:30. We hit a pretty murderous hill that went up without end at a wicked grade, definitely our hardest climb yet. Dustin and I took off ahead of the group and decided to wait after hiking a long while so they could catch up and we could decide on lunch. After a curiously long 30+ minute wait they showed up and revealed they had stopped at Chimney Rock for a view we had just blown by and missed, rats. We got to camp early and realized to our dismay that our mileage count to Ryan's car in Boiling Springs was off by about 10+ miles. We layed out our options and decided to do 19mi-11mi-11mi consecutively over the net three days. This gives us the miles and a short day in the middle to partake in the much anticipated 1/2 gallon challenge at Pine Grove Furnace. In starting the fire tonight we found a litte ringneck snake, which was cool..much better than the lame toads we have encountered so far...

Gooday Sunshine, Goodbye Maryland

6-6-09 day 4
start: Ensign Cowall Shelter
end: Deer Lick Run Shelter
daily mileage: 14.5
total mileage: 46.6

We got up and out fairly early today, earliest yet anyway. I finally think i have nailed down how to load my pack and had a comfortable fit today. In addition our weather was outstanding, sunny but cool, a refreshing change of pace. We had some spectacular views off the trail, the best was from High Point Rock. i was covered in graffiti, but you could see forever. I drained my radiator over the edge as well, which was satisfying... :). We took a long 2+ hours for lunch at Pennmar Park right on the MD-PA border. The sun was out and warm, so we dried out all our stuff and Connor and I attempted to seam seal our leaky tarp (hopefully it works out). The best part was that we got some free food from a family reunion in the park, an act we discovered later to be called "Yogi'ing". I got a fried chicken breast, and a giant piece of cake, which i ate with great relish. We camped early and got a chance to rinse out some manky trail clothes and sponge bath my nasty body. I'm really taking stock of the clothes and gear i actually need and i am definitely gonna ditch some. One state down, Maryland, and onto Pennsylvania!

Wet and Wild First Days...

6-5-09 day 3
start: Pine Knob Shelter
end: Ensign Cowall Shelter
daily mileage: 8.2
total mileage: 32.1

Rain. It rained all day. Once you resign yourself to get wet it's alright though. As long as your pack stays dry your body can get soaked and you just keep moving. We needed a resupply on food so Dustin (with his newly dubbed trail name "Physics") and I volunteered to adventure into town about 2 miles away. We walked down the road a little to the "Free State" Hostel on the way to town, where we left a few bucks to run everyone's wet gear through their dryer (including my sleeping bag!). A few 100 yards down the road we hitched a ride from some local yokels into town. Before buying new supplies we stopped in at a Chinese joint and i ate an epic amount of General Tso's. After shopping we were able to hitch all the way back to the hostel to pick up our fantastically dry gear. Minimal extra foot miles and a dry, fluffed sleeping bag! Awesome! After separating 5 days of food back at camp morale is high : ). Our first hitching experience was excellent and MaKey is here for the night as well. His company will be appreciated.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Let it Rain, Man, Let it Rain...

6-4-09 day 2
start: Crampton Gap Shelter
end: Pine Knob Shelter
daily mileage: 12.5
total mileage: 23.9

Well, I woke up in the middle of the night to find the stitched seam of our fly leaking like crazy. Long story short my down sleeping bag is wet and very unpleasant. It rained all day but was otherwise a decent hike. We met our first real hikers today. First we met Ducky(everyone on the trail uses trail names) , with her dog Madison, and later on at the shelter we met Double Vision, Jukebox Hero, Siesta, and a Scottish fellow names MaKey. His accent is so thick it's like he's faking. Everyone is really great. We got to camp around 4:30 and found room in the shelter, which is good as it will give my sleeping bag and gear a break from the rain. Connor has acquired a number of ancient freeze dried dinners and we had our first adventure with those tonight. Connor's pot was edible I suppose...we won't talk about mine...

The First Day of the Next Six Months

6-3-09 day 1
start: US 340 Shenandoah River Bridge
end: Crampton Gap Shelter
day mileage: 11.4
total mileage: 11.4

Finally got to start hiking today1 we still had some running around to get food and maps but finally stopped just walking and began hiking around 1030. It all came back as we went along. I quickly realized there was a certain technique to master in packing my frame-less ultralight pack, which today felt like a bag of potatoes with straps. The trail was a fairly easy segueing back into gear and hiking. We didn't see any fellow thru-hikers today which was a shame. The shelter a this site was infested with middle schoolers so i looked like tents for us, and the shelter Connor and I set up already looks more secure than the previous night's. The east going at the beginning is good as it gives us all a chance to figure out our gear as well as our trial chops as our bodies are being tested.

The Trip East

This will be the first of about 10 entries that will provide a day by day account of our travels, and overlap Connor's day four post. Sorry or any confusion but we will probably be updating it in this manner from now on.

6-2-09 day 0
Today we set out from Centerville. After staying up all night saying goodbye we got up at 7:00am for breakfast. Mom prepared an egg/sausage casserole for us, and Connor's and Dustin's mothers stopped bye to see us off. We finally hit the road at 8:30 with Eric and Connor in my car and Ryan and Dustin in Ryan's. The drive to Harpers Ferry was long, but once we got there the fun began as we arranged cars for departures. Dustin and I hung back at the hostel we were staking at, while the other took off with the vehicles. Dustin and I got some dinner and wandered down to the Potomac where we saw some skinny dippers. By the time they had dropped off both cars and picked up Emily and got back it was about 11:30. We were exhausted so we climbed into the tents Dustin and I had set up. Mine and Connor's tent was simply the tarp we brought and set up with some cord. With our first attempt at set up I was banking on no rain, unfortunately no such luck. A wind storm whipped up and blew our collapsing "shelter" all to hell. We huddled up and laughed hysterically, and when it was certain the thing was going to blow away the wind died and let us get some sleep. We needed our rest to be ready for hiking tomorrow!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

day four of our adventure!

well, it has been four days on the a.t. and morale is high! we've
hiked about 45 miles from our starting point in harpers ferry, west
virginia. since then, weve hiked through west virginia and maryland
and are already on to pennsylvania! (at this point i feel it is
neccessary to apologize for the bad spelling and lack of
capitalization, as i am typing this on a kindle and cant really check
what ive typed) the lst few days until today have been absurdly rainy.
it rained all three days ago, all day two days ago, allyesterday...
and every night in between. today was our first day of beautiful,
beautiful dryness... and it was amzing. we dried out all our gear and
socks and made it to camp nice and early.

weve been meeting all kinds of incredibly awesome people. mckay is an
excellent old scottish guy weve been following all around,but theres
also siesta, moonwalker,no nails, western, lantern, rawhide, skittles,
duckie... all cool people we seem to be on an approximately similar
pace with. well, most of them are actually probably going to get wa
ahead of us as were still pretty slow, but nonetheless cool people.
siesta even bought us mcdonalds tonight and brought it to our camp
just to be nice to thenew guys.

well im out tonight but ill post again soon. i miss many of you
already and hope to hear from you soon!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Heading out this morning

I wasn't expecting to be able to update today, but we got in really late last night and are doing some last-minute grocery shopping this morning. While some of the guys are doing grocery shopping, we're visiting the AT Conservancy headquarters to get maps and kill time... and, on their computer, add to the blog!

We got in around 11:30 last night after dropping off Ryan's car a week up the trail so he can leave then, and Travis's car two weeks up the trail so he, Eric, Dustin, and Emily can leave. I arrived at the campsite just as it started storming, and Travis and I had the first chance to test out our open-air tarp in a thunderstorm. It held up (despite both of our extreme doubts) and we stayed dry! Hikers: 1. Nature: 0.

We're all excited to get started, and slightly unsure of what to expect. What are these shelters like? How many people will we meet? Will we get eaten? Only time will tell...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We're on our way out!

Today, we begin our epic adventure. Travis, Eric, Dustin, Ryan, Emily and myself are meeting up in Harper's Ferry PA. We're going to be spending all day moving cars around so that they can also get home, and we expect to be done by around 10 tonight and get hiking tomorrow! Spirits are high... even if we still haven't technically figured some things out yet (like food). NOT bad planning... flexibility.