Tag Archives: walking

Katahdin!

This is me on top of Mt. Katahdin yesterday morning!!!! This means I’m finished! My goal for 2184 miles, 14 states and nearly 6 months has been acheived and my slowly growing dream for 12 years is now done! It’s been a massive physical, emotional, psychological and nutritional rollercoaster and one I’m sure I’ll never forget. It’s almost impossible to understand such big endings immediately and I’ll likely mull this one over for some time to come, but huge things like this always mean new beginnings and I’m over the moon to have succeeded. I’ll write more on my blog soon. Many many thanks for all the support, friends. And a massive thanks to those of you that supported my 24 hour hike with your donations. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I didn’t die during the attempt, I hiked 40 miles in a day!  A great day!!! 😀
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Entering the 100 mile wilderness

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. 😀


Entering the Whites!

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! 🙂


New Hampshire!

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:

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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.

DONATE HERE! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

ImageDONATE HERE! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂


24 Hour Sponsored Hike!!!

Ok guys.

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. 

I’m currently at mile 1490 of 2183 of the Appalachian Trail. I’m in New England and now the terrain is starting to get really tough! And will get much much much harder soon. I’ll be hiking some HUGE mountains before I know it! And will be in the sponsored section.I aim to do a 24 hour hike, starting at midnight and ending at midnight the following day. I hope to cover around 40 miles in that time. But who knows, maybe it could be much more! I will take short breaks during and will try to keep up a speed of approximately 2mph. This will likely take place in Vermont.

Click here to DONATE NOW! Two miles per hour might not seem much but I will be going up and down huge mountains, clambering over rocks, through muddy swamps and more than that I’m already exhausted! Trust me, this is going to be hard, if not hell at times. I know I will try my very hardest.

Please donate what you can!
$1 would be greatly appreciated.
$10 would be AMAZING!
$100 and I will give you a foot rub!
$1000 and I will likely marry you!
PLEASE PLEASE donate what you can, even if it’s the smallest amount! If I ever made you laugh out loud or provided you with some mild entertainment or tip or advice, that’s worth at least a dollar or pound!
I know my friend, his family and many many others like him will greatly appreciate all the help you can give to Macmillan Cancer Support and therefore to those directly affected by cancer.
Macmillan Cancer Support supports local information and support centres, cancer support groups, benefits advisers and cancer support specialists, and can help with practical, medical, financial and emotional support.

Trail Magic

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!


The err…dangers of being a thru-hiker

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!

Bears

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!

Rattlesnakes

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!

Mice

They eat your food and poop in your shoes. This happened to me 4 nights ago.

Deer

They’re not dangerous.

Other hikers

We stink, everyone has a distinct odor. It hurts the nose sometimes.

Old trees

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…

Read about it here

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.

Towns

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.

Beer

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.

Trail Mix

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.