Thursday, August 2, 2012

A GUST of Energy: Hiking Continued

31 Aug. Fri:  Arrived in Lansing, Michigan mid-afternoon.  Nice visit with cousin Sharon and her husband Tom who live close to the University.  Marvelous meal at the U restaurant. But we missed the 7 PM ferry from Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee, WI.  The decision to take the midnight express ferry happened when Cynthia received an email from Kim Scholz that the band Boston was going to be playing on Monday in Tama, Iowa at the Meskwakie Indian Reservation.  Could not miss seeing MIT college roommate, Tom Scholz and his band Boston!   The ferry ride lasts 2.5 hours normally but we were delayed because of an engine gear not operating to full capacity.  Fortunately we had a room at the Hilton Garden Inn (cheap rate!!!) waiting for us.   Nice moonlit night. OOPS !  It is September!!!!

Midnight on Lake Michigan

30 Aug. Thurs:  Nice walk for a couple of hours.  Don't remember any fabulous meals.   Thurs PM we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express west of Niagara.  Large farms along the roads; scenery felt like the US

View from room 2325 Fallsview Marriott

29 Aug, Wed.  Conversing with Ed K. while driving towards Rochester, NY led to the overwhelming desire to see my good friend even though he could not join us at a restaurant so we  pulled into his driveway and called to let him know we were parked out in front.  Arrival at the Fallsview Marriott on the Canadian side occurred about 10 PM since we took the scenic route (s) to Canada.  This time we were in room 2325 which did not have the proximity to the falls as room 808 but still wonderfully romantic for the girlie.
Ed and Ron - MIT buddies

28 Aug, Tues:  Farewell Vermont!  Farewell friends:  Okie, Owen, Murray, Patty, Bob, Pat, Patrick, Brogan, Jamey, Wanee; you will be sorely missed.  So, too, the trails we have trod in Vermont.   Our sojourn in VT is the longest stay since our travel together started.   The car was successfully packed and recycling done to perfection thanks to the all night work schedule; zooma, zooma we were on the road by three P M arriving at Lake George, NY by five P M.   From here, we travel across Canada to the Midwest before dropping down for Cynthia's class reunion, visiting friends and genealogy cousins.   We will work our way back east to visit sister Carol, on to Philadelphia,  then to MD motorcycle shopping before returning to VA for more hiking until cool weather.   December:  NE coast of North Carolina through Christmas.  2013: the goal is touring on that new bike and hiking in the Rocky Mountains.  We arrived at Lake George for a nice dinner and pleasant stay at a Hampton Garden Inn.  Cynthia was surprised at the very large bodies (male and female) in upstate NY.

Owen and Ron

Fabulous Chef Patrick and Ron with Irish Soda Bread

27 Aug, Mon: Cynthia had her days mixed up!  Tomorrow is departure not today.  Packing continues. Hiking continues.  We made it to the meadow on SP Trail (4 miles RT).  Spectacular views from the meadows overlooking Deer Leap Mountain.  Today's hike was leisurely trying to put the trail maintenance long-term memory (MEMORY???) so when we return in three years or so we can see if the work of the past two summers made permanent changes in the trail.

26 Aug, Sun:  Katie and JP joined us for a delightful dinner at Choice's; it is sure fun to see the enjoyment of hikers eating desserts.  It is the rare time Cynthia will order a dessert knowing that she can have a bite and give it to someone to eat the rest of the serving.  Cynthia went to sleep early while /Ron imbibed Guinness with Katie and JP until the wee hours.  Thanks to Katie for the photo of the finish to the 23 mile hike.  WHAT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!  We are HIKER proud.

Katie's Camera Captures Weary Hikers, Ron and Cynthia!

Photo Finish by Katie Sobalsky

25 Aug, Sat:  Cynthia's girl day at the beauty salon while Ron organizes the piles of boxes and papers flooding the living room.  Two hour hike on SB Trail.  We met a most interesting couple named Henry and MarGy at breakfast; they joined us at Choice's in the evening.  The discovery that Margie is a retired rehab therapist and Henry has a PhD in chemistry provoked some awesome conversation about Cynthia's swollen feet and calves after our 23 mile hike.  She showed Cynthia how to manipulate the lymph system to remove the edema.  

24 Aug, Fri: What fun is this??? Synchronicity!  An AT  maintenance crew was gathered at River Road where the Trail Magic was delivered this morning.  OOPS!!!!  Forget packing! Forget organizing!  Move over maintenance men! You have a new instructor/member for the day!   Zooma zooma!  Get the car back to Cynthia to take to the car beauty shop.  Rush back on foot 90 minutes to the workmen.  What fun is this?? NO FUN!  The trucks remain, a few new board "bridges over bogs" are built, but no crew to be seen.  Fooey.  A couple of day hikers with a car was willing to provide a ride back to the ILT.  Finished financial reviews, organized materials and recycling while Cynthia had to wait 5.5 hours for the car to be detailed.

23 Aug, Thurs: It is fall in Vermont: leaves are peeping.  The forest feels more open, sunlight filters to the forest floor, because the leaves are falling from the trees.  See the colorful leaves: artfully arranged by a certain Smooch Smooch.

Fall is a good time to shift into recovery mode.   A fast hike to the meadows took 36 minutes despite taking time to answer the most asked question, 'What are you doing?"  The answer is, "I am part of the solution and not part of the problem; so I am doing trail maintenance. "   We asked Patrick if that sounded too much like putting a trip on the hikers asking the question.  Some of them seem contemplative at the thought the trail needs care or stewardship.  Some say, "Good job, thanks, keep it up.'  One NY er said, "Why bother, let it be a natural wilderness."  Jerk.  Soon, the trail would  have NO trail.  The community of Killington is celebrating the recovery from Hurricane Irene a year ago.  The damage has been extensive.  Many people lost everything they owned.  A father and son lost their lives trying to save the town water.  People awoke the morning afterwards to discover a neighbor's house was gone.   Cynthia's HP hard drive crashed last night; it is now packaged and sent to Kim in TX for replacement.  Fortunately, Cynthia has a new Mac Book Pro with plans to switch any day.  Today is the day.

22 Aug, Wed:  EXHAUSTION.  Exhaustion.  exhaustion.  Sleep sleep sleep. Short hike  - one hour.

21 Aug, Tues: The overnight at Goddard Shelter in our tent was a great success.  The night was cool;  the down comforter kept us cuddled and cozy.  Cynthia reports sleep was delicious.  Breakfast of protein drinks and Cliff Bars filled the stomach, but not having that morning pot of caffeine to stir the blood depleted energy later in the day.   Cynthia was surprised with a diet coke; she will drink it at  room temperature.  Packed up, hiker chick in tow, we were ready for serious hiking at ten AM.  Cynthia reached the fire tower one mile out first;  she was near the top when the rest of the group arrived - surprised to see her so high.  The 360 degree view of five states was magnificent.  The NoBo trip to Kelley Stand Road was 12.6 miles accomplished in nine hours.  We celebrated our achievement by dining at Bistro Henry's once again but this time treating Katie and J.P.  It is dispiriting to return to see the Trail Magic cooler filled with soda cans containing cigarettes or to find banana and orange peelings scattered around the cooler.  Are the later hikers careless or just not caring?

Backpacks at Goddard Shelter

View of five states from the fire tower
20 Aug, Mon: Parked at Kelley Stand Road where we met Katie and J.P. , two delightful Sherpas, who carried the tent, sleeping bags and other gear once we parked their truck on Rt 9 near Bennington, VT for the 10 mile hike to Goddard Shelter.  The first and last miles were steep and difficult; the last one was especially challenging because it rained and the trail had a lot of rocks, plus we did not get started until 2 PM.  Katie and JP were concerned that we were arriving so late; they hiked back an hour with out tents and headlights in case we needed to camp further down mountain.  We finally arrived at the shelter about nine PM totally exhausted.  Cynthia fell asleep immediately once the tent was up and mattress pad installed.

J.P., Katie and Ron

Katie cooking upon arrival

Our "Home" away from home
19 Aug, Sun: Shopping for gear and a short hike:  a Nemo mattress pad, water purifier, matching shirts with bug protection and food for tomorrow's journey.

18 Aug, Sat: Plans Too Much shuttled us to route 7 to park the car before dropping us at Mad Tom Notch for the hike to Baker's Peak NoBo to connect to Wednesday's final destination.  Deja Vu!  Memories surfaced of Cynthia's harrowing adventure last summer getting turned around at Styles Peak; but, it was good to see trail maintenance had been done with white blazed marking the boulder that hid the trail where she was confused.  She was a great hiker chick clambering up that rock to the peak that was far longer and steeper on this side of the mountain.  Atta Girl!  We met a fine young man from NY who was interested in getting a shuttle back to his car from our parking area.  The hike to Baker's Peak was about eight miles.  We anticipated the blue blaze trail down to the parking lot to be about a mile.  Instead, it was close to three miles making a long day that concluded with a walk in the rain. We had a great meal at Bistro Henry's.

Ron trimming branches that last summer had blocked the view of the AT beyond/over the boulder.

17 Aug, Fri: A short hike through Gifford Woods to "reduce lactic acid in muscles" turned into a four mile 2 hour hike. Glorious day with marvelous fall colors - leaf peeping in Vermont has begun.  Nice new bridge across the Roaring Falls Creek but it appears that the re-routed AT trail will stay re-routed so the locals can enjoy the falls without interruption by hiker trash.   Nice to see some trail maintenance is being done; perhaps this is by the Forest Service?

16 Aug, Thurs:  Sherburne Pass Trail hike to the meadows - 4 miles RT.  The views are magnificent on this clear day.  The computer stuff planned for today was minimally accomplished.   Two weeks and we will be roaring down the road again with so many uncompleted tasks hanging overhead like Joe Btfsplk's perpetual dark rain cloud (Li'l Abner character).  The Wrangel formatting is finished apart from the Catechism (36 .jpgs) that were transferred into Paint and resized.  The Index is next.

15 Aug, Wed: "Plans Too Much" had a change of plans.  We dropped the car at Danby-Langrove Road where he picked us up for the shuttle drop-off.  Upon reaching Griffith Road he discovered it was impassable due to Hurricane Irene, not due to open again for another month;  so we were shuttled back to our car.  We could have hiked the gravel road two miles to the AT, but when Cynthia heard "13 miles" (two by road and 11 on the trail), her reaction was OMG, I can't do 13 miles!!!  Instead, we were dropped back at our car for an out and back trip to Baker Peak; 5.5 hours for the ten mile (RT) record breaker.  Great day for a hike.  Cool and pleasant.  Two hikers were skinny dipping in the stream.  He wasn't shy but she curled up in a ball.   Fooey!

Baker Peak View

Trail to Baker Peak

14 Aug: Tues: Zero.  We needed this quiet time before the 11 mile hike tomorrow.   Ridge Runner came into the ILT and lined up two Sherpas for backpacking us through the 22 mile wilderness.   Monday and Tues.

13 Aug: Mon: We dropped the car at VT 140 along with a cooler of Trail Magic on the trail;  Plans Too Much loaded us into his car for the shuttle to Danby Landgrove Road.  Pleasant, cool day; we didn't break a sweat until the steep climb.  The 8.5 mile hike was tiring towards the tail end as this is the third straight day of strenuous hikes.  It was fun to meet Ridge Runner (Caretaker of the Long Trail) and his cohorts.  The Trail Magic had indeed been enjoyed by hikers - especially the gum drops.  We ate at Little Harry's before shopping.  I went into Price Chopper for a few items and noticed the Dulces De Leches Skinny Cow and thought, "Cynthia has been such a good little hiker girl today, she deserves this ice cream." Then I saw the fat free Raspberry Sorbet and thought, "I have been good, too, and I deserve some Sorbet."  I placed them in the back of the car with more fleurs when I ran into Wal-Mart for a few more items.  When we arrived home, showered and prepared for bed, Cynthia said, "OH! What I wouldn't give for a huge bowl of Dulces de Leches Ice Cream and a huge bowl of popcorn."  She NEVER NEVER NEVER says this.  NEVER!  She did not see the shock on my face when I said, "Wait a minute!" slipped into clothes and ran to the car to fetch the ice cream.  It was not quite soup, but it will continue to get her giggling ad nauseum. What are the odds she would ask for ice cream the very night I (rarely) buy ice cream and forgot to bring the groceries in from the car?

Little Rock Pond with two snakes nearby

Homer Stone Brook

12 Aug: Sun:  One Year and Three Months!  Yellow roses and dinner at Little Harry's.  Busy, Busy, Busy - so busy we did not get started on our short four mile hike until 2:30 PM.  We have hiked part of this section before.  It is a steep elevation gain from the Park close to Sugar Hill Road to the white rocks about .02 off of the AT.   We saw one AT hiker.  We have less than 70  miles to the Mass border - met with "Plans Too Much" to begin shuttling us for day hikes to meet the goal of border to border.  Sounds like 22 miles is not a possibility since there are no roads that access the AT in one region north of Bennington.
View from the White Cliffs

11 Aug: Sat: Synchronicity:  The 75th anniversary of the completion of the AT on the day providence surprised us with the perfect completion of our last leg of the AT to the VT/NH border.  Oke discovered an article in the Mountain News advertising a hike from Norwich to West Hartford, VT with guides Heinz and Inga, a sprightly couple in their 80's, who hiked faster than we did.  Inga has had two knee replacements.  Heinz shuttled us back in his car.

Thanks to Linda B. for this terrific article about the AT 75th anniversary:

AT Hiking Crew (Heinz next to Ron, Inga far right)

  9-10 Aug:  Early morning rains cancelled today's hikes.  Work on the Wrangel book continued until 4:30 AM \, the tenth. a little sleep, breakfast with Sudoku and back to work re-paginating. It was not as easy as thought. Incredible dinner at Choice's!  Porchini powdered swordfish steak with lemon sauce, couscous with steamed veggies and raisins in curry sauce, MMMMM!  Marvelous

Last night we drove into Rutland for dinner at Little Harry's; severe flood warnings were broadcast via cell phone.  As we were getting fuel in the car Cynthia heard sirens.  Ron did not.  Cynthia  heard  America the Beautiful playing ad nauseum.  She awoke to the sounds of an alarm clock in the middle of the night.   It is called Tinnitus.  No wonder she heard air raid signals and Ron did not.

8 Aug, Wed:  The definition of "early" means when we finish breakfast and drive the hour plus to the trailhead.  Early was eleven by the time we parked in West Hartford, VT.   Frustration describes the  1.7 mile walk through the town to the trailhead with only a couple of visible white blazes.  Remedy: whip out the paint can and brush! Accomplishment is the word to describe the return hike through town admiring the NEW white blazes ... even on a brand new black iron bridge railing!  DispiritedHot is the word  for hiking in 88 degree temps.   Exhaustion describes the  7.5 miles RT.   Sleep is the ultimate remedy.
Pine Beetle damage.  note white blaze!


JOY OH JOY ... back to the car!

Norway Pine on Bunker Hill
 7 Aug, Tues: Joe Ranger Road SoBo to Thistle Hill Shelter and then NoBo about 1.5 miles and return.  Time is questionable with mandatory stops at wild blackberry bushes.  Distance about 6.6 through Norway pine, nature's artistry, trail maintenance making a visible difference on the return trip.   The berries are delicious.  It was quite amusing to run into Slim Pilgrim and others from the ILT.  We noted hostility from the owner of the "Stewardship" farm who left a sign, "Please do not walk on the field," but certainly had no stewardship of the trail by not trimming branches that obscured the white blazes. Sore throat continues.

6 Aug, Mon:  5.8 miles (Cloudland Road SoBo to view #2 and back; then NoBo to Thistle Hill Shelter.  It was very amusing to meet Slim Pilgrim once again.  Throat is still sore but better. 

5 Aug, Sun:  I am told this is a good day to rest, but a maintenance hike is a prerequisite. The Trail Magic cooler was dropped at River Road after the breakfast Sudoku; we trekked Thundering Falls for two hours.  Seeing the fruits of trail maintenance post heavy rain is incredible.  It works.  Dinner at Choice's in Killington was marvelous.  Sore sore throat!
Completed AT Guide Book, page 167

4 Aug, Sat:  The car was parked at VT 103; "Plans Too Much" dropped us off at Robinson Brook Road to continue this last 6.1 mile leg to 103.  Cynthia calls days like today ad VENTures!  Indeed it was.  Instead of taking the detour created by Hurricane Irene we decided to follow the white blazes like the big kids.  It is doable but not without obstacles like wiped out bridges:

AT Trail across a stream
The second missing bridge was over a much wider stream offering two choices for crossing.  Walking shifting logs did not seem appealing.  We crossed  OVER a 14 inch wide root ball of a huge uprooted tree,  down the other side, and then onto rocks in the stream.  It was a hot, humid day with slippery rocks that caused Cynthia to slip and fall mid-hike.  But the real excitement came 1.3 miles away from the car: lightning and deafening thunder roared above.  What to do?  The most treacherous part of the trail was between us and the car.  Shelter came under a pine tree, but just long enough to get into rain ponchos.  Rain and even light hail poured down sometimes making it difficult to see; having hiked that section we knew it was dangerous even dry.  Cynthia slipped again, twice, bruising her arm.  Seeing her fall was the worst experience of our hiking.  Even so, a good time was had by all of the survivors.  Today's hikers to be remembered: OverDrive, Slim Pilgrim. 

3 Aug. Fri:  Yesterday's plans became today's plans:  Phone call to"Plans Too Much", driver of a shuttle service for hikers; some of the roads do not have available off road parking making it unsafe to leave a red attention grabbing SUV parked on the road side.   The driver is a super nice fellow who picked up Ron at the drop off spot before getting Cynthia for the ride to the Gondola to the summit.  The hike was 6.1 miles down the south side of Killington Mountain to the Robinson Brook Road past Governor Clement Shelter where Mom (car) was waiting for us parked off the road in the shade. Very nice young man we met a couple of days ago on Quimby Mountain. He was so happy with our Trail Magic.  Wish I had more time to write about the trail!  But a bit:  It was very rocky, with big boulders, not well-maintained.  Lots of muddy bogs. Lots  of dirty water out of our clothing!
 A message to hikers and the AT Conservancy:  
Don't LOG the BOGS! 
The wood logs soak up water keeping the bogs continually muddy.  Instead, dig deeper drainage ditches and build water bars.  

2 Aug, Thurs: Plans changed when we had the wrong phone number for "Plans Too Much."  We spent the day with various and sundry tasks, feeding hikers lunch and some Guinness.

1 Aug, Wed:  Hiked from VT 140 SoBo to Greenwall Shelter - UP UP UP!  Nice family hiking together... imagine:  the girlies refused jelly beans.  Not dad.  They seemed to enjoy learning the benefits of trail maintenance. 

 Our goal for 2012 is to hike every day.  The hikes began in earnest (I mean March - the second week)  in Waynesboro, VT.  Apart from two brief breaks we have consistently hiked every day unless deterred by torrential rain.  Based in Killington, we have the option of hiking right out the front door after a rain since the trails dry quickly now that they are well-maintained.  The AT Guide Book 2012 (pg.170-179) has been hiked from Killington Mountain NoBo to Cloudland Road;  from VT 103,   (pg. 167), we have trekked north to Lottery Road and SoBo to Greenwall Shelter.  As our strength and conditioning increases, and the AT trailhead access roads are increasingly further away, the hike plus driving time takes up the better part of a day.

Hiking will continue in VT for another 28 days until departure into the fiery furnace, AKA the Midwest, for Cynthia's HS Class Reunion.  She is on the planning committee; we haven't a choice:(  After the reunion in Iowa we will spend a few days in MPLS visiting Sister-in-law Carol, plus some of Cynthia's relatives,  and return to Iowa to visit Aunt Eleanor and other relatives.  The goal is to hike at least two hours every day. In the heat, we hope NOT!  Perhaps we could rent local meat lockers and run inside?

AT Vertical Vertical Hiking

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