3/28/2009 - 11:30 PM - Damascus, VA - 0 mi today - 463.0 mi total
Busy zero day! Woke up at 8:30 and had leftover pizza for breakfast. Hit the Post Office at 9:00 and got my bounce box. Sent it on to Pearisburg. Next went to the library to update the blog. Ran out of time and the librarian wouldn't let me back on even though there was nobody waiting. (Maybe I should have chatted her up and mentioned that my Mum works at a library!) Did the laundry and called home. Got a milkshake and went back to the hostel. Hung on the porch with everyone until dinner time. Two other thruhikers came in (Splinter and Endor). Nice guys. Had dinner at Fatty's Diner. One pound burger was filling! Some local firefighter attempted the five pound burger challenge, but only ate about half of it. I bet a thru-hiker completes the challenge in the not so distant future. Had desert back at the hostel and hung on the porch some more. Going to bed now. Looking forward to hitting the trail again. Harley is ready to go too. He's not a big fan of towns.
3/29/2009 - 7:00 PM - Lost Mountain Shelter - 15.8 mi today - 478.8 mi total
Got up at 8 this morning. Let Harley out and gave him breakfast. He did not want to spend anymore time in town. He wanted to get back on the trail and off the leash. Took my time packing my stuff and chatting with Steamboat. He decided o take another zero in Damascus as his shin is killing him. The medical center was closed for the weekend, so I think he is going to drop by there on Monday morning. Hope he is feeling better. Went to the only restaurant open on a Sunday morning (all the other ones were closed for church). It was pretty good. Got an omellette and orange juice. Harley had to stay outside so he pouted and gave me dirty looks through the window. Finally hit the trail around 10:45 with Wally, Pacman, and Spirit Fingers. Said goodbye to Steamboat, but I am sure that I will see him soon (according to his SPOT, he is back on the trail!) It's going to be wierd to not hike with him for a while. We've shared a shelter almost every night since Springer. Still, I have to hike my own hike, and that means that it is time for Harley and I to move on. Started out slowly. Pack felt heavy with 5 days of food. The trail follows the Virginia Creeper Trail (an old railway line) for a while, but then diverges and runs parallel through the woods for about ten miles. It was quite frustrating to hike up and down the hills and look to the right and see a nice well graded, gently sloped trail meandering by the river. The switchbacks in Virginia seem very gradual compared to the three previous states. Had lunch at Saunders Shelter with Wally, Pacman, and Spiritfingers. Tried honey and tortilla. Yum! Got cold and moved on. Trail was pretty easy. Follows the Virginia Creeper for a bit which was a nice break. Chert, Grizzly Adams, Wally, Pacman, and WizKid were all at the shelter when I arrived. Spirit Fingers followed, but he moved on after dinner. Harley was asleep on the ground when I went to pump water, but when I cam e back, he had moved to my sleeping bag. Cheeky dog! Snowed a bit during dinner (St Patricks Stew... yum!). It's going to be cold tonight! Snow is already starting to accumulate a bit. Trying to plan out the next couple days based on how much food I have. Of course, I packed in too much! Hope Harley stays warm tonight. He's under his blanket now. Looking forward to orange juice in the morning (I packed it in as a special treat!).
3/30/2009 - 8:30 PM - Old Orchard Shelter - 23.2 mi today - 502.0 mi total
Great day on the trail! Woke up to E.L.O. (Wiz Kid couldn't find his cell phone in time to shut off the alarm. I didn't mind because it got a new song stuck in my head. I was sick of the stupid "CC's cat" version of "Jessie's Girl!"). There was a light coating of snow on the ground. Temp was pretty cold. I quickly packed up and had breakfast (Poptarts and real OJ!). Was on the trail at 8:15. Took a load of picture of the snow and Harley. Climb up Whitetop Mountain was long. I felt like I was in a time warp at one point as I started to think that I recognized trees that I had passed fifteen minutes before. As I approached the summit, the trees thinned out and offered some great views. Temp was in the 20's with a strong wind. Got a video:
Walked in a big group for a while. When we got to Elk Garden, everyone stopped for lunch, but I decided to keep going. Saw that Grumpy had signed in today on one of the trail registers (there are a lot in this stretch). He's doing a day hike with his wife. I tried to catch him, but never did. Hopefully, I will see him up the trail. Pretty walk with the snow everywhere. Wind was knocking it off the trees so it covered the ground and looked like coconut shavings. Met up with Spirit Fingers at Thomas Knob Shelter. He is pushing hard to meet his Dad tomorrow. Said he walked over Whitetop at 9 last night and was knocked over by the wind! The wind was bad at the shelter too. It stole one of my tortillas and fed it to a puddle. Ugh! Other guys caught up and moved on while I ate. Walk from there to Wise shelter was really cool! There was a tunnl that we had to squeeze through (called Fat Man Squeeze Tunnel). Harley navigated it with ease. I had more trouble. This area is also known for wild ponies. Harley and I saw a total of nine. He was very well behaved around them which was a pleasant surprise. Two of the ponies came up to me and licked my hands. I think they wanted food as they were sniffing the pocket where I keep Harley's treats. They let me pet them too. Got some really cool pictures and a video:
Caught up with everyone at Wise Shelter. Also met a section hiker from Maine. Cooked dinner and decided to move on as I still had energy and daylight. Cranked out the last 6 miles to reach Old Orchard Shelter before dark. It's a six person shelter, so I decided to tent with the dog. He goes crazy everytime I set it up. He loves it for some reason. I toweled him off before I let him in and now he is lying on his back between my legs asleep (literally like a hot dog!). I got a picture of it. Really enjoy having him here. Nothing like a great day of hiking with your best friend!
3/31/2009 - 8:30 PM - Partnership Shelter - 24.7 mi today - 526.7 mi total
Got up around 7:30 this morning. Went to pump water and found a tiny leak in my Camelbak. Not the way I wanted to start my day! Packed up the tent and hit the trail at 9 after everyone. Took my lunch break at 10:30, which was early. Not too many interesting sights today. Allowed me to get through the miles quickly. Reached Trimpi Shelter at 2 PM and caught Wally and Pacman. About a mile after the shelter, I found the abandoned yellow bus in the field that had been featured in the movie Trek. If anyone wants to know what it is like to hike the AT, watch Trek. I saw it before I left, and it gave me a good preview of what life would be like out here. Took a video:
Nice to knock off another landmark. Reached Partnership Shelter at 6PM. I average 3mph today! Definitely have my trail legs now. From here, you can order pizza from Atkins, which we did. I ate a large pepperoni and split a 2 liter of Coke with Wiz Kid. Yum! Harley cleaned all the pizza boxes. Nice to be able to relax after a long day and still have some daylight. Wiz kid let me use his special glue on my Camelbak. Hopefully it will plug the hole. We'll see tomorrow. Dog is sleeping on me hot dog style again. Living the dream! Will hit Atkins tomorrow, but not sure about the hostel. Might just shower and move on. Have to pick up my packages from the Barn Restaurant.
4/1/2009 - 8:15 PM - Happy Hiker Hollow Hostel - 11.6 mi today - 538.3 mi total
Heard the rain last night and a coyote howl at one point. Pacman sat bolt upright, but Harley barely stirred. Harley was a bit sluggish this morning. We had breakfast in bed, and then he decided to take a nap on my sleeping bag as I was trying to pack it up. I didn't mind as I was feeling lazy too. Finally got on the trail at 9:30. After a mile, I realized that I had left my SPOT at the shelter! Harley and I dropped our packs and walked back to get it (2 miles of walking that don't count towards the total!). Got going again at 10:30. Had lunch at Chatfield Shelter and tried to finish off my lunch supplies as I knew there would be a load waiting for me in town. Caught up with everyone else outside a shut down Exxon station. Everyone was debating their options. I nipped across the street to pick up my package(s) from the Barn Restaurant. I had three! The guys were laughing at me as I came out fully loaded (turns out that one was for me, one was for Harley, and the other was trail magic for everyone from Rachel). We called the Happy Hiker Hollow and they came out to pick us up. Somehow managed to cram seven people, one dog, and seven packs in the old minivan. We were riding low! Got to the hostel and relaxed. The dog is outside in a little barn. He slept almost all afternoon. He's not happy with me because I left him out there on his own all day. I unpacked my boxes and got it all portioned into my stuff sacks. I'm going to do a straight seven day run from here until my Dad meets me next Thursday morning (April 9th). We'll see how far I get. I have enough food for seven days. Took a shower and tried to upload photos to Webshots. Dinner was amazing. They had a full spread out for us. We had turkey, gravy, bbq chicken, salad, stew, dinner rolls, and of course cake to finish it off. They looked a little disappointed when we didn't finish both cakes they had ready. Looking forward to breakfast tomorrow (French toast, bacon, and eggs!). About to go call home and then hit the sack. I feel weel rested and ready to tackle a long stretch of trail.
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!