How to describe our first five days on the Appalachian Trail. Starting out of Harpers Ferry gives you a chance to enjoy a smooth “on ramp” to the trial. Start by crossing the Potomac and level walk along its banks. A couple miles in a tight left turn, of course it starts to rain, and the road heads up. I read that the trail always goes UP headed north and it sure seems so. The beauty and majesty of this land is immediately apparent and will slow you down because you want to stop and stare at EVERYTHING.
Charlene (I’ve started calling her “The Saint”) and I have worked on the road for the past almost 2 years and logged about 1600 Fitbit miles walking gas lines. After five days walking up and down dirt, crushed leaves, roots and ROCKS with 25ish pounds strapped to our backs, those 1600 miles mean exactly d$&k. I am finding leg muscles that Haven’t been used like this since I had brown hair. Moses did some test hikes and spent some gym time for a few months before our start and he has aches and pains forgotten about since his youth. I have to give him credit however; pushing 80 and just finishing radiation treatment he is a little slower but trusting right along. And his knowledge of wildlife is a never ending source of information.
We decided to dodge some upcoming weather and grabbed a room at the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites In Waynesboro, PA. Nice hotel with FREE breakfast, bar, and right next door to a Walmart for resupply. It’s funny, I’m tired and the rest is good but I long to put more ground under my feet.
Day 3 on the trail was tough. You know how it feels a few days after you go back to the gym? Yeah, that’s it… pain…. lots of pain. So after a day of aching muscles and more hills , and this is the easy part?!? We get to the shelter area to settle down early. We forgot that this is the weekend. And that Boy Scouts camp on weekends. Great kids, loud and rambunctious but great kids. They even asked Moses if he’d like to share their Oreos. They gave him the first one!!! Me I spent time chatting with the adults and some of the kids. Heck, what Eagle Scout wouldn’t. I’ll share a couple picks of the action. Earlier today we said farewell to Mr. Soap (Mark “Post Card” Hughes’s Cousin) and had a nice chat with a couple section hikers (Laces and Pops). Hopefully we’ll get some sleep tonight and be ready to tackle the trail tomorrow. Yeah I know we will.
We are all checked in and the photo has been taken. While at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy we also spoke with Laurie who made sure we knew how to dig a “cat hole” or “poop hole” and how to hang a bear bag. She made sure to discuss hydration and looked at our packs. Looks like we are all near the 25lbs mark with food and water. Tomorrow will be an early rise, return the rental car, get a ride to the trail and head across the Potomac River to Maryland. We hope to make 10 Miles a day to start and look forward to a few cold nights but overall weather looks good for the first week. More later.
It’s been a whirlwind last week finalizing gear ( https://youtu.be/r2rSZTeIoxs ), seeing family, and of course second guessing ourselves. We leave today and as the song says our bags are packed and we’re ready to go. But I wonder if we are truly ready. Here I go second guessing again… Do I really need to carry 2.6 ounces of butt wipes? Do I really need a 9 ounce down jacket? If I didn’t have to eat that would save me from carrying food, AND, why does water weigh 4.4 pounds per liter… WHY!?!? (lol) We’ve talked to mentors, people that have hiked the trail not once but multiple times (go see Mark aka Post Card at REI Marlton, NJ… THANKS POSTCARD!!!!) and they say not only are we ready but “Why are you still HERE?!?!?” Only
your hairdresser The Appalachian Trail and it’s 2180+ miles knows this answer. <enter cliché here> If all is well and the creek don’t rise we’ll see you all in 5-6 months. We’ll be checking in and sending updates and thoughts along the trail so keep checking back here (and http://www.trailjournals.com/escapingnewjersey and even the escapingnewjersey FB page). Time to play my last video game for a while and turn off the computer. Mother nature we are on our way. Don “Captain Obvious” and Char “TBD”.
Grey Hair and the Appalachian Trail
I never thought I was vain…..until I had grey hair. Why does this happen, why? You lose your eye sight (I need readers for every damn thing), you skin looks like it came off of a chicken and sadly the menopause weight gain (just shoot me now lol).
So, I signed myself up to walk the Appalachian Trail and I dye my hair every 4 weeks – give or take. So how am I going to do that while walking on the trail? What the hell was I thinking, seriously. I need my head examined, I am too old for this shit…..grumble, grumble…..
Then it hits me…..why don’t you finally go grey. You know…..grow your hair out to grey. Mmmmm……I have been on the fence about doing this for years – YEARS. Now is the time, now or never, you got this, you can do this……..no I can’t, where is the nearest AVEDA Salon, who had the bright idea of walking this freakin trail…….calm down you got this, you can do this, don’t shave your head, stay away from the cliff….for the love of God there is no salon within a 30 mile walking distance. Deep breathes…..deep breathes.
Honestly, I have no choice and now is a good time to start letting it go grey. I could rent a car or get an Uber…..no let it go grey, it will look hot on you……now that I am thinking of it…..I won’t have my 20x mirror to do my eyebrows……NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Just got in my new 8.2oz Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex synthetic jacket. These are made to order with your choice of colors. Mine was a ready made so not my first choice of colors but when you have a time crunch choosy is not an option. Charlene likes it enough we ordered her one and the guys at Enlightened Equipment are working to meet our deadline for the AT.
Have you ever been hiking and thought “these insoles feel really hard, I wonder if I should replace them?” If you are a guy then sure you have, but they are still new, aren’t they! I looked at them when I got home and said “Damn, these look rough. I wonder how long they will last?” At this point Charlene adds from around the corner “Just get new ones already. Quit being a cheap-ass”. Looking up my pass Amazon Prime orders they are only from August. Let’s see that’s 1, 2, 3…, 8 months. That’s okay, isn’t it? Wait, we walk about 70,000 steps a per four-day work week or about 33 miles plus weekends. That means I walked about 40 miles a week at eight months. So… these insoles have over 1200 miles on them. Hmmmm, I guess it’s time. Here are a couple pictures to show the old versus the new. With the Appalachian Trail 10 days away, I’m really glad I decided to update them, and so are my feet.
Charlene and I joined a “Meetup” group to get some hiking in and meet new friends while prepping for the AT in about 3 weeks. Last night the group had a “Blue Moon” hike in the Bass River, NJ State Park. What is a Blue Moon? By definition it is “a fairly infrequent phenomenon involving the appearance of an additional full moon within a given period”, in this case the month of March. No flashlights allowed, uh-huh, well a few showed up and good thing they did as they helped us avoid puddles the size of ponds and fallen trees. And this gave me the chance to test our “head light” the Black Diamond Spot red light feature. Nice!!! We hiked between 6 and 7 miles, had great conversations and thanks to a crystal-clear sky the stars and the moon were absolutely wonderful. A little chilly, but activity and friendship kept everyone warm.
Are you kidding me?!? Okay, any blog starting with these words is designed to grab your attention. Right? These words are simply an exclamation after coming back to New Jersey just in time for four (4) Nor’easters to hit in three weeks. And it’s not just the heavy wet snow that’s the problem. High winds mixed with the ground that has met its saturation limit and the heavy snow causes trees to fall down. And when they fall or break they love to take power lines with them. In fact, we lost three trees at our house and power was out everywhere for days. Thankfully Charlene’s parents let us stay at their shore house, and yes it snowed there too. The Airstream stood up well and was a backup if necessary thanks to propane heat and the solar system keeping the batteries healthy. Even though I am complaining a little the creek is beautiful after the snow. The AT start date is being pushed back by a couple weeks. And since this return had been a whirl wind the extra time is actually a silver lining. We’ll write again soon. Bye.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Lunch at Paula Dean’s place.
Time to leave Mississippi and head north, but not before stopping at our favorite crawfish hole – The Crawfish House in Ocean Springs. Gonna miss this place
I should have never uttered those famous last words!!!!
You are probably sitting there right now asking what I did and remember a time you said the exact same thing. As you all are probably aware I quit my “Corporate Job” and now travel full time with Charlene, my beautiful wife, as a contractor for various gas companies. This involves lots of walking every day to survey natural gas pipelines and services…and this day was no different. The map shows a line headed off the main street up a narrow alley and as I look at the area I must now traverse and Charlene tells me “it’s late in the day and we’re both tired, get it tomorrow”. This is where the utterance of those famous last words laced with pure ego, who said I learn from my mistakes, once again gets me into trouble. You see this narrow alley is about 3 feet wide, over grown weeds, small trees and basically hard to see down. With equipment in hand I break out my man card, strap on my ego, and saunter into the unknown. Okay, step over the vine, duck under the branch, whoa watch out for the brambles. I see it, the gas meter is just ahead. I say under my breath “yeah, I Got This”, and press forward. Mr. Murphy, you know the guy that makes up all those laws, must have been listening to me. All of a sudden, my right foot just stops moving; and I mean… all of a sudden. While my right foot stopped, forward momentum did not. This is where slow motion kicks in. I start wondering “what the $%^# just happened”? I can see the ground looming ever closer. This is when my mind’s eye sees the pile of homeless clothing and trash just inches from my face. It took less than a second for those last few inches to pass by but it seemed like an eternity. An eternity I had no control over. Suddenly I hit the ground. Nope, didn’t miss… I land face first into discarded clothing from the homeless person who had been living here (I will let your imagination put words in my mouth and finish the story).
The ending… A severely sprained ankle, badly bruised ego, and yes, I needed a shower. Thankfully my wife let me in the car or it would have been a really long walk back to our campground. Oh and by the way, yes, I did get it. – Don