4/2/2009 - 9:00PM - Chesnut Knob Shelter - 23.0 mi today - 561.3 mi total
Woke up to the smell of bacon at 7 AM. Breakfast was excellent! We ate all the French toast, eggs, bacon, and hash browns we could take. Finished it off with chocolate cake. After breakfast, it was time to take care of Harley and pack my bag. Loaded up the truck and van and hit the trail at 9:15. Cloudy, but dry to start. That changed. It soon got foggy and wet. Pretty boring walk due to the crappy weather. Quite hilly (for Virginia) most of the way. Harley managed to climb over one of the fence crossings. He couldn't repeat the feat, so it must have been beginners luck. Lunch at Knot Maul Branch Shelter. Tried to eat a lot. Got pretty wet during the last 9 miles. Had to pump water a mile before the shelter because there is no water source here. The pond water clogged my filter and made it hard to pump. This shelter is fully enclosed as it used to be a firewarden's cabin. I really appreciate that as it looks like we are in for a big storm. Weather is supposed to be bad tomorrow as well. Shame because this shelter is supposed to have a beautiful view. The shelter I am heading for tomorrow only sleeps 6, and it looks like we'll have 7. Need to get there early to claim a spot. Not looking forward to the rain. Harley is snoring loud tonight.
4/3/2009 - 8:30 PM - Helveys Mill Shelter - 24.0 mi today - 585.3 mi total
Last night was the worst on the trail by far. If that wasn't rock bottom then I don't want to know what is. I woke up at one point to go to the bathroom. When I came back, I decided to move to the concrete floor because I was feeling cramped on the overcrowded sleeping platform. Good thing I did, because not too long afterwards, I awoke to the sound and smell of Harley vomiting on the side of my sleeping bag six inches from my face. To be honest, it was probably my fault. Rambunny gave me some bacon and leftover bacon grease to mix in with his food yesterday morning. I knew I shouldn't have given it to him, but I felt bad for making him sleep out in the barn on his own all night. I'm sure that is what threw his digestive system for a loop. No more people food. Period. So I spent about a half hour in the dark cleaning up the mess and comforting the dog. I used my entire 10 pack of tissues and my green bandanna. When I finally got back to bed, I tried to put things in perspective and thought to myself "At least I have a roof over my head and I am warm and dry." Ten minutes later, just as I am about to drift off to sleep, the storm picks up and we discover that the roof is leaky, and of course it starts to drip on my face. I moved for the third time, and finally got some sleep. Got out of bed at 7 and we all laughed about the eventful evening. It was really foggy and windy out, so much so that the pivy had a major updraft. If you timed it wrong, then you had to duck so the TP didn't come back to hit you in the face. Trail life is certainly entertaining. Eventually, I dragged myself out of the shelter and headed North. I was feeling sluggish due to the lack of sleep and sore legs. Usually, I speed up after the first hour, but not today. It took me almost five hours to walk ten miles. I was really feeling down about the trail. It certainly is a roller coaster of emotion. The dog did his best to cheer me up. I had a big lunch and gave myself a peptalk. Hit the trail again at 2:30 with a fresh outlook. Felt much better and was finally able to get up to speed. Crossed over yet another Brushy Mountain. Whoever is on the naming committee in this area needs to get more creative. I have climbed 5 "Brushy Mountains" in 3 days. Found a trash can at Laurel Creek and bid farewell to my green bandanna and Harley's mess (Leave No Trace!). Also found an empty trail magic cooler. Bummer. From there it was a very windy walk. Crossing I-77 was not fun. You walk along a road for over a mile. Finally got to the shelter at 7:30 and was glad to meet up with my friends. Today started out terribly, but I was able to dig deep and turn it into something. I'm proud of myself and Harley for pushing so far today. Hopefully he feels better and tonight will be without incident. The sleeping bag doesn't smell as bad as I thought it would, but I am planning on washing it in Pearisburg.
4/4/2009 - 8:30 PM - Wapiti Shelter - 24.0 mi today - 609.3 mi total
Woke up to a great sunrise. Didn't even have to get out of my sleeping bag. Ate my granola and fed the dog. He didn't quite have his appetite back yet. Pretty easy walk in the morning. Made it to Jenny Knob Shelter by noon. Had some pretty intense food fantasies along the way (Garbage plates and Dinosaur BBQ and french bread with slices of brie cheese...). I can't remember the last time I had fresh bread. Pumped water after lunch and hit the trail again. There was a grocery store a half mile away from the trail. I decided it was worth the extra mile roundtrip. Almost got a ride, but the lady had pet allergies. Bought two grilled cheese sandwiches, a coke, York Peppermint Patty, and beer for dinner. That was a nice treat. Sailed through the last 8 miles and met up with Grizzly, Chert, Wally, Pacman, and Spirit Fingers at the shelter. Weather was great today which made for fast happy hiking. Made chili for dinner (yum) and got into bed. Harley had his appetite back. Hitting Pearisburg tomorrow and looking forward to AYCE Chinese. We're going to put them out of business!
4/5/2009 - 11:30 PM - Rendezvous Motel - 16.6 mi today - 625.9 mi total
Woke up and had granola for breakfast. Harley was feeling especially lazy this morning. Last night I woke up to find myself sharing the pillow with him and getting a full blast of dogbreath every time he exhaled. He also went for a midnight stroll and came back 5 minutes later. There was no way that I was going to get out of my bag to follow him. He's a funny dog. Foot was hurting a bit to begin. Had a pretty good climb to start with. Got some excellent views from the ridgeline. Weather was wonderful (sunny and 70's). Had lunch at Doc's Knob Shelter with everyone. Descent into Pearisburg was major. Lots of switchbacks. There were a lot of day and section hikers out due to the nice weekend weather. One of them kept talking to me for about ten minutes, and then when we saw another hiker approaching, he complained about how its so hard to find "peace and tranquility" out here with so many people on the trail! Got to the motel, and they agreed to let all six of us stay in one room with two double beds! It will only cost $9 a person. Showered and watched the weather channel...not good. Once everyone was ready, we decided to hit up the Chinese place. Luckily, a section hiker named Stumblefoot let us borrow her car so we didn't have to walk a mile there. I drove for the first time in six weeks. I love driving, so it was a nice treat. Had 3 heaped plates of Chinese plus a plate of desert. Only cost $9. Amazing! Afterwards, we went to Food Lion and Dollar General to resupply. I bought a pack of fun size Snickers to give to Stumblefoot as a thank you. Started the laundry and watched some late night tv. I called home and found out that my SPOT hadn't sent up a message in two days. Mom was panicking and about to call the police. I put in new batteries, so we should be all set to Harpers Ferry. Looks like I will meet Dad in Catawba on Thursday. There is an AYCE place there that I hope to hit up while I wait for him to arrive. Also found out that Steamboat is off the trail for two weeks because of his shin injury. Hope he is feeling better. Everyone was bummed to hear that. It can happen to anyone. I'll try to listen to my body more from here on. No sense in risking the hike for a couple extra miles.
Welcome to my trail blog for my 2009 Appalachian Trail Hike! Here you can find all of my journal entries of my 2178.3 mile journey from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. You can see my picture slideshow to the right, as well as a recap of my hike mile by mile and gear list. Download the ebook about my hike on iTunes. I hope you find my quest inspiring. Thanks for visiting and Happy Trails!