Archive for May, 2013

There’s camping and then there’s camping…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 30, 2013 by wordsandpixels

There are many ways to see America’s wilderness beauty. Busses, trucks, cars and of course on foot have all been successfully used to go from one place to another. At night you only need to make dinner, get a good night’s sleep and then take off the next morning after breakfast. The little beauty pictured here will do it for nearly $200,000. Plus diesel fuel, of course. Or, you can pick up a backpack from your local outfitter, add a little tent and sleeping bag, and you’re in business. John Muir reportedly said “Throw a loaf of bread and some tea in a gunny sack and hop over the back fence.” Which is better? You decide.

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338 Miles and Smiles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 28, 2013 by wordsandpixels

Three hundred thirty eight miles, and as many smiles. We’ve met so many terrific fellow hikers from all over the world. Hiking right now with “Sam I Am” from St. Louis. Wicked sense of humor.

My feet and knees are in continual pain. Probably normal for old far…err, mature hikers. Anybody know of a sale on artificial knees, preferably at a hospital on the Appalachian Trail? Kind of like a Midas Muffler’s for hikers?

Catch you soon. Best regards to all.

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Oklahoma

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 21, 2013 by wordsandpixels

I was going to write about a horrific day I had, caught in a violent thunderstorm on too of a mountain. Then I made the mistake of listening to NPR.

All people, especially parents, are still in shock as the Oklahoma tornado disaster story unfolds. There’s not much to say, except give help where possible and money when not. Our hearts and souls go out to everyone affected by the disaster.

A flat tire at 250 miles…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2013 by wordsandpixels

Wouldn’t ya know it? I could barely walk. My toenails were turning black and the growth on my right pinkie toe was excruciating. On top of that my left hamstring had come unstrung, or whatever they do to make you feel like laying down, ne’er to walk another foot (no pun intended).  Drastic action was needed.

So out came the knife and, voila, faster than you can say L.L. Bean my shoe underwent a redesign. A neat “X” about an inch in diameter allowed the unnamed growth (bunion? blister? hotspot?) to live in unmolested freedom. Two protein bars and three liters of water would hopefully alleviate the hamstring as I walked. And walk I did. Up at 4:00 AM and on the trail by 5:00 AM, I was treated to sunrise on top of Max Patch mountain, a breathtaking view as well as one of the windiest spots on the trail so far (easily blowing 35 knots). Twenty-five miles later I descended into Hot Springs, NC like a bedraggled cat.

The good news was I made new trail friends. (See previous post.) John and Kip are two erudite southern gentlemen who added to the depth and breadth of my experience. Great hiking partners, we celebrated with breakfast at the Great Smoky Mt Diner (three eggs sunny side up, hash browns, steak, biscuits and gravy and a twelve inch pancake). Hiking takes lots of fuel (about 5,000 calories a day). You can’t carry that much food in your backpack.

Equally good news was the knowledgeable sales help at Bluff Mountain Outfitters who spent the better part of an hour examining, advising, measuring, fitting and finally pronouncing me good to go with a new set of Vibram-soled hiking sandals. Shades of the 60’s or what? But with waterproof Neoprene socks they are, as the young ‘uns say, the bomb.

In the evening, a fine dinner at a local tavern complete with world-class music from “The Blue Ribbon Healers” (husband/wife guitar/mandolin team out of Florida). They are extraordinary! Catch them as they tour the country — 250 appearances a year from coast to coast.

Tomorrow I head north again, after a much-needed day of rest at Elmer’s Sunnybank Farm (an 1840’s built house with charm, great vegetarian cuisine and fine fellowship). Also helpful was an hour’s soak in Hot Springs’ famous Hot Springs (where else?) and a “get out those back knots” massage.

I’ll try and post some pix later from my iPhone since library computers don’t let you upload things like photos and videos.

Thanks for reading — see ya later.

 

Friends, old and new

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2013 by wordsandpixels

If you ask folks why they hike the AT, the most popular answer will surprise you.

“For the socialization,” they say. This seems at odds with the nature of wilderness, the solitude and the peace one finds hiking this 2,200 mile American treasure. Yet every evening during dinner preparation, campfires and rainy day hideouts, you find yourself surrounded by new friends from all walks of life. Young, old, rich or poor, the trail is the great social equalizer.

If you’re really fortunate, like I was recently, you are joined by an old friend who you haven’t seen for a few years. The trail provides an opportunity for long conversations, re-acquainting each other with family happenings, missed events and the other details of life.

Gary Mintier and I were colleagues way back in 1985. Since then we and our wives attended each others’ children’s weddings, traveled by barge in France and Holland, hiked in England and visited respective homes in North Carolina and New York. Hiking together on the AT was yet another opportunity to deepen our friendship.

The piece de resistance, however, was a visit to Gary’s daughter Jessica’s home in Ashville, NC. Gary’s wife Mary Ann prepared a sumptuous Korean dinner. The table was filled with family: husband Brian, daughters Meghan, Patricia and Aliyah, Mary Ann, Gary and me. What an extraordinary break from the routine (and cuisine!) of the trail. A shower and laundry facilities, of course, were an added bonus.

Tomorrow I’ll be back on the trail again. The smells and tastes of Korean food will still linger in my mind, the warmth and friendship of great friends will follow as well, and the prospect of meeting new folks lie down the trail.

What a great life!