conditions. I decided that maybe I would be smart( or just realize that the trail had beaten me this time) and call my wife to come and get me in Front Royal, Virginia. I was off the trail. I did 13.5 miles on day two for a total of only 25 miles. At this point I can't say that I want to section hike anymore. Day hikes yes. The trails were very well maintained and the scenery would be great if you could see further than forty feet. The climbs kicked my butt though being steeper and longer than I had expected. Seems like a trail for 20 and 30 year olds with a lot more stamina than this near 60 year old. I am glad that I gave this thing a shot but am equally glad that it is over. At least for now. Will see next year???? Better weather?? From what I hear from the through hikers there is a lot of weather to contend with. Snow in the Smokys. High winds. Sub freezing weather. Hmm. Maybe not for me anymore. Again. Will see.
Ah what a difference rain makes on the trail. We were hiking in the clouds so that nothing could be seen forty feet away. Keeping one eye on the trail and one eye open for the bears kept our attention. After awhile we kept both eyes on the trail as the trail conditions deteriorated in the continuing rain. Deep puddles and deep mud were problems to me. The rain jacket kept me dry from rain but the exertion got me just as wet from the sweat. A lot of wet, slippery rocks were navigated both going up and , even worse, going down. The pack really throws off your balance going down steep, wet inclines. A lot of the steps were more than a comfortable stretch and when you would step up your back foot would slide down. I ended up stressing the hip joint muscles too much doing this and the hike became a real chore afterwards. Every step felt like fire in the hip. Not what I had envisioned hiking the trail. Seeing that 4 of the next 6 days were forecasted for rain, meaning continued muddy cont.
No issues with that. Yet! Many of the hikers were through hikers. They had left the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail around March1 and had made 955 miles by now. All were heavily bearded and really nice, unassuming people. Trail names like Rambo, Aqua, twinkle toes and Red. After talking and getting settled in a bit, a late hiker came into camp and said that he had seen three bears just up the trail a tenth of a mile. The log book said that sometime a bear sits at night just outside the shelter entrance on the other side of the picnic table. I wasn't nervous as the seasoned hikers acted as this was not abnormal. We do keep food up on poles or in a bear proof box. Around 1 in the morning we got heavy winds and then nearly three inches of rain. I happened to be under a hole in the roof but didn't know it until near morning as the water drips finally soaked though the sleeping bag. Was warm all night though til then. Upon awakening we had breakfast and hit the road.
They were around. The birds included Cardinals, Indigo Bunting and a lot of thrushes. A few miles down the trail we were beset by thousands of small grasshoppers. All of a sudden they were hopping and popping all around us. Almost like the noise of popping corn as they were jumping around the fallen leaves. Almost unnerving after an hour of that. The last two miles in to camp that night were long miles. A lot of climb and I was tired of carrying the 44 pound pack. We made it to a real nice shelter house in the late afternoon and set up camp. The shelter had three sides enclosed and the fourth open to nature. We fixed our dinners as other hikers arrived. Eventually we had nineteen people at the facility. Room for only about ten so a lot of hikers pitched their tents around the area. Many hikers don't like to stay in the shelters due to snoring problems and mice issues. I guess some shelters have a lot of mice that come out at night and run across you while looking for food. We had no
Well here I am again. Finally have a signal to connect to the Internet. Day one of the hike started out perfectly. We arrived at the trail head, got the pack put together one last time, said our goodbyes and I hit the trail. Clear and 58 degrees. Five minutes onto the trail I run into Clay, a man hiking by himself. Also a section hiker and right at my age. So we team up and hike together. The scenery was gorgeous looking in to the valleys 4000 feet below us. Not much was blooming though. I was really looking forwards to seeing azaleas and rhododendrons but we were 2-3 weeks too early I guess. A lot of the trail crisscrossed the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah Park so we heard traffic but it wasn't off putting. Was nice that at one of the crossing, around lunch time, there was a wayside that had blackberry milkshakes. Who can say no to that! After a lunch we hit the trail again. Lots of squirrels, birds and rabbits. No bears. Though we did see lots of their scat on the trail so we knew
19 May 2016
We are at the motel in Virginia going through the pack one more time. just to make sure nothing extra is in there and nothing important is left out. Supposed to rain up to two inches on my second day out. Quack quack. The rest of the days are forecasted to be wonderful. On trail by 8:00 am tomorrow! Go Hawks!
18 May 2016
Off for the trip his morning heading to Virginia to start my Appalachian Trail hike. Stopping along the way to see Monticello and University of Virginia tomorrow. I will start my two week trek Friday morning. 154 miles on the AT and the day mileages range from 8-14. The trip has been on my bucket list for a long time. Really looking forward to this trip. I sure hope the knees and back hold out. Trying to keep mileages down on this first hike. can add to the daily mileage on my next trip if desired.