It was mostly raining the last few days but I am still in awe of the beauty of Southern Virginia. Rumors through the trailvine told of a bear thief at a shelter having taking down several food bags from trees. Rangers had just put in bear boxes when we’d stayed there, but sure enough, the thief came as soon as food hit the box and made #7 on my bear list. Quite a time.
Hit mile marker 500 and yes we did hear the 500 miles song. Even with the thunder, lightning and downpour, this section of the trail felt like a fairy tale with grasslands, bears, ponies, and longhorns. I stop mid hike sometimes and still can’t believe I am where I am.
one year ago I started the #pacificcresttrail i have yet to finish it. so i chose this photo from week 4 of my hike rather than a photo from day one. taking a dirt nap under a tiny bush, the only shade for miles in either direction. filthy and lonely. i can’t wait to finish what i started, and i’m beyond jealous of everyone starting their #pct2018 hike. take care of your feet, leave no trace, and embrace every minute of your journey. live big my friends!
love and magic,
one thing I learned from posting my #pct2017 experience on IG is everyone loves a good #tent pic (or even a bad one 😂). when I used a best nine app, 4 of my most like pics from 2017 included this tent. thank goodness my money was wisely spent 😆 ~ my tent is the #zpacks duplex. I used it for 1600ish miles of the #pacificcresttrail for 900ish I also used the optional freestanding poles. my review: 8.5/10 would definitely carry again. the two negatives I experienced were wind noise and condensation, but the condensation was only on two very cold nights when I kept all the doors closed. both nights were cold enough that the condensation froze and I never experienced condensation "rain". I chose the standard fabric thickness and color. it is translucent but not transparent. I covered my eyes on bright moon nights. otherwise, this wasn't a problem. I chose this tent because of the weight to size ratio. I don't enjoy cowboy camping when alone, and I camped alone about 95% of the time while on the #pct . the foot print is fairly large, but I only had one night that this lead to a really crumby site and pitch. the freestanding poles were great in the wind. they made it easier to make high and low pitch adjustments and even carry the tent to a new location. I experienced 50+ mph gusts and a few nights of sustained 30+ mph winds. on the worst nights I used the freestanding poles externally and my hiking poles for extra support inside the tent. if you are doing #pctprep feel free to ask questions via comments below. ~ I was not sponsored by any company. I did pay $125 less for my tent because I bought in the zpacks lightly used section of the website.
Pacific Crest Trail Communicator magazine has published one of my photos in its latest issue. They used it to illustrate an article headlined "Imagining the trail in a changed climate" and included this caption: "As global temperatures rise, today's desert heat will become 'another kind of hot.'" It was plenty hot on August 23, 2015 when I took this shot with a phone on my first PCT hike, near the end of a 500-miler from Donner Summit to Walker Pass. Still my favorite hike ever. The Sierras had lots of water and wildflowers that summer despite the drought, but things got dicey south of Crabtree Meadows and I became involved in the Mystery of the Missing Hiker after I found new backpacking gear abandoned by a panicky novice at bone-dry Joshua Tree Spring. #pacificcresttrail#pct#mojave#mojavedesert#climatechange#california#backpacking#hiking#hikecalifornia#longasssectionhike#saveourpubliclands
AT Mid-Atlantic, day 31, 11-4-17. Only 5 to 10% of section hikers ever complete the AT, I heard a speaker say at an ATC biennial. Today I finally finished the trail - after only 25 years. Back then I dayhiked from Springer Mountain to Long Creek Falls on those three little loops formed by the AT and BMT and thought I could never hike the whole thing. My first attempt at backpacking, in Montana, had been a disaster - heavy gear, cinderblock boots, steep route, clueless leader who made me carry loads of water that he dumped out after boiling a huge pot of spaghetti.
I still loved hiking and would do dawn-to-dusk day hikes such as the Standing Indian Loop on the AT. But I did not know how to backpack - until the Internet came along and I read countless blogs, articles and trail journals on lightweight gear that my injured back could handle. I started a few years ago with a 60-miler, then 175 miles, 365 miles, the 500-mile Colorado Trail and then an 850-miler. Now I hike thousands of miles a year and changed my life - selling my millstone of a house in Florida and moving to a condo in Colorado - so I can hike more. Thanks to all those who have helped along the way.
No time to be sad the AT is finished - I am now headed to Pittsburgh on the towpath. #appalachiantrail#AT#athike#at2017#hiking#longasssectionhike#backpacking#maryland#hikemaryland#candocanal#candotowpath#saveourpubliclands#protectourpubliclands
AT Mid-Atlantic, days 28-29, 11/1-2/17. "Is the Doyle as filthy mcnasty as some hikers say, or should I stay there?" I asked a 2,000-miler weeks ago. "Yes and yes," he said. He admitted that the cramped shower down the hall was too foul to use but insisted that the legendary/notorious old hotel was an AT must. I sleep on the ground for more than half the year and drink from creeks and cow ponds, but I see no need to pay extra for grime. The morning I passed through Duncannon, the weather was fine with rain forecast days later, so like a pika I made hay while the sun shined. By the time I got to Fayetteville I hadn't showered or done laundry in a couple of weeks so was eager to stop at the church-run Trail of Hope Hostel.
What a welcoming, clean hostel run by wonderful people. These folks DWJWD. It became one of my favorite places to stay on the AT, a list topped by the home of dear sweet Connecticut octogenarian Maria McCabe. The rules at Trail of Hope are simple: be considerate of others, no foul language, clean up after yourself etc. In other words, act like a kindergartener who has a modicum of self-restraint and not like the #tangerinetoddler#dirtydonny .
Thursday's long hike started and ended in the dark. Pen-Mar Park had no water so I continued for 6 miles into Maryland, my 14th and final state. #appalachiantrail#AT#athike#penmar#pennsylvania#maryland#hikepennsylvania#hikemaryland#hiking#michauxstateforest#southmountain#backpacking#longasssectionhike#saveourpubliclands#protectourpubliclands
AT Mid-Atlantic, days 18-19, 10/22-23/17. The AT passes right through Port Clinton but there is no grocery store so hikers have to go a few miles down busy Rte 61 to Hamburg's hectic I-78 interchange. You might think Sunday morning is the best time to hitch but in my experience it is the worst. I stood there like a #dotard for 40 minutes with thumb out while hundreds of cars roared past. If only those with WWJD bumper stickers WDWJWD. This was as bad as trying to hitch in Utah or the so-called Bible belt or Lake City, CO. Finally good old Cabella's opened, and the rumor is true - if staffing permits they will send someone to pick up hikers at the Port Clinton P.O.
The world's largest Cabella's has stuffed polar bears, musk oxen and wolverines and loads of clothing and hunting and fishing gear but did not have the items I needed. I tried to eat at their cafe, which the AT guide says serves breakfast, but it was closed. But I will be buying cold-weather clothes from Cabella's when I move back to Colorado.
Highway interchanges put the caca and the phony in cacophony, and after resupplying at several stores I was happy to flee the noise and commotion and take the Schuylkill Trail back to the AT and re-enter the woods. #appalachiantrail#AT#at2017#athike#pennsylvania#rocksylvania#hikepennsylvania#roundhead#backpacking#longasssectionhike#hiking#saveourpubliclands#protectourpubliclands
AT Mid-Atlantic, day 17, 10-21-17. Pennsylvania gets a bum rap on the AT. Most AT hikers say it is their least favorite state. At the Palmerton library I read "Appalachian Odyssey," about a couple's hike in the late '70s, and they hated Pennsylvania. Several times locals have apologetically asked how I like #rocksylvania . I like it fine. It is a joy to walk these ridges during this mild colorful autumn weather. Maine, NH, NY, TN, GA and other states also have their share of rocks, plus a lot more ups and downs. I do recommend that section hikers tackle the mid-Atlantic states in autumn or maybe spring, not summer. If thru-hiking I'd go from Springer to Harpers Ferry to DC, then flip to Maine and go southbound.
Rain is coming Tuesday so we'll see how I like climbing over wet rocks.
Campsites hard to find tonight with many weekenders enjoying the trail. Camped at a site where a big tree crashed down recently - hope I don't get squashed. #appalachiantrail#AT#at2017#athike#hiking#backpacking#pennsylvania#longasssectionhike#hikepennsylvania
AT Mid-Atlantic, day 15, 10-19-17. After reading over the years about the zinc Superfund site near Palmerton, I expected a hideous wasteland and was surprised how scenic and normal-looking the trail was north of town, aside from some stunted trees in fenced-off areas. Who knows, though, what is going on beneath the ground and in the water and air.
Also to my surprise, Palmerton seems pleasant and prosperous, nothing like the Love Canal I'd pictured. The laundry is closed, but I washed myself and my clothes at the new hostel run by Bert's Steakhouse. The free hostel in the town hall closed a few years ago, another victim of bad behavior by the minority of hikers who are morons or deranged dotards. #appalachiantrail#AT#athike#at2017#palmerton#lehighgap#pennsylvania#rocksylvania#hikepennsylvania#longasssectionhike#backpacking#hiking#saveourpubliclands#protectourpubliclands
Packed my pack for the last time for now in a casino hotel room in Reno, a strange place to end my hike. I had aspirations of returning to finish the PCT portion the Sierra Nevada mountains, which I'd bypassed, in part, due to 7 weeks off trail for injury back early in the summer. Alas, it was not meant to be. I have a cold that won't go away and it's clear that my body is tired and telling me "it's time to rest". And I'm listening. After 2000 miles of highs and lows, bruised collar bones and hips, hunger, dehydration, heat, cold, pain, euphoria, mental and physical exhaustion, tears, laughter, confidence, doubt, and all the other extremes you can imagine, I'm done with the Pacific Crest Trail for the year.
Over the past few days, I've struggled with the feeling of extreme disappointment of not completing a thru hike. But, I'm proud. I'm proud of how far I was able to walk, of returning to the trail after almost two months off for injury and giving it my all, and of the journey. Moreso, I'm proud to have been in the company of so many inspiring, encouraging, strong, resilient, dedicated, and beautiful humans that hiked this trail during a very, very challenging year.
My faith in humanity has been restored and I'm left humbled by the experience and with a huge love, respect, and appreciation for the PCT.
I wouldn't change a thing. Congratulations and best wishes to all. "See you down the trail"
- Trash Mule