Harpers Ferry and Maryland!

Janet came to visit me in Harpers Ferry, where we spent 2 nights. Lots of history and we had a nice reunion.

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Today, I crossed the Potomac River into Maryland,and hiked 15 miles.

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And bid a sad farewell…

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West Virginia!

Another milestone today: I left Virginia for West Virginia! Milestones like this are a great incentive. 

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Tomorrow, I reach Harper’s Ferry, home of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  They log in all hikers that wish to be known, and take their picture for posterity.

In the woods, look before sitting!

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I was followed for 5 minutes by this guy.

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1000 Miles

Today was the roller coaster, and it lived up to its reputation! 6 climbs in 10 miles and temperatures in the 80’s made it my most challenging day yet. I did pass 1000 miles, and met another hiker there. We shared pictures and a shot of whiskey from his flask. Nice!
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Fortunately, I made it to the Bears Den hostel before it started raining. I got 1 of 10 bunks, complete with pillow and sheets. The special, for $30, is the bunk, shower, laundry, pizza, coke, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s! Ah…
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Day 7, Rod Hollow Shelter

2 good days of hiking, 15 miles yesterday and 13 miles today. Clear skies and temperature in the 80’s. Much of the trail is not pretty. With all the rain, many paths are pure mud, and you try to jump from rock to rock… On the other hand, we get some gorgeous vistas!

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The next 13 miles are lovingly called the “roller coaster”.  This is a series of about 20 ups and downs, with no respite. I will do the first 10 miles tomorrow, and stop at the Bear’s Den hostel, famous on the trail.

Today’s shelter is pretty standard, room for 8 or so. I’m very comfortable in my hammock.

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Day 4 in the rain

Today was day 4 of my trek northward. The first 2 days were gorgeous and uneventful, until the shelter. Momma bear and her 2 cubs decided to visit! Within about 50 feet, they amused us for 30 minutes, and finally left.

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Momma bear

Day 3 was sprinkles all day, but not bad. Today, day 4, was more and heavier rain, but fortunately I reached a hostel to get dry and warm… And so it begins!

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AT hike, part two!

Day one of my return to the Appalachian Trail started with a 6am flight to Dulles, followed by a ride to my start point in northern Virginia. Janet saw me off at 4:45 this morning (ouch!).

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For those interested in numerology, it’s been 711 days since I left the AT, or 1 year, 11 months, and 11 days!
Here’s to my hike!

Preparations for my 2016 Journey

How do you prepare for something that you failed at?

I’ve been thinking about finishing my hike for 2 years. My return is now imminent, and I’m excited! The physical part was easy. I’ve been exercising to prepare for the difficulties of hiking another 1300 miles. I also know that it will take 2-3 weeks of hiking to really be fit, and accept this painful process.

Equipment. I enjoy the “stuff” of hiking. I am only changing a few items for this year’s hike. I am going back to trail running shoes, this time from a company called Altra. I changed my wet weather gear. I now have an umbrella, and traded my nylon wind shirt for a rain jacket of similar weight. Umbrellas have become popular for hiking, as they can be used both for rain and sun. When hiking in a rain jacket, you are apt to perspire, and soon become as wet as if you did not wear one. We shall see! I am leaving my Tilly hat; it’s a bit heavy and inconvenient, and gets hot in really hot weather. I am going with a light cap and a Buff. Lastly, I bought light trekking poles, because I may be carrying them more when holding an umbrella.

Mind and spirit. I am prepared. I KNOW what to expect this time, this hike. I am also blessed with great support from family and friends. My wife says go! Succeed! In addition, I was just visited by my two hiking partners from 2014, Bear Bag and Isn’t Black. What more encouragement do I need, than their support?

Friends

Max, me, Bernd, Matthias, & Lothar

Stay Tuned!

I’m getting energized. I’m starting to plan on my return to the trail!

I got injured on my hike in 2014, and left the trail in June of that year. Looking back, I’m proud of my efforts, as I walked for well over 100 miles with my injuries, trying to keep my dream alive. Alas, it was not to be.

2015 saw lots of family activities, including a family trip to Italy. In addition, my 60+ year old body has been slow to heal. My heels and knees are the culprits, but finally seem to have recovered enough for me to take to the hike again.

My goal is to finish what I started. The purists in the AT hiking world call a “through hike” as walking the AT in a span of 365 days. That’s not me. On the other hand, a “through hiker”, in my mind, is one who completes the entire 2200 mile hike. That WILL be me!

My tentative start date is Sunday, May 22nd. That’s close to the date of my injury 2 years ago. I will start at the point I left the trail, 920 miles along the AT, at a place called Big Meadows Wayside, in northern Virginia.

Stay tuned!

PERSPECTIVE

I suggested in my last entry that I would follow up with a post reflecting on my hike. This is that post.

The final few days:

Saturday, 7 June 2014. Stealth camped, beautiful night under the stars. Trail magic at Loft Mountain just before noon; hot dog and drink for lunch. 30 minutes later, ice cream and drinks at the Loft Mountain Store. Stealth camped again at mile 895. This was my last night in the woods.

Sunday, 8 June 2014. 16.5 miles to the Lewis Mountain Campground, mile 911.5. I called ahead, and reserved their only hiker’s cabin, with 4 bunks for $30. About half way through this day is when I got a sharp pain in my left knee. It also started raining at noon time; I got to the cabin area at about 3pm. Owl Bear and Opus were at the camp store when I arrived, and I shared the cabin with them.

Monday, 9 June 2014. My last day of hiking. I had hopes of a quick recovery for my knee. I had strained my right knee a month earlier; it ached for a week or more, but gradually the pain went away. I was able to hike without favoring that knee. So, hoping for the best, I actually made a hotel reservation for the Skyland Resort, 17 miles away. Unfortunately, on my first climb at 7am, the pain in my left knee was still there. The hike that day was fortunately easy, but it was soon obvious that I was not going to make 17 miles. I canceled the reservation, and slowly made my way to the Big Meadows Wayside, mile 919.4, which I reached at noon. On the way, I decided I needed a couple of days to reflect on my injury, so I called Mike at Front Royal Hostel, mile 960. He picked my up at 1pm.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014. I spent 2 nights at the hostel. It was good mental therapy, talking with other hikers, and preparing myself for leaving the trail. It was obvious that I was not going to go any further, though I did not see it myself! My right heel was just as painful now as when I first injured it. Hiking 18-20+ miles per day on it was lousy therapy. Both knees ached, but the pain in my left knee finally caused my decision to end my journey.

     I had Mike give me a ride to Dulles Airport, in Washington. I landed in RI at 6:30pm, and my son picked me up at the airport.

Thursday, 19 June 2014. My knees and heel still hurt. I hobble around my house, as I did on the trail. Interesting…

MOURNING

Thank you to my family and friends! They have all been wonderful and supportive. They have all, to a person, congratulated me for what I accomplished and not that I failed to walk the entire AT. I am proud of the miles that I DID hike, but still sad that I left early. My trip started in Georgia on 25 March 2014, with the approach trail and first few miles of the AT. I spent a total of 77 days on the AT.

Hiking the AT is DIFFICULT! Yet, I miss it dearly. It offered a daily challenge, both physically and mentally. The rewards were many: new friends, beautiful vistas, the simple success of completing a day’s hike.

I put the hike in perspective. I have a wonderful life. I have a loving family. I accomplished many things in my life, and added the 920 miles of the AT to that list.

Yet… I still mourn. I wake up every morning now, in the comfort of my house, and long for woods, the damp and smelly clothes, the rocky trail, the heavy backpack. I will always miss the Appalachian Trail, my hiking buddies, the miles that I didn’t walk in 2014.

Curious George had a great adventure, but his hiking gear is now clean and stored away…

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Leaving the Appalachian Trail

Thanks to all who have been following my blog, but today I quit my hike.

As with many decisions, there are multiple reasons, but the biggest hurdle is the lack of cooperation of my body.

I have been limping with a sore right heel since May 18th.  It has not healed. Two days ago, I injured my left knee.  I struggled through two 10 mile days…

So, I end this journey with 920 miles to my credit, in northern Virginia. 

I will post a trip summary soon.  Thanks again,

Curious George

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