Yes, this is about to happen. Whatever happens in the next week will be one for story recounting for generations.
Watch this space
Yes, this is about to happen. Whatever happens in the next week will be one for story recounting for generations.
Watch this space
That’s how I’d describe my life. I just need to walk. That’s all, right? Just go 14 miles or so every day. That’s only slightly more than half a marathon every day for about 160 days in a row up and down big hilly things. That’s the only requirement. That you enjoy that. If you can then the rewards are great. You will overcome huge obstacles with friends, see views that will leave you awestruck, pinch yourself each day to check that it’s actually happening, eat whatever you like while binge drinking and always always lose weight, see so many deer so often it’s almost a cliche to see one leap a stream in a single bound, eat a pasta side with a 6oz pack of tuna, swear you never will again then crave said platter 23 hours later. These are some of the joys that lie ahead of you, budding young thru-hiker, you.
You have to do this. You have to enjoy it. If not you’ll be like one of the seemingly trillions of thru hikers that just dropped off trail recently in Virginia. I guess many can’t cope (“money” is also a common reason). Most of the day I watch rocks and roots pass through my vision from the top to the bottom and I move my feet accordingly to get to the next mountain. Think of it like a really high defnition shitty Wii game with great views (but 75% of my day is staring at the next 1-10 yards of vision. Though 60% of the time, it’s 1 yard, all the time).
Aside from that, I wake up, get up, pack up, eat up, tidy up, hike up, hike down, hike up, hike down, sit down, eat up, stand up, hike down, hike up, speed up, slow down, look up, look around.
Repeat as hiker sees fit. I love it. Just hike, laugh and smile at the shit the weather and geography throw at you, have the best craic, see great things and all in all love (almost) every single second. I’m now half tipsy from too many Yuenglings on a semi empty stomach and I think my underwear are now clean and ready for collection.
Geez. Well this trip is flying by as fast as the days in between my blog updates are. (sorry Nate)… I’m in Manchester Center, VT and staying at the Green Mountain house Hiker Hostel/5 star resort. This place is so nice and with your stay, you get a pint of Ben and Jerry ice cream!
I had a fantastic time with Katie and we hiked (a little ) then took a bus into NYC. It was awesome. We ate pizza, we rode the metro, we got lost riding the metro, we went to the museum of natural history, we walked the highline path (so nice), we watched two broadway shows, we ate pizza. I couldn’t have asked for a better time with my love.
Then she left. I was pretty bummed, and the walking was difficult. Not only because katie was gone, but because I did not see many people on the trail. It was as if all of the thru hikers hit the halfway point and started getting off the trail to visit family, to take breaks, to quit? I’m not sure, but it was kind of depressing.
After about 5 or 6 days of sucky walking, it was like all the hikers I’d been walking with crashed into each other for this big family reunion. It was really nice to see alot of faces that I hadn’t seen for so long. And everyone’s beards were alot bigger.
I hiked thru NJ. It was kinda nice. It was alot swampyer (is that a word) than I expected anything on the AT to be. It reminded me alot of the style of walking in FL and it was cool. I made it into NY and I loved that state.
The state parks were nice there, and Bear Mountain was really cool. We also walked thru a zoo that the trail passes and the bears den was the lowest elevation on the trail. That point was also where I saw my 5th and 6th bears! (in a zoo!) NY was also cool cuz I got to see some of my family. I stayed the night and got some good Puerto Rican food (finally).
Then I came to Connecticut. CT was cool but it sucked that they didn’t allow fires in the state.
Massachusetts was next and it similar to CT but alot cooler cuz we were allowed to have fires in that state.
I found a sweet straw hat in MA. MA was also the the first time I couch surfed on the trail (Google it if you don’t know what it is). We stayed with an awesome couple that were getting married and needed to pick a ton of strawberries to make hommade jam for their wedding. So we went strawberry picking!
And that takes us to today. I’m hitting the trail in about 30 min and it’s going to be so hard to leave cuz the Green Mountain House is so legit. I’m
Pretty excited to get to New Hampshire cuz that’s where all the cool stuff is at. I’m Happy to get back into the Mountains again! Everything in the mid Atlantic was really flat.
Fajitas for breakfast!
Seen as I’m having a zero day today in Wood’s Hole Hostel, I’m camped out back, everyone’s chilling out on the lawn in the gorgeous sunshine, some are cracking walnuts, some picking vegetables, some others are just heading out on a slackpack (where someone drives most of your gear further up the trail and you hike with just water, poles and a snack). The dogs are chasing sticks up the slope. We just ate a beautifully made mixture of all sorts of breakfast foods. Delicious!
I’m sitting up there in the shade
This whole situation reminds me of how dangerous it is out here.
Of course, the natural conclusion to such a scene. However, I’m pretty jacked on sugar after drinking liters of throwback coke and have plenty of time on my hands.
So I thought I’d fill you guys in on the err… dangers of being a thru-hiker! Mother and girlfriend, please look away now!
Not dangerous, they actually don’t even exist. How could they be dangerous?!
I haven’t seen one yet, so what you can’t see, can’t hurt you.
Most hikers have seen one or several by now. I walk at night, I walk in the early morning, sunset, all times of day but still no bears. I’m dying to see one.
Black bears are pussies, though don’t get between mother and cub is the advice you hear. Clack your poles together and they’ll go running. If you’re hiking the trail one day, you do not need a gun nor mace and people will find it funny/offensive you carry it/them. Just do it anyway if you like, you’ll send it home after 30 miles and wish you’d listened!
These ones actually worry me slightly. I don’t listen to music much out here, but I definitely don’t in long grass or in very rocky areas. Don’t want one jumping out and snapping my ankle without hearing the warning rattle. The bigguns are nothing to worry about as they’re wise, the smaller ones are the real danger as they don’t know humans aren’t a real threat and so use all their venom in one go.
I figure it just won’t happen and if it does, one runs to town pretty quick!
They eat your food and poop in your shoes. This happened to me 4 nights ago.
They’re not dangerous.
We stink, everyone has a distinct odor. It hurts the nose sometimes.
Another real danger. Don’t camp under a really old or dying tree. In 619 miles I have seen 1 tree fall in the forest down the hill from the trail, I’ve heard about 3 or 4 more fall in the distance and seen many many branches drop off trees. A medium sized one fell right next to me while I was taking a bathroom break!
The other day at 4am I wake up and moments later a huge crack above me and a crash as a massive branch fell through the canopy…. realizing in 0.1 seconds I didn’t actually check above my tent that night (arrived late and was tired) I immediately grab myself into a ball and cover my head. The 3 meter, 6 inch across branch smashed into the ground a couple of meters away. Needless to say, I learnt my lesson!
Always check above you when you camp!
Rednecks on Oxycontin
Very scary story where 5 hikers could’ve been killed by a nutcase redneck at Beauty Spot, TN/NC…
Heard the story from Tiny Dancer who strangled him with his hiking stick. It sounded terrifying but they gave it to him good once the gun had been kicked away. He’s hopefully going down for a long time!
Don’t ask them about it, I’m sure they’re sick to death of telling the story.
They can be vortexes that suck you in for days/weeks at a time and empty your wallets and dissolve your muscles and/or will. haha… great fun though. The first couple of zeros, beds in cheap motels are a great rest from the trail and will make the transition into being a sweaty stinky hiker an easier one. I needed this at the start, now I don’t. I haven’t slept in a bed now since May 1st.
I was never fast enough to take more than one zero at a time. I’m sure my wallet would be lighter if I had. Plan for a zero every 3-4 days for the first couple of weeks if you’re out of shape. Hiawassee, Franklin, the NOC would be a good idea. If you need more, take more. But for goodness sake take zero days. Your body needs them.
Basically the same as above. Add/subtract words as you see fit.
Hairy Barbaric Hiker Women
This one’s here for my thru-hiking friend Dan. He’s sitting next to me on a rocking chair on the porch in the photo above eating fresh homemade bread. (It’s hard not to have long winded descriptions here as so many awesome things are happening at once!)
He says they’re the real danger for his food bag that he hangs at night. You can usually hear the warning crunching of leaves on approach though. Forget bears and mice.
Disgusting. I don’t eat it. Even the people who say they make good trail mix. It still tastes like crap. It’s depressing and I want to vomit if that’s all I have left for snack food but I’m shaky and weak from hunger. So I don’t eat it anymore, there are plenty of other replacements.
Anyway, people only eat it because it has “trail” in the title, not the other way round. Now you know.
AWOL’s Guide Book
A controversial inclusion, I know. Friends and family, you may as well just stop reading now.
Let’s start with the positive, I was very pleased with it from Springer to Erwin and generally I am pleased with it. The profile gives you a good idea of what to expect, better than the ATC guide which just has elevation guides and key points (although more detailed info). Who knows what happens in between those points? So, yeah, that’s good. The town maps are pretty cool and it’s concise and clear. Good.
Now the negative, at times it really sucks. Erwin thru Damascus is just plain wrong on dozens of occasions. There are more times when it’s correct, but that doesn’t make it OK. I know water sources dry up and new ones pop up and there is a disclaimer about that in the book, the same with prices. I’m not talking about that though, I’m talking walking 18 miles when you only planned, had time to do 13 and were also injured so more damage was caused by the guide that says there is camping and there are just rocks for 5 miles. Similar events happened to me 3 nights in a row around Roan Mountain. Needless to say I was pretty annoyed about it and it caused me pain.
I know volunteers keep it up to date and I really am very grateful for his/her/their piss poor job after Erwin. Time to move over guys and let some new enthusiastic folk in. Rerouted trail after Trail Days with Bob Peoples is planned ahead of time, why isn’t it included as additional info when it avoids old camping and encounters new water?! A quick phone call is all that would be needed.
AWOL, get your book sorted. I’m sure this supplements your income pretty nicely, so don’t just rehash old profiles each year and pass them off as the new year’s edition. Here’s hoping the rest of the trail is more accurately represented.
I would still get this book over the ATC’s though. A little teamwork guys?
Yeah, like I said, jacked on caffeine and sugar….. haha.
Many apologies, mainly to Zach for not writing much sooner and more regularly. I’ve been finding my feet and dealing with injuries along the way and so really blogging has been about the last thing in my list of priorities….anyway. I have my hiker legs pretty much now and also I have found the stretches that keep my injuries under control.
I’m at 619 miles and I’m having a zero day at the lovely Wood’s Hole Hostel just before Perisberg (sp?). Everyone’s chilling out on the lawn in the gorgeous sunshine, some are cracking walnuts, some picking vegetables, some others are just heading out on a slackpack. The dogs are chasing sticks up the slope. We just ate a beautifully made mixture of all sorts of breakfast foods. Delicious!
The past 3 days I hiked 20 each day so I’m pretty chuffed about that and my body dealt with it just fine, no doubt I’ll be making it to Maine ahead of everyone else…. ha yeah right, but feeling kinda confident that I’ll make it all the way and on time now!
Anyway I came out of Erwin after the Trail Days festival feeling better and more confident that I could cope with the problems my legs and feet were presenting me. I got some great tips from doctors, other hikers and doctor Google and now can keep more or less everything under control (except the beard) and do bigger miles.
I’ve been on trail a little over a week in Virginia and have covered about 160 miles in that time. That took me about 18 days at the start of the trail!
Virginia is flat and easy. It’s basically like walking through a field in the Netherlands. Really, there are actually no hills here. Not even any slopes, or rocks for that matter. Everything people said was true. I can even see Harper’s Ferry from here. It’s a bit misty but it is about 400 miles away so that’s understandable. The biggest hill I’ve seen is climbing from a stream onto the bank.
So, recently I’ve been enjoying near perfect weather and near perfect views and places to hike through. The Grayson Highlands with wild(ish) ponies was amazing. The 20 mile day in 8 hours into Partnership Shelter was also a huge highlight. Plus many more. Get out here and do it!
Will be updating the blog more regularly as of now as I’m spending less time on injuries and more time on the hike. Stay tuned!
Sorry for lack of photos, Wood’s Hole only has limited satellite space and I can’t upload anything.