Friday, May 2, 2008

AT Thru-Hiker NB - May 2008

31 May, 3:00 PM, Crossing the Potomac; it rained frequently today, hence the late start. New hiking companion: HalfTurn; Ron has five days supply of food - hoping to make another six miles today. Restaurants are found frequently along the AT now through WVA; the food supply will not need to be large. Next stop is SOMEPLACE NORTH at dark. Harper's Ferry WVA was a nice place for R&R return hiking; interesting stone houses, historic landmarks and wonderful vistas. Good place to visit. Enjoyed the Blackburn Center, Bear Hostel and the AT Conservancy (R&R).

30 May, HALFWAY TO KATAHDIN 4:00 PM!!!!! Forecast: a quiet celebration of mile 1009. Fun! Fun! Fun! Former employer, Jerry, has been hiking alongside since yesterday morning after arrival on the AT by shuttle. The shuttle crew from Blackburn Center cooks meals for thru-hikers; they delivered a delicious spaghetti meal last night complete with pre-paid special order of chocolate almond ice cream. MMMMM! Happy Hikers!

27 May, 4:00 PM - Close to Harper's Ferry - AT Conservancy. Met Jim at a highway crossing the AT to spend time (and eat) with a delightful, fun guy who has a washing machine - besides living close to a Wal-Mart. Awoke very early this AM - facing another 25 or 30 miles to AT halfway point by dark tonight to meet him; but this afternoon proved to be a better time for Jim who was interested to know the most disappointing thing hiking the AT. The answer is discovering that the arteries may have cleared, body fat is next to zero - but endurance has not increased enough to keep up with young girls who are not really athletes. For an athlete, that is a disappointment! BBQ on the 28th with Jerry, Dave and Nick promises to be a fun evening. Will return to the AT in possibly two days to finish the 13 miles to Harper's Ferry and celebrate mile 1009!!! Yesterday was long - 30 miles - legs were tired. Saw Little Mac and Popeye putting up tent; they looked well-rested (R&R).

26 May, Ron is approaching Front Royal on 522 - exited park in middle 0f the same large poison ivy patch where the General was dropped off last Thursday; drank protein powder and L-glutamine- feeling good and strong. Life is good! Saw another adult bear this morning - bringing the total to six sightings in the last two days. Twenty miles yesterday. Ran into Pick Axe on Compton Mtn yesterday - and a fellow from the Appalachian Conservancy whose sole job is to hike the AT five days a week. 55 miles from Front Royal to Harper's Ferry which is the halfway point on the AT - probably roll into Harper's Ferry Wednesday. Jerry is planning to hike along side for a few days; Dave may pick up also (R& R)

AT is bursting with pretty young girls who hike FAST - hiking companion today was a recent college graduate who is planning to reach Harper's Ferry tomorrow. Great opportunity to hang with someone pushing so hard while also getting fed potato chips, carrots, muffins etc. Stopped for water once too often and lost sight of her; couldn't keep up. She and her BF are planning to hike yet another 12 miles tonight. Sleep sounds better with an early start tomorrow and hopefully will catch up to them again.

25 May, VERY COLD - awoke this morning at the first light - overlooking a broad valley awash with twinkling lights from a multitude of small towns - ten miles from the nearest breakfast location: a diner with fast food. Walked very fast - legs are tired and worn out. Saw a mama bear and her two cubs about fifty feet ahead - cubs scrambling up tree - about 40-50 feet high. Large mama was about 15 feet up. Very amusing!!! Later saw two yearling bears. Enjoyed kissing a buxom young babe when her boyfriend wanted to take her photo getting kissed by a hiker. How cool is that??? Battery charged last night - but poor phone reception all day. Now it is growing dark and time to sleep.

24 May, Big Meadow Lodge - 17 mile day yesterday, perhaps fourteen today. Shorter than the twenty seven mile days with Night Train!! Legs tired. Great hiker's breakfast but no ice cream. Overlooking a patchwork of farms - lovely vistas with red and gold leaves. Enjoyed HardCore, R&R, repairing and building new AT: working with Bob and Pat Peoples and the delicious meals - all one can eat: burgers, potato soup, spaghetti, salad, garlic French bread and ice cream (with leftovers the next day). Delighted to spend four evenings with the General and to see Matthew, twins, Joshua and Josiah (their parents, too). Dropped the General on AT at Front Royal to resume hiking. Learned that Marathon is about twenty days ahead - doing 18 days in the time it takes me to do 30. I am three days behind the General now - with hopes to make Front Royal Monday.

15 May, en route to Trail Days & HardCore. I'll be off the trail for ten days, but am delighted to be at mile 893 already. Looks good for finishing sometime in early September.

10 May, Waynesboro: A lot of familiar faces in the group of hikers who were shuttled to get resupplied, errands run - and lots of ice cream for an ice cream party this evening. Enjoying the camaraderie: Night Train is a computer geek, too, besides being a joyful, optimistic guy who likes motorcycles and constant conversation. He moves faster on the downhills while I am faster on the uphills. Heading out tomorrow deep into the Shenandoah National Forest.

9 May, Waynesboro, VA: pushed 28 miles today arriving about 9:30 PM. Night Train is pushing hard. This morning the food supply was totally depleted; we were hungry, begging food from other hikers before arrival at a shelter. Left the shelter earlier tonight surprising other hikers with plans to continue hiking on to Waynesboro. in the dark.

7 May, Wednesday AM - 28 miles to Montebello - too far to travel in one day. Had a hard twenty mile day yesterday. Night Train has to reach Waynesboro by noon on Saturday before the post office closes so we will push ahead pretty hard. Knee is doing very good. Pack is light - food supply is down with enough for one more day.

5 May, Monday, 8:30 AM - have been hiking two hours already - and yakking at Night Train who is a good hiking companion. Cell phone battery low again.

3 May, Saturday - Daleville, VA: plan is to go to Mill Mountain Coffee shop for coffee, pastries, and ice cream before starting the day's hiking.

2 May, Friday. Tinker's Cliff and McAfees Knob were again very scenic although the bear sighting and soaring hawks last year were extra special. Today became VERY long and tiring as the uphills and ridge rocks seemed endless. I don't know why the Virginia trail planners think we need to see EVERY single blessed rock in the Virginia mountains. Hugs and Furniture and I are staying at the Howard Johnson with Nighthawk, and we all went to Mexican dinner with Castiron & 6-iron. I drank only Burgundy wine to save my appetite for Private Selection (Krogers) chocolate almond indulgence ice cream!!! Kroger also furnished dried fruit, chocolate drops, nuts, peanut butter and bread for my resupply. I should be good for another 80 miles.

1 May, Thursday. Dinner at the Home Place was indeed delicious and filling: fried chicken, BBQ pork, green beans, pinto beans, cole slaw, spiced apples, mashed potatoes w/ gravy, lemonade, and cherry cobbler a la mode - yum, yum, yum. It was indeed a surprise to see Meltdown emerge from the post office with a package from his aunt. I haven't seen him since Uncle Johnnys. We joined Nighthawk and were later joined by Castiron, 6-iron, Hearts, HalfBrew and Tupperware.

A couple of section hikers had given the last few a ride from Daleville and shuttled Meltdown, Castiron, and 6-iron back to our trailhead. A good time was had by all (and everyone got fully filled). Twenty Miles from Catawba (and a barbeque dinner forthcoming): Despite cold and foggy weather, mood is very jovial this morning! Hiked twenty miles yesterday! Knee is greatly improved. Catawba is 43.7 miles from Pearisburg, VA - location a week ago. And Catawba is 100 miles from Waynesboro, VA - meaning I should be able to arrive in the Waynesboro area in another week if I can continue to travel at this Forrest Gump speed.

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