At Mile 572.6 of the AT on Saturday, May 30, 2015 (9:15 PM). Google Maps link to my location: http://maps.google.com/maps?z=14&t=m&q=37.07673,+-81.30708 After a long days hike I came up a mountain side to see a phenomenal view of what looks like a gigantic sink hole and a small town that has been frozen in time. It’s called Burks Garden, VA. Check out this link for a little more history on the area. http://www.virginialiving.com/virginiana/at-large/a-different-world/ the Appalachian Trail follows the eastern Ridge around the whole valley and offers some beautiful views as well as on of the best sun sets I have seen out here. I wish the trail went through the town so I could see how simple it really is. I guess I’ll have to add it to the list of places to come back and visit at some point. The best part was at the end of the day coming up on some more trail magic. Indie (a thru hiker from last year) and her parents were grilling and feeding all of the hikers that came through. In total they fed about 30 of us today. Thank you so much for the great meal and supplies! The last photo was from on the way up the mountain side. While I was walking up on the lone tree it felt like the end of one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption. You know where Red was walking in the field looking for the odd rock in the wall at the base of the oak tree.
At Mile 557.1 of the AT on Friday, May 29, 2015 (9:46 PM). Google Maps link to my location: http://maps.google.com/maps?z=14&t=m&q=37.00080,+-81.40437 Today I can say that I have completed 25% of the trail! At Mile 547.3 I passed the 25% complete sign. Of course a selfi was in store. It made me start thinking about what I have completed to far. Below are some of the calculations I did today while hiking.
Completed to date:
*60 days since I started
*53 days on the trail (60 if you were to count the time I was back in AZ)
*50 days of hiking (3 zero days)
*11.14 miles a day average (this will improve to 15+ with time)
*1,250,000 steps taken
*129,000 feet or 24.43 miles of elevation gained
*250,000 calories burned
*150 liters of water filtered and consumed
*25 lbs lost
*1 pair of shoes trashed (and being replaced for free! Thank you Salomon!!!)
* and last but not least… A shit ton of fun had!
This is definitely the most trying time of my life but at the same time it is absolutely the best time of my life! I feel amazing and happier than ever, overall. There are rough days where I question what I am doing but those days slip away with one good view from a mountain top or while looking back at the accomplishments of the day. Speaking of accomplishments, I have really had the opportunity out here to reflect on the importance of daily goals. I set a milage goal for the next day every night before bed. The next night prior to setting the next days goal I look back and see if I met, exceeded or failed on my goal. I use that along with the reason for success or failure to help adjust and set the next days goal. Reflecting on why I succeeded or failed allows me to pay close attention to my eating habits, consumption of water, and how my body feels. This ultimately is making my hike successful. When I am complete with this journey and return to reality and the work force I am going to continue to set daily goals personally and professionally. I always have set goals but I never really took the time to explore the reasons for success or failure unless it was required. I have learned exploring this actually sets you up to be more successful the following day(s). See I am learning something out here 🙂
I passed an area a couple of days ago that was pretty fun! It’s called the Graceland Highlands and is in Virginia. There are feral ponies that have been on the mountain since the 70’s. A rancher let them go and now they are protected and managed by the National Forest Service. It’s funny to see their reaction when hikers walk past. They almost run over to say high but actually they just want to lick the salt off of you! I passed on letting them lick me because I heard some of them bite. The best ones were the new born ponies. They must have been a week or so old. They were curious but still not sure about people so they would start to come close and then start bucking and neighing like they were going to buck you. There were probably 8 more pregnant ponies along the way. Christian, when I saw the ponies I immediately thought of you!
At Mile 498.1 of the AT on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 (6:58 PM). Google Maps link to my location: http://maps.google.com/maps?z=14&t=m&q=36.65620,+-81.52477 I am back into the hiking groove and on my way to catching back up with the characters I have been hiking with. I figure it will take me between 3 – 4 weeks to catch back up with them since they are a solid week a head of me. In the mean time I will get a lot of solitude and time to think and work through plenty of my personal trials and tribulations while meeting new characters along the way. There definitely is not as many people on the trail right now. This is mainly due to everyone being a head of me after leaving trail days last weekend. It’s nice to hike alone and spend the day lost in your thoughts. It gives you time to rethink through decisions that you have made and how to go about life differently from this point further. It’s also given me plenty of time to think about what I want the next chapter of my life to look like. I am still not sure how it will look but I have started mentally exploring a few different paths. More to come in the future on that topic. I am headed to bed for the night.
Cc: At Mile 470.1 of the AT on Sunday, May 24, 2015 (3:33 PM). Google Maps link to my location: http://maps.google.com/maps?z=14&t=m&q=36.62850,+-81.77657 It was a bit difficult to leave home to come back to the trail! I enjoyed all of the time I got to spend with friends and family way more than I anticipated. Now that I am back out here though I know I would have never forgave myself if I wouldn’t have come back. I am going to try and get about 6 miles out of town today.
Last weekend I came home to surprise my nephew for his High School graduation. As a bonus I got to watch him pitch the entire winning Championship Division 1 game for Mesquite High. Congratulations Josh for an awesome win and for graduating! I look forward to watching you pitch in college!!! For anyone interested here is a link to an awesome article about the game that also includes a short interview with him after the game. http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/high-school/2015/05/20/gilbert-mesquite-baseball-beats-peoria-liberty-first-title-division-championship-game/27632437/
While home I was able to see my dog Mieso and surprise a lot of my friends and family thanks to a dear friend picking me up from the airport and dropping me off at my parents for the first surprise of the week. I got a bit of a surprise myself from her. She worked on the Cuties company and was able to score me some Cuties swag so I can rock my ridiculous trail name in style! Thanks for the swag and helping me make the visit so memorable and such a surprise Dawn! Sorry I didn’t get to see everyone while I was home. I look forward to seeing the rest of you when I get back in late September or early October. I will be back on the trail tomorrow and make sure to get back to posting photos as I make progress. Only 1722 miles to go!
Cc: Near Mile 469.7 of the AT (0.7 miles from the trail) on Saturday, May 16, 2015 (12:09 AM). Google Maps link to my location: http://maps.google.com/maps?z=14&t=m&q=36.62397,+-81.79194 Holy shit! This weekend is trail days in Damascus, VA. What a crazy time it has been. I have literally ran into people that I started the trail with and have not seen for 5 weeks. I know in reality that doesn’t seem like a long time but from my perspective it seems like a long time… Especially when wondering if they were even on the trail any more. Let me back up though. About a week ago a lot of talk about trail days started. I had heard about it previously but didn’t realize the significance and size of the event. Trail Days is the biggest event on the AT. It’s a 4 day festival with music, bonfires, drum circles, hiker parade and belive it or not a hiker prom with a king and Queen (no I didn’t attend it). During the day vendors are slinging merchandise and by night tribal style drum circles and bonfires are occurring. It has been quite the experience so far and I have just hit the 20% complete mark with 1722 miles to go. A day prior to getting into Damascus for trail days a hiker group called Riff-Raff threw a huge party in a cow pasture as a pre-party. Every hiker that came down the trail was greeted with a beer and a burger. Most ended up getting sucked into the party and stayed way longer than they should have, myself included. The group I was hiking with that day showed up around 11:00 pm and stayed quite a while. We all eventually made it out and down the trail and into Damascus. The bonfire at trail days was like a tribal ritual with a massive drum circle, people dancing around the fire, and tribal like chanting. What a crazy event to experience! I have tried to upload a video of the bonfire with no luck :/
At Mile 418.3 of the AT on Monday, May 11, 2015 (8:06 PM). Google Maps link to my location: http://maps.google.com/maps?z=14&t=m&q=36.26271,+-82.12672 I ended up hiking a little over 200 miles in 14 days and caught up with some others hikers that I had been hiking with. Peaches from PA and Paisley from MI. After catching them we headed to the Kincora Hiker Hostel. This place is pretty unique! Bob Peoples opened it in 1997. It is all based on donation and he runs all the hikers into town to resupply. The pics below are of the Hostel and us crammed in the back of his truck on the way back from a resupply. There was also a trail legend known as Baltimore Jack there the whole time. He has thru hiked the trail 7 times and section hiked the trail 2 times. In total he has logged over 26,000 miles hiking. His stories and advice were awesome. Our timing of arriving here was perfect! Bob and Jack offered us small packs and a ride 9 miles up the trail the following morning. This allowed us to take a days ration of supplies to hike back to his place and enjoy swimming in the Laurel Falls along the way. Taking a small pack and moving forward via a car to hike back where you started the day is called slack packing.