Tag Archives: walking
I’m sitting on the bank of a lake, just about to enter the 100-mile wilderness. As you can see, I’m supposed to have 10 days of food. Actually I have about 6 days worth. Also several German WWII-era grenades (for dramatic killings of the evil North American Red Squirrel). I only have 6 days of food because that’s all it will take including a zero day in preparation for my 24 hour hike. I’m in tremendously high spirits today. Monson has revitalised me. Cleaned me, my gear, given me new music, food, friends (hey and thanks to Canadian Mike) and a massive sense of positivity about this next week and my life in general. Today really is a great day. 😀
Finally, after the past 1000 or so miles of rolling hills, small rocks and mediocre views (though it was all fantastic) I’m about to enter the Whites! Now for steep and insane mountains, huge boulders and awesome (dictionary definition) views. Today it feels pretty good to be alive! This is what I signed up for! On Smarts Mountain fire tower looking out to my upcoming days! 🙂
Here I am in Hanover, New Hampshire. We crossed the state line yesterday from Norwich, VT and were bombarded with free stuff! We first got a free $4 egg salad sandwich from the general store in Norwich. A guy whose brother hiked the trail gave us a box of $5 ginger cookies. Plus there were numerous coolers along the way into town outside local homes that contained cookies, watermelon, all sorts of stuff! And all for us! Coz we’re real hikers or something, I guess! ha
Then in Hanover (a college town – Dartmouth College is here – an Ivy League school) we got a free bagel with cream cheese, a free slice of pizza and I think there was something else. Then off I went for some not so free, but delicious IPAs in the local boozer, the Salt Hill Tavern, or something. I love the ale scene in the USA (did I already mention this?!). There are hundreds and thousands of local brews all over, just like the UK, except it feels way more young and vibrant as opposed to the British, equally as delicious though very doddery old scene of geezers in the corner of the pub.
So, starting hiking in New Hampshire! We’ll be climbing into the White Mountains in a couple of days! Pretty excited and slightly (though only slightly) nervous! We have REAL mountains to climb! LOOK:
I have recently inflamed my old injury in my right achilles tendon and also I have some weird muscle problem in my left calf. It doesn’t hurt but the muscle kinda bulges out in one spot. Pretty freaky, but whatever, worse things happen at sea.
Anyway, I’m going to wait until I get home to worry about that. The lack of universal healthcare in the United States means I would pay $100 just to speak to a doctor, never mind any type of treatment or medication. RIDICULOUS! You guys are insane. Really 🙂
For this reason I’m going to delay my charity 24 hour hike until the end of the 100 mile wilderness so that if I do cripple myself, I’ll be right at the end and can just crawl up the final mountain, Katahdin! So that means there’s still time to donate to my excellent cause! Macmillan Cancer. Please do, because none of my blog readers have thus far donated! GUILT TRIP! Here is a recent news article about me in my hometown’s paper.
This is it.
This is where I see how much you value me as a blogger, friend, colleague or family member!
A very good friend of mine was recently diagnosed with liver cancer. This was obviously a huge shock to everyone who knows him. I felt in need of doing something to help in some way but I didn’t know how.
He receives help from Macmillan Cancer Support and I know that they have really helped him and his family. I’m going to do a 24 hour sponsored hike to help this WONDERFUL charity.
It’s a wonerful thing when one gets a free lunch.
They actually do exist on trail. At least while you’re hiking it. Free lunch. Today’s lunch cost about $2 but my night’s stay indoors is free. I’m in a barn in Falls Village, Connecticut.
I’m on my inflatable comfy (but stankin) matress on the hardwood floor, which needed sweepin, of an old (of course) red barn just behind the Toymaker’s Cafe. The barn is otherwise used to store old motorcycles. One poor soul is in parts on a bed sheet by Bunny’s head, ready for examination by the next intern at smalltown CT bike school. It f-ing reeks of oil but the rain was really pounding down today.
So, the cafe owner just lets us kip in his barn. They just straight up open part of their (admittedly oily) home to hiker trash. That’s magic right there. “Come one, come all, eat pizza drink beer and sleep amongst my clapped out motors, yo”.
Is there no end to the love that ordinary folk give us?! Most magic is seemingly (to most) small. A few gallon jugs of cold spring water in the middle of the iron-tainted desert that is New York, a can of coke in a shelter, unexpected, a ride when you didn’t even think about asking for one, a whole goddamn cooler full of all the things you’d never expect in the middle of the mountains…band aids, ice tea mix, denatured. Thanks Mac n Cheese! A beer n a hotdog cos folks know we hardcore. Trail magic is real magic and it is all over.
Many are all about the southern hospitality. I am too. But don’t worry ’bout crossing Mr. Mason n Mr Dixon’s line. It’s here too though less obvious, I suppose. People are more interested up here so that leads to some super star moments in state park parking areas and free cokes. More impromtu moments maybe.
Anyway, a tip of one’s headlamp to all those that give up a little for us hikers heading north and south 2200 miles. Your love is truly appreciated.
Suds’ second day of micheladas and cheap hotdogs coming up somtime in MA!
Seen as I’m having a zero day today in Wood’s Hole Hostel, I’m camped out back, everyone’s chilling out on the lawn in the gorgeous sunshine, some are cracking walnuts, some picking vegetables, some others are just heading out on a slackpack (where someone drives most of your gear further up the trail and you hike with just water, poles and a snack). The dogs are chasing sticks up the slope. We just ate a beautifully made mixture of all sorts of breakfast foods. Delicious!
I’m sitting up there in the shade
This whole situation reminds me of how dangerous it is out here.
Of course, the natural conclusion to such a scene. However, I’m pretty jacked on sugar after drinking liters of throwback coke and have plenty of time on my hands.
So I thought I’d fill you guys in on the err… dangers of being a thru-hiker! Mother and girlfriend, please look away now!
Not dangerous, they actually don’t even exist. How could they be dangerous?!
I haven’t seen one yet, so what you can’t see, can’t hurt you.
Most hikers have seen one or several by now. I walk at night, I walk in the early morning, sunset, all times of day but still no bears. I’m dying to see one.
Black bears are pussies, though don’t get between mother and cub is the advice you hear. Clack your poles together and they’ll go running. If you’re hiking the trail one day, you do not need a gun nor mace and people will find it funny/offensive you carry it/them. Just do it anyway if you like, you’ll send it home after 30 miles and wish you’d listened!
These ones actually worry me slightly. I don’t listen to music much out here, but I definitely don’t in long grass or in very rocky areas. Don’t want one jumping out and snapping my ankle without hearing the warning rattle. The bigguns are nothing to worry about as they’re wise, the smaller ones are the real danger as they don’t know humans aren’t a real threat and so use all their venom in one go.
I figure it just won’t happen and if it does, one runs to town pretty quick!
They eat your food and poop in your shoes. This happened to me 4 nights ago.
They’re not dangerous.
We stink, everyone has a distinct odor. It hurts the nose sometimes.
Another real danger. Don’t camp under a really old or dying tree. In 619 miles I have seen 1 tree fall in the forest down the hill from the trail, I’ve heard about 3 or 4 more fall in the distance and seen many many branches drop off trees. A medium sized one fell right next to me while I was taking a bathroom break!
The other day at 4am I wake up and moments later a huge crack above me and a crash as a massive branch fell through the canopy…. realizing in 0.1 seconds I didn’t actually check above my tent that night (arrived late and was tired) I immediately grab myself into a ball and cover my head. The 3 meter, 6 inch across branch smashed into the ground a couple of meters away. Needless to say, I learnt my lesson!
Always check above you when you camp!
Rednecks on Oxycontin
Very scary story where 5 hikers could’ve been killed by a nutcase redneck at Beauty Spot, TN/NC…
Heard the story from Tiny Dancer who strangled him with his hiking stick. It sounded terrifying but they gave it to him good once the gun had been kicked away. He’s hopefully going down for a long time!
Don’t ask them about it, I’m sure they’re sick to death of telling the story.
They can be vortexes that suck you in for days/weeks at a time and empty your wallets and dissolve your muscles and/or will. haha… great fun though. The first couple of zeros, beds in cheap motels are a great rest from the trail and will make the transition into being a sweaty stinky hiker an easier one. I needed this at the start, now I don’t. I haven’t slept in a bed now since May 1st.
I was never fast enough to take more than one zero at a time. I’m sure my wallet would be lighter if I had. Plan for a zero every 3-4 days for the first couple of weeks if you’re out of shape. Hiawassee, Franklin, the NOC would be a good idea. If you need more, take more. But for goodness sake take zero days. Your body needs them.
Basically the same as above. Add/subtract words as you see fit.
Hairy Barbaric Hiker Women
This one’s here for my thru-hiking friend Dan. He’s sitting next to me on a rocking chair on the porch in the photo above eating fresh homemade bread. (It’s hard not to have long winded descriptions here as so many awesome things are happening at once!)
He says they’re the real danger for his food bag that he hangs at night. You can usually hear the warning crunching of leaves on approach though. Forget bears and mice.
Disgusting. I don’t eat it. Even the people who say they make good trail mix. It still tastes like crap. It’s depressing and I want to vomit if that’s all I have left for snack food but I’m shaky and weak from hunger. So I don’t eat it anymore, there are plenty of other replacements.
Anyway, people only eat it because it has “trail” in the title, not the other way round. Now you know.
AWOL’s Guide Book
A controversial inclusion, I know. Friends and family, you may as well just stop reading now.
Let’s start with the positive, I was very pleased with it from Springer to Erwin and generally I am pleased with it. The profile gives you a good idea of what to expect, better than the ATC guide which just has elevation guides and key points (although more detailed info). Who knows what happens in between those points? So, yeah, that’s good. The town maps are pretty cool and it’s concise and clear. Good.
Now the negative, at times it really sucks. Erwin thru Damascus is just plain wrong on dozens of occasions. There are more times when it’s correct, but that doesn’t make it OK. I know water sources dry up and new ones pop up and there is a disclaimer about that in the book, the same with prices. I’m not talking about that though, I’m talking walking 18 miles when you only planned, had time to do 13 and were also injured so more damage was caused by the guide that says there is camping and there are just rocks for 5 miles. Similar events happened to me 3 nights in a row around Roan Mountain. Needless to say I was pretty annoyed about it and it caused me pain.
I know volunteers keep it up to date and I really am very grateful for his/her/their piss poor job after Erwin. Time to move over guys and let some new enthusiastic folk in. Rerouted trail after Trail Days with Bob Peoples is planned ahead of time, why isn’t it included as additional info when it avoids old camping and encounters new water?! A quick phone call is all that would be needed.
AWOL, get your book sorted. I’m sure this supplements your income pretty nicely, so don’t just rehash old profiles each year and pass them off as the new year’s edition. Here’s hoping the rest of the trail is more accurately represented.
I would still get this book over the ATC’s though. A little teamwork guys?
Yeah, like I said, jacked on caffeine and sugar….. haha.
So here I am in the library in Bland, Virginia. Funny name, huh…. actually a nice town, with great breakfasts! Asked for a sausage patty, 1 biscuit n gravy, 2 sausages and 3 slices of bacon…..I got….. 2 biscuits, 2 sausage patties, 3 eggs and 8 pieces of bacon. Lovely old waitress!!! Awesome right?!
So far I’ve walked 587 miles…..only 1597.3 miles to go! Woah! I was averaging lowwww miles in my first 6 weeks and even took a week off to go to Trail Days (the Appalachian Trail festival) which coincided nicely with another injury. Anyway I came out of Erwin after the festival feeling better and more confident that I could cope with the problems my legs and feet were presenting me. I got some great tips from doctors, other hikers and doctor Google and now can keep more or less everything under control (except the beard) and do bigger miles.
I’ve been on trail a little over a week in Virginia and have covered about 140 miles in that time. That took me 14 days at the start of the trail! I’m starting to kick ass. Yesterday I did 20, today I’ll hopefully do the same though I had to get up at 5am today to get into town to resupply food (and 2 tallboy Budweisers!)….did 7 miles before 9am and will be back on the trail in 2 hours max I hope. That’s about 17 miles a day average. Virginia has been very nice n easy at times and rocky and hard as hell at others…..it’s not flat though! Don’t believe the hype!
In order to get into town one has to normally hitch a ride unless the towns right on trail. Had only hitched once before in Spain I remembered yesterday. Hitching is great and I think it’s a genetic thing….I get easy hitches, must be the many hitches my Dad got through Europe in the late 40s errr….early 70s. I got picked up by some southern Baptists today who said “praise the lord for the weather” “God’s blessings are truly….” etc about 8 times in the space of 3 miles driving… “amen to that, brother” was my response each time!
Don’t anyone get me wrong here now, I’m not dissing anyone. The Christian ability to be ridiculously awesome to hikers is truly amazing. I love and respect that and most people don’t try to convert me, which is even better. On el Camino de Santiago ( a Catholic pilgrimmage) no one tried to talk to me about God or religion the whole time. The southern US is a different story! I’m happy to listen and it’s a pretty neat cultural experience and quite an eye opener!
So, recently I’ve been enjoying near perfect weather and near perfect views and places to hike through. The Grayson Highlands with wild(ish) ponies was amazing. The 20 mile day in 8 hours into Partnership Shelter was also a huge highlight. Plus many more. Get out here and do it! I’ve got to get back on the trail as I have about 12-13 miles to do in the next 7 hours or so….then another 20 tomorrow (????!) to get to Wood’s Hole Hostel for a zero day and home grown organic meals and a good rest.
Will be updating my blog more regulary as of now as I’m spending less time on injuries and more time on the hike. Stay tuned! 🙂
I had to upload photos via my phone (below) as the library won’t let me right click, copy, upload or anything!
Apologies for the lack of photos but the Bland County library system has disabled all USB access….grr.
Sorry for the slow updates of my blog…. I’m actually a pretty busy guy on trail and have almost no time on a computer to update anything….
So the evening after the last post I hiked up from Hot Springs and injured my arches. I went 50 miles into Erwin….beautiful countryside and then took a week in Trail Days to rest my feet and speak to different people about stretches and ways to reduce plantar faciitis (sp?). Then got back on the trail….. did really well coming back into Damascus and now I’m going to head back into the mountains today.
We did trail magic up in the mountains before Damascus yesterday with loads of beer and hotdogs…. I made Mexican micheladas for everyone.
Anyway, I’m really really uninspired today and don’t want to type anything…. a big storms coming in later and I want to get to the first shelter…. I promise a bigger update with way more interesting stuff soon. Coming up are stories of weddings in the the woods, crazy trail characters, disgusting trail food, insane weather conditions and much much more!
I’m about to start Virginia and have 550 miles…. I must up the pace a LOT in order to make it…..feeling more confident than before as I did a 20 mile day two days ago….. Time to kick some ass….aiming to be in Harpers Ferry in 35 days….thats about 80% quicker than my first 466 miles!!!! Wish me luck
I’m taking a zero day in the Nanthala Outdoor Center here in North Carolina. I’m about 140 miles into the hike. I’m going slow. This las section hasn’t been very good on my tendon. I had a 5 mile day yesterday which felt pretty goo but it was mainly downhill which i prefer because of the issue. It’s getting better now. I did 2 12 mile days and did them both far too quickly. Need to break more often through the day and start earlier. The past few days have been the way not to hike the AT for me. HYOH (hike your own hike) as they say…
I know I can continue hiking and will have to cntinue this slow n steady method. The question is if I will, or more specifically my leg will develop enough to finish the whole 2184 miles in 6 months. This next 30 miles is going to be an experiment in my new way befoe the Smokies.
anyway, enough of my leg.
theres a free style kayak competition today in NOC. going down for some beers n so on. resupply from the bad n expensive selection of food n just chill basically. A zero day is called so for a reason.
Let’s see now. Crossed border a while back with North Carolina. Ate very authenic Mexican food in La Poblana in Franklin…why that isn’t in the guide book I don’t know. South of La Rana Renata. Almsot as good as Mexico.
Hiking is pretty stunning at times. I climbed an observation tower the oher day….daaammmmnnnnnn…. one of the best views ever. Watching spring spring up around me….flowers coming out. Birds finally singing as there seemed to be no animals at all the first 10 or so days. A couple days back I saw HUGE wild boar crashing through the woods about 5 metres below me as I spooked it coming round a corner! Saw a black thing and for half a second figured it was a
bear…..flight or fight kicked in a was buzzing after! Shame I didnt have my camera in hand.
In other news I stayed in a shelter 2 nights on the trot because of the storms. Got to say I don’t like shelters at the moment. Too many people. They’re dry though!
I was named the other day. My trail name is Suds.