Friday, May 22, 2015

Trail Magic!!

Last year while hiking on the AT we met No Regrets and his wife 56 Strong.  Unfortunately life events forced No Regrets and 56 Strong to get off trail and return home.  We heard that No Regrets had decided to get back on trail in VA where they had left off at and continue his hike to then finish at Katahdin this year.  Tuesday morning, 19 May, I checked my Facebook and read that No Regrets was in the Shenandoah, not too far from where we were staying in Harrisonburg.  Mom and I decided to show our fellow hiker a little support and headed out to deliver some Trail Magic in the form of Fried Chicken, Potatoe Salad, spinach dip and chips, Little Debbie Moon Pies, Coke and Orange Soda.  It was great to see No Regrets and pass along a little trail karma to him and some other lucky fellow hikers.  We hiked in 0.7 mile to deliver the goodies to a very appreciative crowd at the Blackrock Hut.

Hendo, No Regrets and Hendo's Mom

Not only did we get to give some Trail Magic, but Hendo received some as well.  Waiting for me upon our return from Trial Days was a beautiful new knife.  Handmade by my amazing Airborne brother Kevin Winter in Alaska.  Thank you Kevin I will carrying it proudly.

Wednesday we dropped off Tortuga and RHOTRA at US 60 and they continued their Round About Thru-hike of the AT.  We had such a blast with them at Trail Days and Hardcore Trail Maintenance.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hardcore Trail Days Trail Maintenance 2015

For the last 16 years, Bob Peoples has been organizing and supervising Hardcore Trail Maintenance Crews at Trail Days.  50 current hikers and 50 alumni hikers are recruited at Damascus Trail Days to head out onto the AT after Damascus Trail Days for 2 days of Hardcore Trail Maintenance.  Mom and I jumped at the opportunity to give back to the trail and be a part of such an amazing experience.  And what a two days it was, cutting in trail with Pulaskis, making crush and fill with sledge hammers, moving Big Freaking Rocks (BFRs) and installing cribbing.  It was hard work, but well worth it and we learned so much.  Over the two days we repaired 2 miles of the AT near Hump Mountain in TN.

Hendo's Mom helping to carry in our equipment.

The trail edge had eroded so we cut in a new trail bed and emplaced cribbing (logs) along the egde to keep the trail from washing out in the future.  Step one in cutting in the new trail is to remove the top layer of loam and roots and get down to the clay dirt layer.  Here we are using Pulaskis to cut in the new trail bed and remove the loam.

Once the loam and root layers are removed and we dug down to the clay dirt layer it was time to bring in the crib, or the log which will become the outer edge of the new trail bed.  Cribs are made from downed locust trees which have had all of the bark removed.  Removing the bark will prevent the log from rotting.

A large rock was in the way of where we needed to place the crib, so Greg and I worked to reposition the rock.

The Rock and crib are in position, Hendo held the stake steady using the loppers while Applebutter sledged the stake into the ground.  After using the loppers, Hendo and Applebutter where shown the proper way to steady a stake using a Pulaski.

A Jack in the Pulpit plant along the trail.

Another part of our crew worked to reposition some large rocks in order to repair a stairway.

Hendo taking a quick water break while cutting in another section of trail.

Day 2:  We continued work on repairing sections of trail which were washing away.  Here we cut in a section and filled it with crushed rock, which we made by sledging big rocks into little rocks.

Quiet Diet and Rambo work on putting in some stairs.

At the end of the two days Mom helped clean up the tools we had used.  Here is mom with a pair of loppers and a Pulaski.

Damascus Trail Days 2015

We didn't make it to Damascus Trail Days last year, because we were trying to make miles, but this year we decided we needed to experience the festival in all its craziness and what an awesome time we had.  We got off trail on Wednesday 13 May at Front Royal and spent the night at our Trail Angel Deb's house in Harrisonburg, VA.  Thursday we headed south to Damascus, picking up RHOTRA and Tortuga, who we met in the Shenandoah, in Buena Vista and giving them a ride to and from Trail Days. We partied hardy, slept too little, ran into fellow thru-hikers from 2014 and met AT celebrities, it was a great time!!

We ran into Atlas during the Hiker Parade on Saturday.  We met Atlas, a French Canadian, in Maine after we flip-flopped. He stopped and joined us for lunch and ended up spending the afternoon  hearing of his adventures of being interrogated by the US Border Patrol because they thought he was a possible terrorist and discussing how we would fix the world.

We met Chewy last year just north of Hot Springs on Lover's Leap when he joined us for the night at our campsite.  Chewy previously thru-hiked the AT but was section hiking part of the trail when we met him last year.  This year Chewy is thru-hiking with Warrior Hike and we ran into him at the Big Agnes tent.  I ended up hanging out with the Warrior Hike crew for the evening and had a great time at the bonfire and drum circle.

We met Travis/Yukon at Sassafrass Gap in Georgia last year.  He is a former Airborne Ranger and fellow paratrooper and made my day when he came hiking into the campsite rocking his Ranger Panties (short black silky shorts).  We hit it off and enjoyed a great evening of swapping stories, etc.  Hiking the trail has done Travis good and it was great to see him again and in a much better place.

All the former and current AT hikers lining up for the Hiker Parade on Saturday.

The Hiker Parade winding its way thru Damascus.

Hendo, Bill Irwin's wife and Hendo's Mom
Bill Irwin was the first blind person to thru-hike the AT in 1990 with the aid of his Dog Guide, Orient.  Bill passes away in 2014, but his wife was at Trail Days selling Bill's book "Blind Courage" and promoting the making of it into a movie.

Bob Peoples, Hendo, Warren Doyle and Hendo's Mom
Bob Peoples is an amazing maintainer of the AT, having organized the Hardcore Trail Maintenance Crews for the last 16 years.  Warren Doyle is is currently completing his 17th thru-hike of the AT this year, and is well know all along the trail.

Another picture with the wonderful Bob Peoples.  Hikers often give Bob a hard time for the switchbacks he has put in along the trail and the joke is that "Everytime Bob Peoples puts in a switchback, an angel gets its wings".  Well I am a huge fan of Bob Peoples and his switchbacks and was happy to be a part of this year's Hardcore Trail Maintenance Crew.

Dan and Mike St. Pierre founders and owners of Hyperlite Mountain Gear, the maker of Mom's backpack.  Mom was in need of a new lightweight backpack when we flipped up to Maine.  We couldn't find anything in any gear store and were referred to Hyperlite in Biddeford, ME.  Dan graciously met us at their store/factory after hours on a Friday to sell us a pack for Mom.  I am squeezing every bit of life out of my crappy GoLite backpack and can't wait to buy myself a new Hyperlite Mountain Gear backpack as well.

David "AWOL" Miller the author of The AT Guide.  The bible of the Appalachian Trail.  AWOL's guide has everything you need to have an amazing hike along the AT.

Zach Davis, author of Appalachian Trials my favorite book about how to hike the Appalachian Trail and such a great guy in person!!