Wednesday, May 2, 2012

5.2.12 - Already May???, Ticks, and a Little Homesick

Wow! Is it really already May? We started this journey back in early March, and it's hard to believe it's already March kinda crept by as we transitioned into our new lifestyle. April seemed to have flown by! I told Tarzan, before we know it, we are going to be saying "remember when we hiked the AT?".

Yesterday was spent in town in Pearisburg, VA as a zero day for us. No hiking on the trail. The motel we stayed at was odd, but it was nice to have a shower to use and a bed to kick back in and relax. Took care of mailing a few items up north to my friend Hilary, who will hold some of the colder weather items until we hit the White Mountains of New Hampshire, or hold onto some items I'm not going to use, until we are done. Also did the normal town activities of buying dinners for food resupply, and mowed down on the food friends and family had sent. Good stuff! We rented a car really cheap (special hiker discount), and Flosser drove us and Sit-a-Bit over to Blacksburg to go to an outfitter so those two could get new shoes. We were right in Hokie territory, near Virginia Tech's campus. A lot of the towns we go into (with the exception of Gatlinburg so far) have been pretty small with not much going on. The VIrginia Tech area had a lot of nice looking areas, and you could tell we were in a college town. It was a different feeling than we've had for a while. On one hand it felt good, but on the other, it made me feel somewhat out of place. Even though we were showered and clean, I'm sure they could tell we were scuzzy hikers. :)

Today was a sluggish day for me. Leaving town with 5 days worth of food is pretty heavy. Plus after more than a day spent in town, getting back into trail mode can sometimes be rough. As much as we wanted to get out of the lonely and somewhat odd town setting, it was still rough getting back into it today. On top of the heavy backpacks, it was also hot today. We sweat quite a bit, and really had to look at the guidebook and maps to see where we could refill from streams along the trail. Staying hydrated is going to be even more important with the incoming heat of summer. Tomorrow is supposed to be a high of 91. We went through an area that had a lot of tall grass, and between Tarzan, me, another hiker we met today named Doc Holiday, and his dog Wyatt, we picked about 10 ticks off of us. Before leaving to start the AT, a lot of people asked me if I was scared of bears. Now I haven't had a bear encounter yet, but I am pretty sure I'm more afraid of things like ticks, spiders, an snakes than bears. Especially since some ticks are very small and hard to see. And so begins the daily (multiple) tick checks.

Got a chance to talk to one of my Grandpas yesterday, who informed me his grandparents are buried in West Virginia and he wondered if I'd be anywhere near it on the trail. It will be cool to learn more about the history d my family, even if not done on the trail. Also got a chance to catch up with some people I haven't talked to in a while. It was great catching up! There's a lot more I'd really like to chat with soon, and plan to make more time to do so.

There's a lot of different emotions and feelings that I've already experienced on the trail so far. This afternoon and evening, I started to get one that I haven't had yet. I'm not really sure where it's coming from either, but it's a homesick feeling. I'm not the type of person to sit around much, as I usually like being out and active, but for some reason today, something has made me want nothing more than to be at home with my family. As I was working hard and sweating to get up some of these mountains, I was almost in a trance, thinking back to the days of soccer practice as a kid, and being outside playing all the time, even in the heat of those Midwest summers. Then, coming inside to cool off with iced tea and those Popsicles in the long plastic packages. And as we hiked into the evening and the sun was just starting to get lower in the sky, memories of smelling food on the grill as Mom got dinner ready and we waited for Dad to get home to sit down and eat. Maybe that's what spurred all this. Maybe not, I'm really not sure. I love being outdoors, and it's typically where I'd prefer to be at any given time, but for some reason tonight, I'm just not feeling it. Would rather be at home with the family, even just sitting around watching tv with the ceiling fan on and the sliding back door open. Like when I was growing up as a kid. One thing I do know for sure is that I'm looking forward to flying to Wisconsin in 16 days to be there for my sister's graduation from dental school, and I'm so ready to see my family then.


  1. I was not aware Wisconsin was on the AT... But if you are hiking through town it would be great to see you! Kenny

  2. Ryan! Just heard about this from some people when I was recently in Merced. Very excited for you and this great opportunity you've taken. I wish you the best. --Matt