Monday, December 31, 2007

Map My Hike!

http://www.mapmyhike.com/

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!

Spencer

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Krispy Kreme Challenge 2008 2

I encourage everyone to partake in this event come January. I did my half gallon challenge, now we'll see how the trail tests up to this urban challenge. Surely there's a merit badge for this...

Friday, November 23, 2007

ATrip4Steve Presentation

Hello all, I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving! Mine was filled with lots of turkey and all the fixins and of course a few visits to REI and Great Outdoor. As I was talking with G-Maze aka Mr. Mazur, we decided I would be giving a presentation of my trip in it's entirety on the final 215 Scout meeting of the year (December 17th). Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend. I hope to see you all there.

All for now,
Spencer

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Charlotte Shakedown

Well school's been kicking my behind here lately, i swear doing 35 miles in a day is easier than the stuff they have me doing now...at least it seems like it. All I ever think about is how great the trail was, but I guess that's expected. Ben don't you go teasing me about the PCT, because I will do it in a heartbeat. I have been trying to tell myself that its not a possibility in the near future but I feel its gravitational pull.

All for now,

Warpzilla

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Live from UF

So I don't know if anyone still checks this on a regular basis, but i'll admit that I do. I suppose it is a bit odd that I do because I should be the one posting on it.

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.

-Bandanna Ben

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ok, so G-Maze says he wants no more riddles. He wants to know what's going on with Warpzilla and Bandanna Ben since we've been back at school! I think I can speak for both bandanna and myself that we would much rather be on the trail, life was just simpler out there. School has not been too bad so far this semester. My studio design class has been right up my alley so far this semester. We are designing a Visitor and Research Center for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Ajo, Arizona. My professor is big into daylighting and energy effecient means of construction and running of a building. However, all work on the project is currently on hold because power has gone out over campus. I will try and photograph some of my site work when I have done a few models. Stay tuned for more in the life of Spencer McKay a.k.a. Warpzilla.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to School

Okay, so if you are still checking the blog due to habit. Here's one for ya! " A man without eyes saw plums on a tree. He neither took plums nor left plums, now how could this be?"

Friday, August 24, 2007

We made it!

Hello! This is Bandanna Ben blogging from the Embassy Suites Hotel across the street from the Portland, ME airport. Warpzilla and I are officially AT Thru-hikers!

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.

Happy Trails,
Ben "Bandanna Ben" Burchardi (bengator@ufl.edu)
Spencer "Warpzilla" McKay (sdmckay@uncc.edu)
Garrett "Footlocker" Dixon (gbd4@cornell.edu)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Last Stop

Writing to you live from Shaw's Lodging in Monson, ME on Sunday morning of the 19th. Spence and I had a great breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast, home fries, and orange juice. The catch was you had to give them a number. I started with 2 and he started with 3 and that is what we got: 2 and 3 respectively of everything listed above. Round two was another 2 for me and a 2 for Spence. Now we're packed up and headed down the road to the General Store for some supplemental food for the 100-mile wilderness and off we go. Averaging 27 miles a day we will arrive at the base of Katahdin on Wednesday night and climb the mountain on Thursday. We will post a final write-up, the rest of our Maine photos, and the final trip mileage upon completion of our trip. Signing off for the final time on the trail as we leave the last trail town for all northbound hikers.

-Bandanna Ben and Warpzilla (grr)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Only 109 Miles to the Base of Mt. Katahdin

On Saturday, August 18, Ben and Spencer hiked a wopping 31 miles in yet another day of cold rain reaching Monson, Maine just after 7:00 P.M. (At several peaks along the way, they got their first glimpse of Mt. Katahdin.) They were so very glad Shaw's Lodging had a vacancy and wasted no time in getting cleaned up in time to go eat some supper. Needless to say, all their clothes were soaked and in great need of a visit with the washing machine. What to do? What to do?

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.

Stay tuned...
Zoe (Spencer's Mom)

Approaching Monson, Maine and Doing Well

Whew! All is very well with Ben and Spencer. I finally received that long awaited phone call from Spencer (Saturday, August 18 at 1:15 P.M.) with an encouraging report. They are within 17 miles of Monson, Maine. Their plan is to stay in a lodge on Saturday night in Monson. They will be so grateful to get a hot shower to thaw out, eat a hot meal(s), do laundry, sleep in a warmer environment, and re-supply their packs with food for the remainder of the hike.

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)

Where Are Those Hiking Boys???

Well, to the best of our knowledge, Ben and Spencer are approaching Monson, Maine. If not Saturday (August 18), then hopefully Sunday (August 19) is when they will arrive in Monson to shower and re-supply with the VERY LAST food box that the families sent. The boys will also have the opportunity to eat a fabulous lunch or dinner in Monson, for they have a BIG surprise awaiting them in Monson. (More later...)

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

On the Trail again...

Spencer and Ben departed from Rangeley late Tuesday afternoon, August 14, and hiked several miles before reaching a shelter for the night. They are feeling considerably better especially since the doctor in Rangeley changed their medication. They are both being treated for Giardia Infection, even though the lab results remain outstanding. (The doctors will call the respective families with the report when determined since cell phone signals are few and far between at this point on the AT.)

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

On the Road Again

After 4 zero days here in Rangeley, Spence and I are going stir-crazy to get back on the trail. Our battle with this stomach parasite has been up and down and the results have not come in yet of what exactly it is.

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!

Bandanna Ben

Sunday, August 12, 2007

News & Observer Article

Good Morning. I welcome all of you that are visiting the blog upon reading this morning's News & Observer article about our trip. For those of you that are unable to read the article in the print edition you can find the article by following the hyperlinked items in this post.

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.

-Garrett

Friday, August 10, 2007

METRONIDAZOLE!

We've got pills! Warpzilla and I were able to get in earlier than we anticipated to the clinic and the doctor gave us a prescription for Metronidazole, which should attack the parasite living in our stomachs and help us out. We are going to stay here in Rangeley for the rest of the day and decide if we will go back to the trail tomorrow pending how we feel. We are so close to the end (1954 miles down, 220 to go!) but we know that it isn't wise or safe to leave a town where we have access to medical support, gatorade, rest, help, etc. and attempt to finish the rest of our trip until we are physically ready.

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.

-Bandanna Ben

Wrangled in Rangeley

Ben and I, as you may have already read, have come down with a stomach virus of sorts. We have arranged for a medical appointment for 2:00 this afternoon and will not be hiking today. Though slightly weakened by this, we are still confident in our approach and completion of Katahdin and the Appalachian Trail. It is a shame that we have to endure this at this point in our journey, but it is only going to slow us down and not stop us! Thank you to everyone thinking of us and hoping that our condition improves. Stay tuned for further developments. We sill also try and update some pictures for you as well.

Rangely Maine

Spencer and Ben arrived in Rangely late yesterday to re-supply, try to catch their breath, and focus. In addition to the not so pleasant weather, they have both been struggling with some type of stomach virus. It could have developed from a water drinking source. Let's keep them in our thoughts and prayers as I know you will in these last days of their awsome journey.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

40 degrees, 20 mile per hour winds, and heavy rain

Spencer checked in today to report that maybe some of the most challenging miles on the trail had awaited them until Maine. It's hard for most of us to imagine, especially those in the south enduring a massive heat wave, that they could be experiencing 40 degree temps, wind, and rain. While we were speaking he said, "they were walking in clouds literally." The extremely rocky and root filled trail was slowing their pace considerably. On Monday he and Ben hiked for 14 hours straight only to travel 18 miles. Completely pooped they realized it would not be possible to arrive ontime for their next supply. Rationing their food a bit would allow them to make it the next drop on Thursday. The plan was to begin hikng at 5:00AM for 20 miles, hitch into town, re-supply, hitch back to the trail and hike another 6-8 miles. This was the first time I could hear in Spencer's voice any degree of frustration or discouragement. The sound of discouragement quickly disappeared when Spencer stated, "don't worry Dad, we're making it now! '

Monday, August 6, 2007

Onward to Maine

Today we cross the New Hampshire-Maine border. Maine is the second biggest state of all that we travel through. We will certainly face challenges harder than anything we have faced the entire trip. Nevertheless we are not even close to giving up, in fact, we wish the trip could continue. It's hard to believe that we've come this far. My roommate (Jason L'Heureux from Portland, ME) met us in Gorham, NH and this morning he is going to be taking us back to the trail and then heading home. It was a joy to see him and we appreciate his visit. Thanks again for everyone keeping in touch.

Warpzilla & Bandanna Ben

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Under 300 Miles to go!

The White Mountains of New Hampshire are in the bag! Beautiful weather over the past five days made our 100 mile stretch through the White Mountains of New Hampshire easier than most people have it. South Bound thru-hikers complained of wet and slick thus dangerous hiking in the Whites, but we were blessed with sunny skies and a wind at our backs (for the most part). We came across some Trail Magic planted by the Paige Family (from Troop 215) which got us up a +3,000 ft. climb at the end of a long day on Friday. Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range was a huge milestone of the trip, which we passed over yesterday. Though it is nice to see others while hiking, the massive amount of day-hikers in the Whites made for speed bumps more than anything. Southern Maine, which we will enter tomorrow afternoon, will continue to challenge us as much as the White's. However, with only eleven days left on this amazing journey, we will push on and get to Katahdin. We have also uploaded pictures from the past few days. Some of the most incredible views of the trip were witnessed on this stretch. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did! Thank you to everyone keeping us in your thoughts and for keeping up with us these last few days.

-Warpzilla Out

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hikers Welcome Hostel

Spence and I arrived at the Hikers Welcome Hostel in Glencliff, NH today at 6:45 pm after a taxing 29.2 mile day. Tomorrow we will begin our toughest section of the AT, the White Mountains. As tough as the terrain and weather will potentially be, we are really looking forward to it. We have just under 400 miles to go and seeing the end is bitter/sweet.

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

From Hanover, NH

Warpzilla and I got up early today (5:30) to make it to Hanover by lunchtime. We crossed the Connecticut River at 11:30 and are now inside one of Dartmouth's buildings using a computer. This building is the office of the Dartmouth Outing Club (similar to UF's TRIP program and UNC-Charlotte's Venture) so we figured we'd be able to put some photos online. But, it again says we only have permission to upload photos in groups of 5 so we'll have to wait. We are about to leave here and stop for lunch in town, at the Ben & Jerry's for some ice cream, and then hit the trail again and do another 11-16 miles today.

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

No photos

Sorry folks. We've tried and tried and cannot upload our photos at this time. ActiveX is our photo enemy it seems and we cannot seem to get certain computers to upload many photos at once. We could put them on one by one but having so many pictures it really isn't practical. We'll try again up the trail.

Bandanna Ben

Bandanna Ben and Warpzilla Hit the Jackpot

As Ben and I looked at our guide books at the trail crossing of highway U.S. 4, we saw a place called mountain meadows lodge just 4.2 miles up the trail. This morning we climbed of Mt. Killington and we decided we earned a nice place to stay. So we gave the lodge a call for the heck of it and they said that they were having a wedding all weekend, but might be able to squeeze us in. They called back shortly after we hung up with them telling us to come on! They cut us a really good rate and we showered up, threw some laundry in and came down to giant plates of leftovers from the wedding reception. This family-run lodge dates back to the 1950's and takes pride in specially taking care of hikers. We are still going to arrive in Glenclif, NH on Tuesday. This rest is well earned and needed as we prepare to enter the White Mountains of New Hampshire on Wednesday. Bandanna and I are going to try and upload some pics that ought to keep ya'll busy enough. Thanks for the support and we'll be in touch.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vittles in N. Clarendon, VT Good Enough to Call Home About

It wasn't just about calling home to say all is well...that he and Ben had had another successful day of hiking 25+ miles, hitched a ride from the Trail into North Clarendon (VT) and successfully received their food box for re-supply at the Clarendon General Store. Instead it was all about the Gobbler Sandwich, Turkey Dinner Special, and Ham Sandwich Platter!!!!! What a tasty dinner the boys devoured at the Whistle Stop - formerly a train station now transformed into a little diner with obviously some of the best food Spencer and Ben have eaten on the AT and perhaps ever! (For those interested, the Gobbler is a sandwich with thin slices of roasted turkey, Havarti cheese, cranberry relish, and moist, homemade herb dressing piled high between two thick slices of toasted sourdough bread served with homemade fries. And for the record, Warpzilla scarfed up not only one, but two Gobblers!!! Bandana Ben's dinner choices included a homemade turkey dinner with vegetables and a ham sandwich platter for dessert!) It was quite amusing for this Mom to learn the details of their dining experience and re-fueling. The two planned to waddle back to the Trail (almost 1 mile) and pitch a tent for the night. Without a doubt, they'll sleep well tonight with a full belly and a gentle rain falling bringing cooler temperatures dreaming about the last 505 miles left to go on the AT. Hooray!!!

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

Goodbye Massachusetts Hello Vermont

Spencer called his Momma on Thursday, July 26 around 6:00 P.M. I was especially pleased to hear from him because it had been several days since any immediate family had received a call. But not to worry...he and Bandana Ben are doing well. They are approaching areas where cell phone signals and connections are not the best. As a matter of fact, we were disconnected 5 or more times during our brief conversation. While we were connected and talking, there was a lot of static. I think I understood him to say they were close to the intersection of Highway 11 and State Road 30. Whatever the roads are, they are currently in Vermont. The weather has been gorgeous, they are feeling good, and they are just hiking away with plans to be in Clarendon, VT by Friday evening, July 27.

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

Dalton, MA

Bandanna and I arrived in Dalton, Mass around ten after two today after a twenty one mile dash from Upper Goose Pond Cabin last night. We are glad to be in town to get yet another fabulously packed and mailed resupply box on this dreary New England day. We have checked in to our room and done our laundry, so now it's time to kick back and relax for a bit. Foot long subs were for lunch and a dinner decision will be made shortly. Since Kent, CT (our last post) we have had wonderful weather (despite today; drizzly and cool)and received some fabulous views as the terrain is kicking back up. The forecast is looking promising as we enter Vermont and onward the next few days! Thanks you for all the comments on the last few posts and to everyone thinking of us. Unfortunately, the town of Dalton's library does not allow you to upload pictures from their personal computer devices...I guess they don't understand the content of these priceless photographs. We will attempt to get them up as soon as we can!

Friday, July 20, 2007

We're 2/3 there

Hello all.

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.

Love,
Bandanna Ben and Warpzilla

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Arrival to Kent, Connecticut

This was posted by Spencer's Mom.

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

Hiking through New York

This was posted by Spencer's Mom.

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

Incommunicado

No, no we did not forget that we had a blog. Besides stopping at hotels with wireless internet, we are rarely running to an internet connection. Even if there is wireless, we don't have a laptop or means to connect to blog. We made it through Pennsylvania with minor aches and pains over the infamous rocks of the state. Now that we are through the state and we know that we are not jynxing ourselves by saying it, "the rocks were not that bad". However, they did not instantly stop at the state line. In fact, the rest of the Northeast will be nearly as rocky as some of the rockiest parts of PA. New pictures are up as well, I hope everyone enjoys them. Thanks to everyone who has been keeping up with the blog and even commenting, we love hearing from you!

Warpzilla out

We're in NY

Hello from Warwick, NY. We made it into town at 6:00 on the dot and are about to go eat a dinner in town and get back on the trail tonight. We are well and are scheduled to get to Kent, CT on Thursday. We'll post more and add pictures in Kent.

Bandanna Ben + Warpzilla

Sunday, July 15, 2007

DELAWARE WATER GAP, PA

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.

The Harrington’s
Chuck and Marybeth
Tory, Kristen, Gavin and Dylan

July 13, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

There was yet another birthday celebrated on the Appalachian Trail this week! Happy Birthday to Bandana Ben who turned 21 on July 10, 2007!!! Wow! What a milestone and what a great place to be on such a special day. Ben is exactly where he would most want to be to celebrate and that is on The Trail. We all hope you had a terrific day, Ben!

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!

-Zoe

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Happy Birthday, Spencer David McKay, born July 8, 1987. What a proud Momma I was and continue to be! How fabulous for you to be spending your 20th birthday on the Appalachian Trail. You have dreamed of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail since the 8th grade. I, along with family and friends are thrilled that you are living your dream and doing so in honor of your longtime friend-in-Scouting, Steve. Many people continue to follow your daily progress (along with Ben's and Garrett's) and look forward to your completion of the AT.

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)
Writing to you from the desk of the Scaff family here in Pennsylvania. They are the Uncle and Aunt of a friend of mine from when my family lived in New Hampshire. It ended up working out perfectly for us to walk down two roads from the trail to their house and have a wonderful lunch with them. We are very grateful for all the hospitality shown to us from people that don't even know us. Today is also Spencer's birthday so it comes on a great day as well.

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

Harper's Ferry

Julie and I arrived in Harper's Ferry around 1:30 to find the boys sitting in front of the AT headquarters. They were on a zero day and ready for some R&R at the Hampton Inn in Martinsburg. The guys all looked fantastic, though I must say that Spencer looked like he had a bad day at the acupuncturist with the hundreds chigger bites on his legs. After hot dogs in Harper's Ferry and a quick stop at Chick-Fil-A, we checked in the Hampton around 4:00. As I made dinner reservations at the Outback, the guys got busy with laundry,resupply,blog updates,etc. Dinner at 7PM was just in the nick of time, then to Wal-Mart for food and stuff, then back to the room for Zoe's homemade birthday cake(Ben 21,Spencer 20). We were able see fireworks from the hotel parking lot which was nice of the town to do for the boys half way celebration.
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

Harper's Ferry - A Zero on the Fourth

We all enjoyed a fantastic zero day in Harper's Ferry, WV and Martinsburg, WV. The Harrington's arrived around 1:30 PM at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters located in Harper's Ferry. From there we partook in the local 4th of July celebration with a low-carb hot dog (they ran out of buns), some watermelon, chips, a cookie and a coke. All of that for a dollar! A quick rain storm didn't drown our hunger so we headed to Martinsburg for our Hotel and some more eating. We ate the last Chic-Fil-A we would most likely have until we return back below the Mason-Dixon line, and then settled into our hotel. Yet another meal at Outback followed just a few hours later as we stuffed our faces with appetizers, and STEAK. A trip to Wal-Mart was then in need to get food for our dinners the next few nights. There were quite a few firework shows (including all of us in the Hampton Inn parking lot with sparklers) which were quite enjoyable. New pictures have been added of the past week as well. We are looking forward to the second half of the trip and are ready to really crank some mileage out! That's all for now, stay tuned.

We're halfway there!

Hello! We are in historic Harper's Ferry and having a great time with the Harrington's. We are about to go to Outback Steakhouse for some dinner and then do some grocery shopping for the next segment on the trail. We will blog more after dinner but i wanted to post quickly and say we're here and I've updated the Actual Mileage and added another album to the photo gallery.

More later,
Bandanna Ben

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Harper's Ferry, WV

I just got in to Harper's Ferry. If you haven't been to this historic town it is full of Civil War era buildings and a lot of history so check that out sometime. In other news I was visited by a dear friend of mine from Cornell last night. We day hiked up Stony Man Mountain in the Shenandoah park, watched a beautiful sunset, and brought some cold ones and drank with some other thru-hikers while watching the sun drop. It was nice to perform a little trail magic of our own and the sunset was incredible. Today we drove up to Harper's Ferry to meet up with Spencer and Ben who should be here this afternoon. More to come later on today and tomorrow as we take a zero day with the Harrington's for Independence Day. God bless America and all of you who are following our trip with your thoughts, prayers, and support.


-G

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Waynesboro, VA

Greetings from Waynesboro, VA. Today we were met by Spencer (Warpzilla)'s mom and his step dad. We utilized the local laundry, the grocery store, and doctor's office. Spencer has come down with a bad case of "chiggers"; we initially thought that it was itchy acne or some sort of rash, but it appears that it is a bad case of this pesky insect. He got a prescription ointment to combat the bugs and they should be under control or gone shortly.

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

Lynchburg, VA

Hello, today I am spending some time with some old friends here in Lynchburg, VA. Lynchburg is a short trip from Glasgow, VA and it has been amazing to catch back up with some old Raleigh connections. The Hutt's are connected to myself as well as Stephen. Their son Ren was in pre-school with Stephen and I back in 1989. They picked me up at the parking lot by the James River last night, and have fed me well and made me feel like a member of the family. A huge thank you to them for their amazing Virginia hospitality.

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.

-g

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mile Marker 620

Just got off the phone with Spencer tonight, he and Bandana Ben arrived into Pearisburg, VA this afternoon late after completing two 30mile plus days in a row. He sounded good just very pooped. I can't even imagine. The past two days have been the hottest so far, and Troop 215 you have been a life saver with the beverages you left behind. By Friday they should be in Catawba,VA and onto Glasgow by Monday June 25th. Glasgow will mark 1/3 of the way to Maine. Tonight they were spending the night in a real bed in a small local motel. After showers and dinner @ Hardee's, a visit to Dairy Queen, and laundry underway it sounded like they were looking forward to a good nights rest.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

This is Garrett's Dad. Had a great father's day. My father and I drove up Saturday to meet up with the boys. We got to Mount Roger's Headquarters (adjacent to the Partnership Shelter) about 5 minutes after the boys arrived. They were resting and thinking about ordering a pizza.

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

Back to the Trail

We are finishing up another delicious meal at Jerry's Trading Post in Troutdale, VA on this foggy morning. After just beating out the thunderstorm yesterday, it is likely that we will catch part of an afternoon storm today. We have decided that Garrett is going to get shuttled up the trail ahead of both Ben and I so that he can taper his mileage back up. Mr. Dixon is meeting us today for a resupply and will pick Garrett up at Partnership Shelter while Bandanna Ben and I continue. They will then meet us at US 11 where we will go in to Atkins, VA. The shuttle is waiting, so we must be going. That's all for now, stay posted for any updates.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Troutdale, VA

After leaving Damascus around 7:00 yesterday morning we've found ourselves back in town sooner than expected. We made the 28 mile trip up to Thomas Knob Shelter yesterday and had a fairly easy day up until the last 6 or so miles. The weather turned for the worse and we found ourselves drenched in rain and dodging a thunderstorm. We got to the shelter around 5:30 and changed into dry clothes and were able to call it an early night.

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!

More later,
Bandanna Ben

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Photos

We are just finishing up a pizza dinner at Sicily's in Damascus and they happen to have a public access computer here. It has a very fast connection and moreover, Active X capability so we can upload more than 5 pictures at a time (what we were doing at the library). So feel free to look through our "Trip Photos" gallery for pictures of our adventures from the last few weeks. We're off again in the morning. We'll most likely finish our stay in Damascus with another Dairy King milkshake. Happy trails!

Bandanna Ben

Zero Day #2

Writing to you all from the Damascus Public Library the "Friendliest Little Library On the Trail" we are currently taking zero day #2 and now stand at 459.5 miles into the 2,175 mile journey. The trip is currently into Virginia and we have 3 states under our belt.

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

Finally Back to the Trail

I will be driving up to Damascus today with Spencer's Dad to reunite with the boys. It has been way too long since I left the trail. I cannot wait to meet up with the team today. We are going to go see Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and they are going to take a zero day on Wednesday. We will blog more tonight about stories from the trail, and we will add more photos to our collection.

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

Mile Marker 400

Spencer and Ben have passed the 400 mile of the trail today. At 3:00PM they still had a six mile descent into camp left, ending at the Laurel Fork Shelter. They believe they will arrive into Damascus VA on Tuesday afternoon around 6:00PM. Garrett plans to ride with me to rejoin the team. It sounds like the cramping is under control, spirits are good, just exhausted and looking forward to a zero day.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Enlyten SportStrips

We have stumbled upon, with the help of our nutritional consultant, a relatively new style of electrolyte replacement that just recently came to the market. The product is similar to the notorious Listerine Pocket Packs in that it is a cassette filled with little strips. The benefit of this style of dispenser is that it is compact and not messy like mixes can be. Also this is another version of electrolyte replacement that not only helps replace the salts that we lose during exercise, yet also helps provide a balanced electrolyte solution and not another sugary simple drink like a Gatorade or Powerade. The two king sport drinks, Gatorade and Powerade, while remaining very popular, contain way too much simple sugar (which can actually cause cramping or crashing) and do not contain a spectrum of electrolytes that we desperately need. The ultimate benefit of Enlyten strips is that they claim a greater efficiency than what we have found in Nuun or in Camelback's Elixir in that they actually bypass the GI tract. The GI tract can actually not absorb every bit of the electrolytes that are contained in our drinks causing us to waste some of the needed compounds. The idea of Enlyten is that the product goes directly into the bloodstream through the membranes of the cheek causing a much greater efficiency and more sudden intake of the electrolytes, therefore when we may have gotten behind on our electrolyte intake and we are bonking out or cramping one of these strips could theoretically help us faster than drinking a Nuun solution and waiting for the effect. While we have not tried these strips out yet, idea is fantastic, and we will blog more about how much they help us. They are being adopted by many professional athletes, and they have been tested at Duke in their sport's medicine department so I think they definitely will give us an edge. Although we are not scrapping the Nuun or Elixir products, because these products provide a greater spectrum than Enlyten, yet i think that these products combined with the Enlyten strips will give us multiple ways to insure a proper electrolyte balance.

Actual Mileage Blog Feature

I just want to point out a new blog feature that I have added to the upper right hand of the blog under our personal trip info. I have added a spreadsheet that Spencer and Ben made yesterday in Erwin. This spreadsheet contains the actual stops on the trail that we have made. Not only can you compare this to our initial itinerary that we had made on or before May 20th to see how much we have deviated from this plan, yet also it is neat to see how much we have accomplished and where we actually stayed. Finally, the best part about this feature is that we are able to look at the glass in a "half full" perspective and see how far we have gone instead of what we have left to do. I remind you all that are following along at home to check out this entry on google earth tracking, which can allow one to look at satellite imagery upon our actual stops on the trail contained within the spreadsheet.

Aspects of Proper Hydration

One of the major lessons that this trip has reinforced on us is the constant importance of good hydration when being active in the outdoors. During our initial time on the trail we noticed the typical sweat and salt loss that is known to all people who engage in tough endurance activity, or even those of us simply sweating in the heat. It is common sense that one must intake water to replace the water that is lost by sweating, yet most people also do not think about the water lost by breathing and urine production/waste. Simply put our intakes of water on the trail have been huge and maybe then not enough. We have attempted to intake around a liter per hour of hiking which is a lot of water. Having an intake of water close to this amount is astounding, and water and hydration are essential to preventing cramps, muscle recovery, and energy production. Unfortunately, when drinking such large amounts of water in a hot environment the other side of hydration rears its head. The aforementioned salt loss is the one major factor that we have tried to also gauge. Salt loss is a lot harder to get a handle on than water loss and I have never repeatedly strung together the extended endurance tests that we have encountered on this trip. We had initially planned to try out the tablets made by Nuun Hydration, and while we know that this sort of electrolyte replacement is important, we were not sure how many electrolytes we would need. We initially and usually most people place a huge importance on water intake, and also on sodium intake. While sodium is the most common electrolyte, we have realized the importance of intaking a spectrum of electrolytes, and we have realized that sugar filled sports drinks are not the best way to intake these beneficial compounds, and often these popular drinks like Gatorade do not provide a spectrum of electrolytes, yet only Sodium and/or potassium. The Nuun electrolyte replacement, or the Camelback Elixir are both broad spectrum electrolyte replacements. The are designed to prevent dehydration and other conditions in which the athlete intakes a lot of water yet not enough electrolytes. One such condition called Hyponatremia involves an imbalance of sodium and water in the body. This imbalance can be compounded by usage of Aspirin, Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory agents, which we are commonly taking for the dreaded "trail ache." The symptoms of this condition include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, slurred speech, confusion, and irrational behavior, and many of these symptoms have been experienced on the trail even with our plentiful intakes of water and represent instances of hyponatremia. Undoubtedly, we have decided that we must intake electrolytes and that with our daily active exercise times that range from 8-12 hours we need to intake these substances as if we are ultramarathoners. Although we have at times had an admirable intake of water, we have definitely not had the proper intake of electrolytes including sodium to accompany this water intake. The amount of salt loss and water loss experienced when hiking 20-30 miles in mountainous terrain is significantly higher than many other endurance activities. We are in effect aiming to perform almost a marathon every day for the rest of the summer. We know that the cramping and loss of performance combined with loopy behavior is at times dehydration, at times hyponatremia, and at other times low blood sugars from not enough or right dietary intakes, yet we have certainly learned the importance of electrolyte intakes for our trek and in endurance pursuits.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Trail Magic, Trail Names, and Hydration update

In addition to what Spencer just posted, i thought I'd add that we are very grateful for our rather unexpected "trail magic" here in Erwin. We were fully prepared to stay at Uncle Johnny's and continue on our way but were really happy to hear about an offer for a place to stay, etc.

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.

-Bandanna Ben

Erwin, TN

We have been shown great hospitality by the Honrath Family who lives literally right next door to Uncle Johnny's Hostel (located just off the trail). We were planning to stay at Uncle Johnny's tonite but graciously accepted the invite to enjoy a home cooked meal, shower, and laundry at the Honrath's home, now that's a nice end to a 27 mile day. As far as all you Troop 215ers keeping in touch out there, we were at Uncle Johnny's camping on the 2004 AT summer trip. That trip started at Sam's Gap, where Ben and I reenacted the Troop beginning photo to the best of our ability. Leg cramps crept in towards the end of today and only had ourselves to blame for definitely not drinking enough water. Hydration, or lack there of, is most definitely the cause of our cramps. We are going to begin to drink more than water throughout the day i.e. elixir (by camelbak) and Gatorade mix. The electrolytes in these mixes ought to give us the extra replacement that we have been missing. Also, in the Damascus, VA drop (and every other drop from here on out) Garrett has placed Nuun electrolyte tablets. Well, time for a shower, then a Spaghetti dinner! That's all for now, maybe some pictures later tonite...stay tuned.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Trail Update 6/4/07 (Spencer + Ben)

We have just now made it to Hot Springs, NC at about 1:30 this Afternoon. We were recently in Cosby, TN being resupplied by the Chappell family and Chris (my roommates). They rented out a cabin for the night and we got an excellent meal, a shower, and some time in the hot tub. It was hard to get back on the trail. Sunday morning we headed back to the trail at Davenport Gap and we stayed the night at Roaring Forks Shelter. Ben and I have had some trouble with our right quadriceps. Ever since day two in the Smoky Mountains, a sharp, painful cramp has developed every afternoon in the same spot for both of us. We thought maybe it was because we went 28.5 miles that day, but is has been a recurring pain ever since. Mileage in the afternoon has been excruciating, but we have pushed on as best we could. So we are getting jobs in Hot Springs for a while...just kidding. However, mileage will be dropped down below expected levels until we can figure something else out, as we are weary of taking another unplanned zero day. The Bluff Mountain Outfitters (in Hot Springs) was kind enough to let us use their computer to blog and check e-mail. We are planning to hit Erwin, TN on Thursday. More to come, hopefully some pictures soon. Thank you for everyone that has been commenting, posting, and reading the blog.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Trail Update 06/03/07

I talked with Spencer and Ben this morning. They made it through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are leaving from Davenport Gap today and will continue northward to the Walnut Mountain Shelter. The Smoky mountains are some of the tougher stretches on the trail and contain the highest elevations and some ridiculous climbs. The highest point on the trail is Clingman's Dome on the TN/NC border that tops out at 6643' which is only 41 feet shorter than the highest peak east of the Mississippi river, North Carolina's Mt. Mitchell. My hat goes off to them; they said they did 29 miles a few days ago in a constant rain, which was around a 12 hour day of hiking. They have almost caught back up with the original itinerary. We had intended on making it where they are this morning last night so we are only a night off of the original schedule.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Injury Update

I am safely home as of 11:00am May 31 2007. The injury that I have acquired is called overuse syndrome, which is in my case is an inflammation of the muscles and connective tissue in my ankle. My body has not taken the adjustment to the terrain and mileage for one major reason. The shoes that I started the trail with lacked cushion and did not provide my feet and legs enough protection from the rock filled terrain that we have encountered so far, this factor combined with the 27 mile segment that we accomplished Monday led to severe pain in my right leg from the shin to the foot. I decided that with the doctor recommending at least 2-4 days off of my feet followed by tapering my mileage back to our planned pace that I would come off of the trail. I decided that it is more important for me to not accomplish a thru hike at this moment, but rather to not be injured or jeopardize the entire trip. I will be rejoining Spencer and Ben as soon as possible, and in the meantime will be resting my feet for another couple of days. Then I will taper in a training regimen in the time between now and getting back on trail. I would like to thank all of the people that sacrificed their time and effort to get me from such a remote part of North Carolina back home. I will be in touch with Spencer and Ben and will attempt to keep you updated during this time. We will blog more about some of the proverbial good Samaritans that we have met along the way in the near future.

-Garrett

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fontana Dam

Spencer reported in around 4:30PM today he and Ben arrived at Fontana Dam this afternoon after 22 miles. Garrett unfortunately has had to take a break to recover from a type of shin splints, I know this must be tough on him, hopefully he can fill us in with some details in the next couple of days.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Nantahala

Spencer reported tonight that they covered 27 miles today, their longest leg so far which ended at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where they would camp by the river. So far this puts them right on schedule with the latest itinerary.

Complete Admiration

Ben, Garrett, & Spencer-
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.

Warm regards,
Lucas
(Spencer's older brother)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Troop 301 Gulfport

When preparing to leave the parking lot at Springer Mountain in Georgia, we ran into the scout leaders of Troop 301 out of Gulfport, MS. We continued on down the trail and passed the troop out on the trail. One of the leaders of this troop, Mr. John Kelly, an 86 year old assistant scoutmaster was extremely touched by our story. He told his troop about why we are hiking the trail and told us that we are the definition of "what friendship is all about." He was very emotional and we definitely felt that we made a great example to our fellow scouts in his troop.

Photos

We have added photos from our trip and a permanent link to all future pictures that we will upload in the personal trip info section at the upper right hand of the page.

Zero Day #1

Today we have decided to take a zero day. In hiker terminology this means that we are not hiking today. On Thursday while on top of Kelly Knob in Georgia I decided to check my voice mails. I heard the news that my great aunt Evelyn became ill from an opening in her intestinal tract. She passed away later on Thursday, and this event has hit me rather hard. I never really knew my grandmother, but my great aunts have always fit that role for me on my dad's side of my family. We decided as a crew that not only did we need to rest after our first week, but that they wanted to get me to my aunt's funeral just as much as I wanted to be there myself. We are not hiking today and will be attending the funeral in Belmont, NC. We are also using this day off to recuperate after a tough week of transitioning to the trail. We have experienced a few flat tires (blisters and foot pain) but we are changing shoes and carving moleskin and should be able to continue our "blistering" pace after a much needed day off. We will blog again later on today with pictures, video, and stories from the trail. Even though we have only been on trail for a week, we have hiked over 100 miles and met a whole cast of interesting characters. More to come later...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Neel's Gap

Spencer reports that they made it up Blood Mtn. and arrived @ Neel's Gap just fine yesterday afternoon. They were hoping to be able to post a blog, so far I haven't seen anything. The only other interesting comment was they had mice crawling around their heads in a shelter on Monday night.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Their Journey begins

Watching the preparation, and spending time with these three young men has been an incredible experience. The detail with which they have approached this journey is mind boggling. The most touching elememt is the realization that this is all about their remembering Steve and fulfilling a pact they made with him. May we all keep the Harringtons close in our thoughts during this time and always.
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

Julie and I just got back to Raleigh. We can't thank you guys enough for taking this challenge on in memory of Stephen.

Godspeed!

On the trail

Hey everyone. I received a message on my phone this morning around 11:20 am from Garrett. He said that they had just had a short service and spread some of Stephen's ashes. The family had loaded up in the cars to depart and they were getting ready to "hit the trail". They hoped to be at their first campsite by 4:30 pm today.

Over and Out


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

Raleigh to Dahlonega

We all made it safe to Dahlonega, GA. The Harrington's, My Dad, Garrett, Ben and myself all arrived to Holiday Inn Express without getting lost at about 7:15 PM. If you want to know more about Dahlonega there's a good little tune about it by Corey Smith. Just click on that and download the song. He's an upcoming artist from this area. Anyway, we are all excited to be here and have great confidence and anticipation in starting and finishing the trail. We're all heading out for an Italian dinner...load up on them carbs. Bye for now

Saturday, May 19, 2007

We're heading to Springer Tomorrow

As the title states, tomorrow is the departure date from Raleigh for our thru-hike. We will be going to Springer Mountain tomorrow and spending the night there and will begin hiking on Monday morning, right on schedule. This will hopefully be the first of many "on schedule" moments.
Garrett drove 10+ hours from Ithaca, NY yesterday and jumped right into the final preparations of our mailers/re-supply boxes. We are planning to re-supply 18 times over the course of the summer and we are up to box number 13 right now which puts us in Williamstown, Mass. Instead of making the last five boxes now, we figure it is best to wait and see how our pace/itinerary is looking and have the boxes made for us down the road (thank you family and friends!).
As we have gotten closer and closer to leaving, it is increasingly clear how lucky we are to have the people we do around us. Planning for this trip is much more than i think any of us could have imagined and it has been so awesome to have people anxious to help. So, thank you all very much and our next post should be from the trail, most likely at Neel's Gap.
More later,
Ben
Here are some photos from the last few days:

CLIF bars anyone?

Cutting toothbrush handles: every ounce counts!

Chef Spencer portioning out noodles and powdered sauces
for our dinners for the next two months.



Monday, May 14, 2007

Planning


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.

More later,
Ben

New Blog Feature - Personal Trip Info

As we are getting down to crunch time in our trail preparations, I wanted to make everyone aware of a new feature on our blog. I have published spreadsheets that display my personal gear list containing my pack's items and another spreadsheet with our proposed trip itinerary as of today 05/14/07 as well. Both of these items can be found by clicking the links at the top right of the blog. This itinerary is obviously only hypothetical, yet it will give a rough estimate of where we will be staying each night while on trail. These spreadsheets will be automatically updated when we are able to make changes to them, therefore while they will remain a rough estimate throughout the trip's entirety we will attempt to update them as we go along and give everyone a better shot at meeting up with us should they choose to do so. We will head for Georgia this Sunday 05/20/07, and are extremely excited to get some mileage under our hip belts.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Google Earth Tracking

This summer we would like for everyone that is following our progress to be able to see the trail and which shelter's we were recently at to gain some perspective of our journey. Everyone can download Google Earth for free from the Google website. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has posted GPS data on their site that are importable into google earth. Fortunately, other individuals have the same interest in the trail and have already converted this data into a centerline/shelter hybrid file for google earth. Just download the file and open with google earth and you will have not only the shelter names, yet also you will have an approximate center line for the entire Appalachian Trail. You will be able to gain an idea of not only the distance, yet also the vegetation and surroundings of the entire trail from this document. Just download Google Earth for your PC or Mac, download the hybrid .kmz file and enjoy a centerline with most of the shelters! You will find that this .kmz file orphaned some of the Appalachian Trail's shelters probably due to the sheer number of points that the GPS data and 300 shelter sites actually is. This .kml file as far as I can tell contains all of the shelter sites so that if we stay at a shelter that is not on the first document then it will probably be on here instead. Combine these shelter names and locations with the distance calculator, and you will be able to easily calculate how many miles we hiked to get from stop to stop. Hope this provides everyone with a free, easy to use solution for tracking our 2,175 mile adventure.


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...

Nutritional Study


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

Springer and Katahdin



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.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Why the AT?

Why the Appalachian Trail? Why honor your friend by hiking almost 2,200 miles through the wilderness? The answer for me is simple. Steve, Spencer, and I hiked the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin in Maine in the summer of 2005 not long after Steve and Spencer hiked the southern terminus at Springer, MT in Georgia earlier that summer. We joked on our trip that one day it would be cool to hike the entire trail, for them, to connect the dots. When confronted with my friend's death later that year, I knew that the joke that we threw out without any thought of it being a serious goal would be the best way for me to honor him. My trip in Maine was the last time I saw Steve, and will be the moment that I hold on to during my entire thru-hike. I know that we have an ambitious goal of an 80 day thru-hike, and that this goal is half of the typical time that one takes to hike the 2,175 mile trail, yet somehow I know that we will have the extra intangibles to accomplish our trip.

Welcome

Welcome to the Blog that will cover the Appalachian Trail thru-hike occurring this summer of 2007 in memory of the late Stephen Harrington of Raleigh, NC. We will be posting information covering our trip details, memories of Steve, our trail experiences, and give out whatever hiking advice we develop through our experience. We hope that this site will be a resource of hiking knowledge, will allow you to follow along with our experiences and mental struggles occurring on the trail, and serve to honor our dear friend Steve. Thanks for stopping by.