Day 70 (7.3 miles)

I am glad I slept in the tent last night, I did cover the end of it with the rain fly before falling asleep otherwise I would have been wet from the dew. I did get up in the middle of the night but the bright moon was about all you could see. I heard Nalgen Ninja and Gary talking at the table so I thought I would get up and start the day. Nalgen Ninja was a long haired, hammock hanging traveling guy from Alabama who once scouted for water for he and his buddies as the streams were toast. He came upon a house, no one was home, and he looked for a faucet but found something better. The people had left out jugs of water, he filled the nine bottles, and toted them back to the campsite, thus his name. He is going to Maine tomorrow to meet up with a buddy and do some hiking up to Mt Katahdin.

Gary and I took our time getting ready, he gave me a freeze dried dinner since he was going home, some cashews and beef jerky. What a guy?! He owns a karate business and is training a guy, who wants to buy it, how to run it. Afterwards he will retire, hike the entire trail, then come back and help out for a little income. He asked if I wanted to start out together, I said sure, he disappeared like a fart in the wind! I wish him well.

The hike was not a very bad one although managing the rocks were getting to my knee as the foot twists and bends, so I just went slower. I almost opted to continue to the next shelter instead of stopping at Mountain Home B &B /Hostel in Front Royal since the hike was going so well, I am glad I didn’t. Everything I owned was smelling foul, not B.O. foul but funky musty foul odor (remember the thunderstorm on the Roller Coaster?). This place is awesome and just off the trail. Scott and Lisa are the best! They have boot driers and I sprayed my poles , pack , etc with Lysol.

I am staying in a cabin built in the mid-1800’s and my roommates are none other than TP and Peeps! They were the two older guys I met going NOBO to Harpers Ferry. It makes me feel slow that they made it there and back and caught up with me! I told TP that and he did say they drove for 15 of those miles so now I don’t feel THAT bad! They go home tomorrow to get back to life in Chapel Hill and Durham. Go Heels! As TP and I sat around a fire pit talking, Lisa brought us each a bucket of Epson salt water to soak our feet in, very refreshing! My poor toes will never be the same!

Scott, who has hiked the trail, drove me to town and dropped me off for resupply and lunch. It is a cool, quaint little town bringing itself back to life. I walked all over and did find me a rain coat so I can donate my failed attempt at a poncho to someone else. Comics, who has thru hiked, was running the little outfitters store and gave me a candy bar. In this heat it won’t last very long! I walked to Burger King to wait for Scott to pick me up and to get a cold drink while right beside the line on a chair was a guy eating their new tacos. I asked how they were, he ignored me, and I decided by the looks of them they may not be tasty. He didn’t seem to mind as he devoured them. I looked over later and he was leaned against the wall, not moving, so was it the tacos or did he just pass out?

I got my clean clothes back and all I could do was sniff them! They have never smelled this good, sadly what I wear tomorrow won’t smell so good after a day of sweating! If the temperatures would drop my hike would be so much easier! A huge thunderstorm just rolled through and am I extra glad I stopped at the Hostel! Asia just came in on her way to NY to train to be a rower; she is from Atlanta. I told her there was lemonade and cookies in the kitchenette, she was happy. Breakfast in the morning will be French toast in the main house dining room, how sweet is that!

I see by the log entry that Twinkle Toes came by here for a rest and some ice cream the other day, he is really moving. The owners, TP, and Peeps also knew the little English woman I passed the other day, her name is Satin. I didn’t even notice but she made her pants out of pieces of satin, resembling maybe a hobo. They had also seen Freckles, who is training now when I saw her to be the fastest 75 year old woman to hike the trail next year. She looked like she is made of the right stuff. I don’t seem to be making very good miles in this heat but I trod along, drinking and wetting my head at every stream. I will be climbing up to 3000 feet tomorrow, long miles, so wish me luck and for cooler weather. Time to hit the hay. Good Night and Sweet Dreams!


Day 69 (11.2 miles)

Two days later and my boots are still wet, at least it’s not soaking my socks. I need to wear those stinky things one more day until I can get to a laundry mat or Hostel. I heard a loud boom in the night, sounded like a gun shot, but heard no noise outside so fell back asleep. I was glad I wasn’t by myself. I had to say goodbye to Matt and Jeremiah (who I have dubbed Flying Squirrel for his acrobatic jump over the snake and that he is fascinated with them.) The trail had its share of ups and downs; I made pretty good time considering the day before while in the Roller Coaster.

I came along several day hikers, remember they smell good, some of them Asian. The older ladies enjoyed talking with me and burst into their language once, probably saying “ the red faced old lady must be crazy!”. I ran into the Asian males and they gave me the stats to this shelter, the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter.

I met Smeed, Jason, and Alarm at the road where you park to hike the trail. I joined two of them at the picnic table for lunch as Sneed explained that he got kicked out of his house for a few days. His sister is getting married and his wife was in charge of the bachelorette weekend party so he needed to be someplace else deciding to get two buddies and hike for a couple of days. Alarm showed up and yes he got his name because alarms don’t phase him and he’s always late. Smeed gave me some pop tarts and Cliff Bars and I was on my way. I was happy for that because my breakfast and snack foods will be gone in the morning. They soon passed me. I arrived at the shelter before my calculated time; I love it when it just appears and me not expecting it so soon. Matt hated leaving today because he wanted to stay here at this shelter for one night too. It is the most wonderful shelter compared to the others. The privy is so clean and not too bad smelling, the shelter is surrounded by grass and best of all it has an outside spring shower!

On the porch, yes porch, are some relaxing chairs. I laid my stuff out on one of the shelter platforms and ran to take my shower to cool off. It has three sides and this was once that I was glad I was alone. They say it is solar heated but that may have lasted 2 seconds but I didn’t care, man was it refreshing! I washed out a couple smelly things and laid them on the railing to dry along with my stinky shoes, socks, and sweaty pants and shirt hoping the sun would help… nope. About 30 minutes later a kid who just graduated from Villanova sat down for a snack. He is meeting his parents in Maine to vacation around the coast; he is looking forward to it. After he left, Gary from Alexandria, VA, showed up for the night. That always makes me feel better. He is tenting with his brand new REI tent, and after getting bit by mosquitos and the fact that the air was blowing from behind the Shelter, I moved my stuff to my tent too.

I forgot it had gotten wet in the thunderstorm sitting in the bottom of my bag, so it got aired out and dried good. I left half of the rainfly off hoping to see some stars later, I will cover the tent before I fall asleep so everything won’t get wet with condensation. I saw several deer again today ( if that’s all I see I will be happy!) Another guy has showed up, not a thru hiker, I could smell. He strung his hammock, took a cold shower and is now eating. Gary has been talking to his wife and texting since he arrived. He wants to attempt the trail when he turns 60 in about 5 years, so he has been hiking as much as he can. He also just passed by my tent after a refreshing very cold shower.

He has one of those noisy sleep pads so I am glad there’s a little distance between us. From the Roller Coaster to here I realized we are on the flight path for Dulles departures. You can hear them all the time. Of course they quit later and the crickets and frogs drown out the occasional one with their lullaby. The sunset is gorgeous but would not make a very good picture, it seems I have been in the interior of these mountains all along, so it’s just pretty red sky through the trees that I see. I will try to stay awake for the star show but I am pretty beat! Good Night and Sweet Dreams!

Day 67 (14.3 miles)

As the sunrise approached, the frogs ended their score leaving only the crickets to finish out the night’s symphony. The birds started their daily chirping letting us know it was time to get moving. I ate some oatmeal and drank water and headed out for hopefully a full day. I scared 2 deer who made a screeching noise like a large bird as they ran away. I don’t think I have ever heard one make a noise. I saw 5 in all today. The low brush was covered in dew and the spiders have their single web spread across the trail for me to be caught in. Rain drops were falling from either the trees with the wind or a little shower, either way it was refreshing.

After two hours, I came upon an old English lady who was finishing up her hike at Harpers Ferry after starting at Springer Mtn. She just wasn’t as fast as she thought she’d be to get to Maine but I applaud her! Freckles, a lady in her late 70’s hiked the trail 5 yrs ago. Jeremiah, 11, and his dad Matt stayed with me at Blackburn last night and caught up when I stopped to eat some food. Also there were two guys just out for the week, I will call them Drinks A lot and Teeth. Drinks A lot says he always carries 4 Liters of water no matter how close the streams are and Teeth, well he said he had the best boss and that he even paid for his dentures! He had much to say but that’s all I heard.

A little rain started falling and then BAM, here came the thunderstorm. No lightening until a little later and I am glad to say I didn’t get struck! The storm felt like at times that it was about 500 feet above me, I don’t think I have heard such cracks of thunder while outside. It rained hard for several hours and my shoes were squishing water, I was soaked. I tried using a poncho this time and it was a complete failure! I have mostly dried out except for my shoes. I did make it partially through the Roller Coaster, this last mountain being a doozy! One rain swollen bridge I came to right before the shelter worried me a bit but I survived!

Jeremiah, Matt and I are in the shelter with another middle aged guy from NY finishing up his section hike. I haven’t gotten his name yet but he wears a sarong and only likes good vibes and fun things on the trail. Another guy is one I hope I do not see again, his cotton shorts were hanging under his belly leaving nothing to the imagination, that and shoes was all he was wearing. He opted to tent, thank goodness! I hope to make another long day tomorrow, hope the storms stay away! The frogs are beginning their song so I will say Good Night and Sweet Dreams!

Day 65 (7.8 miles)

I had my second shower this morning. Hey, when it’s available, take it! I started out with no reservations about my change in plans. I wish I had just planned this from the moment I was released from the doctor, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed Ben’s company on this road trip to places he had been to but was too young to remember. He also got to visit his Uncle Bob and family. We went to Harpers Ferry which is considered the mid point of the trail and visited the ATC Conservatory which is housed there. They were so nice and helpful.

What an eclectic old, little town this is. The streets are cobblestone in most places with houses placed closely side by side up the hilly roads. This is where Lewis and Clark got their best supplies. Ben walked the part of the trail with me that went over the Potomac River (or The Pot-a-Mac that I like to call it!) as a cooling drizzle fell over us. A train trestle lies right beside it and one came rumbling through just as we got off of it. I bet it shook a bit! I said goodbye once again to Ben and started up the trail.

I had planned to go to the first shelter and mileage wise it was doable but eventually the heat was wearing thin on me. I did sweat like a pig which doesn’t bother me but when I feel I am getting overheated, although I am drinking water, it saps my energy. There was only one very small water source, so I finally got to drench my rag in cool water and put on my face and neck. It felt wonderful. There are supposed to be severe thunderstorms tonight so i decided to slip into a Hostel on the trail around 3. It is only my fourth day back so I am okay with that. The trail was not too difficult today and I am sorry to say that I can’t tell you about any hikers I met because I saw zero! On the other hand, I saw two deer that I scared and gave them the trail names of Hansel and Gretel because they are definitely lost since they ran away from the trail.

About a mile further I saw yet another one on the trail who eventually walked away up the trail. The sound of tree frogs took me back home and to my childhood at my aunt’s house on Lake Hartwell. I love the sound! I have completed another state, West By God Virginia! Of course there was no sign nor fan fare, just a very busy road I had to cross with state signs posted left and right. That’s okay. The trail goes through every inch of Virginia it seems so it is pretty long. I will be coming up on what they call the rollercoaster, yeah me! Let’s see what lies ahead. I ate a frozen pizza for dinner and will get breakfast in the morning. Then I will be ready for more uphill in the hopefully semi cooler weather of the morning. The thunderstorms finally did come and with heavy rains and some crazy, bright lightening. It’s like fireworks on steroids, I made a good choice. I am pretty tired now so I will say Good Night and Sweet Dreams!

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!

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!

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!