Monday, December 31, 2007
Attention Scouts and Hikers alike. I have stumbled upon a wonderful website where you can keep track of your hiking miles. The website above allows you to trace your hiking route on google earth. Miles are tallied up and you can have a calendar that organizes all of your miles within different time frames. Groups are also available for joining where you can share already traced routes. Its a fantastic website that works for running and biking as well. Enjoy!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
All for now,
Thursday, November 15, 2007
All for now,
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Well the transition back to school went less than smoothly for me but by now I have stabilized and am pretty well adjusted. Upon re-entering Florida on Sunday August 25th, my body went into anaphylactic shock and my brother ended up taking me to the E.R. After some IV's and minor tests I was released and ended up making it to school on Wednesday, missing my first 4 days of school. No further symptoms occurred and all following blood work came back normal so the matter remains unanswered. But I am doing well now and have no reason to believe I will go into it again.
After playing catch up for a while with classes, homework, social events, etc. I have adjusted to a regular schedule (that is far different than one in the woods along the AT i might add!). I am working for a mechanical contractor down here and have been able to put in long weeks while still being a full-time student. Last week, i worked 30 hrs including a 5:00 AM concrete pour on one of the buildings I am helping with.
But the woods are calling my name. I am really missing the freedom and challenge that go hand in hand with long distance backpacking. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) has been on the radar since the beginning of August (when Spence and I were in southern Maine about to finish) and I am thinking it will be sooner than later. Stay tuned for details on that.
Again, thanks all for the continued support. It means so much to us.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
We finished up the 100-mile wilderness on Wednesday night doing 38.6 miles and then 33.0 miles for our final two days. We met up at the Katahdin Stream Campground with Tim Harrington and our families on Wednesday night and set up camp for the final time. We got up at 5:30 and were all packed up and signed in the Katahdin Register at 7:00 sharp. The 5.2 mile climb to the summit was unreal. Huge boulders, a stream down the middle of the trail, re-bar hand holds on rock faces, and windy conditions made our ascent all the more challenging (and rewarding!). We reached the summit at 12:30 and spent 45 minutes on top taking photographs and taking in the fact that we were done with our 2,175 mile thru-hike.
Just before we left the top we opened up the bottle containing Steve's ashes for the first time since Georgia. It was extra special for us because on Tuesday I talked to my mom via cell phone and found out that Tim (Steve's dad) was trying to get up to Maine to join us for the end. Well he did and the scattering of ashes was a definite scatter with the 15-20 mph winds up there. Hiking this whole way truly is a great tribute to the man that we remember as Steve Harrington, our goofy outdoorsman friend that was always up for an adventurous hike.
We made it down the mountain 15 minutes faster than our ascent despite the fact that it was painstakingly slow due to the incline and realization that the huge boulders we had struggled to climb over now were what we were sliding down. We reached the cars at 6:30 and drove to Millinocket, ME for a real meal and then headed back to Shaw's Hostel in Monson for a final trail-type night and that scrumptious breakfast one more time.
Today we drove from Monson to Freeport and then to Portland and checked in to our hotel and went over to the coastline part of the city and met Spencer's roommate's parents for dinner. This roommate Jason is the same one that met us to deliver a food re-supply in Gorham, NH. Spence and I ate our 'Surf and Turf' celebratory dinners of Filet Mignon and lobster and finished the course off with homemade Maine blueberry cobbler a la mode.
All of our flights take off from the airport between 5:45 and 7 tomorrow morning and we will arrive in Raleigh, NC during the morning. We are having a celebration with family, friends, and our scout troop BSA Troop 215 at the Harrington's house tomorrow night and then on Sunday morning Warpzilla and I will part ways for our fall semesters. My mom and I will drive back down to Jacksonville, FL and he will head over to Charlotte, NC.
Ok so now for the BIG THANKS! area of this post. First and foremost we could not have done this trip without the support of our families which i thought of so often this summer as our "pit crew." It was quite a race (95 day thru-hike) and wouldn't have happened without their help in coordinating re-supply points, food boxes, new trail runners, etc. It really would be the longest post of all time for me to list all of the great people that showed us kindness and incredible generosity this summer. From old friends, to family friends, to friends of friends, to complete strangers; we truly have been amazed at the "Trail Magic" that goes along with the AT. If you are reading this, you know who you are, and we really are grateful for what you've done for us.
Well, time to get up the final batch of pictures and update the mileage one last time. We hope this website as Garrett originally posted will continue to be a resource for hikers doing long distance hikes on the AT, even though our posting will stop and tracking our trip will no longer be an option (though I am thinking PCT now, but in sections :-). Also, if you have specific questions about trip planning, gear, re-supply, etc. or any other question or comment send us an e-mail and we'd love to help out if we can! Thanks again for everything folks, the phrase "the people are the trail" truly is more than just a maxim.
Ben "Bandanna Ben" Burchardi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Spencer "Warpzilla" McKay (email@example.com)
Garrett "Footlocker" Dixon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sunday, August 19, 2007
-Bandanna Ben and Warpzilla (grr)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Well, the wonderful owners / operators of Shaw's Lodging, Dawn and Sue, had the perfect solution and invited Ben and Spencer to a closet within the lodge where "extra" clothes are stored. Ben and Spencer quickly accepted the offer to "borrow" a shirt / sweater and britches so they would be presentable at a nearby restaurant as well as warm. For all of you who know Ben and Spencer, you can only imagine how this impromptu selection of clothes quickly went from let's look our best... to hey! let's see how creative we can be!!! Oh my...from Spencer's description, it sounds like the two were quite a pair...Let's just say that they were so "colorful" and "misfitted" that Dawn and Sue could not pass up the opportunity for a photo session before the guys departed for the restaurant. It sounds memorable, doesn't it? Hopefully, visitors of this blogspot will eventually have access to the photos as well. This, we've all gotta see!!
So what was the BIG surprise in Monson for these two hikers? It was a special dinner at the Lake Shore House Eatery compliments of Mr. Tom Wells and Mr. Jim Sherrer and their staff at Design Development in Raleigh, NC. (This is the architectural firm with which Spencer was employed during the summer of 2006. Obviously, Spencer wasn't employed there this summer because he decided to take a little hike from Georgia to Maine instead!!) The guys had told me they were planning to eat there (AT thru-hikers' favorite); however, they were elated upon learning someone else was picking up their tab. Thank you to the Design Development Staff for the scrumpdillyumptious meal you furnished Ben and Spencer. They said that the food (lobster rolls and steak and cheese wraps) were fabulous and they enjoyed it so very much. At least they were "dressed" for the occasion. ;-)
All of the "Trail Angels for the summer of 2007" have been so wonderful to these fellows! You ALL have certainly had an integral part in making this mission so successful for them whether you met them on / off the AT, bought them a meal(s), furnished their lodging, sent them a package, supplemented their expenses, planted Trail Magic or initiated it, made phone calls, sent e-mails, or from home kept them in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you so much from the boys' families. We are all most appreciative of your kindness and generosity.
As far as Sunday, August 19 goes, Ben and Spencer feel the need to stick around Shaw's Lodging long enough to check-out the Sunday breakfast spread. They hear it's fantastic! (I love the AT "networking" that obviously takes place up and down the Trail. It's great!) Their plan is to hike 20 or so miles on Sunday. When asked about the weather forecast, Spencer reported that the next several days should be cool, yet clear. Sounds great!
Unless Ben and Spencer are given access to a personal computer while in Monson, they probably will not be able to post a blog themselves until after their completion of the AT. Their families will keep everyone posted. I'm taking Spencer's laptop with me to Maine this week. So, hopefully they can post a blog as soon as possible upon their completion of the AT but before we depart from Portland.
Zoe (Spencer's Mom)
Even though it has rained every day this week and the temperature is unseasonably cold (hovering around 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, but of course even colder after sundown), their spirits are not dampened...only their shoes, clothes, packs, etc.
The countdown has begun, folks...this time next Saturday (August 25 by mid-afternoon) Ben and Spencer will be in Raleighwood, North Cakalacky!! YIPPEEEE! It'll be a happy, happy day!
Safe and happy trails to those hikin' boys!!
Zoe (Spencer's Mom)
Thank you to everyone who has called and e-mailed inquiring of the boys' health and whereabouts. Your concern means ever so much. As soon as Spencer calls home, I will tell them of all the fine folks who have checked on them and posted comments to the blog. They will appreciate all the support and encouragement.
Meanwhile, stay tuned...
Zoe (Spencer's Mom)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
When Spencer called home on Wednesday morning, August 15, they had already hiked 4 miles since sunrise. The skies are semi-cloudy with that typical summertime chance of T'storms later in the day; however, they still had a spectacular above-the- treeline view of Maine on the top of Saddleback Mountain. Their goal is to hike at least 20 more miles before sundown on Wednesday. As always, the determination and drive continues to be evident in Spencer's voice, as well as Ben's.
The revised plan is for Ben and Spencer to arrive at Baxter State Park in one week, unite with
their families, and do Mt. Katahdin!!! Needless to say my hiking boots, Nalgene bottle, Cliff Bars and BSA Troop 215 flag are packed and sitting by the door. This Momma (along with Ben's Momma, too) is so-o-o ready to see these guys and hike the summit! We can hardly wait!!!
Zoe (Spencer's Mom)
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
But we are getting a new prescription today at 2:00 (5 minutes from now) at the pharmacy on our way out of town to the trail. Our new Katahdin summit date is August 23rd (my 1st day of school and spencer's 4th) and we are going to give it our all between here and there to make it on time. Thank you for your support and we'll update further up the trail!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
If you are visiting the blog for the first time please check out our pictures and other helpful information that can be found by following the links on the right of the webpage. In addition, one can also find an archive of our earlier progress on the trail and read more about the trip from earlier this summer by clicking on the months in the archive on the lower right of the page. Thanks again to the News & Observer for writing about our trip to honor our dear friend Steve, and thank you to all of you that are visiting the page today.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I updated the actual mileage and was able to get all of our recent pictures online just now as well. We greatly appreciate the services of the Gull Pond Lodge, the hiker hostel in town, and moreover its owner, Bob O'Brien. Bob picked us up from a local restaurant last night at 7:30 and took us 2 miles out of town to his home/lodge on a gorgeous lake where we showered, did laundry, and got a great nights sleep. We left all of our stuff at the Lodge today and Bob shuttled us back into town this morning so we could to go the Medical Center. Once we are done here at the library and make a decision about how we'll spend the rest of our day, we'll call Bob and he will pick us right up. What a stand up guy!
Thanks again for everyone's thoughts and prayers. We hope to get passed this hurdle soon and get back on the trail and finish the race to Katahdin. 5 miles up the trail from here is a mountain called Saddleback and on a clear day, one can see all the way to Mt. Washington in one direction and then turn around and see Mt. Katahdin way in the distance. We hope to be able to do the same once we make it to that summit.
We'll update via ourselves on the blog or someone else will post regarding what we end up doing and when we leave town.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
Warpzilla & Bandanna Ben
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Tonight we are doing laundry/showering/eating at the hostel. Check our our photos too since we finally were able to update them! We'll try to blog when we can but the rest of our trip looks to be a bit more remote in NH and ME.
Bandanna Ben + Warpzilla
Monday, July 30, 2007
We are scheduled to hit Glencliff, NH tomorrow night and then begin the White Mountains the next day. Our plan for the rest of the trail has us doing the Whites in 5 days, re-supplying in Gorham, Rangeley, and Monson and then arriving at the base of Katahdin on the 16th of August and summiting on the 17th. It is so crazy to see the end like this but we know we have some of our toughest miles ahead of us. Thanks for checking in on us. We're off for food now!
Bandanna Ben + Warpzilla
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Good night to the hikers! Call again soon and we'll talk some more about the scrumpdillyumptious dinner you enjoyed at the Whistle Stop!! :-) Love, Mom
Thursday, July 26, 2007
At the time of Spencer's call, they were still on the Trail with plans to hike another 5 miles before nightfall. Spencer reported that he and Ben had studied their map and itinerary over the past 2 days and with the progress being made, they are scheduling themselves to complete the hiking of the AT (at Katahdin) by sundown on Saturday, August 18. (That'll give Spencer plenty of time to get back home to Raleigh from Maine, travel to UNC Charlotte, NC and be in his seat right on time for his 8:00 A.M. class on Monday, August 20 for the beginning of the fall 2007 semester. Yep! Plenty of time! Don't you think? Ben's fall semester at the University of Florida begins on August 23. Whew! It all sounds whirlwind-like to me, but we know it will all work out.)
For now, however, we'll stay focused on today - wishing the boys a safe journey as they continue along the AT. Keep up the great pace, fellows! We're sending lots of love and support your way for a successful completion as you hike in memory of your good buddy, Steve. Love, Mom
Monday, July 23, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
We are still in Kent, CT. We got to bed at a decent hour and slept until 8 this morning. It felt great to sleep in for a change. We packed up our stuff, went to the supermarket, stopped by the ATM, and we to Caralee's Restaurant for some real breakfast. After breakfast we stopped by the public library which is where we are now.
The plan is to get 103 miles up the trail to Dalton, MA on Monday. We are doing great and are in awe that Kent marks the 2/3 point of the trail. 1451 miles down, 722 to go. Wow. Spence and I are looking forward to the coming weeks as we encounter the northeast but are expecting a very challenging section up there too, especially the White Mountains.
Last night I looked at the numbers and saw that we covered 442 miles in 15 days since Harper's Ferry, WV. This equates to an average of 29.5 miles a day. Our goal was 30 a day and it is pretty cool to see that we are pretty much there.
Well, it may be a late start for us but we will still do about 21 miles today before camp. Thanks again Ron and Christine for coming to see us and for making our stop in Kent more enjoyable.
Bandanna Ben and Warpzilla
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Spencer called home Thursday night, July 19. (I really like this routine - hearing from him daily!!) He sounded very good. He and Ben had arrived in Kent, CT early evening. They hiked 29 miles on Thursday crossing over the NY / CT state line. The last 10 miles of the hike were fairly slow going because of a heavy rainfall. They were in high alert mode for the final stretch since the rain makes everything so slippery, especially the rocks. According to Spencer, the terrain is definitely beginning to change and there are more and more rocks.
Spencer and Ben had learned a day or two prior that they would be greeted by Tim Harrington's sister, Christine (sp) and Ron upon veering off the Trail and heading toward Kent. The guys called Christine mid-afternoon to explain their delay due to the rain. Christine was willing to go to the Backcountry Outfitters in Kent to pick up the boys' food box (which the Harringtons had mailed) since it would be closing at 6:00 P.M. and the boys didn't think they would make it in time. (Thank you very much, Christine! )And once the guys arrived in Kent, what a treat it was for them to learn of the cool and comfortable room they would enjoy for the night at the Fife 'n Drum Inn, compliments of Christine and Ron. How wonderful! Thank you to the "off the Trail Angels" for the fellows are most appreciative.
After a little clean-up for the hikers (or perhaps a lot), the four enjoyed dinner at Kent Pizza Garden. (Your generosity is most appreciated, Christine and Ron. Thank you for taking such good care of our hikers!) With a tasty Italian dinner under their belt (well, in their belly for they're wearing no belt...), there was plenty of energy to do some laundry and re-supply their packs. Unfortunately, they have no access to a public computer. (The Kent Public Library closes at 5:00 P.M. and does not re-open until 10:00 A.M. on weekdays. As a result, they will be unable to post upload any photos while in Kent.)
The guys plan to get a good night's sleep so they'll be prepared to hike 30+ miles
on Friday, July 20 to Salisbury, CT. Hopefully, the rain will only fall during the nighttime so the Trail will be dry for hiking.
Safe travels to you as you get closer and closer to Maine! Zoe
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Spencer called home on Wednesday evening, July 18 to report that they continue to hike through the state of New York.
On Tuesday night (July 17), they camped on top of Bear Mountain under the stars. They got a great night's sleep until they were awakened abruptly at 5:30 A.M. by a very loud clap of thunder, lightning bolts dancing throughout the sky, and a sudden downpour of rain. YIKES! They scrambled to get their sleeping bags and other supplies packed before they were washed down the mountain!
Since going back to sleep was not an option, they began their daily hike extra early
on Wednesday. It continued to rain for several hours. However, by noon the rain stopped and it was overcast which can be great for hiking. By the time they walked 36.8 miles on Wednesday (July 18), their tired legs were ready to call it a day. They were pleased that there was room for them at the Morgan Stewart Shelter for the night. Spencer said he was unsure if more rain was on the way, but it sure was muggy and very foggy, especially since nightfall.
With just a few more miles to hike in New York, the guys plan to reach the
Connecticut State line on Thursday, July 19. They should arrive in Kent, CT by suppertime. In Kent, they will re-supply with the food box that awaits their arrival.
If they locate a computer with public access, they'll post to update all.
Happy trails to our thru-hikers! Zoe
Monday, July 16, 2007
Bandanna Ben + Warpzilla
Sunday, July 15, 2007
We met Ben and Spencer on Friday night. It was a pleasure to finally meet them after following their travels on the webpage. Their tenacity and determination to finish by August 18th is unbelievable. We would have expected to see two guys to be dogged tired but they looked great and were anxious to get an early start on the trail the following morning.
We went to the Grille in Delaware Water Gap for dinner and a belated celebration of their birthdays. We had plenty of questions about walking the trail and after dinner they took all of us to the trail and showed us the different trail markings they follow. Unfortunately, the evening went by much too quickly.
We wish Ben, Spencer and Garrett good luck and Godspeed as they make their way up the Appalachian Trail to Maine.
Chuck and Marybeth
Tory, Kristen, Gavin and Dylan
July 13, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Spencer called me early afternoon on Tuesday, July 10 just as he and Ben were hopping off the AT to go have lunch with some friends of Ben's family. (Ben and Spencer are currently in Pennsylvania between Duncannon and Port Clinton.) After showering at the friend's house (Gail Backfish), Ben and Spencer were treated to a birthday buffet lunch at a restaurant in town. Spencer and Ben were then given a guided tour of the town and area and were running some errands with plans to do some laundry. He and Ben re-thought their plans for the day and since they had already hiked 17 miles and since the current temperature remained at 94 degrees Fahrenheit, they accepted the Backfish's offer to stay the night and get a fresh start on Wednesday, July 11.(Thank you, Gail and your family, for all the hospitality you showed Ben and Spencer. What a treat for them!)
He and Ben thoroughly enjoyed their unexpected air conditioned environment and opportunity to relax in the comfort of a home environment. Though access to the Internet was not an option, the next best thing happened: I read them the recent blogs and comments. Spencer and Ben said to keep those comments coming. They love to know that folks are keeping up with them and appreciate all the support. Spencer signed off saying that they only had 994 miles left to go until they reached Mt. Katahdin; that sounds much different from the initial 2,175 miles when they departed from Mt. Springer). Spencer said they expected to cross into New Jersey sometime this Friday, July 13. Until then... happy trails!
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I was unable to post at the end of June when Randy and I met Ben, Garrett, and
Spencer where they hopped off the AT at Rockfish Gap and we spent the night in Waynesboro, VA. That was well over one week ago and many miles have been trod since
then; however, allow me to re-track back to the dates of June 28-29 to simply say
it was fantastic seeing the guys! We enjoyed an evening of eating, relaxing at the
Quality Inn, eating again, shopping at the Super Wal-Mart, eating again, visiting
the local laundromat, and oh! did I mention that we ate! Each group of family / friends that meets the hungry hikers joke about how many times they go have supper!
It's incredible to see just how many calories can be consumed in one sitting.
And all of you who know me know that I was continuously suggesting vegetable servings, fruit servings, and milk (instead of sodas) to drink. The only thing I would
have changed about our visit in Waynesboro was to have had more time to visit with the boys. It was not nearly long enough. However, we all knew that an early start back on the Trail (June 29) was necessary to stay on track!
After the guys' grand departure from Rockfish Gap, Randy and I drove south to
Catawba, VA and did a little hiking on our own. We hiked the Dragon's Tooth
Trail all the way to the top. I'm unable to publicize the record time in which
we hiked it. (Ha!) Spencer told us he was proud of our accomplishment and said it
was great preparation for our trek to Mt. Katahdin in August. (Randy and I are
looking forward to hiking the final 5 miles with the guys in August!!)
We all continue to look forward to reading the posts from the boys and their
photos and wish for them a safe journey!
-Zoe (Spencer's Mom)
Yesterday we hiked across the official halfway point of the trail at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, home of half gallon challenge. It is thru-hiking tradition to stop here and eat a half gallon of Hershey's ice cream. We both opted for Neapolitan ice cream so we'd have a variety of flavors and started eating around 12:20. By 1:20 i was just over halfway done but decided to call it quits. Spencer kept on trucking and finished his ice cream in its entirety shortly thereafter. Check out our new photo album for pictures of the whole event.
So far PA has been a great state in terms of trail conditions and even better people here. Everyone has been quite friendly and willing to lend a hand. We're headed to Duncannon tonight and on through the state to the NJ-NY border Friday night. Stay tuned for more from us down the trail.
Bandanna Ben + Warzpilla
Friday, July 6, 2007
Nobody wanted to jog with me the next morning, so I slept in and woke up to the voices of guys planning the next thousand miles or so. After breakfast, we were packed up and on our way back to Harper's Ferry to continue this incredible journey. Ben and Spencer were off about 0945 and Garrett was underway after a trip to the outfitters. Great job guys! Good Luck!
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Also this week we decided during our night in the greater Lynchburg area with the Haeseker's that we wanted to lighten our loads a little bit with our upcoming high mileage in the Shenandoah national park. We decided "to go cold" or to basically not heat up any water for our meals in the foreseeable future. We are losing our stove fuel, stoves, and cook sets. This shaves weight, yet also helps with time in that we need to gather less water and we have less to do when we get to camp at night.
Other changes involve dropping various items of gear. I am probably dropping my sleeping bag and shifting to a liner until northeastern Pennsylvania at the earliest. We have decided to move away from Nalgene bottles and are using plastic drink bottles from the store that are recyclable, easily replaceable, and weigh less than Nalgene bottle's. We are constantly trying to shave as much weight as we can, because we are faced with doing the stretch of Waynesboro to Harper's Ferry by the Fourth of July. This is a stretch of about 160 miles that will get us to the symbolic midpoint of the trail in Harper's Ferry at the ATC headquarters and we will cover it in about 5 days. We are going to then take off the Fourth of July in Harper's Ferry and get geared up for Pennsylvania.
This next 160 miles will probably require some long days and night hiking as well, yet we are ready for the challenge and our loads are lighter than ever.
Tonight we are posting some new photos so please enjoy those. Also we are going to try to update the accomplished mileage log as well.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I finished the section from Pearisburg, VA to Glasgow, VA on schedule and was able to take it at a little slower pace and I think I may have found not only a shoe that works for me but also my trail legs. I am now on the 7th pair of shoes that I have hiked in this summer, this number is the current record on the trail, I guess that should make me proud I'm just not sure yet. My trail name is "Foot Locker," because of the difficulty I have had with finding footwear that works for me. The shoes that I am using now are popular among many thru-hikers, are stable, low-cut, and I have met people that have done 700+ miles in them so I think durability will not be a huge concern. I am now using the Montrail Hardrock. They did well the last two days from Daleville/Troutville to Glasgow, a stretch that I did in two days at an average of about 28 miles a day. I think I am now ready to jump back in with the crew. The local terrain is easier than earlier stretches, and the upcoming Shenandoah park is supposed to be well-graded and easy to hike through as well. Can't wait to see the other guys, but for now I am enjoying my day off.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Garrett had been having more foot problems (blisters on both feet). We picked up Garrett and took him into Marion for lunch and to pick up a few things at Wal-Mart.
We drove up to the trail crossing on Hwy 11 near Atkins, VA, to meet up with Spencer and Ben. We hiked in about 45 minutes to try and meet them on the trail. We met up with them as we hiked back to the road.
After Ben and Spencer checked into their motel and showered, my father took us all to dinner at the Barn. The boys each ordered two meals each, and ate every bite. They mentioned that they might order pizza when they returned to their room.
We dropped Ben and Spencer off at their motel then drove Garrett to Pearisburg, VA. Garrett wanted to move ahead so that he could gradually build up his hiking so that he would not delay the other boys any more than he already has. We checked him into a motel about a mile from the trail so that he could get a fresh start Sunday morning, then drove the 3-1/2 hours back to Hickory (arriving around 12:30 pm). I enjoyed the day, seeing the boys and spending the day with my dad.
Ben and Spencer appeared in good spirits and traveling well. They appear to be having no problems staying on their schedule. I am glad to report that Garrett called today and said that his blisters have nearly recovered and he was staying at Niday Shelter this evening (Monday). He plans to be at the Johns Spring or Catawba Mountain Shelter Tuesday. He plans to wait for Ben and Spencer at Glasgow, VA.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
This morning we got going around the same time and set out to go a longer day than we've done before, 35.7 miles to the Partnership Shelter. Partnership is only .1 miles up the trail from the Mt. Rogers Ranger Station where you can use a pay phone to call for pizza. So with pizza on our minds we set out for the day. It was a very gray morning in the Grayson Highlands as the weather hadn't fully burned off and we were in foggy/cloudy weather all morning. We made it to VA16 where the trail branches off to the Hurricane Campground at around 3:30 and could hear the thunder really rolling in strong. We made the decision to not ascend 700 feet to the highest point around called High Point at an elevation of 4040. So we walked over to the side of the road, stuck our thumbs out, and were picked up within minutes by a guy headed home from work. He said he just couldn't leave us out in a storm like that because he saw it really coming down just over the mountain we decided to not climb. Good choice for us!
We are now at Jerry's Trading Post eating dinner and e-mailing. Hopefully the weather will be better in the coming days!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Last night we were treated by Mr. McKay to a wonderful dinner at a restaurant in Abingdon, VA called the Peppermill. I endorse this restaurant if you find yourself up around these border towns. After dinner, we went and saw the Pirates of the Carribbean 3. It is always nice mentally to do something "normal" when out in the wilderness for long periods of time. We miss music and movies a whole lot, and we really enjoyed the movie last night.
Tomorrow we leave from the friendliest town on the trail and head on up White Top Mountain down into Elk Garden and then up the tallest point in Virginia, Mt. Rogers. We will be staying at Thomas Knob Shelter up on the ridge between Mt. Rogers and Grayson Highlands. This is a very beautiful stretch of Virginia, and was the same stretch that my dad chose to do during his 50th birthday celebration last October. The weather is great up here the temperatures are around 75-80 as the high and at night it gets to 50 at the lowest right now with some afternoon storms starting to develop almost daily.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
In health news, I have new shoes that have more ankle support and are a hybrid between a boot and a running shoe. I did 13+ miles on Monday in about 3 and a third hours to try and get back into the swing of things. I was still rolling my ankles too much at the sort of speed that we hike. I bought these new shoes with the hope that I can do high mileage without ankle problems and without much more weight as well. Thanks for all of the concern that people have shown for my health this past 10 days or so; we really could not accomplish a trip like this without the help of others and everyone has been great in that respect. More to come tonight...
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Friday, June 8, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Which brings me to my next thought, if anyone out there reading this happens to live along the AT or has any family or friends that live along the AT that wouldn't mind a few "healthy" smelling college students dropping by for a laundry/shower/meal/sleep recharge, please post a comment on here. Anywhere along the AT from Erwin, TN to Katahdin, ME would be great!
Today Spence and I finally ended up owning our trail names. After running into a Southbound thru-hiker named Rambo Ron that started up north in July 2006 and hasn't stopped yet, i came to the realization that I can use Ben in my name and a little alliteration isn't all that bad. So i began to think of something that would fit using the letter 'B' and the gray bandanna on my head that I've been wearing for the last few hundred miles came to mind. Since it is pretty much taboo to give yourself a trail name i told Spence I had one in mind and if he guessed it, it would stick. Well he did and Bandanna Ben is here to stay. Spencer is going to stick the the trail name Warpzilla that was coined during the GA trip with Troop 215 in 2005. He was always hiking so darn fast that we said it was Warp Godzilla pace, which shortened becomes Warpzilla quite nicely. We've come 338 miles in the last 2 and a half weeks and now we finally have the quintessential Trail Names.
And lastly, the hydration update. On our day up and over Clingman's Dome in the Smokies, water sources were really dry overall and we had a tough time getting enough water early on. We decided to try and ration our water to make it past the Dome and to hopefully a better source on the other side. As we were descending we both noticed a tightening on the same spot on our right leg just above the knee. Long story short, we have attributed this cramping due to improper hydration because our bodies are sweating so much salts during the day that water simply isn't able to replenish it. We hope to remedy this in the future by drinking gatorade and other electrolyte filled sports drinks as we hike and not only water. We will keep the blog updated on the progress of our hydration efforts. So far it has been one of our toughest challenges.
All in all, a great trip so far. We realize that we are a few days behind our planned itinerary but we are making the most miles we safely can and hope to continue to do so. Thanks for all your words and support, they really keep us going.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
Fellas, just wanted to say that I really admire all of you for what you are doing.
This will truly will be a memorable experience in so many ways and while it may not be life-changing, you are doing it for the right reasons. We honestly do not know what tomorrow will bring so we must embrace the present, and I do not think anyone will argue that this is exactly what you guys are going.
(Spencer's older brother)
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The next needed supply package is waiting their arrival at Neel's Gap. There, they should be able to write a blog and have a little time to refuel before moving on.
Monday, May 21, 2007
We are about to leave for Springer Mountain, 8:00 Monday morning. Everyone is excited and ready to get started. Holiday Inn Express provided an adequate complimentary breakfast for everyone. The view out of our window is the ridge that we will be hiking later today. Our next post will most likely be Tuesday night, or Thursday night, but we are not certain. Thanks a million for everyone who has helped and will help in the future. We wouldn't be able to do this without you, you know who you are.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Spencer at Sam's with his favorite item
It is Monday night the week before we leave and we are working as hard as we can to finish our planning before we hit the trail. Garrett is still up at Cornell and Spencer and I are here in Raleigh. With the three of us not able to sit down and plan together we are finding that this is yet another difficulty in this journey. Today Spencer and I went to BJs and Sams Club and priced all sorts of food items, vitamins, ziplocs, etc. in order to best shop. Tomorrow we are going to go back to each place and purchase the food for our mailers/re-supply points. Tonight, our task is to look at the itinerary that we worked out these last few days and figure out where we want to re-supply. There is so much to take into consideration here and the reality is that so much of this will change when we start hiking. But, it is important for us to at least have a plan at first. We are stoked and ready to get moving as Garrett said in the last post and are so excited to be doing this for the entire summer.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Here is a link to the Pacific Crest Trail .kml file from the U.S. Forest Service Data for people that are interested in that trail as well...
This summer we have agreed to undergo a nutritional-psych study, which will help a Cornell University nutrition student on her senior thesis project. We were approached due to not only the simple relatively easiness that monitoring our diet will take, yet also the unique situation. The study is focusing on our mental state accompanied with the large amount of exercise and the loss of weight that will come with that exercise regardless of how well we attempt to restore our daily caloric burn. Our goal of an average of 27 miles a day is unbelievable to most people, yet I do believe it is attainable for us due to the training that we have all been performing. This situation will definitely provide this nutritional-psych study with an optimal scenario to observe. We have been performing baseline dietary analysis before our trip, and we will perform it again afterwards. We will be weighed before and after the trip as well as during the trip as often as possible. And we are going to fill out a Beck's Depression Inventory before, after, and regularly during the trip. I think that this study may be useful to not only backpackers and adventure racers, yet all athletes so we will try to keep posting whatever we learn from this experience. Hopefully we will be able to publish the findings on here and enlighten everyone to the stresses that are placed upon not only the thru-hiker, yet also the endurance athlete in general.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
I cannot express how fortunate I feel to be the one person who can say that they hiked both Mt. Springer and Mt. Katahdin with Stephen. It has always been a dream of mine to hike the entire Appalachian Trail and it was one of Steve's dreams too. Ben and I quickly decided that hiking the trail in honor of Steve was the right thing to do, Garrett immediately agreed as well. As we carry on this summer, step by step, mile by mile, I have no doubt in my mind that we will be able to complete this task. During this time leading up to our departure, I feel composed and adrenalized. I look forward to hearing from my friends and family via this blog when I get off the trail or through the chance of an internet cafe of sorts.