Posted by: fiddlehead | March 8, 2010

Logs from Appalacian Trail portion of our Triple Crown in One Year attempt 2001/2002

Since many people ask me about this trip that we did 8 years ago in the USA’s 3 longest hiking trails, here are our journal entries for the first leg of that journey: The Appalacian Trail.
We started out from Mt. Katahdin in Maine (northern terminus of the AT) on Oct 14, 2001 and finished this leg on Feb 10, 2002 at Springer Mt. Georgia (southern terminus).
Sorry, the logs are backwards starting at the end.  But the dates are correct.

Feb10
Springer Mountain final arrived.  What a grand finish to such a demanding trail.  It had rained over night leaving a heavy overcast day with mist.  After seven miles we made it.  On top there were a total of  eight including  our selves.  Seven of the eight had 92,000 miles between us.  Know that is some walking.  The list of friends goes like this;  Diamond Dave, Looney, Shirt, Sly, Nimble Wheel Nomad, Fiddlehead, Tom Horn, and myself Pieps.  We partied as hard as eight people in the woods could. We even had some of that Tennessee corn liquor left.  It was hard to say good bye to all of our friend.  Shirt has also left us.  Shirt you are missed.

Feb 09th
Via Diamond Dave:

I came in last night with some much need supplies.  Had a little warm-up celebration at Neals Gap.  Great Weather.  They say they are starting to see more and more people. I  wanted to see what it’s like to hike with the Big Dogs .  I jumped in from Gooch Gap to High Tower.  I stayed with them for maybe 4 miles, but I could see their brakes smoking. They were like horse going to the barn at the end of the day. They were kicking rocks back at me as I labored up the slopes. I looked down and they were gone.  Hay! don’t think I’m pumping these guys up.  If I can do it anybody can.  We worked on the van at lunch, replacing a few ignition parts. Looney took it to the next nights site, and in her words, the van was “responsive and a pleasure to drive.”  Team triple crown is ready to get their road trip on.

Feb 7
From the driver’s eyes:

Drove into Hiawassee yesterday and got a Holiday Inn  Express room…not quite sure what the express was….unless it had something to do with the presence of a coffee maker, refridgerator, microwave, iron, ironing board, phone in the bathroom, hairdryer, pull out couch, two beds, (all in the room), not to mention the pool, Jacuzzi, gym and laundry.  So,  if a person were to take advantage of it all, would it really be an “express” experience??  “GAWD”, what a luxury for Team Triple crown.
Did a little grocery shopping with the boys, sent them on their way at Dicks Creek gap,  spent the day with Tom Horn and Shirt at Unicoi Gap, sent them ontheir way, and  was reacquainted with F and P…looking forward to watching Bob Marley on DVD tonight.  Yup, life is rough for the driver!

All right, I’m back…just finished the Bob Marley DVD….the thought of the night:   Fiddlehead may have to start drinking from a sippy cup soon.  He’s been having problems with spillage as of late.

AND I forgot to mention this before, but yesterday…I found out that my cat Emma, who escaped the night before I came out on this trip was found, and my wallet that I left on top of my car as I left a gas station is safe and sound at the Kernersville Police station.  So…good vibes are flowing.

Feb 6
Well I failed to write a log for yesterday, so I will do so now.  The 5th we hiked 17 miles to end at Deep Gap or so we thought.  We were to meet the van at the gap for the end of the day.  Well the van was not there.  We built a fire and hung out for an hour before heading down the road the only way out via road.  After walking on the road it was obvious that no cars had been up the road in some time.  We walked an extra 5 miles to get to a gate were the van was waiting for us.  It end much better with a camp fire and banana boats.
Today started with the birthday of Robert Nesta Marley.  It started snowing around 6 o’clock in the morning.  It snowed about 3 inches before it turned to rain.  Today has ended with a hotel room at the Holiday Inn with a Jacuzzi.  We also hit the all you can eat as well, with one planned for tomorrow.

Feb 4
Pieps here writing tonight.  What a sucky  day today was.  It all started with a phone call to AT&T.  Do I need to say anything else.  They want me to verify an address with two forms of I.D.  Well I can not do that.  The price for being homeless “priceless”.  I told them the whole list of general delivery address.  Well enough of that.
We meet Tom Horn yesterday.  What a great person.  He is out on his yearly winter hiking trek.  He told us he has hike about 22,000 miles on the A.T.   Now that is some walking.  We all got our super bowl game on last night as well. With the aid of  some white lighting and cold beers.  What a game that was.
It has turned cold fast.  Not three days ago it was  65 and full sun for us in the Smokies.  Tonight it is already down to 22 degrees and it is only 8:00 pm.  Sure do love my 40 below zero sleeping bag.

Jan 31st
Here at Fontana Dam after my biggest day so far,  40.3 miles today!    From Newfound Gap today, I didn’t see one hiker or ranger or signs of any.   Hard to believe the Smokies could be 50-60 degrees on the last day of January and nobody out here hiking it besides us.     I guess it was 9,700 feet of climbing today and 13,000 feet of descent.   My calves are a bit sore but not too bad.  I’m getting in shape!    Again with the warm weather, we got the spring like smells even though it still looks like winter.     Enjoyed the free showers here at the Fontana Dam Visitor Center.

Jan 30th
What an awesome 2 days in the Smokies!    I’ve hiked here 4 times and every other time it was either raining or snowing.  And that was in April and May!     We’ve had 60 degree temps and clear blue skies and no one on the trail.   Except for a pleasant surprise running into Big Jon and Gourmet Dave this afternoon near Charles’ Bunion.   They came down here from the Ruck to hike about 130 miles and saw us on their first day.     We have been experiencing what seems like spring days with the smells of decaying earth, and new plants.    It just doesn’t’ seem to make sense that it is still January!      Stayed in Cosby Knob Shelter last night with the shelter mice and built a nice fire inside.    It sure has been a pleasant journey through the 1st half of the Smokies.    Also, we saw our 1st northbounder that started this year,  a guy named David and he is here at Newfound Gap eating some food with us.   He started Jan 1st.

Jan 28th
Well, we did our 35 mile day coming into Hot Springs.   Twas  a beautiful day and mostly downhill at the end when the legs started getting tired.   Yesterday we took off at Sly’s house in Black Mt.  and watched some football     Looney came back as our driver and we said goodbye to Sly and Cheryl.    Had a great time with them and lots of stories.   Now today we hiked to Brown’s Gap from Hot Springs (23 miles)  and drove back to Max Patch to watch the full moon come up and take some video. (Pieps is actually breaking out the tripod!) Today was in shorts and shortsleeves all day as it was in the 60s.  We stopped so many times today to enjoy the smell of spring, and the beautiful views from the balds.

Jan 25th
After Beauty Spot Bald camp,  we woke up to rain, rain , rain.   Hiked in all day Wed. and then partied with Beer Styk and Nathan in Johnson City, TN.   Woke up to rain again and took a day off at Sly’s house in Asheville.     Felt Great.   Now we are camping at Devil’s Fork Gap in NC after a 21 mile day from Spivy Gap.   Beautiful day over Big Bald and had great views, lots of pictures.  Met our 1stsouthbounder today;  DJ.  He’s been on and off the trail since May and we showed him how Team Triple Crown does lunch.  In style!    They seem to have been working on the road at Sam’s Gap for decades now.    We’re hoping for a big mileage, nice day all the way to Hot Springs tomorrow.   We shall see!   fh

Jan 22nd
22 miles today to Beauty Spot and an awesome spot it is!   An eventful day as Sly, our present support driver,  was not at the prearranged spot and as we went on, later in the day, he showed up on the trail, northbound!    Said the road was all ice and he couldn’t get it either up or down.   We had forgotten to tell him about the chains.   So we had to hike down the mtn. to the van and put on the chains,  then he drove to Beauty spot where we met him for a beautiful sunset and view up here.   The trail has about 2-3 inches of snow on it and much has melted and frozen again and is black ice.   It’s a challenge but fun.

Jan 21st
Got up to rain this  morning at 5:30 AM.    I had a rough day.     I  took the old AT by mistake and got lost.   Then hit the Sugar Hollow road and got attacked by the pack of dogs there.   3 were rottweilers, and 3 or 4 others all were loose.   They circled me and all I could do was pick up a very rotten stick and acted super tough with it.    Took a while but I walked backwards until I got away.   Talk about scared!!!    Then while I was still shook up,  I went the wrong way and went about 4 miles before I realized it!    Makes for a long day.   But the afternoon was so beautiful with Little and Big Hump and Round Bald Mt.  With about 4 inches of snow and ice on the trail, they were truly spectacular!   Got lots of pictures and finally made it to Carvers Gap about 5: 30 PM.   Long Day but was pleasantly surprised to find “Beer Styck”   (thru hiker we met in Maine while still with Boss Hogg)     So, I’ve got to go party, later, fh

Jan 18th
Said goodbye to Jack and Jan this morning and headed back out to the trail at TN rt 91.  It was so good hangin out with them and enjoying all their hospitality!   It snowed last night and early this morning so we had about 2 inches of snow until about noon.   Turned out to be a beautiful day as we came in to the Watauga Dam section of the trail.    Blue sky, clear,  great views of the lake and dam.   Saw some green grass today so you know we’re in the south as it’s the middle of winter up north in Yankee country.  Going to Dennis Cove and a hostel there to meet “Slyman”  as he will  be our next driver.  fh

Jan 17th
We’re here at Jack’s.  (insufferable drunken hog)  and Jan’s for our 3rd night.    Took a day off yesterday after hiking into Damascus and seeing Lone Wolf, Skid, Jack and Looney all at Dot’s!     good to be here after such a long state.    Today we entered Tennessee and got styled out 3 different places on the trail.    Lone Wolf and Gypsy met us at our mile 11 with treats this morning, then Looney met us at mile 14 with lunch and then Jack hiked into the shelter and had a fire and second lunch ready when we got there.  Damascus is a great trail town and we haven’t been disappointed at all.   Saw old friends, resupplied,  got on line, partied and hiked into  a new state.   It’s all good, fh

Jan 14th
Today marks the completion of 3 months on the trail and one day away from finishing VA!    Also we are now ¼ of the way through the year.    And what a great day it was.  One of my favorite sections of the trail south of the whites, today we hiked through Grayson Highlands State Park with it’s wild ponies and western style terrain with open views throughout the day!     Very beautiful although the pictures didn’t come out too good today because it was a cloudy day.      But no complaints for sure!     Did the side trail to the top of Mt. Rogers to bag the highest peak in Va.    26 miles total and I’m tired as we did our share of climbing today rising to the high point at 5,780 feet on my altimeter.     Looking forward to Damascus and a badly needed day off tomorrow.   fh

Jan 13th
Well,  Bucky and Bearcharmer Sue went home after Looney got here.   We were camped near Bland , Va.    They were great supporters and saw us everyday on the trail as they did a lot of hiking while they were out here with us.     So, we hiked 26 miles that day, then 19 yesterday to get in early to watch football at Atkins where we got a motel room.   Watched the Eagles kick Tampa Bay in the 1st round of the playoffs!    Left early this morning and hiked 26 miles past the Mt. Rogers Forest Service building and new shelter (only people with permits can stay there,  doesn’t make much sense to me to put up what must be a $20,000 shelter and then not let hikers stay there unless they can procure a permit somehow)   who knows what lurks in the minds of these people who make those rules!!!     It was  a beautiful day but cold, with snow on the ground but deep blue sky.

Jan 09
Here we are at Va rt 606 near Dismal falls after doing 23 miles today that felt like 28.    Left Pearisburg at 7 and climbed Angels rest with good views looking back at Pearisburg.  Shirt says:  “when your shoes have more than 2500 miles on them, they’re not gonna grip very good on the snow!”       The snow was such a consistency today that Bearcharmer built a snowman.   We met up with her and Bucky for lunch near the tower and view.   Met a fat guy at Wapiti shelter who told us about a murder there in the 80’s  (and other things)     Twas a beautiful day and the snow has mostly melted now.     Finished the day off with fiddlehead’s favorite meal:  curry chicken with rice and corn while listening to Pink Floyd with my awesome friends.    Hot Chocolate and chocolate Christmas candy’s  mm  mm good,        can’t get no better than this!!! fh

Jan 08
Here in Pearisburg Va after 27 miles.   Spent a cold night up on Salt Sulphur Turnpike.   It was windy and blowing snow and ice all night and we were glad to be in the van while Bearcharmer Sue and Bucky slept in their tent!    They are hardcore!!!    The hike today was all in the snow and very very scenic!    Beautiful white twigs and branches all day with blue skies.   Met up with Bucky and Sue at Rice Field Shelter where we had incredible views.    Got to town hoping to go to the hostel but found out it is closed for the winter.   Once again, we find an AT classic spot closed for the season on us.   We did see 2 other hikers at shelters that they had slept at last night.   It’s good to finally see other hikers out here.   That’s 3 thru-hikers and 2 overnighters in the last 4 days!

Jan 07
It was a snowy 25 miles.  The snow is only about two inches deep, so walking and running was not a problem.  The feet were however wet and cold.  Yesterday the 6th was a zero day meaning we hiked zero miles.  Stayed with Purple Haze and watched football all day.  The day   off was also a snowy and rainy day, so setting around doing nothing while the weather was foul was extra nice.  Purple Haze is a fellow thru hiker who hiked the A.T. in 95.
We all are having thoughts of warmer spots (i.e. New Mexico)  soon enough.

Jan 05th
Hiked 23 miles today to rt. 621 where we are at the closest point to Blacksburg, Va where my friend: Purple Haze lives, so we are heading there for the night.  Came over Dragons Tooth this morning on a beautiful day!     Saw some hunters who hunt with dogs for bear.  They were pretty excited about a bear they were after.      Saw 2 northbounders today:  Oato and Sy  (sp?)      talked to them for a long time.   They had southbounded in 96 and now with they’re nov. start,  should once again see practically no other hikers out here.   Great day!

Jan  4th
After enjoying and AYCE dinner last night and the Shoney’s AYCE breakfast this morning,  we slowly climbed up the mtn this morning to Tinker cliffs and MacAfee Knob.    It was a beautiful day, warmer,  bright blue skies,  less wind, with no pollution to hamper the views.     Saw Bearcharmer and Bucky as they hiked about 10 miles after moving our van for us.    Took lots of pictures today on Tinker and MacAfee.  Now we are camped and cooking our own food again.   With Joyce gone and the restaurants behind us,  it’s back to hamburger helper tonight.    Everything was great today except Pieps still hasn’t paid off the bet he lost to me on the championship game last night.   Oh well,  you can’t have everything.      fh

Jan 03rd
Hiked 28 miles today in some cold weather and about an inch of snow.   Shirt is getting in shape pretty quickly for being off so long.   Buck and Bearcharmer met us at the 3rd shelter today (Fulhart Knob Shelter)   And we finally met our first northbounder!   A guy named “Frosty”  who expects to get to Katahdin in April!    We don’t understand how he could get through the whites at that time,  but,  good luck to him!       So we enjoyed a quiet (no traffic at all)  hike today parrelleling the Blue Ridge Parkway.    The wind’s have picked up and we have a wind chill now that’s bitter.    But, we are in a motel tonight in Cloverdale watching the Championship NCAA football game.   Pieps went to Nebraska but they are getting hammered.      Enjoyed and AYCE at the Country Kitchen.  Looking forward to the AT famous “Shoney’s AYCE”  Breakfast Buffet tomorrow.

Jan 01
I guess it’s been a few days again since I wrote.   We are now in the middele of VA.  We crossed  the James River this morning on the new million dollar bridge.  Can you believe the Federal government would spend that kind of money on hiker trash?  It was nice.  The weather is cold and the  river was partially frozen.  Yesterday being New Years Eve we spent the night in a hotel and throw back a couple of cold ones in a nice heated room.  We faild to stay awake for the midnight dropping of the ball.  It is hard to stay awake after the sun sets.  Joyce has been treating us right.  She always has hot lunches ready along with hot water for tea, and for that very reason I must end this log.

Dec 29th
Twas a long night last night till we finally got  “30 seconds” here.   We couldn’t believe the size of this 5’2” girl’s pack!   It’s the biggest pack we’ve ever seen.  I don’t know how these people can carry a pack this size.   Anyway,  it was really windy, last night,  so much so that Pieps’ tent pole broke.    Had a big breakfast this morning and headed out early and hiked past Rusty’s cut off, over the mtn and down to route 56 at the Tye river where we are camping.   We’re ready for the BIG climb tomorrow that’s called the “Priest”!     Cold day with lots of wind, snow in the air, it seems like winter.   But we can’t complain after all the unseasonably warm weather we had thru southern New England to Pennsylvania.    It’s all good.

Dec 28th
Well, our 2nd day back with Shirt and he was the 1st one in today.    We are out of the Park.    Have a little saga going on with the “Dog” (Greyhound)    But , for now, we are camped near the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Blackrocks.    Cooking dinner waiting for another call from our friend who is riding Greyhound for the 1st time and is not with her luggage, not near where she’s headed,   not getting here on the correct day,  and , well to tell you the truth,  we have no idea where she is anymore.       More on that later……………
Did 24 miles today and went on a hunt for mail, buses, friends, backpacks and the van!  Good to be out of the park though and camping again near where we start and end the day.    Rules, rules, rules have turned us off from the beauty that comes with the park.

Dec 27
Sorry, I haven’t done the log for about 3 or 4 days now.   We’ve been home for Christmas.     Drove home on the 23rd, and chilled out on the sofa watching football for a few days.    Then on Christmas Eve, the parties started   we ate lots of great  food, saw lots of old friends,  (my whole family was home)   Had a big party on Christmas night at my house and woke up with big hangovers but tons of leftover food and headed back down here to the Shenendoah Nat. Park where it’s cold again.   But we have “Shirt” back with us again.   He decided this was better than working so he came back out and met us here yesterday.    Hiked about 26 miles today to break him back in properly.   One more day and we’ll be out of this park.   The rules are getting longer and longer and I can’t even remember them all anymore.    So, we’re back, with Joyce driving and the 3 of us hiking together again.    We have so much food in the van right now.   I think everyone we visited gave us Christmas cookies and we are lovin THAT!       Good to be back.  fh

Dec 21st
Just finished our biggest day so far;  39 miles from just north of the Shenendoah Park, to Hawksbill Gap!    And on the winter solstice.   So  our longest day was done on the shortest day, if that makes any sense.     It was a ccold day for this first day of winter.  Ice on the rocks again.  We haven’t seen THAT since the whites.   But it was blue skies and maximum visibility although very windy with bitter cold temps.
This Park has some strange rules which is going to make things tough for us.  There are only 4 access points in this 107 miles and they are all closed except from 8 AM to 5 PM every day.   I saw an albino deer among the many deer in the park.   I stopped counting at 30 and that was around 10 am.    So we are going to a Motel as Joyce is coming to run support for a while and Rainman and Bridget are heading home for the Holidays.   Once again we thank our support people so much.  We couldn’t do it with these big miles without them in this weather.   So we are now about a week ahead of our schedule although we will be taking 2 days off for Christmas at my house.   fh

Dec 19th
We’ve been havin so much fun, I haven’t written in a few days.   Hiked into Maryland on Sunday and got done early so we could go watch football at a bar called “Blondie’s” near Pen Mar.   20 miles Sunday and 22 Monday into Harpers Ferry where we went to the ATC headquarters and got our picture taken by Wendall who was volunteering that day.  Tried to see Brian King and Lori but they were too busy.    Had a great stay with Rerun who has hiked the AT at least 2 times and maybe 3!   He is now 83 years old and tried again in 99 only to stop in New England after he thought he was getting in peoples way.  Then yesterday, (Tuesday)  we hiked into Harper’s Ferry and stopped to do some shopping at the Outfitter there and hiked on to do another 22 miles.
Today, we did about 23 to Sky Meadow’s State Park just after Ashby Gap.  Rainman and Bridgett are cooking us beef stew in the dutch oven tonight.   Her brother drove her all the way down here from NH and then turned around and drove home.   We hear that there’s lots of snow now up there and it’s nice and warm here.   Glad we’re southbound.

Dec 15th
Hiked 25 miles today to this dirt road (Swamp Road)  about 5 miles south of Caledonia state park here in Pa.     Easy hiking again today and it’s so easy to tell it’s a Saturday as we saw at least 10 day hikers.    The sun was out all day but the temps dropped about 20 degrees from yesterday.   The rain filled the creeks and springs and Rainman cooked us chicken and broccoli and mashed potatoes.    It doesn’t get much better!     Last night we enjoyed Shawn’s company at the Iron Masters Hostel in Pine Grove Furnace so we all watched our Led Zeppelin DVD with some Pete’s Wicked Ale !    Should cross the Mason-Dixon line tomorrow.

Dec 14th
Here at Pine Grove Furnace State Park after 20 miles in the rain today.    Gonna call it a day.   It’s nice to have an experienced AT hiker for our driver with Rainman.   He meets us a few times a day and has the place checked out for water, camping, people, etc.     PA needs the rain so we ain’t complainin!  It’s Friday night and our friends from York may be over to greet us.   Hope so.   The Delorme map program we’re using is working great.    Rainman’s been experimenting and we’re getting profile maps, (of the AT)  distance between any points we enter.     The hiking is easy.   It’s all good.  fh

Dec 13th
Hiked 25 miles from the “Doyle”  to the ATC regional office here in Boiling Springs, Pa.
Last night we had a nice visit from Yahtzee who was with us in Maine.  It was great to see him and tell the Boss Hogg /war stories.    He finished his AT hike a month ago and is missing the trail big time.    Thanks for the Yuengling , Yahtzee! Easy hiking here in Pa and the flatlands of the Cumberland Valley.    Saw Rainman at 13 miles for some lunch and finished our 25 by 2 PM!   Drove to our friend’s Deb and Gene Galbraith in Holly Springs.   Deb is a massage therapist and Joyce called in an order for a massage for each of us.    So, not only did she cook us a great dinner, but also worked most of the evening on our muscles!    Had a great stay.   Life is good.

Dec 12th
Here in Duncannon Pa after a few days of setting up shuttles and then hiking and heading back home afterwards.    But now we are on the road again with Rainman driving for us so, it’s no wonder that we find ourselves at the “Doyle” Hotel here today having a few beers.    Met a northbounder in the bar there too.   Amazing how many people we see off the trail but haven’t seen many at all on the trail.    Anyway,  Rainman had some problems yesterday driving down from NH and Hoffy has once again saved the day!    Rainman broke down about 8 miles from our exit on I81 and got towed into St. Clair and Hoffy’s to get his wheel bearing fixed.    We owe a lot to our mechanic.   Now he’s even keeping our support crew in tune and running again.    So, we have the woods back to ourselves again and it’s nice!     An easy 17 today as we got a late start, but the miles should pick back up tomorrow.   fh

Dec 10th
Haven’t written in a few days because we’ve been HOME!   Got to Eckville and Lazee’s house on Wed.   Had a few beers and stayed there.   Then we hiked to Port Clinton and had the biggest cheese steak I’ve ever had there.  So, we went back that night with 11 friends and had a big dinner.   They sure give you HUGE portions.     Lots of hunters in the woods, so we took the next day (sat) off.    Yesterday we had a few friends: Woody and Shmitty hike with us between Port Clinton and 183.   They tired quickly but did good.   Now that we are home,  so many people seem to be trying to outdo each other and bake us cakes and goodies.   We are trying to eat it all but it’s getting tough.   The refrigerator here is so full and we must leave here for good after tomorrow.      Rainman is coming tomorrow to drive for a while.   That’ll be fun as we’ve hiked lots of miles together.    Can’t wait.

Dec  5th
We’re here at Lazee’s place after hiking 20 miles today and 25 yesterday with Larry (Mr. Blister)  driving the van.   He cooked us a big dinner in Wind Gap and then we went to my buddy Joe’s house (after he spotted us on the I80 bridge over the Delaware river the other day)   Joe cooked Thai food for us but gave us some terrible news:  Gelzen (our Sherpa from Nepal)  was turned back by immigration at the NYC airport and sent back home to Nepal.     It’s been a rough one to handle and I’ve certainly been contemplating the problems this causes all day.    It’ll be tough to do much from the trail.    Anyway,  we’re near my home and hangin out at Lazee’s waitin for him.   The trail is rocky but relatively flat so the big miles are pretty easy.   Water is becoming a problem though as most of the springs are dry.    We see there’s a southbounder one day in front of us,   it would be nice to see one but, tomorrow we’re planning a day off at my house with some more work needed on the van.     Big Bear came for Larry today so he’s helped us move 3 times now.     What would we do without our friends?    Oh yeah,  today the temps were in the high 60’s.   It even smelled like springtime out there in this crazy December!

Dec 3rd
We’re here with Larry “Blister” in Wind Gap, PA.   Larry’s cooking us a big dinner with mashed potatoes with garlic butter and cream, roasted chicken, 3 kinds of sweet corn, mixed, apple cider and for dessert, a huge cake (pound)   !   It just keeps getting better!   Nice easy ridge walk hiking today.  This is actually the 1st place I ever hiked on the AT. Back when I was about 13 years old with the Boy Scouts.   I bet I was carrying a heavier pack back then.    Saw my buddy Joe on the bridge as we were walking across this morning.   (how wild is that?)     Good to be in PA.   Life is good. fh

Dec 1
Said goodbye to Gazelle and aTiff this morning after a BIG breakfast  after last night’s AYCE (Chinese)    Great visit and now they are moving our van to Del. Water Gap.   So today’s hike was 28 easy miles finishing up NJ.    What a beautiful day with the unbelievable 60 degree weather.   It brought out the people though today.   Must have seen 50 people on the trail today.   Nice ridge walk and another state down.    We are feeling like we need a day off .  I think it’s been since mid  Vermont  since we had our last 0 mile day.   So, tomorrow is going to   be low mileage with a day off soon.    We are getting the cooler and cupboards stocked almost everyday with all of our NJ friends.  Thanks so much.

Nov 30
Made it to Culver’s Gap in NJ after 20 miles yesterday and 25 today although it felt like more as we hitchhiked last night to a motel to watch the football game as Kansas City (Pieps’ hometown)  vs.  the Philadelphia Eagles.    So we made our bets and got a room.   We finally got some rain today as we got on some ridge walking and the rocks are slippery.   I fell twice on the same spot of my hand.      Mr. Blister is here with homemade pizza and we are going to Gazelle’s house for the night.      Almost to PA.   Feelin Good!

Nov 28th
Just said goodbye to Big Bear and Mr. Blister after they moved our van today and came out to see us.   (PCT 96 buddies)    This is a great way to see many of your old friends.     So we’ve got full cupboards and many choices for what we eat.  Life is good.   Anyway,  25 tough NY miles today .    Camped here about 6 miles after the Greenwood Lake section.  A place called Longhouse Rd.        Sore knees for me today,  the 1st time that’s happened since VT.
Yesterday we camped with Scott and Ann Hoff,  our mechanic, who came up to do some adjustments on the van.   We owe him so much as our engine blew up 10 days before this trip started and he put the new one in!!!    Now he drives up to check on it and us.    So 25 miles yesterday, and 25 more today.

Nov. 27
Today we hiked/ran 25 miles.  No records were set until we got into camp.  The trail became rocky and have been told that it will stay rocky.  The trail is currently crossing ridges instead of  following it.  So it is a lot of up and down.  Scott and Annie Hoff came out and joined us at Harrimen State Park here in New York, which we are only about 35 miles form the city.  Scott fixed the small van problem we have been having so the space ship should be in good working order.  We were also joined by Big Bear who will be moving the van along with Mr. Blister.  The records that were set last night were the three Yuengling beers FiddleHead and I drank.  For some reason people think we are drinking a lot of beers.  We are not.  Thanks Scott, Annie, Big Bear, and Mr. Blilster.

Nov 26th
Left John and Patty’s this morning after getting them to wake up at our usual 5 AM reveille.   Twas a great stay with lots of: food, hot water,  warm beds, football, and great hospitality.     I forgot how nice NY is on the AT.
Yesterday we got John to come out and hike with us.   He was surprised at how nice his surroundings are having moved to Pawling only 6 months ago.   He led most of the day and surprised  us at how fit he was.   We’ve been out here 42 days now with only 3 days off and he kept up with us.
Today was full of lakes, viewpoints, and oak trees,   yet not many people out here this close to NY city.    We did 26 miles to S. Highland Rd.  where we are camped.   Looking forward to seeing some old friends tomorrow.

Nov  24th
We’re here at our friends house ;  John and Patty Branham’s here in Pawling NY.   Hiked 19 miles by 11AM today because it was raining.    So, we didn’t see a whole lot today except a group of about 15-20 people hiking in the worst part of the rain.   Couldn’t figure that one out.   But we entered NY state today.    Another one bites the dust although Conn. Was very good to us.   We had our speed hike with Ed Kostak,  thanksgiving dinner,   a great visit with the gamemaster; Campfire, and now we’re staying in a beautiful house with our friends from PA who now live here.

Nov 23rd
We’re here with an old hiking friend:  Campfire in New Milford, Ct.   Took a short day after our Thanksgiving dinner.   Only hiked 12 miles today and came to get cleaned up.  Another beautiful day in Conn.     Joyce met us after the river walk and hiked with us.  Saw the website today with the new pictures.   Awesome.    We never know which pictures Boss Hogg is going to put on there until we see them and are usually pleasantly surprised.   Thanks again to our webmaster Boss Hogg.   And all of you who are signing in with support on our message board.    Just when we are wondering how we are going to get the van moved for the next state,  we get messages from friends in that exact area volunteering to help out.    The hiking is the easy part.    No really, we are so thankful to everyone for helping out.

Nov 22nd
Thanksgiving Day!
3 days have passed since I’ve written and it’s getting nicer and nicer the further we go south.    From Tyringham,  we had rain in the morning so I didn’t bring the camera.  Then after trying to have lunch at the bar at rt 7,  (closed on Tuesdays)   we ended up doing 28 by 4pm staying at the picturesque Glen Brook Shelter!     A bit of snow on Everett and into Conn.      Then Ed Kostak  (set the new record for hiking the long trail in 4 ¾ days)  came out and moved the van for us.    Then this morning after camping with us, he hiked 14 miles to Cornwall Bridge with us.   We moved a lot faster today for some reason.   Cornwall Bridge was where we rendezvoused with Joyce who drove up from PA this morning after cooking us an amazing Thanksgiving Dinner complete with all the works!   Turkey, filling, corn, biscuits, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and soon dessert!   Anyway, it’s been one incredible day here in Connecticut along the Housitonic river.

Nov 19th
Stayed in Kay Wood shelter last night aprox. 3 miles south of Dalton Mass.   Rainman and Bridgett and Shirt moved the van for us to here at Tyringham road.   48 miles in 2 days.    I gotta tell ya,   we noticed a big difference from Vermont to Mass:  1st there’s blue sky vs. clouds almost all the time (so far)   2nd,  within a mile of entering mass, we saw our first rhododendrums.   So, the alpine plants are gone and we’re seeing oaks and rhodos, etc.   3rd,  it’s warmer here,  much warmer.    We’re down to shorts and tee-shirts today and had our first shower from the van since northern maine back in mid-oct.    Also, the terrain is definitely  easier,  we did 24.5 today before 3pm!    But the hiking is not so easy as all these oaks drop lots of leaves over the rocks.   I fell hard today on my hip.    So, Shirt went home to make some money so he can continue and now it’s just the 2 of us.    Our friend Ed Kostak is moving the van tomorrow for us and we’re looking forward to Thanksgiving coming up in a few days.   We’re starting to eat like thru-hikers!

Nov 17th
Watched the Leonid Meteor Shower kick off this cold November morning.  A beautiful day for our last day in Vermont. Several  hunters out this morning along the trail. An easy rolling trail all the way to Massachusetts.  Rainman moved the van to Mount Greylock and we will see him again this evening. Nice pools along Sherman Brook which we followed into the town of North Adams.  The climb out of town was a steep one up the shoulder of Greylock . At one lookout a glider sailed by close enough to get a good look at the pilot.  As planned we met Rainman  at Notch Rd. and had a few snacks and hot drinks. We all piled in his van and went to the summit since it was a beautiful blue sky day to see our last weeks route and the upcoming trail. No camping here so we went  back down the mountain and out of the preserve. Rainman cooked up steaks for us. He’s been to see us in four states now and really taken care of us. We are looking forward to tonight’s meteor shower peak and if they don’t lock the gate we’ll be going back to the summit sometime around 3am

Nov 16th
Here at Rt. 9 near Bennington, VT.  after  2 days of 20 miles each from Manchester where Karine dropped us off.    Easy hiking and bit variety in shelters.   Spruce Peak was an enclosed cabin with woodstove,   and Kid Gore and Canawaugagwa were tiny, rustic cabins built before WWII!      Ready for another state tomorrow.   Slept at Story Spring Shelter which was visited by a pack of coyotes around 9 pm last night.     The “Shithouse door”  was lit around 6.     Now we’re hoping to see Rainman again tonight as he usually comes out to camp with us on Fridays and then moves the van.    The miles are getting easier but the days shorter.    Lovin it!   fh

Nov 14th
Here at Bromley where Blister Sister helped us put our van this morning.    Slight drizzle,  easy day:  only 17 miles.   We’re not making big miles right now, but having lots of fun and stylin out at Blister Sister’s house every night.    We call it resting up for when we do have a driver again.    Boss Hogg says he is coming back to help as is Joyce for Thanksgiving.    Saw a bull moose today.   1st one I’ve seen in VT.   the heater was on at the warming hut at Bromley peak.  Nice.   Looking forward to seeing Rainman again this weekend.   Moving the van ourselves tonight and using Blister Sister’s truck.  Thanks again.      fh

Nov 12th
Sitting here at Magic Mt. Taking a day off.    Came over Killington yesterday with about 4-5 inches of snow.    17 mils yesterday to Clardendon.     It’s been cold and now it’s hunting season in VT.    we heard a bear was shot near us from a hunter on a 4 wheeler all dressed in orange.   We saw 2 hikers in the last 2 days.   That’s pretty rare except when we realized it was a weekend.     Blister Sister is sure taking care of us here with a big home cooked dinner last night complete with apple pie ala mode!      So, it’s football and watching the snow flurries from a warm spot instead of hiking in it.    Seeing the website for the 1st time in a while.   Great job Boss Hogg!    The whites look very arduous  with all the snow.   The deepest snow was on our climb up to Moosilauke.     fh

Nov 11
Today was a short day.  We did 15 miles and they felt great.  Yesterday (nov 10)  was a day  off or a zero day.  Let me tell you now there is nothing better then setting around and eating, along with some Monday Night Football.  Blister Sister has put us up for a couple of nights while we hike.  The hot showers and the warm house is out of  this world.  Blister Sister is a hiking friend of the three of us from the PCT and the AT.   Thanks Sister.
The days have been in the mid 30’s  and the lows in the low 20’s to upper teens.  The 15 miles today came easy.  We had not had a day off for about 10 days now and the body was screaming for a day off.

Nov 9th
Came into Hanover NH yesterday after 17 miles from the DOC skyway.    Cool weather. Great for slow jogging.    So, we hit the big town, checked email’s at the college, found Baltimore Jack.    Went to his place and got cleaned up and met his landlord: Dave.  Good guy with lots of stories  Went back to town for pizza and beer.    Today we got those guys up early  (5:30AM)   to say goodbye and hit the trail on a windy day.  Easy terrain here in Vermont after NH’s tough mtns.    Nice fields,   saw a northbounder about to finish today.   First thru hiker we’ve seen in about 10 days?     Hiked 20 today to Vt rt. 12 where we are going to camp.

Nov 7th
Left Big Jon and Rhia at the “Hiker Welcome” in Glencliff early this morning and climbed Mt. Cube and Smarts Mt.    Snow above 2000′.    Very windy and cold on top of Smarts  but we met Shirt up there.   Descended to Lyme-Dorchester road where we camping.    20 miles today and finished by 4pm after a late start.   So the miles come much easier since the whites.   Saw our first hunter in the woods.  I guess he was hunting deer although we haven’t seen one yet in over 400 miles now.    I doubt he’ll have much luck.       Tomorrow should bring us to Hanover and the Vt. border.

Nov 6th
Here in Glencliff NH, after another snow day.   Coming over Moosilauke today with over a foot of snow and 50-60 mph winds.  Pieps says it was full-on up there.   Hiked 15 miles total.   After yesterdays 8-10 inches of fresh snow, we are a bit worn out.   Looking forward to having dinner with Big Jon and Rhia tonight at the “Hiker Welcome” hostel.  Pieps says it was a big snow day with drifts up to 3 ft.   near the top we thought we saw someone elses track but after following them for a while, realized they were fresh moose tracks up there.    Crazy moose is all I can say.

Nov 4th
Here we are at Franconia Notch after some tough, but beautiful miles over the Franconia range.   Left Rainman and co. early yesterday morning and after some awesome views from zealand peak lookout,  continued up to Garfield ridge with all the weekenders.   About 12 people spent Sat. night in tents while we had the shelter and a fire.     Early this morning, Lafayatte was covered in ice and when we got to the top,  we found 4 French Canadians who spent the night there.    The sun burnt through while we were up there and it was another great day above treeline.     2 more days in the whites and then things should ease up a bit.

Nov 2nd
Just finished out marathon hike over mt . Washington!    26 miles from Pinkham notch to here at Crawford notch.   And 260 yds up the hill to the van makes it a marathon distance!    Shirt moved the van and then hiked all the way up to mt. Wash. too.  We met right near the top.   Then we cruised down some tough trail to get here just at dark.  Had some great weather for Nov. though.   A bit windy but relatively warm.   Saw about 6 other hikers in those 26 miles.   None near Washington though.   Rainman is supposed to meet us here but hasn’t arrived yet.    Bridgett is cooking dinner but we may start cooking something ourselves as we are quite hungry, tired, sore, and just plain worn out.
This is a 2 day log as yesterday we took a day off and didn’t write anything.   Spent most of the day with Pieps’ friends:  Bob and Jen who live in Maine but not far.   They have a lot of dogs.  (Sled dogs)    After the 21 miles across the Carters and then with Mt. Wash. coming up,  we were glad it snowed so we had an excuse for a rest.    I’m so glad we waited as it would’ve been tough in all the snow that was up there yesterday.  Today most of it melted.

Oct 31
Went to town yesterday  and shopped.  Gaiters, water bottle, mittens, for me.  Ate at Burger King,  which really sucked.   We’ve been eating good , cooking in the van when it’s cold and outside when nice.     Today was a classic day with all the carter’s, wildcat, moriah,  and all the rest.    Great views all day.   We kept thinking ; maybe we should’ve climbed wash. today!    The hiking is great.    Nobody out here but us.   Except in carter notch hut,  it was crowded and hot.     Tomorrow is the big day.    The camera is not liking this cold weather.   Hopefully we’ll figure it out.    On to hot showers.

Oct 30th
Here at Gorham, NH.   After an overnight at Gentian Pond shelter.   It was 2 cold days hiking through the ice and snow.    Using the icewalkers to go up the steep stuff.   Mahoosic Notch was truly a playground with the snow and small pack.   Finally out of Maine and into NH.   It was a rough but beautiful state.  Bologna sandwiches are calling me.   (we’ve been talking about them for days)   Might have to get some warmer gloves and better gaiters for the rough trail ahead.   Right now it’s off to the PO to mail this to Boss Hogg.

Oct 28
Last night we erected our van tent.  It was a true success, stopping the wind and adding about ten degrees to the outdoor temperture.  The party how ever was short but sweet, with Burt, Christine, and Alden. Today we climbed Moody Mtn., Hall Mtn., and the Bald Pates for a twenty mile day.   With the snow that has fallen in the last two day all the peaks were icy.  The Bald Pates are above tree line and they were extremely slick.  The three of  us only had on running shoes so a lot of falls.  In one fall I tore my new gloves and bent my new trekking pole.  Maine has been tough and at times unforgiving.  With the snow and ice I wonder how tough Mt. Washington is going to be.  Well soon enough we will know.

Oct 27
Drove up from Peaveys this morning after a great stay!   Left the van and headed into the flurries from Maine 17 near Oquassic, Me.      Met some northbounders “Little Train” and Heatmiser.      It snowed most of the day on this first day of deer season for Mainers.  Saw no hunters in the woods.   But a few in their pick up trucks.    We don’t know why they don’t like walking in the woods.     Came over Old Blue and there was Christine (my niece) and her dog, husband , Bert, and son, Alden.    She hiked up to find us and now we are camped at south Arm lake.  Put the tent up on the van for the 1st time.    Now it’s party time.

Oct 26
We ar now at Peavey’s place laying over on our first day off.    Two days ago, we left Maine hi-way 27?  Near Stratton, Me.   It rained both days.   Maine is supposedly having it’s worst drought in over 100 years but we see it raining almost every day.   I do believe that the climb southbound up north Crocker mt.  Is our toughest climb so far.    It was 4.9 miles to the top.      We ran into our friends Yahtzee and Beer Stick again.    Stayed with them at the Poplar Ridge Lean -to.     They are doing 10 mile days so we may see them again after this day off.     The climbs have gotten tougher but we’re finally starting to get used to it.    The knees are aching but not as bad anymore.     The days are getting shorter but our muscles are getting stronger.    If the weather holds in the whites,   we’ll be …………………well, lets see what happens.  Peavey and his wife have been so good to us.   The Hot tup is 102 degrees and the food has been coming hot and fast.    Breakfast this morning was about 4 different courses.   And I’m heading back to the hot tub in a minute.

Oct 23rd
Stratton Me.
We’re camped near the hiway 27 in the rain.    It was a rough day over the Bigelows as we got up this morning to 19 degree temps!    But we finally got a look at our new website and our itinerary and noticed that we are right on schedule.   I don’t know how that happened since we haven’t seen it since before we started.   Very cold on Avery Peak today and no water at the spring at Horn Pond.     Did see a few people on the trail today which is a rarity anymore.   Beautiful views today even though it was cold.   Winter’s coming.     Check out our pictures that Boss Hogg’s been putting on the web.

Oct 22
Got up early this morning to ford the Kennebec!    It was wide but shallow.   Walked to Pierce Pond Shelter before we put our socks back on.     Easy day with not many mtns.  Now we’re camped at East Flagstaff road with the van and Boss Hogg has just cooked us up an awesome spaghetti dinner with cheesecake and hot dogs for late night (maybe we’ll stay up till 8 tonight)              we have some cell phone signal finally so we’ll try to upload to our website tonight.    We heard that there’s a bunch of people wondering where the hell we are since noone has heard from us since we started.    It’s pretty remote up here in northern Maine.   It’s still the 3 of us hiking , and looking for a driver so  Shirt can keep on truckin .    Lots of Ponds today and beautiful scenery.   Bigelows tomorrow and pass through Stratton and lots of old friends for me (fh)   as I used to live here.

Oct 21st
Left Shaw’s and hiked to Moxie Pond Lean -to where we spent the night in a beautiful shelter on a Pond.  The Loon’s were calling all night long.   First thing this morning, we headed up the mountain on a beautiful morning and at the top we had the momentus occasion to meet Brian Robinson!    This was such a great place to see him as it is a bald mtn. with a great view.   Spent about an hour talking about many things as he has only 140 miles to go and we have about 7,350 miles to go.      We’re glad the meeting happened in a nice place and that it is finally behind us as we were thinking about him way too much.    Now we can concentrate on our own hike more.    Ran into 4 AT hikers today who are here at our van keeping dry right now.    We are all talking about how we will get across the Kennebec in the morning as we are near Caratunk.    We are hoping to ford.  Hope it’s not too cold.       Great dinner again tonight by Boss Hogg.    Gotta go socialize.    Later………………….

Oct 19th
Spent the night at a ccold 22degrees near the Long Pond road crossing.   Boss Hogg picked up two more hikers and brought them along for the journey.    So we only hiked 17 something today.    And now we are at Shaw’s in Monson.    Had a long hot shower after limping in with 117 miles in 6 days!    Saw a moose and a coyote today.   Had an awesome meal at a Barbecue Place right near Shaw’s.    Unbelievable meal complete with Whoopie Pies for dessert.      Shirt says “OW”   (we all have sore knees)

Pieps’ trail tip for the day:  To get your mind off of pain,  take a handful of red cayenne pepper,  and smear it all over your toilet paper in the morning,   guaranteed to keep your mind off of your knee pain.    More tips to come.

Oct 18     day 5
Somewhere in the middle of the wilderness.   We’re at the van tonight after 2 tough days of  re-learning these Maine climbs. Went over 4 mountains just today : Barren, Chairback, 3rd, 4th, Monument,  and a few others I think. But the big story is: fall has turned into winter in only 2 days.! It was only 2 days ago we took pix of lots of autumn leaves, but this morning we woke up after 2 days of rain, to cold temps and winds. We are now in our winter gear with the temps around 28 or something. We all have sore knees and bodies. Looking forward to the end of the wilderness.

Day 3
Just got to Jo-Mary road which is at mile 56 or something.   Stayed in our first shelter last night atWadleigh Stream lean to.    All cooking on our alcohol stoves .  And into bed early.   A bit of rain throughout the day just made it seem more like Maine.  It’s been really dry here as we can see from the low levels in the ponds.   Some springs are dry but creeks are running.    Today (16th)  is a beautiful fall day once again.  Lots of pictures today.    Passed both the nicest spring on the whole AT and the nicest Privy!  (Shirt vouches for that one)        Boss Hogg showed up with the support van and a fresh supply of food and CD’s and water.  (These afternoon showers sure beat the smell of these Northbounders)            OK,  gotta go eat. Appetizer:  Chicken Corn Noodle soup and tonight, it’s sausage, red beans, and rice, and we’ll see what else.
Fh

Three great days of hiking in the North Maine woods.  Looking for more.

1st day!                  Oct 14, 2001
Gotta say, thanks to our friends: Rainman and Bridget and Raymond and our Support Crew:  Boss Hogg to come see us off and party with us.  Ate pretty good the night before with Lobster and Yankee Pot Roast!  (and lots of beer)   Got up early and left Abol Bridge at 8 AM and got dropped off at Roaring Brook.  Hiked to Chimney Pond and then went up the Cathedral trail.    Beautiful trail.    But steep.   The weather was great , great views, lots of thru hikers finishing on top.   Had to wait in line for pictures.   Stayed on top an hour and left at 12: 40 (noon)    It was pretty exciting after all these months and months of planning.   Shirt stayed with us all the way.   The Foliage is prime right now .    Colors couldn’t be better.    Only saw one ranger (girl from London)   Came down the AT and only saw 4 people on the whole way down.   Two moose spotted,  both females.   Got back to abol bridge after hikeing 20 miles today,  15 on the AT and the other 5 going up on the Cathedra l trail.     Scott Hogg (body) is cooking sausage and noodles after our hot showers and going to get some more beer.        GREAT DAY!

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