4/25/09 8:30 PM – Manassas Gap Shelter – 13.7 mi today – 970.3 mi total
Yesterday afternoon we went to Wegmans, which was amazing! I was so happy to be in a Rochester institution, something so familiar so far away from home. We got all the stuff I needed for resupply and steaks for dinner. Went back to the Walker’s house and I took Harley for a little walk. It was a nice relaxing zero day. We had steaks for dinner, as well as corn and grilled tomatoes. Excellent! After dinner I sewed up one of the pockets of Harley’s pack, we’ll see how long it lasts. Told trail stories to the Walkers during a nice chat on the couch. After that it was time for a last check of ESPN and then off to bed. Woke up the next morning to the smell of bacon. Had a pretty big breakfast, but not as big as the day before. Afterwards I packed my bag up, including my overly large food bag and a whole bunch of trail magic. Last night I packaged up 8 cans of soda and candy bars to deposit on the trail to other hikers. That weighed a lot. We all hopped in the van and drove back to the trail. It was hot and sunny. We managed to find the small dirt road that I had been picked up on, where I said goodbye and thank you to the Walkers. Climbed a short side trail back up to the AT and continued on my way North. Was feeling really hot under the heavy backpack and intense heat. Luckily I found a small stream within the first couple miles where I left the trail magic. Hopefully whoever finds it will appreciate the nice cold soda and candy bars. Took it pretty slow all day as we were hiking in the hottest part of the day. Harley learned a new trick—lay down in the stream in order to cool off. There were bugs everywhere. I guess you could say that spring has finally sprung. After crossing Rt 522 the trail runs along side the National Zoological Park Research Center. This is where the national zoo has their breeding grounds and sometimes you can see exotic animals on the other side of the fence. I wasn’t so lucky. Just before I got to the first shelter I passed by a group of 20 brand new young scouts. It was good to talk with them and remember what I went through back in the old days. Stopped in at Jim and Molly Denton Shelter, decided to keep moving as the heat was starting to subside. Passed under I-66 just as the NFL draft was beginning. I wonder who the Bills picked. Got to Manassas Gap Shelter and met a thru hiker in planning named Do-over and three guys from DC. Glad I got there when I did, because a thunderstorm rolled through 15 minutes later. I ate dinner. Then sat down and checked Harley for ticks. I found 8 on him. There are the first I’ve found, including one on his nose. I pulled them all out and he quickly learned to dislike the tweezers. Now he is suspicious every time I try to give him a belly rub. Wrote in the shelter log and hit the sack.
4/26/2009 8:30 PM – Sam Moore Shelter – 19.8 mi today – 990.1 mi total
Woke up at sunrise and was on the trail by 7:45. Spring has finally sprung on the AT, especially at the lower elevations. Flowers are in bloom(lots of trillium today), the trees are budding, and the insects are out. It is a welcome change from the lack of greenery that I’ve had until this point. The temperature started out cool but rapidly increased as the day went on. I took a short break at Dick’s Dome Shelter, which has an interesting shape. I decided to try and get to the next shelter 9 miles north by lunchtime in order to avoid the worst heat of the day. Harley again took the opportunity to lie in the streambed and cool off along the way. We went through Sky Meadow State Park on the way, which is a nice state park with well-maintained trails. Got to Rod Hollow Shelter at 12:30. The temperature was 88 degrees in the shade. Harley and I took a 3-hour lunch break. I was able to relax, eat, pump water and take my first “trail shower” as there was a pipe connected to one of the springs and a bucket that allows me to dunk myself. I poured the bucket over my head three times. That felt cold and refreshing! I also noticed my shoe was starting to fall apart as the sole of my left shoe is ripping away. I tried to fix it with duct tape, but apparently duct tape is not qualified for shoe repair. With only 30 miles to Harpers Ferry I don’t think it will be that big of a problem. We left the shelter around 3:30 and began the “roller coaster” which is 10 climbs and descents in succession in a span of 13 miles. Luckily there was water available in each of the gaps, so Harley was able to drink and I was able to pump water. I think I drank about 2 gallons of water today, double what I normally drink. We got to Sam Moore Shelter at 6:30 and I took my second trail shower of the day. It felt really good. I made dinner and checked Harley for ticks. It was still hot when I unpacked my stuff so I decided to forgo the sleeping bag. Then I hit the sack. Hope to get close to Harpers Ferry tomorrow. Don't think I can get there by 4 (when the Post Office closes), so I'll wait until Tuesday to cruise into town.
4/27/2009 11:30 PM – David Lesser Shelter – mi today – total
Slept really well last night even without the sleeping bag. Got up at sunrise and the temp was in the 60s. Had breakfast, Harley and I played with the stick for a while. Got going around 8 am for the second half of the "roller coaster." Within about 15 minutes of hiking, we came across a turtle on the trail. Harley didn't even see him. I took a little video (will post later) and moved him off the trail. Second half of the roller coaster wasn't that bad, but it started to heat up quickly. Luckily there are a lot of water sources along the way. We also crossed the border from Virginia to West Virginia. I shot a video as I entered state number 5 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvlpnLA0TOE). Four miles later, I hit another milestone as I reached the 1,000 mile mark on the trail. It feels good to check off each accomplishment as I go. We were battling the heat as we approached the middle of the day, but thankfully reached Blackburn Trail Center at 1:00. It's a really nice facility run by the PATC (Patomac Appalachian Trail Club). The caretaker welcomed me with an orange soda. I filled up my water bladder, dunked Harley (he didn't like that but it was necessary), and had a nice long lunch on the hostel porch. I ate as much as I could because I knew that there was a big box waiting for me in Harpers Ferry. Harley took a nap as I used the payphone to call home. Everyone was happy that I made it to the 1,000 mile mark. At 4PM, I decided to hit the trail again (even though the temperature was still 85 in the shade). On my way back to the trail, I almost stepped on a Timbe Rattlesnake. Harley must have walked right by it (unscathed luckily). I walked around it. About an hour later, I stopped at David Lesser Shelter for water and decided to stay the night. It had a nice porch with an inviting Adirondack chair. I had the shelter to myself and again left my sleeping bag in my backpack. Saw a lizard while making dinner (lots of wildlife today!). After I had done all of my chores, I wandered down to the campsites to hang out with a group of guys from Winchester, VA. They were out to celebrate the return of one of their friends from the army. I had a couple drinks with them and enjoyed the campfire. Nice group. When I finally returned to the shelter, the lens popped out of my glasses. Luckily, I was able to fix it with my Leatherman (in the dark!). Looking forward to Harpers Ferry tomorrow. Hope I can get up and moving in the morning despite the late night.
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!