Friday, July 28, 2017

Bears Bears Everywhere - July

Rain again today. We've had rain three of the past four days. Although we were in rain most of the day it never was hard enough to make a river on the trail. Got lucky this evening though, hiked 15.6 miles to MA route 20 where the Berkshire Lakeside Lodge is only .1 miles off the trail. Good place to dry out and eat delivered Chinese food.

Everybody sees bears except Pappy 12. How is it that I can hike 1300 miles and not see one stinkin' bear. This morning as Zero Hero (a Yankees fan no less) was passing me he asked if I saw the bear on a dirt road that we crossed 5 minutes back. No. Of course I didn't. Don't you know everybody sees bears except me?

For the next hour three separate southbounders warned us about a bear who was trying to get at some watermelon that some kind soul had put on the trail for hikers. You can easily guess that by the time I got there she and her two cubs were gone. Even Zero Hero saw this set of bears too.

Best Wife has seen a rattlesnake. Not me. Best Wife has seen a couple bears. Not me. Best Wife saw a copperhead eating a mouse. Not me. I'm sure my turn is coming.

The view in the second picture might be hard to figure. That's a cloud covering the middle part of a mountain ridge across the valley.

The sixth picture down is a beaverdam that has created the pond in the seventh picture. For five or ten minutes two beavers captivated all my attention as I watched them swim lazily around.

Every day for three days in a row we passed Doppler (fifth photo) as we hiked north and he south. On the third day I asked him how he is always hiking south but working his way north. Answer: a pickup truck and a dirt bike. He always hikes south to his motorcycle, rides it back to his pickup where he started that day, then drives the pickup north to where he will start hiking the next day. Then repeat.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Magic of a Clementine - July 25

When Best Wife and Pappy 12 crossed MA Route 41 what do you think was lying in the grass next to the AT? How about a cache of clementines? They really hit the spot like not many things can. Wish I could thank the angel who left them there, just for us.

We love the variety of the forest floor. One minute it's nothing but brown pine needles with an aroma that's out of this world. The next it's thick with ferns. Then lush undergrowth of all kinds of low growing plants. All the while the beauty of tall straight trees never fades. I thought by now the beauty of just a plain old every day forest would not be so enticing. After living in the woods for 4 months I thought I might get tired of looking at trees. But that hasn't happened yet. I have not been affected by green tunnel syndrome. Still am smitten with the beauty of the forest, and glad of it since that is what I look at 12 hours a day.

Hiked through the area of Shays Rebellion today.

Some hikers use an umbrella in the rain instead of a pack cover or a poncho. One guy had an umbrella mounted on his head. Look mom, no hands.

All through NY, Conn, and now MA we see lots of stone walls. Lots of material laying around to build them.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Snake - July 24

Yesterday Best Wife and Pappy 12 got back on the trail after a resupply a great church service in Pittsfield, Mass. hiked 4 miles to Brassie Brook Shelter which Best Wife is so expertly sweeping in a picture below. We slept inside the shelter instead of tenting because no other hikers were there and because rain was in the forecast. Good move because it did rain that night and on into the morning. Nothing worse than cooking and eating breakfast in the tent and then packing up everything wet.

The snake pictured below hardly moved from the trail as we passed by. I took a few steps down the trail and stopped to see what he would do. He came back onto the trail and promptly gobbled up a salamander that I hadn't even seen.

While Best Wife was crossing the stream in a picture below I was trying to take her picture but my phone was wet and not willing to take any photos. While I was putting it away I heard Best Wife take a hard fall. I looked up to see her lying on her back on a large rock in the middle of the stream. She couldn't roll to either side or she would end up in the drink. I hustled over and found her laughing at her predicament. We got her to her feet (completely saturated) and on her way.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Frog Has Leapt - July 19

Best Wife and Pappy 12's frog has leapt from VA to NY. After driving to NY on July 17 and hiking 4 miles late that afternoon, we hiked 16.5 the next day and hiked into CT the day after that. It felt good to hike out of Yankee territory, but not so good to get closer to Red Sox turf. Lose lose.

The first morning in NY I was with another hiker at a picnic table eating my oatmeal with raisins and cashews. I asked his name. Poppins. I'm thinking I've met this dude, but then on the AT all 25 year olds with beards look the same to me. He asked my name. Pappy 12. He says he thinks he remembers me. He asked if I'm hiking with somebody. Sure, her name is Best Wife. Poppins started his hike in GA one week after we started down there. Poppins is hiking 20 or 22 mile days and has not taken a zero (day off). That means he passed us our second or third week in, and then after our leapfrog is passing us again. Looking forward to the next young hot shot speedy hiker who will pass us for the second time.

That night we were eating dinner with another young hiker named Speedy. He was eating cold food because he had left his stove at his camp that morning. After texting his buddies who were at the same camp he still couldn't find any good news about his stove. He tried calling a local ridge runner without any luck. He tried Uber to go back and fetch it but the would cost more than the stove is worth. The next morning Speedy had no plan to retrieve his stove.

One mile into his hike that day he ran into a southbounder, Wheels, who was hiking that day to the very shelter where the stove was. Wheels hikes south every day to one of his cars parked at a road crossing, then drives north a ways to hike south again to his other parked car waiting for him at another road crossing. Wheels said he would gladly find the stove and deliver it to Poppins that evening. What are the chances? Lesson learned: often a situation that seems dire works itself out in a way least expected.

Although you have seen lots of pictures of trees in these emails, you have not seen one as big as the Dover Oak below. The grand daddy of them all. The other tree pictured below of an open mouthed crazy man reminds me of somebody. Can't think of who it is. Somebody tell me who this tree looks like.

Sometimes we will only see two or three other tents at a camp. Below is a picture of a camp one night with 16 other tents. The more the merrier.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Full Disclosure Leapfrog - July 15

Last post I included a picture of the Wheeler family but didn't include a paragraph of the huge service they provided for us in Buena Vista, VA. Food, beds, showers, transportation were all so good. Thanks Wheelers. 

On Wednesday, Best Wife and Pappy 12 hiked 13.5 miles to Pedlar Reservoir near Lexington, VA where our daughter Mackenzie met us. This completed 1230 miles hiked so far. Mackenzie met us to bring us home to Northern VA for a few days so we can "Leapfrog" to NY. 

I'll try to explain the method to our madness. In March and April 2017 we hiked 430 miles on the AT from Northern VA to NY state. We then drove to Springer Mt, GA and hiked north 800 miles to Pedlar Reservoir in Central VA where Mackenzie picked us up. On July 17 Best Wife and Pappy 12 will drive to NY and start hiking where we left off in April. We will hike 756 miles north to Baxter Peak on Mt Katahdin in Maine. For those of you doing the math, we are missing 200 miles in there somewhere. The full disclosure part is that after we finish in Maine we still will hike 200 miles in Northern VA to complete the Appalachian Trail. 

As much as we would have liked to complete all of VA on one motion, if we don't leapfrog now to where we left off in NY, we risk cold weather in October in Maine putting the kibosh on the end of our hike. So it is, we are off to New England to finish up the northern part of the AT. We are kinda liking the idea of hiking thru the Shenandoahs in October, few people, great temps, day hikes if we want, skip the rain days, color in the trees, all good. 

Check out the picture below of the rock, the one that looks like the thing that sooooo many Washington Nationals touch after they round 3rd base. GO NATS!!!!

If you want to learn more about the pictured plaque, google Little Ottie Cline Powell, a 4-year old who in 1891 wandered off from his one room schoolhouse looking for firewood. He walked seven miles to the top of Bluff Mountain where he likely died of exposure. 

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Words - July 10

Had a great day of hiking today. 13.5 miles, 1203 overall. Sun was shining, cool breeze blowing, my best wife leading the charge.

When Best Wife and Pappy 12 are explaining our hike to someone they often respond that the hike sounds like tons of fun or what a blast. Neither of those fit. The past couple days we have been trying to figure out what words do fit. It's hard to describe why we want to walk all day. So far neither of us have wanted to quit. We both get up in the morning and are anxious to get moving.

A couple words that do seem to fit are exciting and simple pleasures. When on a tough uphill climb we both are excited to see what's on top. We are excited to see what our tent site will like for the night. We are excited to see if any of our hiking buddies will be there. We get excited when we know good views are ahead or when some rock feature (like the guillotine in the picture below) is coming up. None of these are earth shattering, but in the context of our adventure, are exciting.

We also feel great pleasure in so many small simple things: the sound of rushing water, a bright full moon, the glow of a campfire, vibrant wild flowers, good clean water out of a spring, level dirt paths, level tent sites, tall tall trees, the movement of chipmunks, accurate trail signs, wild berries (especially raspberries).

Lastly, we keep hiking because we are gratified as we overcome challenges. We feel rewarded at the end of each day by the progress we made.