Sunday, December 7, 2008

December : Shenk Blessings!

25 Dec.: HO! HO! HO! Merry Christmas 2008


21 Dec, Sunday: Let's hear it for more fish & grits w/ hot sauce. 25 Dec.: Merry Christmas

20 Dec, Saturday: Tomorrow.

19 Dec, Friday: Lazy morning reading old newspapers preparatory to recycling them.

18 Dec, Thursday: After driving to Edgefield and spending a productive afternoon in the Thompkins Library and at the Court Archives, we again visited with Bettis who shared his voluminous Rambo files. (His files are larger and more accurate than many Rambo genealogists.) Today begins house & cat sitting for Greg & Donna for a couple of weeks. It will be a special time of rapport with the kitties.

17 Dec, Wednesday:

16 Dec, Tuesday: was a day full of marginally useful computer activity. The next volume is a shade closer to completion and Bettis's Revolutionary War stories are done.

15 Dec, Monday: After another walk with Dick & Jim, we enjoyed a rainy day drive on smaller South Carolina state highways through Saluda to Edgefield this afternoon, but arrived too late to enjoy genealogy research. Fortunately Bettis Rainsford was in a mood to entertain & converse. After dark we drive across the Savannah River (lake) into Georgia and past the lakeside Lutheran Church to the Washington Plantation in Washington, GA, "best B&B in Georgia." Tom and Barbara are wonderful and the B&B was delightful - besides being an ancestral home.

14 Dec 2008, Sunday: was an enjoyable day starting with fish & grits covered in hot sauce at Lizard's Thicket. As an MIT educational counselor I interviewed a prospective Korean student at the Irmo branch library this afternoon.

13 December: The morning walk with Dick & Jim emphasized that the knee is not fully healed; it feels a bit tender and bruised today, probably from the shuffling run Thursday in the rain. Slaving away at blog updating now. (Couldja tell?) Dinner was "party time" at Outback Steakhouse with Greg & Donna, Vince & Mary; after a bloomin' good time we went to Mary & Vince's to devour Mary's special cheesecake recipe and a Blu-Ray Wall-E movie.

12 December: Dinner this evening with Greg & Donna, Clark & Liz, and Pat & Frank was much fun. Too bad that Zorba's seemed louder this particular Friday night; hearing was a challenge. We arrived yesterday in Columbia, SC for a long weekend visit with the Greg & Donna. Enjoyed the morning walk with Dick Richards now that the knee is much better; going down stairs is not causing pain. Mondays plan is to go to Wilkes County, Georgia for Bankston genealogy research.

11 December: After dinner at Ruby Tuesday's with Donna, we headed to beddy-bye at the hotel early; we were too tired to wait up for Greg to come home from work.
It rained hard during our drive south to Columbia, SC on I-26. Although less traveled roads are more enjoyable on a motorcycle in nice weather, the interstates have their place, especially in a car in the rain.

We enjoyed the Inn at Biltmore the last two nights and spent a quiet day yesterday recovering from a peculiar 12-hour fever. The candlelight Christmas tour at the Biltmore Estate included choirs, a harpist/harpsicord duo, a puppet show, and a most delightful story-teller, all interspersed throughout the 40 rooms, extravagantly lit and filled with Christmas trees. The dining room Christmas tree had oversized gift-wrapped packages hanging as ornaments. And what to our wondering eyes should appear but a sign advertising the 12 month pass for a discounted $25.00. Just maybe they would sell it over the phone; Jim, Walt - this may be the time to call & save $15.

10 Dec 2008, Wednesday: We arrived at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC just after dark, after driving 80 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway was closed before Roanoke; the internet shows closures for construction, but not closures due to snow & ice. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was able to lead because those white tails are IMMENSE. Once off the parkway, it was obvious that we'd need to take I-81 and I-26 south in order to arrive at Asheville before midnight. En route, we discovered that I-26 runs through Erwin, TN and stopped at Uncle Johnny's Hostel to see if Richard was there; nope. Yawns & fatigue in the afternoon progressed to feverish chills over dinner and a hasty retreat to bed. Thank God that whatever it was had disappeared by morning.

9 December: Staunton, Virginia - enjoyed another fine dinner at the Mill Street Restaurant and an overnight at the Days Inn. It was cold.

8 December: The York County Historical Society is closed on Mondays; snow and rain are predicted so we are outta here. today.

Photo from Kevin Shenk's website taken in July 2008 titled: The Famous Grandpa Shakedown. Left to Right: Poppa Bear, Trevor, Grandpa Shakedown, Austin, and Kevin. The boys voted Grandpa Shakedown as their favorite person on the AT hike.

7 Dec 2008, Sunday: Morning worship service at Tidings of Peace Mennonite Church was followed by a delicious fellowship lunch at the school; only the salad fit into my "cardboard & styrofoam" diet. Last year there were several murders on that street in that block; yes, a very rough neighborhood. In the evening the school performed a marvelous Christmas program; the children were delightful and discordant; the audience was largely Mennonite school supporters. A sister and brother gave each other high-fives after successfully singing their solos. Amazing that the children knew all the words to the songs by heart. A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to all the students and teachers - Attaboy, attagirl.

6 December: Lil' Mak and Popeye (seated bottom right) live thirty miles from the Shenks and were frequent company along the Appalachian Trail this year. They braved snowy weather and clogged trafficways to join us at the Shenk household. Back row: Austin, Clayton, Ron; front row: Trevor, Kevin, Popeye and Lil'Mak.

Earlier in the day the Shenks took us on a tour of Amish country in Lancaster County. We visited two Amish farms and a Mennonite farm and stopped in Lancaster to meet his parents. Clay's mother, Barbara is a noted poet; she gave us a book of her poetry: The God of Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel. Father Harold is no stranger to publishers either.

5 December: York, Pennsylvania. Driving through the Appalachian Mountains while it was sleeting turning to snow was not without concern after leaving Lee's home in Dover, Ohio. The snow abated close to Harrisburg and we arrived safely at the Shenks home in York on Friday to surprise Kevin, Austin and Trevor (aka The Preacher Boys). Their dad, Clayton (Poppa Bear) was in on the secret. And they were very surprised to find Ron (Grandpa Shakedown) sitting in their living room. Ron met the boys and their father while hiking the AT. Clayton is a Mennonite pastor and married to Mary Lois (pictured) for twenty-five years; they have eight children - each one more delightful than the next. Six-year-old Wendy is entranced to spring six feet into the air with Grandpa Shakedown assisting (until exhausted, Grandpa Shakedown, not Wendy - she could do it forever and then some.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November News: Typing Away @ Rambo Genealogy

29 November: Mt. Olive, Illinois - We spent the Thanksgiving holiday driving but enjoyed turkey at Subway for lunch. Arrived at Don and Ann Stalcup's Thursday evening following a veggie dinner at a country buffet, spent the night reminiscing with this good friend and mentor of many years. - arriving at sister Carol's early Friday afternoon. Carol is a pretty impressive woman: she made a delicious catfish dinner, and showed us the tongue and groove hard wood flooring she made and laid herself out of the trees on her property after retiring as a PhD. biologist professor. In addition, she is preparing a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner suitable for a low-fat, sugar-free diet tomorrow. Snow and ice are forecast for for the next few days. Once the weather clears up we may drive to York, PA for a few days to visit the Mennonite pastor, Papa Bear, and his outstanding family.

24 November: Volume four (the third Rambo book) is finished in pdf format and ready to go to the publisher in a few days. The websites were updated onto Google who decided two of them violated their rules and they shut them down. Evidently... copying the html from the aol site and pasting it into the Google website erases the inherent Google html. After filling out the form for "You removed my website" we are waiting to hear why it was in violation. That, too, will cook for a few days. Time to take a break for Thanksgiving with sister Carol and the family.

21 November: The Rambo index is complete, the bibliography is almost finished and the next volume is almost ready to send to AuthorHOUSE.

It was fun, fun, fun reading Lil'Mak's trail journal and enjoying the trail photos; yet harrowing to read Kat's journal about frozen shoes and sleeping bags that are too light for the harsh Georgia mountains as they approach the summit of Springer Mountain today or tomorrow. Hoping to hear of their arrival soon (Hooray! Kat called en route to Michigan a few days later having arrived safely.)

12 November - Interviews with delightful MIT early admission applicants are completed and sent to MIT. Days and nights are filled typing away on the Rambo genealogy. The indexed second volume was mailed back to AuthorHOUSE two weeks ago; indexing the third volume of five hundred pages is well-over half finished with hopes it will be ready to mail in a couple of weeks. Thanks to Spruce for answering some punctuation questions.

When working intensely it helps to drink a lot of coffee and take Sudoku breaks... lots of them - keeping Sudoku puzzles in the bathroom. The challenging Sudokus based on logic and very, very hard are great. The ones that are are guessing games aren't any fun at all. Copies of the most difficult ones have been copied to be mailed to Dick Richards.

AOL removed its web hosting pages. The Rambo sites and other personal Ron Beatty pages have been moved to Google web sites - but Google Search has not yet found them. Here are links:
http://sites.google.com/site/rsbeatty
http://sites/google.com/site/rambofamilytree

Nephew Eric's coin website is now changed from AOL to Google, too.

Update on the calcium tomography tests: calcium levels in heart arteries doubled from the same tests five years ago. At that time they were at 90 percent for having a cardiac event in two to five years - now they have doubled across the board despite following a stringent heart healthy eating plan and hiking 440 miles last year and 1500 this year. All other indicators (C-reactive protein, total cholesterol and blood pressure) are excellent; but following the restrictive eating plan will continue: no meat, milk fats; no white flour, no sugar and lots of vitamins. Weight is being maintained at 175 with daily walking.

Monday, October 20, 2008

October Trails, Tales and Peeping Leaves

31 October - Back in Columbia, SC once again: enjoyed the morning's long, brisk walk with Dick Richards; spent good time at the Archives researching after lunch and then fulfilling responsibilities as educational counselor for MIT: interviewing prospective early admissions students. Mailed the second galley proof back to AuthorHOUSE.

30 October - The Inn at Biltmore has great rates mid-week with a 12 month guest pass that paid for itself. A few weeks ago, the Biltmore Estate had a special - purchase add-on to the $47.00 tour ticket for an additional $40.00 providing free admission for a year. In addition, the guest pass gives a 10 per cent discount on many items including the Inn at Biltmore. The tours for today were the Rooftop Tour and the Behind the Scenes Tour - about three hours of walking. We learned the importance of saving pennies to buy the place.

29 October - Guilford County, NC Public Library researched until time to head to the Inn at Biltmore for a delicious wine tasting-dinner at the Bistro. The Red Snapper was very good. The waiter was a very jovial fellow.

28 October - SNOW!!!! Swirling snow greeted the morning. Heading east on Hwy 58 from Damascus, the snow began to fall in earnest producing a scenic winter wonderland until the highway was snow covered necessitating backing down the mountain road into a turnaround to go back to Damascus and head towards I-81 N to 77 E instead. Little local traffic on the road.

Spent the afternoon in the Madison Public Library, Rockingham County, NC researching before heading to Greensboro, NC for the night.



27 October - after a delicious dinner at the Old Tavern Inn in Abingdon (1770) we spent the night at the former John Rambo house - now the Mt. Laurel Inn. Leslie, the owner and chef created a delicious breakfast in front of the fireplace in the dining room. It was no surprise to learn she grinds her own wheat flour to bake bread when she is not homeschooling three children or running a catering business, too.



26 October - Stopped in Damascus, VA for hot soup, cocoa, sandwiches, brownies and lots of fudge candies as Trail Magic for Papa Bear and the Preacher's Boys who had left Pearisburg early that morning. The drive took two hours but the road was unmarked and hidden making us half an hour late. Papa Bear's only direction was Sugar Run Road where it crossed the AT. We drove forever on a road that became a trail that became a wagon rut covered in a foot of leaves to a dead end. Certain that we had missed them or had wrong directions we turned around on the forest service road and drove just a few yards when we spotted two of the boys on the road ahead of us. The other boy and Papa Bear were on their way out of the woods - all four wondering where they were because the road was unmarked. They were a half hour late. It was truly a miracle that they arrived just as we did because it was too cold for them to have waited. They were elated to have hot (well... by now lukewarm) food. The wind was raw and miserable with no shelter to eat - but it was good to see them. Note: After continuing for several more days they decided to be thankful for the almost completed AT hike and head home to their family in York, PA. Kevin's knee was not doing well and the family missed them a lot.

25 October - Driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway from North Carolina to Tennessee beautiful vistas and glorious fall foliage were still visible. Stopped at Spruce Pine to get supplies for Trail Magic (veggie burgers and stuff for breakfast) to Kat and company at Overmountain Shelter. BRRR - the wind was cold. Hiked about 3/4 mile up to the shelter covered in golden leaves. Kat had not yet arrived - and the fire building process was slow. It was almost dark when they arrived overjoyed to have hot food, a fire and a fine visit. We slept outside despite 38 degree temp. enjoying the stars in a clear sky

24 October - Columbus, NC - Rambo cousin, Duncan Ely, was a most hospitable host for a delightful overnight in his almost renovated grand manse that he hopes to have on the National Historic Register of Homes. Our room had a lovely view - but the charm was the house itself. It looks like a church with stone walls and clerestory windows. Duncan and his wife, Beth, removed the dropped down ceiling to expose the hand hewn timbers mortised with pegs and cleaned the walk-in fireplace plaster to reveal a handsome granite boulder wall facing the fireplace.

23 Oct - Columbia, SC: The most recent galley proof is edited and ready to be sent to the publisher. Indexing the next three volumes waits in the wings while leaf season is still spectacular. We are leaving soon to follow trails with high color hoping to encounter Papa Bear, the Preacher's Boys, and Kat on the southbound AT for some hiking and camping. The knee feels stronger now with two long walks a day.

October Trails: Leaf Peeping along Hwy 86 in Vermont was at peak season. Brilliant shades of crimson, mixed with glistening golds and oranges, provided a dazzling display of New England fall foliage for miles of enjoyment. The view from the Country Club Inn at Rangely, Maine was awesome. Several deer were spotted in the early morning along with a bird sitting in a warm patch of sunlight - either very content or too tired to fly.


The trip south from Maine was vivid and vibrant, too. After a stop near Dartmouth College for Thomas Sweet ice cream we arrived back in Mt. Airy, MD to enjoy Jim's hospitality once again. A highlight was having the opportunity to spend another day with Dr. Peter Craig (historian) in D. C.. The outdoor Cafe Deluxe on Wisconsin Street is to be recommended.

The colors were brilliant near Auburn, West Virginia where we attended the Long Distance Hikers Association awakening to incredible morning vistas. Larry Luxenbourg led a most compelling workshop on the future AT Museum in Harper's Ferry. It was good to see Bob Peoples from Kincorra - and Kat who is still hiking southbound. We were not disappointed with Jim's recommendation to continue from Auburn to Little Switzerland because the colorful foliage was at its peak and the vista was wonderful from the Little Switzerland Inn.


Gloria Dei "Old Swedes" Church was a highlight of the Philadelphia visit. One of the founders was ancestor Peter Gunnarson Rambo.









At Brewster, near Bar Harbor Maine, the lobster was indeed very fresh and delicious.








It was a surprise to discover the journey would include Duncannon, PA; of course a visit to the Doyle Hotel was a must in time for a hearty lunch with 8-10 southbound hikers who enjoyed receiving their lunches as trail magic.


The bronze plaque bears the inscription of Peter Rambo named as one of the important personages in the Colonial History of Philadelphia, PA. It is hanging outside Philadelphia City Hall.

A garrulous city cop named Frank recommended dinner in the Italian sector of the city at Victor's Cafe, made famous in the Rambo movie; he instructed us,"tell them one of the south Philly boys sent you." The streets were narrow making it challenging to park the car while the entire neighborhood watched in amusement. How fun to have the operatic waiters sing during the meal. Of course, there is no connection between Sylvester Stallone's Rambo and our ancestor Peter Rambo. Philly is a great city but the Philadelphia city records are a mess... a disaster.

Traveling with Sister Carol is delightful! She enjoyed Western PA genealogy resources - and a great discovery of another Rev. War ancestor's proof of service was made by brother "lucky" Ron " who discovered the Overturff Bible Record and a record of a Revolutionary War Pension Law naming John Overturff as qualified to receive the pension.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Leaving New England, heading for western PA then Philly & DC

14 September 2008: Long time since last blog entry. Sorry. We've been traveling a lot across country seeing the sights in New England and visiting friends in New Hampshire and Maine. Unfortunately plans for today (outdoor people watching at Harvard Square) are washed out by light rain, so we will pack up and head towards Hartford, perhaps by going northwest on route 2 out of Boston.

13 Sep: Maine was a favorite state. The Harraseeket Hotel in Freeport was terrific - too bad my cardboard & styrofoam diet didn't allow me to pig out on all the goodies at the breakfast buffet. Still, it was the best buffet we have enjoyed so far. The drive down I-95 and I-93 to Boston was pleasant and scenic. Traffic and navigation were easy until exiting onto Sorrow Drive - good thing that I had an inkling about Boston streets. Parking wasn't bad although we had to feed the "meter"every two hours after first learning the new system. We spent the day at the New England Historic Genealogical Society on Newberry Street. People watching was great from restaurant tables clogging the sidewalks. Amazing numbers of people. The Mass Pike toll at Brighton was $1.25 - vastly different than the 0.25 I remembered last. After five PM we walked the entire circuit around Fresh Pond and managed to miss Richard. Fortunately he called at 7 pm and we enjoyed dinner together at Greg's Italian restaurant nearby. Good news is that my knee tolerated the walk well. Richard's "best" pictures are marvelous - on the web at Flickr. The Hampton Inn at Woburn was 1/3rd the price of the one in Cambridge, so here we are.


12 Sep: Fresh lobster at Young's dockhouse in Belfast was a terrific experience. Best highlight of the trip to date was watching Peter (Steve & Sheri's 8th grader) finish second in his first cross country race of the year.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

25 August: in Columbia, SC

Corrections complete for July 9th, 10th, & 11th.

14 August: Todays visit with Dave and family will end when Chris and the kids leave for a weekend with her parents at the Cape. Dave and I will visit Gillett

13 August: with the Gilletts in Bedford, New Hampshire. The electric plug-in is working thanks to a e-mail suggestion from the installer. After a pleasant morning on the porch, Wall & Irja treated me to ice cream at Kimball Farm in W?ford. This location is no fun - they limit a quart to a single flavor, but a half gallon is the same price, so I ate 1/2 gallon of strawberry. Just before dark, Dave and I picked a quart of blueberries - Yum.

12 August, Tuesday: with the Gilletts in Bedford, New Hampshire. The knee continues to improve so that walking is almost comfortable now. Mild discomfort still limits mobility. Test results were negative, so that illness with chills and night sweats was not Lyme Disease. Lazy day until Jerry arrived in plug in Prius. Dinner at Wall and Irja's was delightful. BBQ, snacks, salad, and potato salad were all very tasty. Wall is happy with Porche and globe trotting job; Irja was cheerful despite bad knee and her father's problems. The arrival of Ed and Mary was certainly a pleasant surprise. Their welcome presence added a sparkle to the conversation and evening. Robert showed up later and showed pictures from his recent hiking in Colorado. Great fun, good food, and too much wine were enjoyed by all. The only shadow over the evening was that the plug-in Prius stopped accepting power from the plug.

11 August: with the Erickson's in Carlisle, Massachusetts until 3pm. Dave lent me the Saab to drive to visit Tuna & Christine in Andover, MA where the three of us enjoyed fine Indian food at Bollywood. Kevin (Preacher Boy #1) surprised me with a phone call to tell me that they have returned to Harer's Ferry to hike south rather than continuing to swim upstream in New Hampshire. It was mildly exciting when the headlights failed while driving after dark in light rain - no problem, just a flakey connection or short which disappeared when the lights were turned on.

10 August:
The plan is for Dave to pick me up Sunday and lend me a car to use until next Friday. I'll be calling and making arrangements for visits soon.

9 August:

8 August, Friday: The knee is almost pain free today. I'll try the stairs and check mouse traps. Today's plan calls for visiting someone in town and at Jennifer's, followed by an evening at a local bar listening to Wes and the band, "Welcome to Florida."

7 August
, Thursday: The knee is again marginally better. Wes is home & looking good. Heather & Wyatt brought over their sons, 14 months and four years. Gavin (the older son) enjoys nothing better than pushing his younger brother to make him fall. By the time they left, everyone was ready for a nap. Margie wanted to see a movie, so we saw Batman on the "big screen" of the quaint local theatre. It was neither too loud nor too bloody, so I was able to sit through the entire ordeal rather than walking out mid-movie.

6 August: Thank goodness for another good night's sleep. Margie's dinner party was a resounding success as everyone enjoyed the meal, the wine, and the company. Louie delighted me with several of his favorite stories. SueAnn had great fun providing narrative for the pictures about a recent trip to Greece. Jennifer is interesting and knowledgeable about topics foreign to most lawyers. Much fun.

5 August: After another good night's sleep, the knee is improved again, but is still not very good. This morning has been slow & lazy with just a bit of blog updating & weeding. We drove into Peterboro a time or two today, once before lawn mowing & once after. Unfortunately the knee was irritated by the lawn mowing.

4 August: Margie, Richard & Fred have gone hiking, leaving Ron with his gimp knee at the house with the computer, transcribing his audio recorder for the AT hike on July 14. The knee is far less painful today, but not nearly well enough to hike. After co-ordinating schedules, there is suddenly very little time to enjoy visiting friends in New England. How time flies !! Phone calls & plans must be made ASAP. Maybe this is time to start working on a new blog, Ron's plans, since a genealogical road trip is to start soon.

3 August:
The knee was still very painful, and limited Ron's activities to short walks. Drew returned from the GPS vendor by 10:30 and they were in the Piper Warrior on the runway by 11:30 after one excitement when the prop wash yanked the sleeping bag out of the partially open door. Drew asked Ron what he had enjoyed the most & the least about AirVenture 2008. Most enjoyable was the passion & cheerfulness of all the pilots and aficionados; next most enjoyable were the girlies in form-fitting tops; the roar of the FA-18s & of the Raptor; the WWII WarBirds; the amazing aerobatic fliers; and the tap dancing violin player. Least enjoyable was the knee pain and the irritation of the golf cart traffic. Most fun was flirtation - (Can you believe that Ron avoided ice cream?)
3:20 PM: Ron and Drew are refueling the airplane in NY and Ron is EXCITED to be only 2.5 hours from Jaffrey, NH and Kimball Farm ice cream. They left Oshkosh about lunch time and are making great time.
8:30 PM: Ron and Drew landed calmly about 7:15 PM despite presence of nearby thunderstorms. Margie and Richard picked Ron up and stopped next door at Kimball Farm for ice cream! Ron ate only half of the quart during the ride to their house because he just talked too much en route; can you imagine Ron talking a lot?? Margie's nose dictated the shower & washing machine ballet. Richard found some striped pajamas and shorts for Ron to wear until his one outfit is clean. The sounds of laughter and gaiety are delightful to hear as they begin catching up on the past seven years since their last visit. Deep into the morning hours Margie & Ron "caught up" on the major events & traumas of those years.

2 August: Today's plan is to limit activities because knee pain & swelling yesterday was "severe." Knee feels quite a bit better today, but is still swollen & painful. The Basler FBO is a very reasonable viewing spot for the air shows . Of greatest interest were the WarBirds which flew in formations for an hour of the afternoon air show. Highlights were departing hugs from Jen and Sylvia.

1 August: Today's plan is to borrow a camera from Canon first thing & spend the day limping around the grounds taking photos. The FBO's coffee has Ron ready to rock & roll. Showering clean this morning was delightful as were Jen (one beautiful & sweet young pilot) and the energetic Sylvia who filled yesterday evening with conversation after the blog update. Life is good and these ladies made those hours delightful.
3pm: Mission accomplished - photos taken although Ron is chagrined that there is not even one picture of a pretty girl.
6pm: After an engaging flirtation with another beauty, a stewardess, Ron reports that life is still wonderfully fun, even with a gimp leg. Hey, she even hugged him good bye -- twice. It was also great fun to spend several minutes of entertaining conversation with Jen and her father - too bad they both need naps. Good chance that they will be in again tomorrow morning & around noon. p.s. FBO stands for Fixed Base Operators per earlier days of radio operations.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oshkosh, Wisconsin air show w/ Gillett

31 July: Although Canon generously lent a camera for the day, non-photographer Ron took no pictures worth keeping. Instead he discovered that Drew's touchscreen laptop uses a touchscreen keypad which requires infuriatingly slow, single "finger," hunt & peck typing. Drew finds AirVenture excitingly kaleidoscopic, but Ron finds it boring after four days ... much too much the same day after day. It will still be fun to borrow another camera tomorrow to record all the interesting pictures possible in a full day ... besides Canon also provides free Klondike bars (the triple chocolate is yummy). Ron's knee is now painfully swollen due to the daily bicycling on a bike that is too short. Hopefully staying off the bike will fix that. Drew insisted that Ron see Harrison Ford introduce the 2nd Indiana Jones movie. After eating two bags of popcorn, Ron left wishing he had picked up only one bag of popcorn.

30 Jul: AirVenture sports lots of vendors of all stripes from glues to paints to nuts & bolts to specialized aircraft & kits. Drew wants to see & talk to ALL of them. Ron is still enjoying sitting on the flight line watching the airplanes take off & land, especially those LOUD military jets. The Dreamlifter departed yesterday after the airshow - impressive only for its size. The patroling FA-18 jets were much more impressive.

The aerobatics pilots & airplanes are simply amazing and incredible. One or two took their planes straight up until they stopped climbing and started descending tail first in a slow, controlled fall. The Harrier and a few of the professionals repeated yesterday's performance. The attendees are uniformly cheerful and positive, a lovely crowd of people, mostly older ..... like us.

29 Jul: Air show professionals yesterday put on an amazing demonstration of flying: Mike Goulian, Patty Wagstaff, Kyle Franklin (as pirate - hi Capt. Jack), Sean Tucker, etc. Wowie Zowie. Harrier flight demo was incredible - huge noise while hovering or even flying backward. Boeing's HUGE Dreamlifter airplane landed. Showing clean this morning felt even better than showers during the AT hike - - imagine that.

27 Jul 2008: Oshkosh, Wisconsin; AirVenture fly in. Drew & Ron enjoyed a nice quiet night's sleep at the Oshkosh airport and are up early sucking down coffee and awaiting the day's activities. AirVenture is an annual event at Oshkosh organized by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). General Aviation is the term applying to private pilots like Drew (vs Commercial Aviation or Military Aviation). The 8-hour flight to Osh was entertaining and uneventful since Drew's luck at dodging thunderstorms was good. Flying over lakes Huron and Michigan went without a hitch or hiccup (thank God); sightseeing from 1,000 feet above ground was riveting; higher elevations provided far different views and interest; all in all it was a great trip made enjoyable by a quieter cabin and noise-canceling earphones. Now if only the air traffic controllers could speak staticless.

26 Jul: Drew arrived at the Rutland airport at 8am to rescue Ron from the voracious mosquitoes at the Lisa Fall campground. Those mosquitoes were extremely frustrated by his hammock netting, but utilized every opportunity to sample Ron's blood during his frequent night-time necessities.

It has been a good week at the Inn at Long Trail. Oke is one very amusing resident character there. We greatly enjoyed spending the week with Popeye and Lil' Mak who wisely decided to avoid the drenching storms and slick rocks every morning until Friday. Similarly SnakeBait was too much fun. Great to see so many friends: Peppi & Hamburgler; Snake & Whitefish; Castiron (I hope 6-iron is better now); Kat, Lil'Cubit; Jesse, Scooter & HammerDown; JackFrost; PapaBear & the Preacher Boys; Vagabond; Pond Scum; Pine Knot, as well as many new hikers like Grits, Meathook & others whose names I don't remember (sorry).

Best wishes to all. I am healthy and cheerful and am very happy with my decision to quit hiking the through hike. The hike had become NO FUN in New Jersey because of the trail routing straight down steep, rocky descents. My bad knee became aggravated which adversely affected my ability to fall asleep to the tune of three hours or more a night. I enjoyed the people but anxiety and pain made the hike no longer enjoyable.

We hiked in Manchester Center, visited the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln - arrived in Rutland last Friday in time for an afternoon hike. We got caught in a downpour on Saturday's hike - under one poncho... smile.

It rained again Monday morning, so after noon we drove to the Ben and Jerry's factory hoping for a huge sample. Instead they charged $2 for the tour and gave out tiny little cups of Cheesecake Brownie. It was a lovely drive with a delightful dinner on the terrace at Arvad's overlooking downtown Waterbury's main street. The early evening's blue sky and fluffy white clouds looked like the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream container.

We hiked ten miles on Tuesday, first on a blue blazed trail to the top of Mt. Pico and then on the AT towards Killington where she slipped on a slick root, fell without injury, and was startled by Popeye before regaining her "dignity." Lil' Mak's greeting was a started, "What are YOU doing here?" It rained Wednesday giving us the opportunity to shuttle hikers all day. The rain continued on Thursday; we shuttled hikers until lunch time when we picked up 2/3 of the Preacher Boys and took them NE of Woodstock for ice cream.

Some of the hikers we have encountered during our stay in Rutland: Cast Iron, Snake, Pineknot, Pond Scum, Daddy-O, Vagabond, Papa Bear, and others. Ron wishes he had gotten out to hug Pineknot while she was walking in the pouring rain, almost ready to cry. He enjoyed surprising Lil'Mak, "the Queen'" on the phone... and thoroughly enjoyed his time shuttling, visiting with so many of the hikers at breakfast and during the day.

Ron is happy with his decision to leave the trail; looks mighty good; is rested; and is enjoying the hiker camaraderie.

Popeye, Shakedown & Lil'Mak
reunion breakfast at the Inn at Long Trail.











Austin's strawberry ice cream! YUM!









Austin, Kevin and Ron: MMMMMMMMMM


YUM! Ice Cream!




Eating Ice Cream with Grandpa Shakedown at the Cloudland Farm NE of Woodstock, Vermont on 24 July 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

18 July 2008: AT hike over - I quit.

18 Jul 2008: AT hike over. Yep, the bad right knee has made sleeping in the hammock difficult for too many days in a row, forcing the decision to quit the trail because it has been just plain NO FUN ever since Pennsylvania. Throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts the Hiker kept on keeping on in the hopes that the steep rocky downhills would moderate. Instead every successive New England state seems dedicated to showing its worst terrain to the through-hiker, implying elitism & provincial trail routing. No doubt the chills and night sweats that accompanied entry into Massachusetts accelerated the decision, but the bottom line is that the trail is no longer fun; so bye, bye trail; hello motorcycle touring.

To All my hiking friends, I'm sorry to say a final goodbye. I won't be back because the "pointless ups and downs" in New Hampshire would certainly destroy the bad knee and I'd be likely to fall and break bones on those nasty, nasty downhills.
It is the people who "make" the trail. The AT community is made up of volunteers, hostel owners, trail angels (THANKS), service providers, outfitters, trail maintainers, ridge runners, and, of course, we hikers suffering through the same terrain, the same bugginess, the same weather, the same stress and struggle.


15 July: Roy & the Cookie Lady shuttled Ron from Levarde's in Dalton to the airport in Rutland, Vermont for R & R. From there we spent three days at the Inn at Manchester Center before heading to the delightful Inn at Long Trail west of Rutland, Vermont.

14 July - Kay Wood Lean-To Shelter - 3 miles from Dalton - a nine mile day. The Hiker is exhausted and ready for sleep at 7 PM. This morning he did not have a cell phone signal at the shelter to make the usual early morning phone call; it was also raining so he went back to sleep several times. The rain hindered hiking until eleven AM. Cell phone signal was spotty through the day and my traveling made matters worse. We are both looking forward to R&R tomorrow!

13 July - 9:30 AM - Ron is in Southside's car - en route to Hwy 90/Massachusetts Turnpike or mile # 1535.6. He had a fitful night with lots of sweating, and awakened every five minutes from midnight until 2:30 AM. He seems to be feeling OK this morning despite little sleep; he is taking an oral antibiotic (Doxycycline) for four weeks until the Lyme Disease test results come in.
1:00 PM - Uh, oh... Smooching Sounds Heard From the AT Again: The Hiker has been Smoochiketalking for the past hour describing a lovely farmhouse and lake, unmarked trail, rocks, etc. and saying he feels Ok. He said his joints are still painful - and he is quite covered up with a turtleneck sweater and mosquito netting hood but not warm despite the heat today. He and Southside put out a cooler of Trail Magic (Ron was able to carry this cooler loaded with food/beverages for a 1/4 mile). A younger southbound hiker said that the Whites were no problem for him ... he merely slowed down. After listening to the limitations of the bad knee, the youngster inspired a confidence by suggesting that the hiker could make it through the Whites - slowly. It is possible that the hike in the North could have been enjoyable if the Hiker had take inspiration from Baggins to slow down, read, and rest in the middle of those long rocky descents.
9:30 PM: October Mountain Lean-to Shelter - a 7 mile day; he had a nice long nap this afternoon and is looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight. He has about 14 miles left to Dalton, Massachusetts.

12 July - 7:30 AM - Fever Free - Ron is wondering if the illness might have been caused by possibly contaminated water he drank at the Corn Crib on Mass. Hwy 7. He is feeling better today and looking forward to the evening festivities. 11:00 PM: Exhausted Hiker is in bed ready for sleep; he enjoyed a delightful day with Southside's family. Southside will take him to the trailhead Sunday morning.

11 July: - 9:00 AM - Ron may have had a flu bug. He sweat buckets last night and is improved today although he is still chilled and fatigued and not at all well. When he called again mid-morning, he was enjoying coffee and breakfast with Southside. They were en route to Southside's boat for a pleasant, sunny Friday afternoon cruise. Southside has invited Squire to drive down tomorrow to join them for a celebratory BBQ.
10: 30 PM: The Hiker is ready for sleep; he had a good day - but he is still chilled, a bit feverish, fatigued and uncomfortable enough he will have some blood tests in the AM for Lyme Disease just in case.

10 July: Lee, Mass. 1:00 PM - The night was painful. The knee required hours of massaging before the Hiker was able to fall asleep. The emotional turmoil left him unable to get back to sleep after awakening. No surprise then, that the day started miserably. There was no potable water available until the Hiker found a gallon jug in a cooler and poured a couple of cups into his platypus for sipping. He dragged himself out of camp exhausted but early - the first one up. He again missed a trail marker and walked an extra mile on the road. Plodding through the woods was tiring, but the hiker trudged on like a zombie with no energy and no enthusiasm. He was soon overtaken at a rocky outcropping by a hiking club consisting of older retirees. When asked, the hiker said he had started at Springer Mountain, Georgia but was giving up the hike since it had been NO FUN for so many miles. One of the club members offered to give the Hiker a ride from their trailhead to Lee, Massachusetts where Southside could easily rescue him. In his weakened state, it was not easy to keep up with this group, the oldest of whom may have been eighty. After crossing several roads they finally came to the cars and did indeed give Ron a ride to the Friendly's in Lee, Massachusetts. once the destination was determined, a call was placed to Southside who said he could leave immediately and be there in two hours. Ron found a banana split, a Fishamajig sandwich, and a friendly waitress at the Friendly's. Since it was approaching lunch hour, the Hiker left to lie down & nap in the nearby city park. Good lie, no nap before it was time to return to Friendly's to wait for Southside. It was a delight to see Southside's smiling face when he arrived. The ride to Warwick, Rhode Island was smooth and comfortable and Southside understood the situation surrounding the knee and quitting. Southside found clothing to fit and a very welcome shower and laundry were initiated immediately. Southside's wife, Pam, is another delight as was the good dinner at a nearby restaurant. That night the hiker was continually chilled and experienced night sweats that soaked the sheets.


9 July, 8:30 AM: The Hiker is en route with surprisingly low energy despite a very good/long night sleep; he asked for an infusion of coffee via cell phone - Silly Hiker. He is out of the edible chocolate-covered coffee beans which, unfortunately, don't provide useful caffeination. His knee was comfortable last night and the night turned pleasurably cool enough for a sleeping bag. After awakening at the first light of dawn, he fell back to sleep until 7:30 AM. By then the scattered campsites were empty and ALL of the other hikers were gone except Bruhawk and Magnus. The day was already very humid - perhaps contributing to a lack of energy. The next goal is to meet Southside at the Mass. turnpike (mile 1535.6) by tomorrow (Thursday) night or early Friday morning. Today he faces a steep ascent of 800 feet and then those torturous downhills ... and another climb of 1000 feet to the Ledges Campsite.
6:30 PM: more updates from the Hiker, close to Sheffield, Mass - and uncomfortable. His knee is complaining strongly. Today's hike was horrendous with two falls and many dangerous slips on steep, sloping, wet boulders. There were spots where a person could easily fall and break bones. The fourteen miles today were not fun. He is still 28 miles from the Massachusetts Turnpike. The nasty trail in Massachusetts was the final straw.
Thru-hiking the AT has been no fun since leaving Pennsylvania and Ron has decided to quit the trail. The trail itself has been no fun in New Jersey, no fun in New York, no fun in Connecticut, and now no fun in Massachusetts with worse trail promised for the rest of New England. The trail maintainers and routers have neglected or perverted their duties. Trails are poorly marked and poorly maintained. Too many times the trail climbs straight up hill with no switchbacks, crosses wet boulders unnecessarily, and exposes hikers to risk of injury gratuitously. These dangerous conditions could be corrected if the maintainers cared to do a little work. It appears as if NO ONE in the North wants to improve the Appalachian Trail into a scenic and interesting trail. It is now a risky extremist's challenge suitable only for day hikes.
On the other hand, the camaraderie of the hikers and generosity of trail angels and support of local people have been uplifting. Trail magic in New York was awesome! These experiences renew one's faith.

The hiker was exhausted miles before he quit today. Rumors said that there was a hiker-friendly gardening center at route 7, the Corn Crib, which sells ice cream, allows hikers to camp overnight, & offers some resupply. As Ron crossed road after road in this swampy part of Massachusetts, he pushed on for miles trying to get to the Corn Crib before dark. He even walked a half mile on a road before discovering that it was the wrong road. Unfortunately his daily snack supply was exhausted, the bugs were bad, and his energy dwindled. After dragging himself to the Corn Crib, he was so badly disappointed by the derelict business that he ate only one Klondike bar and one soda (for $3) before setting up the hammock in an abandoned horse stall and retiring for the night exhausted and dehydrated. Several signs proclaimed, "DON'T DRINK THE WATER," so even that necessity was denied. Camping is beside a large stagnant pond - mosquitoes galore. This was undoubtedly the worst camping choice of the entire hike.

It may not be possible to convey the emotions and disappointment that attended this abandonment of the thru-hike. Katahdin is the goal. Anything less seems like failure. Daily hardships and doubts of all kinds have been overcome for four months to hike the 1500 miles into Massachusetts. After all that dedication and sacrifice, it is hard to adjust to the notion that physical limitations and risk avoidance require quitting. The decision was easier after hearing from Spruce that the Whites had destroyed his knees and from Southside that Stride had shreaded her legs in falls in the Whites.

Papa Bear's sister-in-law, Lori, gave permission to add her E-mail to this blog:

Hi,


My husband is Papa Bear's brother. Dan and I have had the pleasure of meeting Ron on the trail twice now. Once at the Rt. 501 shelter in Pennsylvania, and just on Sunday, July 6th, at Cornwall Bridge, when we, unfortunately for Papa Bear, stopped by to pick up Mama Bear and return her to the rest of her children at home.

Ron looked and sounded great on Sunday, though he was mentioning his knee issues. He was very positive and upbeat, and very thorough in finishing up every drop of ice cream, even helping some of the boys who were too full to finish their plates. He didn't look too thin, just more like a lean, mean, hiking machine! Thanks for the postings. I treasure any mention of our nephews, the "Preacher Boys."

My husband and I were going to Boston for the weekend and decided to surprise them all by finding them on the trail on our way. That was when Mama Bear offered to come along and REALLY surprise them, by hiking with them for a few days. The look on Papa Bear's face when she came walking out of the woods was beyond priceless.

(It is a wonderful family - Ron's right!!) It is such a rewarding endeavor to deliver food and sustenance to thru hikers! Ron says you'll be meeting him soon. You must be so excited to see Ron! Thank you again for the postings!

Lori


8 July - Sages Ravine Brook Campsite, Massachusetts Mile # 1492.2 - 7:20 PM. The Hiker reports he had a very enjoyable day apart from monster-sized mosquitoes and microscopic food portions. Early this morning, he got a ride to Salisbury from a house painter (female) arriving about 7:30 AM with nary a cup of coffee to be found. Nothing was open. By the time the Bistro opened he was mighty hungry - but disappointed to find the portions "challenged." He ate a cinnamon sticky bun (little bitty but good), Burrito (minuscule) and a piece of blueberry cobbler with two malnourished scoops of ice cream and drank two cups of coffee. Papa Bear showed up but he had already purchased groceries so they had another cup of coffee and a doughnut with crisp edges outside the Bistro until the owner politely asked them to move because they were not eating Bistro food. Later, Ron spent quite a bit of time talking with Kat and on the way out of town Pineknot waved at him.
since she was clean & dressed in town clothes, he did not recognize her initially, but they spoke for quite a while, too. Ron said she has the same questions he does, "Why am I doing this? Why are the trails so unnecessarily difficult in New England for thru-hikers?" Just as he was fully resupplied, packed up and headed out of town, another woman waved at him. Upon visiting with her, he realized it was Maria (of Maria's Hostel fame - a highly recommended site for hikers). He spent about 2-3 hours talking to her, "She is quite a dear," he said, " taking in about 100 hikers a year for the past 8 years - at $35.00 a night to pay for her insurance." Listening to his description of the conversations reminded me that he is "quite a dear," so very gifted at making people happy they met him - and they don't forget him, either.

Ron was delighted to hear Papa Bear's sister-in-law, Lori, sent a thank-you email to me for including blog updates about her nephews. Her firsthand report about the Hiker's condition was really appreciated: "Happy, positive, upbeat, not too thin, but a lean, mean hiking machine." He enjoyed hearing that description!

The Hiker has a theory he is testing about why he was able to make 20 miles so easily yesterday, albeit, not pain-free last night. His "test" is to go very slow on the downhills and faster on the uphills and level places. Yesterday he encountered a lot more uphills and level places, hence good mileage. His knee was mostly comfortable today.

7 July - Salisbury, CT - Evening Update - The Hiker is in his hammock near the Falls just outside Salisbury with a trillion million zillion sixty three mosquitoes covering the netting. He is shifting to many different positions because his knee is so painful- and he is plotting a letter to the AT Conservancy saying, "The poorly maintained PA, NY and CT trails are a piece of @#$!!." He commented, "The last three days have not been fun with this sore knee." Otherwise the 20 mile day was good: When he left camp early this morning Papa Bear and his boys were behind him. About 1:30 he stopped at the Mountain Inn Cafe for scrambled eggs, blueberry pancakes and apple pie a la mode. Hammerdown, Scooter, Jessee and Nighttime appeared just as the food was arriving. Later, Papa Bear and his boys arrived outside of town; they walked down to the water falls. Ron said that the falls are very nice - but not as pretty as the falls we enjoyed in Virginia. When he left the falls, the Preacher Boys were swimming in the pond.

Good news: Updating the blog is dependent on Ron's cell phone calls to me; we have been rationing weekday minutes because he is back to the contracted allotment - this proved challenging until today: I changed to Ron's cell phone service provider allowing for unlimited mobile to mobile he calls unlimited smooch time.


7 July - Hiker was lost - with no cell phone signal (yesterday). No cell phone calls means I receive no updates for this blog. The white blazes are not well-marked; he took a turn into a woods, seeing no more white blazes he retraced his steps and walked towards a highway. A runner gave him a ride in her vehicle to the grocery store and deli in Cornwall; he ate heartily and encountered Papa and Mama Bear and the Preacher's Boys just as he was leaving. He hiked with them to their campsite for the afternoon, across the Housatonic River that had high water - the rocks were underwater and he got his new boots wet. The Bear family fed the Hiker subs and ice cream: and he ate it ALL UP! The Hiker described a photo of Mama Bear surrounded by her family as having the most beatific smile he has ever seen - and he commented, "Papa Bear must be doing something right." Later, he read Papa Bear's journal entry, "the most beautiful woman in the world is coming out of the woods," and Ron figured out what Papa Bear is doing right!!!!! Ron's knee was troublesome when he tried to fall asleep last night - so he is hiking slow today. He will try to get an earlier start in the mornings and hike more slowly. It seems the faster pace is problematic. If he makes it to Salisbury, CT by tonight or early morning - he should make it to the Mass. Turnpike - to meet Southside - in four days. I Discovered some protein powder (590 calories a drink) to mail to a hiker PO drop to help with the huge weight loss he is experiencing. (photo West Cornwall Bridge - Rick Bennette).

6 July - 8:00 AM - .09 miles to Cornwall Bridge. Hiker had a painful knee last night that kept him awake for a long time. The knee seems somewhat improved this AM as he continues hiking close to Cornwall Bridge - hoping to get a ride into town for breakfast. Cornwall Bridge does not look at all like the slippery, sheer rock he experienced yesterday. He talked to Spruce who said NH is very, very slow and challenging with knee issues. Spruce has not heard from Strides who has stopped logging in the journals... (maybe because NH rocks are so overwhelming). Hope this Hiker moves slowly enough the knee heals again before NH. He is 29 miles (two days) from Massachusetts which has 90 miles of AT.

5 July - 10:00 AM - Hiker slept until ten because it was raining. At 12:00 noon - he was packed up and hiking - the rain had ceased - but the rocks are wet and slippery. His knee is hurting again. About 1:30 PM - he reached CT HWY 341 at Kent, CT. He put down the back-pack about the time a car pulled up offering a ride into Kent; the driver was quite astounded to learn that the Hiker walked from Springer Mountain, GA and was en route to Maine. The driver took him to the grocery store where Ron spotted a couple hikers (did not catch their names); they went to a restaurant for an expensive turkey sub and blueberry pie ala mode with two scoops of ice cream ($13.00). Ron got a ride back to the trail head and was en route again by 3:45 PM; at 6:30 PM - he is close to Stewart Hollow Brook Lean-To Shelter where he will may overnight. He has hiked 10-12 miles today - moving slow because of the earlier rain, slippery rock and very, very rough terrain.

A BEARY Happy Fourth of July...Ron walked from the AT to Matthew's house in NY state late afternoon yesterday. He enjoyed meeting Matthew's father, stepmother and siblings, eating ice cream and watching fireworks last night. Ron and Matthew previously hiked together on the NC/AT in April; Matthew is hiking with him today as they crossed the NY/CT border and taking photos of the Hiker smooching on the cell phone. Later - 8:30 PM - Matthew has gone home; the Hiker is tired after a 15 mile day and ready to make camp as soon as it is dark.

3 July - 7:30 AM - 18 Miles to CT - the Hiker enjoyed yesterday afternoon with Papa Bear and the Preacher Boys; later he treated them to pizza, root beer, a half gallon of orange juice and three half gallons of ice cream. They were joined by PineKnot who stopped for local medical treatment of Lyme disease (lifeguards recognized her rash - symptomatic of tick bites, a hiking hazard). The group moaned and groaned after overeating ... and even left some ice cream uneaten, alas and alack, until Elvis came to the rescue: Elvis Trailsley, that is... a trail maintenance man, who scooped up the remaining ice cream. Today: the hikers had an early start - Papa Bear and his cubs are about an hour ahead of Grandpa Shakedown. Ron spoke with Matthew and hopes to see him yet tonight. He contacted Southside about meeting at a convenient place near the Mass. Turnpike (three or four days hence). And it was good to learn that the guys he hiked with early on the trail (Squire, Spire, Spruce, Frog) are already in Maine - planning to reach Katahdin together. Marathon caught up to join them. "Is the Hiker disappointed to not be reaching Katahdin with the group," He answers with alacrity: "No, I am just delighted to learn where they are - and to have enjoyed my time." Such a Good Hiker!!!!


2 July - 7:30 AM - Mile # 1413: Five Miles to RPH shelter and water - 26 miles to Connecticut. Papa Bear and the Preacher Boys have been feeding the Hiker - good news. They found a package of hamburger buns at the Franciscan ball field (Graymoor Spiritual Life Center) and enjoyed eating the buns by adding peanut butter and honey ... YUM!!! Some food left but he needs to fill the water bladder at the next shelter. If he makes contact with Southside they will have lunch because he cannot afford to take another zero day for awhile - and he is planning to increase mileage to 20 per day; knee is doing OK. He saw Whitefish without Snake (doncha just LOVE trail names???). Snake got off the trail for a few days to spend with family. Saw Mangy Mouse... too. The Hiker is a lot like Johnny Appleseed traveling around the countryside planting seeds - albeit friendship not apples.

1 July - 9:30 AM - The Hiker is close to the Bear Mountain Zoo but it was closed. He enjoyed a leisurely morning sleeping in after several late nights. Off in the distance he can hear the sounds of a military training ground: boom boom boom! Papa Bear and the Preacher Boys came by earlier.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

AT Thru-Hiker NB - June 2008

30 June - mid-afternoon - Hiker is Hiking, Hudson Valley, NY after a delightful evening with Larry and Freda, friends of Ron's friends who picked him up and provided dinner and breakfast this morning. He had a good time playing "GO" with their daughter, Christina, and giving Christina's brother advice about becoming a computer geek. Ron is resupplied and he is in a very jovial mood atop a fire tower with a 360 degree vista that includes NY City. This spot is the lowest on the AT in NY State. He said that the thunderstorm did not develop after all - whew!

Bear Mountain Photos : http://www.nyc-photo-gallery.com/HiRES_Bear-Mountain.htm

29 June - 6:30 PM - Hiker is scrambling down a mountain side near a ranger station about three miles from Bear Mountain with a thunderstorm bearing down on him. There is a phone number to call for a pickup - planning to phone to try to get out of the storm and into a shower.

Early this AM - Mile # 1365 (from Springer Mtn, GA) 793 miles to Katahdin! Hiker is 1.5 miles from the next shelter where Papa Bear and the Preacher's Boys are observing the Sabbath, 13.2 miles to Bear Mountain - next resupply station unless he discovers Paddy O' and his Paddy Wagon on the trail again today. He hiked 5 miles yesterday despite the afternoon's indulgence. It was an interesting conversation - concurrent with the Hiker traversing "lemon squeezer" - a narrow chasm that one slithers through sideways with barely an inch of room - and "big rock" - an 8' high sheer climb with exposure. After all his ingenuity, grunts, groans and huffa's he reached the other side of both rocks and discovered there really was an easier route. And that pleased him thinking of Mrs. Baggins - the 4'7" hiker on the trail some days behind him. He is trying to get in touch with Southside who lives near Bear Mountain and has been off the trail since the end of May.


28 June - Inebriated ... NY - 9:30 PM -the Hilarious Hiker met a Trail Angel named Paddy O', an engineer and former hiker, (shortly after lunch time today) who brings a Paddy Wagon filled with cheeseburgers, etc., to the hikers - along with whiskey and beer. The Hiker explained the drinking thusly: "Drop a straight shot of whiskey into a glass of beer and chug it down so that the shot glass won't hit the bottom of the beer glass before it is all gone." Now do the math: multiply that shot/beer times five or ten and try to throw a rock over a tree branch to hang a bear bag, lose the hammock, find the hammock, set up the hammock, blow up the air mattress, climb into a swaying hammock from the bottom - all in the dark - while giving super-minutiae, not to mention amorous, on a cell phone at the same time.

Paddy O' was duly impressed with the Hiker - saying, "You are really one unique individual." To which the Hiker returned the compliment, "It takes one to know one."

Papa Bear and the Preacher Kids came by - and sang for the group before going on their way. Ron is so impressed with this outstanding family who call him "Grandpa Shakedown."
VERY few miles today! A whole lot of fun!

The hiker is hiking - or jumping - very-over-caffeinated and lively. He is uncertain if he will actually get to Bear Mountain tonight because it is 21 miles; he does not want to stress the knee which continues to improve in the new boots. And so the saga of the boots continues... ! His weight is down to 171 pounds (at Mayor Dick's house) despite eating every two hours. High school top athletic condition weight was 175 (a couple of years ago). He does not sit still, managing to multi-task even while conversing: reading trail journals, hiking, munching and smooching. Therefore, it is a challenge for the smoochee to get names correct. Familiar names in the current location journal: The General was there 6/22. Papa Bear left a Happy Birthday message (to himself - today). And to Papa Bear should you read this: Happy Birthday.

8:00 AM - NY State - (Trail Angel State!!)
Ron hiked about 12-13 miles yesterday - had a fantastic evening with John and Susan - Trail Angels - who provided a shower and sustenance for the evening. Six other hikers present: Frog, General Delivery, Sage, Sailboat are four of the names. The Hiker is helping John fill the Trail Magic Box with more cold water and supplies this morning; John will drop him off at the trailhead to resume hiking.

Hiker reports NY rocks are cumbersome to climb - challenging with his knee issues. But he has learned how to deal with the "hotspot" in the boot: after hiking four or five miles, when the foot starts to swell, remove one of the socks leaving only the thinnest nylon/polyester sock. He will try this measure today and the Pilgrim's Progress will be posted. I have serious doubts folks are really reading this stuff - but he says 'tis so. This is a test: if you read this blog drop a post card to Mayor Dick, Unionville, NY or E-mail: unionville@citlink.net and thank His Honor Dick for taking such good care of AT Hikers - especially the Hiker.

Bear Mountain is tonight's goal for resupply with a loaf of bread. We wondered how he will reach Killington in two and one-half weeks across a rocky NY:75 (miles remain), CT: 54, Mass: 90, and 40 miles into VT! That works out to about 17 days @ 15 miles a day in 19 days. Mebbe so and Mebbe Not! Depends on how much ice cream he finds en route.

27 June - 8:00 AM - 1 Mile from NY State Line. The AT zigs from NJ into NY and zags back to NJ where the Hiker camped last night; he is zigging again into NY State for 88 thru-miles - or five and one-half days - but who knows how his schedule will really play out. He slept good last night - arose at 7:30 AM to a rustling noise and spotted a yearling bear some yards away. Another hiker (very, very thin) walked by, too. "Where are you now? I want to know " - and witty Ron: "100 yards from where I slept last night - moving slow." He is encouraged the new boots are assisting ambulation." He plans to phone Southside and Matthew today.

Later in the afternoon - he saw Mrs. Baggins (sp?) - a delightful, spritely 4'7" 65ish year old woman Ron met at Kincora. I don't know if I have the spelling correct - but it is a play on a Hobbit character. Coming up behind her on the trail one sees only feet and a backpack. She hikes three miles a day - hiking for 45 minutes and resting for 15. Ron hiked with her to the ValVale Creamery for expensive, but delicious, ice cream. He only ate a banana split with two extra scoops of ice cream because it costs $8.00 a quart.

6:00 PM - Ron saw Lil Mak and Popeye "slack" packing (meaning they carry simply food/water); they reported having showers, air-conditioning... etc., and told Ron about a trail magic box ahead which he went on to investigate. Inside the styrofoam cooler were several jugs that had contained water - one left and some miscellaneous items like fingernail clippers. But it also had a business card from John and Susan "Trail Angels" offering the delightful opportunity of sharing the hospitality of their home for a shower and a meal. Of course, the Hiker phoned!

26 June - 9:30 PM - NJ (Ten Miles north of Unionville, NY) - the tired Hiker is in his hammock, ready to drift off to sleep after a ten mile hike; he did not get to sleep until 2: 00 AM (last night) because mosquitoes were buzzing bent on a bite of Ron (thin Ron: little flesh left!). He reports the boots are marvelous "made for walkin" but bothersome standing still. To remedy in-situ he wrapped the hammer toe & balls of his feet and removed a sock (he wears two pairs). He is also happy to mail five pairs of socks back to SC to decrease pack weight by yet another pound. He spotted a bear about forty feet away while setting up camp, but the bear seemed oblivious to his presence. Ron's sitz im leben was enjoyment of a very pleasant day... as evidenced below:

11:00 AM - "Munch Munch, Sip Sip - I am eating raspberry ice cream, smooch smooch, sipping coffee, smooch smooch and wearing new boots that hit my hammer toe when I sit still, smooch smooch, munch munch, sip sip." The Hiker will head North after licking the ice cream bowl clean and drinking the last drop of coffee; and then he will figure out what to do about the boot/toe issue. He thinks eavesdropping hikers are giving him a new trail name: smooch smooch. Later: 2:30 PM - six more hikers showed up at the restaurant offering opportunity for a second pint of ice cream, more socializing and more R&R phone smooches; he is now packed and ready to roll!

And from last night's midnight phone call: The town and the mayor pull out all of the stops for hikers: Ron was invited to Mayor Dick's house for a delicious dinner (night before last). His Honor has lodging for hikers, too. Ron enjoyed a zero day yesterday with a lot of hikers coming into the community of "600 souls." Twenty-five hikers, including Lil Mak and Popeye, spent the night at the mayor's invitation last night - great food: spaghetti and beer. Evidently the marathoners ("in running shorts "- a male observation) did not accept the invitation (R&R).

25 June - Unionville, NY - Hiker Picked Up by Mayor!!!! Ron was eating ice cream in the gazebo of the city park with female marathon runners in their shorts when Mayor Dick arrived on the scene; Ron was taken to the mayor's house!! Read the mayor's letter below: perhaps His Honor thinks Ron is a good prospect for increasing the city's population???

Welcome to Unionville, NY. Thanks for dropping by!

Our village is nestled between NY Route 284 and the Appalachian Trail on the southwestern edge of Orange County, New York. We share a common border with the Town of Wantage in northwestern New Jersey.

Presently we number fewer than 600 souls in about 200 households. Our MOST IMPORTANT PRODUCT is one that is increasingly difficult to find in today's America (especially in the densely populated northeast) -- A GREAT PLACE TO RAISE A FAMILY!

So, if you're a stranger driving on NY Route 284 or back-packing on the Appalachian Trail, we cordially invite you to "stop and sit a spell".

Richard D. Ludwick, Mayor

24 June - Hiking to Unionville, NY -10:00 AM: Ron slept good after a "bottle" shower last night - this AM he hiked 1/2 mile to the next shelter, ate breakfast, lost a boot heel and got some duct tape to hold the heel temporarily. Now he is en route to buy shoo-glue and duct tape from a general store in Unionville, NY known for its friendliness to hikers. He is hopeful that the glue holds until Greg and Donna return from GA next week and mail his other pair of hiking boots. If the glue does not hold - he will have duct tape to work its magic until he gets the boots. If all else fails, he may have to hitchhike to an outfitters store and buy some new boots. (Note: photo of the Hiker's bear hug below).

23 June - High Point State Park, 9:00 PM -10:30 PM: After a 21 mile day the tired Hiker revised this morning's story about the Three Bears (interspersed with smooches) while he set up camp, hung his bear bag, wishing he was at the shelter with a real shower and ate a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. "Just a peanut butter sandwich??? Are you getting enough food to eat?" Ron's response, "I carry 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of daily rations in a food bag attached to the backpack belt such as: dried fruit, trail mix, nuts like almonds, mixed nuts with a low ratio of peanuts, sunflower seeds, chocolate bits, raisins, peanut butter and bread. I eat a lot of wild blueberries and dewberries, too."
If a diner is available he eats a hearty breakfast, pie ala mode, everyone's leftovers, drinks a lot of coffee and is known to consume 1/2 gallon of ice cream at every opportunity. Translation: "bear"ly enough!
Earlier today: 9:00 AM - The Hiker is close to Hwy 206 traveling about 2 miles per hour. (photo from Ron's "Bankston Blog" http://bankstonblog.blogspot.com/)

This is the revised story of the Three Bears:
Last night he made camp in the woods - saw two bears yesterday and one again this morning. The first bear sighting was about 100 yds away; the trail took a turn and the bear turned off the trail into the dewberry bushes; Ron continued on downtrail past the dewberry bushes very ALERT - but did not see the bear until he rounded the corner and the bear was about 30 feet away. The bear had his back to Ron and loped off again. The second bear saw Ron and moved off the trail about 20 feet - turned to look at him but did not seem interested at all and left. Ron spotted the third bear about 100 yards away this morning but the bear took off. Did Ron's reputation for running down a huge bear to retrieve someone's food bag reach New Jersey bears??? The state's bear population is about one per square mile because there is no bear hunting season. When the bear population gets too large, or they get too aggressive, NJ hires professional bear hunters to control the numbers. Ron could send in a resume as a bear chaser?????

22 June - 7:00 AM -After hiking an additional five miles last night and making the usual phone calls, Ron hit the hammock by nine PM, "Somewhere in the Middle of Another Nowhere." He started hiking early this morning - with a 20 mile goal for today, a nice warm breakfast of egg, bacon and cheese biscuits provided by a fellow bringing food up to the ridge runners - and eating lotsa wild blueberries. YUM! 10:00 AM - Cell phone reception is better but it sounds mighty windy and he sounds mighty wet: "My ass is wet!" The short of it: he filled the water bladder from the creek, but he did not get the lid on right and it leaked on the sleeping bag in the backpack as well as the back of his pants when it was being removed to get fixed. Wet butt and all - he is on a ridge line with a 360 degree view of fog... more fog... and more fog.

(A water bladder is a water storage device that fits into the backpack - a tube exposed to reach the hiker's mouth. Ron treats creek water making it safe to drink).


3:30 PM - good phone reception. It rained this AM but it did not continue despite the day's forecast; the fog lifted providing a pleasant, pretty day; Ron is out on a ridge overlooking a lovely valley with a lake or river, not too many signs of human development. He had imagined New Jersey as being more urban. He is moving slow, took a nap, climbed the firetower for a great vista. The photo posted is likely of the Delaware River from the Visit New Jersey Appalachian Trail website: http://members.aol.com/visitnj/index.html

Ron passed a beaver lodge but found no evidence of the beavers (gnawed tree trunks). And he saw two snakes: a dead garter snake that had swallowed something and had some kind of injury - a black snake scurrying away - making Ron wonder if the black snake attacked the garter snake.

Mouth and Chef passed by - two younger hikers who recognized Ron's name from the Trail Journals in the shelters. Ron signs his name adding his faith affirmation.

21 June - Delaware Water Gap - Link to photos: http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/delaware-water-gap.html

8:00 AM. The Hiker arose early - feels great despite lotsa late night socializing. He and Whitefish had breakfast at the diner: Ron ate a western omelet and blueberry pie ala mode; he started back on the shuttle to the hostel to pack but jumped off to return to the diner to eat apricot pie ala mode. 1o:00 AM-back at the hostel: too-much-over- caffeinated-heading to the Pack Shack to catch the shuttle to Wal-Mart for re-supply and to the diner for cherry pie ala mode; he is delighted to see Papa Bear and the Preacher's Kids who sidetrack him with orange ice cream sodas, cake with two scoops of ice cream - thereby being too full for the pie. There is no laundromat in town; he had to wash his socks in the creek last night and it took all day for them to dry. He had hoped to resume hiking about lunch time but at 7 PM he phoned to say he had just finished crossing the Delaware River into "New Joisey" and discovered a beautiful vista he wished I was there to see. He may need to buy new boots after all - had not realized these were more worn than he thought - the rocks were very hard on them, too. (It is challenging to get all of the details exactly correct: the quality of cell phone reception coupled with the Hiker's huffa huffa breathing are challenging indeed. Fortunately he is using his vox recorder regularly - with plans for an AT journal (R&R).

20 June - 5:30 AM
- crossing a highway under an overpass - 15 miles from Delaware Gap. 19 rocky miles yesterday to the motel that had water - now refueled, fed and focused on knee that is causing problems. Perhaps sleeping wrong aggravated it. Later - 11:00 PM - at the Presbyterian Church in the Mountains Hostel (a free hostel for hikers). Ron is having fun, fun, fun socializing with the guys at Delaware Water Gap. Knee is better and the five pound boots are working marvelously. Saw a group of four hikers that included a 75 year old woman wearing a backpack and blue fingernail polish. Way to go!

19 June - Lehigh Gap: a barren wilderness created by zinc mining years ago. Hiked 15 miles yesterday until dark but did not get to the next shelter due to EXCITEMENT. Crossed scary, slippery, sheer boulders with one eye on ominous dark clouds headed right towards the Hiker. Neighboring mountains were beyond visibility; bolts of lightning, bellowing thunder bode ill will - and nary a branch to bind the hammock for shelter. Settled for a space/cleft in the rocks. And after all of that excitement, it didn't even rain; awoke to morning dew on the tarp. Lots of delicious blueberries to eat on the way up to Lehigh Gap - but uncertain if the few blueberries peeking through the rocks - having survived zinc poisoning up here - are safe to eat. Nineteen miles is today's goal - because there is no water between here and the next shelter - he will need water tonight. The breakdown before Katahdin: NJ: 74 , NY:88, CT: 54, Mass: 90, VT: 146, NH:161, Maine:281 = 60 days @ 15 miles per day. Allowing ten days with (R&R) in VT, he should arrive sometime early September.

18 June - Last night, after a short 14 mile day, the Hiker arrived in the Middle of Nowhere about dark - set up the hammock and dozed off in the middle of recounting the exciting events of the day: Left the shelter about noon (because he was obsessing about disorderly housekeeping). He cleaned the shelter, swept the floors, washed the picnic tables, etc. (under the guise of trying to slow down to fifteen miles a day. Its really OCD!!) At this rate it will take 300 days to get through Pennsylvania.The temps are much cooler now: 48 degree lows at night - and very windy. Good thing he bought a down -20 sleeping bag. Unfortunately, he got "the bends" this morning as he arose - but moved slowly and cautiously and is OK - sitting on a ledge overlooking a beautiful vista. Good thinking... if you are dizzy, sit on a ledge high on a mountain????? After this morning's earlier start he is headed to the next shelter 15 miles up trail. Later... 7:00 PM - he has just crossed the Lehigh River and an area filled with large sloping boulders with sheer sides; it is the first time he was really scared (R&R).

Yesterday was boring. Its a good time to brighten the blog by posting "the Hiker's Shorts" story: In the Beginning... the Hiker was delighted to find an extremely light weight, thin pair of off-white polyester shorts; they garnered a lot of attention on the trail from hikers who thought he was wearing skivvies. Not being the modest sort - and one who enjoys attention - he laughed along with everyone ... until one day he caught sight of his reflection in a store window with the sunlight streaming through the shorts. Ohmygawd!!!! The light rendered them transparent!!!!!! (No briefs under shorts on the AT... !) Seems he does have a streak of modesty: the shorts were left in a hiker box for someone else - but their reputation up and down the AT may preclude anyone from using them (R&R).

17 June - 8:30 AM - moving waaaaaaayyy tooo sloowwww. Still at the shelter - everyone else has gone. Shelter has electricity so both cell phone batteries are charged but the Hiker is not. Yesterday's 15 mile day seemed mighty lazy, too. Arrived at the shelter last night about 6 PM just as the 15 minute long torrential rain ended. No hail or electrical lightning, just a lot of noisy thunder. He met a father and four pre-teen sons earlier in the afternoon who were day hiking. The kids wanted to go home and play with their video games. They had no maps and no idea inclement weather was forecast. The Hiker hopes they got to some safe shelter before the rain started creating more frustration for kids, plus wet, cold and mebbe lost????

N PA is rugged, rocky and rough - Ron will move much slower with those heavy boots! He lightened the load in the backpack considerably even reducing a few ounces of items.

16 June - 7:00 AM - the Hiker is headed N with a 16 mile day planned if the forecast of 60% rain, hail does not materialize. At least the socks are clean and the heavier boots feel good for now. Pack is resupplied, Hiker refueled, re-caffeinated and really eager to be on the way. 12:00 Noon - he says he is moving slow - like an old man in the old new heavier boots that are too large from the weight loss. Four pairs of socks???

15 June - 9:30 AM - Leaving Port Clinton tomorrow morning; but this morning enjoyed another delightful breakfast with two families remembered from Daleville who were pleasantly surprised once again to learn their meal was paid for by the Hiker. This was a very lazy day - doing laundry was the biggest accomplishment - socks had not been washed in five days - phew! Spent the bulk of the day re-cycling (rearranging the trash at the shelter).

14 June - Port Clinton - Ron arrived at a local hiker's restaurant for breakfast at ten yesterday morning where they serve breakfast all day long; enjoyed an egg biscuit, stack of pancakes, plus apple pie ala mode - making it a good choice for this morning's breakfast, too, and likely to be the same order for tomorrow morning. Today, the waitress remembered his order; tomorrow he plans to say, "The Usual" to see if she will remember the order again. Of course, all the waitresses remember this outrageous flirt. Popeye and Lil Mak were at the diner. Ron spent the day and long into the evening having fun, fun, fun - socializing with familiar hikers - providing midnight and early morning phone updates. Padre (a RC Priest) is standing beside Ron in the shelter - along with Bag O' Tricks, a most delightful fellow, all waiting for today's BBQ and party for hikers. Nice to talk to Padre on the phone - a very special guy. The boots and vitamins did arrive. He bought duct tape for the newly arrived (really old) boots to keep them "mended" while going over rough, rocky terrain, and plans to toss the (newer old) boots that are beyond repair. Now, he has more L-Glutamine to take with the protein powder - supposedly between meals - but he says it is difficult to find between meal time because he eats constantly: hikers burn 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day. Ron noted that it is challenging to keep his mileage at fifteen or sixteen per day now; but he wants to keep that knee from complaining too much for arduous 900 plus more miles to Katahdin. He reports, "getting old ain't for sissies (R&R).

In the Evening: Ron enjoyed a delightful day with a second breakfast, too! More pancakes, lots of syrup - bacon, etc., cooked by the five brothers and a couple of brothers-in-law. This evening's menu was BBQ ribs, hamburgers and all of the fixins' - making for thirty well-fed hikers. Really enjoyed visiting with the Dutchman (Mark) - one of the hiker hosts. But the ice cream was cancelled because there was no freezer or electricity nearby to keep it frozen. Later yet, 9:30 PM: Ron has purchased ice cream and is in the car en route to the shelter eating on the way. Will he share???? (R&R)."

12 June- 501 Shelter - 7:30 AM, waited all day yesterday for the boots to arrive by Fed Ex; tracking record said they were delivered but Fed Ex called and said they were still on the truck being forwarded onto Port Clinton and later learned they have arrived. Enjoyed yesterday with a young Mennonite father (Papa Bear) and the Preacher's Kids (his three sons). His wife is traveling nearby with the RV full of goodies. Last night she brought ice cream, all kinds of syrups and cookies, for an ice cream feast donated by the boys uncle and aunt, Trail Angels Dan and Louise, cousins Ethan and Evan. This morning they shared their pancake breakfast... yum! Sixteen hikers slept in the shelter last night - it was very full. Everyone else left early with the exception of Little Mac and Popeye - Ron has been entertaining them - but now they are ahead of him; Papa Bear and his boys are behind him - all en route to the next shelter 16 miles ahead. He will get to Port Clinton on Friday in time for the BBQ, ice cream and perhaps even the internet: everything is good!!!! It will be even "gooder" with the right boots for the really, really rocky part of N PA!

9:30 PM - same day - five miles from Port Clinton: Ron spent another delightful day with the Preacher's Kids (ages 18, 16 and 14) who have invited him to share their evening meal. Interesting, too, is the image of the boys sleeping in hammocks "double-decker" (one hammock strung on top of another but at a higher level). Prior to the trip, Papa Bear was concerned that the boys would not be able to keep up with him... and now the truth be told: the only way that the boys can keep up with him is for the boys to slow down to Papa Bear's pace!!!! This is an exceptional family - and Ron is enjoying himself immensely.

Can you believe all of that ice cream????????????

11 June - 501 Shelter - 6:30 AM, The Hiker is Headed to EAT in Pine Grove. A good night's sleep was had by all - now it is breakfast time. And later at 8:15 AM: it is amazing what a whole pot of coffee, omelet, cherry pie ala mode, and a chocolate milkshake will do! Betty's Diner had good food. After resupplying at the grocery store - the library is next - to make a phone call to see if his boots have arrived. If they haven't arrived he plans to spend the day in the library (on the internet).

10 June - 8:15 AM- Ron is crossing highway 81 and the old Erie Canal having hiked 6 miles already this morning; he passed a very interesting old railroad bridge. After a good night's sleep he is in the usual jovial mood hoping to arrive at the next shelter with possible internet access this evening. 9:00 PM: 18 miles today - arrived at the 501 Shelter but guys were sleeping in the shelter and not a good time to talk. A guy showed up with Trail Magic: ice cream; he invited all thru-hikers to come to Port Clinton on Saturday to an all day cook-out with ice cream. So spread the word - Ron had thought he would be a day beyond Port Clinton, but the donor offered to shuttle him back so he could enjoy the BBQ and not miss the ice cream. The charitable fellow hiked the AT in 2000 when he was 19 - and now he and his brothers host an annual Trail Magic BBQ for thru-hikers (R&R).

9 June- The Hiker is headed to Rausch Shelter 15 miles from his sleeping location last night having hiked a good little bit already this morning with Jack Frost (trail name). About nine-thirty they were hiking across a ridgetop where it is nice and breezy. Ron was not the least bit daunted when he learned the day's temperature would likely hit 97. He said they would be hiking along the ridgetop most of the day where it is cooler - and the temps are forecast to decrease through the week to more normal temps by Friday. Cell phone reception was poor yesterday and it was not too good this morning either - plus Ron's ear piece quit working. What is so difficult about hiking across rocks, up and down 541 steps, using trekking poles and holding a cell phone to your ear at the same time? At least he has two batteries now - one is kept charged.

8 June - Hiking ON towards the N Country after a good night's sleep in a campsite on a ridge top. Yesterday was hot, humid and frustrating, but also fun socializing while hanging around for Fed Ex to NO SHOW. After a couple of beers, jambalaya and lots of laughter with hikers at the Doyle - Ron left Duncannon about 8 PM. Enjoyed a couple of phone calls - learning that another royalty check arrived from book sales and was deposited. Found the campsite just as night approached - put up the hammock and fell asleep immediately with a 6:30 alarm this morning. Surprised to see interesting vistas this AM from the ridgetop overlooking the Susquehanna River; it is particularly intriguing to see the river first on the left, and then on the right. The threadbare shirt (patches upon patches) is proving to be helpful rather than problematic: it is worn so thin that it is like wicking - besides its original purpose of being gold digger repellent. The good news is the mosquitoes have vanished with Deep Woods Off spray - but the bad news is the rocky part of PA is now appearing; finished a 541 step descent down to get water and that does not count the climb back up again with a water load! Three 15 mile days are planned to keep the knee from complaining. Night is approaching - he plans to sleep by a creek about five miles ahead. The hike has been leisurely and pleasant (R&R).

7 June - Duncannon, PA - arrived last night hoping for air conditioning, but the Doyle is an experience that is not conditioned. Open windows and a fan provided enough cooling after 11pm to fall asleep despite heat. I was able to Shoe Goo boots and wash all laundry by then. The blueberry pancakes for breakfast were OK, but hitch hiking to and from the grocery store for resupply was amazingly easy. Mail arrived with protein powder and ER bar, but my boots for walking on nasty Pennsylvania rocks have not arrived. Will see if Fed Ex can deliver boots to PAmoneypit in 50 miles instead. I lost a good shirt yesterday morning. No outfitter in town, but the ACE hardware store sold Deep Woods Off Sportsmen variety at a discount. Maybe the threadbare, multi-mended shirt will do after all - and the pack is lighter by 2.5 lbs after mailing more stuffs to New Hampshire (thanks Drew). The knee is telling me to stop these 20 mile days, so I'll cut back to 15 miles plus a daily afternoon nap. Life is good. I found great chocolate ice cream at a yard sale and 4 good flavors at the local ice creamery. I've waited all day to see if Fed Ex will deliver the boots, but now at 6 pm it is time to hike a few miles in the 90 degree heat. First maybe I'll order another beer and the jambalaya.

6 June - Middlesex, PA - Ron enjoyed a great breakfast at the Middlesex Diner: Spanish omelette, stack of blueberry pancakes - lots of good home cooked food and six cups of coffee to start the day's hike. Eighteen miles to Duncannon, more food and mail pick-up. Temps should hit the low 90's today through next week. Dinner at the Doyle was a good Jambalaya (R&R).

What is Jewelweed? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewelweed

5 June - Boiling Springs, PA - 6:30 AM: Ron's backpack is wet from yesterday's and last night's rains. Mosquitos were/are ferocious along the creek - but they lessened after reaching higher ground, showering in a spring and application of jewelweed over entire body! The shower felt so good! Mosquitoes lessened their attacks! Locals suggested the tavern is a good place for excellent salads; Ron drank two beers and ate a breaded chicken salad (it was good). Found a ride to Krim's (spelling?) with a very nice young woman whose daughter was graduating from high school today - he bought Ben and Jerry's ice cream - arriving at the check out counter at the same time as the woman who gave the ride; she offered a ride back to the trail head. 9:10 PM: in the hammock ready for sleep but it is TOO HOT!!!!!!!!!!! It is still 80 degrees! Please turn the AC up! Feet are hanging outside of the hammock to let the breeze blow but that helps so very little in these way above normal temps! Should arrive at Duncannon tomorrow mid-afternoon and pick up mail at Doyle's Hotel - ship out some items on ahead and some back to SC (R&R).

4 June-19 miles to Half Gallon Challenge Ice Cream Shop; that is Ron's motivation to arrive by 6 PM tonight despite having heard the ice cream is not particularly good. Tired last night after a 20 plus mile day - but enjoyed the excitement of a rain storm, thunder and brilliant lightning display upon arrival at the very nicely maintained Quarry Run Shelter. The freshly painted two cabins are under one roof with a picnic table between them; had a nice privy, and a bear box that sat outside with cute chipmunks playing nearby. Bedtime: 23 mile day -arrived in time for the ice cream with nuts and chocolate - not the best but better than no ice cream. Saw Little Mac and Popeye mid-afternoon taking a nap (heads on the picnic table) - (R&R).

3 June-Pennsylvania. Ron had a good night's sleep - despite heat - in a hidden spot off the AT. Slept in the silk liner for protection from mosquitoes and bugs hungry for flesh in the Deer Lick shelter, a view echoed by everyone who has entered their names in the trail journal at the shelter. 151 thru-hikers ahead on the AT. Considering the large number of folks on the trail, it means that lots of them are coming up the rear or dropped off the trail for various and sundry reasons. Heavier soled boots and chocolate amaretto raspberry protein powder are being mailed to the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA - the next stop for resupply. Evening location: HWY 30 where it crosses the AT - stream up the road with a hiker's supply nearby, service cans for thru-hikers and some coke left in Trail Magic boxes; too full from four scoops of ice cream and a meal at Poor Minnie's Diner. The pool does not open until mid-June - found some showers! Hurrah! Log signed by Little Mac and Popeye today. The General has not signed the shelter logs in a few days - guessing he is doing some 40 mile days in this stretch of flat-land (R&R).

2 June - Annapolis Rock, good vistas overlooking a broad valley last night and this morning - no connection to Annapolis, MD which is located on the seaside. Many picnic shelters along the way - some with showers, one had a pool - but too tired to get into the pool. Spotted Woods, Michael but not Heather. Ate two peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast along with various snacks; about to stop for L-glutamine break (R&R).

1 June -South Mountain, MD: A new month but direction remains the same: north to Katahdin. Should be able to make 20-25 miles a day through 30 miles in MD to the N part of Pennsylvania when the trail becomes very rocky. Dark storm clouds ahead - but they are not visible on the weather radar screen. Life is good at 11:00 AM Sunday... although Halftime may stop for a motel because he is feeling ill. Later: 8:00 PM - feeling tired after 16 miles with an hour left of daylight hoping to get another 3-4 miles in today. Still full from the huge South Mountain Inn Sunday Brunch with cute waitresses to watch while waiting for the rain to pass. Satisfied with today's progress: about twenty miles after planning for only 15 - hoping to catch up with the General or Little Mac and Popeye who are about two days ahead.