Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Breezing through PA

TDS is moving through Pennsylvania so fast, he hasn't had time to stop and update his journal or blog. Apparently, the weather has been cooler and drier, making for better hiking.

After completing a mind-numbing 34-mile day on Friday 6/22, TDS arrived at the landmark Doyle Hotel in Dunncannon for some well deserved rest. In case you're not familiar with The Doyle, it's an old Anheuser-Busch hotel that has never gone through any kind of rennovation in its 100 or so years. The Doyle's clientelle is almost exclusively AT hikers. It's a little rough around the edges, but it's a wonderful and fun place to stay on the AT.

More good news: TDS has acquired a Bell Yellowstone canoe from an outfitter in Ely, MN. Get this - they're shipping it to NY, where TDS will pick it up and start canoeing!

Hopefully, he'll be able to share some thoughts and reflections with us before embarking on the NFCT part of his journey!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mason Dixon Line

TDS has just left a message that after putting in two 20+ mile days in excessive heat, he has arrived at Pen-Mar park on the border of Pennsylvania and Maryland. This is also where the AT crosses the Mason-Dixon line.

Even though Maryland is one of the easier sections of the AT, it is still an impressive accomplishment. Marathon runners will do 26 miles in one day, but it's usually a pretty flat run.

In crossing Maryland, the total "ups" are something on the order of 5000', so it gives you an idea of the degree of fitness required.

Some great topo's of the hike through Maryland can be found here, if you're into that kind of thing.

Notably, this Thursday is National Nude Hiking Day. I believe TDS will be on a 18 mile flat stretch of PA that's mostly on rural farm roads, so it'll be interesting to hear if he partakes in the festivities.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Hello friends and the occasional reader.

From the Hostel at Harpers Ferry I type to let you know that I have officially reached the pychological half way point- Harpers Ferry, WV, mile: 1009. The real half way point is around Pine Grove Furnace state park. A great place. I remember it well. Pace realizing he had giardia and I walked out in a downpour to wake up the next morning with lymes. But Pine Grove here I come!

It is nice crossing a state line. I have been in Virginia since May 5th'ish. West Virginia today, Maryland tomorrow and Pennsylvania up the road. Some folks don't look forward to Pennsylvania. I do. No huge climbs, lots of great people, a few rocks, some great state parks and one state closer.

The roller coaster was real fun. Really. Thanks, I needed that.

My favorite hostel on the trail- Bears Den Hostel was a great, great success. Queen Diva was in the house and good times were had by all. We got to visit into the evening, past hikers midnight. This hostels' construction is of stone and was built in the 1930's as a summer home. It looks like a castle and sits on a nice estate just off the Appalachian Trail. While this hostel hosts hikers they also take many other guests who use cottages, campsites or the grounds. It was so great to see and catch up with Queen Diva. We had so much fun at Circuit Riders expense. haha.

Number 314. The number I was given at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy was 314. I was hoping for 356 1/2. I had no idea how many other hikers are in front of my until I began looking through this years hiker atc photos. I pulled the 2005 book out and reminisced as the faces of yesteryear reappeared. My picture in 2005 was not much different than this year. Well, then I had no facial hair. Now, I wear a beard that might get me into the band ZZ Top. It felt good to be back at the ATC here in Harpers Ferry.

Tomorrow, I leave with plans of getting through Maryland and to Duncannon pretty quickly. Duncannon and Palmerton are two PA towns I can not wait to visit. In Duncannon, a definite day or two or three stay with Pat and Vicky of the Doyle. Hey Trail Angel Mary! Can't wait to see you. Rob says HELLO!!!! Then to Palmerton- the friendliest town on the trail.

Last night I saw the biggest black bear I have ever seen. He walked across the trail in front of me. Not really walking, a little faster, kind of like he was skuffing his feet. Once he noticed me, he sped to a gallup and cut up the hill on a diagonal line. I could hear the rocks underneath him flop under his footsteps. He moved very gracefully and covered a lot of ground fast. I decided that an attempt to photogragh him would not only be fruitless, I'd miss him trying to set up for the shot. So I watched him bounce up the hill. Towards the top, he was catapulting himself up rock ledges. Very cool. These bear are very agile and fast and beautiful. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to observe this.

The temperatures are hot. Please send the Swedish Bikini team and the ice cold beer to: General Delivery, Attn: Totally Different Subject and friends, Appalachian Trail, GA to ME, 21740

More later. Good to be travelling with Not Yet, Mr Ease, White Crow, No Problem. Hunting Earthquake, Hungus, Rio and Hemlock. Waiting for Circuit Rider, Sherlock, Not Guilty, Scholar...etc.

Happy Trails and Love,Totally Different Subject.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

From June 12

TDS provided this update on June 12.

Hello from Front Royale,VA, Quality Inn.

The Shenandoah National Park was everything I wanted it to be. I was able to meander through the park from June 4 to June 11. In the park along the way I saw much wildlife, met old friends, ran into new friends, walked along beautiful trail, ate great food, ate alot of food and had a Great Birthday Party with friends at Big Meadows Tap Room.

I must say that no black bears made themselves visual during the park. While I did hear them at times and saw the red of their eyes while night hiking, no bear siting. No poisonous snake sitings. But I did see a skunk, several momma turkeys with their young, nonvenomous snakes, FLYS, deer, deer, deerl birds and of course hiker trash.

The days are getting hotter and we seem to wake up every morning with the same weather forcast- highs upper 80's with a 30% chance of scattered thunderstorms. A little rain fell during this part of the hike.

The sunsets and sunrises have been amazing and I have had the fortune of seeing many.
Some of my favorite part of trail in Virginia is the trail near cliffs. Being out on a cliff gives you a chance to see out, sometimes far, get the most of a breeze and sometimes just a break from the green tunnel. The cliffs have different flora and fauna and they all seem more fragile as they are more exposed.

At Lost Mountain wayside and campground Not Yet and Train rounded the corner as I was about to hit the trail. I hiked with both these guys back in 2005. Not Yet is hiking this year and we have been hiking since the Shenandoahs. Train is at home with his new baby girl. Train found out while on the trail then that he and his wife Crystal were going to be a Mommy and Daddy. Train, elated spent the next month or so hiking North before heading back to Virginia to celebrate the new member. We hung out the following day and did some trail magic for hikers and Not Yet. Matterhorn from back away caught up and it was great to see him then and through the rest of the Shenys. Earthquake, Couch and Hungus are several days ahead and its just White Crow and I here In Front Royale thinking about getting in the swimming pool.
Next stop Harpers Ferry, WV. I look forward to visiting the folks at the ATC and then getting on up the road through historic Maryland and then through, one of my favorites, PA. Palmerton, Duncannon here I come!!! Pat and Vicky, White Crow and I are innocent, we promise.

Thanks Granite Gear, OR Products, Etowah Outfitters, LEKI. Thanks Rob, Ricky and everyone else making this dream the best.

I am really looking forward to a quick break from the AT to paddle the new 740 mile historic waterway from Old Forge, NY to Fort Kent, ME. This endeavour ought to take 35-50 days, roughly... The excitement of this challenge is overwhelming me and of course the thought of water on these hot summer VA days...

Happy Trails,

Totally Different Subject.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Waynesboro, VA

Greetings Sports Fans! From Waynesboro, VA. Mile: 848.1.

The weather is warming. The humidity has at times been stiffling. The color green can be seen forever and always now. It is that time of year and we have seen some awesome thunderstorms. And yes, we have received some much needed rain in the past week.

Since Damascus, Spring really came out in full. Every day has brought new bird calls and sightings, more wildlife sightings and more experiences.

I arrived here in Waynesboro, VA Saturday evening. From Rockfish Gap (see map on right), we found a ride into town and began a break at the Quality Inn hotel. The town has a number of great resteraunts and for our first feast we hit the chinese buffet. Very good. Steak last night and some Hardees burgers in between. Town stops on the AT are great for getting the variety, the calories and nutrition I can not get from Little Debbies, Liptons noodles, granola bars, etc. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Little Debbies.

Many hikers are here resting. Hungus, Earthquake and I are heading into the Shenandoah National Park with Mala. He is going to slackpack and run some madness and mayhem. We expect White Crow and Couch to be right behind. It was good meeting Travelling Teacher, aka Star, who came up from Florida to hike the Sheny's. Nice seeing Dogs Life and everyone else.

While hiking in to Waynesboro I started the day off by hearing the rattle of a timber rattler from about 50 feet down the trail. Once we approached the sound we noticed a snake coiled, but docile. And the rattle was rattling non stop at a speed that would need to be clocked to determined. We got some great pictures and then left him. Later that morning I watched the longest black/rat snake I have seen cross the trail. He or she, was longer than I was tall. My guess is that the snake was 6.5 feet in length.

Later that day as I hiked North, I came upon a black bear who also happened to be hiking North. I'm sure if he could type he'd thank the trail maintenance clubs for building him highways. The bear heard me, turned perpendicular from the trail and headed off. I was able to get a little closer before the bear heard me and exited stage left. The bear ran faster than I could imagine, scary fast.

Lots of squirells, chipmunks, birds, snakes, bugs, flies, mice, deer....

I am not sure if I had mentioned but at Trail Days I finally caught up with White Crow. White Crow and I met in Duncannon 2005 and spent the next couple months hiking together. We hiked out of Trail Days together with Hungus, Earthquake. We had a great hike on a beautiful section. My favorite stretch in Virginia.

Lunch at Audie Murphy Memorial, overnight at Dragons Tooth (3020'). Dragons Tooth is a thrust of rock that from away appears to be a sharp tooth of perhaps a Dragon. We ran into Scarecrow there who thru-hiked in 2005. From Dragons Tooth we hiked past Johns Spring Shelter to McAfee Knob (3250') where, yes, I stopped to take in the wonderful view and a picture. The day ended at Tinker Cliffs. This is my favorite place on the trail in Virginia. The trail follows the cliffs and you hike in and around the mountain laurel. You have spectacular views of McAffees Knob from the cliffs. We cowboyed on the rocks, ate dinner and slept well. Coffee and oatmeal for breakfast with our sites on Daleville, VA.

The Blueridge Parkway awaited me and I was obliged to hike along this parkway. The trail parallels the roadway at times and often times we even cross the road. Sometimes the pullouts from the parkway have trashcans. And these are great because it helps lighten our loads.
Down to Jennings Creek (950') and then a climb up Apple Orchard Mountain(4225')left me breathless and completely soaked with sweat. But a good sweat means you are working, right? On top of Apple Orchard Mountain sits an FAA radar dome. It looks like a big soccer ball. It was nice to catch the breeze from up there.

From US60, (2065'), I had a big climb up to Bald Knob (4059') and camped several miles shy of Cold Mountain (4022'). I was then about a half day behind Earthquake, Hungus, Rio and Hemlock. So I pushed to the Priest Shelter the next day. With about 5 miles left I ran into Hungus and we went the rest of the way together. 2 miles left to the shelter (and we were planning on staying on top of the Priest) the skies opened and the rain came down hard and plentiful. Within minutes we were soaked to the bone. It felt good to be cool instead of hot. Within the hour the trail became a flowing waterway but the thunderclaps and lightning kept us moving North very quickly. At times the thunderclaps were so close I felt like I should be able to actually see it. Then the lightning came and the electricity could be felt. Hair standing on end I slopped through the trail singing Metallica's Ride The Lightning. This was as intense of a storm I have ever been apart of. We probably should have holed up somewhere off the trail on top of a thermarest...but.

The Priest Shelter (3840'), The Priest (4063') then Tye River (997') back up the Three Ridges (3970'). It was a climb all day getting up the Three Ridges but at the Tye River Rio's family left some sausauge egg cheese buiscuits and we enjoyed them with a Coke. It all helped!!!
Into Waynesboro, VA. Looking forward to the Shenys, Bears Den Hostel (Queen Diva) Harpers Ferry, WV, etc....

Thanks LEKI, OR Products, GRANITE GEAR, MARMOT. I am not issuing a buy recommendation on Montrails Hard Rocks trail runner shoes.

Thanks Rob, Ricky and everyone else who is making this a better trip.

It was great seeing everyone back at traildays! Teflon, Domino, Redneck Rye, Crash Test Dummy, Luna, Bama, Seeker, The Honeymooners, Hobo Jo and TBC, Chef Paul, Billville, Uncle Silly, THE SPOONMAN, BLUE, DIRTY EARNY, BLUE SKYS, PATCH, CLEARWATER, Lion Kingetc.

P.S. If you have not seen Lions King PCT dvd, you should. You should buy a copy or two as well. You will love it! If you are reading, send me a link to your retailers and I will post to my blog.

Happy Trails and more later!
Totally Different Subject