About Curious George

Pilot for 40 years; retired! Hobbies are hiking, bicycling, camping, journaling.

Virginia Tomorrow!

Day 39. Today’s miles: 19. Total miles: 457. 2.

May 2nd, page 48. Abingdon Gap Shelter. 

Still camping and hiking at 4000′, so the day started cold, in the low 40’s.  Getting out of my hammock is tough! Putting on cold hiking clothes and shoes is tougher! We move fast to stay warm, pack up our gear, and start walking in about 30 minutes. 

The scenery is beginning to change.  Yesterday was many miles of ridge walking, a steady process of many ups and downs.  Today changed into woods and meadows, with beautiful rolling terrain.  

Tomorrow: Damascus, VA, the Mecca of Appalachian Trail hiking.  A small town, it has three outfitters and several hostels.  Most hikers spend a day or two to take in the town where hikers rule.  The AT, in fact, passes through the center of this mile long town.

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Virginia Tomorrow!

Day 39. Today’s miles: 19. Total miles: 457. 2.

May 2nd, page 48. Abingdon Gap Shelter. 

Still camping and hiking at 4000′, so the day started cold, in the low 40’s.  Getting out of my hammock is tough! Putting on cold hiking clothes and shoes is tougher! We move fast to stay warm, pack up our gear, and start walking in about 30 minutes. 

The scenery is beginning to change.  Yesterday was many miles of ridge walking, a steady process of many ups and downs.  Today changed into woods and meadows, with beautiful rolling terrain.  

Tomorrow: Damascus, VA, the Mecca of Appalachian Trail hiking.  A small town, it has three outfitters and several hostels.  Most hikers spend a day or two to take in the town where hikers rule.  The AT, in fact, passes through the center of this mile long town.

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Slack Packing

Slackpack? What is slackpacking? Simply defined, it is hiking a section of a trail without a fully loaded backpack. It gives you the option to carry only what you need for a typical day hike.

How did this come up? Last week, we had a long day hiking and just made it to a hostel before the rain started.  The forecast for the next day was rain and storms all day, so we decided not to waste the day. Rather than fighting the weather, we elected to “slackpack”. For $10, the hostel shuttled our packs to the next hostel, and we just had to hike there. 25+ miles!!!

The day started with rain, but an hour in it stopped. The rest of the day was great. Probably the best day of hiking so far, as all I carried was food and water. What energy we had without 25 pounds on our back!

So, I hiked from 7:30 until 5 pm, and ended at a family run resort, Black Bear Hostel. To reward ourselves for two days of hiking, we took a zero.  Nice!

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Serendipity

Serendipity means a “fortuitous happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. 

Being on a hike now for over a month, I’ve had lots of time to think.  One thing that keeps popping up are the many times that I want something or need something, and it JUST HAPPENS!

Serendipity. Does it exist? Is it magic? Just coincidence? Can it be explained?

I am keeping track of these events, and I find that they take place more frequently than I thought.  Normally, we are distracted by life, get a small surprise, but soon forget the pleasant experience. 

Recently, I’ve had both physical and emotional events.  My first was a couple of days into my hike.  I ran out of water, looked at my map, and there was no water source for at least a couple of hours.  Not good.  Well, a short prayer later, I came across an Army “water buffalo”, a large vehicle left on our path full of potable water! 

My most recent event was just a couple of days ago.  I was hot and tired.  It was afternoon. I looked up to see the biggest climb of the day, and (go figure), I started feeling sorry for myself.  Why am I doing this?! Is it worth it?

I started the climb.  Halfway up, a friendly voice says “Hi, Curious George.  Great job! You’re really doing great on this hill!” Unusual complement at the perfect time…

And, it happened again near the top, from a total stranger… Great reinforcement!

Both events were perfectly timed, and filled me with surprise and a little bit of awe.  Was it also a spiritual event? That’s up to you to decide, but since March 25th, I’ve asked many times, and I have received!

So, let me suggest that you take a little time during your busy life, and pay attention to things that put a smile on your face.  A complement, parking space, a baby’s smile, a wink from a dapper gentleman (or woman!) – things that come at just the right time, and brighten your day, or CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

I’ve started my list; do you have yours?

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20 Failures Equals 1 Success

Today I failed 20 times. 

I set daily goals on the AT. How far I intend to hike, where to stop for lunch, basic stuff.

I have a personal goal to try to climb every hill and mountain WITHOUT STOPPING.  Sometimes I can.  Some days are better than others.

Today started with a lofty goal: hike 20 miles.  The trail had a long 5 mile climb, as well as several smaller climbs.

I failed.  I was tired this morning, and my energy was low.  I stopped on a climb.  Then again.  A drink of water.  Failure after failure…

Did I quit? No! At the end of the day, I completed my first goal.  I hiked 20 miles.  I can do better.  I will do better.  But… Today was a SUCCESS!

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Don’t get concerned with small failures.  Stay focused and do your best.  Persist, keep your eyes on the goal, and you too can succeed!

Hot Springs

Day 28 Total miles: 280.

The past few days have been busy!

We were lucky. On Day 22, we worked hard to get to Gatlinburg, for resupply, a half day off, and a good night’s sleep at the Grand Prize Prix Motel.

The weather turned, and rain became snow.  2 wet and cold hikers were found and saved on Clingman’s Dome.  We stayed there an extra night as all who could came down from the mountain and temps about 10 degrees… 6 inches of snow fell that afternoon.

The next 4 days were awesome.  My wife was meeting me in Hot Springs if I could make it by Saturday, 4 days away.  That meant hiking 16, 18, 20, and 13 miles to make up the lost day for snow. 

Three of us went for it.  The weather was perfect, hiking in snow the first day. Then it started to melt, so we hiked in snow, ice, and mud for much of 2 days.  But… We made it!

Hot Springs is a wonderful small town that caters to hikers.  Walking into town, I was greeted by several hiker friends.  Very cool!

I met my wife at our hotel and had a grand reunion.  She was immersed in MY environment, meeting many friends and enjoying our reunion.  One highlight of our weekend was the hot springs; yes, they exist! 15 private hot tubs right on a river… Just what my poor body needed!

Back on the trail today, another 10 miles.  Perfect!

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CG

Snow!

Day 22 Gatlinburg.  Zero day.  Total miles: 206.8.

Words of the day: snow, cold, luck. 

We were lucky.  Yesterday, we worked hard to get to Gatlinburg, for resupply, a half day off, and a good night’s sleep at the Grand Prize Prix Motel. 

The weather turned, and rain became snow.  2 wet and cold hikers were found and saved on Clingman’s Dome.  We stayed here an extra night as all who could came down from the mountain and temperature about 10 degrees… 6 inches of snow fell this afternoon. 

Tomorrow: 60 and clear, but we don’t know if the park road will be closed…

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Clingman's Dome

Let’s add Flexible to the word list!

Pictures!

Day 17 and taking a zero, so time to finally add some pictures.

4/10/2014. Miles 150.7.

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At the beginning. Springer Mountain.

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Shoe tree in Neal Gap.

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Rainy day path…

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Cold! Frost on the sign…

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Trail magic and Miss Janet

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German friends, German restaurant in Helen, GA

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Curious George at the border

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Hmmm… are we dinner?

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Smokies from a fire tower

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Friends Hawk’s Bill, Bear Bag, Cake, and Isn’t Black

Great fun! After the day is done, it’s all about the people we meet and the good times together.

CG

POOP!

Day 15 Wayah Bald Shelter to A. Rufus Morgan Shelter
4/8/14 Today’s miles: 15.5! Total miles: 131.4.

Pretty standard day today, so I’m going to talk about a subject that my grandkids will like.

POOP.

Yes, we poop in the woods! So popular is the topic that a British woman wrote an entire book on the subject.  I will not be that lengthy…

The good news is that every 5-10 miles, there is a shelter.  Near the shelter is always a source of water, and, you guessed it, a toilet.  Not like yours, though, ours is called a privy. Think of anold fashioned out house, or port-a-john, without chemicals.  Set away from the shelter, this small building sometimes has a roof, has one hole, which has a toilet seat.  There is a little privacy, but not much, and it is used by both sexes.

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I was an early bird on Day 3, so I sat on a seat with ice! Wow! There is some science to these: the poop stays above ground, and after going, you add a handful of leaves to stimulate composting, just like in a garden.
(By the way, you bring your own toilet paper and sanitizer!)

What happens if you are not near a privy? Find a quiet spot. Dig a 4 inch hole. Drop your pants, and good luck! Fill the hole, and you are on your way.

CG

Rain and Rain Gear

Day 14 Winding Stair Gap to Wayah Bald Shelter

Monday, 4/7/14 Today’s miles: 11. Total miles: 120.8.

Yesterday, I took a “nero” or near zero day. I walked 3.8 miles and caught a hotel shuttle at 9:30 into Franklin, NC.  Stayed with 2 guys this time, cost $18 each! Cool day, so did nothing but go to dinner with 5 others and enjoy the good company.

Today was forecast rain, and yes it did, all day and into the evening.  40’s, sleet, mud and wet feet!

This is my raingear: raincoat with hood, waterproof mittens, and a waterproof kilt.  The kilt is great keeping the pants dry to the knees without sweating.

Dinner.  For most of us, this is the only prepared (and hot) meal of the day.  My routine is to arrive at the shelter, find a spot and set up my hammock, and then go get water.  Today, I had to walk 1/4 mile to a stream, irritatingly long at the end of the day.  I filter 2 quarts of water for tomorrow’s hike, and enough water to cook my dinner.

Tonight’s meal was quick cooking rice and beans, with some summer sausage cut up.  Tasted great, and was probably 600-700 calories.  We try to make meals that you can boil water and have the meal steep for 10 minutes, then eat.  Rinse with a little water, finger for a sponge, and drink so the critters don’t come around!

No campfire because of the rain, so we brush our teeth away from camp, again not to attract critters. Then to bed to get warm, write a post, and read until about 9. That’s my exciting day!

CG