Friday, May 18, 2012

April 22nd

I wake to the sound of rain and it slows me down. I roll over, scooch back on to my sleeping pad, cover my head and go back to sleep. When I finally get moving the rain has stopped. I have a dry breakfast, and pack up. I have just over a liter of water and it has to last for two mountains / 5 miles.  The climb up Sassafras kicks my butt and I take many breaks sipping my water. The views are great and the down into Cooper Gap goes quicker. I am excited to see a gallon bottle in the gap until I get close and realize it is empty. Disappointed I head up Justus Mountain.

The second climb of the day seems longer, steeper, but I think I am just tireder. Getting over the mountain has its reward though and I know I must go. Water waits at the bottom or so I thought. I am rewarded early with a fresh spring coming right out of the mountain on the trail about halfway down. This is great because I am thirsty and I am very low on water at this point. I stop right there on the side of the trial drop my filter in and fill up both bottles and then myself. I am passed while sitting here by several hikers and dogs. Notably, Missy and Will pass with Tessa? and Molly? their dogs. They are hiking with the dogs off leash and I meet Tessa first, I am not the only one who is thirsty.

I pass Missy and Will again at the bottom they are filling up at Justus Creek and plan to camp at the campsites. I want to get into the shelter for the night and move on to Gooch Mountain Shelter. There are seven of use in the shelter tonight and tents around the area. Mr. Coffee and two other gentlemen are on the bottom and I am on top with three others.

Mr. Coffee has a fire going for his coffee and keeps it going into the evening. I worry about it some because of the winds and sparks. I try out my back country cooking a little with some ramen, potaoes, tuna and peas. It is good, but the peas are crunchy still.

It is cold and windy and it takes a lot to get warm. Everything including the emergency blanket. I decide I will keep that after all. I apologize to the shelter and we all shiver good night.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

April 21st

Nick hammock camped last night without a tarp, and came running into the shelter at some point when it started raining. I am glad I am in the Shelter regardless of the minor snoring last night. I have breakfast and pack up slow. I also manage to rid myself of some pepperoni, I thought I might eat (what was I thinking). Thanks Dave.

It is raining and I don't want to leave but I put it off no longer and head out ahead of everyone. I know I am slow and will need to get moving if I am to make it to Gooch Mountain Shelter as some of use planned. I hike down the creek that is the AT only to discover that I must ford Stover Creek. I wait, and think about the options. Cross in my shoes as they are already getting wet, put on my crocs and cross in them. Then there is try for the stones that are obviously meant to prevent this situation or go for more stable creek bed up stream a few feet.

While I am debating the options, Mandy catches up and we discuss the options together. Then two guys come up from the other side. The older gentleman is wearing jeans (really) and decides to go for trying to step on the stones and ends up over knee deep in the creek because he missed one. His friend opts to try crawling over a down tree way up the creek. Nick arrives. Mandy decides on Crocs and stable creek bed, I agree and follow her over. Nick goes barefoot. We all make it and get our shoes back on. Mandy gets going, then me.  There goes my head start.

I hike slow and eventually Nick and Nate catch up. We stop at some falls for water and pictures.

Nick and Nate eventually get ahead of me too, but I keep going and have my scenic snack breaks next to creeks and  places with views. I purposely don't nap today as I want to break that habit.

I am shocked to catch back up to Nate and Nick at the next shelter, Hawk Mountain. I know I am not staying here there were reports of 40 boy scouts at the shelter and a steep hill. Not worth it in my book, besides I still think I might make it to Gooch maybe. Nick is having troubles and they decide to stay there and get out to the gap and try for a ride in the morning (or so I heard).

I hike down into Hightower Gap were I encounter my first trail magic. A boy scout guy (Dan) who does foot care and gives me a pickle and splits an orange with me. He tells me there is no water for miles and says be careful. I waste time in the gap and soon realize Gooch is out. I will be dry camping and soon. On the way up out of the gap I am passed by a couple who say they are camping soon too, but they are not friendly about it and when I pass the site they have chosen I keep right on hiking. 

According to my phone I make it to mile 9.8 and have hiked 7 miles today. This is sad and disappointing as I fall 6 miles short of the goal. I am even more disappointed that I passed so many decent spots because they were to close to the trail and I was determined to keep going. The spot I chose is not level and but has great views. I setup camp and have a dry dinner. I then go looking for somewhere to hang my bear bag. While looking I find a great camp site and a tree to hang my bag from. I head back pull up stakes and carry the whole tent over folded up on its self. I re-stake it out and finish setting up camp. Snap a shot of the view from the old spot at dusk and go to bed in a slightly better mood in my new spot.

April 20th

I wake to rain and low spirits because I had wanted to make it to Springer Mountain last night. I get up and pack everything up inside the tent. I then take it to the shelter and return to pack my tent. I have breakfast and finish packing then head for Springer Mountain. The climb up the back of Springer reminds me that I don't live near mountains. It is a long slow climb in the rain, but I am first to sign the register at Springer this morning. I took the necessary photos and wandered around looking at the mountain and trying to figure out where to go from there...

The first white blaze!!!! Then on to Springer Mountain Shelter for another nap..... Filtered water and headed out about 2 or 3 hours later. My sleep schedule was way off.

Took a break to listen to a creek with my snack:

Hiked on toward Stover Shelter. At some point Dave, passed and I asked him to save me a spot. I get there and it is just use, then Sam rolls in, then Nate, Nick, and Mandy. Nate and Nick were out supporting Mandy at the start of her thru-hike. Sam was just hiking a section up and back. Dave was headed for Maine also.

We got a camp fire going and stayed up late, but it was such a blast. So different from the night before.

I only hiked 4.3 miles but I am glad I was here for the night.

April 19th

Everyone has to be ready to go soon after breakfast, so I shower the night before to be ready. I don't sleep too bad especially after the long over night bus ride. I was tired. The morning goes well, we are up and mostly packed before breakfast, including some extra food picked up from Walmart on the way back from the bus station. Some flat bread and mini peanut butters don't add too much weight, but I start to think I may not need all the food. Better safe than sorry, Right?

Breakfast is great and I eat too much. I guess I was thinking I would need the energy. While we are all seated plans are finalized and it is decided: Our load will drop 6 at Springer Mountain and then I will get dropped at Amicalola Falls State Park for the approach trail. I decided before I left home that I wanted to see the falls and I am rewarded with truly stunning falls. I am sad to already loose Brett and Lauryn, but I am hiking my own hike.

The approach trail takes you up to the falls and then up two sets of stairs, then on to Springer Mountain. If you'll notice in the above photo the floor and stairs are all that metal grate. I would like to say that it sucks for those with a fear of heights.

I hiked a total of 7.3 miles and climbed a total of 602 stairs. Mid day I setup my tent and mat and took a nap/rest. I packed it all back up and headed north to camp at Black Gap Shelter for the night. As the only person there I setup my ten again because the empty shelter was creepy. Previous hikers have not taken good care with this shelter.

Here is how it went...April 17th, 18th

So I am a little late with all this but:

I got off work the morning of the 17th and came home. I spent the day with my husband and then double checked everything and that evening Justin took me to the bus station in Baltimore. There was a teary goodbye and I was off. My bus left in the evening with several stops along the way to Gainesville, GA. When lined up for another boarding what did I spot but another backpack!! Brett was also heading to Georgia to hike. He explained that he had 2 months and wanted to see how far he could get. He didn't have plans so I invited him to the Hiker Hostel.

I realized somewhere along the way that in all my double checking I had still forgotten to put the TP in my pack. Once in Gainesville, Brett and I went looking for TP and food. From the bus station you can't see any real food so, we walked over to the little market on the gas station, no food but score on the TP. From there though you can see the Burger King, and we headed over for veggie burgers (he doesn't eat burgers, and I'm not a fan of BK). We took our meals back to the bus station so we wouldn't miss our ride.

We met Lauryn on the way to the hostel and the three of use where put in a bunk room together. We discussed gear and our hopes for our hike. I tried to talk them into hiking the approach trail with me. No takers, so it will be just me getting dropped off at the approach trail.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The list is getting smaller but not fast enough...

So the list of things I must do before I leave is getting shorter but not fast enough.
I still need to 
  • finish Ray-Way and other gear (quilt and bags, the hat is no longer in the plans)
  • 1.5 finals (I started one)
  • finish packing the first half of my drop boxes.
  •  update my blog with a final gear list and mail drop addresses.
  • spend time with my family.
I am making progress the mail drop list is almost ready... and I will pack the boxes as soon as I figure out the days worth of food that need to go into them. I started one final but took a break after the first 25-30 questions, and the other doesn't open till Friday night. My final gear list won't be set in stone till I leave so it may not get updated exactly. I am still trying to decide between an alcohol stove and a Jetboil. 

Oh and tonight I just messed up my little toe. I was trying to slide my chair over and my foot slipped into my computer and split the toe at the base of the nail. OUCH!! My poor little toe was dripping blood. 

So I better get to work on everything....I promise to update more often once I'm on the trail, and even if I don't make it to Maine I hope you all enjoy the adventure as much as I do. 

7 and a half more days!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making my Gear!!

As those who have read my previous posts know I experienced some hip difficulties with my practice hike. I have decided that in ordered to reduce these issues I need to lighten my load and get rid of the hip belt.  So I decided to try my hand a gear assembly. I ordered a Ray-Way Backpack Kit. Reading about them suggested that the pack would weigh around 9 or 10 ounces, yup that would lighten the load, my Gregory Diva (a great pack) is 5 pounds 10 ounces or so. I also thought I would try some of their other gear to lighten even further. I can't comment yet on the rest but I can say that the Backpack is worth the effort. Assembly went fairly smoothly, and the finished product is as light as expected. Another plus, you get to pick the colors, not that I don't love my big red Diva, But I am hiking to raise awareness and funds for Pediatric Stroke so I wanted purple. The collar is purple and will be more noticeable when recently stocked with food. Oh and my husband let me get a purple rain coat so I'll be rocking a Purple rain coat and Purple rain skirt on those rainy trail days. 

I am getting excited as the days pass, 23 days till I leave for my adventure and 25 till I'm hiking toward Maine. Making progress on the drop boxes and will post a list with ETA's as soon as possible. I've been juggling planning this trip with work and homework, so this is what is left to do before I go:
  • finish Ray-Way gear (quilt, bags, and hat)
  • an essay
  • an article review
  • 2 finals
  • several regular homework assignments and conferences
  • finish packing the first half of my drop boxes.
  •  update my blog with a final gear list and mail drop addresses.
  • spend time with my family.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My New Lightheart Gear Solo Tent

OK, so I know I posted a while back about tarp camping, well I changed my mind.

Who knew there were so many little cottage businesses out there making great gear. Apparently other hikers, that's who. So after reviewing some "classmates" gear choices, I am changing.
I ordered a Lightheart Gear Solo tent and I would like to say first that Marc at Lightheart Gear was great. I don't have adjustable trekking poles so he made a custom ridge pole. I really love that this tent uses my trekking poles for setup and still has plenty of head room. A few minor adjustments myself and wa la:

Test Run Completed

OK so I am late in posting this because the test run was last week but....

Having completed a test run I am happy to know that my layer system will work, and I don't feel I was missing anything important. I did loose my buff while out there, and I would love a real pillow and maybe a smig more padding under my torso. Oh yeah, I also ordered gaiters, got something in my shoe once or twice. Anyway here's the rundown.

The view from Antietam Shelter

Deer Lick Shelter
I started at PA 16 and hiked past Deer Lick Shelters and Antietam Shelter in to Tumbling Run Shelters for the night, this only took a few hours but I wouldn't have made the next shelter and I was rethinking my plan to tarp camp, plus I was sore so I stayed the night. As I got there early and cooled down quickly, I got to bed early (like 5pm).
Antietam Shelter

Tumbling Run Shelters

Now that sounds kinda early but I got up at 3 and was packed and out of there by 4am. I hiked up out of Tumbling Run to Chimney Rocks before sunrise and got to watch the sun come up (at some point in the hike up I lost the buff). Having been sore before the hike out of Tumbling Run my right hip quit, now as it turns out you can hike up and down the mountain on pure determination. I got picked up at Snowy Mountain Rd. This test hike ended early but I did hike 9.7 miles in less than 24 hours.

And the folks at High Mountain Haven were great!! They helped me with a shuttle out and came and got me after my hike, they have a menu for those in need of real food.

Some other things I noticed were:
    I got this blister in the middle of the bottom of my right foot (maybe part of the reason for my hip issue)
    I need a front pocket for food and my guide, I am sure I didn't eat enough.
    I need more freedom of movement in the hip area when hiking (rest of the reason for hip issue)
    I would sleep better less restricted
    Oh and sleeping alone in the shelter kinda creeps me out, I think I'll be stealth camping more.

I have sense taken measures to improve on some issues.
     I will be attempting to assemble a Ray-Way pack and quilt, and will attempt to make a few front pockets for Nalgene's and food/guide.                        
     I also ordered a Lightheart solo tent and titanium stakes (seam sealed based on advise from another hiker).
     Oh and gaiters
     And a new buff
     and a stick pic

There are a few things I am still considering like:
     a second pad
     Oh and a pillow yet to be determined...

I also have been packing my drop boxes and in general driving my husband crazy!

39 more days!! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Test Run...

It is late, but I am doing a test run later and wanted to post whats going on. I have gotten a few more pieces for my trip mainly my wardrobe. I am budgeting it so I went to some promising looking layers and some were on clearance. Later today I am driving up into PA to a hostel and getting a ride out to the trail. I will hike bake to the hostel and spend Saturday night. Then I am headed home Sunday morning to finish home work, so I'll have to post how it went.

Oh yeah, I weighed my pack with the food for this trip and equipment (no water or the clothes I'm gonna wear) it came to 25 pounds. Oh and that includes a text book...cause I gotta get some homework done.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Food preps are under way!

Not only am I stocking up on foods and preparing meal size freezer bags, but I am testing other options. We tested a just add water option the other night and it was pretty good with enough pepper. So I made two freezer bags and added plenty of pepper. Here is some of what I've got so far:

I also have a bag of food in my pack for the weight. 

I got some ideas from fellow hikers and thought I'd give baking a go. My Birthday and Cody, and Justin's will all happen somewhere along the trail so I thought I'd try a brownie. This is how it turned out:

It went quick but, YUM!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oh, got my trail do

I got my trail hair on now, lol. I was debating letting it grow for a pony tail or cutting it off. It has been settled, I cut it off. My hair annoys me anyway so short isn't really an issue for me, my husband on the other hand, well he's not so happy about it. Oh, and in honor of my support for the Children's Hemiplegia & Stroke Association I died it!!

I think I will add more purple as the day gets closer.

Sponsored by Emergen-C

My trip is sponsored by Emergen-C. I'll be sharing along the way with my fellow hikers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's Getting Real

I bought my bus ticket to Georgia and arranged transport to Springer Mountain. Going over my A.T. Guide and getting excited. Still need to get rain gear and a few other little things but I'll start hiking the 19th of April.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Trail Magic? without a real trail

So a friend of mine invited me to hike the family's 80 acres with her. That's cool, I thought, I love to hike near creeks and granite / bedrock. Something about the rocks jutting up out of the ground and the running water is just peace. I had a great time, there really is nothing like it.
The problem we seem to face is that we start too late. SO, here we go hiking across Cecil county, no map no compass (except her phone) and for me know idea where I was. It wasn't a long hike more of a meandering wander through her memory lane. So we were gonna come out by the Cecil county drag way and what walk home, sure the best laid plans....we ended up, I don't know, 4 miles from were we started by road in the dark.
We did get 2 ride offers though before her mom came and got us. I would say the first was drinking or had drank more than his share, the second was tempting but her mom was on the way, so we waited and chatted with him.
People can be truly generous, it is refreshing to see.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Raising Awareness!!

I have been thinking for a while that my walk north should benefit more than just me and my mental health. With that in mind I have been looking for the right cause.

I believe I have found it!! This is a personal cause for me and though I am grow now and my childhood went fairly smoothly, I have always been different. My mother told me that I had a stroke before I was born, sounds crazy right but it happens. Kids have strokes. Infants have strokes. And Unborn children have strokes!

Strokes at such an early age have a variety of medical implications. My right side has been slightly weaker and smaller with less coordination and my leg is smaller and I limp when tired. I had gotten use to people not noticing, but yesterday I saw a general surgeon about something completely different and 5 seconds in "Whats wrong with your hand?" It really doesn't bother me any more but as a child I was teased relentlessly by kids at school, everyone needs to know that survivors are just that survivors!

So I am going to try to promote awareness along my hike of childhood stroke!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Shelter, one concern down!!

I have decided on shelter! I bought an Oware 8x10 tarp. I had been contemplating my options and decided I could do the most with it. A single person tent would probably be easier to ...wait not really. Maybe its more private, and smaller, that's all I've got right now. So this way I will have room to spread out or I can share with my cousin who is considering joining me.
I do plan to add no-see-um netting around the tarp to reduce bug issues. It is just a plan right now and I want to test the tarp before I take needle and thread to it. I'll have to post pics of the test and any modifications made.
I was running through my list of gear and realized I don't yet have a mat. While shopping last night I was researching my options and reading reviews. Now I really want to test drive some mats, see how they work with my curves. I had wanted a NeoAir, but I don't want to wake up on a flat mat. So I will try to keep an open mind as I continue my search for a mat.

What am I forgetting?

  • Pack heavy but comfy - check
  • sleeping bag - check though a lighter one for summer might be nice.
  • tarp - ordered
  • stove - check
  • pot - check
  • spoon - check
  • water filter - check
  • water storage (3 leters) - check 
I know meds. and bathroom items need reviewed. 
I am concerned about the not showering. I generally need to shower to clear my sinuses (the steam) , I don't remember having issues in high school when I hiked but I know it was a big issue a few years back when I spent a week in the hospital after a trip to Egypt. They didn't let me take a shower until day 4 when I started crying and vomiting, it wasn't pretty. SO, will I be ok, or will I be foiled by my head, I am hoping all goes well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Me Time

I realized today, that "me time" for me has been in the woods near running water for most of my life. As a kid I would hike this creek in my neighborhood for hours every chance I got. Now I am lucky to see the sun. 
Oh, my husband thinks I am selfish for planning to hike the AT, but this is nonnegotiable, I am leaving in April. My sanity depends on it. How am I suppose to convince a man that hiking is a good idea, if he hates the woods? Sadly, I must admit I returned the insult by calling him selfish for not wanting me to be happy. 
I want to go hike that creek from my childhood, but I wonder if it is the same. Or perhaps someone would report me for trespassing...
So to prepare for this hike, I spoke with a friend of a coworker. He hiked the AT SOBO "a few years back". I got some great advise and am truly grateful. He did say I need to settle as many issues as I can, no sense taking extra baggage with me on the trail. 

Turkey Point

Got out with a friends for a evening hike 1-6-12, and wow were the sunsets great. Looking forward to April, especially now with my text books sitting here reminding me that I still have these classes to get through.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I am still preparing. I have purchased several key pieces of equipment and have decided that I will leave here in April whether I can afford the whole trail or not. I will hike as far as I can afford.
Last week I did a 4.5 mile hike with my cousin and honestly, it was tough. I wore my pack and used my trekking poles. It felt good though to get out and hike. The pack is comfortable, even loaded. I used my filter and filled up at the river. What I learned is that: Water is heavy! My right knee is weaker. and I need to start earlier in the day!! It was dark for the second half of my hike, thankfully I have already purchased a headlamp.
Sadly I don't have pictures because my camera isn't in yet.
On another note...
I am not looking forward to this semester, and having to wait for it to end to get going. April 17th won't come soon enough. It seems college gives me hives... on one of my fingers? It really is the oddest thing but when I start stressing about classes starting or finals this one finger breaks into a blistery, itchy, rash?