Thursday, August 9, 2012

Congratulations Dad!


Congratulations on this remarkable accomplishment.  You set a goal and saw it through.  That is a most admirable quality.   You set a fine example for your children, grandchildren and all of those you meet. 

I'm honored that I was able to share a part of the AT trail with you.  During my short time on the trail, I saw in you the unshakable determination needed to go the distance.  Despite many obstacles, you showed the grit to keep going and shared with us an amazing journey. You inspire me everyday to live with passion and never quit. 

I hope to be a part of your next adventure.  Congratulations and welcome home!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You did it!


Proud doesn't even begin to describe how we're feeling right now.  We're proud of your accomplishments and your "whatever it takes" attitude. You set a goal and did all you had to in order to reach that goal.  If that's not a life-long lesson for your children and grandchildren, I don't know what is!

Even with some minor setbacks along the way, you always kept a positive attitude about reaching your goal.  You've shown us all that no matter what, if you stay focused and positive, you can do whatever you set out to do. 

We're thankful for the friends you met along the way and that God watched over you along the way keeping you healthy and safe.  Sam is so happy to have "PapPap" home!  We've all missed you!

Congrats and love always!
Kate, Kurt, and Sam

Congrats and thank you.

Congratulations and welcome home! We are unbelievably proud.

I am so grateful I was able to hike with you for a small portion of the AT. It was fun to chat, laugh, meet your constant-companion Gator and experience the simplicity and challenges of daily life as a hiker. I will cherish that weekend always.

Thank you for teaching me so much: to be humble before nature, to be fearless, and most importantly: to just keep going.

I look forward to your next adventure!

Love always,

Congrats, Dave!


Just want you to know how very proud we all are of you for completing your hike.  You have more stamina and drive than any other 63 year old I know and some younger ones as well. Even though you had some minor setbacks you always knew you would finish.

I felt very secure knowing you had made friends like Muldoon, Late Start, Rick and Flash as well as many VERY young hikers.  Special thanks to Muldoon for taking you back up to New Hampshire AND joining you to finish the climb to Baxter Peak. 

We love you very much and couldn't be prouder!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Mountain Climbed

Just arrived home around 10 P.M tonight.  Muldoon and I camped last night in Stratton, ME and then left this morning around 8 A.M.  It was a long drive back, but I was glad to be heading home.

This past Sunday morning, Muldoon, Ruffles, another 2011 thru hiker, and I started up Katahdin Mountain around 9 o'clock.  The weather when we started was sunny and you could easily see the top of the mountain. It was fairly easy initially.  The further we climbed, the harder it got. Miles 3 and 4 were especially difficult because of large boulders and the steep incline that we encountered.

As we went up it got colder and windier which added to the difficulty.  I was glad to have Muldoon and Ruffles leading the way! As we got within a mile of the peak, the terrain flattened out and got a little easier. The sunny skies were replaced by a heavy cloud cover.  It was still windy and the temperature was dropping.

We continued on despite the weather conditions and reached Baxter Peak at 1:20 in the afternoon.  There were at least 20 hikers up there including some families.

We took some fun pictures and shared a bottle of scotch compliments of Muldoon. We spent over an hour at the top while I made phone calls and sent pictures. Afterwards we started back down the mountain.  In some ways the descent was just as hard as the climb up. It took us about 4 hours to reach the ranger station at the base of the mountain.

Needless to say, I was very tired and sore, but glad to have finished the last leg of my hike.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine has been something I've been thinking about for at least 10 years.  With my retirement in 2010, I then had the time to pursue it. Although I may never make another long distance hike, I'm glad to have started and completed this hike that began on March 7, 2011.

I'd like to thank all my blog followers, friends, family members  and fellow hikers who gave me lots of encouragement and support.  Below are some pictures of my last few days and our hike up to Mt. Katahdin.
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
-Ursula LeGuin
 Beaver Pond in the 100 Mile Wilderness

French-Canadian teenagers from Quebec City who shared their dinner with me

 Mount Katahdin in the background

 A female moose on the AT near Crawford Pond

 Mount Katahdin on a clear day (30 miles away)

 A mountain lake in the 100 Mile Wilderness

 Mt. Katahdin in the distance

 Torch and Ruffles signing in at Mt. Katahdin trailhead

 Muldoon and Torch signing in

 The weather forecast for Mt. Katahdin on August 5, 2012

 Making my way up to Baxter Peak

 Almost there!

 I think I can, I think I can!

 I did it!!
 Torch, Ruffles, and Muldoon at Baxter Peak

 Torch at the top

 Sign says:
"One pack of Ramen Noodles- $0.25
One pair of hiking poles- $69.95
One pair of hiking boots- $110.00
Climbing Mt. Katahdin on a sunny day- PRICELESS!"

(It was sunny when I started, not so much by the time I finished!)

 Torch at the summit!

 Descending the mountain top in the clouds

Rugged descent

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Guess Where I Am?

Yes, I am ready to hike to the top of Katahdin (Elevation 5268 ft.) tomorrow to complete the AT!  Got to Baxter State Park today and then hitchhiked to Millinocket and am staying at an Inn here. Getting ready for the big hike to the top tomorrow morning with Muldoon.  It will take us most of the day to hike up and back.  Hoping to get some good pictures. Then I'll make my final register entry on the ranger station's front porch. I also applied for my 2000 miler certificate.

Katahdin is an Indian word which translates to "greatest mountain." From the Katahdin stream campground it is 10.4 miles to the summit and back.  There is an elevation gain of 4,000 feet in 5 miles so it won't be a "cake walk". We are hoping to get started around 7 in the morning.

I spent the past 5 days hiking 13-15 miles each day so that I would be able to hike tomorrow with Muldoon.  I feel like I'm in pretty good shape so I hopefully won't hold them back.  I'm very psyched, ready to finish and anxious to get home again.

I ended up giving some of my food away as I had more than I could eat/carry.  Tomorrow I will eat a muffin and drink cold milk in the  morning and just take lots of water and snacks in a daypack for the trip up and back.  Tomorrow night I'm hoping to have a celebratory dinner with my hiker friends.  Woohoo!

"It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves."
-Sir Edmund Hillary

Here are some photos of my journey over the past four weeks.  Enjoy!

 Torch and Muldoon at the AT trailhead in Gorham, New Hampshire (7-6-12)

 At the top of Mount Hayes, New Hampshire

 With Muldoon at Mt. Success, New Hampshire

 At the New Hampshire/Maine line

 Grouse on the trail
 Getting ready to resume my hike at Mahoosoc Notch Trail

 Ready to head off

 Speck Pond, Maine

 At the top of Baldplate Mountain (East Peak)

 With my hiker buddy, Flash

 Overlooking "Mooselookmeguntic Lake"

 North Crocker Mountain

 View from Avery Peak

 Another view from Avery Peak

 At the summit of Avery Peak

 At the 2000 mile mark!  It's actually located 10 miles to the south in the woods

View from Pleasant Pond Mountain

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Monson, ME

Arrived in Monson, ME today around noon.  The town is on Lake Hebron. Staying at the Lakeshore House Lodging & Pub.  A bunk costs $25.  I had a great cheesesteak sandwich for lunch at their pub, got cleaned up and went to do my laundry.  Jan had mailed 2 packages here so I went through all of that to see if I needed to buy anything else for the 100 Mile Wilderness.  I think I'll need 7 or 8 days of food.

There are 114 more miles to Katahdin.  So you can see that once I'm out of the wilderness I will be almost there.  Elevation here is 1,215 feet.  It looks like there aren't too many real hard climbs from here on out....until Katahdin (elevation 5,268 feet). 

Around mile 47-48 is Pemadumcook Lake.  If you sound the airhorn, a ferry will come and shuttle you to a camp where the owners offer bunks, showers, meals, and "Linda's famous one-pound burger." By then, I might be ready for a big burger after eating Ramen noodles, Spam and lots of other hiker specialties for 5 or 6 days.

Feeling real good, losing some weight but no real issues right now.  Headed out in the morning after a delicious AYCE breakfast at Shaw's for $8.  I had to call and make a reservation for it so it must be really good.

 "You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungy enough to eat six."
-Yogi Berra

Friday, July 20, 2012

Making Progress

Down to 177 miles to Katahdin as of today!  I have my second week under my belt and am making much better progress.  I think the first 100 miles in Maine is some of the toughest hiking on the AT including the White Mountains in NH. 

I slackpacked today with Flash through the Bigelow Mountain range, known as Maine's "Second Mountain."  We started out early around 6:30 A.M. and hiked about 11 miles. Tonight I'm staying in Stratton, ME at the Stratton Motel & Hostel. The owner will give us a ride back closer to the trail tomorrow morning. It was great to be able to eat some good food for dinner!

Temperatures have been mostly in the 90s during the day, but it cools down at night.  One rainy night this past week I got so cold that I put on every piece of clothing I had, my hood to my rain jacket was up, and I covered my head with my tarp!

I've seen a lot of grouse and toads, but no moose.  Lots of moose tracks and other signs of moose, though! 

Some of the southbounders were telling us about some of the areas where you need to ford the water.  At times it's up to your waist and sometimes it's around your ankles. They say it can be very dangerous.

Still hoping to finish around Aug. 8th, if not before! 

"My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-three today and we don’t know where the hell she is.”
-Ellen DeGeneres

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Slow but Sure

Moving slowly this week.  I've been on the trail a week now and it's a slow go.  I had a couple days off the trail due to some kind of sickness.  Don't know if I got some bad water, something I ate, or exhaustion....but spent a couple days this week off the trail.  I had a terrible upset stomach and no energy at all.  Muldoon was still up here and he recommended I stay off the trail another day.  Good suggestion!

Hiked the past couple days and am feeling much better.  I made it through the Mahoosuc Notch on Tuesday and then stayed at the Speck Pond Shelter.  I talked with Mimi, a hiker and caretaker at the Campsite. There is good water there.
I only hiked 7 or 8 miles yesterday and stayed at the Baldgate Lean-to last night (264.5 miles from Katahdin). Today I hiked about 7 miles and got off to stay at the Pine Ellis Hostel tonight in Andover.  Just had dinner with some other hikers and Flash, a 71 year old hiker, from Knox County, Ohio.  He completed a thru-hike in 2001 and is now section hiking. I'm doing laundry and getting my things together for tomorrow.(Mile 256.5 from Katahdin)

Tomorrow I am slack packing.  I have a package waiting for me at the post office in Andover, but I think I might send it forward to Stratton.  I'm really going to try to get my pack lighter.  My legs and feet feel good, but my heavy pack slows me down.  I was talking to some southbounders and they say once I make it through the 100-Mile Wilderness it gets easier for a while.  Only time and miles will tell!

"The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship."
-William Blake

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Can't Beat Father Time

Crossed into Maine from New Hampshire around 3 o'clock today.  I'm at about mile 1901 with about 279 miles to Katahdin.  It's 8:30 P.M. and I'm tired and leg weary. 

I'm in a valley between Mt. Carlo and Goose Eye Mountain about 2 or so miles inside Maine.  Muldoon is hiking with Ruffles, a hiker friend from last year, who joined us at Mt. Success.  I'm sure they made it to Full Goose Shelter.  I just couldn't make it that far tonight.  I did eat tonight... unlike last night.

Yesterday we got a ride with Rock Dancer, a hiker friend who lives up this way, into where the trail begins at Gorham, NH.  That's exactly where I left off last year.  We hiked about 12 miles to Gentian Pond Shelter. It was almost dark when we got there. I was so tired, sore and thirsty that I set up my tent and didn't even eat.  I guess there was a bad thunderstorm last night, but I didn't hear it!  I wish I could sleep that soundly at home. I felt really good this morning though.

Some hikers from Nova Scotia who are southbound told me about the Mahoosuc Notch Trail which I will hit tomorrow.  Apparently it's boulders that you go over, under and in between.  They said that you have to take your pack off and push it ahead of you and kind of crawl through.  Should be an interesting day. 

The weather is good.  At times I felt a cool breeze....unlike the 100+ degree weather in Maryland. A very cold jug of water would taste mighty good right now!  All in all I feel like I'm doing okay.  I just need to get my "trail legs" back and my pack a little lighter and I'll be good.

Thanks to all of you for your well wishes.  I feel real good about finishing even though I can't keep up with Muldoon and all the youngsters.  I have to remember that I have about 30 years on them!

"Walking takes longer....than any other known form of locomotion except crawling.  Thus it stretches time and prolongs life.  Life is already too short to waste on speed."
-Edward Abbey, "Walking"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Packing to go back on the Trail Again

Doing last minute packing for my trip to Gorham, NH to finish the last 298 miles to Katahdin.  Muldoon, my hiking buddy from last year, is picking me up and driving me up there tomorrow.  We plan to start hiking on Friday morning.  I've checked the weather forecast for Gorham and it looks like decent weather with the highs in the low 80s.

If everything goes well, I should complete the last leg in about 30 days.  Muldoon is hiking with me for the first 30 miles or so.  He completed the AT hike last year on October 15th.  So he is familiar with the last part of the hike and has given me some helpful information.

Will hopefully add a new post every few days or so.  Thanks to Muldoon for the lift up to Gorham and his encouragement!

    “To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Spring Time Hike

On May 19th, Amy, Brian, and I did a two-day hike on the Maryland portion of the AT.  We left Amy's car at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and Jan dropped us off where the AT crosses over I-70 near Myersville, Maryland.  On Saturday, we hiked 12 miles and camped at the Crampton Gap shelter.  We set up our tents near the shelter and made a gourmet meal of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. 

The next morning we got up, had some breakfast, and continued hiking towards Harpers Ferry.  Compared to other parts of the AT, the Maryland portion is relatively easy.  We hiked 10.5 miles to Harpers Ferry without any problems.  Amy and Brian consistently hiked faster than me and had to stop to allow me to catch up.  One of the obvious advantages of youth, but I'm a conniving old man, and that counts for something! We pulled into Harpers Ferry right around 1 PM, had a good lunch of barbeque sandwiches and cold Bud Lights at Hannah's Train Depot restaurant.  They tasted so good!  Before leaving for home, we got ice cream cones for dessert.  Then, we were headed back to Bel Air. 

I really enjoyed Amy and Brian's company and as usual, quite a few jokes were cracked.  It was a good chance for me to prep for my return to the AT in Gorham, NH in July.

Planning to have lunch with Muldoon on Sunday, June 24th for final planning for my return to the AT.  He's graciously volunteered to drive me up to Gorham and we will hike together for several days. 

 At the start close to Myersville, MD

 Washington Monument State Park in Middletown, MD

 Washington Monument State Park

 Brian and Amy acting goofy

 Our campsite at Crampton Gap shelter

 My tent at the shelter

 Amy and Brian on the C&O Canal Towpath near Harpers Ferry

 Brian and I on the Towpath

Amy in Harpers Ferry

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trail Magic

Janet and I just arrived back home from a day of trail magic for some AT hikers.  We headed up to Dahlgren, Maryland near Boonsboro with food and drinks.  We set up around 11 A.M., put up a "Trail Magic" sign and it wasn't long til a hiker arrived.  His trail name is Bomber and he is from Rochester, NY.  In the next  3 hours or so we ended up with 4 other hikers.  Swiss Miss and Alien are from Winterthur, Switzerland.  Zoso from Philadelphia soon came by and then Metro North from Brooklyn, NY arrived.  We greatly enjoyed meeting and talking with the young thru-hikers and they were glad for some grub. They are all hiking about 20+ miles each day!

I've decided to delay my return trip to the trail until July 5th.  I was told the black fly season this year is supposed to be bad, so to save myself some nasty bites...I'll wait til it is over.  My hiker friend Muldoon has offered to drive me back up to Gorham, NH to continue the hike. 

Brian, Amy and I are going to do an overnight 22 mile hike in a couple weeks.  It should be fun.  I will let you know how it went with my next post. 

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
John Muir