Day 63 (4.5 miles)

I was never so glad to get to the shelter last night even knowing the short trail back to the AT in the morning would be uphill! The company was great and conversation interesting. Broadway and two other dudes were there, one of the older ones being from Jacksonville, NC. I told him about always going through late at night on our way to Okracoke. It was before you could pay at the pump and I would always tell Larry I loved him but that I was locking the doors. Man was that last filling station a scary, sketchy place! There was another older mountain looking gauntly man but he stayed in his tent. Once again we had a rain shower that was nice to sleep to, and sleep I did! The rain cover for the tent was pretty much dried by the morning. During the wee hours after the rain had passed I had to visit the ladies room. (You do know that I mean “squat someplace near my tent”, don’t you?) When I looked up, man, the stars were huge! I felt as though I could reach up and touch them twinkling so big and so bright! I wanted to just lay on my back and watch till the sun came up. Jordan, (Praying Mantis, as I have dubbed him) and I got back on the trail about 8:30. The trail was a more forgiving trail than the day before and the temperature was perfectly cool, keeping me from overheating. Now don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of uphill climbing to go around, rocks and all.

My lung is okay now, maybe was just inflamed from all my heavy breathing (while climbing..) and leg are fine. We only had to go another 4 miles or so to the top of Mt Greylock and we had this in the bag! Praying Mantis slipped to the ground while manuevering a rooty and rocky step down, no damage done. It wasn’t too much further and down I went! I got a few scrapes on my knuckles and pump knot on my forearm because my hand was attached to my hiking pole and when you fall you always seem to land on the pole with your hand going with it, dirt first! I was glad to have PM there to help me up! We made it to the top and was greeted with spectacular views! The wind picked up and was a bit on the chili side on the highest spot in Massachusetts. PM’s mother was coming to pick him up and I made a big and not so easy decision to get Ben to come back and pick me up on his way home from Bob’s house.

No, I am not quitting, just relocating to hopefully no future snow, wind, and freezing temperatures. I will pick up the trail south of Shenandoah and go southbound into Damascus, which is where I had to leave the trail. That section of the trail will then be completed with just a couple sections remaining for warmer weather. Since the White Mountains are so unpredictable and slow going, I was afraid I wouldn’t make it to Mt Katahdin before it snows, and THAT would be disappointing. I am sad too that I didn’t get to see my friend Saucy. She was right behind me and has tent and pole issues. She found a trail angel to drive her to trailheads so she could slackpack, what a difference that makes! So I found my own Trail Angel, Janice, who is Praying Mantis mother. She brought me back down the mountain to Cheshire where I tented in St Mary’s Church’s back yard. She was the answer to my plans coming together! She also raised a most polite and gracious son who I enjoyed every step with! It was the best three days on the trail having him to share it with! This little town in MA lacks in restaurants and as I was walking to Dunkin Donuts for dessert for later the gentleman at the church asked if I was hungry, asked for my hand, no not in marriage but to mark it with an X.

You see, they were having a picnic at the church and that got me in the door for some good food! The fresh corn on the cob was delicious as well as the watermelon. As we hiked out of town on Friday, Praying Mantis and I passed through a tall corn field, to which he was amazed and well.. for me, I just wanted to eat the corn! Now I got some! So that was my second trail magic of the day. I came back up to see if I could charge my phone and one of the ladies gave me a bag full of individual chips and desserts. I will go back to the trail a road away and pay it forward to the hikers I see. So I am back from the trail up the road and met Fresh Legs at the ice cream store. He is from Louisiana and SOBO and plans to finish in November in Georgia. He enjoyed the chips and conversation. He did tell me the mountains in VT and ME will test your rocking climbing and descending skills. I have none!

I also met No Collar from California. He got his name because he was once a blue collar worker, then a white collar worker, retired and is now a no collar retiree! He was NOBO. There are so fewer hikers now as the majority has left the trail for one reason or another. I just reread my blog and boy did I have lots to say, so much can happen in just one day! Well I thought there were no more adventures to share but as sit here a thru hiker, Otter, from Houston arrived. Shortly thereafter six more showed up. Sunshine, Otter’s girlfriend, Hawk from Detroit, and others that I didn’t get their names. One was from Eastern Tennessee. The other fellow needed water and I suggested where to go but no luck. He left one more time and a lady pulled up afterwards with a large supply of water bottles. We had a good laugh on that one!

Turns out he asked her previously where he could find water and she went and bought some, pure trail magic. They all enjoyed the chips and cupcakes! Also I was excited to see Lucky and Penny, the couple from Kentucky I stayed with in the Apple Orchard months ago with Try Try, who unfortunately hit her head on a rock in July, got a bad concussion and had to leave the trail. Lucky is very polite and always says Yes Mam, it is so sweet. I am still disappointed I didn’t get to see Saucy! With that I say Good Night and Sweet Dreams!


Day 62 (10 miles)

I did not sleep a wink last night, I don’t know why. My right lung was starting to hurt again so not sure what’s up with that. We had some very light rain showers last night but this morning everything was bone dry.  Around 1AM I kept seeing a flashlight turn on and then off several times and light up the corner of my tent. I needed to go visit the powder room but it seemed someone was acting weird. I had wished they would stop. Something caught my eye and I realized it was my phone charger that would turn my phone on and off. Boy did I feel dumb!

Not too long after I started out this morning, I met Jordan, Praying Mantis. He is a nice young man raised by his mom with good values and a love for the little things we saw. He is just walking from Dalton to Mt Graylock. Pittsfield is his home and it’s not that far from Dalton, MA. He realized we walked at about the same speed and he preferred the company so we walked the whole day together. Thankfully he was there to help me over some boulders! What a change that was for me! I was afraid his pace was going to be too slow on the flat spots but it turned out that I needed to be reined in a bit. We began our ascent up to Mt Graylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts. Although it was only an 800 foot elevation change it was brutal. We both did good to put one foot in front of the other.

My energy level was zero and I was doubting whether or not I could make it to the shelter as the day wore on. We sat, ate some protein and felt good for the last .4 miles we needed to go. Well, it actually lasted for about 10 minutes. We did make it and the rain showers have set in. Broadway was there discussing the pluses to his edible candies and pot. Another guy from Jacksonville, NC, said some guy gave him some edibles and he took one prior to hiking, felt great but kept getting lost and backtracked probably 10 miles that day. It is very cold right now but my clothes are adequate for now as the days are in the 60’s and 70’s. The higher we climbed the colder it got. Walking uphill though warms you up quickly. Good news is no mosquitoes with the wind and cool temperatures. I feel as though I’ve been beat like drum and feel like poop so Good Night and Sweet Dreams!

Day 61 (4.5 miles)

I am officiallly back in the trail. Ben so kindly brought me way north to catch the trail. I decided to start back at the point I would have been at if I hadn’t had to stop. There would possibly be those familiar faces from Georgia to Virginia that I will know and a lot more to meet. We rolled into Dalton, MA, around 5PM, got a bite to eat, and reserved Ben a room for the night further up the road. The trail goes right through the town. I won’t lie, I was a bit excited, anxious, and thinking “am I really this crazy?”. Some would answer yes but then again who isn’t a little crazy? Remembering the reason I started this journey I knew I had to continue. Some may wonder, has it helped in dealing with losing Larry. The answer is a big, fat yes! He is still on my mind and in my heart and can bring a tear or two, but it’s just easier. I have a ways to go but it’s a start!

Ben dropped me off at the trailhead and would have gone with me for a ways but due to the lateness we just said our goodbyes and “I love you”. The first camping spot was 4.5 miles and I wasn’t sure if I still had the same get up and go that I had before, and I needed that to go the 4.5 miles before dark. Due to the late start, loaded pack, and freshly healed leg, I had decided that I would stealth camp if I had to. Now if you remember I broke down and got the Guthooks App that shows you actually where on the trail you are, where shelters, camp sites, water, etc are and how far using GPS. I thought originally that I would stop on difficult parts of the trail and use it all the time just checking the distance. (Waste of hiking time and phone battery). Since I caved I am determined to use it sparingly. The woods were beautiful with just a few mosquitos. Deet takes care of that!

The trees were thick with very little underbrush, and the path was dirt and relatively easy to hike. I ran into a new kid resting on a rock, his name is Broadway from Virginia. He likes musicals and the show tunes and dancing in the woods. He doesn’t care for football at all. It will be interesting following him! Further up the trail I met two southbounders (SOBO). Although the sun was setting it was still growing darker and darker in the thick forest. With encouragement from Diesel, who is recently retired from the military and from Rhode Island, and a young fellow from Charleston, SC, whose name vanished in the wind, I was determined to make it to the camp site. I finally had to use my headlamp until I came to a clearing and I saw the two cutest deer who watched me and bounded off. Now since the woods were dark and I didn’t feel as though I went very far, I checked Guthooks to see how I was faring. Well, lo and behold the camp site, with a bear box and privy, was only .1 miles away! The darkness meant nothing at that point as I made my way up the trail. This is the second time I have hiked in the dark and will not make it a habit!

There are several tents already set up and the hikers snug in their bags probably wishing I would quit making noise. After putting my food bag in the bear box something scampered off at my feet. I looked back to see a tiny frog…I smiled. Putting up the tent was like an old familiar friend. I had gotten a lighter one while I was at home but eventually returned it for various reasons and stuck with my Hubba Hubba. (Yes, that is the name of it). I did, by the way, look at all my stuff before I departed and left some items I decided I could do without. I am not sure if it lightened the load but mentally it felt good. It’s a clear night with the moon shining brightly. Although I can’t see the stars due to the thick foliage, I know this will be a good night. It’s way past hiker bedtime, that will be hard to get used to, so I bid you a Good Night and Sweet Dreams! (Thank you for following me again!)

The Day has Arrived…

The day has arrived and my pack is loaded. I am headed back to the trail. My son, Ben, has graciously agreed to take me to the trail head. We are headed to Massachusetts and along the way we detoured to Gettysburg to see where one of the Civil War battles took place killing and injuring so many men. It gives you such a respect for what those boys had to do then and for what they are doing today. I have been there several times and so has Ben, but he was little and did not remember it. I can hear Larry saying very sweetly “Don’t you remember we….”. It did bring a tear to my eye so I couldn’t relate that to Ben. Larry remembered everything!

It was getting late so we ate pizza at Tommy’s Pizza, which was very good, and drove on to Harrisburg for the night. (Sorry, but there are prettier and nicer towns in PA to see). The hotel had a sound machine in the room, weird. Well around 3AM I realized why because all you hear is noise from the trucks on the interstate! I do remember flying into the airport with my brother Bill when I was in my twenties and how low we were on fuel. I haven’t done that again! Seeing 3 Mile Island was cool though. (That was before one “blew up”). We were headed to York, PA, but they were having drag races on the runway…go figure! We did have a good trip to Dalton,MA, and experienced their toll roads, and I pray Ben has a safe trip home. He will be making a side trip to see his uncle Bob since he is so close! Fun! Be looking for my first post after returning to the trail, please!

July 2019

This is to all of you who have been following my trek on the Appalachian Trail.  I have been released by my bone doctor to start out slowly and when my leg feels okay then I can start back out. Two days later I visited Doctor’s Care and found out I have “a glob” of pneumonia on one of my lungs and need another xray to be sure it is gone in two weeks. If it’s not one thing it’s another. I haven’t decided where I will begin my journey again, but I have a good idea. I decided to do some walking on the beach to build up the leg strength. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it! You should be hearing from me soon about my restart. Stay tuned…and Thanks! 

My Future Hiking Buddy!

Day 60 (0 miles)

Day 60- Today I received the final verdict on my knee pain. It turns out that my tibia plateau is fractured along with a torn meniscus. The meniscus is small and not a problem but the fracture has me sidelined for at least 4 weeks. I will go back at that time and see if I am cleared to resume hiking the trail. So it’s crutches for me, no weight bearing on the leg, and on the bright side maybe I can get some fat back on myself from sitting around. I got to see two of my brothers, Frank and Bill, today for supper along with Jack, Donna and Callie. Thanks for supper! Since my life isn’t that exciting to read about, I will temporarily put a hold on my blog until I hit the trail again. Be ready to resume life on the Appalachian Trail in about 4 1/2 weeks because that is my goal. I will let you know when there is something new to read so please check back around the last week of June and follow me the rest of the way! I have enjoyed your comments and the encouragement along the way and this isn’t over yet! Good Night and Sweet Dreams for now!

The arrow is pointing to the fracture

Day 58 and Day 59 (0 miles)

Day 58 Day 59 – I am still at home following doctors orders of keeping off my leg. I had a nice visit from my friend, Terri, bearing gifts of food and good conversation! That was very much appreciated! It’s getting pretty old sitting here and being lazy while the beautiful outside is calling me. My brother and his family took me on their pontoon boat for a ride on Lake Hartwell, a good lunch, and a visit with friends on their dock. Thanks, Monty and Susan! Rain poured down from the edge of a thunderstorm beating on the tin roof of the dock like drums so loud that you couldn’t hear the others talking. I couldn’t help but think of an old friend who lost his life on Lake Hartwell during a bad storm two years ago. I miss talking to him on the radio while flying. I woke up this morning and to my surprise my knee felt quite good compared to previous days. The doctor’s appointment is tomorrow and am anxious as to what he will say. We will see. So more movies, TV, and sitting around; can’t wait to get out and about! Good Night and Sweet Dreams!

Day 57 (0 miles)

Day 57- It was a restless night, twinges of pain in my knee whenever I moved. When I got up in the morning there was almost no pain when I put my foot down and feeling almost normal I was thinking that maybe I was turning a corner. Well, I was wrong, so come on appointment and let’s get this taken care of! Arg!! My sister Jane (not to be confused with my friend Jane) came over and spent the day. It was great seeing family! Our hot water heater went out, leaked slowly and the floor below it needs replaced. The insurance adjuster came by and did his thing; now to get it repaired. Knowing how I feel about snakes my son was thrilled to tell me he saw a black snake skin under the house. Good grief! I made him cover the gaping hole in the floor just for peace of mind. He laughed. All I could think of today is where I would be on the trail if I were there. Fortunately I live in the country and I am surrounded by trees, woods, water, and flora so I at least have something similar to look at! Craving a high calorie Honey Bun, I made brownies (I am still very hungry)! Ben will enjoy that too! After I catch up on some things I will hit the hay. Good Night and Sweet Dreams!

Day 56 (0 miles)

Day 56 – Another good nights sleep in my own bed this time. I called to get that doctors appointment and of course you can’t get in right away, but I knew that would be the case. It was a beautiful day today, so I had Ben bring me the riding mower to the back yard (I love cutting grass), figuring sitting would not affect my knee. That was an enjoyable hour or so. Everything here is so green and lush right now, however I did miss seeing my irises, azaleas, and dogwood blooming but the mountain flora made up for it. I did binge watch some TV and ate a lot. I can’t wait for that appointment! I was relieved to hear from Saucy and that she was okay! For supper I did cook a chicken Ben had bought. It was nice to cook something different than what I normally have been doing for the last couple months. Oh wait, I did make mashed potatoes; I can’t seem to get away from those! At least these were from fresh potatoes! More TV and now I am ready for bed. Good Night and Sweet Dreams!

Day 55 (0.5 miles)

Day 55- A good nights sleep, a full belly and I was ready to get back on the trail. My knee was behaving and felt better after an evening in the hotel hot tub. It wasn’t 100% but if I took it slow I thought i could get to the first shelter just 2.4 miles away, set up camp and relax the rest of the day. Jane took me to the trailhead and said she’d wait awhile to be sure I was ready. I was a little apprehensive heading back out this morning knowing most of the people would be be far behind me due to them having to get off the trail after the incident yesterday.

As soon as I entered the woods that all went away. It felt so good to be back. I started out climbing steps made of logs, working my way around the roots of a skinny tree, going up a slight incline, and finally leveling off. The level parts were good but the rest.. not so much. The pack weight really affected my movements. I stood there a minute conflicted, thinking what I should do. I knew in the back of my mind that I could not will my knee to stop hurting so I slowly went back down hoping that Jane wouldn’t drive away before I got back out of the overgrown foliage that she couldn’t see through (no phone service at all there). She was there and happy that I came back to the car. I was so frustrated but made the decision to come home and get the MRI that I know I really need.

It was a rainy, cloudy day that resulted in a failed attempt but I have enjoyed catching up with my High School friend! She is one in a million! We saw beautiful vistas going up and down the mountain. I tried to get her to fly up one of those runaway truck ramps they have in Virginia but she wouldn’t do it. Now that would probably have been a good story! Ben picked me up at her house and brought me home after a delicious meal. So here I sit. We talked about my trip so far and what’s been going on at home while I have been gone. I was glad to see him! It’s getting late, so Good Night and Sweet Dreams!