Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Hope you are having a great Easter.  I stayed last night at the Mountain Harbor B & B and Hiker Hostel in Roan Mountain, TN. (Mile 389)  We stayed in the Hiker Hostel part of it which is the top of a barn that looks over a creek.  The best part is that we were included in the breakfast this morning which was fantastic! Just about every thing you could imagine and more.  Last night we went to a steakhouse and I was kind of embarrassed by what I wore there.  My clothes were still in the laundry so I was wearing a white Under Armour shirt and my running shorts with my hiking boots!  I had showered though!

I met a hiker from Berea, Ohio whose trail name is Buckeye Flash.  Those of you from Ohio can figure this one out.  He's from Ohio, the Buckeye State and home of the Ohio State Buckeyes and he graduated from my Alma mater Kent State, home of the Golden Flashes.  He was there a few years before me though.

We had some terrible weather again this week although yesterday was beautiful. We all ended up staying in another barn called Over Mountain Shelter the night before due to the miserable weather.  There were about 25 of us and 4 dogs in this one.

Also yesterday we had some "Trail Angels" with some "Trail Magic" on the hike.  It was so good to see them because I was down to a pouch of tuna and it wasn't looking very appetizing.  They had water and soda, fruit and other snacks and cakes.  It was a beautiful sight!

I was at another hostel on Monday called Greasy Creek Friendly and stayed with Doc, a retired Army medic and Loose Ends, a policeman from the Findlay, Ohio area. Also there were Blue Eyes, Red Eagle and Tender Foot for those of you who like to hear the trail names.

Hoping to be in Damascus, VA by the weekend. That would be around mile 464.  Today begins my 8th week on the trail. Hoping that little grand baby comes soon so I can take a little break!

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." (I smell like that and more!)
-Margaret Atwood

Monday, April 18, 2011

On the Road (Trail) Again

Spent the past 2 days in Erwin, TN. (Mile 339)  I was going to stop there for a day anyway, but decided to stay an extra day at the Super 8 Motel.  I developed shin splints in my right leg and decided to rest it an extra day. I used to get them when I was younger from running on hard surfaces, but hadn't had them in years. 

I was pushing myself to try to get to Erwin and probably did more miles and faster miles than a 62-year old guy should be doing. I've decided that I need to just hike my hike and take breaks when I need them.  I'll finish when I finish.

On Friday while I was hiking there were all kinds of trees down from the storm the night before which had 60 mph winds.  I had to walk all the way around some of them.  The shelter was packed that night so it wasn't a very good night's sleep for any of us.  We thought the wind was going to blow us away.

Caught up with Currahee and Jerry G. in Erwin and had a meal with them.  You hike with people for a while, then catch up with someone else that you might have left behind or who might have gone ahead of you.

Ate lots of good food this weekend, so some of those pounds should hopefully be going back on.  I also got a haircut on Saturday, my first on the trail.  I was starting to look like a real thru-hiker!

Today I ate breakfast at the motel, got some supplies and then checked out by 11.  Might only make it to Curley Maple Gap Shelter today, mile 344. Next big stop should be Elk Park, NC at mile 389.  I should have enough food until then. Anxious to get back on the trail....

"On the road again
 Goin' places that I've never been.
 Seein' things that I may never see again

 And I can't wait to get on the road again."
-Willie Nelson

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Things are Looking Up

I lost a couple days of updates, but will try to get you (and me) up to today.  It's sometimes hard to keep track of the days, but I know that today is Thursday, April 14th. 

I spent Tuesday night at Little Laurel Shelter, mile 291.4.  As I was hiking yesterday, we came upon a little "Trail Magic."  There was a section hiker named Papa Smurf there around 3:30 in the afternoon who had ham and cheese sandwiches waiting for us with chips and homemade peanut butter cookies.  It was great!  I enjoyed it so much that I stayed and talked for almost an hour and lost a little bit of daylight to make it to the next shelter.  I ate lunch with Toaster and Mike and Steve from the Hanover, PA area.

For those of you who don't know, "Trail Magic" happens when people come along the trail and provide a meal or some kind of comfort for the hikers.  If you happen to live near the AT, it is a very nice surprise, especially for the thru-hikers who are eating whatever they happen to have in their packs. 

Last night I camped along the trail in my tent since I couldn't make it to the next shelter.  I woke up around 6:45 and then was able to fall back to sleep for a little while longer.  That doesn't happen very often.  I got up and got started, had some breakfast and am around mile 310 now.  It's a windy, but sunny day.  When I stop to talk to someone it gets a little chilly.

My ankle is feeling much better.  The Achilles is still tender, especially when going downhill.  I've been popping ibuprofen which seems to do the trick.

Hoping to make it to Erwin, TN early Saturday morning.  My friends Ceil and Paul sent me some venison sticks and I'm hoping to get them at the post office in the morning. I also forwarded a package from home so it should be waiting there for me too.  That will be around mile 340.

The other day around Blackstack Cliffs (mile 294) we had to climb down steps made out of rock to make a 8-10 foot drop on the trail.  It was interesting trying to get our packs down before us.  It all worked out, but would be a horrible fall if you couldn't do the steps or had been drinking too much Tennessee bourbon!

"My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing."
-Aldous Huxley

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Photo Update!

Hi everyone, it's Kate updating tonight.  Here are some pictures from my dad's first four weeks on the Appalachian Trail.  We talked to him today and he's spending the night at the Sunnybank Inn in Hot Springs, North Carolina.  

While in Hot Springs, he stopped at a health clinic for a suspected urinary tract infection because he was having some back discomfort. There wasn't an infection, but he may be trying to pass a small kidney stone.  The doctor recommended he drink more liquids and gave him some pain medication in case he needs it along the way.  He's lost over 20 pounds in the past 5 weeks!  

Someone needs to get that man some real food!  It sounds like he's attempting to make up for that with a large breakfast this morning and a dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, rolls, and pie ala mode. 

 Torch on the trail

One of the shelters

 Beautiful scenery

 Taking a rest along the trail

Some of Torch's hiking buddies: Cheap Chardonnay (Murray), Chris & Patrick

 1st hostel in Georgia

 Snow-covered scenery

 Beautiful mountain views

 Snow along the trail

 Mountains of North Georgia

 Torch and Chris

 A bunch of locals having a picnic

 New one-man tent

 Mountain views

 Torch on the mountain top

 GA/NC  State Line

                                                   Torch and Backyard Boogie

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sore Ankle and Snow

Sorry I haven't updated, but cell phone service has been terrible.  I spent Saturday evening at Icewater Spring Shelter, mile 207 and elevation 5,920 feet.  As I was hiking on Sunday, I slipped on some ice and twisted my ankle.  I made it about 6 miles to Peck's Corner Shelter and then stopped to get off the sore ankle.  I took some ibuprofen and taped it which helped, but decided to stay off it one more day.  So I spent all day yesterday (Monday) at the shelter just chilling and enjoying the beautiful day. So that was a true "zero day."

I woke up during the night to a very hard rain and then guess what we had early this morning?  Three inches of snow!  So we hiked about 13 miles through the snow and I'm at Cosby Knob Shelter tonight, mile 228.  We are starting to head down to the bottom of the Smokies and I'm hoping to be at Hot Springs, NC by the weekend. 

I'm getting low on food, but I think there is a hostel at Davenport Gap, TN so I will stop there and try to get enough to make it about 40 more miles to Hot Springs where I have a mail drop (or 2) waiting for me at mile 271. 

The same group of hikers are at this shelter tonight as were at the one last night.  It's very cold and I'm ready for some warmer weather.  I get warm while I'm hiking, but the nights are still quite chilly.

I sent Kate a picture on her cell phone holding a sign to wish my niece Kerry a "Happy 40th Birthday" on Saturday and they said my face looked much thinner.  I think I need to eat a little more than I have been so maybe I can find some "junk" food at my next stop!  Junk food and the Torch???

Thanks for all your well-wishes and thoughts.  Jan keeps me updated, but you can always leave a voicemail or text me.  Fixing my ramen noodles now....and they will taste yummy since I'm real hungry. What a gourmet meal! Sent some pictures home and hopefully they will be posted real soon.

He who limps is still walking.  ~Stanislaw J. Lec

(That was me today!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gatlinburg, TN

Enjoying a warm night at the Grand Prix Motel in Gatlinburg.  It was as cold as the North Pole last night at Double Spring Gap Shelter, mile 196.  There was a tarp on the outside of the shelter, but it was still very cold....the coldest I've been yet.  I used my last hand warmer to try to keep my feet warm. 

It was snowy and the trees were a beautiful sight. Reached Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the AT at 6,643 feet. I  hiked 11.7 miles to get to the road that goes to Gatlinburg. I was able to get a ride into town (15 miles). Feeling a lot better and warmer. It was so cold I couldn't eat and had a hard time packing my things this morning.  I also saw a turkey yesterday.  Someone else said they had seen a wild boar.

I got into Gatlinburg and checked into the motel and then went and had some Kentucky Fried Chicken!  I'm sharing a room with Nor'easter.  Not a bad room for about $16.50 each. I think he is staying an extra night, but I need to get moving so I will set out in the morning after I get a couple of things at a store. I got my clothes washed and also cleaned up all my other things that were filthy dirty.

I sure hope it starts to warm up a little. I figure I'm about halfway through the Smokies.  Passed the 200 mile mark before the weekend!

"Hiking is just walking where it's okay to pee."
Demetri Martin