Archive for April, 2013

Tale of two raindrops

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2013 by wordsandpixels

“It was the best of times,” wrote Dickens, “it was the worst of times.” Alas, alack, anon, the same is true about rain on the AT.

One day you’re inside a shelter, waiting for a cold front to pass. The rain, as soothing as a melodic interlude, plays on the tin roof. Inside, the dozen hikers pass the time by telling jokes and stories, playing cards and word games, lucky not to be out hiking. That night the temperature goes down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit and the rain soaked ground freezes. So does everyone’s water bottles.


On another day, you’re not so lucky. Hiking along under cloudy skies, the heavens suddenly ¬†open up, bringing springtime nourishment to plants and animals, but making life hell for you.

The dried dirt under your hiking boots turns to mud, and pretty soon it feels like you’re trying to walk on a mixture of peanut butter and olive oil. You’re glancing at a budding Trillium plant when it happens. Feet go out from under and splat, you’re laying on your back in the inch-deep primal ooze. Glasses fly off down the trail. After realizing nothing is broken except your ego, you can only laugh. Out loud. Some hikers will twist an ankle or break a leg, throwing them off the trail for a while. You’re lucky. You have only discovered the tale of two raindrops.

See you down the trail.


24 Hours to Tulsa…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2013 by wordsandpixels

With apologies to Ian and Sylvia. Actually, we just want to share part of the last 24 hours with you.

Hiked to the top of Siler Bald Shelter. 5000+ feet. Soldier, Izzy, Flatlander (Terry’s unofficial trail name), 2 guys from Rochester, Amy and her 4 kids. Yikes! All in one 8-person shelter. We’re nestled like sardines in a can and keep each other warm.

Cold rain. More cold rain. And still more. You didn’t think clouds could hold, yet loose the fury of that much ice cold water. I think they call this a deluge.

In the middle of the night, I have to pee. Walk half way to the privy and things change big time.

They went away (the clouds, that is). The wind swung around to the north at about 15 knots and the mercury dropped like a lead weight. 25 degrees. You can see lights of a town in the distance, twinkling like the thousands of stars above us in the galaxy. The constellations came to life in our minds the way they have since the beginning of time.

Breakfast: 3 oatmeal servings, fruit bars, Fig Newtons, coffee. Finally get on the trail after talking to Ann and accidentally left the phone on (usually put to Airplane Mode to save battery power). Phone rings! It’s my grandson Liam, wanting to know where I am so he can put another pin in the map. Am I a happy camper, or what?

Next: Aquone Shelter & Cabins. Wow! Stay tuned.

“Turtle 13”

One week, 58 miles, three blisters, no bears…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2013 by wordsandpixels

When I started this hike on my 65th birthday, on the 65th anniversary of Earl Shaffer’s historic thru-hike, with a twin of his 65 year-old camera, my son Nathaniel and his wife Jenn sent me an eMail. “Don’t talk to bears,’ he wrote, “hydrate, and watch your step on slippery or muddy rocks.”

Turned out to be good advice. The one thing he forgot, being young and as strong as an ox, was to take it easy. An out-of-shape grandfather should start at five and work his way up to ten (miles per day) the first week.
After that, the pain subsides (thanks to the wonder-drug “Vitamin I” (ibuprofen). By week four the miles are rolling off fairly easily, it is said.

There are only three speeds on the AT — one, two or three miles an hour. Up and down excruciatingly steep 4,000 foot mountains in Georgia causes one to opt for 1 mph. Flat ground, maybe 2 mph. If you’re strong like a bull and fleet like a Gazelle, 3 mp is possible on the level portions. Almost nearing the top of Blood Mountain, I was surprised by a rail-skinny high school track star running up and down the mountain like a mountain goat. The next time I saw him he was doing the same sans shirt. Phew.

Ann has been critical to the effort, sending boxes with food, candy, coffee and toiletries. We’re using a mix of “drop Boxes” with local shopping. You can get by carrying no more than three or four days of food. Water, of course, is more precious, and it is a foolish hiker who has less than 2 liters at his disposal at any time.

So far it’s been as cold as 30-deg F., as hot as 80-deg F. in the bright sun, calm and still or blowing to beat the band. I’ve eaten cold food, hot food, and even free food from “trail angels” whose purpose it is to make life just a little more pleasant for long-distance thru-hikers.

So, with 58 miles under my belt, there are 2,122 to go. If I continue like this, up my pace a little to 15 mpd, I should summit Mt. Katahdin sometime late September or early October. Join the expedition by following this blog, and I hope to have some fun stories to share!

Gary 4/8/13