APPALACHIAN TRAIL:  01 – 30 June 2013

01-Jun-2013, 0 miles:  Took a zero day to resupply, get a haircut, do laundry, eat a good meal or two and relax.

02-Jun-2013, 9.2 miles: Hiked to Saunders Shelter. It started raining an hour after we started hiking. Got to the shelter around 11:30am and just decided to not hike in the rain all day.

03-Jun-2013, 18.6 miles: Hiked to Thomas Knob Shelter. Saw a couple wild ponies about a mile before the shelter.

04-Jun-2013, 19.1 miles: Hiked to Trimpi Shelter.

passed 500 miles

05-Jun-2013, 10.7 miles: Hiked to Marion, VA. Resupply, etc. Got there in 3.5 hours which is probably the fastest I have hiked so far. Nice day with no rain.

06-Jun-2013, 11.5 miles: Hiked to Atkins, VA. It rained hard before the first shelter but we pressed on into town and stayed at a dumpy motel to get dry. A lot of hikers did the same thing.

07-Jun-2013, 24.3 miles:  Woke up to rain. It rained all night too. We did not want to waste a day so we got a shuttle and slack-packed 24.3 miles back to Atkins from further north on the trail. Slack-packing is where you only take water and food and a couple other minor items with you. You leave everything else behind.

08-Jun-2013, 15.7 miles: Hiked to Bland, VA. Stayed at a bizarre hostel which was not worth it. Weather was ok. Mostly cloudy.

Kemosabe looking stylish on a damp day.

When you have to go, you have to go…

OK, it really wasn’t me!

09-Jun-2013, 11.9 miles: Hiked to Jenny Knob Shelter. It was a warm day. Sunny for most of it then it started pouring around 5pm after we got to the shelter. We decided to stay the night instead of hiking more in rain.

10-Jun-2013, 14.2 miles: Hiked to Wapiti Shelter. Another wet day. Mostly cloudy but then it rained for an hour or two in the middle of the day. Huge puddles and streams on the trails everywhere.

passed 600 Miles

11-Jun-2013, 16.6 miles: Hiked to Pearisburg, VA. It rained most of the night but had stopped when we started hiking. However, another wet day of hiking. Got a room and some Mexican food.

12-Jun-2013, 21.7 miles: Hiked to . We slack-packed back southbound to Pearisburg, VA from further north. Used my new boots and started getting blisters.

13-Jun-2013, 1.5 miles: Hiked to Bailey Gap Shelter. Took a shuttle to where we started slack-packing yesterday and hiked in 1.5 miles to the Bailey Gap shelter. Unfortunately 30 minutes after starting hiking we had thunderstorms, high winds, rain and hail. We were soaked and ended up staying at the shelter for the night. It was a wasted day and I should have just stayed at the motel.

14-Jun-2013, 14.6 miles: Hiked to War Spur Shelter. The last big climb today we were lucky to get some trail magic with beer, apples, sodas, etc.

15-Jun-2013, 20.2 miles: Hiked to campsite. We camped out for the night. My blisters are starting to bug me more and more.

This is a place we stayed one night. Usually a hostel has bunk beds, showers and toilets. This had none of those and you set up your tent instead. It was a waste of time and we should have just kept hiking to the next shelter.  Behind this “kitchen” there is a community area which was a bunch of tarps with a hole in the middle where smoke from the fireplace went up, it had a bunch of chairs, lights from a generator, stereo and TV.  Sort of a communal sweat lodge setup.

This trail so far has surprisingly few views. This is a rare one on a cloudy wet day. It didn’t rain but the accumulation of water from the past few days made for wet hiking.

After 630 miles and 3 years of regular use, my boots have had it. The tread is minimal and I was occasionally slipping going into Damascus over a week ago. And, that was in dry conditions!  The past week has been pretty wet and the trails are incredibly soaked in some areas. The past two days there have been streams coming down the trails and puddles that you have to go into the woods to get around.

My new boots are here though and I will try them out today.

16-Jun-2013, 8 miles: Hiked to Four Pines Hostel. We stopped at the four Pines hostel for the night. We went to the Homeplace restaurant with all-you-can-eat late lunch. It was very very good and we didn’t feel like hiking after. it was a really nice day.

17-Jun-2013, 16.3 miles: Hiked to Lamberts Meadow Shelter. It was a great day to hike. The weather was hot and humid in the morning but then cooled off a little bit in the afternoon. MacAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs were great.

passed 700 miles

18-Jun-2013, 9.4 miles: Hiked to Daleville, VA. It was a very rainy morning and hiking in to town got me soaked. But I had the afternoon off to get some stuff done and resupply.

19-Jun-2013, 0 miles: Took a zero day to buy food, rest, eat out and get supplies at the outfitter. Ended up buying some new boots which I will explain in another email.

20-Jun-2013, 18.5 miles: Hiked to Bobblets Gap Shelter. It was a nice day to hike.

21-Jun-2013, 18.4 miles: Hiked to Cornelius Creek Shelter. There were two tough climbs and it was a very hot and humid day. It was a tough day overall.

22-Jun-2013, 21.6 miles: Hiked to John’s Hollow Shelter. We jumped in the river at the James River footbridge which was a very nice break from hiking for an hour. This is the longest foot-use only bridge on the AT.

23-Jun-2013, 20.1 miles: Hiked to Brown Mountain Creek Shelter. It was a great day of hiking with a very tough climb to start. I sweated so much it was like I just stepped in the shower with all my clothes on.

This memorial to Audie Murphy was at 100 feet off the trail. It seemed like an odd spot but I understand he died in a plane crash somewhere in the area.  Younger folks may not remember the name but many of us my age and older have heard of him.

McAfee’s Knob is supposed to be the most photographed spot on the southern part of the AT. We had good weather and a view this day. It was definitely worth the hike and was a great spot compared to the somewhat endless green tunnel we seem to hike through daily.

This picture was taken from Tinker Cliffs and is looking back at McAfee’s Knob.  Look at the highest point and follow the ridge to the left and that is part of the hike on June 17th. You are looking at about 5.6 miles of the 16.3 miles I hiked this day.

Another trail that goes straight through the cows. Notice the white blaze on the stick indicating the trail.

This is a typical privy on the trail. Usually located near shelters but occasionally you will find one just about anywhere.

New boots + High miles = ??????

The answer is blisters!  However the story is more complicated than that.

The tread on my first set of boots was starting to go after 600 miles And I  occasionally slipped even on dry stuff. I ordered new boots and decided get a 9.5 wide instead of a 9 1/2 regular and had them shipped to Pearisburg Virginia.

I wore the new boots for almost 100 miles and started getting blisters on my big toe and the toe next to my little toe on both feet. I assumed this was just part of breaking in the new boots.

In Daleville Virginia, I thought the old insoles I put in my new boots might be causing the blisters.   So I bought a new pair of insoles and had them put in the boots.

Right before I paid, I decided to have my feet measured. Once he measured my feet, it turns out that I have a 10 1/2 size foot instead of 9.5 foot. My feet have increased a whole size which is  typical for the Appalachian Trail.

So I bought another pair of boots in the correct size, and have not had problems my feet since. My blisters seem to be healing daily and I feel much better hiking.

This was an expensive lesson!

Longest footbridge on the AT

This is where we took a break and jumped in the water on a really hot day.

24-Jun-2013, 1.8 miles: Hiked to Buena Vista, VA. I’m taking the day off to resupply and relax.

       passed 800 miles

The weather the last four days has been great. Mostly sunny although it’s tended to be more hot and humid that I like to hike in. Temps have been in the mid 80s. Scattered thunderstorms are predicted for the next 6 to 8 days.

25-Jun-2013, 20.6 miles: Hiked to The Priest Shelter. Excellent day of hiking. Low humidity, clouds in the AM and a nice breeze. Confessed all my sins to the priest (pretty small list of those!).

26-Jun-2013, 11.2 miles: Hiked to Reeds Gap, VA. We got a shuttle to the Devils Backbone Brewing Company (DBBC). We did a blue-blaze side trail and although it was shorter than the regular AT, it was a very tough 3+ miles! Had dinner and they let you tent on their property. The food and beer was excellent at the DBBC.

The DBBC has an awesome $5 breakfast for hikers at 10am.  The only problem this day was they could not find a driver to bring us back to the trail. So around 11:30 we decided to have a beer while we waited. Around 2pm we still did not have a driver but by then it didn’t matter as we were eating again and having more beers. So, we ended up doing a zero day there and staying another night.

28-Jun-2013, 19.3 miles: Hiked to Waynesboro, VA. 19.3 miles to a road where I got a ride to Waynesboro, VA for the night. On the way out on the last 3-4 miles I saw my second bear of the trip. I was coming up a slight hill and heard a noise. I looked up and saw a black bear jumping off the trail around 50 yards ahead of me and running up the hill. It was a small bear, I would guess 1-2 years old.

29-Jun-2013, 19.8 miles: Hiked to Blackrock Hut. We entered the Shenandoah National Park. Around 4pm I saw another bear. I was coming around a switchback and heard some crashing and saw a small tree shaking and then watched a bear fall out of it. He ran across the trail in front of me and down the hill in the woods. I think he was sleeping and sunning himself in the tree. It was another small bear maybe 1-2 years old. This was so close I counted and it was 19 steps to the tree (about 15 yards). It was a long day of hiking.

30-Jun-2013, 13.2 miles: Hiked to Pinefield Hut. Stopped at the Loft Mountain Wayside near the trail for a burger and blackberry shake. Spent a couple hours there and fell asleep on the lawn for a while. Saw another bear on the trail. This was a full grown bear and was not too interested in getting out of the way. It was about 50-60 yards down the trail from me and I tried banging my hiking poles together and talking to it. It was ignoring me so I took out my phone and played some music as loud as possible it finally walked about 20-25 yards away up the hill next to the trail and sat down. It was a little nerve wracking but I walked by it while it watched me and then proceeded to check behind me while hiking for the next 10 minutes.

Tenting at the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company and pictures of their awesome $5 breakfast for hikers.

Zero day at the DBBC

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