Summer Day 55

2014/07/31

Starting off birthday number 10 right.

Summer Day 54 (and a few others)

I documented my trip to D.C. in pretty good detail last year so I won't belabor my ardor of this amazing city. A few notes from this tour:

I think I walked just as much as on the AT and ended up with feet just as sore at the end of every day.

I ate more than enough to reverse any weight I may have lost while hiking. And then some. Food was a major focus while in D.C.; I had some truly amazing meals.

Being clean is nice.

Being home is joy. I missed my girls more than I could ever say. 

Summer Day 49

2014/07/26

I took no pictures today. I am hoping that results in me forgetting all the sooner about my first (and hopefully last) Megabus experience.

Summer Day 46

Nine or so miles today. I had written more about this day when it was fresh but my phone garbled the post and I'm shocked how difficult it is to recreate it just a few days later. I suppose that's a testament to how many miles of trees I've seen. 

Summer Day 48

2014/07/25

Only three or four miles today and even though I was giddy at the prospect of a shower and a bed, I found myself really slowing down the last mile to delay the end of a great adventure. My dear friend Melody picked us up and drove us back to her lovely town of Blacksburg. We stopped at a Target on our way back to pick up a few essentials and I've never felt like such a pariah in my life. My filth was excruciating. But the blessed shower was had and we had a lovely evening eating great southern food and catching up.

P.S. I cannot possibly overstate how marvelous it is to be clean.

Summer Day 47

We covered around 12 miles today and it was the longest I've gone without major foot pain. It feels like we're finally hitting a stride which makes it a little bitter sweet that today is our last full day on the trail. Back in the doldrums of this little adventure when Xandy's course of action was unsure, my enthusiasm was low, and Nathan's leg was in a bad way, we decided to leave the trail early and take a detour to Washington DC. I am still glad to be going to DC (I do love me some museums), but I also now realize that I would have been happy to stick it out on the trail. Provided I found a shower. My little stream bath has worn off and I am revolting enough to really hamper my own enjoyment.

Summer Day 45

2014/07/24

Xandy left for home today which was sad for me, but what she needed to do. Something about working and getting paid. Silly. After seeing her off, we made our first real progress in about three days. It felt great. About 10 trail miles logged as well as our first day hiking in the rain. It seems my feet are perpetually the problem because even though my blisters have finally healed, excruciating foot fatigue seems to set in always around nine or ten miles. I have yet to be sore in my legs or joints or back, just my stupid feet. C'est la vie.

Summer Day 44

We didn't hike far today, but we did decide to tent camp for the first time since being out here. Seemed appropriate to use these things since we've been lugging them so far. My favorite part of today was the couple of hours we spent picking wild blueberries.

Summer Day 43

2014/07/19

Persistent injuries in the group and some lagging enthusiasm sent us to town today to resupply and take more rest. A two mile hike to the road and then a ride to tiny Glasgow, which surely must be one of the friendliest towns for hikers. Tonight we're staying in a free shelter that the local boyscout Troup built and enjoying the junk food we can procure at the Dollar General. A good diversion but I'll be glad to head back to the trail tomorrow.

Summer Day 42

And then the phones died... Fast forward 29 miles, some good moods, and some bad moods and we've decided to take our first zero day. Some injuries among the group have made that the most prudent course of action. That plus I'm just real tired of walking.

Summer Day 38

Day six and we decided it was time to head to town to resupply. Four miles from our shelter to US-60 then one of the many friendly local shuttle drivers took us the 9 miles into Buena Vista. We availed ourselves of the local Food Lion then a kindly stranger approached us and asked if we could use a ride anywhere. She was also from out of town, here doing some camping with her dog, and could tell from our fine coiffure that we were AT hikers. (I have surely, never in my life, smelled worse than I did right then.) She took us a few miles to the center of town where we caught a hot lunch and then another shuttle back to the trail. Another two miles to the shelter where we immediately jumped in the stream to feel semi clean before the rain started and we settled in for the night. In bed by 5:30 is heralded by all as a win.

Summer Day 37

2014/07/14

10 miles today of much easier terrain. Which made for a cheery and social and just plain pleasant day. Which I think has tipped the scales for me on how I want the rest of this little adventure to play out. One of the through hikers we met joking told us that it was "all miles, no smiles" and I'll be honest that it's hard to not feel wimpy when monster hikers roll through the shelters boasting of their 20-30 mile days, or starting back out after dinner to casually tack on the hike that it took me a whole day and all the energy I possess to complete, but I'm okay with the hike that's evolving for us.

Also, we saw sunshine for the first time all week as we headed out of the trees to a mountaintop meadow. As much as I love the deep forest, the change in scenery was welcome. So many beautiful places on God's green earth.

Summer Day 36

All told, today we hiked 15 or 16 miles. It would be easiest to say that the 4 or 5 miles climbing 3,000 feet up The Priest was the hardest, but the last two of the day were the ones that made me cry. My feet are in pretty bad shape. I was quite optimistic the first chunk of the day that my blisters had gotten to a manageable place, but every step turned into fire as the day went on. The lovely shoes (second pair now) that have seen me down and up the Grand Canyon three times without a single blister don't seem to handle this terrain so well. I guess the weight of my pack my factor in as well.

The views today were incredible. Truly beyond description. Unfortunately, the insane amount of sweat from hiking up The Priest completely fogged up the lens on my phone's camera so much I did not capture. Spy Rock and the 300 degree view of mountain tops and trees was more than a camera could capture anyhow. Really, all of it is. Being in the forest is much more than seeing the forest.

Summer Day 35

Heavy rain last night made for a late start this morning. The benefit to the rain was bringing all our nearby fellow hikers to the shelter and the sociality was nice. It's amazing how many different types of people we've met after just a few days. But the later start and still nursing some pain from yesterday's hike caused us to shorten our mileage goal for the day and stop at an intermediate shelter only 6 miles along the trail. My pride was a little wounded that we're deviating from Plan A already, but the afternoon to relax and rest has been delightful. The quiet of the forest is perfection and a chance to wash in the stream was rejuvenating. As I lay here typing I am reminded that I am out here not for a badge with a number on it, but to be in the green.

Summer Day 34

Today was significantly more ambitious. After 16 miles and some decent elevation changes I was pretty wrecked. Carrying a 40ish pound pack everywhere you go is hard work. My feet are blistered and my clavicle feels bruised. Hopefully nothing more than a long night's sleep can repair.

Oh, and beautiful. Did I mention that? We were thick in the forest the entire day and it was amazing.

Summer Day 33

Day 1 of my three week hike on the Appalachian Trail. We started in Waynesboro, VA and headed South. The first day was short, just about 5 miles, since most of the day was taken up by air travel. It is sensationally beautiful here and the euphoria of that is somewhat masking my concerns over the ambitious itinerary I've set out. Here we go.

Summer Day 32

2014/07/08

I may have used the possibility of bear attacks on the Appalachian Trail as leverage to get them to agree to a picture together.

Summer Day 31

Hanging out with my beautiful sister before she has to go home. Bitter sweet.

Summer Day 30

2014/07/06

Popcorn and a movie with baby. Cousin love.

Summer Day 29

2014/07/05

Beginning to pack for my sojourn on the Appalachian Trail. Chaos. 

Blue

2014/07/04

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. (We all knew this day was coming, right?)

Summer Day 28

Patriotic waffles. Which of course are totally staged. She picked the blueberries off and instead added more whip cream.

Summer Day 27

2014/07/03

Our morning runs to the pool can barely be considered morning any more. This is the summer of sleeping in.

Summer Day 26

2014/07/02

It is officially hot. FroYo is in order.

Summer Day 24

2014/07/01

I told my girls we would stay at Main Event until someone cried. It was close, but that someone was me just before midnight. But only after we'd played mini golf, laser tag, shuffle board, air hockey, rock wall, and a terrible game of bowling.

Summer Day 22

Meandering around Austin with some friends. There are days when no plan is the best plan.

Summer Day 21

A little target practice at Archery World. I did mostly hit the targets. Take that, high school gym teacher!