Thursday, June 26, 2014

Halfway Psychologically Speaking

I pushed myself up and over more baseball sized rocks.  The map said level, hardly flat, I thought.  The guide book showed a border crossing, I didn't pay attention to the other landmarks.  I guzzled water.  Later to realize, I missed the context of the landmark.  I needed that water 2 miles later.

Harper's Ferry is a National Park and town in one, a strange blend of government owned and privatization of business.  I followwd the blue blazes up to the ATC.  After chillin in the hiker lounge I got my picture taken and my second thru-hiker number, 773.

I paged through the photo album.  The Van Clan's numbers were mixed colors.  Some had sectioned hike, while others registered as thru-hikers.  I saw but 3 others I had started with in Georgia.  Everyone else I'd met in the last 2 or 3 weeks.

By the time I decided to leave my right knee belly ached giving me the sign I needed to call it a short day.  I found out there was room at the Teahorse Hostel, half a mile away.  I limped over.

In the morning, I stalled getting out, the knee still aching.  I went back to the ATC and hit the post office to mail back a few more items.  Since I use the Bible App more the paper back version, that went.  A few other small items headed back as well.  My base weight is now 19 pounds.  If I gave up the electronics I could drop another 2 pounds but, that'd mean you wouldn't be reading entries like this.

I made way back to the AT and through the historical district.  I debated on an ice cream before deciding the lines were to long to wait.  I wanted to make miles, all of 3 trail miles and 1 up to the hostel.  I hobbled on.  A knee brace given to me by another hiker getting off the trail eased my pain.  I didn't vitamin I up.  I needed to.

I'm psychologically halfway.  I'm at a great jump off point.  The journey is far from over.  Hobs swung by.  I ran into his bride, of many years, at the ATC.  His visit alone showed me how important this journey of mine is to others on the trail, my trail family, and even those at home.  The fact he came by shows that more then anything else.  He travels light base weight of 11 lbs, 25 max with full load.  By the way he's in his 60's.

The hostel manager said many folks use this place as a decision maker.  Many leave for one reason or another.

Physically my knee aches.  I've read up on some stretches I can do, which I haven't been doing.  That's the invincible thru-hiker in me attitude coming out verses reality.  I'm going to try to take it slow over the next week and throttle back to less then 15 miles a day.

Psychologically, I'm no where near to giving up.  Quitting isn't a word in my vocabulary.  I'm not stronger then that, I've looked at options and quitting leads down a trail I just don't want any part of.  There are options.  Slowing down is one and if I don't make it to summit Mnt K, I can flip flop to finish.  I have miles and I have time.  Miles don't equal time.

I'm on my way.  One step at a time.  One day at a time.  I am a thru-hiker on the AT.  I daily embrace the lessons of the trail with gratitude and thanksgiving.    I daily take time to see that which is around me.  I daily listen to my body, my gear, and the trail.  I daily look for ways to encourage others who are down and those who are feeling good.  I take time to learn from others and where requested be the resource for others to learn from.

I am an Appalachian Thru-hiker.

Hike on...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Almost Halfway

Harper's Ferry is the psychological halfway point.  Today, in Sky Meadows State Park I saw a sign saying 'Harper's Ferry 32.8 miles.' I cried.  I am almost halfway to Mnt K.  I am almost halfway there.

I am pushing on through days of being achy all over.  I am pushing through weeks with more days of rain then sun.  I am pushing through meals so awful mice beg for the dinner mint first.

I am over coming myself and working with the trail to get to the next point.  Every day has a goal.  Every week has a rest point and a point of achievement.

Not a day goes by when I don't think taking time away was a waste.  My job us to walk, only walk.  I get up.  I pack my gear, all my belongings into the Crown Vic (Granite Gear Crown 60 backpack).  Then I start to walk.

I've walked nearly a thousand miles.  In the next two or three days I will have.  In the next 2 to 5 days I will cross both the psychological and the physical halfeay points.

Hike on.  Keep hiking...


I stopped briefly to chart with a few hikers I hadn't seen since beginning the Shenandoahs.  April passed us.  A while later I head off.  Moments later I am upon her standing in the trail.  With excitement she says, "Look what I found." There in the middle of the trail a big fat timber rattlesnake.  I poke at it with my hiking stick gently.  The snake coiled.  I back away.

A few minutes later the others come to the party.  After a round of photos, we discuss how to move Mr nice unhappy guy from our pathway.  The options are get a bigger stick, walk off trail, or squirt water.  As we discuss the options the snake begins to move away.  We opt for a bigger stick.

We each step to the far side of the trail keeping an eye on the creature whose space we invaded.


I stopped briefly to chart with a few hikers I hadn't seen since beginning the Shenandoahs.  April passed us.  A while later I head off.  Moments later I am upon her standing in the trail.  With excitement she says, "Look what I found." There in the middle of the trail a big fat timber rattlesnake.  I poke at it with my hiking stick gently.  The snake coiled.  I back away.

A few minutes later the others come to the party.  After a round of photos, we discuss how to move Mr nice unhappy guy from our pathway.  The options are get a bigger stick, walk off trail, or squirt water.  As we discuss the options the snake begins to move away.  We opt for a bigger stick.

We each step to the far side of the trail keeping an eye on the creature whose space we invaded.


I stopped briefly to chart with a few hikers I hadn't seen since beginning the Shenandoahs.  April passed us.  A while later I head off.  Moments later I am upon her standing in the trail.  With excitement she says, "Look what I found." There in the middle of the trail a big fat timber rattlesnake.  I poke at it with my hiking stick gently.  The snake coiled.  I back away.

A few minutes later the others come to the party.  After a round of photos, we discuss how to move Mr nice unhappy guy from our pathway.  The options are get a bigger stick, walk off trail, or squirt water.  As we discuss the options the snake begins to move away.  We opt for a bigger stick.

We each step to the far side of the trail keeping an eye on the creature whose space we invaded.


I've hopped up on my old boulder to write this entry.  Yesterday I made big miles to make today short on hiking.  I wanted to trip down memory lane.

The bears nor the weather bothered me last night.  This morning as I stitched up my britches, Ireland made comment about getting breakfast and that it was open 'til 10:30 am.  I made quick on the repair knowing it'd need only to last two days before I could replace 'em.

I dumped a little water, carrying only a litter.  I made good time catching Ireland and another hiker.  Before long familiar territory came to view and the horse stables.  Being a purist, I stuck to the AT instead of taking the maintenance road over.

The view, the lodge, the gift shop, all unchanged.  I dumped my pack next to Bud's, he'd left before 6am, and walked right in not waiting to be seated.  I then grabbed a quick wash.

The server inquired about my hike as she brought me coffee.  I loaded up on the breakfast buffet, 3 plates of french toast went down my way.  Ireland arrived ten minutes later.  We kept the server in good conversation as with other guests.  Our smell awful, our conversations informative.

After breakfast, the other hikers departed.  I headed down the the ampitheater and conference center.  Nothing's changed except some more wear and tear without repair.  Without repair is a common theme I am seeing in all government managed areas, which is sad.  Our Park system is our greatest gift to our future generations and they are falling apart with no hope of the same glory they enjoyed in decades past.

The wind teases the trees.  Employees on break talk just around the bend.  Music pours out of the open kitchen windows.  Who are the kids working this season?  Who are the regular local employees?  Who are the guests today, the week, this season?  Where will they be next?

My thoughts?  This is the last place I stopped before I headed into full time missionary work with YWAM-Mercy Ships.  Walking over to the ampitheater where I did the weekly ACMNP church service, I recalled giving simple messages around the greatness of God, a creator.  I recalled sitting on this rock preparing for those messages.

I'm here making new memories.  I here for a different purpose.  I'm a thru-hiker.  I do desire something greater in my life.  I do desire to be apart of something bigger then my life.

Memory lane, it's not a street to live on.  It's a street to help one remember what great things were done in the past to be a facilitator for greater things for the future.

Hike on.  Hike...

Just a Bear

After lunch, I'm chatting with another hiker about why's he on the trail.  He's in the middle of the stroy of how he and his girlfriend hadn't backpacked before coming to the AT when I hear something big, real big a head of us.  I shout out bear!  The before us near the top of the forest canopy a bear slides down a tree but 10 yards from us.  This bear is bigger then any either of us had seen along the trail.

Seeing cinamon claws and snoot, the paws were jet black.  The bear came down the tree so fast we couldn't get our hands on our cameras.  The body of the bear was hid by the tree itself.  This buggers disappeared into the under brush just as fast.

We stare at each other in disbelief as to what just happened.  A few minutes later the others from lunch join us as we recount the fireman's pole sliding bear.


My shorts won't finish out the month of June.  I've replaced my shoes, my socks, and shirt already.  I've got three good days of food left and wanted to hike Shenandoah without jumping out for a day.  I've received mixed info on outfitters in Front Royal two days a head.  I'd like to make it out of the park.  Decisions, go all the way with a rip-air and take the chance a good outfitter is in Front Royal or cut the loss, resupply earlier and go where there is a known place to re-equip my legs with good thread. My decision ends up to wait until Harpers Ferry WV.

I ponder this on a mountain as it rains.  Also are there bears in the area?


I'm not sure if I'm the luckiest guy, the dumbest, or just the right guy.  I've paced out with the Maine Sisters for the last month or so and recently we've picked up J-Rex as a we hit Shenandoah.

J-Rex's been off for a while and didn't want to skip a head to rejoin her bubble.  Family matters and an illness took her away for the while.  I met her previously a while back in a trail town.  We caught her at Calf Mountain Hut (shelter).

I can't remember when or where I picked up with the Laura and April, the Maine Sisters.  I noticed one day we were leap froging and camping at the same spot.  They are sisters whose family didn't want the younger to hike alone.  Things worked out for them both to hike together.  They split the team gear by weight and bulk.  They're all about team work throughout the day.  Laura is called the Navigator, as she makes the hiking plan for the day.  April is Toots, no explaining needed.

The miles we are doing daily will keep us together for a while and at the 15 to 20 mile average , we'll hit Mount Katahdin in mid September.  It's great to be will the same folks day after day.

It's great to have companions like the sisters as I often hike alone, I have someone to camp around.  If I leave at the same time they do we will hike at the same pace and would be within a hundred yards of each other.  I try to leave separate time.  Eventually, I catch them in the mid-day.

Hiking/camping companions make the mikes easy.  I am also seeing others through out the weeks that I hike with.

Hike on.  Hike friendly...

Beary Active

In trying to make miles to give myself more time at Skyland, I pushed to the next shelter after a quick break at Big Meadows, the meadow itself.  I hadn't seen a bear yet, in Shenandoah.  The AT wrapps behind Big Meadows Lodge and camp ground.  There in a tree I saw a bear.  I took a photo or more.  A while later, I saw a deer.  The wildlife in this park have no fear.  I call rabbits, suicide bunnies as they don't dart off until the nearly get stepped on.

I push on.  I have 4 odd miles to go and the time is close to 4:30.  The trail had some ups and downs all day over easy to move tread.  These miles will be easy with one last up hill before dropping onto the shelter/camping area.

I look at the guide one last time to see about landmarks indicating where the shelter is.  As I return the guide to my pocket, there's a bear.  I hollered at it.  It doesn't pay me any attention.  It's between me and the sign post I'm walking towards.  It moves when I get within 10 yards.  I round a switch back a moment later, again another bear.

I see my friend, Ireland, beyond, setting up. I'm there.  I'm relived to have gone 24 miles in 11 hours.

As I set up and do my chores, a young buck wanders into camp.  Ireland questions his location and moves closer to my string up.  We are both hammockers.

By dark fall, we and a few other thru-hikers, have chased the bears away multiple times so we can move around.  The buck also hangs close by.

As I write, I hear crashing around me, bears.  These buggers are the size of a large stuffed animal at the county fair.  Except they aren't cuddly nor cute.  I've hung everything that has a food scent in bags and on a steel pole aptly called a bear pole. 

The last time I was in a beary active area, Lake Watuga Shelter, a section hiker strung a bear bag the traditional method while everyone else used the pole.  In the middle of the night, we heard the pole rattling.  In the morning the bear bag was gone.  Someone found it a hundred yards away empty of all contents.

What will tonight bring in this beary active location?  Who cares about bed bugs biting now?

Hike on.  Store your food with care...

Back in Shenandoah

In the summer of 92, I worked at Skyland Lodge back in the kitchen.  A night hike early that summer kinda put a distaste for the local Rangers on patrol.  I'd headed out for a night hike and I got stopped walking to the trailhead.  The Ranger insisted I'd been drinking or fighting.  When I registered.the complaint there wasn't any record of the stop though I saw him taking notes.  With this I chose not to hang my thumb out and hitch like I had the summers before at another park. In the summer of 92, I didn't see much of the park I now lay stretched out in.

I got an easy hitch out of Waynesboro and up to Rockfish Gap.  I was late getting on the trail.  I took advantage of someone's offer to buy lunch for a bunch of hikers.  He said in his intro, 'I don't care who you are, what you call yourself, or anything else. I enjoy doing this and have done it for 13 years since being approached by the local chamber of commerce to do it.' He seemed to be always on the go even pausing to answer a call to help out a stranded hiker.  He's helped close to a thousand hikers over the years without any interest in hiking himself.

As I shouldered the ruck from the back of my ride's pick up truck, I paused thinking back to the summer of 92.  I didn't know it then but, the next summer I'd be in Poland.  I'd be in England.  I'd be in a long list of places many only dream of going.  Today we all can cyber-visit those places.  My life that summer was simple, get up, hike, go to work, and repeat.  I got to know many of the trails intimately much like I know the Wasatch.

As I hiked this afternoon I couldn't help but ponder where my friends of that summer were today.  I've only been in touch with one and she found me via MySpace (social media).  Who are they now? Will I run into any of the locals from Luray?  Will I recognize Skyland as I get there?

I'm back in the park the last park of my youth I want to visit.  I've looked forward to this part of the hike long before hiking the AT was considered. Where will I be next summer?  Will I be back overseas, on another long trail, or working a job that lets me stretch my legs?

Hike on. Let's go places...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Appalachian Trail Journey

This link takes you to my album on flicker for the Appalachian Trail Journey.

By preyingjaws on Flickr. Just follow this link to see and comment on this album:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Trail Family

After making my fill at the AYCE Chinese buffet in Waynesboro, VA, I headed for the door half in a food coma, half with hiker hobble.  To my surprise Kim and Lisa were at a table just out of sight of where I was at.  These gals I'd hiked on and off with for over three weeks and hadn't seen them in over two.  Kim told me they were but half a day behind at one point.  With this recent rain they had to get to town or go crazy.

At another location in town I reconnected with the Maine Sisters.  I pulled big miles to get here and knew they were only hours behind.  A fellow called Tumbles camped out at the park.  Every so often I either catch up or get caught by those I hike with on or off for several days to several weeks.  I'm waiting now for Jim and his dad, Roger, to tell them of my biscuit making experience.  Now where's the Wiskey Crew?

With my fellow hikers I like to call them trail family.  The shared trail, the trial by step, the rain, the heat, the pain of...  all brings about a common bond of hiking.  The folks I've mentioned are only a few if the hikers I've met and look forward to reconnecting with.

If we've hiked together on the AT please drop me a note.  I've got many an email but not connected with.  I can be found on FB as B K Jaworski if you want to contact me there or tag me in any number of photos (Thanks JD for the Trail Days pics.  Where are you now?)

Here's a photo of myself and Naturally Hobs, a habitual longs distance traveler.  We are at McAfee's Nob before the storm blew in.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Somewhere between Punch Bowl shelter and Hog Camp Gap is the 800 mile mark.  This morning I came across a monument made of stones celebrating the achievement or milestone.  I can't say this journey is easy.  I can say it is worthy of leaving what I left behind to do it.

Now 800 seems like a big number and indeed it is.  However, it's just a number.  The 100 mile marker was huge for me as I've never hiked a hike that long.  600 was another huge number for me as it's close the maximum number of miles I've hiked in a given year.

Other numbers I am looking forward to include the 1000 and 1500.  I may as well throw in 2187.odd as that's the Appalachian Trail's measurement for this year.

I'm hitting a 20 plus today and got an early start only to be derailed by wanting to add to a short post. Written June 10 and 11.  I came across a cooler of drinks & as I wrote a note of thanks to the provider, a 2012 thru-hiker, he and his wife showed up with a cooler of goodies like moon pies, granola bars, and chocolates.  We chatted a moment.  I asked, what would you do differently.  His reply, look around and enjoy what you hike through.

PS sunrise through Hog Camp Gap was stunning after the wind and rain storm last night.  What made last night so cool.was the light show in the clowds.  The lighting flashed above the trees which made a hand puppet show like no other.  The claps of thunder, immediate, like an audience giving praise.

Bad Hair Days

One may think I'm having a bad hair day, every day.   Actually, I'm not.  This mug of clown laughter is rather comfortable.  Hikers all struggle to stay cool at some point in the hike.  So far in the Virginias it's been terribly humid, which I am not use to, and hot.  By using my buff I am able to get the hair both up and out of my face.  It's the coolest thing I can do.

Why's my hair long and not short? Easy, remember one of my pre-hike posts?  I cut and donated my hair.  This growth is me just re-growing my hair out for the next donation. I could go short and get it manageable however, I'd have to wait an extra year for the next donation.  I'm not sure when I'll be going gray since I'm already in my 40's.  I'm growing it while I can.

Stay tunned for more obnoxious hair photos.

Hike on and stay cool...


The rain fell a little over night at Punch Bowl shelter.  In the morning I woke go the birds singing their get up song.  I rolled over and saw the mist light upon the tents around me.

A few minutes later I decided nature's call needed attention, so I got up.  I slowly went about my business afterwards.  Hiker hobble strikes at any time of day.  I jokingly say you can't make fun if a pregnant lady but you can if a hiker without their pack.

I loaded up for the day taking extra time for breakfast.  I normally just eat on the go a dry packet or two of oatmeal. I sat around the picnic table with Yeti, Bobcat, and several others.  Some of the Van Clan were there including one of the support team members.  Matt had come up for the night, the van just a half mile away.  Some folks would slack pack a few miles.

The mist cleared. My pack ready.  I set out to face a 17 mile odd day of mindless ups and downs.  I'd forgotten to recharge the MP3 player so my mind would need to find other activities.

Hike on...

Day 3

"Everything will be wet.  Deal with it," someone had posted to a forum online concerning the AT.  I woke this morning to everything wet either by humidity or rain.  I wonder if tonight will be more of the same or will I get a reprieve.

Wet also equates to weight.  Weight equates to fewer miles.  Fewer miles equates to less time in town tomorrow.  I'm hoping to nero through into Waynesboro VA and get into the park I never saw while I worked there 22 years ago.  That's a whole different story.

As I hiked on through out this day, the mist held on into noon thirty.  At times it was dark as if a storm held back.  The rocks however remained slippery all day long.

As I set up, I believe, it's gona be wet again.

Atleast with the rain the bugs aren't as bad.  It kinda chases them away for a while.

I tossed my gear into the shelter to pack.  Only Ireland and I were present for last night.  I'd heard a limb crash down and glade to see it didn't find him.  The rain, I thought would surely make the creek swell and as I looked over it hadn't.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Dragon's Tooth

I kept thinking when am I going to pull myself up the rocks leading to the monolith know as Dragon's Tooth.  I pondered this as the day had been fairly even on rocky ridges all day in between forest duff which is easy on the feet.  I caught a sign saying the monolith was close by.  The forest opened up and there it was in the clearing.

It was the route down that caused issues.  Here's the Maine Sisters looking down one of many different problems.

In the selfie, I'm sitting near the top of the Dragon's Tooth, an easy class 4  scramble up the backside.

The final picture the branches should be on the right side.  I'm hoping the auto rotate works.  This is the Dragon's Tooth.

Hike on and watch were you place your feet...


Some how I locked into getting into town early today, June 8.  I heard shuffling in camp and rolled over, a while later I heard foot steps.  I stuck my head out my hammock, looking at the shelter, I saw the Maine Sisters heading out.  I rolled out of bed and quickly packed.  I looked at the camera after I started this day's selfies, 7:15 am.  The gals had left 45 minutes prior.  I thought, I'll catch them by noon.

I put the music on.  I forgot who I listened to.  I didn't even look at the trail profiles of the day other then where water would be found, a lot of places.  I shifted gears to slow for the up and random for the flats, and careful for the down hills.  I've learned to embrace all terrain, rocks, roots, and brush.  When I stop I naturally look for ticks on my legs.

I paused over a few spots to gulp water.  My filter fits Smart Water bottles.  Two days ago I'd dipped instead of using a filler bag, another bag had failed.  The filter floowed slowly into my mouth.  I'd back flush it in town to clean and restore the flow.

The views were sparse.  At the FAA tower, aka golf ball on a mountain top, even the view there was slim with the haze.  Humidity haze, I pondered rain in the forecast?  I pushed on.  A moment later I dropped into the guillotine rock, a rock wedged between two cliff like rocks.  The climber in me wanted to play.  The hiker in me wanted to push on.  I made a few selfies.

I got in such a rhythm, I walked right past the Sisters eating lunch.  Getting a ride into town wasn't easy.  I ended up asking a couple of college guys at the James River parking area for a lift after a NPS Ranger passed by.

Later at Glasgow's hiker camp, one of the Sisters and I joked around that we only do 20's on the bottom half of the food bag.

The typical daily food supply is two to three pounds per day and we carry up to five days at a time.  I like to add a day and a held just incase of some delay.  Last week I took a wooded zero, I stayed an extra day at a shelter.  The point being our packs are heavy when we leave town and light the day or two before the next.  The lighter the pack, the easier it is to move.

Hike on and eat well...

McAfee's Knob

I carefully stepped towards the overlook, then I saw a few friends hanging out and greeted them.  Soon, I handed one of them my camera asking, can you take my picture.

This wouldn't be the only veiws I'd have that day.  Honestly, I enjoyed the views from Tinker Cliffs more so.  At Tinker Cliffs I watched the rain storm move in.  At that time, I'd time the line of travel and hustle to the next shelter.  At the shelter other hikers came in at various stages of wet, many had been caught in the rain and hail.  Some hikers took refuge in the rocky over hangs before the storm let up.

For the moment, I edged to the edge and let my feet hand over for a few frames.  A few minutes later I decided on a different photo set, one with the pack on.

Hike on and becareful...

Friday, June 06, 2014

Not All Who Hike...

Are hikers...

Seeing a guitarist's pack, I recognized the attitude long before I saw him.  At another hostel he and his merry cluster were soaking in the freebies and drinking.  My blood boiled as it took me several hard days of effort to get here.  I held my tongue before someone gave me the hiker version of f*** off.  Instead I put out my greetings as normal, "how was the hike?". Someone else responded, "Ok.". I knew full well the only thing they saw was the mountains in the distance.

Not all who hike are hiking but, many are claiming 'thru-hiker' as a title.  Call me being irritated, call me judgemental, tell me to hike my own hike.  I want to say it in the public forum before Bill Bryson's book "A Walk In The Woods" hits the theaters as a movie.  Yes, it's in production and by someone well respected in my home community which I am loosing respect for, Robert Redford.  This book isn't about the AT as a thru-hiker.  It's about a travel writer who decided to hike because it was the cool thing to do and he did less then a 1/4 of the trail and spent a lot of excessive time thinking about or being in town.  I hope the movie reflects that the book isn't about the AT. 

Hiking the AT is hard.  It is not easy.  It is not the cool thing to do.  Hike your own hike with ligitamacy.  Please when looking at the AT, hike with a solid reason for being here.  Partying is not a good reason, do that at home, a bar, or frat house.  Hiking the AT is no the cool thing to do and I hope it never becomes that.

Forest and others like him hitch hike from freeby location to freeby location taking advantage of what's made available for those who are on the trail hiking over ridges and through the forests.  Sometimes they have a ligitmate (sorry spell check couldn't find the word) reason for doing so.  Sometimes they are just doing it for the summer party.

There are others who aren't chasing a party and are homeless who do enjoy making the most of the beautiful weather before they head back into the city for the winter cold months.  I've met a few of them too.

This ends my rant.  Time to leave town again.  Don't get me wrong, there are many reasons to hike the AT.  I hope that hikers loose the partying stigma that's made town folks hate us.  There are many great people out here that are respectful and clean.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

I'm Worn

Another couple of friends passed by Niday shelter.  The few that stayed last night long and gone.  Everyone seems to be pushing for the Dragon's Tooth Monolith.  I want to as well.  The Virginia Blues struck me not like a wagon wheel more like a Mac truck.

In a previous post I wrote about my shoes being wornout from the inside out.  Much like my shoes I am too.  When I realized I was flip flopping with a group of friends (they'd be at one shelter and another, missing each other in passing) I tried to sync with them.  When I came into the Captain's place someone said they'd just passed a few hours before and were pushing a big mile day.  My heart sank as then I remembered, they are a fully supported team and carry minimal supplies.  I'm packing 7 days worth.  When I leave town I'm weighing in at over 50 with food, fuel, & water.  There was now way to catch them in my eyes.

When I saw the trail in bad shape I knew I needed to slow down.  The heavy pack, the twisted rocks, the undergrowth taking over all pointed to slow it down or get hurt or worse.  My mileage in this region is at best 17 miles a day.

Since Damascus Trail Days the bubbles are all mixed up.  Long time hiking companions are tossed into new groups.  Some hikers were just doing long sections and D'VA was their stop.  New bubbles are forming. I now do hike with some pretty cool young marrieds.  I do hike with a few pretty snazzy solos.  I knew coming to the trail half the hikers are gone by Trail Days.  I knew I'd be making new friends along the way north and seeing others fade away.  Still, though at home I have many social circles and I bounce between them, there is two social circles out here, hikers and everyone else.  The exchange of friends in taking a toll on me.

My diet is another thing taking its toll on me.  In town I raid the fast food joint for calories and the produce isle for nutrition.  When I do stock up for the trail it's: knorr sides, instant anything, breakfast bars, and peanut butter.  This round I tried biscuits, more in a few on that.  I was doing cheese blocks and summer sausage.  Both of those are heavy and are quickly consumed within a day or so.

At Niday, I tried making biscuits.  When my stove fuel ran out, I just ate the dough.  A few hours later, safe and warm, my stomach revolted.  I barely unzipped the bug net before the afore mentioned materials re-appeared.  I filled my camp shoes to capacity.  Not a pretty sight or sound.  Let's say that's the last time I make stomach baked biscuits.

I am slow to move today and am taking an extra day in the woods.  I have the food to get me to the next resupply.  The question is, if my stomach revolted again multiple times, will I have the strength to get to the next road a few miles away?  I hate being sick, even worse then being worn out from the inside out.  I crawled into back into my cocoon.

Update: taking this day off did me better then rest.  It's providing me with opportunity to catch up with trail family I thought were a head and even behind.  As the miles progress northward the family is getting smaller.  I hope to get over with what's taken me down.  I am going to beat the Virginia Blues with new shoes or inserts and renewed hope.

Tomorrow, I hope to quicken my pace and get through a section of beauty called the Dragon's Tooth and into three car garage also known as Four Pines Hostel.

Health it's more then a physical state...
Hike on.


Who ever said Virginia is easy hasn't done the first 100 miles of the state in a long time.  Every mile is hard earned.  The first while is a teaser with rolling hills and flowing springs.  The trail after Pearisburg is brutal.  The trail lacked much maintenance.  The trail is over grown, rocky, and blow downs numerous.  Many of the water sources now are drying up which is harsh on the pack. I've got to carry more even when the guide book says there is.

These shoes gave me indications that their days are numbered.  I've felt every stone and root today.  From the outside they are in great shape.  The tread gives plenty of traction over the step rocks.  They still look good when clean.

Soon I'll put these into a new box and send 'em on.