Tonight I edited my Crowdrise page in efforts to raise additional funds for blood cancer research at the University of Michigan. I will soon be adding a Facebook page that will give you more options for how to donate.
I have pledged to contribute the amount of $0.50/mile completed. I’ve currently hiked over 2,119.2 miles of the trail and intend to go back this summer to complete the remaining 65 miles I missed due to dangerous conditions in the White Mountains in October, 2012. So I will go ahead and donate $1,092.10 based on how long AWOL said the trail was in 2012 which was 2,184.2 miles. I will be doing this directly on the Taubman Institute’s website, so it will not show up as a contribution on the Crowdrise page.
Please consider donating now on the crowdrise site.
…when I was still keeping a journal, this is what I wrote. Things in [brackets] I added today.
Monday, April 16, 2012
The people at the Davenport Gap Shelter were among the more enjoyable groups I’ve stayed with in a while. The only names I remember are Will, Sweetwater, Cat-nap, and then someone named something like Float. His pack was really light and he hiked in shoes similar to my camp shoes. Merrel Glove something or others. Mine are the Pace. I love them. It is nice to have a flexible soled shoe on as a contrast to a heavy stiff soled boot. I’ll probably switch to a lighter hiker once my current boots wear out. But I don’t want to mess with success for now, since I really have had no blisters. I’m actually afraid of switching shoes because of the problems I’ve seen other people have with their feet.
There was at least one other thru-hiker at the shelter who told me about this guy who had come running up the trail about an hour before I got there pulling an aluminum cart that was designed especially to transport a cooler. On top of the cooler, or next to it, he had lashed several Little Caesar’s pizzas and had the boxes insulated so the pizza would stay warm. In the cooler he had all manner of pop. The guy was not selling the stuff, either. He had brought it specifically for through hikers to enjoy. This sounded like a tall tale to me when I got into camp and heard about what I had just missed. But I saw pictures. It even looked like the aluminum cooler toting cart had been custom designed.
The other people at the shelter who were not thru-hikers were a leadership group from Toronto. They were all decked out in MEC, and had great stories to share about having canoed the Everglades in December. Plus it was just cool to talk to some Canadians. It was also quaint and hilarious that some of them were carrying stainless steel water bottles. Of any of the stuff they were carrying, that was the dead give away that they were not through hikers.
The hike from there was pretty easy. It was mostly downhill, but not too steep. There was a really cool part before I came to a clearing where some power lines crossed the trail where I saw and heard a bunch of birds. I crossed over the Pigeon River and under the I-40.
******After the I-40 the trail went straight up some stairs and turned into a poison ivy minefield!******** Hikers beware. I went through that part really slowly.
The Pigeon River tributaries have been really beautiful throughout my hike today. There are a lot of little waterfalls here and there, and all I wanted to do was get in the water. Finally, when I hit Green Road, right before Standing Bear Farm hostel, I took my boots off and stuck my feet in.
Standing Bear is a very interesting place. It is both a land of misfit toys as well as a haven for thru-hikers. For example, the main caretaker here today is a guy named Pilgrim who started a thru-hike this year but when he got here and found out they needed help, he just stayed. It is advertised that you can do laundry here, and you can, only you do it by hand in a wash tub and then have an electric dryer. There are hot showers, but then there is an outhouse style privy. BYOTP. The whole place is run on a kind of honor system, where you keep your own tab of what you are spending and then settle up in cash in the morning. The store is stocked to the gills with food and odds and ends hikers might need. I’ll have to take a few pictures to do it justice. (I forgot to, sorry.) The place is a combination of Cabin Sheek and Cabin Shack. But it does inspire me because it makes it seem like anyone could just build their own little mountain cabin by a river with no trouble at all.
The people I remember meeting here/seeing again are: Will, Stoney, Pilgrim, (Arabic trail name I can’t remember guy),[Tamir] Cat-nap, Y’s-guy, Stoney’s tired friend who hiked 32 miles from 5am to 9:30pmish to get here (Fonzworth, who happens to hike wearing a button down shirt and a bow tie), Highlife, Red Fury (the ones from near Battle Creek, MI), Sunshine (the youngest PCT thru-hiker yet, who has hopes of becoming the youngest triple crowner.), and Balls (her dad, who is kinda like a stage dad. But for thru-hiking.) Despite that piece of snark, they are cool. The girl seems like a pretty normal 11 year old, and her dad is an obsessive ultra lighter, which you would have to be to get an 11 year old to carry his/her own pack that far. They are taking me to REI on Thursday, maybe, if I get into Hot Springs early enough.[I didn’t] Also, I have not read their blog and do not know their backstory, so I might be totally off on the stage dad thing. It’s just my impression.
Interesting things that happened at Standing Bear: one of the guys who works here feeds a baby squirrel and has it kind of tamed. I fed it a piece of walnut and it climbed on my back. It tried to chew my hair tie to see if it was edible. I played fetch with this super cute little dog named Biscuit. Pilgrim made a huge pot of chili and offered me some for free. I also had someone’s second to last slice of pizza they couldn’t finish and later two smallish steak quesadillas. Needless to say that my stomach is a bit unhappy with me now.
It was a short hiking day today, 2-4 miles maybe? But action packed. I did learn a lot from Balls on what SPECIFICALLY to do to get my pack weight down. I will heed some of the advice as soon as either May 1st hits, or I cross Mt. Rogers. Whichever comes first. Though my knees may require me to do it sooner.
Tomorrow, I hope to do another 14 mile day to get to Max Bald[Max Patch], or whatever it’s called so I can do a similarly long day on Wednesday and get into Hot Springs on the early side of Thursday. Hopefully, I will also have reliable 3G soon so I can upload my writing for you guys.
Adventure Travel Q4, What’s the funniest thing someone said to you while out in the backcountry?:
I said to my first NOBO encounter of 2013 on 3/21/13 in the Shenandoas, “You look like a bonafide hiker.”
I was looking for conversation with this 50s ish guy who looked worn and rugged enough to possibly be the first thruhiker I had run into since late October/early November. I had been thinking about this moment for a while now and discussing it with Napster. We decided we needed to stop whomever it was on the trail no matter how much of a power hiker they were because they had to hear our story. We had hiked through the winter to finish our 2012 AT thru hike. I even had gold star stickers in my pack for whoever the lucky guy/gal to meet us would be. See, after a while on the trail, you do start to develop a bit of a rockstar ego about your hike, in a way. And this, a meeting of some of the last thrus of 2012 and some of the first of 2013 would be the ultimate meeting of two very different kinds of rockstars. This fit, thin man with shaggy salt and pepper hair answered, “You look like someone who won’t get shot.”
See I was thruhiking the SOBO part of my flip flop and hadn’t changed my hat and packcover since the beginning of hunting season in October when Napster and I were in New Hampshire. It was funny to see myself through someone else’s eyes and know that upon first glance, it is odd to wear that much blaze orange in March. But it was my winter thruhiker gettup and I think I only had outfit variations about once per season. And once my second spring on the trail hit, I was too close to being done to update, upgrade, or repair any of my clothing or gear. I think in the world of hiking, most people setting off on a 100 mile hike would want to have their gear updated and in full repair. But for me, at the start of my last 100 miles, I was almost done! It would have seemed comical at the time to repair or replace anything I had with me unless vitally necessary.
Last year on the trail, I saw so much of spring first hand. This year, spring has not really hit Michigan yet. Maybe a few daffodils are on their way up but trees’s buds aren’t really cracking yet. I’ve been in southern Indiana the last few days, and here, the magnolias are starting to bloom and it’s 80 out. I’m driving back to metro Detroit today and it’s almost 40 degrees cooler there right now. Then on Friday, I’ll be in South Florida for almost a week and the seasons are totally different. Then I’ll be in Boston for almost three weeks. I expect that because Boston is coastal, it’s farther ahead on Spring than Michigan is. So it looks like I’ll be missing my favorite part of the year. Right when the first buds on the trees crack and the oaks and maples bloom. And when the earliest warblers return before the leaves are out. Maybe there will still be some warbler watching to be done yet in Boston.
I have many thoughts on how almost there isn’t the same thing as there. More later.
Napster, his dad John, and I hiked to US 30 today. The trail went through a sweet little state park and had drinking fountains, picnic pavilions and even a metal porch-style swing next to it. Walking along what John called a canal tow path, I looked around and saw rhododendrons, flowing water, mud, rocks, leaves, etc. and they all reminded me of what the trail was like in Virginia before I flipped back at the end of July 2012. From there Napster went to Maine, which looks nothing like Virginia, and then have been hiking over a lot of snow and some rocks and ice. But today, near US 30, the snow and ice had melted and I could really feel how close we’re getting to where we jumped up from. I can’t believe I’m almost done. If I was still heading northbound, I’d be somewhere in Maine. If I were headed only southbound, I’d be around Hot Springs, NC or so. Only about 215 miles left.