Thursday, April 26, 2012

Snow, ya I said snow. 4-22??

I woke up a few mornings ago at 6 to go to the bathroom and it was chilly out but not too bad, and I went back to sleep. Two hours later I woke up to a frozen winter wonderland, with 7 days until May! I put on my "winter" clothes consisting of a long sleeved poly blend shirt, semi water resistant pants, a fleece, my lightweight rain/water proof jacket, and a hat, and begin my trudge through frozen Virginia. When I started there was an inch of snow and it was coming down, hard. As I continued I came across some section hikers ( only doing a short hike of a small section of the trail ) they told me that they had to turn around because they could not see the trail and that they were going home. I asked if they had any food, and they gave me a few rice and pasta sides, and headed down the mountain. I pressed on and it was difficult to see the trail but I did my best to clear it off for the people behind me. When I did make it to the next shelter I could hardly see the sign or trail so I marked in the snow a big S with an arrow pointing left towards the shelter. Upon arriving there I immediately began searching for anything to burn, and found a paper back book, and an old birds nest, both of which gave birth to probably the biggest fire I have ever made. The wood was stacked to about my shoulders and it was WARM! The next day was still cold but by 3 or 4 you never would have known it had snowed.
Puppy is still doing well, I passed a 300 year old oak, and crossed what is called the dragons tooth definitely the most difficult terrain yet, and it had to be pouring down rain. I'm still loving life on the trail though!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hansel & Gretel

So the puppies from our camp site were gone in the morning when I woke up. I was a little worried because they were so skinny, but I moved on to the next shelter trying to make it in before the torrential rain we all knew was coming. I was telling everyone I passed about the puppies from the night before but no one really believed me. When I arrived at the next shelter I was shocked to see the puppies cowering behind it. As more people arrived they were surprised to see these puppies in the middle of the woods. I felt so bad just leaving them there in the middle of the woods with no food relying on starving hikers to feed them. So I looked at where the next road was and it turned out there was a house across the river that is accessible via zip line 1 mile from the shelter. The dogs you could tell had never known a collar or leash so rather than literally dragging them a mile, Buzzkill and I carried them with our pacs on the mile. Occasionally we would set them down and leave a trial of crumbs for them to follow us down the trail. When we got to the zip line I clipped my pac on and zipped across with the pup in my arms. The rest of the afternoon it rained and we were thankful to be on the captain's back porch picking ticks off the poor pooches. The captain gave them a HUGE bowl of food which the devoured, some water, and said they could sleep in his dog's pen outside. That night Buzzkill decided he would keep Gretel and now we are waiting on Bean and Brian ( now jelly ) to see if they want to take Han. With the temperature dropping to the 30s tonight with a chance of snow I think I'm going to stay another night on the captain's back porch, which we spent this morning cleaning and sweeping up. It wasn't much but it really did feel good to help the captain, who helped us so much. We were able to make collars from some para cord and webbing we had and took both dogs on " walks " which was a little difficult at first but they are catching on quite quickly!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sun sets, & puppies

Today I climbed out of yet another river valley and had an awesome night. Tonight's sun set was like every other sun set, unique. There was a valley that made the hidden valley valley like a trash dump. The green of the fields slightly lighter than the trees on the hills, the trees on the mountain slightly darker. With the mountains behind slowly fading from green to a blue that melted into the purple sky with a setting orange sun. This was only the second sun set I've seen out here but it was the best one ever, and the pictures will never due it justice. You know that happy place you go when your at the dentist and they are drilling your skull? Well mine just changed from a 5am fly fishing trip in South Dakota watching the sun rise, to this. When we got back to camp 2 puppies were sitting near our tents, naturally we gave them food, and they came right over. So now hear I sit next to a roaring fire, a sun set I will NEVER forget, and 2 puppies sleeping at my feet.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Still blown away sometime.

I'm sitting on top of a mountain right now just south of pearisburg, VA drinking a warm beer I've been carrying since the last town, eating a honey bun while the sun warms my back. The view is unbelievable, I'm looking over a small farming valley, listening to the cows moo occasionally.
A few nights ago 8 of us were crammed into a shelter for 6 while it rained ( which we DESPERATELY needed ) And we all had a great time, not one person complained about the rain, the smell, or the size of the roof over our heads. You could not go anywhere else put 8 strangers in a 3 sided " shelter " for 6 who had gone many days, some weeks, without a shower, and have them be civil towards each other. Honestly I don't think 7 of my friends and I could have done it without 1 seriously not 1 negative comment. But here I was with 7 stinky strangers sardined into this hut having a blast, these are my people this is where I belong. No one is fake, those people went back to their cubicles, their comfort zones, being told what to do and when to do it. Everyone who is still on the trail now will make it to Maine barring any unforseen events, an injury, a family emergency, or no one to watch their poor dog. Out here we have all been hurt, wet, questioned why we were still here, but everyone has pushed past that with Kahtadin on their mind and continued North. So while I sit here taking a break enjoying yet another breathtaking view I revel in the fact that out here all you have to be is yourself, and for once that is good enough. There is no pretending to know about shoes, cars, numbers, people, stuff that doesn't really matter in the big scheme of things, there is who you are and that is all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A great 48 hours

3 days ago I rode a pony, the weather was good and I thought everything was hunky doory. Yesterday it was 80 out, I passed by a tiny store and got an ice cream snicker bar, found a great camp site, had a roaring fire, and slept under the stars. Today I woke up to a beautiful sunrise from my sleeping bag, walked 10 miles found a great swimming hole and took a nice break, then it was a very long steep climb from the low river valley to a mountain 4000 ft up with nothing but dry springs, and stagnant ponds. When we got to the top we were exhausted, thirsty, and out of water. There were 2 notes, the first one informed us that the spring at the camp site was dry. The second said: wet, cold, hungry, hot? Our ministry is to help the needy call this number we will pick you up at the next gap. We have hot food, water, showers, laundry, FREE! If Thor and I had had water ie. the springs weren't dry, we would have gone on and camped but they were dry so I now sit in a house owned by a Lutheran church and run by a wonderful couple, June and Peter. I am full, yes I said it Snarf is full, just got out of a hot shower, my clothes are in the washer, I have a dry, comfy, safe place to sleep, will be enjoying a bowl of ice cream when I finish writing this, and June's description of breakfast had my mouth watering when I was eating my dinner! Best of all tomorrow morning I will be dropped off back at the gap with 2 liters of cold water.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The pony Rodeo!

A few days ago I hiked from Damascus to Grayson Highlands in southern VA. The Highlands used to be home to elk and timber wolves but they are extinct now; lucky for me there were still wild ponies around, and I was determined to ride one.
Bo has been taken care of, for the time being, I'm not sure how long that will last but as of right now I'm still headed North.
My Merrell perimeter boots are AMAZING! I've walked nearly 600 miles and they have kept my socks bone dry, except for the torrential storm that literally had me running from the top of a mountain, but everything got wet that day. When they dried out they went right back to being waterproof and perfect. I could not have asked for a better boot!
I got my food situation taken care of thanks to Backpackers Pantry, they were extremely helpful and made it very easy for me to get supplied.
I also want to thank all my friends and family who have been extremely helpful and supportive.
As we got close to the Highlands we saw lots of pony poop and tracks. There were fences around the springs to keep them safe to drink, and lots of talk of ponies but none to be seen. Finally after 3 days of searching we found the elusive wild ponies! They were easy to approach if you had food, they were pretty small but hardy. I picked one out and gave Thor my camera as I mentally prepared for my 5 second ride. It was a wild ride indeed he was just short enough for me to occasionally get a foot on the ground to steady myself, but with nothing to hold on to it was not easy. After gracefully dismounting and landing on my feet Thor presented me with my victorious picture which could not have been better! So my trip continues... for now. To Maine!