Monday, July 25, 2011

Gator Takes a Hike!!

Good morning! It's Amy again. If you read the post I submitted last week, you will remember Gator, my dad's trusty companion/water bottle. It seems that Gator is really enjoying himself (herself?), despite the high temperature. My dad sent me this photo of a flowered Gator:
It's quite possible that Torch has finally lost it!! Ha ha!!

He did get some recovery time in, according to my mom, and is feeling better. Expect another update soon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NJ to NY

What a week to be hiking!  The temperatures up this way have been very similar to those at home.  When I was hiking in the woods it wasn't as bad, but yesterday I had to hike on a boardwalk across a swampy area and it was ungodly hot and sunny!  So I decided to try to get a place at a local motel in Vernon, NJ. (Mile 1348) There was no room at the inn, so I decided to try to make it into Vernon anyway and find a local hikers hostel there. There's not a lot of water in this area, so you will see trail angels have left jugs of water along the trail.  Thank goodness for that. It probably saved me from having heat stroke.  I was walking towards a little farm market just a tenth of a mile off the trail and some lady started talking to me.  I was so out of it I couldn't understand a word she said.  She asked if I was okay and I said I just needed to get my pack off and rest awhile.  So I dropped my pack outside the market, went in and had some water, gatorade and a snack and started to feel a little better.

I hiked to the hostel in the basement of St. Thomas Episcopal Church.  There isn't air conditioning, but a fan and it felt much better there.  I got some spaghetti to eat at a local place and it was delish! I slept pretty well last night and decided to take a zero day today, which was probably a good idea. I think it got to 102 degrees here.

This morning I had a good breakfast, got my laundry done, and got some things organized.  Then I went to the A & P and hung out there for a while in the frozen food section.  Later we walked to Burger King for some air conditioning and lunch and then found a VFW and spent the rest of the afternoon having a few beers and swapping stories. I think they were glad to have the business.

My hiking buddy Patrick and I are hoping to get an early start tomorrow morning and should be in NY by mid-day.  I think I'm only about 8 miles away from the line.  From Vernon (450 ft.), we will be hiking up to about 1433 ft. to Prospect Rock, the highest point on the AT in New York.  It looks like water will become a little scarce so we will have to get it when we can. 

For those of you who read Amy's blog about our weekend, I got a second smaller Gatorade bottle yesterday. So "Gator" now has a little sis, "Little Gator" or "Gatorette!"

Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.
-W. C. Fields

Thursday, July 21, 2011

GUEST POST: Amy Takes a Hike!!

Hello Readers!

This is Amy (Torch's daughter.) I wanted to tell you about the great time I had hiking with my dad last weekend.

We started in Easton, PA and had two days of hiking, ending up in Delaware Water Gap. Hiking in Eastern PA is challenging because it is so rocky. You have to watch every step, which is obviously taxing both mentally and physically. In one of the shelter notebooks, a hiker wrote: EASTERN PA: WHERE BOOTS COME TO DIE. Torch is happy to be out of PA!

We camped a little off the trail after eating a gourmet dinner. We hung our food bag pretty far from our tent. I was hoping that some bears would try to play tetherball with our food bag, but alas, it remained untouched.

This was an incredible experience. Being away from my cellphone, computer, commute and cubicle (The Four Cs!!) was the best! Also: no mirrors! On the trail, it doesn't matter what you look like (or smell like, thankfully.) For me, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I mean, I will definitely hike and camp again, but doing it alongside a real THRU-HIKER, who is also my dad, was remarkable and I will treasure this weekend for the rest of my life!

We had a lot of laughs over the weekend but what I found most hilarious was my dad's attachment to his Gatorade bottle. He re-uses the same plastic bottle over and over and is always super-conscious about having it in his pack. To me, it seemed that this Gatorade bottle was like a friend to him, and not just a water vessel. If you've ever seen the movie Castaway, you probably remember Wilson:

(the volleyball anthropomorphised by Tom Hanks' character in the film.) It seems that this Gatorade bottle provides a similar function to my dad on the much so that I decided the Gatorade bottle needed a name. Hence, he was christened "Gator":

(What a pal.)

Thanks to my DAD for having me on the trail, if only for a few days! I highly recommend joining him for a hike if you are able. And, thanks to my MOM for getting up to Easton and waiting around for us while we enjoyed the great outdoors.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Delaware Water Gap

Spent the night at the Presbyterian Church here in Delaware Water Gap, PA. (Mile 1285)  My sister-in-law Jane from Michigan sent me a package that I can pick up at the post office this morning.  Then I will be on to New Jersey across the Delaware River Bridge. New Jersey is only 72 miles on the trail so I should make that easily within this week.  Apparently there is a lot of bear activity in the New Jersey area so we will see what the week brings our way.

I had a very eventful weekend.  My daughter Amy came up to hike with me on Saturday and Sunday!  It was great seeing them (Jan drove her up and was our resupplier and taxi).  Amy wants to write about our adventures, so I will leave that up to her.

On Friday, my friend and fellow hiker Rick from the Stroudsburg, PA area slack-packed some other hikers and me to Wind Gap, PA.  Rick has been a real help.  He is an experienced hiker and has given me hints about the area around him.  So he offered to help us out and we took him up on it.  He also brought trail magic.  You could definitely call him a Trail Angel!  I had pizza with him before I headed to the hotel to wait for my family there.

The New York area of the trail is also short, only 90 miles. Apparently there are some places where you can see the NYC skyline so it should be interesting.  The AT actually goes through a small zoo, Bear Mountain Zoo.  I understand there is a statue of Walt Whitman there so I can hopefully get some good pictures.

I'm very glad to be out of Pennsylvania.  There are places on the trail where there are huge boulders that you have to climb over and it is tough.  Walking up the rock near the Palmerton EPA Superfund Site is said to be among the most challenging on the AT south of New Hampshire.  So I can hardly wait til New Hampshire.

Once again, I have met some very nice people.  There are a lot of young people who probably wonder what an old guy like me is doing!  Thanks to Rick and my sister-in-law Jane for their kindness and to everyone for their thoughts and well-wishes.  As Amy and Jan were leaving yesterday I almost ran after the car! (Just kidding!)

"It’s when you’re safe at home that you wish you were having an adventure. When you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home."
Thornton Wilder

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Moving On

Hiked about 15 miles today and am staying at the Eckville Hikers Center Shelter (Mile 1224) tonight. It has a solar shower.  It's been hot and I have blisters on my feet.

Yesterday I had a visit from Jim M., a friend from HCSO.  We met up in Port Clinton, PA, had dinner and went to the Cabela's and Wal Mart to get some supplies.  We came upon Patrick, a fellow hiker from earlier, who was waiting for some shoes to come in at Cabela's.  Patrick joined us for dinner. I had a nice visit with Jim and then he took me back to the trail.  Thanks to Jim for the good food and even better conversation.

This past weekend I met up with a Youth Group from Elizabethtown, PA.  Peter, Vickie, Tom and Shawn, the youth minister were camping with a group of about 6 teens from St. Peter's Church.  What a nice group of people!  Shawn is headed to a monastery in Latrobe, PA in the fall.  On Sunday before they left, I walked over to their campsite to say good-bye. Shawn led a prayer for my safe travel.  It was very touching. I really enjoyed their company and wish Shawn many good wishes as he heads to the monastery.

My first day back on the trail I stopped to have lunch at a picnic table, looked down, and there was a copperhead.  He wasn't a little black snake like we've been seeing, but a big one.  He slithered away and I was glad he did.  I hate snakes!

"The difference between school and life?  In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test.  In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson."
-Tom Bodett

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back on the Trail Again

I'm back on the trail again!  I got a ride back to the Duncannon area on Wednesday and hiked about 8 miles the first day. I spent last night at Peters Mountain Shelter (Mile 1149.8). 

Today I hiked about 18 miles and am staying at the Rausch Gap Shelter.  There are a couple of thru-hikers here and a couple of section hikers.  The trail in this area passes near an old mining village from the 1800s.  There is a family cemetery from the 1850s. I got wet when the storm came through and am glad to be in a shelter tonight. 

For some strange reason, my little container of olive oil leaked and made a mess of my food pack.  Everything was in zip-lock bags so the only loss was a small bag of "gorp". It's all kind of slippery and slimy though.

Just to let you know...I ate up a storm while off the trail.  I think I gained at least 6 or 7 pounds back. The first few days home I was eating everything in sight!  By the time I left to come back, I was definitely stronger and heavier. 

Tomorrow I should make under 1000 miles to Katahdin!  Hoping to make it to the 501 Shelter (Mile 1185). This is supposed to be a really nice shelter with a table and chairs and a solar shower. 

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."
-Oscar Wilde

Friday, July 1, 2011

Photo Update

   Mountain Laurel in bloom in Virginia
   Audie Murphy Memorial on Brushy Mountain,Virginia
  Virginia Landscape
Sunday dinner at Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba, Virginia      
             Chillin' at the Homeplace
    Torch with Spike and Late Start
        Late Start on McAfee Knob

 Torch on McAfee Knob

Late Start
 James River Foot Bridge, longest foot-use-only bridge on AT

      More Virginia landscape

Tye River
   Soaked my feet in the Tye River

      View of Shenandoah National Forest
   Loft Mountain Campground with Tiffin hikers
     Father's Day at Old South Mountain Inn in Maryland with Amy & Brian
Mason Dixon Line
       Rick at Tumbling Run Shelter in PA
    Torch at Tumbling Run

Halfway Point
 Half Gallon Challenge

        Starting to look and feel bad!