Flowers

In the past week, I have walked about 80 miles, but also took 3 zeros trying to adjust to a painful heel (and my normal blisters). I hiked 20 miles yesterday with my new gel inserts; the pain is still there, but I am hoping the healing process will occur faster with them.

One blessing are the myriad of flowers blooming in the woods.  It differs every day, depending on the elevation, and which side of the mountain we are on. Beautiful!

I also passed the 800 mile point.  For those following me, I am on page 75, at mile 802.6, in Buena Vista, VA.  Next stop is Waynesboro, VA, about 60 miles north. 

Curious George

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A favorite, Isn't Black and me

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I QUIT! (Well, for an hour…)

On May 28th, I quit the trail.  How many times in YOUR LIFE have you quit? We have so many excuses. You lose a race or game. The sale falls through. Your business is suffering. The school work is just too hard…

For me, it started with being tired. The previous night, it took me a couple of hours to get to sleep; it was windy all night, but no rain. I got going by 7 am, brunch at 10. My heel started with little pain, but by 10 was hurting.  A mile down the road, I slipped on a rock crossing a stream, and fell on my right hip. Fortunately, just a bruise; only my ego was damaged. 

A couple of hikers said they were going into town for resupply at lunch.  It wasn’t in my plan, but after passing the road intersection at noon, I turned around and went back. I was done.  The rocks, the pain in my feet and now hip had me demoralized. 

There was a parking lot there, so I went looking for a ride.  That’s where I met David. He offered me a ride when I couldn’t get one hitching. 

SERENDIPITY REVISITED

Friends, you just can’t make this stuff up! Read on…

I met David Horton, a 64 year old ultramarathoner! He had the record for fastest time on the AT (54 days), later the PCT, and is the 3rd fastest EVER to race/run across the United States. He still competes at a high level, though now racing on a mountain bike. 

He started by asking how I was doing, and I told him that I was going to town to take a zero, because of my heel. As a teacher/coach, he immediately offered suggestions, including gel inserts, which David used for a similar problem. He took me to CVS to get them, and then took me to my motel.

Here I am, off the trail, ready to quit, and God sends me David.  How can it be any more poignant?! Serendipity. It has happened time and again on the trail. How else can I explain this?

Never quit on yourself.  Reevaluate if necessary, yes. Find your David, yes.  Stay alert, and the answer WILL FIND YOU!

Curious George

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Back on the Trail Tomorrow, 5/25/2014

I broke down today, and got an X-ray and doctor’s opinion.  She thinks that the most likely diagnosis is plantar fasciitis,  though it could also be a bruise. 

From WebMD: Plantar fasciitis (say “PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus”) is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk.

I HAVE had charlie horses in my arches; but this pain had an obvious cause.  Anyway, I am not pain free,  but will get back on the AT rather than go stir crazy!

CG

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Fence Style or Ladder, to cross many fences on the AT

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Keffer Oak, 2nd largest on the AT. 300+ years old, 18' diameter

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We forged this stream by dragging this log into place!

McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs

Monday, 5/19. Despite my mental and physical anguish, Monday was spectacular!

The day began at the Four Pines Hostel, where Joe took great care of us, and arranged transportation back to the trail at 6:30 am. 

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A two hour climb took us to McAfee Knob, the most photographed spot on the AT, and for good reason! Spectacular!

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From there, three more hours of hiking brought us to Tinker Cliffs, where you hike along a rocky cliff with more fantastic views. 

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After 11 hours of me stumbling down the trail, we finally made it to Daleville. 

Curious George

Injury

Sunday, 5/18. Day 55. Interesting. After posting a blog a week ago about the incredible body, I suffered a (thankfully) minor injury to my foot.

After passing through the very difficult descent of Dragon’s Tooth, I met up with Hawksbill.  I followed him,  climbing over car sized boulders.  Well, I stepped on one with an angled top,  sandy,  and my foot started sliding.  There was an open spot behind me,  so I jumped backwards.  I landed hard on my right heel, and bruised it. 

For the next 30 miles, over two days, I limped my way to Daleville.  My friends were great,  frequently stopping to wait for me.  I got choked up often…

The problem? Continuity.  My group of friends will continue on the trail.  It’s what we do. I, on the other hand, have to stop, rest, and heal. My doctor was nice enough to return my call, with instructions to ice the injury and expect up to a week to heal. A week!

Fortunately, I came up with a solution.  There is no way that I can catch my friends by simply hiking faster.  I will probably fall further behind, as I ease back onto the trail so as to not reinjure myself.  What I WILL do, is when I reach Connecticut, to skip ahead to meet back up with the group of friends.  We will then finish New England and the remainder of the AT together! I will then go back to Connecticut, and finish the section I skipped. 

So… Sadly, I enjoyed one last breakfast with my friends this morning, and said goodbye.  I will stay in Daleville for a few days, and pray for a speedy recovery. 

Curious George

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Isn't Black, RW, Bearbag, Hawksbill, and Curious George

Gear update

631 miles on the AT. 

Gear review.  Quick post of my gear 51 days into my thru hike. 

Hammockgear.com. Thanks to Adam for overnighting a 50 degree quilt to me.  It’s a great deal, and weighs in at 10 ounces! It replaces my 20 degree,  20 ounce quilt which has kept me warm on the trail; I also have his Cuben fiber tarp with doors.  Highly recommended. 

Zpacks.com.  I have the Arc Blast.  So far, I am very pleased with it.  Rugged, light, comfortable.  18-30 pounds pack weight and it attracts lots of attention.  Stays dry in the rain.  Recommended. 

Clark NX-250 jungle hammock.  Under 3 pounds with whoopie slings. 6 pockets, so nothing is on the ground.  A bit heavy, but I love sleeping in my “tent” off the ground.  Recommended!

Trail runners.  I’m 62, and I have had blisters since day one.  I used New Balance MT 1210’s, got over 700 miles on them,  but I am going to my heavier boots.  The rocks are tough on the feet, especially downhill, and I’m hoping for fewer blisters. 

Update: back to trail runners. My boots shrunk! Or my feet grew, which is typical of hikers. I have sore toes from them hitting the end of the boots; I will lose a toenail… I now have the new version of my New Balance Leadville 1210’s. Better to go with a known. I can deal with the blisters!

The Incredible Body

24 Miles.  In one day.  Amazing!

Yesterday was Day 50 of my AT hike.  In that time, my body has changed significantly.  I have lost over 20 pounds.  My lung capacity is higher, living between 2000′ and 6000′. I can climb most hills now without stopping.  I have much greater endurance.  All this, in a 62 year old body!

My last 5 days of hiking were: 16, 20, 24, 20, and 10 miles into Pearisburg, Virginia.  A month ago, that would have been hard for me to imagine.  Now, that is becoming our routine!

Isn’t Black and I have a routine now that works for us.  We wake up with the sun, at about 6am.  We pack up, and are hiking within 45 minutes.  We have a short break an hour later for a quick breakfast, which is a food bar. I like to snack every couple of hours to keep my energy up. Lunch is a 15-30 minute rest break,  then back to it. 

Our paces are different.  Sometimes we hike together, sometimes solo. I hike at about 2 miles an hour, a little faster down than up, but not much because of the footing and rocks. Time passes; miles drift by.

All this, in an incredible body.  Yes, it complains. The knees ache, the feet are sore, I still have blisters,  but with some care and feeding, my body just keeps going!

How is your body doing these days? Do you neglect it like so many of us?

Take it for a walk today.  Treat it like it’s the only one you have.  Keep it happy, and and you will be happy!

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Atkins, VA

Just a quick update, as we are soon going to be back on the trail!

A couple of milestones: we passed mile 500 on May 5th! Today we will pass 546 miles, which is 1/4th of our journey.

Isn’t Black had a birthday party and surprise gift!

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Thanks to Mom and Dad Bearbag for their support. 

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Lots of trail magic recently,  thank you! Coke and snacks here.

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Ponies are part of the AT magic, found on Grayson Highlands. 

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Damascus, Virginia

Day 41. Damascus, VA. 

Yesterday, a short 10 mile hike brought us into Damascus, VA before 11 am. We also left Tennessee to enter our 4th state!

This is hiker heaven.  Most hikers will zero here, so we see many folks that we have crossed paths with over the past weeks.  Stories abound and it is great fun catching up on the trail news. 

Isn’t Black and I share similar birthdays, so we celebrated last night with dinner at a restaurant with LINEN TABLECLOTH and NAPKINS.  We were joined by Aloha Nice Shirt and family, who drove here for a short visit.  I also met Hawk’s Bill’s wife and 2 children, who recognized me from Bearbag’s blog! Curious George is popular with the younger generation!

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