Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 3, The Capitan’s, 13.5 miles

July 1st, 2012 No comments

7/1, 15.5 miles today

Last night was the first night at a shelter this year. I forgot how hard the floors are, even with my Neo-air mattress. It was warm enough to sleep outside my sleeping bag for most the night. My legs ached all night despite taking Advil PM before I hit the sack. We got up and out by 8. It was a good day to have a mostly flat trail. I think it saved my legs. We got to Pine Swamp Branch Shelter but Lexi decided that she wanted to go a bit farther down to “The Capitan’s” a mile or so farther so we continued. “The Capitan’s” is just a house along a river where the owner (“The Capitan”) is very friendly and allows campers to use his lawn to camp. He is known to have a stash of cold sodas and such to hand out. It is also known for having the only zip-line along the AT. You use the zip-line to get across the river. The zip-line ended up to be a bit less impressive than I thought but it was fun as you tried to on the thing with your pack. We did find the stash of soda but it seems the power is still out everywhere so it was warm (but still good).

There are a number of other hikers here and we started up a campfire (wood was provided). A hiker named “Too Tall” made some “muffins on a stick” and share them with us. Lexi had fun helping to cook them. Looks like a nice night, perhaps I’ll sleep with just the fly part of the tent? We are down in the valley so there is no cell coverage to check the weather (or maybe no power to the towers?)

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 2, Rice Field Shelter

June 30th, 2012 No comments

6/30, 7 miles today

Still without power, breakfast was at 8. We were not in a big hurry so we spent the morning helping Michael hooking up a generator as it seems the storm was larger than we thought and power may not be back up soon. I also snuck in a massage (needed it after the run back up the hill yesterday).

We got a ride to town and hit the trail by 1pm. As with most town areas, the lower elevations through the town are easy but end with and abrupt uphill climb. This town was no exception. And, it was hot. I could feel my legs cramping up again and I was dying again! Contemplated if the better choice would be to head back down and take a day off (but didn’t). Al gave me some of his Propel powder to add to my water. The electrolytes seemed to help surprisingly quickly. It did finally flatten out on the top so I could get into a pace and use a different set of muscles. We pulled into the shelter at 6:30. This is a nice shelter. There are 10 or so other hikers. Someone was handing out Snicker bars which we gladly took. We spent the evening watching a storm pass over the valley and then the sun set.

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 1, Woods Hole Hostel

June 29th, 2012 No comments

6/29, 10 miles today

Got up at 5AM to clean up and finish packing. We had a light breakfast and head off. First stop was to where the AT crosses the James River near Glasgow, VA. We dropped my car off in the parking lot. I hope it will still be there when we get back in 2 weeks. Then it was on to Daleville where we dropped Al’s car off at the in the parking lot of the local outfitter as he will only be hiking for one week. There, we met with Neville from Woods Hole who shuttled us back to Woods Hole. The plan was to hike from down to Pearisburg and get a shuttle back to Woods hole for the evening. And then, get a ride back to town in the AM and take off from there.

Our stay at Woods hole was brief and we were on the trail by 10AM. Most of the trial today followed a ridgeline so it was generally flat. The trail peaks with nice view down to Pearisburg before the final 2 miles, all downhill, to town.

About half way down the hill (a mile or so), I realized that I had left my camera back at the top. I decided to drop my pack and attempt a quick run/walk back to the top. Meanwhile, Al and Lexi would continue on down and meet up with our planned shuttle driver. It took me a lot longer to get back to the top than I expected (40 minutes). It was quite hot and I was not in the best shape yet, only being the first day of hiking. My legs started to cramp up. I had to stop and just sit on the trail every few minutes. At times I thought I was not going to make it. The good news was that my camera was actually there. It only took me 20 minutes to get back down to my pack. A bit farther down, I met up with Dan our shuttle driver who had walked up to meet me. Following him was like running. By the time I got to his car I was about dead! He had already taken Al and Lexi down to the local Dairy Queen where we found them relaxing. I got a gallon size Diet Coke and a bag full of ice to cool me off. My knees were sore, so I iced them. I hope this is not a going to be a problem for the rest of the trip.

We made it back to the hostel in time to take a quick shower and help prep for dinner. It was a good dinner of rice and chicken wraps. We even had ice cream. As we were finishing up a thunderstorm rolled through and took out the power (so the AC in the house is not working). Michael’s parents (Michael and Neville own the hostel) came in late and described a huge storm they had driven through while coming in from the West.

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 0, Country Inn and Suites, Lexington

June 28th, 2012 No comments

7/28, 0 miles today We stayed up late last night packing. I got to bed at 3 am and up and on the road by 5 am… 14 hours of driving today. Drive was uneventful except that Lexi made me listen to “her” music often. We met up with my good friend and often hiking partner Al (aka “Maybe”) and walked across the street to Applebees and have our last “real” meal for a while. Well, technically, we will be at Woods Hole Hostel tomorrow and will get a meal there too.

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What’s new in Bill’s backpack this year?

March 9th, 2012 No comments

Well, so far, I have not seen a lot of new items that will change what I bring on this years AT trip.  One item that could save me a 1/2 lbs (that is a lot) is to go to a gravity filter system for water. Sawyer has introduced one that rather than using gravity, you can squeeze the bag to force the water thru. The system would weigh less and take less pack space.  However, it uses micro-tube for filtering. I have a MSR Microflow that uses the same technology and it had problems clogging up after a weeks worth of use and was impossible to back flush. The MSR also included a pre-filter which Sawyer does not.  I suppose I can rig one up. I have the Katadyn Pro, I use now, hooked up so I can pump water directly into my hydration pouch. This may not be possible with this filter. Sounds like a trip to REI is on order.

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Appalachian Trail, 2011 – Day 12, Woods Hole

June 25th, 2011 No comments

6/25 – Woods Hole
Hiked – 13.9 miles today, 151.7 total, 613 of AT!

Lexi and I got up a bit later than expected this morning. We had to fight off the rooster again as we took down our tent. We stopped again on the way out at Trents breakfast and didn’t hit the trail till about 10am.

For most of the morning, the trail was flat making for a comfortable walk. We took a short detour to Desmal Falls. Nice falls! We took a lot of photos. It is not very tall, perhaps 8’ but while it was only a few feet wide now, in the early spring it was perhaps 30’ wide. That would be cool to see. It actually is close to one of the back roads so there was a fair amount of trash from locals hanging around.

We got to Wapiti Shelter at about 1pm. We stayed for a quick lunch and to read/sign the log book. Like a previous shelter, there were deer wondering around. They kept their distance but generally ignored us.

The trail after Wapiti Shelter was mostly old logging road however it was surprisingly steep with little breaks or switchbacks. The kind that goes straight up and are often washed out. We didn’t expect this part to be difficult. The map profiles made it looked much easier. It took us about two hours to make the climb to the top ridge of Sugar Run Mountain. The trial on the ridge was rocky and narrow as it wandered through the woods. There were a couple of great photo spots overlooking the valley and the town of Pearisburg. One rock outcrop sounded kind of hollow as we walked out on it. I took a look under it and realized that the whole 6’ overhanging ledge was only 8” think. It sure looked a lot more solid from up top! I took some photos but they don’t show the depth much. Looks like I took some photos of a rock.

From Sugar Run Mountain to our turn towards Woods Hole seemed to take forever. We crossed a number of roads that confused us a bit leading us to think we were closer than we actually were. However the turn to Woods Hole was well marked once we got there.

Along the way Lexi and I discussed if we would hike beyond Woods Hole. At one point Lexi and I even had a spat about it. But in the end, we agreed that we would end our trip at Woods Hole because it would be a great point to start next year.

We got to Woods Hole about 6:30pm. Since it would be our last night, we decided to spend a few extra bucks and stay in private room in the “house” rather than the bunkhouse. It included a real bed with sheets and comforter. And it also included the use of a nice hot shower which we managed to have time to use before dinner.

Dinner is served community style so everyone has to help prepare dinner and setup before and clean up afterwards. Tonight’s dinner was “Pasta”. The dinner started with a short moment of silence and they we all had to say our trail name and something we were thankful for – “My name is “One Boot” and I’m thankful my knees and other body joints have had no problems during my section hike”. After dinner (and Ice cream!) a large group of us retired to the main room to watch a movie.

More rodiesDismal Creek Falls

Dismal Creek FallsHaving some fun

P1010505Friendly deer near shelterBill on rock outcropping on Sugar Run MtnLexi on rock outcropping on Sugar Run Mtn

Panoramic view on top of Surgar Run Mtn

Dinner time!Our room at Woods Hole Hostel



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Appalachian Trail, 2011 – Day 11, Trents Grocery

June 24th, 2011 No comments

6/24 – Trents Grocery
Hiked – 16.3 miles today, 138.1 total

We got up and on the trail early today. It was an easy hike even for 17 miles. The trail was quite flat and often followed old logging roads. We seem to be getting our “Legs” and can walk more miles each day. And while my legs feel good my feet do not agree with them yet.

We stopped at Jenny Knob Shelter and briefly thought about staying there but we could not find any water. I wondered back into the woods looking for water and stirred up something big behind some brush. I did not see it but it made a lot of noise taking off. I’m guessing it was a bear.

Just before the road down to Trents Grocery, we crossed a very long suspension bridge over Kimberling Creek. This bridge is about 150’ long. The creek is prone to flooding and this bridge goes over the entire flood plain.

Trents Grocery is located on RT 606. While this is a back road, there are not a lot of roads thru here so it is quite busy. The store is kind of run down but has a little bit of everything. We bought some snacks and sat down to decide our next move. We decided to park it for the night as it seems like a good spot.

Camping was $6 and included use of the shower and laundry. I’m guessing that at one time they had quite bit of RV camping here, but tonight we are the only ones here and there has not been a lot of traffic around the camping area.

We found a nice grassy area and set up our tent right next to the fence where there are horses. We had to fight off a rooster who wanted to inspect all our stuff.

The store has a deli so we headed back for some sandwiches. They made Lexis’ wrong so she was not happy (she wouldn’t let me take it back) but we bought a can of Ravioli and that seem to help her mood.

We found Titanium and Alki at the store. They had gotten to the previous road crossing, RT608, had no water and decided to hike .8 miles to a store only to find it closed. So they hitched a ride to this store. They are heading back there tonight to hike through in the AM. I’m not sure if we will see them.

Since water was short along the trail, we were drinking lightly all day. I made up for it tonight by drinking two 16oz Gatorades and two bottles of Diet Coke.

We are doing all of our laundry but have decided to hike only 2 more days. One day to Woods Hole and then the second day to Pearisburg (if I can arrange a shuttle to get back to our car.)

Magic of photoshop to remove powerlinesP1010462

Little doeThis is a cool bridge

Our campsiteCampgound at Trents Grocery (with rooster)

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Appalachian Trail, 2011 – Day 10, Helveys Mill Shelter

June 23rd, 2011 No comments

6/23 – Helveys Mill Shelter
Hiked – 13.8 miles today, 121.5 total

I slept really well last night. I guess I was tired! I was actually hot till midnight or so. Pat with Bunions got up every 3 hours to stoke the fire. We slept late and did not hit the trail till 9:15. There were some sprinkles in the morning but after that it was dry and cloudy. At one point we could actually see it pouring rain on the mountain across the valley while we got none. Overall, it was a relatively event free day. We crossed a nice bridge over Laure Creek. We counted no less than 35 of those odd orange newts along the way.

We found our first “trail magic” today. There was a 12 pack of soda along the trail with a note from the local hiking club. It was not cold but it still was good.

We had a drop box in Al’s car down in Bland but since he left, he brought it up to the trail head and left it at a house next to the Mountain Top Holiness Church. I’m not sure what kind church this is but it had the words “Sheep”, “Saviour” and “Goat” below three crosses hung on the front of the church. Our drop package was on the front step of the house. We knocked and thanked the lady for holding it for us. Shortly thereafter, we crossed over I77 as it cut through the mountains. It is amazing how much of the mountain they moved to put the interstate in. This point is a milestone mark as it easy to find on any map.

There are two thru hikers here: “Titanium” and “Alki”. One has been caring a guitar. Both are right out of high school but they told us they had managed to get to the town yesterday and come back with a 12 pack. We can see the empty cans. We have a fire going and found a bit of wood around to keep it going. It looks like it’s going to be a nice night. We may try to make it all the way to Trents Grocery Store tomorrow. This will be 17 miles and put us a full 4 days ahead of my original schedule. This will get us to Wood Hole by Saturday. At this point I’m not sure if we will hike past there or not as I think Lexi is getting tired of hiking or at least wants to get back and deal with some issues with cheerleading sooner rather than later.

Someones idea of a gag (just off the road)P1010440

P1010453Trail Magic!

Helvey's Mill Shelter (yes that hiker is playing a guitar)P1010455

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Appalachian Trail, 2011 – Day 9, Jenkins Shelter

June 22nd, 2011 No comments

6/22 – Jenkins Shelter
Hiked – 19 miles today, 107.7 total

We woke up to sun but it rained last night. After about 30 minutes of hiking it started raining again. It rained for about 2 hours. Did I mention that I hate hiking in the rain? On the way down the hill, we crossed some structured bridges. It is clear that in the spring the water is much higher. The good news is that it stopped raining before we had to climb the big hill to Chestnut Ridge.

The long path up to Chestnut Ridge was not as tough as expected. And the views were great! At some points we had a 180° view. I got some great panoramic photos. It might have been better if there were no clouds but at least it was not raining and below the clouds it was clear so we could all across the valley. As we got to the Chestnut Shelter, the sun had come out and the sky cleared for a bit. We sat and soaked in the sun for a while. It felt great. However, Lexi decided that she wanted to move on to the next shelter seven miles down the trail. After some grumbling on my part (oh that sun felt good) I agreed to move on. From there to Jenkins Shelter was fairly flat and downhill. My feet were like mush and wanted out of the shoes. We would turn a corner hoping to see the shelter only to see more trail. We thought briefly about taking a side trial down to the Davis Farm Campsite but it was not clear if there was water there. It was a 1/2 mile off the trail and did not want to take the risk and have to back track one more mile today.

We finally got to the shelter at 7:45pm. 12 hours of hiking and 19 miles – done! My feet are really tired! The shelter is nice. It is secluded in a pine grove. There is an older hiker here with a big roaring fire going. His trail name is “Pat with Bunions”. I actually think he is “living” on the trial as he has hiked it a number of times. He has been here at the same shelter for a few days. There are deer just roaming around the shelter. That’s kind of cool.

I bit of rain todayBridge over Lick Creek

Panoramic from Chestnut Ridge


P1010437Chestnut Knob Shelter

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Appalachian Trail, 2011 – Day 8, Knot Maul Shelter

June 21st, 2011 No comments

6/21 – Knot Maul Shelter
Hiked – 13.9 miles today, 88.7 total

We started today at the Comfort Inn. Oddly, even while in a real bed, I did not sleep well. We stood out front of the Inn trying to get a ride for 20 minutes. I think Lexi gets a little embarrassed about hitching. I was just about to give up and start walking when a lady with a pickup saw us as she drove by and then came back to get us. She said she felt sorry for Lexi having a young daughter of her own. I didn’t care what her reasoning was, as long as we got a ride! We got to the trailhead by 8:15. Hike started slowly through open fields.

We were hiking in an open field, and we could see the heads of a few cows just over the ridge as we hiked towards them. Just as we started to get close, they started to move directly towards us, fast. I moved on but Lexi stood still as the entire herd ran right past her! That was cool.

We got to what was left of Davis Shelter by 10am. The only thing left of this shelter is the platform but it was a good point to take a break. Still, we passed thru more open fields and up an over stiles (little ladders that to up and over fences).

The last hill at mile 13 was grueling. It was sunny all day and I think it was about 90° out with the sun on us for much of the trail. I thought we would never get to the top of the last hill.

We did not see many hikers today. We did come across a thru hiker named Hawk. He did not seem to in much of a hurry so go anywhere fast. We passed him at about 3pm and he was just getting up. We also came across an elderly lady “GG” and her grandson. She was attempting to hike 60 miles for her 60th birthday. While she belonged to the local hike club, I got the feeling she had not done much hiking. She was doing a slow hike, only about 5 miles per day. We passed her about 2 miles short of the shelter and it’s been 2-1/2 hours since we got to the shelter and they are still not here. (Update.. Just as Lexi and I thought about going back to find her, in case she needed help, she did manage to stroll in as dusk approached. A bit later, Hawk managed to pop in too.)

Lexi managed to take a good fall today. I did not see it but from what I can tell she tripped and did forward roll with her pack on. By the time I turned around she was laying face down half off the trial. Fortunately she was not hurt except for a small cut on her knee (and a little pride).

Throughout the day we could see and hear single engine prop planes circling and flying overhead. I thought they might be looking for someone or something. Or, perhaps just some training thing?

We are now a full two days ahead of my original schedule and I think if by the time we get to Wood Hole, it will be three. Lexi has hinted that she wants to get back home earlier than planned due to some issues with her cheerleading schedule.

While the hill today was grueling, tomorrow we have a bigger one, 2000’ in 4 miles. I hope I get a good night sleep.

Cool tunnelP1010369

Typical privy along this part of the trail.Lexi living on gummy worms


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