Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
I've uploaded the mail drop inventory (see link to the right) so inquiring minds can see what our hiker has been eating on the trail, and what I've been mailing out to him.... Thankfully, our firm offered to let me post his mail drops from the office, which means its no cost to us - as a "you're going away, but promise you're coming back" present. So, thanks, KSK!!
Many of the recipes I’ve made, and food ideas I’ve gotten, have been from the “Appalachian Trail Food Planner” by Lou Adsmond. It’s maybe the best trail-related purchase I made, and I highly suggest it if you’re inspired by Shawn’s trip and want to tackle the trail yourself ... It also has a detailed itinerary which Shawn used as a sample, in combination with several others, to plan out his trip and mail drop locations.Shawn should be in Pearisburg, VA, tonight or tomorrow, and I’ll let everyone know when I’ve heard from him…. I can’t wait! Hope all are well, and have a great weekend!
(please note the farmer’s tan….)
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Hello from Damascus, Virginia - mile 460 on the AT and the psychological end to the hard South mountains. Got in yesterday afternoon for the start of Trail Days, or Trail Daze as I've seen it called sometimes. Trail Days is an annual 3-day gathering of former and current AT thru-hikers that overtakes Damascus every year, giving it the reputation as the friendliest Trail Town on the AT. Most hikers are staying at the Tent City, a nearly-free campsite a quarter mile out of town, but your favorite hiker has been lucky enough to score rooms from a few residents who are renting out space in their houses. Last night I was at the Hiker Hotel, and tonight I'm at the Dancing Bear. Beats sleeping in the rain, surrounded by the noise of thousands of partying hikers.
Sorry I haven't written anything for a while - there was no internet access between Erwin and here. Since Erwin, the trip has been pleasant with great weather, somewhat easier terrain, and lots of socialization. I've dubbed this section the "Salad Days". I had to slow down a bit too, to prevent myself from getting here too early, which made for lots of easy low-mileage days. Had some great meals at a few hostels along the way, and quite a raucous party broke out at Overmountain Shelter in the Roan Mtn Highlands. The shelter is an old barn near a road and a trail crew made of Appalachian State University students brought up a keg, some moonshine, and lots of hamburgers and hot dogs. Unfortunately, the weather turned foul as the party went on and by 11pm, a full 40mph wind and driving rain was blowing everyone around. My tent blew over, even with all my gear inside, and if it weren't for the heoric actions of Johnny Thunder - he pegged it down with my hiking poles - it might of been lost. Unfortunately, the head of the ASU students lost his tent completely. It blew away never to be seen again. Hiked out the next morning in the same weather, over miles of treeless balds - quite an experience.
Damascus has been on everyone's mind for weeks now. Trail Days is fun, lots of cool stuff going on - talks, slide shows, retailers, free food, drinking, etc.Oops, my time is up - will finish this later.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Still resting here in Erwin, so I have a moment to write some more. I will either leave late this afternoon to get to a shelter 4 miles from here or tent it overnight here and take off in the morning. The latter is looking more likely, since the crew I've been hanging with is spending the night and a whole bunch of others left today meaning it will be crowded ahead. Plus, I don't want to be too early to Damascus, VA - 120 mi from here - for Trail Days, which starts on the 16th. But feeling really good and ready to hike.
I try to do a strenuous day within each section, just to push the envelope. This past section's strenuous day was the 15.5 miles I did before 3pm to get a lousy hamburger and catch some friends who were a half day ahead. Can't tell you how exhausted I was that day, since it was hot and sunny all day and I didn't stop for a proper break or real meal - ate candy bars and quick snacks instead. But its amazing how the endorphines kick in and that night I was feeling great without any pains.
During the section before Hot Springs, our group rose at 4am and tried to make it 6 miles to the top of a big bald called Max Patch for sunrise. We were waylaid in a small gap when we found a van parked there and an orange University of Tennessee tent set up. The guy sleeping inside the van (it was maybe 6am) woke up and rubbed his eyes and told us to wait a half hour and he'd cook us breakfast. Seven of us had three dozen eggs between us. The cook's name is Ox, he thru-hiked a few years back, and says it changed his life. He comes every year to that gap to cook for the hikers coming through. That's the beauty of trail magic. Can't wait til I can run up to some shelter in Pennsylvania some day with a pizza and sixpack.
This upcoming section will see trail magic at an old barn that's been made into a shelter. Some Appalachian State students came by the hostel this morning with a flyer saying they'd be there with beer and food on Thursday, after their exams are over. That shelter is only 3 days away, so its another reason to lounge here today. Should be a good time.
A large group of us has been bunched up since the Smokies because of the festivals and pre-announced trail magic. This will probably stay that way until Damascus for the biggest festival, Trail Days, which supposedly attracts thousands of hikers. Supposedly, Damascus is the last stop for many hikers, who never make it past. Damascus starts the 500 mile trek through the long green tunnel. Personally, I'm looking forward to it, since its getting a little crowded and the hostels are becoming a bit of a party scene.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Hi gang, I've made it to Erwin, TN, mile 339. Funny story about Erwin - three weeks before starting the Trail, i found trailjournals.com where hikers keep online diaries, and followed the progress of this one kid Dynamite (looks like Napolean Dynamite) who had started in early March. When Elizabeth and I drove down here over a month ago, we stopped in Erwin for gas and to check the town out. Drove by where the Trail comes out of the woods and who should pop out of the woods just at that moment but Dynamite! So I yelled out the car window at him "Dynamite! I know you, been following you on the internet!" He was a little freaked out, and declined my offer of a ride to town...
So, 33 days later, here I am. Am staying in the bunkhouse at a neat hostel called Uncle Johnny's. Perfect day to be here too, since it just started raining about an hour before I arrived. Should be clear when I leave tomorrow or the next day. I may try river rafting here tomorrow if the weather is nice and the prices are decent. As soon as I arrived, I caught Johnny's ride to town to the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, which proved to be nice timing. Also got a Tennessee keychain for the pack as this is my only town stop in the state.
Had great weather this past section - the two days I spent in Hot Springs allowed me to miss the freezing rain last Monday night, and its been warm since. Some of my hiker buddies were out here that night and said there was sheet ice inside and outside their tents. C-Bass and I tried to catch up to our buddies, and I managed to do it on the third day, but it meant pulling long miles. Had my personal record of 17.4 miles on Thursday - 15.5 of those miles were done before 3pm so I could make it to a gap where a group of locals were cooking hamburgers until that time. Caught Slo-Goin and Franklin that day too, so added bonus.
The trail went over a series of balds in this section, and i got to cowboy camp (sans tent) on top of one - nothing like waking up in the middle of the night to see stars from bed. Also hung out on top of Big Bald for 4 hours yesterday afternoon to catch some sun and enjoy lunch. Amazing views of the upcoming Roan Mtn Highlands which I will hit this next week. Today, on the 12 mile trek to the hostel, I walked through a small forest fire!
As for my feet, I've come to think its a reinjuring of a sprain I had in high school. I've kept the ankle wrapped in ace bandages and its been slowly healing - still some soreness, but definitely better than last weekend. Its one of those things where I'm going to keep going and it will either get better or worse, we shall see. But I anticipate no problems leaving here on time.
BTW - Mom, you can keep sending cookies - they are easy to finish off at stops so I don't carry them. When I was saying send food to Elizabeth for parceling, I was referring more to folks who want to send trail mix or dried fruit and such. But thank you all, its been really delicious!Ok, will write more later...