Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The first one told me he did not want to take part in my competition to finish the trail. At first when he told me this on the trail, I did not understand and thought he had just grown too close to me and needed to get away from me due to his strong feelings for me. Then, I read "a journey north" by adrienne hall and had it hit home by her about the need to show the men on the trail that despite our minority status on the trail we women are still able to thru-hike the trail at the same pace as men. Between this and my husband telling me I am competitive despite my constantly trying to convince myself differently, I have come to realize the fall of that first friendship. In regards to that realization, I am also trying to tame my need for competition and keep it solely in competitive circles.
My mother and I also talked about this recently and brought up the idea of women on the trail not only having the competition with the male companions but also within one's self to prove we are worth something. I have never seen myself as a normal woman. Some would look at me and think I am a feminist due to my unshaven legs or my independent attitude; however, I feel I am an individual without labels. For the most part, I try to be true to myself...something my husband reminded me I always need to keep in sight! This brings me to my second male hiking partner.
For the last 2 months of my hiking experience on the Appalachian Trail, I hiked with a wonderful male companion who was kind and giving. He, however, started accusing me of not voicing my opinions around the end of our time together. I am still baffled by this and I guess a little disturbed by this accusation, thus the conversation between my husband and I the other night. When I mentioned this accusation to my husband, he could not believe I would not voice my opinions. He has heard my opinions on many things whether he wants to or not. I guess I am like his friend, Adam, in that regard!
On the trail, when hiking with someone, I quite often adjusted my itinerary to the person with whom I was hiking. In the beginning, it was Montana and I working together trying to see how far we could push ourselves. Hardcore and I hiked together for a week altering our schedule for each other. Spice Rack and I would come up with certain stops we wanted to make and decide whether we wanted to join each other at these stops or not. With my husband, I was pretty much in charge and told him what to do; however, that is a totally different relationship than what I had with the other thru-hikers having their own experiences on the trail. Mike was out there to assist me in completion of my journey!
I may never grasp the idea of my not voicing my opinions on the trail, but often thought it had something to do with not wanting to piss people off. Over time, I have also come to realize I have my father's disease of wanting people to like me. So, maybe I didn't voice my opinions as much as I do around friends. At the same time, I can't think back to a spot along the trail where I needed to have an opinion. All I did each day was walk. There isn't much opinion to be had about that other than thinking it sucks some days and then being taken aback by the scenery the next day! When my opinion mattered or was asked for I would certainly give it.
Those are just some of my thoughts that have continued to plague my mind as I adjust to life off the trail. I am in a phase right now of reflecting a lot on my trail experience. My job often makes me think of my journey as I try to assist others with their adventure needs. The trail has changed me and my outlook on life. As the holidays grow near, I find myself wanting to run to the woods for another 5 months or more. My mind is constantly searching for the next adventure to be had. Unfortunately, I need to keep me adventures to small trips lasting no longer than maybe a couple weeks or a long weekend! Colorado is full of spaces for that kind of adventure, though, and I look forward to experiencing everything I can with the time available! So, keep watching the blog to see what this crazy woman will do next and what I will learn as I reflect on my experiences in the world!
Monday, October 31, 2005
The biggest comment I hear from people is what a big accomplishment it is hiking that distance by myself. Well, for me, it always seemed easy and possible, so...I guess it still does not seem like such a big feat! Also, being back into "reality" it feels like I never left or hiked the Appalachian Trail. Only when I am at work do I remember my adventure through assisting people prepare for their journeys.
Recently, I flew to Michigan for my brother-in-laws wedding. Riding in the plane brought back memories from flying home after the trail. I found part of me wishing I was flying back to the east to do some more hiking. As I went for a run along Lakeshore Drive in the Holland/Grand Haven area, I stared in awe at the beautiful fall colors on the trees and began making mental plans to return to the trail in the northeast to hike during peak color.
Upon completing the trail, Mike and I discussed moving to the east somewhere. It may never happen, but sometimes I think it would be a great idea! Then, it shows up on the news how the east is getting hit with severe weather, and I look outside at the Sunshine and warmth here in Colorado and snuggle into the comfort of the beauty here in the West! We may not have beautiful Fall Color but we do have sunshine that warms me through and through leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Since finishing the trail, I have felt the need to almost preach humanity to people. I listen to the news and worry for where our society is headed. Many of us no longer think of anyone or anything but ourselves. We do the token motions of sporting a ribbon or bracelet for some charity or what sounds like a sound reason. I truly believe that actions speak louder than words, and definitely louder than money.
A while back, I wrote of walking from my home to the park where Mike and I run on Tuesday evenings. The realization at that time was how unsafe the world has become. Sitting at the wedding reception this weekend with Mike's cousin from Florida whom has 2 young boys, and talked of how unsafe life has gotten these days. When we were younger, both she and I told of being able to wander all over the neighborhood knowing someone was keeping an eye on us. Today, we live in a world where seldom do we even bother to get to know our neighbors. Instead, we look at them in fear as though they might be some criminal or just try to keep us down somehow. If we think they may be able to assist us in promoting ourselves, then we take the time to know them and show all our good traits to them. I guess what I am trying to say is that on the trail I learned the following:
We are all imperfect creatures. Whether we evolved from apes or were created by God, we were put here for a reason. For each of us, that reason may be a little different, but somehow we were created in the fashion of a jigsaw puzzle. Each of us is a piece that interacts with one another to make a beautiful picture. If we start trimming the pieces, then there are certain pieces left out and the picture is left looking mutilated and deformed. At the base level, we all need each other.
So, my challenge to the world is to be aware of your surroundings and try to help when needed. I'm not saying donate money to a charity thus allowing yourself to boast about how you do good things. My request is actually helping people out. Recently, I worked on a trail project at Bear Creek Lake Park here in Colorado. On the Trail, I assisted my hiking family as I was capable and was assisted by many "Trail Angels" when I was in need. It goes back to that movie, Pay It Forward. Human kindness is fading away and without it, I see us returning to the ways of the savages and being in constant war with each other over the silliest of things.
Blessed Be and remember to help those around you and always PAY IT FORWARD! Do no harm and as the pagan world believes, whatever you do unto others comes back on you threefold. Also, do not forget the past. Happy Dia de los Muertos as well as All Saints Day. It is a blessed time to celebrate LIFE!
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Speaking of moving through life, I have been working on that upon my return. During my wanderings through the woods, I was suppose to be thinking about/considering a job taking care of my nephews again. Since thoughts of them fueled my 31mile day into Pearisburg, VA, I had decided on the trail I was going to come back and work for my sister again. Upon my return, I was introduced to the new Daycare where all 3 of the boys are currently enrolled, and decided they were in a better place than with my selfish desire to spend my days with them. So, I arranged with my sister to take care of the boys as an aunt versus a nanny!
Luckily, I was only put on inactive status from REI and am able to return to them. So, this past Monday, I went in and talked to them about returning to work. They have lost many of my old co-workers and I will be trained to work the sales floor in camping rather than cashiering. I am also going to sit down with our in-store public relations guy and try to set up a presentation about long distance hiking or just the Appalachian Trail. Just being in the store gave me a sense of connectedness to what I had just accomplished; whereas, earlier in my return I had felt the journey was null and void upon entering my old life. I am excited to begin working at REI again and assisting people with their adventures.
Mike and I are learning how to adjust to each other being around as well as trying to conserve $$$ by using only one automobile. Yesterday, I decided to walk to Washington Park in Denver, which is about a 10-12mile trek. It is funny how that distance does not seem that far when I think about it these days. To some I told of my walk yesterday, they thought I was crazy! I guess I am a little crazy! Life on the trail was all about walking, so it does not seem weird to just walk where I need to go these days. Although, yesterday did give me a little wake up call in that regard.
As I walked from my home to near downtown Denver, I followed a bike path most of the way. When I was walking on sidewalks along roads, I often got cat-called and whistled at. That was a new experience. One certainly doesn't get that on the trail. Ok, I did get whistled at on the trail, but it was usually a shrill sort of sound from a bird I had rustled or a chipmunk chuttering away at me for walking too close to its home. Anyway, the bike path passes through some shakey areas that on a bike aren't so bad because you know you can get away quickly if need be. On foot it is a whole other story. Now, don't worry, nothing bad happened on my walk it just woke me up to my surroundings and the difference in the woods. As I walked, I passed strange looking people or the kids hanging out outside school (not sure if they were skipping school or what). The strangers were nice enough people and returned my greetings when I offerred one. However, as I moved along, I began to realize civilization is rougher than the outdoors.
At dinner last night with some of my friends from the Rocky Mountain Road Runners, I talked about my experience of walking to the park. In the woods, I never worried about strangers I passed on the trail. There is a sense of community among thru-hikers where I always felt I was protected. Besides, seeing a woman carrying a 40lb pack would certainly change some people's minds about messing with me let alone the trekking poles I was carrying. The story of the "Burning Man" is a prime example of the "trail family." We take care of each other in the woods. In civilization, if something bad happens we watch in amazement as a house burns up or someone gets beaten on the streets, and we do nothing. On the trail, there is people full of humanity and caring for their fellow man. If something had happened to me during my walk yesterday, I feel pretty sure nobody would have helped me out. That is kind of a scarey thought and thus my bike will be uncovered from the gear hanging on it to air out, and I will enjoy its transportation versus the legs, feet, and body that carried me 2200miles.
So, for those who do not know. My sister and friend, Holly, along with Mike's help threw me a Welcome Home Party at Wynkoop on Saturday night. For most of the week leading up to the party I was apprehensive. I had jsut come from the woods where I was mostly alone but never truly alone, and here I was going to be swarmed by people wanting to know about my journey and also telling me how thin I am. The book, a journey north by adrienne hall, I am currently reading sums it up pretty well about my feelings as a thru-hiker. "Thru-hikers often feel more connected to the natural world and reflect the drive and purpose they see in nature. They often leave the woods with an enlightened, relaxed feeling, like they have a big secret which no one else would understand." I was worried about trying to convey this to people at the party.
Luckily, I did not hear too many times how thin I was and did not have to repeat too many stories. Everyone seemed to have different questions and enjoyed the slide show we were able to set up on Mike's laptop computer. We layed out the maps I had carried for a little while until the elevation profiles frustrated me to no end and I sent them all home. Many people browsed those as I talked to different people.
My sister got me a great cake with hikers on it, and unfortunately she did not get any until the following Monday due to having to pack up the kids and head home for bed! The party ended relatively early as people decided to leave and I was getting tired anyway. Hiker midnight (9pm est) had already come and gone and I was needing to lay down if nothing more!
It was a great evening and I enjoyed seeing friends, family, and those interested in the trip. Without their support, I would never have made it through this trip. Thank you everyone for the support and a great welcome home!
Friday, August 26, 2005
Mike and I caught an early flight (8:40am) out of Manchester, NH on August 23rd. We had a lay over in Chicago for about an hour or two. The first flight was with Southwest and they do not have assigned seating. I was anxious as we waited and watched the hordes of people come and line their baggage up in the lines to insure they got the "best" seat on the plane. Fighting with people for space on a plane was not my idea of fun on my first day back in the "real" world. Mike and I joked about stealing the unattended baggage or notifying officials of all the baggage left unattended in the line. I am sure the people were sitting near their luggage, but I thought it would be fun to throw people off kilter a little! We, of course, behaved ourselves and just walked around laughing at the cattle lining up for the slaughter at the gate. The plane wasn't even there yet and the lines were almost all the way over to the next gate! Mike and I wandered around making moo-ing sounds and laughing at the cattle. That made things a little less stressful for that flight. Amazingly enough, the unassigned seating actually made loading the plane much quicker. Both, Mike and I, were amazed. We were also able to sit next to each other which we figured was not going to happen as we had taken our time getting into line and such.
In Chicago/Medway airport, we looked for lunch. For about a week, I had been hankering for McDonalds and planned on that in the airport. As I ate my McDonalds, Mike tried to figure out his lunch location. By the time I had finished the McDonalds, I had come to the conclusion that McDonalds sucks and I was glad that was the first I had of it since I left...I do not plan on having it again! The airport was pretty relaxed and I did not feel too stressed out as we milled around looking at shops and buying carmel corn and cookies and cheesecake. Finally, it was time to load up the plane and head to Denver.
We were able to get exit row seating from Chicago to Denver. It was nice other than the seats did not recline. All the sitting really hurt the nice bruise on my bum I had received from my STOP DROP & ROLL episode. The flight was long and it always bothers me when they serve beverages in the first 15minutes of a 2+ hour flight. Anyway, it was smooth sailing all the way home to Denver.
At the Denver International Airport, we made our way to the train to baggage claim. As we stood infront of the doors waiting for the train, people swarmed around us. Once the train arrived into the terminal, people around us nearly knocked us over in a rush to get on the train. On the trail, I have acquired a relaxed feel to life. This was not relaxed at all. I commented to Mike about the stress and rush of people..."What's the rush? It will still be there tomorrow or even in 5 minutes." He had to play devil's advocate and say that it would not be and it was necessary to rush. As we exited the train, he began pushing me and trying to make me hurry...I sauntered to the escalators and rode my way up.
For the full 2 weeks Mike was with me, he was very allusive as to how we were getting home from the airport since our friend, Holly, had taken Mike to the airport. I had a feeling someone was going to be waiting for us. Boy, was I right! When we got to the top, I scanned the crowd and found my sister and nephews standing there to welcome me home! The boys were a little aloof, but Alex broke it by giggling incesantly at me. I ran over and gave them big hugs and kisses. It was good to see them.
At that moment, the trail was left behind and my trail family somewhat forgotten. We made our way to the baggage claim and Ryan & Alex assisted Mike and I in retrieving our backpacks. From there, we headed out. In the car, my sister asked me what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go! What? Home not 10minutes and already I need to make decisions!? All I knew was that I wanted fruit and vegetables, so we headed to Stevi's (my sister's) house for blueberry pancakes.
While Stevi made the pancakes, Mike and I played with the boys and made sure to rile them up as much as possible. I think we did a good job as we got Kyle (the newborn) crying, Alex (the middle child) burned his fingers on the griddle and cried, and Ryan (the oldest) jumping on the couch with a sucker in his mouth! Ah! It was good to be back to the old chaos of my life.
With kids calmed down and pancakes eaten, we headed towards my home to finally dump me into the chaos/mess there. Mike had warned me he had just piled the boxes I sent home on my side of the bed. So, in order to get into bed, I had to make a pathway. Also, on the trail, I learned to take care of wet things as soon as possible and to air things out! So, I set to my tasks of emptying things out and taking care of the piles of stuff. Around 10pm (Mtn time), I finally put my exhausted body to bed in my own bed with clean sheets on the bed! I was home!
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The day started with a beautiful blue sky and an hour drive from Millinocket, ME to Baxter State Park. We were suppose to get started around 6am, but woke up late and were kind of rushed to get going. Breakfast, I have learned is the most important part of the day and thus I made sure to grab what I could from the continental breakfast at the hotel. So, what if I started later than planned, I knew I would be alright.
We got to the park and asked what I needed to do in regards to my thru-hiker status and finishing up my journey. The ranger instructed us to go to the ranger station and sign in. We (MZP, Mike, Jim, and I) headed there and I filled out all the necessary papers and such for my completion. I was listed as #138 to finish this year. From there, I put my last entry into the register at the ranger's station and headed towards the mountain which was looming over me.
By 7am, we started our climb after everyone had visited with the privy and packed their necessities for a 5.2mile hike up 4000ft of elevation. Once again, my sherpa (Mike) was carrying our gear up the mountain. It felt good to be free of weight on my back. The first mile of the trail was pretty nice, gradual, and easy. We then had to cross a log bridge and visit the toilet there before continuing to ascend the mountain. The terrain began to get a little more technical but still manageable. There were a few places where my mother had to use her bottom or knees to climb up a section, but she was quite the trooper. I think she had my determination to make it to the top and take my picture by the end of the trail. Unfortunately, the trail did not agree with her and once above treeline, she was forced to concede to the trail. Mike, Jim, and I left her at the first place the mountain began to throw metal rungs at us and promised to return to her on the way back down the mountain. We continued up the rocky terrain. From where we left MZP to a mile from the summit, the terrain consisted mostly of rock climbing and bouldering. It was adventurous and I was impressed with Jim's ability to hang in there. Of course, this also made me nervous about the trip down.
Once on the flatland section of the trail, it was easy sailing to the summit. Upon reaching the flatlands, I kind of broke away from Mike and Jim as I was needing to collect myself for the end of an amazing journey. At one point, I broke down sobbing to myself because I was not with trail friends for this journey. I was basically the only northbounder finishing my journey on the 22nd. It was kind of a lonely feeling and I hoped to find Croc Walker & Britanica at the bottom when I finished. When I had come to terms with my lonely trip to the end, I continued ahead of Mike and Jim towards the summit.
As I was heading up from the flatlands, a person heading back down the mountain pointed out the end of my journey. I grew depressed and disappointed as it looked like the summit sign was located in the middle of a ridge and wasn't even the highest point. "Oh well," I thought to myself. I came here to get her done and that is what I will do today. So onward I went up the mountain. About 200yds from the summit, a loud clap of thunder rang out through the sky. I trudged on. Around 100yds from the sign, the cloud I am walking in opens up and dumbs an icy rain upon my head. People are coming down from the summit and I can see the sign. One of them comments to me about my still heading up to the top. I told her I had to I was too close not to go up now! So, I trudged onward. When I reached the sign and the terminus of my journey, I stood and stared at the sign almost in shock. Then the tears began to fall...I was done! Now what?
As I waited for Mike and Jim, I took a photo looking over the sign at the back side of the mountain as it was an amazing view. The last one of my journey, I figured! When Mike and Jim arrived to the summit, we quickly took photos and I opened the miniature bottle of Tequilla I brought to the summit to celebrate. Mike and Jim did not join me in the consumption of Tequilla and I did not drink much as I figured I could share with my mother upon my descent!
With photos taken of my completion, we headed back out to the sound of rumbling in the sky. I commented to Mike and Jim, "I began my trip this way, so it is no wonder I finish in this weather." We moved quickly over the ground due to my fear of getting struck by lightening (which we never did see any) or my mother freezing while she sat on the ledge waiting for us to return (luckily my mom is smart and had already began her descent). On the way up, many people passed us, but on the way down we flew by people. It was a great relief to use my hands rather than my legs for the first part of the descent. There was a lot of boot scoot boogying down the mountain, but that made it easier to go quicker. We made it to where we left my mother and had been told she had already made her way down the mountain. I was thankful she was hopefully safe! Mike, Jim, and I made our way slowly down the rest of the trail as it was not as easy to use our hands on the stuff below treeline and thus it took a toll on our knees, feet, and legs in general.
By 3:30pm, we had made it back to the car where my mother was sitting at a covered picnic table chatting with Croc Walker & Britanica. I was excited to see them all. There was a past thru-hiker there as well joining in the celebration of the day. We broke out the champagne and finished off the tequilla. I counciled Croc Walker & Britanica on what to plan for the next day. Mike and I also had to inform them we were not burned badly from the previous day's fire incident as they had heard from the southbound couple we had been burned as well. Three Feathers came by and we exchanged information and I wished him luck on his completion of the trail tomorrow. After hanging out a bit longer with Croc Walker & Britanica, we decided we needed to head out and meet up with Marty and the Awesome MIL who had decided to golf instead of climb Mountain Katahdin that day. With hugs & promises to keep in touch to Croc Walker & Britanica, the four of us headed to Millinocket. The journey was complete!
Thank you everyone for your support and love throughout my travels. It was an amazing journey and I hope to keep a grasp of all I learned while hiking the trail. The trip could not have happened without the support from all of you! My mother once dedicated the song, 'I Hope you Dance," to me. I have danced throughout this trail and hope to continue dancing as often as life allows me to dance and experience everything life has to offer me. Thank you!
It was my second to last day on the trail and I was presented with a new adventure. The day started the same as every other day on the trail...
I woke at 5:30am tired but knowing I had a long day ahead of me. Mike woke up along with me and we began to pack ourselves up. Once packed, we got ourselves some breakfast and kind of hung around chatting with a 2day old southbounder and a couple headed south on a section hike. Little did we know we would end up on fire and hiking out an injured man. Here is what went down according to those of us involved:
The southbounder, Eric, was getting his stove going for his breakfast, but was worried about running out of denatured alcohol while in the 100mile wilderness. So, he filled the inner chamber of his stove with fuel and then put just a little ontop of the canister. He lit it and it began to burn. Hooray he thought he had beaten his stove. Then, the flame went out or so he thought.-with alcohol stoves, it is difficult to see the blue flame it produces, so one is never sure if the stove is out unless feeling first with their hand.-He decided to pour more fuel into the outer chamber of the stove only to find his fuel bottle had caught on fire. His thought was, "contained fuel in the bottle would lead to explosion," thus he tried to shake the fuel out of the bottle. He was in the shelter and thus had a nice line of fuel and flames going up the side of the shelter. I was thankful I was outside of the shelter with my gear as the flames were thrown right where my stuff had been the previous evening. The next thing I remember was something being thrown out of the shelter towards Mike and me.
From here it all went really fast. I vaguely remember turning away from whatever was being thrown from the shelter (which was on fire). Then, I heard someone say, "You're on fire!" I looked down at my leg to find I was on fire. It only took a split second to notice the flame on my lower right leg and think, "fire...STOP DROP ROLL!" I'm not sure if someone said it or if I just thought it to myself, but I automatically dropped and tried putting out my leg. As I was sitting on the ground putting out my leg, I see a man on the ground rolling and flopping trying to put out the flames that engulfed his upper body. At first, I thought it was Mike and freaked out! When I realized it was Eric (the southbounder), I was relieved at first it was not Mike, but then freaked out about this guy being on fire and heading towards the creek as he flailed on the ground. I was waiting for him to end up in the creek head first and knock himself unconscious. As I got up to help him put out the fire, he got up and ripped his shirt off which was still burning. By the time I reached him, the flames were out. While I was still stunned, I did notice Mike on the ground sitting there stunned himself. I went to him and made sure he was alright. The other couple at the shelter checked on Eric.
As the other couple poured cold creek water on Eric, I inventoried his gear to see what was going to be the next move. His backpack was still smoldering and we made sure to put it out. When looking at it, I realized there was no way we could carry anything in it. So, I pulled out the garbage bag Mike and I had picked up off the trail the day before and began putting all the extinguished and ruined gear inside of it. Anything salvageable, I loaded into either my pack or Mike's pack. Mike and I were only 15miles from the end of the 100mile wilderness and that was going to be the nearest access point for getting this guy out of the woods. The other couple continued to pour cold creek water on Eric and he spent some time lying down in the creek as well. They gave him some ibuprofen and we finally got him to stop smoking from his wounds. After he had cooled down a bit, we got him warm clothes for his bottom half so not to send him into hypothermic shock or anything. He was feeling a little better and we decided to get moving towards the exit road. At that point, another northbound thru-hiker, 3 Feathers from Rangeley, ME, and we asked him to let the rangers know at the road we were bringing in a 23 year old male with severe burns. Being from Maine, he had a friend in the right place to call her from his cell phone and she arranged for transportation upon our arrival at the road. As a matter of fact, we had a Fish and Wildlife Management Ranger meet us on the trail and let us know there was an ambulance not far away. The ranger also asked us if we had family meeting us at the road. I told him we were not suppose to, but it was a possibility. He stated there was a red subaru with Michigan plates and a couple worried about their kids. Right then, Mike and I realized his parents had decided to meet us at our half way point for the day. We told the ranger it was our parents and he told the crew at the road to let Jim and Millie know their kids were fine.
That was probably my quickest 15miles of the trail. Eric and I conversed the whole way. It was my way of making sure he was still coherent. We stopped briefly for lunch along the way. Luckily, the majority of the hike into the road was raining so it kept him cool but not too cool. During lunch at the last shelter before the end of the 100mile wilderness, a woman and her 2 daughters (whom we had met the day before) arrived and the woman was a physical therapist for burn victims. She assessed Eric's burns and told him he had first thru third degree burns and pointed them out to me and Eric. This helped convince Eric he needed to go to the hospital despite not having insurance and get the burns taken care of right away. This woman also was able to give Eric an idea of length of time for healing so he could make plans for returning to the trail.
Eric felt horrible for the events of the morning and apologized often. The previous night we were talking about trail names and how one receives their name. Well, Mike and I have decided to either name Eric "Burning Man" or "Flame Thrower." Eric wanted to name himself "Dumbass," but I told him he needed to take a lighter spin on what happened and not dwell on it. He has learned from his experience and he needs to move on from there. The other couple at the shelter had one of their sleeping bags burned on the end, but they seemed to think it was salvageable. Eric felt bad about this as well as lighting Mike on fire. I am not sure if he knew I had been on fire as well. Luckily my leg flame was only surface and burned off the leg hairs I was planning on shaving off that night anyway. Saved me some work. Mike had received what looks like a cigarette burn on his left upper arm. At first I thought I had gotten away unscathed, but found I had dropped on a rock by the firepit when I STOP DROPPED & ROLLED and have thus sustained a very nice scratch with bruise on my rear. The wound looks like I tried to give myself an enema with a rock and was a little off target. It hurts like a bun of a stitch, but I am coping while Mike is laughing.
All that day the only song lyrics running through my head were..."oh oh oh I'm on fire!" It was an adventure, but it made me glad to help someone else on the trail and to show him and remind myself the extreme joy of the trail family. I wish Eric the best of luck on his travels over his life and hope to hear from him when he is better and moving along the trail again. Mike and I are fine. We joked about having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the event, but have not seemed to have any troubles from it, yet. There were points over the rest of the day where we thought we saw smoke infront of our eyes and I felt warm most of the evening, but on the whole we were and are doing well. Just one more adventure for the trail. Thank goodness Eric happened to do this at the time he did as well as around a Wilderness First Responder. Everything worked out for the better and nobody died!
Thank you to the woman and her daughters who helped out as well as the couple who poured the water on Eric's burns. Three Feathers deserves a large hug and reward for his help as well. Those in the Maine area, I recommend donating money to your Wildlife Fish and Game Wardens whenever you can because they do not receive money for search and rescue but are required to come out and help in situations such as what has been told above. They did an amazing job and I was extremely thankful my husband was with me and that we had not left yet from the shelter. Thank you everyone for your support and assistance in the events that day!
Sunday, August 14, 2005
There was a crowd of us headed out on the trail today...Croc Walker & Britanica, GG & Slip-n-Slide, Mountain Dancer, Mike, & I all slack packed today. It was great fun and a good re-energizing moment. Then when we returned, more friends (Bluey & Tri-Guy) had arrived at the Stratton Motel. They told me Spice Rack is only about a day behind them. Bluey tried to make it sound like Spice Rack was having a rough time without his awesome hiking partner, but I knew that was not true! Spice Rack is a strong hiker and person in general. I am sure he is doign well especially knowing he will catch the family planning on finishing on the 28th. To some degree I am jealous of his finish because of the people, but at the same time I am ready to be done!
Today was the Bigelow Mountains and thus the end of anything difficult according to trail rumor. We were a little baffled by the semi-easy trail we found ourselves on for a bit. Do not worry, the trail did make up for that short section of pleasure by throwing in roots and rocks before we finished for the day! Mother Nature also helped with trail conditions by throwing some rain on the rocks and roots to make them extra treacherous! Gotta love the AT, eh?
Tomorrow, we have a fun canoe ride across the Kennebec River into Caratunk! I look forward to checking out my packages and hoping to see my in-laws. Mike keeps promising messages from his mom! I hope she can do something for these malfunctioning knees and ankles! The day looks like a small hill (small in comparison to what we have been doing recently) in the morning followed by flat flat and more flat! Hooray! Mountains seem to be mostly shrunken by now! I like flat terrain! Looking forward to the 100mile wilderness where I may just give my gear to my in-laws and walk continuously until I reach Baxter State Park! That thought has crossed my mind multiple times in the past few days. I'm not sure my body woudl like me too much!
Oh yeah! I thought I should give a little humor to my blogspot since I have been such a downer lately. The reunion of Mike and I was a late night in North Conway. I had gotten us a sweet hotel room with a jacuzzi tub. The staff must have given me a discounted rate due to my talking to them about my AT experiences and how I was meeting my husband after being away from him for 4.5months. It was sweet and I made sure to have a nice soak in the tub while I waited for Mike to show up! The town was overwhelmed with tourists and felt kind of weird, but I enjoyed walking around watching the people! Mike arrived with Eben and Sunny around 10pm while I was finishing a large pizza on my own and drinking beer. We hung for a bit and then Eben and Sunny took off for Eben's aunt's house nearby. As Mike and I prepared for bed, I removed my top to head to bed and he began laughing. When I asked why he was laughing, he stated he recognized me until I took off my top! See,...What has happened over the course of the trail is that I left my boobs at Springer Mountain! Mike says our friend Holly and I need to compare and see who is smaller now! For once, my sister can feel great in regards to having a much larger chest size than I! Granted she is lactating. Anyway, Mike thought it funny my loss! I of course have been bothered by the loss of 2 of my favorite friends (my breasts) since the beginning of the trail. As my mother had to remind me, I will gain those back last of everything. So, I guess I will have to just be happy with how I look now, which I am!
Ok, I am not sure what the days ahead will hold for me. It looks like easy cruising, but depends on what The Awesome MIL and Father-in-law (FIL) are able to help us out with over the next few days! Mike is a little aprehensive of the 100mile wilderness as he has confessed that he cannot keep up with me on the flat portions of the trail. I have talked with him about doing 30mile days in the wilderness and the next few days. He does not sound too sure of it. We will see what happens! The GA-ME is almost over. I am sad and yet excited at the same time!
Thank you all for your support. I am celebrating my 2000mile marker with good beer and wonderful trail friends and family. It makes me ready to continue the trail with or without pack! Mike has confessed he does not like the weight of his pack and thus is working overtime to get us transportation and support. Wahoo! He has support for us! The awesome MIL and FIL are helping us out! I love it! The trail has gotten easy and my spirits have been raised tremendously! I am going to make it by the 22nd! See everyone on the flip side of the trail! Thank you for your support and love!
Saturday, August 13, 2005
As Mike mentioned, he has joined me from Gorham, NH to the finish line. Every day he has been with me, he has seen me break down in tears at least once as well as throw one temper tantrum. I think the end is near!
So, anyway, here is what has been going on with the trail since last I wrote.
I have made my way, slowly but sure-ly, through the White Mountains. It was slow mostly for the views and the terrain. We were above treeline most of the time. The hut system through the Whites is only conducive to certain mileage.
Our first introduction to the Whites was over Mt Moosilauke. It was beautiful and a relatively easy climb. Spice Rack and I then made it down to the shelter for the evening and I was exhausted. The next day was an 8mile push into North Woodstock to meet his mom and step-dad for the afternoon. We went to the Woodstock Inn and Brewery for an early dinner. Then, Spice Rack convinced his mom and stepdad to take us to White River Jct., VT for a party being thrown by friends (Croc Walker & Britanica)we had recently made on the trail. So, we slept in White River Jct that night and received limosine service back to the trail the next morning. Spice Rack and I were wishing for hikers in the parking lot as we got out of the limo, but no such luck! I do have photos for proof.
From that point on, Spice Rack and I only had 2 days left of hiking together. We hiked separately but together. The first Hut I visited in the Whites was the Galehead Hut. These huts are like chalets in the mountains for vacationers. They allow thru-hikers to do work for stay. I was the first hiker to arrive and ask the fill-in croo (crew) about the work for stay so I was granted work. As soon as they brought me on as staff, they treated me as staff as well and I worked right along side of them. They gave me a bunk since the hut was not full for the evening and I received both all I could eat dinner as well as breakfast. We had to eat after the guests were finished, but that was fine. The fill-in croo was awesome. Because they treated me like a staff member, I worked my buns off for them. Each of them had brought their own liquor to the hut and thus I had red wine with my pasta shell dinner that night as well as Baileys for dessert. Spice Rack and I hung out with the croo and laughed and joked the night away. It was great fun. Two of the guys are headed to Colorado in September and I gave them my information to look me up while out there! I hope they do.
From there, the experiences were a little different in the huts. I only did work for stay in one more hut and that was the busiest one in the Whites...Lakes of the Clouds Hut. They had me only clean a freezer and I got to sleep on the table that evening. I did not feel I earned everything I received and felt kind of like a dirty beggar, so I left early the next morning without breakfast. From there to Gorham, NH, I was by myself as Spice Rack had left the trail to spend time with friends and family.
The Whites were overwhelming due to the crowds of people, but at the same time the people are what helped me stay on the trail when I so badly wanted to quit! At this time, I need to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to the women I had dinner with at Pinkham Notch after my miserable descent from the Presidential Range. If it were not for these ladies asking me about the trail and encouraging me to continue, I would not have gone back out on the trail. It is funny how the right people come along at the right time.
As I hiked out of Pinkham Notch that day, I silently thanked the ladies. Coming up the Wildcat Peaks, I met another couple ladies who were also impressed with my journey. They said I must feel so fit, to which I laughed and told them I was currently feeling like a crotchity old lady. When we reached the top, they wished me luck and I had enough energy to keep myself going along the trail. Thank you strangers for the words of encouragement and support when I needed it most. People like you 5 ladies are what I am talking about when I speak of the wonderful people I have met along the trail. In my world, you are the truly amazing people! Thank you again!
From the White Mountains, I have moved into Maine and it has kicked my rear worse than the Whites could have. The Mahoosuc Notch was a wonderful jungle gym of fun and not nearly as difficult as the rest of Maine has proven to be at this time. At the top of Moody Mountain, I found myself wanting to throw my pack off the mountain. Mike and I began brainstorming how to make this easier for me and get the GA-ME done. We have visited every town near the trail in Maine and it is helping a little. Currently, I am sitting in Stratton, ME with friends I have made along the way...GG&Slip-n-slide, Croc Walker & Britanica, AJ, & Iron Foot. I look forward to celebrating with them tonight and moving on up the trail. Tomorrow looks rough, but hoping for family support from Mike's parents as they are headed out this way in the next few days. From Stratton, we find ourselves in Caratunk Monday then Monson on Wednesday. Monson, ME starts the 100mile wilderness and thus my final stretch into the finish line! We are still looking to slackpack a couple more times before the 100mile wilderness, but we will see what is available. Mike needs to remember his parents' cell phone numbers so he might actually arrange something with them! We will see what happens!
Not long now and I will be done and on a plane for Colorado. I look forward to finishing and then sitting around doing nothing for a week. Mike and I are having fun but it is rough going some days. The Bigelows are tomorrow and the rumor is after that things are easy. We will see how the knees and ankles hold up for the finish. I atleast need to make it to the top of Katahdin. If they have to rescue me from the top, that is fine, but I need to make it up on my own (with Mike's support).
As always, thank you everyone for your love and support. It has been a great journey and the next posting should be of my completion. For those in the Colorado area, there is a welcome home party and hopefully everyone has gotten the evite on that one. I look forward to catching up with everyone, but most of all I look forward to holding my new nephew, Kyle in my arms and teaching him how to torture his mommy! Thank you everyone!
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Unfortunately due to my poor planning we've had to set an unreasonable schedule in order to catch our flight back to Colorado and after 3 days of this torture we couldn't take it any longer. We hitched a ride into Andover, ME (Good luck finding it on a map) and spent the night at the Andover Guest House. Kasey has left with no pack and minimal supplies and I have stayed back to try and find transportation. I may rent a car or I'll get the innkeeper to drive me half way to the next town then call a place in the next town to pick up our gear so that I can finish the day with Kasey. I'm off to get some breakfast then start making some calls. Wish us luck because we'll need it.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
The past few miles have been fun. Massachusetts ended with an unexpected trip to Boston, which was great. I spent the day sleeping. Every time Spice Rack attempted to talk to me, I was either on the phone, using the restroom, or sleeping. It was a much needed break and I got to meet his friends and family. So, I have met everyone in his life. Once back on the trail from Boston, we decided to take it easy and visit Bennington, VT for a hiker feed. We try not to pass up free food and beer. It was nice as we got to meet some South Bound(SOBOs) Hikers. The mix was pretty even for SOBOs & NOBOs. There is definitely a difference between the 2 groups. We have 1600miles under our belts and they have only 500. They are still in the excited to be doing this trip, whereas most of the NOBOs are ready for it to be done! We went to bed around 9pm and the SOBOs were still hanging out having fun! It is interesting to see the difference.
From Bennington, we did some long crazy miles to make it to our next meeting, which was Eben in Vermont. Eben is Mike's friend and we had him pick us up at the VT11. We had dinner with him and then he and his girlfriend, Sunny, took Spice Rack and I home with them to their place about an hour from the trail. We had a great time hanging out. Spice Rack talked to his girlfriend, while Eben showed me great videos of he and Mike when they were younger. It was exactly what I needed to keep me going. As he dropped us off at the trail the next day, he played "Sweet Honey Pie" by the Beetles as per Mike's request. It was sweet and just what I needed as I had called Mike from Bennington asking for a pep talk! I hiked the next day with a new outlook on the trail. I felt great. Of course it also helped knowing at the end of the day I was meeting my favorite aunts on the Soles side, Karen & Brenda.
So, I went from Eben's house, to the trail, to staying with my Aunts that night. Spice Rack tagged along with me and had a great time. We got a hotel room in Rutland, VT the first night. My aunts met me on the trail with a wonderful canoe trip call to which I of course had to answer back...Yip Yip Yip Yip Yahoo Yahoo! What a sound coming through the forest! :) We avoided not 1thunderstorm, but 2. The next day, they returned us to the trail with only food and water in our packs. We were going to slack pack 32miles, but got a late start as we realized it was the weekend and needed to pick up our mail drops or we would miss them. So, we opted for hanging out with the awesome aunts versus killing ourselves and did only 20miles instead of 32. That evening, we hung out in the pub for dinner and some music. It was alot of fun. I got up and got embarassed by not being able to sing. Then Spice Rack rescued me on a Beetles' song. I ditched him to sing his own song and relaxed with some more beer. It was a great night full of much needed fun. We met people working at a Farm for Dual Diagnosis people nearby and danced with them as well as chit chatted. I hope my aunts had fun because I know Spice Rack and I had a blast.
The next day was a rough one, but we saw some great sights. We climbed Killington Peak with our mostly empty packs and then left the Long Trail behind as we made our way to the VT 100 and hitched back to the Inn at the Long Trail to pick up our stuff and continue another 7miles. The last 7miles of the day were done in the dark and it was a straight up and down. We are heading back into the mountains. Luckily, when we reached the shelter there was nobody there and we made ourselves quite at home. The fun times were now behind us and we were hiking with a new bounce in our step, but very tiredly!
So, there has been trail life in a nutshell. I am currently in Hanover, NH. Just passed into New Hampshire today! What a feeling. Plan on spending a night in a hotel tonight and then back on the trail for a long couple of days before heading into North Woodstock on the 30th. From there, the plans go whacky, but should be fun. My plan is to meet up with my husband in less than 2weeks in Gorham, NH. Things are moving along and the anxiety is mounting for the end of the trip. I came to the relization yesterday I am ready to get back to work and my life in Colorado even though I heard they are having crazy heat issues. Yuck! Maybe I will go to Canada instead! Just kidding Mikey my love! I am looking forward to going back home with my husband. I told him I wasn't going to leave his side for about a week. He told me he could use some help at work! So, we will see what Colorado life holds in store for me. All I know is that I am ready for this to be done and looking forward to the White Mountains of New Hampshire!
Thank you everyone for your support and know that you are in my thoughts always. Take care and my love goes out to each and every one of you!
Friday, July 15, 2005
The altitude is getting back up there. The mosquitos and the humidity are reminding me why I live in Colorado! Pretty much every day I am dripping sweat from my chin and elbows due to the climbs and the humidity. It is pleasant. I have made a few more town stops as they are near the trail and being able to eat real food is a necessity these days.
Currently, I am sitting in Dalton, MA taking a much needed day off. To anyone reading this and thinking of doing the trail, be sure to schedule plenty of rest days towards the end. Many people are ready to be done with the trail as am I. It leads to injury as people push themselves harder than they have in the past just to get done. There is a huge mental game to be played after having walked, ambled, and stumbled along for 1500miles. The last 600 are physically challenging as well as mentally. Four months of the same old thing day after day needs to be broken up with days to just sit on a bench and stare at the cars and people. Thank goodness there are great people in Dalton, MA who make relaxing possible.
Yesterday, I slack packed from Dalton, where I had lunch after 10miles, to Cheshire, MA. A wonderful man named Rob Bird, who runs a "secret" hiker hostel in Dalton, picked me up from Cheshire and brought me back to his house. Once there, I had a wonderful shower and drank beer while conversing with Rob and another hiker, Bluey. Rob did my laundry before heading out to do his own thing leaving Bluey and I to do our own thing. We basically had his house for the evening. He returned around 10pm and we watched the end of the yankees/red soxs game on TV. It was a very relaxed evening. This morning, I woke up as Bluey was packing to head out on the trail and chatted with him trying to convince him to stay...No Luck! So, I sat and watched TV this morning and thought of my husband while watching The Princess Bride. I sure do miss my honey! After the movie, I wandered down to the General Store and bought a toothbrush (I recently noticed mine was growing mold) and a card. Returned to the house and proceeded to write to my husband while watching more TV. Rob came home briefly and we chatted a bit before he headed off to work again. What a relaxed little place. He offerred his place to my friend and I for tonight as well, which is a wonderful treat. Rob has been a great person who has come into my trail life at the right time.
Somehow, it seems when I am down on the trail and wanting to leave, the right people come along and renew my energy. Yesterday, sitting outside of the sub shop while my hiking companions were inside soaking up the AC, a woman approached me and talked to me about my hike. Thru-hikers are pretty noticeable, especially in a town where the trail goes through it. She told me she often hosts hikers and would be willing to take me to her place for the evening. I told her of my plans to hike over to Cheshire and then take today off in Dalton and trying to figure out all of the logistics. She mentioned she had a retreat this weekend and we realized it would not work out, but I thanked her for her generosity. After buying her lunch at the sub shop, she came out and slipped me a $10bill. I protested, but she insisted and said it was trail magic. She was already to her car, and so I slipped the $10 into my wallet. Then, I headed to the post office to get my packages. As I was headed there, a gentleman starts walking towards me from the Shell Station. He introduces himself to me as Rob. I had heard of him back in NY/NJ area from a guy who hiked last year. So, I talked to him about my plans and he offerred to pick me up from Cheshire. He got me settled at his place and then I headed back to meet the guys to head to Cheshire. It was nice hiking without my pack for 9miles. The view from the Cobbles was beautiful. I wished I could have hung up there longer, but had told Rob to pick me up in Cheshire at 5:30pm. For those of you who know me, I hate making people wait as I do not like having to wait for people. So, I made sure I was down there by 5:15pm. As I was walking toward the post office, he was coming down the street. It was perfect timing.
Anyway, between the lady on the street and Rob, I have a renewed energy to keep going up the trail. Tonight, Rob and his band are playing in a nearby town and he has offerred to take my friend, Tricia, and I with him if we want. I am looking forward to hearing some good music, but am not sure what Tricia will be up for doing. It will be nice to be in a relaxed place again for the evening and to be back on the trail tomorrow. Dalton, MA is a magical town full of many nice people. I have not met all of them, so I cannot say if they are all nice or not! So far, I have been very impressed and recommend making a stop here to anyone coming through the area or hiking the trail. It has been my fountain of youth! Thank you Dalton, MA.
My love and thoughts continue to go out to my husband. I also want to thank everyone who has been supportive of me along the trail. My aunt Carol, cousin Erin, and Jaime sent me a great package of food filled with love! It was great and I am still bouncing things forward. Thank you Holly for the little bit of love you put in my package. Those will come in handy to numb the pains that come along the trail these days! I miss everyone lots and think of many of you (at least the people I know) often on the trail. There isn't much else to do when walking miles a day through the woods and across mountains. Thank you for your support and I look forward to the next 600miles of adventure.
Friday, July 08, 2005
We entered New York on a ridge where there is a box on a tree with a register. Not long after that, we had rocks and lots of ups and downs. New York as I am told, is very proud of their High Points and thus like to take you to the top of each and everyone of them. I have missed this kind of workout as the past few states have been pretty gentle! In Harriman State Park, I got to experience Rock Climbing with my pack on. Ok, I actually took my pack off and hoisted up onto the rocks rather than seeing if it would pull me backwards to my death! Gotta play it safe this late in the game! We passed through many State Parks and were overwhelmed by the number of people out grilling and celebrating the 4th of July. At one of the lakes inside Harriman State Park, Spice Rack, Morel, Swifty, and I just sat and stared at all the people. We were in the minority at that lake, which was kind of fun but yet overwhelming as well. I think there was a language barrier to yogi-ing for food. Yes, Thru-hikers become similar to beggars while on the trail. We just try our luck at being more discrete. There is a saying on the trail: The only difference between a beggar and a thru-hiker are the trekking poles! It sure felt like it at the lake when we found a perfectly good watermelon in the garbage can and rescued it for our own feeding. I felt like I had sunk to an all time low that day! It was tasty though and we sure laughed about it.
For the 4th of July Weekend, we had the most amazing seats for a variety of fireworks shows. On the 3rd, we (1/4 of the way, Spice Rack, Handyman, Morel, Swifty, Naked Sun, and Slow Barbara) sat atop Black Mtn, where we could see maybe 10-15different shows. We also could see the night skyline of NYC. It was beautiful and the area was perfect. As we were setting up camp, the sun was setting so we had that beauty to cook our dinner. The next morning, I woke up to watch the sunrise. I sat ontop of the mountain, naked in my sleeping bag, watching the sunrise. It was surreal! How often does one get to do that? For the 4th, we headed to Graymoor Friary for the night. First, we had to pass through Bear Mtn Park. That again was overwhelming with the people. Spice Rack's friend, Laurie, picked us up for lunch and by the time she brought us back, the park was closed due to being full. She dropped us on the side of the road and off we went. At Bear Mtn Park, there is a zoo which the trail passes through. We headed for that and found a line. Luckily the line was for the swimming pool rather than the zoo. Thru the zoo, then crossed the Bear Mtn Bridge to head up another mountain and onto Graymoor in time for dinner at 5pm. Graymoor was not what I was expecting, but it was nice all the same. They had a beautiful rock area where we were able to hang out with the alcohol and drug rehab guys while watching the fireworks! Again, we could see NYC. Some of the best displays were in Peekskill which was the closest city to us! The friars fed us a beautiful meal of chicken and vegetables, then took us on a tour of the friary. It was neat, but still not what I was expecting. Oh well. Seems like the friary is on its last leg. Someone said this was the last month they would be doing the meals for thru-hikers. Glad I got in on that tradition before it vanishes! What a way to celebrate the 4th. It was wonderful and fun with great company, although I did wish very strongly that my husband was there with me!
After the 4th, things were back to the same old bump and grind. New York was horrible with their trail conditions and blazing of the trail. Even in the state parks, we would find ourselves lost! It was crazy. Then, at road crossings, they had signs warning about lye disease from ticks, but yet we had to walk through high grasses and overgrown weeds covering the trail. Definitely planning on a visit to the doctor when I get home to make sure I have not become good friends with Lyme Disease. I have pulled my fair share of ticks off my legs in the past week.
It is nice to be in a new state and getting ready to leave the state of CT in about another 2-3 days. Many people to see and visit as I finish up the trail. Spice Rack is meeting friends and family through Massachusettes as am I. Vermont is where I get to see more family and friends. I look forward to the support from everyone I see. Physically, the hike is relatively easy at this point. Mentally, it is taking its toll on many people.
Found myself really needing a day off and thus took it here in Kent, CT despite the cost of things. I could have tented in the churchyard, but was having one of those desires to be human and pampered. So, I got a room with Three Cats & AJ. Since I was in town before them, I was able to pick up some epsom salts and baking soda to take a long luke warm bath. It felt great to just soak. My body was in much need of relaxation.
Getting some heavy rain today due to hurricanes, but that is what makes it so nice to be off the trail. Perfect sleeping weather, which is what I am planning on doing here in a few minutes. I like raining lazy days!
Well, I am 2/3 of the way done and moving along fine. I look forward to the distractions through the next few states. It will be good for the psyche. Still planning a day off in Cheshire, MA despite our current day off. With any hope, I will still be finishing the trail on August 21.
Less than a month until my husband joins me and I am already getting excited for his companionship. I called him the other day and started crying when he asked how I was doing because it was just so good to hear his voice. When I told him I was fine until I called him, he asked me why I called him, then. The silly guy. He knows I miss him and just need to hear his voice every so often. The journey is taking its toll on me, but I have not lost my sense of adventure or my love of the excursion. Well,...ok, I did lose it the other day, which helped me realize I needed a day off. When you look at the slightest incline on the trail and just cry about having to go up, you know it is time for a break. My body is thanking me for that as well, even though my pocketbook may not be thanking me!
I hope all is well on the home front. I need to give a good shout out to my sis as she called and left me a signing telegram! Hehehehe! Thanks! I like those sort of odd voicemails. Thank you everyone still for all your support. I love you all and look forward to seeing my aunts in Vermont as well as Tricia in MA. Take care and know everyone is on my mind constantly.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Spice Rack and I left Delaware Water Gap, PA around noon on the 28 June 2005. Yes, we are no good at getting an early start out of towns! So, we had to climb up onto a ridge, but luckily it was an easy, well graded trail. We made it up to Sunfish Pond where we decided to set down our packs for an afternoon break. Little did we know we were on the other side of the bushes from "Morel". We talked with him a bit and all three of us decided the pond looked too nice not to get in as the day was hot and humid! A nice swim led to sunning ourselves on the rocks and reading a passage from Travels with Charley by Steinbeck. It was a beautiful day. Around 3:30pm, the three of us decided to travel on to the YMCA camp for the night! The camp was a little difficult to find, but once there it was a nice rickety cabin by the lake/pond. We listened to the frogs croaking throughout the evening. That was probably the best night of sleep I have had on the trail! There were beds in the cabin.
The next morning, we were all slow moving to get out of the camp. Luckily, "Spice Rack" and I were only going a short distance of about 4miles. We convinced "Morel" to join us in our slacking off. It has been nice hanging with him again! A pass through Cluvers Gap allowed me beer and grilled cheese to power me into camp. It rained mostly all day! My Patagonia sports bra is not very good at wicking away moisture and I will look to my husband to send me the tank top I asked for! Camp was nice and we had a full shelter.
From the Gren Anderson Shelter, we had another short day to the "secret Shelter" on the Murray property. It was a beautiful farm land area where we had a little cabin to stay in with a shower and a sink. It was a beautiful area and we saw skunk, woodchuck, racoon, and mating mules. The cabin was warm and my fellow hikers left me alone in there to pitch their tents outside. So, I pitched my tent inside the shelter, opened the windows, and slept soundly! It was great! I had to laugh.
Today was a glorious hike into Vernon, NJ. Not much up and I ran into "Iron Foot" again. We hiked together for a bit and talked about our 2nd or 3rd day sitting the south side of Blood Mtn trying to decide whether to go over it or go around it. It is always great running into "Iron Foot" as he and I started together and hopefully will finish aroudn the same time. Just as I came to the road, there was a farmers market to the left. I found Bubble Gum ice cream, Chocolate Milk, peaches, and plums. It was wonderful. I indulged! Spice Rack arrived and we caught a hitch into town. The guy who picked us up knew exactly where to take us and drove like a bat out of... The town seems nice and the St.Thomas Church is a great hostel place with all the hiker ammenities: shower, laundry, internet, and sodas. What more could a person ask for? Maybe my bed from home.
So, anyway, things are going well still on the trail. The humidity is a bear, but I have not seen the bears people say are everywhere in Jersey. Maybe they will come lick my toes in New York or futher North! Looking to possibly do a mountain top for the 4th or hang with the monks! We will see where the trail takes us!
I continue to look forward to seeing my husband and am counting down the days! He is on my mind constantly and always in my heart. This trip has made me realize just how wonderful he is and what an impact he has on my life. I love you my darling with all my heart!
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Here is the low down of what has been going on:
Out of Duncannon, Spice Rack and I hiked with Renee and David. Poor Spice rack got a little bored with the pace and would run ahead ocassionally, but always met us in the evening. He was quite the trooper and made me appreciate his companionship all that much more! Renee and David were troopers as well. It was not all that easy terrain as Renee mentioned, but I am glad they made it home safely. I told them I was worried about them making it back to their car as both seemed to be hurting some on the 2nd and third days! Their company was a blessing, though and reminded me why I am out here.
Upon leaving Renee and David, I was in a race to catch Spice Rack by dark. He was about 13+ miles ahead of me at that point and I was starting at my usual siesta time. My pace was as quick as I could go over the rocks without breaking myself. Twice I fell, once forward and once backward. It was frustrating. Then, I got to the shelter just before the PA501 shelter (where I was to meet Spice Rack) and found I was just 45minutes behind him. So, I took off in a slow sprint from the shelter as it was uphill out of the shelter and trotted down the trail hoping to catch him on the trail as he wrote in the register about pizza at the 501. No luck catching him and I arrived to the 501 first to find a thru-hiker who is always angry about something. My spirits fell and I looked around for the register to see if Spice Rack left me instructions of where to go. Luckily, I found the register with Spice Rack! Hooray! There was pizza at the shelter which I ate happily as I cooked a box of Spongebob Squarepants Mac&Cheese(actually 2boxes).
Reunited with Spice Rack, we headed to Port Clinton, PA the next day. A long day, but nice to be in a town. We got ourselves a room at the Port Clinton Hotel which was not worth what we paid, but it saved us from dealing with the angry thru-hiker and the other weirdos at the pavilion. The next day, we did a short day to the Eckville Shelter which use to be a hostel. It was loaded with sodas and all sorts of goodies you could have for donations. The place was sweet! We enjoyed it immensely! From there, we found ourselves back out on the trail pushing over more rocks and heading closer to Palmerton, PA. The distance was too great, so we camped by a road on a Friday night! Silly idea as we got the locals shooting off fireworks next to our tents, basically. What excitement. The next day we did a short day into the Jailhouse hostel in Palmerton, PA. It is nice to have short days.
From there, we had a huge rock climb to Wind Gap with limited water as the weather has been hot and humid and dried up most of the springs. It was nice to be in a hotel in Wind Gap with the AC on full blast. From there, we were able to push into Delaware Water Gap, where I am currently using the computer at the Church of the Mountains Hostel. It is a nice place. The pastor and crew are great people. I highly recommend checking it out. Now, it looks like either 10 or 17miles out of town and into New Jersey! No more long states until Maine. Looks like I am going to make it! We will see what happens. There are suppose to be lots of friendly bears in Jersey. So hopefully, I do not get eaten by a bear! We will see what happens. There are many snake photos on my camera currently which I hope to make sure Gabe, the 10yr old I was working with before I left, gets a chance to see them. I know he would appreciate their beauty.
And of course, I could not end my blog without a shout out to my husband who commented to me the other day when we talked that I truly am his soulmate! I love you my darling and am counting down the miles until I get to see you and spend the rest of my life with you! Only 615miles until I am with you! Love you lots! Thank you everyone for your support and love. Take care and keep in touch with the progress as I move north! Lots of Love to everyone!
Monday, June 27, 2005
Here is a trail report from Peeps' friend Renee who with her boyfriend David joined the adventure for a couple of days.
We started out Saturday night at the famous Doyle Hotel. It was pretty clean (except for the bathrooms!) and quiet. We met a few other thru-hikers and section hikers including Spice Rack, Clockwork Orange, Forever North, Snail, and Lo Di Do. No euchre tonight as David and I had not slept much the night before. It was good to see Peeps (Kasey) again.
Day 1 – We covered about 11 ½ miles from Duncannon to a shelter. Saw a timber rattlesnake in the trail that rattled at us, and then it finally decided to move off of the trail. We scrambled over many good-sized rocks while traveling along the ridge line. The rocky trails out there are nothing like the dusty (and smooth) ones here in California. I kept wondering what I had gotten us into.
Day 2 – More mileage today, about 13 total. The first half was fairly easy, and then we began a long uphill climb over smaller rocks that kept wobbling every time you stepped on them. There wasn’t very much water around, and I think I must have been dehydrated because I got a migraine around mid-afternoon. I kept telling myself not to throw up. By the time we got to camp my head felt better, but my feet were killing me. My hiking boots didn’t have enough arch support, and my until-then mild case of plantar fasciitis (from running) was now full-blown.
Day 3 – We turned around about half-way through the day after having lunch with Peeps, as we wanted to have a bit of a time cushion to get back. Today was supposed to be Naked Hiker Day, but we only saw one couple wearing strategically-placed bandanas. Everyone else had clothes on, so no exciting photos – ha ha! I can’t imagine hiking with only boots on – the chafing would be brutal! I think we covered about 12 ½ miles.
Day 4 – Back down the wobbly rocks for about 13 miles again. We saw a doe, a black bear, and a snake today, in addition to hiking through a small thunderstorm. David was sick and dehydrated, and my feet hurt so badly I was nearly in tears. I think we covered this section slower than on the way out. There was just way too much drama today.
Day 5 – We met some really nice trail volunteers and their dog Casey. It was cool in the morning but got much warmer later on. We eventually made our way back to Duncannon and I was SO happy to get off my feet! Later that evening we decided if we were thru-hikers and had trail names, David’s would be No Sweat (because he sweat so much even his shorts got soaked) and mine would be Cat Lady (because I have 2 cats and volunteer at an animal shelter).
Friday we visited Gettysburg, and Saturday we went home. We ended up getting home about 10 hours late due to flight delays and cancellations (note to self: don’t fly Northwest!)
Despite all the foot pain, it was a fun trip. I will be much more appreciative of the dirt trails out here from now on!
I really want to thank Peeps (Kasey) for inviting us to join her, for cutting her daily mileage in half for us slowpokes, for running down to the spring at Peter’s Mountain shelter (that was a LONG way down the hill!), and for the Slim Jims! Also thanks to Spice Rack for waiting for us periodically and for letting us use his spices for our mac & cheese! The mental and physical strength that the thru-hikers have is really impressive. Happy travels to Maine, Peeps!
Saturday, June 18, 2005
So far, Pennsylvania has proven to be a very beautiful state. Sure the heat and humidity have been hard at times, but the terrain has been great. We have gone from a nice graded trail to rocks to fields of wheat and corn. The terrain varies so much in one day it keeps me from getting bored! I have encountered many snakes as well. Most of the snakes have not been poisonous, but some have been. In the Shenandoahs, I passed a timber rattlesnake. That was exciting. "Spice Rack" was leading and the snake only began rattling after I had gone by him. It was crazy! We stopped and took photos of the snake before he decided we were bothering him and he moved into the woods. Then, between Bears Den Hostel and Harpers Ferry, I almost stepped on a Copperhead. He seemed unphased by our presence. "Spice Rack" and I waited for "Mongrel" to make sure he saw the snake and we all took photos before the snake moved off the trail. There have been many black snakes along the trail as well as little baby snakes. It has been interesting to see so many snakes. Good thing the snakes do not scare me.
Currently, I am in Duncannon, PA waiting for Renee and David to come in for the night before hiking with me tomorrow. "Spice Rack" and I are looking for a good game of Eucre tonight if Renee and David are up for it when they get in! I think the shock of the Doyle Hotel here in Duncannon will make things interesting. Here is what has been written about the Doyle Hotel: "The 4-story brick building was one of 1200hotels built by the Anheuser Busch Brewing Co. to market their beer. It replaced the National Hotel, known by some as the Johnson Hotel that had occupied the same lot. The flag topped turret can be seen for long distance. The building had 30 guest rooms and is an Italianate design with arched windows and doorways. It was sold in 1932 to John Lukens. New laws had made it impossible for a brewing company to own a retail business. This building is known to most hikers passing as a respite from the trail." The hotel is an old building and would best be described as a boarding house setting. No air-conditioning, but there is a ceiling fan and luckily the nights have been cool lately as well as the days! Glad to be taking a day off today and looking forward to seeing Renee & David.
Today, a hiker had his daughters arrive to surprise him. It made me wish Mike and I lived closer to the trail so I could see him. "Teach" had his girlfriend come down from Jersey last night and again I wished Mike was closer to the trail. It is hard to make do with just talking on the phone, but it is a reprieve to know he will be out this way in a month and a half. He is always on my mind and forever in my heart! Those are the 2 pieces of my body and soul which drive me along the trail. I love you my darling! Not long now and I will be with you again forever.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Not much has occurred since Bears Den Hostel from where I last wrote. That place was amazing and it was great fun hanging out with Susan and Rob. Good games of Eucre as well as reisling, beer, and smores. The 20miles into Harpers Ferry were long but leisurely the next day!
Once in Harpers Ferry, we connected with Spice Rack's Dad who picked us up and took us to Fredricks, MD for the next couple evenings. We took yesterday off to rest and relax. Spice Rack's dad is big into trains and we spent our day at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD. From there, we headed back to the hotel to get situated and packed before heading out to watch Shakespeare Under the Stars on the campus of Hood College in Frederick, MD. It was a fun evening watching Much Ado About Nothing. When we got back to the hotel, Spice Rack and I celebrated our 1000mile achievement with Chimay and Rogue Dead Guy Ale as we organized things further and I talked to the love of my life! For those who may not know who that is...It is my HUSBAND! Around 2am, we finally relaxed into our beds for the evening, planning to depart from the hotel by 8am.
That brings me to the current moment. I am at the ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV checking in and using the facilities. For those curious, I am holding strong at 160pounds. I think the scale here actually has me at about 162lbs. It was nice to know I had not lost the 10pounds the scale at Bears Den said I had lost! After eating well in town, I am now ready to conquer the trail with just 54Snicker Bars and a bottle of Flintstone Vitamins. We will see how things go over the next few days! The next people to join me along the trail are my friend, Renee, and her boyfriend, David. I look forward to their company as they will be with me for part of Naked Hiker Day on June 21st. Watch for photos from then! HAHAHA! Take care everyone and be sure to call or write my husband and wish him a happy birthday today! I wish I was there to give him a great big birthday hug! Don't overwhelm him though with attention. He is still my shy little guy! Lots of love to you my darling and to all my friends and family!
Thursday, June 09, 2005
I stepped foot on the trail about 9:24 a.m., Tuesday, May 31, 2005. Only seven miles the first day to Calf Mountain Shelter. I knew that would go o.k. - and it did. I had a little trepidation going over my first "ladder like" barrier (there should be a picture of this event coming). But it was the first of many firsts I would experience. Shelter life was nice. 2 recent high school grads camping near the shelter when we got there. We thought we might be the only ones in the shelter that night as it was only 7 miles from town. But we were soon joined by Box 'o fun and Ang; then Mouth in his kilt; then Hunter (the dog with his own pack) and Birdie and ?. Interesting to hear all the trail talk - who is where, who is no longer on the trail, trail sightings, etc. I felt a little out of it as I knew none of them and the whole camping thing was new for me. So I just kind of sat back and listened. There was a concern about Beam who was supposed to be at the shelter but never showed up. I got a good sense of the trail journals that are in each shelter and how these help the hikers keep tabs on each other. Pretty cool.
June 1 - day 2 and 13 miles to go today. Not too worried and as it turned out the first 12 went by quite easily and I was making much better time than the day before. There were lots of pink flowering bushes lining the trail - very nice smelling. We saw a deer close by when we took our lunch break. Both of us were more talkitive and did a lot of singing to and with each other. Then Peeps saw a sign that there was a spring 100 yds off the trail and a warning that there might not be water at the shelter. That meant that we had to fill our bladders in our backpack and our water bottles to make sure we'd have enough for cooking and the next 13 mile day. That added about 6 - 8 pounds to my pack and as I had already projected we'd be there soon with only a mile to go, I complained just a little on the last mile (all up hill of course). But we were there before 5:00 and again had lots of company in the shelter - One Thing, Spice Rack, Mongrel, Hot & Sweaty, & one other ?. The 2 high school boys were camped there also - looked like they were having a tough time.
June 2 - day 3 and another 13+ miles to go today. Shouldn't be difficult since I made it the day before without any major problems. Oh - the weather - it started raining just as we were packing to leave and it never stopped until late the following afternoon. At about 7 miles, there was a wayside camp store. We stopped there and bot 8 hamburg buns, 2 pkgs of cold meats, a large pkg of cheese and a large bag of chips -- all of which we ate (except for a few of the chips) before we left there. There were some of the other hikers there and a couple from the campground that were doing their laundry. They let me put my wet jacket and hat in one of their dryers while we ate. Everyone is so friendly out there. Then it was back out in the rain to do the last 6+ miles for the day. Stayed at Pine Gap Hut (shelter) that nite. I think we made even better time today as there was no reason or wanting to stop along the way. I think there may have been some spectacular views from some of the mountain tops, but the fog was so thick we couldn't see anything. It was One Thing, Spice Rack, Peeps and myself (trail name was M.I.L. for mother-in-law).
June 3 - day 4 - was scheduled to be just an 8 mile day. But we were at the 8 mile point by 1:00 - again the rain kept us moving quite fast. That shelter wasn't real pleasant so we agreed to push on. The problem for me was that the next shelter was another 12+ miles. After about 6 more miles we came to a major highway intersection and I decided to hitch a ride to the campground about 1 mile before our next shelter. Peeps and Spice Rack stayed with me until I caught a safe ride with a family from KY who were going to the same campground. I was able to freshen up a little in the restroom there, buy some snacks and call home while I waited for Peeps and Spice Rack. We then went the last mile to the shelter which was quite full. We had caught up with Box 'o fun and Ang. One Thing was there and Beam. Also two older (my age) couples who were section hiking.
June 4 - day 5. Saturday morning and I had to decide whether to call Jim to come as it was a Saturday and he wouldn't be able to come until the next weekend if not today. I didn't mention that my right big toe was sore since day 1 or 2. My nail had been hitting the front of my boot and caused a blister under the nail. Quite painful with every downhill step. I was afraid the nail might come off within the next week and that would have been more painful. So I decided that I had experienced the trail and was very glad I did - but I knew my limits and decided to call Jim. It was a tough and emotional decision but looking back I think I made the right call. We made reservations at Big Meadows resort - 8 miles further down the trail and told Jim to meet us there. Spice Rack, Box 'o fun & Ang were waiting for us at the shelter after hiking the mile both ways to make the calls. I invited them to share the room with us which they were delighted to do. They & peeps hiked an additional 8 miles that day and hitched rides back to Big Meadows where I was waiting, refreshed after a bath and a shower and ready to give them all a massage. It was a great nite with lots of laughs, a game of hearts and a real pillow to sleep on. Jim made it to the resort about 11:00p.m. We all had a real breakfast together in the morning, packed all 6 of us with all the packs, etc. in our little Subaru and got the four of them back on the trail at Skyland resort about 11:00 a.m. Oh, the last day of hiking was probably the nicest for me. (Maybe because I knew I was going home the next day.) There were a few sort of tough mountains but there were also miles of level lush green forests and lots of deer sightings. I felt like I was walking through an enchanted forest - like in a fairy tale - the visual will always be with me. The weather was also very nice that day - sunshine and not too humid. We also had a spectacular view from some rocks just before we entered the Big Meadows resort. I want to thank Kasey (Peeps) for allowing me to tag along on a small portion of her journey. I have great admiration for what she is doing. She will have stories to tell her children and grandchildren for years to come. (You are planning to give me grandchildren some day - aren't you?) She will know herself much better because of this thing she is doing. As I know myself better from the short week I was out there. And I am a better person for it. Bye, M.I.L.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
On Sunday, 5 June 2005, Spice Rack and I left the Awesome M.I.L and her wonderful husband, Jim, around 11am to head out on a 24mile trek. Bad idea to start so late in the day. We had intentions of making it to Elk Wallow Gap Wayside in Shenandoah National Park before they closed at 5:30pm. That meant we would have to do about 18miles in 6 hours. We did not think it was possible but held onto the idea! It did not work! We got there around 6:30pm to find everything closed as well as the bathrooms. We entertained thoughts of staying there for the night and getting shakes in the morning, but decided after cooking ourselves dinner we would move on! About 9pm, we took off for our last 5.5miles of the day! Yup! In the dark we headed for the hills. It was crazy, but I felt secure as long as I had someone to hike with in the dark. Night hiking was really neat, but I've realized I need a brighter light. It was a little hard to see everything and not trip over rocks. As a matter of fact, I did trip and went all the way to the ground. Spice Rack helped me up and we moved on to great views of the night sky! The night was beautiful but tiring. We pulled into the shelter at true midnight versus hiker midnight (9pm). What a day!
The next day we planned a stop in Front Royal to pick up Spice Rack's P.O. drop. Since we did not get Mountain Blackberry shakes in the park, I decided I wanted a Wendy's Frosty in town and thus joined Spice Rack on his hitch into town. It was another scalding day and we hung out in the P.O. and any air conditioned location we could find. Then it was back to the trail where we stayed at the Jim & Molly Denton Shelter for the night. Nice cold shower there got the heart racing, but felt good to be slightly clean. Ran into Freeheel and Motorin again. It was nice to see friendly faces again.
In the morning, we were still at the shelter when in rolled Iron Foot. Now, some of you may remember I started with Iron Foot back when he was named Kyle. I helped name him Iron Foot. It was great to see him and for the past 2 days Spice Rack and I have been playing leap frog with he and his british companions, GG & Slip.
Currently, I am at Bears Den Hostel awaiting the arrival of my friend, Susan, from DC. She is going to stay the night here with Spice Rack and I. We did the 10miles here over the Dreaded Rollercoaster Section (which was more like a log flume than a true rollercoaster) before 1pm. We then headed down to have lunch at the Horseshoe Curve Restaurant with Iron Foot, GG, & Slip. Nothing like fried food and beer on a hot day. Spice Rack and I left our packs at the Bears Den and hiked down to the restaurant so we just had to hike back up a mile. Upon return it was a great shower with some after bath splash to make me feel like a lady again! No stinky girl here! That will change in the heat tomorrow as I descend upon Harpers Ferry. Will be there tomorrow night with the intention of taking a day off to check out the place!
Hope all is going well with my friends and family throughout the country. For those reading this, please make sure and either email, write, or call my husband to congratulate him on winning his first marathon over memorial day weekend. Also, commend him on a job well done this past weekend at yet another marathon! He won his age group and ran the marathon in 3:15hours+/-. Do go to the link and check out how he is doing with his races. He needs the support since I am not there to give it to him! I hope he knows how much I send out all my positive energy to him on each of his race days and worry about him all day! I look forward to town stops when I can check it out and see how he is doing! My husband is my best friend in the world as well as my motivator and inspiration for many things. Thank you my love and continue to do well in your races! My love is always with you!