Sunday, July 29, 2012

No updates until further notice

I was caught in a nasty rain storm yesterday and didn't store my phone properly, so currently it doesn't work. Until further notice, blog posts will no be done, but rest assured, all is well.  I hope to have a new iphone soon to be able to update, but we will see.

As for now, i'm two days into the White Mtns and it's going well (with the exception of the rain incident).


Friday, July 27, 2012

7.27.12 - Tough Climb, and a "Different" Community

Woke up today to rain. It had rained all through the night, which is just fine by me. We haven't had rain in a while, so getting it was good for many reasons, one being that the streams should now have water in them for us to drink.

Waited the rain out a little, as it seemed like it was dying down. Rolled out of the shelter around 8am with Dame and Repack. About a mile north we came to The Ice Cream Man, an older gentleman who gives ice cream sandwiches to thru hikers for free. Bill was home and we got to meet and talk to him. He was approaching 400 hikers for the year so far. Enjoyed the ice cream, filled up water from the hose, and moved on. I pushed ahead of the others and it was a long, tough climb up Smarts Mtn. The elevation put us at 3,800 feet, which is still a few thousand shy of what is yet to come for the rest of the journey! Being our first big climb in a while, it wore me out! I better get into a rhythm with these bigger mountains if I'm going to make it through before the end of the year. Haha. After that, had Cube Mtn which didn't seem as bad, but still had to work at it.

Ended up doing 18.5 miles. Still good even though I've been aiming for 20's. My goal is to aim for 20's until the mountains push back and my body tells me not to push harder. Plus, I'm really looking forward to enjoying the Whites and Maine, so no reason to rush through them. I'll just blame not getting at least 20 miles on the rain leading me to getting a later start, and spending time making a few phone calls.

Came to a gravel road along the trail that I'd read about in my book. The book stated that there is an independent community called the Dancing Bones about a mile up the road. Turns out it was closer to 1.5 miles. Anyway, I decided to go, because it sounded interesting. And that it was! There are about 9 people who live on the property. There is a small community building with a kitchen, shower, outdoor showers, and a composting toilet. This is where the residents can come use these items. Very few have showers of their own in their cabins. The group is made of people who want to live low key and have a small impact on the environment. They also have some sort of dance event on Saturdays. No idea what that's all about. It's sorta strange on one hand, but the thought behind it is cool on the other. I just think that some interesting people gravitate towards places like these. However, the few people we met were nice and even gave us some fresh produce. The hot outdoor showers were great! And once again I found myself washing dishes as a means of "working" for my stay.

7 miles into Glencliff tomorrow where I pick up my 30 degree sleeping bag, new shoes, and camera for the rest of the trip. Leaving Glencliff we have our first BIG climb, which marks the start of the White Mtns. Gonna be tough, but awesome!

7.26.12 - New State!

This morning I had an easy 2.5 mile road walk crossing over the Connecticut River, which is the border between Vermont and New Hampshire. Made it into Hanover and went immediately to the bus stop to get a free ride to West Lebanon to do a resupply. Took forever and I think at one point we even went back to one of the bus stops I was already at! Resupply took all of 10 minutes (the power of having a list), then it was more time on the bus to get back to Hanover. In total, about 2 hours.

Back in Hanover, I went to the Bagel Basement, as they give thru hikers a free bagel and cream cheese. I asked the friendly girl working there what she recommended and I got some sort of walnut, raisin, and maple bagel with cream cheese called Afternoon Delight. It was great! Glad she recommended it! From there I went over to find the pizza place that gives a free slice to thru hikers. Found it but it didn't open til 11am, and it was about 10:15am. I went to the library next door to look a few things up, then went to the post office to mail a few things out. Ran into a few other hikers outside the outfitter, and a few of us went to get our free pizza and have a beer.

I finally left town about noon, knowing the weather was showing 80% chance of rain. Sure enough, just before I went into the woods, it started coming down slowly. Luckily for the day it didn't rain hard until I was about 0.2 miles from the shelter. I hoofed it in and made it before I got soaked. Met Repack for the first time, although someone was just telling me about him the other day. I was going to stay at Moose Mountain shelter, but around 4pm when I got there, I decided to push on the additional 7 miles or so to Trapper John Shelter. Dame Quixoti came in around 7:45pm all wet but it was good to see her.

Ended up being about a 19 mile day with some ups and downs but not too bad.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Congrats to Chris "Tarzan" Clemens!

Congrats to my buddy Tarzan who reached Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the AT on July 21, 2012!

30+ mile days and 20's through the White Mountains! You're an animal buddy! Can't wait to get together and talk about our experiences!

7.25.12 - Free Hotdogs, plus Sweet & Low and Gray Beard

Had a great night of sleep last night. It seemed to have been just the right temperature and I must have been tired. Headed out of camp before the others staying there. The plan was either to make it 20 miles to Happy Hill Shelter or possibly make it 27 into Hanover. Throughout the day, I stopped a few times to talk to the few sobo's I saw, and break for lunch and water.

Dakota Dan and I flipped back and forth with eachother down the trail, and he decided to stop at the Full Belly Deli that was right on the trail. I figured I'd stop in to have a quick cold beverage. Hotdogs also sounded good so I ordered one to go along with my iced tea. I was sitting there for a while waiting for my hotdogs. Dakota Dan thought they may have forgotten about me so I went up and asked. Sure enough, they did. A few minutes later, the guy working there brought out TWO hotdogs and said they were on the house since he forgot. Nice! So in the end, 2 hotdogs and an iced tea for $0.99. Dakota Dan and I said goodbye as we probably won't see eachother again (he's taking downtime to let his daughter catch up).

I hiked on and came across Shadow and Chitty Chitty and Bang Bang. Tarzan had told me that I would be seeing Shadow soon so I said hello for him. They told me about a couples' house in Norwich that they stayed at and said they had a great time. They suggested I go there.

I made it to Happy Hill Shelter and decided to push on to Norwich to find this couple. I did 3.5 miles in just under an hour to get there. It was a little odd just going up to a random house and knocking on the door to ask for a place to stay, but I did it anyway. I was greeted by Sweet & Low (Betsy), who without knowing anything about me, let me inside, told me to hop in the shower, and meet them outside on the porch for dinner. She asked where I came from and when I told her about 25 miles out, she said "well your day is done, relax and enjoy".

I took a quick shower then met the four out back eating. They were friends of Sweet & Low and Gray Beard (Bill). I was given a plate of delicious homemade Thai food, and they asked if I wanted a beer. You bet! I was not expecting food or beer at all! Had a great time eating with them, then they picked up a few other hikers, two sobo's. We then had dessert. Chocolate cake with whipped cream. Later they picked up Hotshot, another NoBo. We all chatted for a bit, then I'd hikers went to sleep in the basement.

Unbelievable hospitality from Betsy and Bill! You're crazy in the best way possible! Thank you so much!

7.24.12 - Sugar and Spice, and Fellow Hoosiers and Ball State Alum

Flash and I left the hostel early before breakfast to catch the first bus out. Whole we were waiting, Challaph came to find us at the bus terminal to give us a homemade peanut protein bar since we weren't able to have breakfast. Totally unexpected, but awesome of him to do that!

We got a ride down to one of my favorite restaurants that I've been to while snowboarding in Vermont, and from taking some customers there. Sugar and Spice is the place and it's great! Had 4 pancakes, two of which were made with maple syrup and brown sugar in them. Left there and got a hitch back to the trail.

Hiked a few miles and hit the Maine Junction where the Long Trail and the AT split. After that we got to Gifford State Park. Walking through I noticed a guy wearing a Purdue University shirt. I asked if he went there and sure enough he did. I told him I was from Indiana and went to Ball State. All of a sudden someone popped out of the passenger seat of their suv, and said she went to Ball State too. Turns out we both lived in the same dorm for a year. Who knows if we ever saw eachother or not. We chatted for a while them they offered us chocolate, soda, and beer. Even though it was still morning, it was Long Trail beer in the new "trail friendly can", something new they did. It was great running into fellow Hoosiers and another Ball State alum!

Hiked the rest of the way to Winturri Shelter, running into a lot of SoBo'. Along the way that shared good info about the trail ahead.

7.23.12 - Unplanned Zero / Work for Stay

Had planned on heading out in the morning but wanted to do laundry and resupply in the morning. Took care of those and then went back to the deli for the hiker breakfast. Big group of hikers sitting around enjoying food together. Challaph told me that I had done more than my fair share of work the day before, and that if I wanted to stay today, I could. I was undecided and kept going back and forth, but finally made up my mind and stayed.

I went to the library to research jobs and such for an hour, then went back to the deli to work more. Did some more dishes, ate some more homemade food (for free of course), then Flash and I took the bus to Eastern Mountain Sports. My water filter that gave me a lot of problems to begin with, which was replaced two times, was now giving me problems again. I called up MSR and this time they were helpful. They didn't tell me "it's not my fault you're on a trail in the middle of nowhere" again. They called EMS and lined it up so I could swap my filter out for a new one. Thanks to the helpful and cute EMS girl for taking care of me too!

Went back to the deli for more dishes and later on, one of the girls working there made me a delicious treat!

It was an unplanned zero, but I enjoyed it.

7.22.12 - Killington, VT, and First Work-for-stay

Finally got an earlier start and got on the trail around 6:30am. Passed up the two section hikers after doing the first decent climb out of the shelter. Came across a section that was closed and rerouted due to damage from Hurricane Irene. I decided to take the "closed" trail instead of the reroute that took you on roads. I had heard from others that the closed route could be taken but crossing one river could be tricky because the bridge was washed out by the storms. Sounded exciting, so I took it! Was a really nice trail actually. And shockingly, didn't see another person on it! Haha! Made it to where the bridge was no longer at, after crossing a sign on a tree marking the 500 miles remaining for us NoBo's. There were a lot of trees and debris in the river. I must have crossed too early to get to the other side, because I got a little turned around and couldn't find the trail. I knew I could turn back if worst came to worst, but I kept moving through the woods, bush whacking my way through to try and find the trail again. There were some pink ribbons hanging in some trees, so I followed those. Figured it might be a new route for the trail in the future that had been marked out. Finally got back to the actual AT!

Talked briefly to a father and two daughters who were out hiking the Long Trail, while I was filtering water. When I got to the next shelter, they went on and I stopped to talk to the caretaker for about 10 -15 minutes. I got back to hiking, attempting to catch up to Wildflower who was 6 miles ahead of me as of last night. The uphill was one of the toughest yet, but I tried to keep pushing through it. At one point I passed the father and two daughters as I was going pretty strong uphill still, and they gave me a "way to go Meat" cheer as I passed. Loved it!

Made it to Cooper Lodge, where I refilled water at a stream and made myself some lunch quickly. Wanted to try to catch Wildflower still, so I moved on as I ate lunch. Made it about a mile or so way when I realized I might have missed Killington Summit. Looked at my book, and definitely did. Ugh! The summit isn't part of the AT, but I had wanted to do it, so I turned back and hiked back up to Cooper Lodge. Went up to the summit, then down to the gondola to catch a ride down. Enjoyed a burger and beer at an outdoor bar area that was new to me. Was put up after Irene knocked down some of the base lodge. Then it was back up the gondola and on the trail again.

Got a hitch about 7 miles into Rutland, to the Yellow Deli and hostel. I showered and changed into my other clothes, then was put to work in the kitchen doing dishes. Met a bunch of SoBo's and a few NoBo's, including Spoon who had been there for 3 weeks helping out.

I had fun in the kitchen and then they fed me some good homemade food! I had Maté for the first time and it was good. The folks who ran the hostel and deli are a community of the Twelve Tribes, which I've never heard of before. They all seemed to be really nice people. Best way I can describe them with only very limited knowledge I have, is that it had sort of a hippie and Amish feel to it. Good times experiencing something different.

7.21.12 - Energetic Day, Guinness, Dame Puts Down Some Serious Food, and What's the Deal With the Comments?l

Woke up to another cool morning. Once again didn't get out of camp as early as I had hoped, but made it out around 7am. Had a great day of hiking. As tired as I was, I was able to go strong all day.

Had lunch at Little Rock Pond which is a great shelter and pond. It was a little cool while I was there, and I didn't even really want to swim. A few miles away from the shelter, and I wished I was back there! Oh well. There will be more places to swim.

Crossed a side trail for White Rocks Cliff. Near there were a bunch of rock formations people had made. I added to it by putting a rock between 2 trees. Pretty cool looking. Definitely not normal to see something like that.

Finally ran into my first NoBo since I for on the trail on Wednesday. Crazy how long it took. Scrabble was completing from CT to ME this year. We made it down to VT 140 and I said I wished there was beer floating in the creek as trail magic. Scrabble surprised me as he put two Guinness cans in the creek! He had been carrying them and didn't want to carry them up the next hill. We let them chill for a little while, then enjoyed them. Had a big climb after it which I blew through. Maybe the beer helped?

I had been seeing Dame Quixote's name in the logs for today, and finally caught up to her. I had been moving quickly today for some reason even though I was sore yesterday night after hiking 21 miles. I knew I'd catch her eventually! Actually caught her and Still Debating around the same time.

Made it to Minerva shelter that I had planned to stay at, but it was only around 3pm, so I figured I'd move on I the next shelter. There were a bunch of Southbounders (SoBo's) there that gave me pointers about places to go up north. Also met Sanhican for the first time. Somehow he already heard the story of how I got my name, so he told it to the SoBos. I left the shelter and Sanhican came with. I was pushing hard, and the older, talkative dude still kept up! We ran into a SoBo who recommended the cafe at the next road. Said they had good burgers, fries, cole slaw, and shakes. We decided to go and asked Dame if she wanted to come too. Got a quick hitch the 0.3 miles there. Turns out after 4pm, it turns into a different restaurant. A pizzeria that has none of the same food! Oh well. We "settled" for some food there anyway. I had a big chicken parmesan for $6. Pretty good. Really filling too. Dame impresses me. Now you have to understand that Dame is a tiny lady, from Chicago (pointless for me to add that), and maybe in her 50s. So she orders a calzone that takes up more space than is on her plate. She put the whole thing down! Very impressive!

We hiked the 0.3 back to the trail, and hiked 1 mile up to the shelter. We went through Clarendon Gorge, which was fun. Made me work, but it was a lot of fun.

If I hadn't had stopped for a bite to eat, I probably would have moved on, because my body feels like I could have. That would have made it a 28 mile day. Instead I'm happy with the 23.3, and maybe it's best, as Killington Mtn comes tomorrow! Pumped to be where I have snowboarded. Sounds like thru hikers can take the gondola to the base lodge for free.

What is it lately with day hikers telling me that I "look good" and "look spry" for an Appalachian trail hiker? Not sure if they expect us to look in worse shape, or possibly have a cloud around me like Linus.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

7.20.12 - Bromley Mountain, and Hunger!

Cool night last night. Finally around 3am I got up and set up my tent in the shelter. Letting the sides of the rain fly lay against the tent actually traps a good amount of heat in the tent. Finally I was able to get some good sleep without being too chilly. Slept in til 7am because I hadn't slept well the rest of the night. Wanted to get an earlier start, but my body was telling me I should get the rest. Finally made it out of camp around 8am and hiked by myself all day. Did run into a few northbound section hikers, a few southbound section hikers, and a few southbound thru hikers. Didn't see one other northbound thru hiker. Based off the shelter logs, I think I'll catch some in the next two days before I hit Killington and Rutland to resupply.

Went over 3 mountains today. Bromley was by far the best. Ski lifts, ski patrol cabin, and no one else up there but me. Took some pictures sitting around on the lift chairs and explored the top. Only things missing were snow and my board! The trail actually came out of the woods and went straight up a green ski run called Run Around #1. Really enjoyed being up there and looking forward to Killington in two days, which will complete the trifecta of ski resorts.

For some reason today, I got really hungry between lunch and dinner! It may have been because I ate an earlier lunch. Noted. I kept pushing aside the hunger for the last three or so miles by drinking water. When I made it to Peru Peak Shelter, there was only one lady, Speed Bump, and her dog. She is section hiking for 3 days and today was day 1. Made dinner, made a fire, and chatted. Hopefully my feet are getting tougher! My body was tired around 18 miles in or so. Today was between 20 and 22 miles. Another good day traveling solo!

7.19.12 - Stratton Mountain

Pretty chilly night last night. Had to put on my pants and my synthetic jacket (my pillow) at some point because my 45 degree bag wasn't keeping me as warm as I'd liked. Woke up and it was still chilly and the air was crisp. Finally crawled out of my sleeping bag and got ready to take on the day.

Didn't see anyone for the first few hours of hiking. It was a nice cool morning and came across a fire tower only .3 mile after leaving the shelter. Got 10 miles out and saw my second person of the day at Story Spring Shelter where I stopped for a short break and snack around 10:25am. A lot of good water sources along the way. Probably helped out by the recent rain.

Hiked on another 4 or so miles and made it to a road just before the start of the climb up to Stratton Mtn. Had lunch and took a short break. Got moving when I was done eating and ran into a couple who mentioned a good side trail to the top of the gondola, just behind the caretaker cabin up top.

Made it up about 3.3 to the top of the mountain where there was another fire tower. Took a break there for pictures and to deal with some insurance mumbo-jumbo that they supposedly needed from me. I called and it was already something I had taken care of a while back. Who knows.

Started heading down trail and remembered the side trail the couple told me about. Now I've been snowboarding on Stratton before, so I knew what the lifts and gondolas looked like, but I figured I'd go check it out for a summer view. I had already hike down a few tenths of a mile and told myself I was just going to hike on, but then I stopped and told myself that I didn't need to do any additional mileage than what I was planning, so I turned around and hiked back up. Only problem, I didn't find a trail that went more than 25 yards or so behind the cabin. Oh well. A for effort.

Hiked the remaining 3 miles to Stratton Pond Shelter where I met Aqua and Snake Eyes. Two southbounders who were fun to hang out with while eating. We also made a fire just as the caretaker walked up. Thought we would get busted as there's a sign for no wood fires, even though there's a fire ring. It was all good though because she wants it to be ok to have them there and didn't agree with the no fire "policy". She was nice. Talked to us for a while, then kindly asked for $5. It's a fee for some of the shelters along the trail. It goes directly to the trail for maintenance, etc.

Didn't see a whole lot of people today. Hiking solo was good for the soul...oh!

Trying to figure out if the mark on my a is a bug bite or poison ivy. I used the poison ivy wash I have in a stream earlier but it still itches. Took care of another spot on my other arm nicely but this one still itches. It looks like it has a bite mark in the middle. Hoping that's the case!

7.18.12 - Back to the Trail

Hopped back on the trail in Bennington around 3:30pm. Did 10 miles to Goddard Shelter. Along the way, ran into Fango and her friend's dog she was borrowing, heading south on the Long Trail. Talked for a little and moved on when the bugs were just too much of a nuisance. She mentioned a few hikers ahead that I knew.

Made it to the shelter and met a guy and daughter doing the LT, and another hiker, Robert showed up shortly after. He started at Katahdin but isn't sure if he's only going to NY or all the way. I was pretty sweaty from coming up a decent climb, and got chilled as it got later in the evening. Changed out of my wet clothes and into dry pants and jacket. Feels like its gonna be a cool night! Great view out the front of the shelter. There's a V shape through the trees which allows you to see further out toward the mountains. Pines all around, smells like Christmas! I LOVE-RMONT!

7.13.12 - 7.18.12 - Saratoga!

Went into Saratoga Springs, NY where I had lived for 2.5 years. I left about a year and a half ago and really wanted to get back to visit.

Friday night, went out in Toga. My favorite bar there found my mug and I'm sure had to dust it off. Got to see a handful of people from both Quad and other friends too.

Saturday, went out on Lake George on my buddy Heath's new boat. Had a great relaxing day on the water, just like summer days when I lived here! Cruised over to The Boathouse restaurant and watched my buddy Bobby Kendall play. Amazing how much he's improved since a year and a half ago. Got to hear some of his new music that comes out next month, and I am pumped for it. Sounds amazing! Later that night we went out in Lake George Village and saw an 80's hair band cover band called Aquanette. Ran into some crazy parties that night! Stayed out til 4am then slept on the boat. I slept on the back, with my sleeping bag and it was great.

Sunday morning early cruise back to the marina, then I headed back to my friends' place. Dave and Laura opened up their place to me for my stay there. They had just come hiked with me a few weeks back. Took a shower, then headed to the church I used to go to. Sat next to an old coworker. Had the funny priest that I enjoyed, which was good. Afterward, went to WalMart to resupply food, then stopped at Eastern Mountain Sports to get a new filter cartridge, as my last one had worn out. Got back and took a much needed nap. Woke up and Dave and I made a stir fry that was excellent. When Laura got home from hiking a high peak, we went to Plum Dandy for some frozen yogurt. Good finish!

Monday, walked over to Quad to visit. Planned on being there from about 10:30 to 12:30 or 1. Didn't make it out of there til 4! Lots of good time visiting with old coworkers and friends. Got picked up by my friend Rick who took me back to his house for dinner with his wife Laura. A huge meal of spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread, Parmesan and tomato, and we talked about hiking and geocaching and such. Ended up crashing there for the night. Thanks for helping me carb up guys! It was great seeing you and being able to spend time with you!

Tuesday morning, went to breakfast at my old breakfast spot. Waitress remembered me, and I had what I always used to get. Brought back good memories. Went to the Brackett House after that to visit with the wonderful ladies there. It was awesome seeing the shocked looks on your faces when I showed up! Also, was great catching up with you. Went to the library after that to do some job research and work on my LinkedIn profile until meeting up with my friend Hilary, who has been helping me out by holding some gear I've sent to her along the trail and taking in packages for me, picked me up for lunch. We then went and hung out and caught up for a while. Then it was off to my buddy Tom's house who invites me to come over to hang out and eat. Good times brother! Thanks for the great grub! Back at Dave and Laura's we sat outside on the porch and watched a storm roll in. Finally rain!

Today (Wednesday), took care of some small errands in town after Laura made breakfast. Then Hilary picked me and we got subs from one of my favorite places, then hit the road back to the trail.

Such a good time seeing everyone I did! I truly enjoyed my time there and am very appreciative of all the hospitality from everyone to me. A big thanks to you all again!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

7.11.12 - 7.13.12 Recap

Forgot to post something those days, so here are a few highlights:

-hiked up Mt Greylock (which was a sweet summit)
-met section hiker Scott
-sat around campfire with trail maintenance group
-inconsiderate hiker at shelter last night before getting off trail in Bennington
-got off trail at rt9 in Bennington, VT
-walked around Hemmings Motorsports car show in Bennington
-got a ride to Saratoga Springs, NY from my buddy Heath

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

7.10.12 - Pancakes, and Tom Levardi

Got a great night of sleep last night at Upper Goose Pond Cabin. I only remember waking up once or twice last night, and before I knew it, it was 5:15am and I was ready to start the day! I quietly got out of my bunk and made my way out of the cabin with my gear to assemble my bag. I got everything ready to go, then waited for the caretaker to wake up and make pancakes. They were ordinary, but great. I even got seconds, and coffee too. Great way to start the day!

I helped clean dishes with Golden and Runner, then we hit the trail. I got ahead of the others and hiked on to October Mtn Shelter where I had lunch. It's been getting to me not having over half of the day's planned miles done by lunch, which once again happened today. Need to get an earlier start. That's the problem. Hiked on by myself after lunch and went to "The Cookie Lady's" house where we got free cookies and blueberries from the patch on the land. Hung out for a little, then back to the trail by myself again. I wanted to bust out the remaining 10 miles and it was already after 2, so I threw my iPod on and just went! Good tunes got me going at a good pace. The terrain was pretty good too, which helped me get in around 5:10pm. I found Tom Levardi's house right on trail in Dalton, Massachusetts. Tom had been hosting hikers for 30+ years now! He never thru-hiked, but loves the trail and helping out hikers. Some others were preparing dinner when I walked up. Funny how about 3 hours earlier I saw these hikers at the Cookie Lady's place helping mow lawn, and there they were. They had come by car. Me, by foot!

I met Tom when he got back from slack packing some hikers, which included Keeper. Good to see him again. Before I knew it, I was eating burgers and hotdogs that Tom bought for us. Then Jeff Davis, who I started with on Springer Mtn in Georgia, grilled some chicken and offered me some. I didn't even need to grab a bite at a local restaurant. I got showered and dropped my laundry in a pile with the other hiker's clothes. I left to go grab a beer with Keeper and G-Bird, who wanted to go get food. When we got back, the laundry was done and folded! This guy is amazing. Like the Bob Peoples of the Northeast!

Ended up doing another 21 miler today. Body a little sore as usual, but luckily no chaffing issues. The cooler (80's) weather is to thank. I'm camped out in the back yard at Tom's place because there was a full house, but it's nice and cool out. Looking forward to Mt Greylock tomorrow! I think I saw it looming in the distance today while I was hiking!

On a side note, got a really great email from an old coworker today that really motivated me. It was not only hilarious, but also accurate and true. Wanted to thank you for that. Hopefully we can chat soon.

7.9.12 - Upper Goose Pond Cabin = Sweet!

Woke up this morning, tired and I could tell my legs were sore without even standing on them. I did the ABC's with my feet. A little exercise for ankles that I learned back in rehab. Felt good to loosen them up but I had a feeling it could still be a rough day. I laid in bed and didn't get out until about 7:25am. I just wasn't feelin it. The group I hiked with the day before took off, and I took my time getting ready for the day. Finally made it out if camp just a few minutes before 8am. Weird how I've gone from being up early and on trail by 6am, to this. I blame the few days and crazy nights in NYC for that!

For a while I just took my time and was "comfy hiking". Eventually came to Golden and Wildflower. We hiked together for a little bit, then I got ahead. I went to Shaker Campsite for lunch, where they met me about 15 minutes later. My preciously surgical foot was sensitive on top today, so I took a break during lunch to massage and let it air out.

Chaffing issue hardly even bothered me today. I left the campsite and went on alone. Caught up to Houdini and we hiked the rest of the way into Upper Goose Pond Cabin. This place is a great cabin run by the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). The caretaker currently there was Grampy and was a very nice guy. He had his grandson there, who goes by Yogi.

Houdini and I went down to the beach at the lake and jumped in. Felt great even with today being one of the cooler days lately. Plus it was nice to get the salt and sweat off.

Tomorrow morning, the caretaker will make pancakes for us. Definitely looking forward to that!

All in all a 21 mile day that was pretty good. Terrain was much easier today and the temps were in the 80's. Looking forward to a good night of sleep in the cabin in this bunk with comfy mattress. Crazy things like this are free. Well... Donations appreciated.

Monday, July 9, 2012

7.8.12 - Four Months on Trail

Today marked four months and 1522.4 miles hiked on trail for me. While some of the time has seemed to have flown by, looking back at March 8 does seem like a while ago.

We hiked 20 miles to Tom Leonard Shelter. It was a tough day for some reason. There were more ups and downs than normal, my legs got sore fast, and I had some bad chaffing going on too. I've never had an issue with chaffing on my lower back or just below waistline, but for some reason, I had a hot spot on both sides. It seems to be where the corners of the bottom of my pack were hitting. The last 5 or so miles seemed to take FOREVER! And then when we got to camp, the water was a long distance away. Downhill of course.

There was trail magic at a road crossing though which made the day better. Ice cold Coke and water.

Stayed in the shelter for the first time in a while. Mosquitoes were bad, as they have been getting lately, so I set up my tent in the shelter. After all, Golden and I were the only people in the large shelter, and she even ended up moving out sometime in the night when the bugs were too bad and she was too warm.

There was a group of Jewish boys there that were part of a camp. They were interested in our stories and such.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

7.7.12 - Back to the Trail After NYC, Into Massachusetts, and Houdini!

Today Golden and I took the train back to Salisbury, CT from New York City. It was a great 2.5 days in the city hanging out with old friends from Quad! Ate a lot of food, walked around quite a bit on flat ground, kicked back, checked out some sights I've never seen before, and did a few of the touristy things I've done before. Was great being there for my buddy Bee's birthday too. When we got back to Salisbury, I checked in at the general store and another package for me has arrived. It was another from some folks in Merced that I used to work with, and boy was it full of tons of goodies! (see pic). Thanks to all of you there who sent that!

Got back to the trail around 3pm and met a ridge runner along the way. She started listing off the other thru hikers she had met over the course of the day. She said she met Houdini and he was about a mile away at the shelter. I hightailed it to the shelter to try to catch him. Sure enough, I made it there before he could leave, and I pulled a Houdini on him. That is, I showed up out of nowhere when he least expected it, just like he used to do to me, Tarzan, and Flosser frequently. It had been since Damascus, VA (about 2 months ago), since I had seen him! Crazy how things on the trail happen.

We hiked together to Laurel Ridge Campsite and met up with Golden and Wildflower there, as well as some weekenders. Nine miles for today. Nothing to write home about, but it was still something. Not bad for going to bed around 3am though. Along those 9 miles however, we crossed out of Connecticut and into Massachusetts. There's another state down! Four left to go.

Friday, July 6, 2012

7.3.12 - Small Town Stay

Hustled to do 20 miles and get into Salisbury, CT as early as possible. Made it to town by early afternoon around 3 or so. Very tiny, quaint town from what I could tell, where everyone seemed to know everyone. Right as we entered town, we came to a church. Golden went in to see if it would be possible to camp on their property, as a lot of other churches along the trail offer this to hikers. After talking to the pastor, we were good to go with a place to stay for the night!

We went to the local Village Store where Golden and I had both posted that care packages could be sent to. There were a few packages there for me. The Starbucks Via hookup from LOL, and a package from one of my great friends Dave, and his friend Eric! Lots of goodies. Thanks to all of you for the love!!!

We next hit the local market which had a great deli. Got a sandwich with some cole slaw and potato salad for sides, and it was delicious! As filling as that was, about a half hour later, I got a craving for ice cream, and it was on sale cheap, so I bought a quart of Maine Lobster Tracks with caramel and chocolate pieces in it, and ate the whole thing. After that...plenty full, and happy too!

Ended up not sleeping very well that night behind the church. There was a loud generator noise that kept me up, plus my mind kept going back to thinking about needing to find a job and where I'll live after the trail. Many thoughts swirling in my head.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

7.2.12 - Realizations

Felt a little sore after the 26+ mile day. It's great to have done a marathon day, but I think it's even better to realize that it's not about pushing high miles for me. Some days there are reasons to aim for more miles than others, but lately I've realized that I'm out here to enjoy this. If that means I do high mile days, great. But if that means I only do 15 miles and call it a day because there's a view I want to camp at or something else enjoyable along the way, I love it. There are many things I'd like to get back to "the real world" for, but for the meantime, I'm here to enjoy this. The AT.

The miles seemed to melt away as we hiked yesterday and I was taking my time and enjoying a comfortable pace. We came across some rock climbers and somewhere around that time on a descent, my left knee started with a shooting pain when stepping down. It lasted for about a half hour. It somehow ended after I was horsing around on some rocks and "going horizontal" on them (see pics). Also came across a lot of blowdown. Wonder if it's leftover from last year's hurricane Irene. When we got near Pine Loop Trail, I was starting to feel like I just wanted to be done hiking for the day. Then we came across a serene setting with the trail running right next to a creek that had a lot of small waterfalls along it. I stopped for a few minutes just to soak it all in and really be thankful for having the opportunity to be out here and enjoying the beauty if nature.

We got to Caesar Brook Campsite, about 3 miles further than we had planned to go. We did 18 miles and set up camp. Nice spot in the middle of pine trees, and near a brook. I met Byline for the first time and we all sat around and made dinner and hung out. I attempted to rinse my clothes in the brook. Hopefully get some of the nastiness out!

The evening cooled down and it was feeling like a good night of sleeping weather was upon us.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

7.1.12 - 1st of July, 1st time in Connecticut, 1st Marathon Day

Cannot believe it's already July 1st! Time has flown by! Each month seems to go faster than the last since I've been out here on the AT!

Hit the trail around 6:30am to take advantage of cooler weather in the morning. Passes Nuclear Lake, which was a really nice looking lake. Probably helps that protection agencies worked on restoring this area after the nuclear plant was closed. Made it into Pawlings, NY area around 11:30am. Met the superintendent of the national parks service on a walkway that had a dedication ceremony for it today. After that, we came to a railroad station right along the AT that stops on weekends and holidays to take people into New York City. We walked a little further and stopped in at a garden center owned by a hiker who is very hiker friendly, after about 11 miles. Relaxed there for a little bit, then headed back out into the trail. Seven miles later, we crossed from New York into Connecticut! Another state down! Keeper and I stopped at Ten Mile River to let Duke play in the water. It was funny watching him try new things, as he's still only a puppy.

We came to a long climb which really made me work. I was sweating profusely as we climbed and kept climbing. It was tough, but a good feeling to be doing that kind of hard work!

We knocked out just over 26.2 miles, which makes it my first marathon day on the AT! Ended up at the Schaghticote Mtn Campsite and met up with Golden and Wildflower.

A long day and I was tired at the end. I'm sore now, so we will see how tomorrow goes!