Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bear... Finally - Nov 17

After 2700 miles of AT hiking over the last 13 years Pappy 12 actually saw a bear. Beautiful sight. With all the leaves off the trees the view is clear, deep into the woods making a bear's body easy to spot. It's black body stands out nicely against an all brown background. The bear in the photo below was actually the second one we saw, that time on Skyline Drive from the car. Now I'm expecting to see a bear behind every other tree.

We day hiked several days since I wrote last, from Snickers Gap, Rt 7, south to Rt 522 at Front Royal. We then took a four day trip hiking south from 522 into Shenandoah National Park.

This time Best Wife and I took two cars so we could credit card (motel) camp. Each day we drive one car to the beginning of our hike and hike to the other car. Then drive to a motel (Front Royal or Luray) for dinner, hot shower and a bed. The next morning we drive to the beginning of that days hike and hike to the other car. Then repeat for as many days as we want.

Hiking with only a day pack and credit card camping are a great way to go in cold weather. The downside is we miss the trail society in the evenings. Except that in cold weather there is little trail society available.

The sixth picture is of a large White Oak that I first saw about 6 years ago. As we approached Front Royal I was looking forward to enjoying this giant again, but it wasn't meant to be. The Big Boy has given up the ghost.

The picture of the group of kids on the trail is a school class from Locust Grove, VA on a field trip. They had hiked up to Mary's Rock just south of Thorton Gap. The teacher leading the charge was also the bus driver.

Check out the privy with a fancy Dutch door at Floyd Wayside Shelter. Bottom closed for privacy. The top open so you can do your business and enjoy nature at the same time.

We have 86.9 miles to go from the middle of SNP to 30 miles south of Waynesboro through beautiful woods on relatively easy treadway. Most of the hiking in SNP so far has been on dirt, well graded trail. It's going to be a real fun finish.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Back in the Groove - Nov 2

Summiting Katahdin seems like a dream. Still hard to believe Best Wife and Pappy 12 lived in a tent for six months. It's good to be home, but we miss the woods and the trail culture.

Since we left Maine we played with grand babies for a few days in Boston. Then flew to Utah to see those grand babies (who had asked months ago if they could shave my beard) for two weeks before they moved to Paraguay. (Our son-in-law works for a general contractor who was awarded a project renovating the Mormon temple in Paraguay). As soon as we returned from Utah we got back on the AT to finish up the 200 miles we skipped.

My cousin, John Taylor, met us in Waynesboro, VA and drove us south to VA Rt 60 to start a week long hike back to our car in Waynesboro. The night before we started hiking strong winds had blown many ripe apples off the tree. For three days we were treated to delicious crisp apples laying all over the trail.

The first night out Best Wife discovered her sleeping pad would not stay inflated.

One of the aluminum stays in Best Wife's pack had broken into three pieces (somewhere in Conn or Mass). We didn't know that the sharp end of one of the broken pieces was sticking inside her pack. This sharp stay end had cut a hole in her sleeping pad so she slept on the hard wood shelter floor. How she hiked 500 miles through New England without the stay damaging any equipment in her pack is beyond me.

The next day after we hiked 10.2 miles to Seeley-Woodworth Shelter, I located the hole and tried to patch it with duct tape. It didn't hold so she slept on the somewhat not so hard, but still hard ground as we were tenting that night.

The third day we hiked another 10 to the summit of, and 3000 vertical feet down, The Priest to the Tye River. As we hiked that day Shauna decided that she was not sleeping without a sleeping pad for the third night. It worked out that a hiker friendly guy was able to pick us up and drive us to the outfitter in Waynesboro where we bought a patch kit for the sleeping pad.

During this whole three days we were stressing a little about our daughter, Page because we had little cell service. Page was 17 weeks pregnant but was likely to lose the baby as the baby had developed a huge cyst on her neck. While we were at the outfitters parking lot we figured it was too late in the day to fix the sleeping pad and get back on the trail and set up camp before nightfall. So we drove home with the plan to day hike closer to our house the next day. On the way home Shauna said that maybe the damaged sleeping pad was the event that caused us to be closer to home and in good cell signal range in case Page needed us.

Two hours into our day hike the next day (where we did have good phone service) we got a call from Page saying the doctor had just determined that the baby had no heartbeat. She asked if we could drive to Columbus, GA that day to stay with her four kids while she delivered a dead baby. We turned around and hiked the four miles back to the car, drove home, packed our bags and headed down I-81 to GA.

After a week in Columbus, GA playing with four grand babies we will get back in the woods. 160 AT miles to go.