Monday, June 19, 2006

Picture Time

Bears Den Hostel: great establishment run by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Short Hair: Is it "in" yet? Probably not, but it is much, much cooler. Kate took this picture when we visited D.C. It was great staying at Kate's place: kind of like a resort.

Baby raccoon that we came across the other day. So cute, I think we scared it stiff. It's little heart was beating so fast.

Harpers Ferry, WV

1,000 miles down, only 1,080 miles to go! We are so stoked right now. To celebrate our 1,000 mile mark, Megan and I decided to take two days off from hiking and go to Washington D.C. to visit my friend Kate. Our feet and knees needed a little break from the rocks of northern Virginia. Megan's boots finally had to hit the graveyard, she broke down and bought a new pair of trail runners in Harper's Ferry, only after the heel of her boot cracked off. I made her swear an oath to her feet that she would no longer love a pair of boots more than her blessed feet.

We definitely enjoyed the hike in the Shenandoah National Park. The grade of the trail was great most of the time. There were a few lodges that were close enough to the trail that we could walk to and eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We hiked with a group of about five others most of the time in the park and declared one of the days as "Celebrate Virginia" day. We ate three full meals at Skyland Lodge and still hiked 16 miles to boot! Of course we didn't set up camp until 10 p.m. that night. But it was definitely worth it.

A few days out of the Shenandoahs we stayed at a hostel called Bears Den. It is run by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and was built in the late 1800s. It looked like a castle from outdoors. We were fed one Tombstone Pizza each, and a pint of Ben and Jerry's Icecream. Yummm! We didn't really want to walk out of that place, but Harpers Ferry was only 19 miles down the trail, so we made our way there.

Our ten day summer break is coming up quickly. We will be catching a ride home to Indiana to visit our friends and family on June 30th. I have lots of stories to tell!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Good-bye Central Virginia and Hello Shenandoah National Park

It is official, we have stumbled, trudged, limped, hiked, crawled, our way through 850 miles of the Appalachian Trail as of today. An amazing feat. I get so excited everytime we cross the next 100 mile mark. Waynesboro, Virginia is our home for the night. We hiked in this morning, sat down to a huge breakfast at the local diner called Weasies. 2 pancakes larger than my head, 2 eggs, and 2 orders of bacon all under $4. Can't beat that now can you?

Since the weather has turned warmer or hotter, however you want to describe it, we have noticed a few changes in our hike. First and foremost, the increase in the insect activity. Besides the skeeters that are now prevalent, we have the nearly invisible "no-see-ums" which are quite aggressive buggers. The spiders are also in full effect. I'm sporting a few massive spider bites on my legs and one large one on my side right now. Carefully watching them in case they begin to ulcerate, in that case we need to get to a doctor for some antibiotics (could be brown recluse). But so far so good on the spider bites. Speaking of spiders...every morning now as we hike through the thick, green forest we have to break through thousands of spider webs. If you've ever walked through a spider web you know how unpleasant it is to have those sticky strings catch on your face, neck, legs, any part of your body really. It is a constant battle, pulling the webs off of your face and neck. Very irritating.

Sleeping has also become problematic due to the heat. Sleeping outside of the sleeping bag is a definite mistake, unless you want your body to be covered in insect bites. But sleeping inside the sleeping bag is nearly as bad because you become one big sticky, sweaty mess. What a fix! Megan purchased a mosquito net that we can rig up in the shelters, that has been quite useful I must say. It has saved us from hundreds of bug bites I'm sure. She purchased it in Troutville last week when she counted 54 bug bites on only one of your arms. Not a happy camper!!

The Shenandoah National Park is the next section to check off of our list. There is nearly 105 miles of A.T. in the park. According to most folks, the trail grade is reasonable, there are great vistas, and snack bars and garbage cans within walking distance every day. A true thru-hiker's paradise, I'd say. Can't wait to experience it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Did Anyone Call For A Heat Wave?

Whew! That is about all I can muster after hiking this week in this blasted heat. Since Pearisburg, Megan and I have been trudging along through 90 degree days in very high humidity. Tends to wear us down much more quickly than hiking in 60 degree weather. Did anyone else miss the nice 70 and 80 degree days? I swear it skipped from rainy, windy, cold directly into this hot, humid, blaze. Yesterday we stumbled out of the forest onto the pavement of Troutville, Virginia. We were so glad to see a Wendy's. Didn't take me long to wolf down a Southwestern Taco Salad, large water, and large frosty. Yum. The funny thing is that the air conditioning in Wendy's was freezing. We ended up hurrying through our dinner and sitting outside in the stifling heat to thaw out. Doesn't take long to become acclimated to living in the hot, humid conditions, unfortunately.

Oh, I almost forgot...I decided, on a whim, to chop all of my hair off today. It was entirely too hot, filthy, and hard to maintain out here. I didn't shave the head, although that is my next step if this is unsatisfactory. But lets just say about seven inches fell from the hands of the stylest as she cut. Megan, of course, took pictures of before, during, and after (as she laughed at the scene unfolding before her eyes). Though, I could tell in her eyes that she was mildly envious of how cool my head is going to be when we start hiking tomorrow and beyond. I almost convinced her to shave her head. "Maybe in Waynesboro", was her response. We shall wait and see, only time will tell.

We are looking forward to the Shenandoah National Park section that is coming up in a week or so. Virginia has been beautiful so far and I expect will continue to be so as we move right along. Thank you for your prayers. 700 miles down and 1400 miles to go - 1/3 of the way done. Yee-Haw!