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!