Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hard Week of Hiking

We had a very difficult week or so of hiking.  Last Saturday was probably the most difficult day.  There was about a 30' drop of rocks and it had started to rain so they were very slippery and wet.  Almost lost my footing a couple of times.  That is the Cove Mountain area called Dragon's Tooth around Mile 691. The only thing keeping us moving was the promise of a great AYCE home-style restaurant called the Homeplace which we were told not to miss in Catawba....and we didn't!  We were picked up by an SUV and they drove us to the place and also to get some resupply.

Sunday we were at the Johns Spring Shelter and and then headed toward Daleville, VA (Mile 719).  We hiked about 9.4 miles into to Daleville on Tuesday and then spent Tues. night and Wednesday at a Howard Johnsons Inn there.  Wednesday was a zero day for my hiking buddy Late Start and me.  Late Start is a retiree from Chicago. We needed to get some laundry done and food as well. Thursday was a 25 mile day, some of it with our packs and some of it was without them.  When you hike without your pack it's called "slack packing."  It's a little break from the extra weight and helps you get some miles in quickly.

Thursday night we stayed at Cove Mtn. Shelter (mile 744).  The weather has been crazy.  It's getting warmer, but they are getting lots of storms.  I've been wearing my rain gear a lot.  On Thursday we had some "Trail Magic" of homemade breads with apple butter and cookies around Jennings Creek near VA Route 614. It was delicious!

We spent this past Friday night at the Cornelius Creek Shelter.  Yesterday we hike 17.7 miles and were very tired when we stopped at Matts Creek Shelter. (Mile 774.5)  Today we hitched a ride with Many Waters, a friend of hikers, into Glasgow, VA and got some resupply at a Dollar Store and a sandwich for lunch at a convenience store in a gas station.  He gave us a ride back to the trail and we started off again.  About a mile later was a note from Many with some Pepsi colas for us all.  What a great surprise!  Thanks to Many for the ride and drinks.  He is a great hiker's friend.  All in all, I think we hiked about 77.3 miles this week. 

We can see the Blue Ridge Parkway now most of the time we are hiking.  We get a little closer then a little farther away from it.  Not too much longer and we will be on Skyline Drive.  Getting closer to the halfway mark.  I think we are almost to 800 miles, possibly tomorrow.

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way."
-Dr. Seuss

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Photo Update!

Here are some photos of Torch's latest adventures on the trail.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On the Trail Again!

Updating Dave's blog as he has been out of cell service almost this entire week.  Yes, he arrived home by hitchhiking over 300 miles and made it to the hospital last Friday only hours after little Sam was born.  He was so excited to see everyone and the same was true of us!  We enjoyed lots of good  food  and family time while he was here as well as trips to the hospital to see the little guy.  Mom, Dad and baby were in the hospital until Monday so we visited there on Sunday and then stopped by on Monday to visit them at home before we headed to get Dave back on the trail. 

We arrived in Pearisburg, VA(mile 626.7) just before noon on Tuesday and he was off on the trail again! He purchased a new rain jacket while he was home and I'm sure glad he did.  I drove through rain the entire 6+ hours back so I'm almost certain that the hikers got it too. He also began wearing his other hiking boots which he had purchased and worn in before he started in March.  His other boots were definitely worn out!

We've hardly heard from him this week, but they were hoping to make it to Catawba, VA(mile 700) by today.  They heard that there's an all-you-can-eat restaurant there that they definitely can't miss.

Dave looks thin (about 30 lbs.), but his spirits are great and he is more determined than ever to finish.  He will now be getting closer to home so we can visit him more often.  I will get him to update once he is able.
Thanks for all your thoughts!  (Posted by Jan)

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
-Dalai Lama

Saturday, May 14, 2011

No Place Like Home

Only a few things would make me come off the trail, and one of them arrived on May 13th at 9:52 A.M.  Little Sam, our first grandchild, arrived and I just couldn't wait to get home to see him.  I got a text around 9:15 that Kate was going to have a c-section that morning.  My original plan was to hike for a few more days and Jan would pick me up next Tuesday.  I began to think that I wanted to be part of those "goings on" more than I wanted to be walking on the trail.  Plus I heard the weather forecast for the next couple days, and it was going to be raining all weekend.

So....with that in mind, I got my things together and headed towards the highway.  I had to wait 10 minutes and then got my first ride as a hitchhiker.  That ride took me about 6 miles.  My next ride came along a little quicker and a flower delivery guy gave me a ride to I-81 in Blacksburg, VA.  While waiting for my next ride I got a call from home for an update and told them that I was on my way home.  Just as the call ended, a young Virginia Tech student stopped and gave me a ride.  He had just finished classes and was on his way to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to start working for the summer.  He was going to be driving around the DC beltway which was exactly where I wanted to go.  Almost 300 miles later...I was dropped off within 3 blocks of Kate & Kurt's house.  Jan had brought some clean clothes and I made my way to their house to get cleaned up.  Brian took me over to the hospital less than an hour later and I met my new little grandson!
It was a great reunion with my family and seeing little Sam for the first time!

My plan is to get some rest and relaxation, eat some home-cooking, get resupplied, and get back on the road to Pearisburg, VA on Tuesday.

On Thursday, I arrived in Pearisburg, VA where I got a motel room. It wasn't exactly an Embassy Suites, but I was able to get a shower, do some laundry, and get ready to meet Rick and Peg.  We had a delicious Mexican dinner and then they drove me to WalMart to get some things.  It was great visiting with them plus the chocolate chip cookies that Peggy baked and had bagged for the hikers were a big treat.  Just a little "trail magic" in Pearisburg.  Thanks very much to them!

"There's no place like home."
-Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

600 Plus Miles

Spent last night at mile 602 near Virginia Route 606.  I'm really making much better time now that I'm hiking without my sleeping bag.  I sent it home about 10 days ago, maybe a little too early.  There were some really cold nights when my feet were freezing.

Monday we had some "Trail Magic" at a little church near the trail.  The congregation at the church makes breakfast every Monday for the hikers coming by.  It was a welcome feast of egg casserole, sausage biscuits, blackberry preserves, baked goods, and drinks.  The people couldn't have been nicer.  They even gave us a ride to the Dollar General store about 10 miles away to resupply.  There was a Dairy Queen nearby so I couldn't resist a Butterfinger Blizzard! I was with Doc, Do What, and Cappy.

Tonight I'm hoping to stay at the Woodshole Hostel at mile 619, called a "little slice of Heaven not to be missed."  It is a 1880s chestnut-log cabin that was opened by Roy & Tillie Wood in 1986.  Their granddaughter and her husband continue as the proprietors today.

Tomorrow evening I'm meeting up with my brother in Pearisburg, VA.(Mile 627) It will be a nice break from the trail. I want to get there early to get cleaned up before meeting him.

Don't know if you've seen the pictures of my visit with Joe and Karen from Ohio last week, but it was a great day. I had a nice breakfast and visit with them. They brought some apples and bananas which were a great trail treat for some of the other hikers.  Thanks, Joe and Karen!

I'm a little more than 1/4 of the way to Katahdin.  This coming weekend (May 13-16) is "Trail Days" in Damascus, VA.  Many of the hikers will get rides back to Damascus for the festivities. I don't think I will go back for it, but maybe next year! It is supposed to be a great weekend with a hiker parade and live music and good food.

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.
-John Burroughs

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dave and his "Trail Angels"

On Thursday, Dave met some "Trail Angels" along the way in Brushy Mountain, Virginia.  Friends Joe and Karen from Madison, Ohio were driving back from Florida and stopped to visit Dave along the way. They shared these pictures with Boni, Dave's sister. She forwarded them on to us.

Dave was just arriving.  Karen and Joe had just gotten there, too! Perfect timing!

Dave couldn't wait to get his pack off!  Karen helped!

Karen said, "No sweat!"

 Had breakfast with Joe and Karen at a restaurant in Marion, VA.
   They were kind enough to take Dave to pick up a package at the Post Office.

Dave and "Travelin' Man", a fellow hiker
    Dumpster Divin' for food or is this his next "shelter"?

   Partnership Shelter (Mile 528.1) in Brushy Mtn., VA
    Dave, Karen and AT Hiker "Cappy"

   This is an easy part of the AT.

    Joe in front of Mount Rogers Recreation Area sign
   (Dave took this picture!)

Dave and Karen
Joe and Karen really were "Trail Angels"!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Photo Update!

Here are some more recent photos of Torch on the Trail.  These photos span from North Carolina to Tennessee to the Virginia border.  We'll update with captions once Torch is able to give us the play-by-play.  For now, enjoy the views of the Appalachian Trail!

                                          Jodi & John's dog is a Golden Doodle who plays ball
                                          with them by bumping the ball back with her nose.
                                         This is Jodi & John, '99 Thru-Hikers.  They invited us
                                          into their home for some "Trail Magic.", including waffles
                                          and beef stew.