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.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Trail Journal 05.15.05

Pulled in at 50 1 Shelter after a 15.1 mile day.  Not bade walking, especially in the morning.  Covered the first 10 miles in just over four hours.   Afternoon was a bit longer and rockier, so it went slower.  Met day hikers from the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, this section's maintainers, along the way and again a the shelter whee they were having a post-hike cookout to which I was invited.  Hot dogs, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad and s'mores.  Yum!  Last week was lonely in camp so it was nice to have someone to talk to.  Shelter is great:  and enclosed building with bunks, table and chairs.  No electricity but it does have a huge skylight so the place is very bright.  Also has a solar shower which is not at all hot but felt good anyway.  I am at least a bit cleaner.  Met three NOBO's today:  T-Rex, Odissa and Boomerang, who is one of the hikers I met in Waynesboro when I was there.  Day started out overcast and humid but turned sunny by afternoon.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Trail Journal 05.14.05

At Eagle's Nest Shelter with 61.3 miles to go.  If this were Maine I'd be in the middle of that wonderful cakewalk to Antlers Campsite.  But this is Pennsylvania and I'm in the midst of ever present rocks, awaiting the onset of a thunderstorm which may or may not pass me by.  Warm day walking tut the breeze feels nice now.  Trail was pretty decent today--some rocks mut mostly easy going.  No boulder fields.  Which is good since I was feeling puny after too many beers last night.  Woods were pretty.  The understory has really greened up ahead of the canopy.  Some parts are a sea of green ferns.  Wild azaleas are beginning to bloom and I saw seven pink ladyslippers along the trail--two solitary ones and a group of five. the most I've ever seen in one day.  Will try for 501 shelter tomorrow.  It's a 15 mile day but I think my feet are up to it. 

Despite the repercussions from too much food and beer, yesterday in Port Clinton was all right.  It's a reminder that things work out and I don't need to worry so much about the details.

7:00 pm:  All is done.  Sky is spitting rain as thunder rumbles in the (not too) distance.  Rain is scattered but the air is decidedly humid.  I guess this means I haven't totally dodged the heat and humidity in Pennsylvania but it's still better than July, I am sure.  Starting to get bugs now, too.  They buzz me when I stop during the day and I have a few bites.  Found my second tick this evening.  Rain is coming down heavier now but I am snug and dry.

Also in Port Clinton the 3-Cs restaurant had a hiker register that goes back to 2002.  Not as many hikers stopped there as at Eckville but I saw familiar names:  Sloopy, Hoss, Uncle Jesse, Little Bo Peep and June Bug.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Trail Journal 05.13.05

Port Clinton turned out just fine despite yesterday's uncertainty.  Met Pokey, a woman section hiker northbound from Pine Grove Furnace to Vermont.  She filled me in on the options available in town.  Found a piece of Tyvek in a construction dumpster to replace my ground sheet.  Got breakfast at 3-Cs Restaurant.  Tried to catch the bus to Cabela's to replace my leaking water bottle but just missed it.  Hitchhiked with no success until Ray and Ralph, the two brothers I've seen off and on the past few days, picked me up.  No replacement Platypus bottles but I did find a pay phone and called Maggie.  The brothers dropped me off at the Port Clinton Hotel where I had a couple of beers and met Big Daddy D who told me about the bar at the firehouse where we drank more beer before a light dinner at Union House.  Now we are camped at the town pavillion.  I have all that I need to get me to my next resupply in Pine Grove.  Magic happens.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Trail Journal 05.12.05

In early at Pocohantas Campsite after a 12 mile day.  Only 3.7 to Port Clinton but I decided to do those miles in the morning.  Walking today was nice.  Day started out cool and overcast so climbing out of Eckville Shelter was pleasant.  The first five miles was an easy, easy road walk--almost no rocks.  The section between the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock was rocky in places but only had two stretches of boulders and neither was especially bad.  Dropping into Windsor Furnace was nice.  So was climbing back out.  I'm now exactly halfway between Delaware Water Gap and Duncannon after seven days of hiking,  I could probably finish in another seven days if I don't take a planned zero day.  That might complicate linking up with Bev and the others.  I could just walk shorter days but I am getting into my stride now and can easily go 10-12 miles even on Pennsylvania rocks.  I'll just have to figure it out.

Met no thru-hikers today, at least not yet.  Early Bird, whom I sa yesterday is a NOBO.  That's what she wrote in the Windsor Furnace Shelter register.  I've camped most nights this week alone.  Combined with some early days--I'm often in camp around 3:30--I have a lot of time without much to do.  That more than anything may push me on toward Duncannon.  Feet are holding out.  My heel blister is no worse despite my lack of success in bandaging it.  Only 73.2 miles to go.

After dinner:  In my tent ready for bed at 7:15.  Not much else to do.  Am set for Port Clinton Tomorrow.  Still excited about seeing the thru-hiker entries from 2002 at Eckville Shelter.  I've been walking with those names and their words:  the Noodleheads' "Top 10 Trail Names You Don't Want",  Beatnick's calligraphy, Kali-Frodo's Whitman quote, and all of the art work.  Because of that part of this hike is still in 2002.  Actually, there's always been a bit of '02 in this year's walk.  I think of Red and Gary coming through these places, walking on this trail and wonder what it was like for theme and all the other in 2002.  In that regard wa are all still together on the trail.

Saw three deer  crossing the road this morning as I walked back to the trail. from Eckville.  Also found my first tick.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Trail Journal 05.11.05

Took my first (and I hope last) fall today not long before lunch.  I flushed something from the brush and when I turned to see what it was, I went down on the rocks.  I was in the midst of one of those rock piles that are between the rocky trail and larger outcroppings.  Scraped my knee and skinned my hand but nothing major.  Morning walk to Allentown Shelter was very nice--level, wide and very few rocks.  Stepped those miles off quite easily.  Then came the rock pile and my fall.  I think I flushed a turkey; it had wings and sounded largebut I didn't get a good look.  I was too busy falling.

Day was humid from the start.  Began walking in a mist that burned off by the time I reached Kennedy Shelter.  By lunch clouds were forming and I caught a shower just as I was coming into Eckville Shelter where I'm staying tonight.  Took my morning break at Kennedy--a new, well designed shelter.  The privy even has a mirror.  But for comfort nothing can beat Eckville.  It's a cabin actually.  Has a solar shower, flush toilet and a fridge stocked with soda and ice cream.  Shower water wasn't at all warm but felt good after today's stickiness.  Drank a soda and orange juice and am just waiting for dinner to settle before I grab an ice cream for dessert.

Lots of bumble bees are buzzing around me as I write.  They are hovering everywhere, it seems.  Looking for mates, I think.  Every now and then I see two joined together or fighting off competitors.  It's that time of year.

The register here is great--it goes back to 2001 so naturally I checked 2002.  Most everyone I know from that year stopped in here during June and July.  Red and Gary were here on July 10.  It's such fun to see all those names again.  Kind of makes me feel like I am right there with them.  It's especially nice since I don't know most of the names I am seeing in this year's registers.  It reminds me that I am part of a larger community.

Met a trail maintainer, a seciton hiker and on thru-hiker (Lily Red or Red Lily).  Saw a black woman hiker heading back to the trail as I was coming off for the shelter.  I see from the register that she is Early Bird.  Also saw the same two day hikers I saw yesterday at Bake Oven Knob.  They are brothers who hike two weeks each year.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Trail Journal 05.10.05

I'm a two-digit midget--98.4 miles left to go until I hike the entire AT.  Walked 10.9 miles today.  Not too bad.  Crossed boulder fields at Lehigh Furnace Gap, Bake Oven Knob, Bear Rocks and the Knife Edge.  But I also followed some relatively rock-free stretches of trail at times.  Oh how my feet delight in stepping upon soil.  Day was warm but I had plenty of water.  Also got most of my mile done before 12:30.  Took a nap at lunch and did Bear Rocks and the Knife Edge Afterward.  The nap sure helped.  Those rocks would have been even more difficult without rest.  Met section hikers Just Walking (PA to VT) and Old Gray Mare (Port Clinton to DWG) plus a coup of day hikers walking from Route 309 to Lehigh Furnace.  Also met a couple of college women (said they were juniors) who were curious about the trail and the thru-hiking experience.  Pulled into New Tripoli Campsite around 3:30.  Not a particularly good campsite--well worn, few good flat spots--but it has good water and I don't feel like humping water back up the side trail to look for a site farther south.  I'm enjoying the leisure.  Saw two deer today:  a whitetail doe and a deer butt (probably a doe).  Pennsylvania rocks are blistering my feet, especially my Achilles tendon.  Nothing I use for bandage or protection stays in place.  With almost 100 miles to go, the blisters could become a real problem.  I managed to walk all day today and the blister on my right foot seems no worse but now one is coming up on my left foot.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Trail Journal 05.09.05

Morning in the basement of the borough hall.  Post office doesn't open till 8:30.  Got breakfast, did laundry and now killing time to see what I mailed to myself here.  This may be the last shower/laundry  till I reach Duncannon in 11 days or so.  I'll be pretty gamey by then I am sure. 

Had the basement to myself last night.  Feels like I have the whole town to myself.  That sense of hiker isolation is very strong, probably just in my head.  Seems like even when I am among non-hikers I am apart from them, that I have nothing to do with or concern about their lives.  The former is probably true and is no different from my relation to most people I meet when not hiking.  I do have concern about the people I meet and see:  I wonder what their lives are like and wish them well.  Especially since so many are so kind to me.   But even this is a remote relationship since I know nothing about them.  So I just hike on.  My strongest relationships are with other hikers.  We share tha same experience and desire to be out walking.  So far I've had company at shelters and met people on the trail.

Met a Pennsylvania section hiker yesterday and saw some weekenders south of Smith Gap (had to be weekenders from the size of their tent).  Climbing down into Lehigh Gap was an experience--First time I've had to pick my whay across boulder fields  on this trip.  Seemed excruciatingly slow, probably because it was late in the day, but like all trail miles, the descent ended after I'd taken enough steps.  They always do.

Early PM:  Back at Bert's Steakhouse for a final town meal before heading south.  Sinc I wrote about feeling isolated from non-hikers, I had a couple of experiences to give those observations a different perspective.  The borough clerk gave me a Welcome to Palmerton hiker goody bag.  The grocery stor gave me a free apple and the librarian said she saw me walkining into town yesterday.  Guess I'm not as isolated as I thought.

Evening:  At George Outerbridge Shelter just south of Palmerton.  Actually sleeping in the shelter---no flat space to camp.  Sharing the shelter with Robin, a thru-hiker who left Springer on March 5.  Enjoyed my time in Palmerton.  Walked out around 3:30 in the heat--bank sight said 87.  Climb up to the shelter was hot but mercifully short.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Trail Journal 05.08.05

Came in to Palmerton a day early.  Got to my planned campsite for tonight around 2:30 and didn't like it enough to settle in for the afternoon.  The site was exposed to the wind, which was blowing hard today, and was in an area devastated by zinc smelting with killed off all of the trees.  Not the kind of place where I wanted to hang out so I kept walking which meant that I descended into Lehigh Gap late in the day when I least felt like a steep descent.  Made it down OK.  several NOBO's opined that descending would by difficult.  It was but no worse than any number of Grand Canyon trails I've followed. 

I'm staying in the basement of the Palmerton Borough Hall which is open to hikers.  I have it to myself unless someone else comes in, which at 8:00 pm is pretty unlikely.  Tomorrow is a town day and then on to a shelter just south of town.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Trail Journal 05.07.05

Very tired at the end of  a13.8 mile day in the sun with only 2.5 liters of water.  Managed to stretch the two liters I had leaving Kirkridge plus a half liter that I cared from day hiker at Wind Gap (I ate lunch there in hope that some would would show up there.)  Was pretty dehydrated b the time I got here to Leroy Smith Shelter.  Found and drank much water.  I'm pretty well rehydrated now.  My sinuses are even running again.  Made good time--eight hours and kept a steady pace, not an easy thing to do on Pennsylvania Rocks.  I picked my way over rocky trail for hours.  Managed not to fall.  Stumbled a number of times but always caught myself.  Walking the rocks is painstaking.  I look desperately for a patch of soil to place my foot, a way between the rocks or at least an easy, stable passage.  Not much scenery today.  Occasional views of the countryside north and south.  Forest is small growth.  Some larger trees but mostly new growth.  I can see why hikers call Pennsylvania heartbreaking. 

Met for NOBO's today:  Mark (from Mesa), Restless, E (whom I met the other day at Cove Mountain) and Juicy, whom E was looking for that day.  E has hiked 130 miles of Pennsylvania rocks in four days!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Trail Journal 05.06.05

Made it to Delaware Water Gap exactly as planned (and remembered).  Hiker hostel at Church of the Mountain is still open.  Another pack was in the bunk room but no hiker.  Used church internet to to a quick email update and check finances.  Was  heading to dinner when the hiker returned and offered me his leftover stromboli which I accepted.  He is Gaffer, a 68 year old section hiker walking from Harpers Ferry to Katahdin.  Says he might come back to H.F. and head south to Springer.  Had breakfast and later donuts and coffee with him this morning.  Talked to Maggie from the streetside phone booth.

Walked out of DWG at 12:30.  Made good time, even with the 1,000 foot climb out of the gap.  The trail south parallels the trail on the north side of the Delaware.  I saw the bridge into New Jersey that I crossed so happily after reuniting with Red and Gary here in 2002.  Also saw the route that the AT follows before disappearing into the woods.  My route today offered sweeping views of the water gap and the Delaware s it flows south into woodlands and fields.  Trail up was rocky but up top I followed an old road that was infrequently blazed.  Made me paranoid that I missed a turn but found enough blazes to keep me on track.  Met Freeman, a thru-hiker who started from Franklin, North Carolina.

Reached Kirkridge Shelter at 3:30.  Met RonNTN and Gigi.  Ron is a thru-hiker who left Springer February 14.  Gigi walked here from Harpers Ferry.  They directed me to the spigot at the nearby retreat center where they got water.  I found it not working.  Ron said he told a caretaker about a leak and he must have turned it off.  Sure left me in the lurch.  Ron and Gigi gave me some of their water.  I can probably make it to the next shelter.  Tomorrow is Saturday so I might be able to cage water from day hikers.

Saw bluets along the trail today.  I saw these pretty four-petal flowers south of the Smokies in April 2002 and north of Hot Springs just last month.  And now in MayIn a manner of speaking, I am traveling forward with time but keeping even with spring as it moves up the Appalachians.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Trail Journal 05.05.05

Mid-morning.  Harrisburg bus terminal.  It was quiet when I arrived bu activity has picked up considerably with the arrival of several buses and their passengers.  The number of people ebbs and surges as buses come and go.  Cigarette smoke wafts into the waiting room from the smoking area outside.  Twenty-five minutes until my bus pulls out.  Five hours later I will be in Delaware Water Gap

My stay at the Doyle was not bad.  The place is seriously decrepit and dilapidated, worn, faded and crumbling in places.  The ceiling over the shower in the third floor bathroom has collapsed from the leaking shower and toilet above.   My room windows open unstably, if at all.  The exterior is peeling and cracked.  The eastend of the second floor balcony is closed off as unsafe.  The bar and downstairs reek of cigarette smoke(*) and it's noticeable in the second and third landings.  My room did not smell of smoke.  The two windows lit the room well and gave a pleasant view of he river.  A newly-installed gas heater kept the room toasty.  Bed was decent and my earplugs kept the bar noise down. 

Met another 2002 hiker now working at the Doyle:  Shrek.  He tod me that he finished the AT in 2003, spent time hiking the Long Trail and ended up at the Doyle because he liked the people there.  I took advantage of teh 75 cent happy hour drafts.  Bar was smokey at 4:00 pm but I figured later would only be worse.  Managed to leave not reeking of smoke.

At this point my trip is about half done.  Hiking with the horde, with Montreal and Kutsa and now on my own has been fun--not too hard and a fine opportunity to do something very much want to do.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Trail Journal 05.04.05

Just sucked down three beers at the Doyle Hotel Bar during happy hour.  I'm decidedly well buzzed.  I am also showered, laundered and about to be fed.  Hit town around 9:30.  The Doyle was closed.  Went for breakfast across the street and when I finished, ran into the Doyle's owner opening up.  The rest is town day history.  Arranged my shuttle to Harrisburg to catch a bus east to reach Delaware Water Gap tomorrow evening.  I walk out the following day, heading south back to Duncannon.

I am in Room 12 of the Doyle Hotel, a corner room on the third floor.  The room has two windows.  The south facing window has a view of the Susquehanna River and the highway that follows its other bank.  My room overlooks Market Street, the main thoroughfare, and the railroad tracks just behind the houses across the street.  The river is broad and gentle-looking here, placidly flowing around a bend between ridges.  From my window, I can see Peters Mountain, where the trail continues north after crossing the river.

I'm glad I finally made it to the Doyle Hotel, even more so that I am here in a cool time of year.

Sign on windows of Room 12:

WARNING.  Use great caution when operating windows due to age and condition.  Windows are unstable.  Operate at your own risk.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Trail Journal 05.03.05

In at Cove Mountain.  Early afternoon.  Got in at 12:30 after covering 7.3 miles in four hours.  Not too much up and down but plenty of rocks.  Day started out sunny and bright but has been mostly cloudy and cool since mid to late morning.  Nice walking.  Off North Mountain, across a small valley and some open fields, up Cove Mountain (a pretty easy climb), along the ridge to the side trail for the shelter.  Side trail is a steep 200 yard drop and water is another steep 125 yards.  The shelter is nice:  board and batten with four bunks, an overhang protecting a cooking area and a carved face on the end of its center beam.  Met my first thru-hiker here:  E, who left Springer on February 27.  He wants to finish before starting a job on July 2.

Evening:  Moved on to Hawk Rock.  Didn't want to stay in the shelter at Cove Mountain and no good tent sites were nearby.  An entry in the shelter register told of camping at Hawk Rock and a trail runner told me a campsite was available above the rocks.  Found it but decided to camp at the rock for the view so I'll be sleeping on a slope.  May be doing some climbing in m sleep.  View is worth it--wide open, east, west and north.  Duncannon is just below on a wide bend in the Susquehanna River at its confluence with the Juanita River.  I can see north maybe 50 miles, past two ridges in the near distance to a third in the far distance.  Sun is breaking through the clouds, bathing the woods in soft light.  I can feel its warmth.

Met another hiker after leaving the shelter, a section hiker walking to Boiling Springs.  He was heading for the shelter so I would have had company if I stayed but with no tent site that was not to be.   I want my tent for warmth--nights are still quite cold on these Pennsylvania mountains in early May.  Still, I'll take the cold.  I can imagine all too well what this section of trail would be like in July.

I am enjoying the solitude of the trail here.  I'm by myself much of the time but I'm not lonely.  Thru-hikers are already coming through.  E was looking for two others, Robin and Juicy.  I expect I will see them as I come south.  My solitude is also limited by the proximity of so many people who inhabit this region.  I see their houses, fields, bridges and railroads.  I will see many lights in the valleys below tonight.  I hear their traffic, their barking dogs.  For all that, I am apart from them.  Not of their world or vice versa.  The five people I've seen since yesterday morning were part of the trail--they made the effort to be out--but all the people driving by are only background. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Trail Journal 05.02.05

Camped alone at Darlington Shelter construction site.  The old shelter is dismantled and its wood stacked nearby.  Two large pile of new materials are covered by huge tarps.  Don't regret the missing shelter.  If the privy (also due to be rebuilt and relocated) is any indication of the shelter's condition, I'm not sure I'd even want to cook under it.  I have a good site adjacent to the shelter's picnic table.  I can see a small valley and another ridge to the north--probably where the trail will take me tomorrow.

Good day to walk today--cool and overcast.  The AT route crossing the Cumberland Valley is an achievement.  The trail passes through highly populated areas and open farm land north of Boiling Springs, yet it is separated and screened from all this human activity.  Not entirely, though.  I was aware of people and people saw me but we did not interfere with each other.  Cumberland Valley was for a long time a tedious road walk through the rolling hills one of America's finest agricultural areas.  I enjoyed the walk.  Trail was good terrain, largely flat. Tiring though, 14 miles is a long day.  Lef leg and knee held up.  Had some pain in my left hip.  Short day tomorrow.  I can rest a bit.

Weather is turning favorable.  Clouds are breaking up.  I see blue sky and sunlight.  The land is bright and cheerful again.  Today, under gray skies, the land was somber and dark.  The shelter journal shows a steady stream  of hikers--one or two entries in five of the last seven days.  Section hikers and weekenders (some groups).  Odds are pretty good I will have this mountain to myself tonight.

Crossing the Cumberland Valley is noisy.  The AT is never far from roads and it crosses I-81, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 11.  I heard the turnpike long before I saw it.  Traffic noise was the major intrusion on the trail today.  Even now, somewhat removed from all the acivity, I can still hear it in the evening stillness although now I am more aware of aircraft noise.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Trail Journal 05.01.05

At Pine Grove State Park in Pennsylvania with Peyton on the night before setting off for Duncannon tomorrow.  My knee and leg are sore from yesterday's spill on the Tye River.  Peyton and I flipped on a small rapid.  My left leg caught in the strut (I was on my knees coming into the rapid) and he canoe torqued my knee and pulled a muscle in my thigh.  We'll see how it feels tomorrow.

Campground here is very pretty in the late afternoon sun.  Day has been mostly sunny with some coouds.  Being here seems better than in '02.  Woods are brighter, not the gloomy forest of memory.  So now I'm ready to go. I'll take some aspirin and walk carefully tomorrow on my first day back on the trail after a week off.  I'm nervous about my leg, my budget and all the connections that I need to make in order to bring this trip off.  It's nothing I can't do but all the uncertainties are here with me tonight.  Don't know why I give them any space.  I know I will work things out.  Guess I like to scare myself.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Trail Journal 04.30.05

Last day at Peyton's and Carol's.  Early morning.  Rain falling steadily.  Glad I'm not out walking in it but come a few days and I will be walking, rain or shine.  I'm ready to go--it's time to be walking again but I have very much enjoyed the break.  Peyton and I canoed a stretch of the Rockfish River, visited Gordon Kerby  Richmond and, with Carol, met Bev Carver for dinner in Staunton last night.  We're supposed to join a canoe race on the Tye River today but rain may cancel that plan.  Peyton will shuttle me to Pennsylvania tomorrow and I start walking north from Boiling Springs the following day.  I'm pretty sure I'll have company.  May is a good mothe to hike in the mid-Atlantic states so I expect to see section hikers and even a few thru-hikers, especially toward the end of my southbound leg.  Some thru-hikers are already to Rockfish Gap.  I met Bommerang and Day Tripper at the  Kroger's supermarket in Waynesboro on Monday and gave a ride to Shorts on Thursday.  Saw about five tents in the city park that day, too.  I am mostly prepared to hike alone--looking forward to it actually--but will welcome any company I find.  Pat Doyle and Bev Carver plan to join me for the last 16 miles of the walk into Duncannon so I will have friends with me for he final miles and the "summit" moment of my Appalachian Trail hike.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Trail Journal 04.28.05

I'm wearing "civilian" clothing again.  My hiking garb is not your standard street wear, although my parka and fleece anorak are pretty standard for me these days.  The nylon windpants, hiking socks and sandals certainly set me apart from my fellow Greyhound travelers the other day.  In trail towns like Erwin and Hot Springs I am set apart from normal people by my shorts and polypro shirt.  But not here.  Today I have real clothing--jeans, underwear and shirt.  Still don't have regular shoes but the other items camouflage that lack.  It's very nice to feel normal (and clean) for a few days.

The bus ride from Johnson City wasn't too bad--just long.  Got to the station two hours early.  Not much to do there.  The station agent offered me coffee.  Had snow showers all morning but nothing serious.  (It was enough to keep Montreal and Kutsa at the motel for another day.  As many hikers as could afford to also stayed, I am sure.  Those who could not walked.) Made stops in Kingsport, Bristol, and Wytheville, which was also a meal stop at a fast food place.  It was cold with a biting wind.  Saw a white blaze where the AT passes under I-81 at Atkins, Virginia and the back of the Village Motel where I stayed a night in 2002.  Changed buses in Roanoke.  The station was dark and noticeably the one in Johnson City and had no food service.  Not much for a city that is a major hub of the Shenandoah Valley. Just north of the Troutville exit I saw a white blaze where the AT crosses I-81 as it heads toward the Blue Ridge.  The bus swung into Buchanan and Buena Vista looking for passengers.  Found none but it was fun seeing the towns.  Peyton and Carol were waiting for me in Staunton when I arrived, saving me from having to wait in that cold wind.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trail Journal 04.26.05

Transitioning to Pennsylvania at friend Peyton Coyner's place in Nelson County, Virginia.  Very, very pleasant.  Pace here is leisurely but active.  Made a birthday card for Maggie using Peyton's rubber stamps.  Bought supplies and figured my itinerary for Pennsylvania yesterday.  Today, I canoed a nine mile stretch of the Rockfish river with Peyton.  We took a chainsaw and cleared two major obstacles.  One other obstacle was beyond us--two large trees had fallen across the river, one form each side.  We cleared some of the small branches that were sweeping the water.  The trunks were about three feet above water--fast water--but Peyton ran us trough as we ducked.

Now I'm sitting on a bench by the little spring on his property, one of many sources for the Rockfish.  The bench is perfect for sitting and contemplating.  Sky is mostly clear with some clouds.  The sun is warm, the air pleasantly cool.  Steady wind. Contemplating this trip so far, I am glad to be doing it.  Hiking with Montreal and Kusta was fun.  Kutsa has a will of iron; she can hike even when she doesn't want to.  Montreal is generous and enthusiastic, willing to make the effort to do what he wants.  Kutsa told me before we parted that, had I not been hiking with her north of Hot Springs, she would have turned around  She said she was glad I was there to keep her going.  So am I.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Trail Journal 04.24.05

Sunday morning,  Johnson City, Tennessee Greyhound bus station.  Snow has been falling on and off all morning.  I'm now apart from the thru-hikers.  I miss their company but it's not quite the same as cutting loose in '02.  These hikers are not my trail family; I lack the intimate connection that comes only with shared experience.  I know their experience because it's similar to my own three years ago but it's also different.  Even without that connection, the 2005 thru-hikers are a lively, fun group.  The energy and activity level this morning at the Holiday Inn and at Miss Janet's make the quiet at this bus station seem like a tomb.  This year's thru-hikers remind me very much of 2002.  I see the same characters and styles but displayed differently.  I shared Bald Mountain Shelter with four long mileage types who walked 19 miles that day.  I've met ad hoc groups that have become semi-permanent.  There are hard partiers and hikers who seem to stay in one place working to finance their next leg.  They were on the trail in 2002.  They are back again this year.

Names:  Colorado & Marshmallow, Red Hat, Blaze & Dreadi Bear, New Hampshire, Rambler, Thirsty Boots (also in 2002), Butterfly Moon, Sunshine, Souleman & Brownie, KTR, Mr. Clean Senior, Mr. Clean Junior.  Green Man (also in 2002), Jakebrake & Low Gear (also in 2002), Phoenix, 3V, Rhino.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trail Journal 04.23.05

Back in Erwin on a cold, wet day.  Came into town in the rain.  Not hard but steady.  Much colder.  Had a thunderstorm last night.  Felt good to be dry and warm with thunder and rain all around me.  Managed to pack up and get into the shelter before this morning's storm.  Even so, my gear was damp.  Walked well  and comfortably in the cold rain.  Pretty sure I could set up and be dry again tonight if I had to. Instead, I'm in town.  Showered.  Fed.  Dry.  Almost laundered.

Evening.  Walk in this am was in the clouds.  Fog and rain over and down from No Business Knob.  No view of the Nolichucky Valley until we are well down.  Cold, biting wind.  Rain steady, off and on, not hard.  Good day to move.  Still I cannot but stop and wonder at the magnificent forest that I am, for a moment, a part of.  It is here, in this place that I find my soul, the eternity of which I am a fleeting part.   Trail today was good, even though wet.  Easy walking.  Lots of hikers came off the trail today.  From Sam's Gap.  From Devils Fork Gap.  From Iron Mountain Gap.  Weather is turning cold with snow in the forecast.  Hikers walked into the Holiday Inn Express all afternoon.  The place is probably three-quarters hikers tonight. Sort of like a Miss Janet's where everybody gets their own room.

Tonight is my last night with Montreal and Kutsa.  It's been grand fun walking with them.  Despite what they call their "slowness" they walk a good pace.  We averaged over 10 miles per day from Hot Springs.  The pace is good for me--I don't feel like I must race anyone on this trip.  Traveling with "the horde" of thru-hikers sometimes leaves me thinking I need to beat them for tent space or a bunk or whatever but I can't so I don't try.  I just live with the flow as best I can.  But mostly, this hike has been a chance to renew a fond acquaintance and meet new thru-hikers.  And it's certainly fulfilled its promise.  I've enjoyed my time here in Georgia, Carolina, and Tennessee.  I am looking forward to Pennsylvania.  I know I will miss all these hikers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Trail Journal 04.22.05

Morning trail climbs and follows a ridge.  The land tilts steeply down to the left.  The trail is a narrow embankment on this steep slope.  Surface is good, mostly.  Lots of roots in places.  I can see thick muscled tentacles reaching through the soil.  Last night's thunderstorm cleansed the aire and land.  The forest smells clean and moist.  A river of fog fills the valley below and the ridges beyond.  Gray-white banks still hang on the higher ridges and spill into the narrow valleys.  Sunny and warm now.

After dinner.  Tenting an No Business Knob Shelter, the first site were I pitched my now well-used tent.  I am in the same spot as in 2002, this time with Montreal and Kutsa camped nearby.  Had an afternoon thunderstorm--a little hail, even--that lasted most of the way from Spivey Gap where we ate lunch to the sound of thunder.  We made most of the climb out of Spivey before the rain hit.  Walked the rest of the way in raingear.  No stops.  Made the shelter by 3:00.  Set up tent in the rain.  It got a wet a bit in the process but I dried it out and got into warm, dry clothes. 

I'm happy to be warm and dry in my tent here tonight.  The sky has cleared considerably since I arrived.  Drops still fall on my tent but I'm pretty sure that's dripping from trees, not sky.  If the clouds clear, I bet it will turn cold.  Lots of people on the trail, all making for Miss Janet's.  Thru-hikers are now seasoned and wary.  They know that being town costs money.  They are aware of deadlines and time constraints.  But in many respects, a thru-hike at this stage is still a party.  Up to Damascus.  After Trail Days in Damascus comes Bland (County) days.  The party ends in southwest Virginia.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Trail Journal 04.21.05

Late evening on Bald Mountain.  Last rays of the setting sun highlight the bare trees.  Had a clear day across Big Bald.  Thunderstorms were in the distance but none nearby.  The rumbling thunder and stiff wind kept me moving.  I did not linger.  The sky was dark to the sourth, giving the land a stark silhouetted look.  The bald itself is open and grassy.  The trail leading to and from is thickly carpeted with a small white flower, its petals spread wide.  Now in the evening they are closed for the night.  I am sitting on the trail just south of the shelter.  The forest is open.  Great logs in various states of decay lie scattered across the forest floor.  Some are mere mounds, almost completely absorbed into the earth.  Others are moss-covered skeletons.  Moss is everywhere, on the decaying logs, on the ground, on tree bark.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Trail Journal 04.20.05

We resupply in Erwin.  Sam's Gap is old Route 23 passing under a freeway.  The convenience store is closed.  We tried hitching at the truck pull-out on the freeway to no avail.  From the freeway I spotted a car on the old road dropping off backpackers and beat feet down there.  The driver was dropping her dad off and gave us a ride to Miss Janet's House where we've been holed up ever since.  Lots of hikers here.  Lots of chaos.  Hikers in.  Hikers out.  Many kilts, which are more colorful this year than 2002, various plaids rather than the earth tones I saw before.  Miss Janet herself is a dynamo, somehow managing all this hubbub without totally freaking out.  She fixes a great breakfast so I know we'll not be making an early start tomorrow.  Talked to Maggie a couple of times since I arrived.  Tomorrow we walk out into scattered thudershowers and rain.  And still, I am happy to be on the trail.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Trail Journal 04.18.05

Finished the Carolina-Tennessee missing miles at Devils Fork Gap this morning, an easy walk from last night's camp.  8.9 miles today.  Generally easy but the hike out of the gap was steep.  Made it to Hogback Ridge Shelter ahead of the horde that left Hot Springs on Saturday.  Scrubbed off four days' dirt with warm water and a bandana.  Luxury.  Followed a stream out of Boon Cove Road and passed a beautiful waterfall.  The woods were much greener on the stretch of trail.  Passed the graves of Joe Riddle (1877-1967) and Dorothy Hensley (1865-1965, two days shy of 100) and the ruins of an abandoned homestead justabove the graves.  The homestead is along the creek in a wonderfully cool setting.  Lots of wildflowers since Hot Springs.  Tiny wild iris.  The four petaled bluet which is the palest violet, almost white.  A small, five-petal white flwer was visible in carpets yesterday.  Looked like snow.  Around me now at the end of the day are any leaflesss trees.  If I  look carefully, I can see man buds.  Looking into the woods, green is evident everywhere.  Spring is slowly edging up the mountain.  Yesterday's flowers and today's waterfall were moments of serene joy.  Their beauty overwhelms all the pain and suffering of a hike. 

Tomorrow?  Resupply at Sam's Gap or Erwin?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Trail Journal 04.17.05

Long day.  12.6 miles across a high ridge.  Beautiful views of Carolina mountains to the eas.  Tennessee piedmont and valley (Tennessee River?) to the west.  Morning was best.  I walked into the cold light of morning under bare trees.  The trail climbed immediately from camp, following a narrow corridor defined by trees and undergrowth.  Cold light is reflected from delicate branches.  Saw a deer and watched a giant earthworm slowly eating into the soil, its long body slowly pulling itself along section by section. 

Walked up to the fire tower on Camp Creek Bald.   The Mountaintop hums with the electromagnetic power of a vast, sinister force and its signal towers which share the bald with the tower.  The fire tower observation deck is ringed with razor wire.  Took five hours to cover the first seven miles.  Had great views in all directions from rocky, exposed trail across Blackstack Cliffs(?).  Afternoon went faster--six miles in three hours.  Walked across the bald on Big Butt, a beautiful meadow on top of the world.  Nice, long downhill into a V-shaped gap.  Short uphill and I'm in at Flint Hill Shelter.  Woods are quiet with background chirping and buzzing of thousands of insects.  A dog barks occasionally in the distance.  Kutsa hiccuped.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Trail Journal 04.16.05

Good walking today.  Sunny and cool in the morning.  Warm in the afternoon.  Hot in places.  The sun really burns through the bare trees.  Had good shade among the rhododendrons and hemlocks, though.  Descended to Adams Gap in the AM.  Climbed to Little Laurel Shelter in the PM.  Made good time despite spending an hour eating homemade stew and ice cream cake at the home of Fal and Hercules, two 1999 thru-hikers who now live just off the trail at Adams Gap.  The food was great!  Covered 12 miles in 8 hours including the lunch stop.  I was as much as I wanted to hike today.  Afternoon was a zombie hike for me.  Mentally I was asleep after the great meal.  Physically I was walking on autopilot.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Trail Journal 04.15.05

Back on the trail north of Hot Springs, NC with Montreal and Kutsa.  They turned up in Hot Springs last night just as Maggie and I had given up hope of connecting with them.  Today we walked out together after saying good-bye to Maggie at the French Broad River.  It's great to be with them and to rejoin the trail community.  I'm the odd man out this year since I've not shared the trail with the many thru-hikers I've met.  But I am friends with Montreal and Kutsa who are part of this year's community. 

Finding my two friends in Hot Springs was as much of a joy as them showing up at White House Landing in Maine after we had parted for what we thought was the last time in 2002 in New Hampshire.  We climbed a lot today, took a long lunch by a small pond and found a campsite just under a ridge where we witnessed  a glorious orange sunset behind purple mountains.  We walked up deep ravines whose slopes descended into darkness.  We walked through sunny, leafless forest and cool rhododendron shaded grottoes.  So much to write about:  Asheville, the Bon Paul and Sharkey Hostel,  magic in Hot Springs but it's too late for today.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Trail Journal: 04.12.05

Fourth day off the trail.  Been off as long as I was on the trail and written nary a word.  A brief recap is in order.

On Friday, April 8 I woke up to overcast skies but no rain.  Not as foggy as yesterday.  Took my time getting out of camp--only one of the 14 people who spent the night was still at the shelter when I left.  Saw no reason to bolt out since I was only four miles shy of Neels Gap and didn't need to be there till noon.  When I finally started walking it felt good.  Climbing Blood Mountain went quickly.  The view from the top was grand--ridges, peaks, valleys and cloud filled sky in all directions.  View south was intimate with lots of ridges under a high ceiling.  I could see the occasional clearing and building but mostly I saw the gray-brown mass of mountain.  The view north was more dramatic.  Clouds dominated, covering the peaks, filling the valleys.  Blood Mountain shelter sits on the peak in the lee of a massive stone outcrop.  The shelter is stone construction and has two rooms.  One room has a filled-in fireplace.  The other room has a couple of windows with no shutters so part of the floor is wet.  The shelter feels drafty.  Don't think anyone was here last night. The mountaintop is solid rock and a bit slippery on this wet morning.  Day seems to be trying to clear up with only mixed success.  At least it's not raining.  I hear traffic long before I reach the gap at noon. 

Maggie is not here yet but plenty of hikers are.  I grab a quick shower at Mountain Crossing and Maggie arrives about the time I finish.  We load up to head for Asheville.  A hiker named Forever North is trying to get back to Amicalola Falls with his Springer Spaniel.  It's out of the way but we give him a ride anyway.  He seems to be in a permanent hiking mode, now heading to Davenport Gap to work the season at Mountain Momma's.  After dropping him off we head for Asheville in intermittent rain.  We pick up a couple of thru-hikers at Winding Stair Gap and drop them  off at a motel in Franklin, NC.  We reach Asheville around 9:00 pm.  Friends Shelly and Shannon are out but Maggie has a key to their place.  We feed the dogs, soak in the hot tub and go to sleep.

On Saturday we go out for  breakfast with Shelly in West Asheville, run errands and do laundry.  That evening we eat pizza and drink been at a local movie house.  A few days later I am browsing in an outdoor store and mention to the clerk that I am making up missed miles from my 2002 thru hike and learn that one of his co-workers is Kali-Frodo, one of the group that was with Red, Gary and me on Katahdin at the end of our 2002 hike.  She and her trail partner, Polish Ninja, join Maggie and me for dinner.

The next stage of my hike starts in Hot Springs, NC.  I'm planning to meet Kutsa and Montreal, my partners for much of the 2002 hike, there and walk with them to Erwin, TN.  I haven't located them since I've been in Asheville not entirely sure if I will.  Maggie and I head for Hot Springs. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Trail Journal: 04.07.05

Twelve mile day to Woods Hole shelter in the rain and fog.  Rain started last night.  Morning was wet and foggy.  Woods were very ethereal.  Trail very muddy.  Mostly mist starting out until Woody Gap when rain started falling in earnest, whipped by a strong wind that sounded at times like a locomotive.  Between the rain and sweat I was pretty wet but I just kept moving.  Stopped only to water up and load food into my pockets to eat on the move.  Covered the 12 miles in six hours of steady walking.  No views at all today.  Only a little gunfire.  Just glad to be in the shelter now, dry and warm.  Raining like hell now with thunder and lightning.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Trail Journal: 04.06.05

Pulled into Gooch Gap shelter around 12:30--so much easier walking than 2002.  Just took my time and got here without much effort.  Starting to cloud up so I guess the rain is coming in.  Good to be under a roof to sleep and cook if it does rain.  Trail today was lots of up and down, just as I remembered, but this time I didn't have to contend with Maggie's increasingly painful knees.

Woods are open and sunny.  Some green is pushing up from the forest floor.  The hemlocks and pines add a bit more greenery but he overall color is gray and brown.  Heard some gunfire and saw a chopper today but not like yesterday when I saw several Blackhawks and heard automatic weapons fire well into the night.  Shelter is filling up--everybody wants to get in ahead of the rain.

Later:  Everything's done now, dinner and sketching.   A little light left and time to kill.  Lots of people on the trail in this prime hiking season.  I've met Wilderness Bob, Gypsy Eagle, Fig, Just Visiting, KG, Josh, Loose Goose, Elf and Cait so far.  Lots of company for this solo hike.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Trail Journal: 04.05.05

Easy, easy day.  Walked five miles and am in by 12:30 at Hawk Mountain shelter.  My memory of this section from 2002 are not nearly as gentle.  Maybe because we walked a longer day that year and Maggie's knees began hurting.  Today started off cool with some clouds by mid-morning the sky cleared and it's been sunny and breezy ever since.  Lots of company at Hawk Mountain today: the two women I met last night at Stover Creek are here along with two retired Green Berets and a couple of young section hikers from Atlanta.  Another eight or ten hikers stopped in before continuing on.  I'm sure others will pull in before nightfall.  I'm camped much closer to the shelter tonight than last night so I expect the evening to be highly social.  That's been pretty much  I've been doing for the past three hours.

Being back on the AT is exciting.  So many memories come back to me here:  meeting Kutsa, Sylvain and Medicine Man playing chess on a homemade board, sleeping with Maggie on the upper deck.  The trail looks vaguely familiar and some places I recognize--Long Creek Falls in particular and some of the road crossings.  Walking today was easy, covered five miles in just over three hours.  I was in no hurry.  Saw a few Blackhawk helicopters flying around and heard artillery from the Army base at Dahlonega.

The early morning woods were suffused with light reflecting off rhododendron leaves.  Buds are forming and some greenery is starting to push through the forest duff.  It's spring.  I'm on the trail and all things seem possible.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Trail Journal: 04 April 2005

Camped at Stover Creek shelter on the first night of my AT "make up" hike.  Walked a blistering 2.5 miles today--only 1.5 miles with a pack.  My brother Neil drove me up from Atlanta to Forest Road 42, about a mile north of Springer Mountain summit.  Getting there took a bit of route finding--Neil's DeLorme Atlas software plotted out a rather strange route--but after asking for directions at a store, we found the road.  Walked south with Neil and dog, Greta, to the the summit, touched the AT plaque, came back to the vehicle, and started walking solo with pack.  It was easy walking--much more so than 2002.  Feels strange to be here on my own--no Red and Gary, no Maggie like last time, just me and other hopeful hikers.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Blog News

This space has been pretty quiet the past few months.  All my writing effort since January has been going to drafting the final version of my Vietnam memoir.  I've been downloading as much as I can remember of my year in Vietnam and pulling together work dating back to the 70's to see what story I have to tell and what would make it worth reading to anyone.  Maybe it will be nothing more than getting it on record.  Right now it's nothing that merits publishing that hasn't already been published at Unsolicited Opinion, my original blog.  Two of those posts, One Day and One Night, sum Vietnam up for me.    

With all that I've not had much to say, either here or at Unsolicited Opinion.  I'm also not entirely sure what to do with this blog.  It began as a marketing tool for a my book about the Appalachian Trail so it's trail- and outdoors-oriented.  But I also think it's about books and writing, topics that may take me away from trail topics at times.  So far, I haven't come up with a good balance or clear pattern that makes for frequent and sustained writing in this space. 

One of my favorite sources for copy are my trail journals.  Coming up in April is the 10th anniversary of my Missing Miles AT hike in 2005.  I plan to blog my journal from that hike off and on between April and June.  That may kick start something here.  Not long after I finish blogging the Missing Miles is the 30th anniversary of the Zion Death March.  I will tell that tale then.  We'll see where things go from there.

Hope you enjoy the journey.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Best Ever Advice for a Writer

“I can’t write with those people on my shoulder, I just have to do my work.”

     --Cheryl Strayed