Sunday, May 31, 2015

Upcoming hiking schedule

We are heading on north today from Weverton Cliffs, MD and have had some inquiries about our tentative timeline, so here is our tentative schedule for the next few stops/resupply. Otherwise, we are hiking about 10 miles per day and taking a zero/resupply/rest day every 5-7 days.
Wed 3 June - pick up a mail drop resupply in Smithsburg, MD
Sun 7 Jun-Mon 8 Jun- Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania, our trail friend Freckles is going to pick us up for a zero and resupply.
Sat 13 Jun- Duncannon, PA - we don't have any contacts that we know of in the area so our plan now is to spend a zero at the Doyle Hotel hostel. If you are in the area and take us in let us know, 404-234-6513 or 910-322-8893.
19/20 June - We should be to Pine Grove, PA, PA Hwy 645 Waggoners Gap Rd.
23 June - Port Clinton, PA

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Don't Blink or you'll Miss West Virginia

Another state down, West Virginia!!  Yes, it was just a few miles, but we enjoyed them all and are happy to add another state to our done list.

My CVMA brother Riversnipe/Mel and wife Rescue/Randi welcomed us with open arms and have treated us well!!  Mel and Randi even dropped us off and picked us up Friday 29 May and Saturday 30 May so that we could slack -pack.  Tomorrow, Sunday 31 May Mom and I will wish Mel and Randi Happy Trails and continue our trek north.

Here are our picks of West Virginia

Friday 29 May 2015, Blackburn AT Center to Chestnut Hill Rd
Another Patomac AT Club maintainer working on the trail just north of the Blackburn AT Center turn-off

Beautiful Mountain Laurel

Saturday 30 May 2015, Chestnut Hill Rd to Weverton Rd
 Crown Vetch

Yellow Sweetclover

Hendo and Hendo's Mom at US 340 getting ready to cross the Shenandoah River

Looking down the Shenandoah River Valley

John Brown Monument in Harpers Ferry

Hendo's Mom and Hendo happy to have finally made it to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV

Hendo's Mom, Rainwalker and Hendo at the ATC Headquarters.  Rainwalker graciously made a donation to our cause, Thank you!

A great comment from Lint, a 2014 thru hiker we had the pleasure of meeting, telling all of we whiners to suck it up and hike on....
"You kids think Virginia is long?  California (PCT) is 1700 miles.  So yeah, quit your crying.  Lint"

Jefferson Rock Plaque

Hendo's Mom and Hendo with Jefferson Rock in the background

The confluence of the Potomac River on the left and Shenandoah River on the right.

Hendo taking a selfie with a deer along the C&O tow way section of the AT entering Maryland.

A turtle in the C&O Canal , which the AT parallels after entering Maryland

Another turtle

A third and big ol' turtle in the canal

A family of geese along the trail.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Good Riddance Virginia!!

FINALLY...we are done with Virginia!!  I have truly enjoyed the people and towns we have encountered along our way on the Appalachian Trail through Virginia, but as far as the trail goes...I hate it.  Talk about the "Green Tunnel" and endless PUDs (pointless ups and downs), that is all I really remember of the trail through Virginia, with very few exceptions along the way.  On Friday 22 May we got back on trail after a great time at Damascus Trail Days and began our 6 day trudge north to Blackburn AT Center.  We have found our groove are adapting to the recent extremely hot temps and are making good miles each day.  We were picked up by a Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association brother and his wife at the Blackburn AT Center and have enjoyed our zero day at their beautiful home along the Shenandoah River in Shannondale, WV.  We are excited to get back on trail and tackle WV, MD and begin to chip away at PA.

We crossed paths with endless weekender and day-hikers and were infuriated by their inability to pack-out their trash time and time again.  We were so glad when the Memorial Day weekend was over and we could have our trail back to ourselves.

Friday 22 May 2015:  Front Royal to COL John Mosby Campsite
Our amazing Trail Angel and friend, Deb/B.A.M., dropped us off at the Front Royal trailhead at 7pm on Friday evening and we started out way north.  We made it to a the very nice COL Mosby campsite.  We entertained the deer for approximately 30 minutes as we hung our food bags, getting the line caught in the tree, finally getting it untangled, and eventually getting our food hung.  During the whole escapade and my mini argument with the tree 2 deer stood nearby and just watched, I am sure they were laughing as well and I was all the talk of the deer water cooler the next day.

Saturday 23 May 2015  COL Mosby Campsite to 1.5 Miles north of Manassas Gap Shelter
Saturday we got up and made our way to just north of Manassas Gap Shelter.  Today was a warm one and we were told that a heat wave had moved in for a few days.  We definitely were feeling it, but made sure to drink plenty of water.  We spent the afternoon during the heat of the day relaxing at Manassas Gap Shelter and then hiked on 1.5 miles to a stealth campsite north of the shelter near a spring and set up camp for the night.

We passed a Rhino coming out of a tree.

A break in the "Green Tunnel of Death".  Hendo's Mom hiking along the only flat fast portion of the AT in Virginia.

So began our trek along the COL Mosby's western border.  Even though I hate the AT through Virginia, walking amongst history has been such an honor.

Hendo's Mom hiking under Intersate 66 at Manassas Gap

Hiker friends we made on the trail, at Manassas Gap Shelter

Sunday 24 May 2015:  Dicks Dome Shelter
We should have gotten up early this morning and gotten on trail early to take advantage of the cool morning weather, but we did not and the heat kicked our butts today, we only did 3.2 miles.  We stopped at Dicks Dome Shelter for an afternoon break and ended up staying the night.  We took advantage of the afternoon time to mend some gear, rest, catch up on our journals, relax and rehydrate.  We got to bed at sunset and were up at sunrise to get on trail and hike when it was cool on Monday.

While resting at the shelter a woman stopped by to bring some trail magic to we weary thru-hikers and check on the shelter, as the usual caretaker is thru-hiking the AT this year.  

Two snakes were curled up amongst the rocks around the shelter fire pit.  We didn't get too close but think they may have been baby copperheads or rattlers, as they did have some faint markings.

Monday 25 May 2015:  Dicks Dome Shelter to Morgan Mill Stream Campsite
This morning we were up at 0530 hours and on trail at 0700 hours.  Hiking in the cool morning was quite the improvement from the last two days.  While taking a break in the shade at Ashby Gap on the side of VA 50/17, 6 CVMA bikes went by headed west, probably heading home from Rolling Thunder in DC over the weekend.  We waved and tried to get their attention, but to no avail.

Hendo's Mom hiking through Sky Meadows State Park and enjoying a break from the Virginia Green Tunnel of Death.

This is the pile of trash which greeted us at Rob Hollow Shelter.  Unfortunately, piles of trash like this one were left all along the trail by weekend and day hikers over the Memorial Day weekend.  It was disgusting and infuriating and they were lucky I wasn't there to see them leave such a mess.

Professor, a squared away weekend hiker, came along and amazingly packed up and carried out 3 gallons of the trash that was left in the Rod Hollow fire pit.  Professor was hiking south and getting off in just a few miles at VA 601.

After an afternoon rest at Rod Hollow shelter we headed north to begin the Roller Coaster and knocked out 2 PUDs (pointless ups and downs), they are pointless because you climb up a mountain but yet are rewarded with no view whatsoever, just trees, stinging nettle and poison ivy to stare at.

We were smiling at the beginning of the Coaster

We made it to Morgan Mill Stream campsite and were greeted by a logging truck headed in for its last load of the day.  Morgan Mill Stream lulled us to sleep.

Tuesday 26 May 2015:  Morgan Mill to Bears Den Hostel
Today we were up early again at 0530 hours and on the trail at 0700.  We knocked out 6 more PUDs of the Roller Coaster and decided to spend the night at the amazing Bears Den Hostel, located right on the trail.  During our afternoon break at Sam Moore Shelter I had reached my breaking point with Virginia and penned the below breakup letter.  Bears Den marked our 1300 mile mark on the AT, but we waited until Wednesday morning to take pictures.

My Dear John letter to Virginia in the Sam Moore Shelter log book....
"Dear Virginia,

Well, I have given you 532.4 miles of blood, sweat and tears and from you have received very little in return.  You have played with my emotions from the very beginning; stringing me along, deceiving me time and time again.  I, like Color Bandit last year, have had enough and can take no more.  Virginia, I have had it and am breaking up with you.  WE ARE DONE.  You wooed me with the easy downhill hike in to Damascus and further taunted my emotions with the amazing town of Damascus.  But then, what I have finally come to realize is your sadistic purposeful sadomasochist way, just as I was starting to think that you were actually pretty nice, you plunged me into your evil and never ending Green Tunnel.  And within your Green Tunnel you further tortured me with endless PUDs (pointless ups and downs).  But what really hurts is that every once in a while you would throw some generosity my way (Grayson Highlands, McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, Blue Ridge Pkwy, Shenandoah) and I would give you a second chance, only to be rewarded with more pain and agony (no water for 15 miles near Jenny Knob shelter & had to walk 2 miles to a house to get water, head high stinging nettle on Kelly Knob which sliced my arms & legs to shreds, The Priest, Three Ridges/Bitches, humidity, snow at Hog Camp Gap and The Roller Coaster).  I don't know how you ever seduced people into saying you are flat and fast, because you are nothing but pain and agony.  We are done Virginia and I will make it my life's purpose to ensure any and all know of your deceitful and hurtful ways.  I will do my best to ensure no one else falls prey to your lies and conniving ways.

Your Heartbroken and Jaded Hiker,

P.S.  Yeah, Pennsylvania may be rocky, but at least she is up front and honest about it."

Wenesday 27 May 2015:  Bears Den Hostel to Blackburn AT Center
We had a great stay at Bears Den Hostel and were able to slack pack the 8 miles to Blackburn AT Center where my Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) brother Riversnipe and his wife Rescue picked up us for a zero day, showers and laundry.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo starting off the morning celebrating 1300 miles with a little Jack Daniels.  

Hendo's Mom and Hendo on Bears Den Rock

 Bears Den Historical Plaque.

Hendo's Mom hiking along VA 7 at Snickers Gap

 Beautiful Japanese Honeysuckle along the trail, making the trail smell so sweet and yummy.

 Hendo crossing a rock slide area just south of the West Virginia border.

 Hendo so glad to be done with Virginia.

 Hendo's Mom and Hendo enjoying their second shot of Jack Wednesday morning, celebrating their completion of Virginia.

 West Virginia welcomed Hendo's Mom and Hendo with a goregous view...Virginia, take note, if you make people climb a mountian, give them a view.

Hendo and Hendo's Mom finally at the end of the 13.5 mile Roller Coaster.

 The sign at the northern end of the Roller Coaster, the lower left hand corner states "You must be at least this tall to ride the ride."

 Hendo's Mom, just tall enough for the Roller Coaster, too late now if she wasn't as she already had!!!  No she is not happy, she just finished climbing 11 PUDs (pointless ups and downs)

Eastern Box Turtle on the trail.

Dinner with CVMA Chapter 37-1, Wednesday 27 May 2015
My CVMA brothers and sisters of Chapter 37-1 welcomed mom and I to West Virginia with a great evening of dinner and drinks at Glory Days restaurant.  Taking the picture was Rescue, Riversnipe's amazing wife and hostess with the mostest.

Dreak, Riversnipe, Hendo, Shack's son Jon, Pyro, Shack, Lou and Hendo's Mom

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.