Archive for June, 2009


June 12th, 2009

The first thing I noticed when I got to DC was that, amazingly, there were as many women in the train station as there were men.  Might not seem that weird to you, but after living for three months with a 4 to one men to women ratio, I was somewhat dumbfounded.  So yeah, Ladies, if you’re looking for athletic guys in their 20’3 or 60’s, try hiking the trail.

Another thing that’s been weird is just being around people who don’t have the exact same goal as you.  Like, there are all these people living their own lives in the world.  It’s kind of nuts.  I got quite used to everyone doing the same thing and having the same good times and having same problems.

My ability to multi task is at an abominable low, but using the computer is helping it come back.  Decisions are still daunting; there’s so many more options off trail!

And I totally miss fast food.

Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink

June 11th, 2009

Another great piece of gear is the Sea to Summit Kitchen sink.  It’s like a water bag, but shallower and with a wider opening at the top, but still carries 10L of water.  It’s not the lightest thing in the world, but I would use it practically every other night to either rinse myself off after sweating all day, or to wash my shirt and underwear.  Because of the kitchen sink I smelt and looked a lot better than I did going through the smokies.  I also felt less like I had to rush into town to bathe and do laundry because I could do a little of both on the trail.  I never actually used it to clean my cookware in.

Montbell UL Down Inner Jacket

June 11th, 2009

This is by far the best piece of gear I had on the trail; thank you dad!  Though I would never hike with it on, it kept me super warm when I would get into camp on those cold days in North Carolina.  It’s so light that I kept it with me through Harper’s Ferry just in case, and a good thing too because I slept with it on on several occasions for the extra warmth.  It’s also good to wear when you’re doing laundry.  A word of caution, though, it is an INNER jacket, so while it is slightly water resistant, the material is very thin and can easily snag on branches / sharp objects, but as long as you’re careful this should never be a problem.

Montrail Comps

June 11th, 2009

Around the same time my rain gear was failing, my shoes also failed.  I had noticed that my old REI boots were tearing at the seems, but this was expected as I had put well over 500 miles into these boots, and had had them repaired once before.  So when I was in Damascus I got a new pair of Montrail Comps, a sort of hybrid shoe / boot.  After five days of hiking the rubber soles were already peeling off the shoes!  I couldn’t believe it, and when I got to Pearisburg sent them back.  One thing Montrail has over Marmot is that if your gear fails, they will ship you a replacement, and charge you for it, so you have something to use when you send your stuff to warranty.  Then, if they decided it really is a warranty problem they refund your credit card.  So I was able to pick up my Torres (full boot) in Pearisburg and keep walking.  The Torres have done much better.  They originally felt like concrete blocks strapped to my feet (they are big heavy boots), but they are bullet proof.  After about a week of use my feet started getting blisters on the heels, which was weird because the boots were getting more broken in, but a slew of blister bandages cleared it up.  I have heard that the Montrail Hardrocks destroy peoples’ heels during the first week of use.  I wouldn’t not get the Torres again, but I’d probably get a different brand.  In any case, I highly recommend Vibram soles.  Both my old REIs and the Torres have Vibram soles, and they hold up very well.


June 9th, 2009

I just did a little math and it turns out that I spent roughly $1939.00 on the trail.  That does not include gear bought before hand or train tickets.  I had figured that hiking the whole trail would cost between $2000.00 and $3000.00; there’s an old saying that the AT costs one dollar a mile.  Apparently now it’s up to two dollars per mile.  So I guess there’s another good reason for stopping, I was broke!  Good info to know for when I plan the next half.

Harpers Ferry 1011.5

June 6th, 2009

“Have we reached the end?” asked Pooh.
“I suppose we have… And yet”
“Yes Piglet?”
“It is also the beginning”

My last day of hiking was rediculously difficult. It rained (naturally), I got horribly lost within 2 miles of the ATC HQ, had a strange run in with a homeless guy, and got closed out of every hotel in town. Now I am on a train back to Boston, and while my hiking days are over for this year I have found for the first time that I really do want to be on the trail.

Gvt 998.9

June 4th, 2009

Watching the clouds roll around the Blackburn AT center. I forgot to mention the other day that I passed both the National Zoological Site and Mt. Weathertop, two creepy federal government institutions. The NZS is where they try to breed endangered animals. It’s thousands of acres big and holds some of the most dangerous animals in the world, namely big cats. But you can’t see any animals from the trail even though it runs along one of the zoo’s side fences for over a mile. What’s creepy is that the fence is remarkably low, has several holes, and easy to open gates. If you didn’t know what it was you’d think you were looking at something out of the x-files. Mt. Weathertop is the first emergency bunker outside of DC for all the politicians. Suppsedly you can access it through a series of tunnels. It was a top secret site until a place crashed on the property and the media swarmed the place. Our theory is that between the two the government is breeding a race of gorilla warriors…

Rabies 991.0

June 3rd, 2009

Man oh man, only 19 miles to go. Still haven’t decided if I’m going to make it in one push or stretch it out. About half way through the roller coaster now. The past two days have been threatening thunderstorms but haven’t rained. The humidity is stiffling and sweat just beads on my skin and drips off as if it were raining. But I don’t mind. The trails been exilherating out of the shennies. For instance, Early Bear was bit by a rabid skunk at 5:30 this morning after it attacked and sprayed Angry Beaver and Prairie Dog. It chased them over a mile down the trail despite being hit by rocks, sticks, and pepper sprayed in the face. It finally stopped following them when Early Bear bludgeoned it to death with his hiking staff. Weird! I remember smelling skunk…


The retelling of Early Bear vs. Skunk at Bear's Den

Bears! 957.6

June 1st, 2009

Bear count for the Shennies: 3. One in a tree, one in the bushes, one running across the trail. All cubs, no moms.

Challenges 957.6

June 1st, 2009

Towards the end of Shennies we did two challenges back to back. Challenges are a way for bored hikers to amuse themselves. Not to say we were bored; Virginia has actualy been pretty cool despite white Bill Bryson says. The most famous challenge is the four state challenge where people go 44 miles out of VA, through WV MD, and into PA in one day. But we didn’t do that one. We did the dollar menu challenge and the 12 mile challenge. The dollar menu challenge involves eating one of everything on the dollar menu at McDonalds, namely a McDouble, McChicken, small salad, 3 cookies, 2 apple pies, small soda, extra large sweat tea, 4 piece nuggets, sundae, parfait, and small fries totally around 2500 calories. It took us half an hour. Peachy keen threw up almost immediately after and I turned grey. The sweet tea did us in for sure. Since we were in Luray we also got a 24 rack of beer for the 12 mile challenge, which is just drinking a beer every mile. It sounds a lot crazier than it really is. After 6 beers I felt a little drunk, then we had a siesta and the back 6 just felt gross. Neither of us got sick, and didn’t get to the shelter trashed like we had hoped, but were definitely dehydrated and cranky.