The End of a Journey

Date: August 6th, 2015
Day: 145
Miles from Springer: 2189.2
Miles to Katahdin: 0.0
Morale: 5/5

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About a mile from the Maine border, I was doing a little reflecting. As I cruised along the trail mere minutes from my home state I thought about the challenges that I had faced in my hike, and really the lack thereof. The Smokies were cold, but not that cold, I fell, but not to many times, I got blisters, but nothing debilitaiing, and most importantly I never really wasn’t having fun. I was thinking about how a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail seems like the most epic and daunting of tasks, and yet it had really been a piece of cake. Here I was, having walked from Georgia almost to Maine without any serious difficulties. As all of this was racing through my head, I arrived at a steep rock descent, and began down it. The first foot I put on the rock began to slip and I knew it was all over. Both feet went forward and I slid on my butt and pack 15 feet down a granite slab before getting caught up in a tree. After sitting there wincing for a bit I stood up and surveyed the damage. I busted my elbow open pretty good and had skinned my back and behind on the rocks. I took four steps around a corner. and was looking at the Maine-New Hampshire border. The trail reminded me who was the boss real fast, it has a way of keeping you in check. I proceeded into Maine with caution, realizing that there was still a long way to go, and a lot of things could still go wrong.

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It’s a good thing I wasn’t too cocky in the earlier sections if Maine, because they are the roughest on the entire A.T. I was greeted with metal rungs drilled into the rocks, and arrows pointing up the most harrowing of routes.

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I soon entered  hardest mile of the entire trail, Mahoosuc Notch. The notch is a boulder field in between two five hundred foot cliffs. The trail goes up, around, and even under large slabs of granite. The 1.2 miles can take up to two and a half hours, and even young, athletic, experienced hikers take at least an hour.

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How do you get around stuff like this?

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The trail goes through three caves, all three of which require the removal of your pack, and one of which requires a belly-slideas it is less than two feet tall.

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The next day I hit Old Speck, one of the last 4000 footers that I haven’t climed in Maine. It was the first view I got of Sugarloaf, and I was extremely excited to be there in a few days.

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I had excellent views of and from Baldplate Mountain, however that night began a three day rainstorm. I didn’t get many pictures during that time, but when the storm cleared I summited my home mountain of Sugarloaf and had breathtaking views from above the clouds. That day was something special. After descending from Sugarloaf down into Carrabassett Valley, I met up with some old friends (or young ones, depending on how you look at it). From ages four through thirteen I attended Outdoor Adventure Camp in Carrabassett Valley. When I was fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen I volunteered at the camp for a week each summer and when I turned seventeen I became a full-time counselor. I worked there for two summers, playing field games and taking kids on day hikes much like I had done back when I was a camper. After crossing the West Branch of the Carrabassett River, I reunited with a group of twenty-one campers and counselors. I knew many of the kids from previous summers, and it was a special treat for them to see me in thru-hiker form. Together we summited South Crocker mountain, and even made it into the local paper!

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The caption got my hometown wrong, it’s New Portland not New Vineyard.

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From the trail crossing on Route 27 I got picked up and brought back to the camp to do a little talk, and from there I went home! The next day I picked up Happy Camper and Euchre, two of my hiking pals who were a day behind, and we hung out at my house eating delicious home cooked meals. The next day we “slackpacked” the Bigelows. Slackpacking is a term thru-hikers use to describe hiking miles without a full pack. Because we were staying at my house again the next night, we didn’t need our camping gear, and just brought food for the day. It was essentially a day hike where we covered 16.5 miles of trail.

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During the slackpack we passed the 2000 mile marker, which was pretty cool, even if the sign was in the wrong place. We were really at about mile 2002.

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It was a beautiful day and we had spectacular views of the horns and horns pond.

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The stretch from Long Falls Dam Road to Route 201 was characterized by many remote ponds. It was a pleasure to walk around sand beaches and have a cool breeze to keep the bugs away.

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Just before crossing 201 is the famed Kennebec river crossing. Pictured above are two thru hikers taking the free ferry across. The river is eight feet deep and seventy yards across, so the ATC provides a free ferry for hikers. It was a unique and memorable part of the trip.

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Between Caratunk and Monson I was fortunate enough to be visited by this deer and her fawn. We stood looking at each other for a good twenty minutes before they went on their way.

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A taste of Maine.

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In the last trail town, Monson, I was joined by my brother. He hiked with me for the last 114 miles of the trip, the firsthundred of which are known as the “one hundred mile wilderness.” The hundred mile was probably one of the most fun parts of the entire trail.

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Being so remote and so full of water, there were multiple unbridged crossings. None were as formidable as the Kennebec, however the Piscataquis was fairly deep. I almost got my short-shorts wet.

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Getting this first view of Katahdin was spectacular. I had been walking for over four months, and finally caught a glimpse of what I was working towards and it was oh so sweet.

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Evan was pretty stoked too, it was his first backpacking trip and we were averaging eighteen miles a day. He crushed it though, and it was a blast all the way.

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He took some pretty good pictures too, including thus shot of me planning the next day among a little tent city.

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We successfully made it through the wilderness and I only had one day left, only 5.2 miles to the Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

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My parents met me at Abol Bridge Campground, and the next day Evan, my dad and I set off up the tallest peak in Maine.

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It was a steep climb over boulders and rubble fields, but it yielded spectacular views.

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Althoughit looks like a perfectly clear day in these pictures, the clouds rolled in as we got higher up, and we walked the last mile in a cloud.

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Despite the viewless summit, it still felt oh so good to stand atop that famous sign.

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My buddy Pacemaker was even there to enjoy the moment with me. We have been seeing eachother off and on since North Carolina. He started the hike a day before me.

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We were extremely lucky, and the clouds blew off for partial views after we had been up there awhile.

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The descent off of the mountain, though a bit scary in forty mile and hour wind, was a fun time.

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See what I mean about the wind?

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I have no idea what’s going on here..

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And that’s that’s a wrap! Thanks to everyone for joining me along the way through this blog! I might come out with with a few more posts, but we will have to wait and see. Until next time, Happy trails!

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Almost home!

Date: July 14th, 2015
Day: 125
Miles from Springer: 1897.8
Miles to Katahdin: 291.4
Morale: 5/5

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This is probably going to be the most fun-filled, action-packed blog yet. I wasn’t quite done with Vermont when I last posted, so let us return there.

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As you can see by the foggyness (is that a word?) of this photo, Vermont was wet. Very wet. The thru-hikers were all calling it Vermud by the end, I don’t think I had dry feet for a solid week. Although Vermont definitely brought it’s hardships, it also brought some excitement. It just so happens that world renowned ultrarunner Scott Jurek was attempting to break the record for the fastest supported thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail this year. He did in fact beat the record a few days ago, but he passed by me in Vermont. When he started getting close, I did some research on him and decided to purchase his book, Eat and Run, in Manchester Center. When he passed me I asked for his autograph, and got him to sign the book.

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I also got my picture taken with him, but it is on a friend’s camera and won’t be available until after the hike. It was a super cool experience and he was an awesome guy. I actually made it into a National Geographic online article about him, although they got the location wrong, it was in Vermont, not the Mahoosucs. The link to the article is here, but the quote from the article is: “In the middle of the Mahoosuc wilderness, a young AT thru-hiker stood waiting in pouring rain near a lean-to waiting for Jurek. “Are you Scott?” he shouted out, as he approached with O’Neil. “Will you sign my book,” he said, holding out a copy of Eat and Run”

I thought that was pretty cool.

In other celebrity news, I got to see Hillary Clinton speak at Dartmouth College in Hanover New Hampshire. Hanover is the first town in New Hampshire, and is where the state line sign from the beginning of the post was taken. I was hanging around in town with a few other hikers, about to head out when we heard that she was speaking later. We stuck around and gave her a listen.

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Seeing Hillary was not nearly as cool as meeting Jurek, but it was definitely an interesting and memorable trail moment.

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Aside from all of the celebrity appearances, entering New Hampshire meant entering White Mountain National Forest, which is generally considered the most beautiful and challenging part of the trail. Above is a picture of the ascent to Mt. Moosilauke, the southernmost mountain on the trail that is above treeline. It was amazing ascending up and watching the trees get shorter and shorter as I approached the distant peak.

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The descent from Moosilauke was even steeper than the ascent, as it generally followed the path of a nearby waterfall. Pictured above are three guys who I hiked much of New Hampshire with, Heavyweight, Blueberry, and Superman.

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Blueberry and Superman drank straight from the waterfall, it was crystal clear spring water shooting out of the mountain.

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Upon reaching the bottom, we turned around to read this sign, a warning to hikers wishing to ascend the cascades. It made us all feel pretty good knowing that we handled it no problem.

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After Moosilauke came Franconia Ridge. The two miles above treeline that make up this gorgeous section of trail are generally regarded as the best two miles of the trail.

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Looking back on what I came over.

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The night after walking Franconia, I camped on the summit of Mt. Garfield and caught this sunrise.

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Because you had to pay to stay at designated campsites in the Whites, I would often just pitch my tent in random places on trail and avoid the fee. I ended up with some pretty cool spots. This summit was one, but another was Ripley falls, a place I never would have gone had I not been looking for a tentsite.

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Walking along a ridge the next day, I was able to look back and see the falls way off in the distance.

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That white speck in the top half of the picture is where I camped,  and I walked by that parking lot in the bottom of the photo before steeply ascending to Webster Cliffs where this picture was taken.

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The next highlight comes from the Presidential range. Another long stretch above treeline, the presidentials include Mt. Washington, the second highest peak on the trail. Here it is looming in the distance as I make the trek around Mt. Eisenhower and towards Mt. Monroe.

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The White Mountains are home to the famous AMC huts, where people pay hundreds of dollars to stay in an unheated bunk room. The huts are kind to thru-hikers though, and I got to do work for stay at the beautiful Lake of the Clouds hut at the base of Mt. Washington. (The hut is known to thru-hikers as Lake of the Crowds, as evidenced by the people hanging out in front. There were ninety guests the night I was there). I did a few easy chores with some other thru-hikers, and in return we got to sleep on the floor and eat the dinner leftovers. It was a fun experience, and there was a pretty good sunset too.

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I charged up over Washington the next morning bright and early, and was on the summit at 6:15.

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The wind was blowing a steady thirty-eight miles an hour at the hut when I left, and was blowing a steady fifty miles an hour at the summit 1200 feet up. I couldn’t hang out long, but got a few good pictures of the sun cresting over Mt. Monroe and the hut.

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I also got this nice shot of the ridge I was about to walk that day.

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Most people know that there is an auto road where you can drive your car to the summit of Mt. Washington, however not everyone knows that there is actually a cog railway, or train, that goes to the top.

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It was a long but beautiful descent over Mt. Madison and along this ridge down to Pinkham Notch where I met my family for a zero day at my Aunt Jeannine’s and Uncle Peter’s house on Conway lake. It was a fun day and it was good to see my family again.

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Mt. Washington and the Whites are behind me now, and I am less than ten miles from the Maine border as I write this. It will feel so good to step back into my home state for the last two-hundred and eighty miles of this long journey. I am so fortunate to have had such fantastic weather through this beautiful stretch and hope my luck continues in Maine. Today’s quote comes from way back in Virginia. Famous trail maintainer and A.T. legend Bob Peoples is often attributed with the quote: “Home is where you hang your food bag”

I am looking forward to hanging my food bag in good ole’ North New Portland soon.

Bears!

Date: June 26th, 2015
Day: 107
Miles from Springer: 1651.1
Miles to Katahdin: 538.1
Morale: 5/5

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When I last posted I was just leaving Pennsylvania, and now here I am in the middle of Vermont. You know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Once again, lack of affordable places to stay with wifi and bad service has made the gap between my posts entirely too long. It isn’t all bad though, because looking back and reflecting on the past few weeks is actually quite nice. It let’s me re-live that section of trail.

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Suprisingly enough, New Jersey is a section of trail worth re-living. When one thinks about New Jersey, the last thing that comes to mind is pristine glacial ponds and senic open fields. The New Jersey section of trail brought both of these things, a welcome sight after Pennsylvania.

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Another thing about New Jersey is that it has the highest density Bear population on the whole trail. I saw my first bear here, a family of three actually. They were waltzing through camp without a care in the world. I later set up my tent virtually right where they were walking. In the picture above you can see the corner of a sign marking the water source.

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After New Jersey came New York, and it was far less senic than Jersey, however there was a deli at almost every road crossing, so at least I ate well. I’ve never seen more American flags on display than in New York. Every shelter had a flag, every summit had a flag, and there was even this 9/11 memorial painted on the rocks.

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A “big” landmark in New York was the Dover oak, the largest oak tree on the trail. The tree is 300+ years old and has a circumference of twenty-two feet. My trekking pole is four feet long, and doesn’t come close to spanning it.

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The trail in New York was annoyingly difficult. It went up steep boulder fields and straight back down them again. There was little elevation gain, and so no views really to speak of. The trail maintenence was lacking, and the trail was often hard to find.

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Here is a picture of classic New York trail. You can see the blazes leading up over the rocks.

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After New York came Connecticut, and also New England. If you haven’t noticed, all of these states were very short. The combined milage of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts is only about three hundred miles. The other thing about this section of trail is that each state got progressively better after New York. Each state got a little more senic, and a little higher in elevation.

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The trail in Massachusetts was uneventful except for Mt. Greylock, the highest point in the state. It had the first sub-alpine environment since Unaka mountain way back in North Carolina. I’m glad to be getting back into the northern states, with the spruce/fir forests that I was used to hiking in as a kid.

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Another thing that was nice about climbing a real mountain was the noticeable difference in weather. Atop Greylock it was blowing a gale and was much colder. It was a pity that the observation tower was closed for renovations, it would have been nice to get out of the wind and check out the views.

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The A.T. coincides with the Long Trail I’m Vermont for 105 miles, and so far it has been wonderful. I’ve been in sub-alpine environments every day now, and had great views all of the time. The trail is a bit muddy, however it is well worth it for the views.

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This is the view from Stratton Mountain, the birthplace of the A.T. Legend says that Benton Mackaye himself stood atop this mountain when he dreamed up a trail connecting the high peaks of the Appalachian Mountain Range. It also happens to be the “three quarters of the way done” mark. It was a great morning to say the least.

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I took lunch at prospect rock, and had this view of Equinox Mtn. And Manchester Center, where I am currently relaxing in a motel. Tommorow I will do as I aways do, continue north with great excitement, because the best is yet to come.

A year indoors is a journey along a paper calender. A year in outer nature is the accomplishment of a tremendous ritual.” -Henry Beston

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Goodbye Pennsylvania

Date: June 5th, 2015
Day: 86
Miles from Springer: 1293.4
Miles to Katahdin: 895.8
Morale: 5/5

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Back in the north at last! (Though I won’t feel like I’m in the north until Vermont)

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The official halfway point. It moves every year because of changes to the trail, so I am glad the ATC takes the time to move the marker.

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Upon reaching the actual halfway point of the Appalachian Trail, it is thru-hiker tradition to eat a half gallon of ice cream. There is no better example of the famed “hiker hunger” than a bunch of skinny dudes sitting around eating a half gallon of ice cream just because someone told them it was tradition.

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Everyone who I was with successfully completed the challenge, and felt pretty awful after. It was a strange combination of wanting to hike ten more miles because of the sugar high, and wanting to take a nap because of the sheer volume of food consumed. After eating a few fresh cut fries from the general store everyone felt fine, however I wouldn’t recommend anyone eat a half gallon of ice cream, it isn’t worth it.

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From the Pine Grove Furnace General store where the ice cream challenge took place to Boiling springs Pennsylvania was an easy twenty mile jaunt, and I arrived midafternoon on memorial day weekend to see a wonderful scene of people fishing, swimming and boating in the river. Boiling springs was such a beautiful town that I decided to take a zero day there. (I hadn’t taken one in four hundred miles and also wasn’t feeling so hot, at the time I thought because of the ice cream.) I stayed at the Allenberry Resort, an active senior community with sleeping quarters for hikers. It was an incredible place with a breakfast and dinner buffet, live theater (I did take the time to see a musical, it was fantastic), and a swimming pool with loaner bathing suits. I didn’t take advantage of the pool, however did get my fill at the buffets.

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The shelters in southern Pennsylvania were extravagant and well maintained. This shelter in particular had lawn ortaments, potted plants, board games, a covered picnic table, and a composting privy. I always stay in my tent, but this shelter was so nice I elected to stay inside. I had the shelter on the left all to myself and two other guys had the other one.

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Southern Pennsylvania was a welcome change. There were lots of walks through fields and farmland like the one pictured above. It was nice to get out of the woods for a bit. Unfortunately, once I got past Duncannon Pennsylvania, the famous rocks began. Pennsylvania is known on the trail for being very rocky, sometimes even being called “rocksylvania.” The southern half of the state was such a joy, that I couldn’t imagine what people were talking about.

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The trail often looked like a rubble field, and planning each and every step slowed me down to a crawl. Lately I have had a cramp in my neck from looking at my feet all of the time. Unfortunately there are no real views in this section of trail, and so it is not even worth the struggle of walking over the treacherous boulders.

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To make matters worse, it rained hard for two days in a row, making the rocks wet and slick. I had my first fall of the entire trial a few days ago, slipped on a rock and went right in a puddle. I was rolling around like a turtle on its back with my pack on, I had to unbuckle to get up. Everyone I was hiking with, including myself, only hiked seven and a half miles that day. Everyone had fallen at least once, and some had fallen three or more times. Pennsylvania was beating the crap out of us. The other thing about Pennsylvania is that the water sources are further apart, and further off trail. Sometimes I had to walk half a mile to get to a reliable spring. Some water sources were tainted as well, because the trail went through an area where there had been zinc smelting in the early 1900’s. The ridge was largely deforested and there were no water sources close to the trail for almost twenty miles. There were a few springs but they were a minimum of a half mile away.

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The bare ridge did give me one of the few good views of Pennsylvania, and it was pretty fun climbing up the steep boulder field out of Lehigh Gap. I also saw an interesting bird in the Superfund site.

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I’m not sure what kind of bird it was, but that white stripe on its neck swelled up like a ballon and it made the weirdest noise I’ve ever heard a bird make.

Tonight I am camped out behind a free church hostel in the town of Delaware Water Gap Pennsylvania. Tommorow morning I will walk into New Jersey, leaving Pennsylvania at last. PA was a good test, it was definitely the least fun state so far, however it was still pretty fun. I have been hiking with some good people and going slower to enjoy the ride. I can’t wait until I get to New England, but I have to be patient. One of my favorite quotes ever is: “Time and pressure makes diamonds” I know that if I just take it one day at a time I will eventually be in the gorgeous White Mountains of New Hampshire and then back in my home state of Maine.

Halfway! (Sorta)

Date: May 19th, 2015
Day: 69
Miles from Springer: 1022.8
Miles to Katahdin: 1166.4
Morale: 5/5

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The biggest ones’s done! Yesterday afternoon I finally crossed the Virginia State line. After five-hundred forty-four miles, Virginia was beginning to grow on me, however I am extremely excited to be moving on into the northern states at last.

There are only about nine miles of trail in West Virginia, and they aren’t even all in a row. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters is in Harper’s Ferry, WV. It is considered the psychological halfway point of the trail, even though the actual halfway point is a little more than seventy miles away. One in four thru-hikers who start from Springer make it to Katahdin. Nine in ten thru-hikers who make it to Harper’s Ferry will make it to Katahdin. The odds are on my side now, not that I had any doubts before. It’s time to cruise through some states.

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I have been seeing lots of turtles lately. They are pretty cute. Until next time, adiós!

A Big Update

Date: May 14th, 2015
Day: 64
Miles from Springer: 941.7
Miles to Katahdin: 1247.5
Morale: 5/5

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I’m alive! I know I know, It has been entirely too long since I have updated this blog. There are a number of reasons for my long hiatus, most of which have to do with lack of service. I haven’t been staying in hotels as much, and even when I have the wifi has been dreadfully slow, so slow that after all night of trying, my phone would finally give up trying to upload photos. The one time I did have the opportunity, I was down with the dreaded norovirus, and in no condition to post. We will talk about all that later though.

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I have walked almost five hundred miles since I posted last, so there is lots to talk about. Firstly, spring has sprung! The trail is looking greener and greener every day. Wildflowers are poking their heads out, and trees are blossoming as we speak.

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The picture from the top of the post is from the one quarter point of the trail. (It is so weird writing about this now, I’m almost to the halfway point) Goosebumps, a member of my trail family, has a selfie stick, so we have been taking group shots together along the way.

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One place I wanted to take a selfie but no one else thought was an appropriate time was this stream crossing. About a foot below the water was a bridge. There were a few nights of rain that flooded the river, and there was a detour (which we missed) around the washed out bridge. Being the team that we are, we lined up, each holding on to the person in front of us (packs unbuckled) and sidestepped our way across the river. I was in front, breaking the current for everyone else, while Shay, a former coxswain for his rowing team, called out when to step. It was a team effort and I am glad I didn’t have to take the detour around.

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Not too long after the one quarter mark was the wonderful place that is Woods Hole Hostel. At Woods Hole they have organic meals cooked from ingredients grown mostly in their own garden, free yoga and meditation, and massages available for a fee. It was like heaven on earth. We stayed two nights. The hostel itself was an 1800’s timber frame barn converted into a bunk house. They had hot showers and laundry as well. Woodchuck’s hostel was great and all, but I wanted to live at this place. The owners, Neville and Michael, took us to a concert one night. We saw Rising Appalachia, a group consisting of a congo drummer, a stand up bassist, and two sisters who could wail like no others. It was an awesome concert and I strongly recommend that you check them out if you like traditional music with a twist.

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We passed the largest oak tree in the southern aplalachians not to far after Woods Hole. Being the crazy man that he is, Blaze had to climb it. Another interesting landmark was the eastern continental divide.

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About seven miles out of Pearisburg, VA I stayed at Rice Field shelter. When I got there the fog was so thick that I could barely see forty feet in front of me. About a half hour before sunset, the fog blew away, revealing a marvelous view and probably the best sunset I have seen on trail so far.

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A few days later, I caught the best sunrise I have seen on trail so far. The most photographed place on the A.T. is McAffe’s Knob. It is a rock ledge that looks quite impressive. I had the opportunity to visit the knob during the day, camp out just past it, and hike back up in the dark for sunrise. It was an amazing experience and probably the coolest thing I’ve done on trail so far.

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“Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise.” -George Washington Carver

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It looks pretty cool in the daylight too, just not as impressive. 

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Unfortunately, about ten miles after McAffe’s  was when I started feeling the symptoms of the dreaded norovirus. Thankfully I only had five more miles until the Howard Johnson in Daleville, VA. In those last five miles I puked three times. Norovirus is basically a 24-48 hour stomach bug that is highly contagious and runs rampant in places where people are in close proximity. Cruise ships, college dorms, and Appalachian Trail shelters. I got hit pretty hard, but I didn’t have it as bad as some. I only puked twelve times in six hours. After that it was done. I took the next day off to recuperate, as I got dehydrated a little from not being able to keep anything down. I heard of some people who had it coming out both ends for a full two days. Those guys had to take almost a week off to recover. Yuck. Hopefully all of that is behind us now.

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The longest footbridge on the A.T. is dedicated to the memory of William T. Foot. Coincidence? I think not.

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After my sickness I lost my appetite for awhile. To entice myself to eat again I started packing bread, cheese, and butter. There is nothing like eating a hot grilled cheese sandwich while on the trail, it does wonders. Everyone one was quite jealous of my decadent lunches.

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Every hundred mile mark, someone takes on the task of writing it down in the trail. This eight-hundred mile mark was so nice I had to take a picture. It is fun to see how far you have come this way, especially when one hundred miles only takes five days. Because I took a day off with my sickness, I got behind everyone who I was hiking with. I have started doing twenty mile days trying to catch up. Unfortunately, the terrain is so easy that everyone else is doing twenty mile days as well. I have made little headway in catching up, but we have plans to meet back up again in Harpers Ferry.

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I entered Shenandoah National Park a few days ago, and man is it beautiful. The trail is smooth, the hills are green, and everyone is very accommodating towards hikers. The A.T. criss crosses skyline drive the entire time in Shenandoah, and so every other day I can get a nice meal and stock up on snacks at the Wayside Resrurants. I hope I’m not spoiled by the convenience of the Shenandoahs later on. I don’t need to carry much in my pack because of all of the food that is available, and managed to do a twenty-six mile day the other day. Of the last seven days, six of them have been over twenty miles. There is an abundance of wildlife here, and although I frequently see deer, I still have yet to see a bear on trail.

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That just about catches you up. I am currently in Luray, VA, about four days out from Harper’s Ferry, visiting with my cousin Lisa. We went out for a nice dinner this evening and will be checking out the Luray caverns tommorow morning before I hit the trail again. Lisa and Isabella are the first family members I have seen in in the last two months, and it is very nice.

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Holy moly. That was a whopper. In the future I am going to start doing mini posts or check-ins, very short entrys just to update folks about my whereabouts in between the bigger blog posts. Hopefully nobody will worry about me. I’ll see you in Harper’s Ferry!

Grayson Highlands

Date: April 19th
Day: 39
Miles from Springer: 542.7
Miles to Katahdin: 1646.5
Morale: 5/5

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Grayson Highlands state park was the most beautiful section of trail so far. Not only were there bald summits and views, but there were feral ponies everywhere you looked. We ascended Mount Rodgers (the highest point in Virginia) in the rain and fog. There were no views to be had, and we were worried that we were going to miss one of the most sonic sections of the entire A.T. The next morning, we were treated with amazing views above the clouds. It was the start to a wonderful day of views.

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The stretch from Damascus to Atkins (where I am writing from now) included the famous partnership shelter. It is a two story shelter with showers and pizza hut delivery. There were lots of hikers there, and we had a blast. We made the easy twelve miles into town in time to get lunch at The Barn resturant. The lunch was okay, but the dessert was delicious. It was hot fudge cake, two pieces of warm cake with ice cream in the middle and whipped cream on top.

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QOTP: “A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.” -Tim Cahill