Despite the frustrating blow of admitting defeat, my spirits are still high thanks to my incredibly supportive family and friends. If it wasn't for them, and for all the inspiring people I met on the trail, I would not be able to end this blog with the decision to start a whole new one next year!! The plan is to start the trail from the beginning again in early March, and this time…become part of the 1/4 of Thru-hikers that succesfully completes the entire trail within one calendar year.
Pictures - totem poll at a shelter / toured Moosehead Lake on "The Kate" / looking straight down the actual trail / Shielding myself from the 40 mph gusts / typical view of Maine's lakes / spotted my first carnivorous plant (Pitcher plant)
8 September 2015
It’s my own fault for not considering this added threat to my foot and reevaluating my decisions. So it wasn’t long before my foot was waving the white flag and begging me not to make things worse. After a combination of backpacking and “slack-packing” from Katahdin through the majority of the “100-mile Wilderness”, I realized this was not meant to be……yet.
Pictures - Climbing Katahdin / Top of Katahdin / typical trail terrain / first time eating wild berries / a perfect skinny-dippin lake on the trail / bog bridges everywhere
5 September 2015
After waiting an unexpected 2+ months for my foot to completely heal, I decided to fly straight up to the state of Maine and try hiking the remainder of the trail going South-Bound (a technique known as “Flip-Flopping”). The reasoning for this strategy change is simple: I simply don’t have enough time to hike North to Mount Katahdin before the winter blows in and closes Baxter State Park. So I flew up there and was greeted with gorgeous weather and spectacular views everywhere you looked. Unfortunately all that beauty comes at a cost. The type of terrain covered by the A.T. in that state is challenging to say the least. There is very little earth visible between the never-ending rocks and roots that seem to have replaced my “footpath” in the south.
Pictures - My "healed" foot / drinking straight from Katahdin / top of Katahdin x3
27 June 2015
The Plan: I am fortunate enough to have a wonderfully supportive family with parents that are allowing me to crash at their house in Richmond while I mend. As frustrating as this injury is, I’m focusing my down time on knocking out as many CPE courses as possible so I can maintain my CPA license in addition to going kayaking as often as possible. The doctor estimates that I will be off the trail for another 6 weeks at the most. Once I’m healed, I intend to return to the A.T. wherever some of my friends have made it to, continue hiking north, at some point I’ll “flip” and begin hiking south from Katahdin to the point I flipped from. Once I reach that point, I’ll spend the remaining weeks in October completing the parts of the trail that I missed, primarily Virginia and the first half of the Smoky Mountains.
I miss all my friends (both on and off the trail) very much and I hope to see you soon.
16 June 2015
Major Hurdle: During the first week of June, I noticed what felt like a small cramp starting in my right foot. I dismissed it and continued hiking on it for another two days before the pain substantially increased and my foot swelled up so much that I developed a limp and had to get off the trail. After a few days’ rest and no improvement, I went to the hospital where an X-ray revealed a stress fracture on my second metatarsal.
3 May 2015
Before leaving Fontana Dam I stopped by "The Hilton" shelter. It earned its name by offering legit showers, running water and a view of the lake. After snapping a few pics I set off to enter the Smoky's. When I arrived at the trailhead a few miles away, I realized the food poisoning from the day before left me malnourished and dehydrated. I decided that entering bear country alone and weak, may not be the best idea. So I went back to the dam to find a ride to Gatlinburg and catch up with some friends while vowing to come back and hike the 20 mile section I'm missing after I finish the AT in the fall. A very generous couple at the dam offered to give me a ride for free despite it being a several hour drive. Eventually they let me pay for gas and dinner but they are truly "Trail Angels". The route they took included 11 miles on route 129 called the "Dragon's Tail". Google that road. Awesome and terrifying experience :)
I've been pushing around 11 mile days lately. Thanks in part to my new trail family the "Misfits". Members include Big sexy, Popeye, Katie, Pumba and Momma Long Legs. None of us started together (Katie & Pumba) but have all stayed relatively close the past 2 weeks. The trail is still following the pattern of going up every Bald knob and down to every gap it could possibly find. But at least it's giving us a constant change of terrain and working different muscle groups so one doesn't get burnt out.
Random note - "Mooney Gap" is supposed to be the wettest spot on the entire east cost with an annual rainfall of 94". It's bone dry in the picture, I was hoping for a water source
28 April 2015
Forgot to mention that I hiked over "Tray Mountain" and stayed at the shelter with these 4 kids that were pretty funny. They provided me with my first pictures of crazy stuff that people have on the trail. One was drinking a flask of Gin with olives in it and another was backing up his IPhone to his laptop. I pushed 13 miles the next day to get ahead of that group for fear of association. Oh and I got blisters on my arms from my sunburn. I now where sunscreen.
23 April 2015
Haven't posted in a while so I'm just going pick up with today. Hiked only 4 1/2 miles today to stay at Plum Orchard shelter. There are no Plum's or an Orchard here, much to my disappointment. But the shelter is really cool, it has multiple loft levels (3 levels in total). I Have a persistent back pain that I can't shake and my left ankle keeps becoming sore every morning (even on zeros).
21 April 2015
After Blood mountain I planned to stay at a hostel/outfitter called "Mountain Crossing" where the trail actually goes right through the building (see pic). But the place was a little sketch and i was lucky enough to be invited to stay in a cabin for the night with a great couple - Allison & AJ. For $20 a person this cabin had HBO and a shower. Sweet. My new friends are the ideal couple. They're clearly in love, have been for years, no jealousy or insecurity between them and super friendly. We watched game of thrones and had a relaxing night.
The next morning i packed up all my mud-covered gear and decided to hike to Woody Gap where I would hitch a ride from some weekenders I met on the trail (Russ & Darna) and spend the next two nights at the "Hiker Hostel." It was great. There i laundered all my clothes, dried all my gear and met numerous other hikers who all had wonderful stories to share advice to heed. This place even owned and restored Earl Shafer's personal VW bus! Very cool.
20 April 2015
Feeling well rested from my mini-vacation, I set out at 8:30am with a very cool guy named Andrew from Texas who was planning to cover at least the same 11 miles that day, as I (he ended up going app. 4 miles further). The first 8 miles passed by quickly until reaching Blood Mountain - the highest peak in Georgia. We climbed 1200 feet in less than 3 miles to reach the unique stone shelter up top. As I rested inside and tried to force some food down me, Andrew headed on down the mountain just in time for a hail and thunderstorm to begin! My descent from the shelter after the storm was like walking in a rock-filled creek that happened to be lined with white blazes. It's a tedious and slow process.
18 April 2015
The next several days were no less exciting than the first. I set out to cover about 8 miles the second day and stay at Gooch shelter (in the pics). However despite drinking over 2 and half liters of water and hiking in rain that never let up, I ran out of water too early and became dehydrated. This forced me to tent at a creek for the night which I screwed up and soaked all my gear. I slept with Lea's gift to me in my hand because she said it would protect me. It did just that....
15 April 2015
My first day of the thru-hike was chaotic and awesome at the same time. My parents hiked the first mile of the AT with me up to Springer Mountain where there is a plaque commemorating the trail next to the first "white blaze" signaling the direction I must go. 30 minutes after starting, rain came on strong and soaked me all the way to shelter (8 miles). I stay the night with a large group of fellow hikers, crammed in and exceeding the shelter's capacity by about 4 people. Then chaos - a girl who arrived late in the evening was soaked and shivering, showing signs of the early stage of hypothermia. Everyone wakes up, some help her change her clothes and combine sleeping bags to keep her warm while others place Bottles of warm water around her. She became unresponsive and started seizing. This is serious and there's no/weak cell signal so we decide to use my SPOT satellite beacon to send out an SOS. EMS arrives after midnight and are able to stabilize her enough to get her off the trail.
Before getting started on the hike, I spent two nights with my parents at a resort called "Lorely" in Helen, GA. Interesting place - the town was suffering economically back in the 30s So they passed an ordinance requiring every home business and structure be re-made to resemble a German Alpine town in an effort to increase tourism. It worked. Place looks like Disney Land without the rides
14 April 2015
En route to Springer mountain in Georgia - the southern most point of the Appalachian Trail - The beginning of my adventure