Friday, May 22, 2015

Late Spring Velo News

This spring, my eighth in Olympia, is the earliest spring I've experienced since moving here in late 2007.  We've had sunny, warm days--perfect cycling weather--since April.  For that matter, winter was pretty mild.  No snow whatsoever, less rain and even the occasional warm sunny day.  Combine that with a three-day work week since January and I've had plenty of opportunity to ride my bike.  The four day weekends give me a much better shot at taking advantage of the sunny, dry days which have a habit of occurring on weekdays rather than weekends.

Since I'm often riding twice a week my rides are shorter but the total mileage those usually totals around 35 miles, although last week I broke 40 miles.   Heading toward the end of May and I'm already more than halfway toward my annual goal of 1040 miles.  I'm still figuring out new, shorter variations of my established routes and have explored a few new routes along the way.

Today's ride was near perfect.  The temperature was in the high 70s with mixed cloud cover.  The early part of the ride was sunny, later on partly cloudy.  I started out in a light polypropylene shirt--didn't need a jacket at all--but changed to a t-shirt before an hour was up.  That makes the first time I've cycled in a t-shirt this year.  I cannot remember doing that in any previous year.

None of this is any assurance that warm, dry weather is here to stay.  After riding in my polypro shirt and just shorts for a couple of weeks in early May, I went out in wearing a jacket and tights.  I warmed up enough to remove the tights but it was a cooler ride than I had been used to.  As a rule I don't count on reliably warm weather until July.  Hell, in 2011 spring didn't arrive until July.   But this is not a normal year.  The governor has already declared a statewide drought emergency due to the extremely low snowpack--only 16 percent of normal--and we're seeing unusually warm temperatures.  The 10 day forecast has minimal chance of rain.  Again, not normal for late May.

All that said, the biking in Olympia has been great so far in 2015. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Trail Journal 05.21.05

At 5:18 pm on Saturday, May 21, 2005 I walked into the bar of the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, completing the last unfinished mile of my Appalachian Trail Hike.  I am done.  It's over after three--no, thirty-five years.  Instead of Red and Gary, Bev Carver, Norma Job and Pat Doyle walked were with me.  We shared a beer and repaired to the Purdy Motel to clean up before returning to the Doyle for more beer, cheeseburgers and fries. 

My final day on the AT was a mellow one, walking with Bev, Norma and Pat.  We returned to the trailhead at PA 225 and headed south on a cool, sunny day.  The forest was lush with spring growth and Norma, who is well-versed in plant identification, pointed out jack-in-the-pulpit plants, columbine and mayflowers.  The trail stayed on the ridge, offering occasional views of the Susquehanna and surrounding countryside which, like so much of Pennsylvania is well-populated with farms, fields and small houses. 

Met two thru-hikers, College Boy (who had an impressive amount of thick brown hair and a bushy brown beard) and Sleeping Beauty.   Together they call themselves The Bs.  A troop of Boy Scouts was camped at Clark's Ferry Shelter when we stopped there for lunch.  They seemed much more together than the troop I saw straggling out of Hertlein Campsite last Sunday.

The final miles took us down the face of Peters Mountain with views of Duncannon nestled on the Susquehanna's west bank.  We crossed the river on the Clark's Ferry Bridge and walked down Market Street to the Doyle Hotel.  The final mile was a quiet one for me.  None of the adrenaline rush of Katahdin, just the simple recognition that I was completing a life ambition in the company of friends.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Trail Journal 05.20.05

Rained last night.  A gentle steady rain.  I was warm and dry in my tent and did, indeed, sleep in.  Finally bailed out of my tent and into the shelter around 7:30.  Plodder was gone but Bed and Breakfast were still in their bags.  Made breakfast and began a running conversation with B&B about hiking and many other subjects.  They shared their coffee and cinnamon rolls with me.  In return, I offered to take out their trash.  Managed to get my tent reasonably dry in the shelter.  B&B were in no hurry to walk out in the rain which continued off and on throughout the morning.  They were still at the shelter when I left around 1:00, although the rain had abated.  The woods were a wet green as the trail clambers over some rocky outcrops.  The low light muted the forest color.

Met thru-hiker Snow Dog heading north from the Doyle.  Reached PA 225 around 2:30.  No sign of Bev and Norma in the parking area so I walked on to the pedestrian bridge that carries the AT over the highway only to see them drive under me.  They quickly returned and we had a joyous reunion.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trail Journal 05.19.05

Last night camping with unfinished AT miles.  Tomorrow I walk three miles, meet Bev and Norma and sleep in a motel.  On Saturday we slackpack into Duncannon.  Hard to believe it's almost over.  The missing miles from my 2002 thru-hike will be accounted for and I will qualify as an "official 2000 miler".  And for what?  Bragging rights?  No, it's just something that always appealed to me and now I've done it.  This year's miles are especially satisfying because I did them on my own.  So many of my trips--including 2002--relied heavily on my hiking partner Gary.  2005 shows me that I am fully self-reliant (insofar as any long distance hiker who has friends and family providing support can be).  As for today my leisurely 11 mile walk to Clark's Valley became 17.5 miles to Peters Mountain Shelter.  I did not like the campsites at Clark's Valley--way too close to the road and the spring farther south was a muddy seep so I just walked on.  Made decent enough time:  9.5 hours.  But I am way tired tonight.  Tomorrow I only have 3 miles to go so I can leave after noon and still make the road in time to meet Bev and Norma. 

Met more thru-hikers today:  Diesel, Mountan Dew and JR.  Also met section hikers Naked Ghandi (who took my photograph using a 4x5 camera), Plodder (VA-42 to Pawling, New York) and a couple named Bed and Breakfast (Harpers Ferry-Maine).  I'm even more tired tonight than last night.  Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Trail Journal 05.18.05

Lots of hikers today on the trail.  Met thru-hikers Chino, Jay, Chestnut, Mississippi Allen, Running Moon, Jukebox, PJ and Pacer.  Also met lopsided, Free Spirit, Strider, Phoenix, and Graham, all of whom are doing the northern half of the trail.  After so many days alone, it's nice to see people again.  Trail today was very pretty.  Passed through a sea of ferns lit by early morning sunlight.  Saw a deer bounding through the forest at top speed.  Walked across a beautiful 1880 iron truss bridge over Swatara Creek.  Just before the shelter at Rausch Gap I passed through an old townsite with a graceful triple arch stone bridge over a creek.  Not a bad day--13 miles.  I'm tired.  Bugs are coming out big time, especially biting gnats.  Found another tick.  Glad I have my tent.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Trail Journal 05.17.05

Back on the trail after a less than indolent zero day in Pine Grove.  Zeroes are never as restful as I want.  I usually end up packing an organizing gear, making arrangements down the line and somehow just not laying about the way I'd hoped.  Pine Grovels indolence was further reduced by having to walk the two miles out to the Econo Lodge and back.  No one stopped for my outstretched thumb.  Even had trouble getting out of town and back up the mountain. After a fruitless half hur in the mid-day sun I was putting on my pack to start walking when a car stopped.  The driver was an old friend of Lazee, the Eckville caretaker, and maybe one of the few people in in Pine Grove willing to stop for a hiker.  All that notwithstanding, the zero was good.I got two hot showers, three town meals and clean clothes.  I vegged out in front of the tube, watching hours of Roman history, slept well in a comfortable bed.  In all, it was worth the effort. 

Trail today was easy--only 4.1 miles, mostly along an old roadbed.  Saw a turkey pop out of the brush and disappear down the trail.  Man, can they ever move fast!  Met two NOBO's:  Easy and Orphan.  Also, a section hiker walking from Duncannon to Delaware Water Gap.  Sky was partly cloudy much of the day so walking was comfortable.

Later:  Looks like another solo camp tonight.  Seems so lonely.  At times like this I cannot wait for this trip to end.  Even as I write those words, thought, I know I will miss these days and nights.  This is beginning to sound much like the 2002 thru-hike. 

Also, today I flushed three turkey buzzards from Fisher Lookout.  Got close enough to see their red markings before they took off.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Trail Journal 05.16.05

Watching my clothes tumble dry at the Action Laundry in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania.  Today is a genuine zero day which will be spent mostly lounging in the Econo Lodge after a long, HOT shower.  Got in pretty easily-- a Pine Grove police officer commuting in to work picked me up within five minutes after I hit the road.  Nothing was open for breakfast so I resupplied at the market, phoned motels, got my food drop at the PO and found the laundromat.  It has Maytag Neptune washers with dryers stacked on top.  A funeral procession for a deceased firefighter was queued up on the street outside:  five fire trucks, including two from neighboring towns, waited during the service at the funeral home next door.  Not big by urban standards but still an impressive send-off.

Morning at the 501 Shelter was wonderfully leisurely.  Was awake at 5:30 but took my time getting out of my bag.  The porta-john service truck lumbered in while I was still horizontal--a noisy, industrial racket that ended soon enough.  The shelter was wonderfully bright--the skylight is a great touch.  I sat at a table for breakfast and leafed through an old National Geographic.  Today is a day of indolence.  I love it.