Friday, December 28, 2012

On Target

Quite a few months ago, my youngest, Brandi, said she wanted to go to a shooting range and shoot a handgun.  I pretty much committed right then and there.  I want my girls to not be afraid of guns.  To be able to competently and safely handle and shoot them and to be good at it. 

So, finally we both had some time to head over to the local indoor shooting range and a lot of other people had the same idea.

We stood in line and signed up for a range position, filled out our little form and handed over our driver licenses.  It wasn't too long before our names were called.  We asked for a 22 auto, but there were none available.  I oped for the 380.  (I think it was a Ruger, but IDK), and we headed to our shooting position.

We had a good time shooting 50 rounds into a target at 25 feet. 

Both of us enjoyed ourselves immensely for about fifty bucks and I really can't wait until the next time she wants to go.

Here is our target...   She needs to steady herself some, but she did pretty good.  I need to bring my groups up a bit.  (my targets are the three lower ones)

It was a pretty fun time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I have said it many times, that my superpower is that I cook by instinct.  I feel my way through a recipe, tasting and smelling as I concoct my meals.  Sometimes doing justice to the foodstuffs I handle, sometimes coming short.  I use the shortcomings as a lesson to improve.  I revel in the successes and enjoy the meal with those I love.

Today we make the Christmas dinner.  I wanted to do a turkey again.  Thanksgiving's turkey was haphazard and unruly.  It tasted good in the end and was quite juicy, but I felt there were too many cooks in the kitchen for that bird.  We had a few fits and starts that called for some adjustment, but in the end, we had good fowl.

I realized as I read the instructions that come with the bird that I also cook with tradition.  I do the things my Mother did and I carry on her legacy.  The instructions say no water in the pan, but that is what I make the gravy from.  I baste every so often and I always cook a stuffed bird.  There is more that I do based on what my Mother did and I never have gone wrong following her lead.

Tonight's dinner is looking to be as tasty as ever.  I can't wait to dig in...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Simple Woodcraft - A Sense of Calm

Simple Woodcraft
By Joe Harold
Let's take a little hike:

As I enter the woods, a sense of calm washes over me.  My breathing slows.  My senses become more acute.  I can smell the leaves of the forest floor, the pitch of the neaby pine.  Any bit of movement is caught by my eye, be it a falling leaf, the swish of a grey squirrel's tail or the flash of a crows shiny black wings as it alights from its perch.  I can feel the breeze as it races across the field and filters into the woods.  Every chirp and song of the residents of these woods registers in my mind.  Robin, Blue Jay, Hawk.  I am a visitor here, but I am truly at home when I enter my woods.

I live in suburbia.  The woods I hang out in are a very small tract with houses and roads all around.  It is the remnant of a large farm that covered hundreds of acres back at the beginning of the last century.  The family that settled this farm have grown old and their children and grand children have all moved away.  Most of the acreage has been developed.  Large houses now stand where prize cantaloupes and Gladiolas were once grown.  These woods and a few fallow fields are all that remain of that once proud farm.  The woods at one time had been field so the trees are not very old.  A mixture of oak, pine, hickory, tulip poplar, holly and sassafras now grow here.  At the edge of the woods, where some older houses are, stand large oak trees that once marked the boundary.  They now beacon me into their depths.

I enter happily.

Ginger, my Golder Doodle is my constant companion in these woods.  She loves these woods and the freedom she is given to roam here.  We walk the trails for a bit and head to my personal space.  I'll make a fire while she chews on a deer bone she found along one of the paths.  She always faces down the trail, hoping to see her friends Prince and Hawk so she can play for a while.  Her favorite game is stick keep-away.  The field and the trails and all  in between are her playground. 

I consider myself the Steward of this small piece of woods.  I pick up the trash the careless bike riders leave behind and take care of the trails.  My sense of calm keeps me happy.

Feeling "at home" in the woods, no matter how large the tract stretches is key to having the proper state of mind.  If you are constantly fearful of the nasties, complaining about the weather, running from the bugs, starting at every sound in the dark, your survivability is suspect.  Try to not be that "visitor".  Try to accept all that you find there.  Make it work for you.  Try to find that Sense of Calm.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Back to the Steeler Bar

Today the game isn't on tv so we are heading to the local bar to watch. It's just like walking into a bar in the Burgh.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Annual Tradition

Today we headed out to Tridelphia Reservoir where there is a Christmas tree farm that we have been finding our tree for quite a few years now.  It was actually very pleasant out there, with temperatures in the 60s.

We crossed the road and headed up the hillside and before log we found a nice Douglas Fir.  We cut it down and headed back to the main sales area.

We always get a few hot dogs and when it is cold, some hot chocolate.  Ginger seems to have a great time.

Driving home I always had to check my shadow to the side to make sure we didn't lose the tree like we did one time when we first moved to the area.  Now I have a special purpose rooftop tree monitor window.

On the way home the tradition continues that we have to turn the radio to the all Christmas carol station and we watch Shauni work herself up into her Holiday mood.  It has always been a pretty good time.

The tree needed a little shortening once we got it home, but it smells great and looks pretty good.

I started the morning off with putting up the outside lights and tomorrow I will put the lights on the tree.  The rest of the decorating is up to the girls.

It's sometimes hard for me to work myself up into the Christmas mood, but I usually get there after a while.  With my mother passing around this time last year, it will now be a melancholy time for me I'm betting.

The final product.

Happy Yule

Friday, December 7, 2012

Washington Monument Day Hike

Note: I started this entry back on Aug 26th as a place holder for a nice little day hike that Lisa, Ginger and I went on along the AT.  I was checking my post list and saw it and thought I better write it up before it fades much more than it has.

On August 24th Lisa, Ginger and I headed down Rt 70 to the AT Trail head where the trail crosses the highway.  It is a quick and pleasant hour and ten minute drive to the parking lot and the closes point for me to reach my obsession.  We had small packs with water, lunch and rain gear.

The day was rather pleasant.  Not too hot with a mostly overcast sky and a threat of rain later in the day.  We headed down the blue blazed trail towards the AT and started our hike.  We quickly crossed Rt 70 and headed through a small neighborhood.

The trail soon headed up into the woods and climbed up the ridge.  This is a really pleasant hike.  About 3 miles to the Washington Monument (our basic destination for the day) and is easy for children and pets to do.  We saw a few other hikers as we traveled along and had short chats or hellos with each.  

Before too long we reached the monument and took a few pictures.  It was still pretty nice, but you could see the clouds building from the south.  We ate a snack and walked down to the parking lot and refilled our water at a convenient pump near the trail.  

This is a view from in front of the monument.  It looks towards the NW towards Hagerstown and into PA.  

As we hiked back, the sky grew dark and before long we were in the middle of a down pour.  We tried to keep pushing to get to the car but as the chill of this late summer rain storm started working its way into my bones I stopped and dug out my poncho and urged Lisa to do the same.  Ginger just looked at us in her sopping coat and continued on.  It wasn't very long before we were back to the car.  We peeled off our wet shirts and dried Ginger as best we could with a towel we had.  She enjoyed a nice nap as we headed home after a nice hike on the Appalachian Trail; my obsession...

Monday, December 3, 2012

25 Days of WANT

I have started my countdown to Christmas by wishing for a new thing each day and posting it on my Face Book wall along with a convenient link to some site that sells it. 

I don't think I will get any of these things, except one or two, but a guy can wish. 

So far I have asked for a Camo Terrible Towel, a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and a ultralight down jacket.  I have plenty more to wish for before the guy in the red suit comes to town.

This is my selfish way to counter all the "Thankful" posts I had to read all last month.  Fun.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rambling Thoughts

This is what my computer desktop looks like.  That line of weather widgets going up the middle of the screen are basically the way of the Appalachian Trail.  I thought it quite clever to use a screen shot of a map of the local area with the weather widgets placed in their (somewhat) proper place.  I also include a few nearby places of interest to get a quick snapshot of what is happening weather wise around here.

I like to see what conditions are like on my obsession (The AT) at all times.  This morning looks a mite cool.

At least a few times a day, I dream of getting back on the trail and just walking away.  It obsesses me to no end.  I'm always looking at other's gear lists and seeing what I can add to mine to make it lighter or better equipped.  I read trail journals all the time, living vicariously through them until I can write my own entries.

I have several sections planned.  All I need is the time off to do them. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Simple Woodcraft - Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Simple Woodcraft
By Joe Harold

First, an Introduction

I’m Joe Harold.  I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and have been in the Coast Guard for over 29 years.  From the time I was very small my parents would pack up the station wagon and head for the woods.  I developed a healthy respect and devoted love for nature from that early age and now I spend as much time as I can in the bush getting my dirt time.  I have always loved camping and woodcraft.  Backpacking the Appalachian Trail is my latest obsession.  I learned early that cooperating with nature instead of trying to compete with it was the way to be successful and to have a good time in the woods. 

Simple Woodcraft is going to be a collection of my thoughts and experiences as I spend time in the woods.  I am by no means an expert.  I am not here to dictate the ONE way a thing is to be done.  Simple Woodcraft’s purpose is to virtually bring you along on a little hike with me.  Maybe start a fire and talk about the things that can be done out here, simply, that make being in the woods a positive experience.

So, come on along, let’s start our first little journey into Simple Woodcraft. 

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

We have all heard this mantra.  It has been explained countless times by many people.  Here is my take on these great words of wisdom. 
When I first heard Gunny Highway rasp out these momentous words, I took heart.  They immediately felt right.  I found that these three words could sum up how to deal with just about every situation a person could encounter in the wild and I saw the potential for these ideas to work well with survival situations in particular.
You have probably also heard it said that the most important tool you can take with you into the bush is the one between your ears.  Applying improvisation and adaptability by using your brain will help you overcome any situation.
What is improvisation?  The definition is ‘To make or provide from available materials’.  It is simply taking things you have with you or around you and using them to accomplish the tasks needed to not only stay alive, but to be comfortable in your environment and to thrive.  Adaptability is simply changing your environment to fit your needs or your attitude to deal with your environment, so that you can be successful in staying alive.  To overcome is to find a way to make your current situation either better or at least bearable. 
The final goal is to always overcome.  You overcome your situation, you don’t beat nature.  Finding a way to work with nature and not against it is the trick to overcoming a bad situation.
I always try to have at least a few items with me at all times when I enter the woods that will help me improvise, adapt or overcome just about any situation.  At the very least I try to have a cutting tool and a means to make fire.  There are times though that you can unexpectedly be thrust into a survival situation with nothing at all.  Using that most important tool, your brain, which hopefully you can never leave behind, is what you will need to overcome. 
For me, as I improvise items at camp, my attitude improves greatly.  “My” forest is about eleven acres that are surrounded by housing developments.  There is no natural water flowing through these woods, but I really enjoy spending time here and practicing my woodcraft skills.  In these woods, there are really no natural rocks in the ground or on the surface.  I like to have a rock fire ring and also to build a nice reflector that blocks the prevailing wind and bounces that heat towards me.   People like to dump their yard waste at the edge of the forest and for some wise guy; a bunch of broken cement was considered yard waste.  I like to call it urbanite and it works fine as a fire ring/reflector. 

For me, adaptation is usually in my head.  I can make just about any situation better by going through a few mind exercises to align my attitude and make my situation better.  Keeping a positive attitude can’t be emphasized enough.  If you can see the bright side and the possibilities of any situation, you can overcome the obstacles that are in your way.  I never let weather get me down.  If I’m not dressed completely perfect and it is cold out, I will build a debris hut and snuggle down with the leaf litter to keep my core temperature where it needs to be.  Fire is always our friend.  I know you all have noticed how your spirits will raise up as you warm your hands over a nice crackling fire.  Not only is it a morale booster, but it is an integral part of keeping you alive, with a multitude of uses such as keeping you warm, sterilizing your water and cooking our food.  Fire should always be a top priority when you are in a situation that needs taking care of.
So, find a place to play in the dirt.  Remember to use what you have and what you can find to improvise and adapt your environment to what you need it to be, and you will overcome each time.  Just remember that without that “most important tool”, you may get yourself in trouble, so exercise it every chance you get. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Wish A Day

I think I am going to counter the numerous selfless posters who expressed something they were thankful for each day of November by expressing a selfish Christmas wish each day of December.  There are a lot of things I would love to have, but I don't plan on getting any of this stuff.  A guy can make all the wishes he wants.  Wish me luck...

Friday, November 16, 2012

30 Things

I was looking through my work laptop yesterday as I get ready to clean it up for my relief and I found this document that I must have written quite some time ago.  Time to share it with... well, since no one reads this, I'm just sharing it with the Interwebs.  Enjoy.

  1. I secretly hope for something to happen so I can use my self-reliant/survival skills.
  2. I think the best survival tool you have is the one that you have had your whole life and it resides in your cranium. 
  3. I like making fires
  4. I like smelling like smoke.  (Campfire smoke, not cigarette smoke).
  5. I have learned from adventure racing that a person can do a lot more then they think they can.
  6. There is nothing better than a sharp knife.
  7. I am an early morning person.
  8. I really like the moon.
  9. The more you know the less you need.
  10. Two is one and one means you may need to improvise.
  11. The best tasting beer from your batch of home brew is the last one of the batch.
  12. I love four seasons. 
  13. My wife is my best friend.
  14. I don’t like watercraft with engines.  Human powered all the way.
  15. Mountain biking takes a sense of gravity and a faith that it will take you the right way.
  16. Falling off a mountain bike due to gravity hurts.
  17. I find peace in the sound of running water.
  18. I love the smell of new fallen leaves
  19. I was a major slacker in high school. 
  20. I have learned since high school that it takes work to advance in life.
  21. I hate all Geico commercials.
  22. I know how to make fire with a bow drill.
  23. My superpower is cooking by instinct.
  24. I would love to move to the country and live simply.
  25. My favorite sport (to play) is Wallyball.
  26. My favorite sport (to watch) is Steeler Football.
  27. I hate when Facebook statuses try to command or guilt you into re-posting their post.  Be creative and original please.
  28. I haven’t lived in Pennsylvania for over 27 years, but I’m still “from” Pittsburgh and it will always be “home”.
  29. I just realized that each of the people in my family have been born in a different season.  Me – Fall, Lisa – Spring, Shauni – Winter, Brandi – Summer.  Cool!
  30. I don’t believe in religion.  The Divine is in all of us…

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Standing on the Stump

After the election, when everyone was predicting all that gloom and doom, I decided it was my turn to speak my mind on the old FaceBook.  I rarely converse in the language of politics, but I have been thinking about this for a while, so here is what I posted:

It is my turn to jump up on the stump for a minute. It will probably be TLDR, so if your attention span is short (like mine), go look for some pictures of puppies instead of reading this.

(TLDR: Politics suck-Don't blame one person-quit yr whining and get back to work-I may be Jaded)

I'm not going to Google a bunch of useless stats to prove my point. This is just my opinion and we all know th
ose are just like assholes, everyone has one and they usually stink. But here we go.

I have had five different commanders-in-chief (CIC) during my 29 plus years of serving my country. I have to say that I can't completely complain about any of them. Some were better than others, but I think being in the military, a lot of the bad was buffered in some ways. I kept getting annual pay raises, although sometimes not as much as I wanted, and my life has generally improved each year of my service.

Now, this improvement really has nothing to do with who my CIC was. It has everything to do with having a steady job, getting a decent wage and not living beyond my means. I can't see how some people think ONE person can affect so many others. It just isn't so in my book.

The CIC is the top of the top. Only in the most dire circumstances does the CIC get involved in the leading of the troops. He has plenty of leaders who usually handle that job, but ultimately we all answer to the CIC, and we all serve him, no matter which political party he (or we) affiliate with.

I abhor politics. Having been pretty close to the political process for quite a few years here in DC, I have seen the messy, ugly underbelly of politics. I don't like what I see. First of all, politicians don't truly serve the public. They serve their own power. This is super quid-pro-quo land. Nothing gets done unless the politician with the power is going to get something for his or her cooperation. The losers in most of these "deals" are usually the public. Now, I won't say EVERY politician is corrupt, but finding a good one is harder than finding Waldo in a candy cane factory.

The world isn't going to end in the next four years (but if it does, I'm prepared, as everyone should be). Please stop spouting your gloom and doom (you know who you are). Just learn how to keep getting on and you will get on. In four years, you can start posting your negative propaganda against the person you perceive as your enemy and I will promptly mark your posts as spam and move on. (a new hobby of mine). I challenge everyone to not post ANYTHING negative. Try to post ONLY the positive things your candidate will do. I bet you can't do it.

Over the years I have registered as a Republican, Democrat, an Independent and a Libertarian. As you can see, I really don't "Belong" to any one party. I HATE the duopoly of the two party system and since I am all for Liberty and smaller Government, my latest and longest affiliation has been as a Libertarian. Also, don't get me started on the Electoral College. I don't like how that works, but it is what it is, so I'm not going to dwell on it. I will continue to vote for the person I want to have a chance of leading our country, no matter what the odds are of him or her actually getting elected. When you vote for the "lesser of two evils" you are still voting for evil, so think about that the next time you advise someone to do that.

Each of us is given a vote to use as we see fit. No one can tell us how to use it. It is ours alone. We can "waste" it or not even cast it if that is what we want to do. It is our decision. Before you go all "if you don't vote, you can't complain", I call BULLSHIT. No matter what you do with your one true vote, you never give up any of your rights and that includes the 1st Amendment right of free speech. So spare me the whining. In the awesome words of Rush (The Rock Group, not Limbaugh) - "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice" (I know they are Canadians, but I love Rush). It's called Free Will.

I may be jaded. I have had it pretty easy being in the Military for the last three decades. My pay is ok, I get tax free money to help pay for my house, my food and a few other things. My healthcare for myself and my family has been very reasonable and we are so used to the Primary Care Manager way of doing healthcare, that nothing fazes us anymore. I may be in for a very rude awakening come next September when I take off my uniform for the last time and finally enter the scary world of the civilian. Who knows, maybe I'll be one of those rabid political commentators who feel so strong about who gets elected (but I will try to follow my own rule of only posting the POSITIVE things my candidate will do and never post or even "like" any NEGATIVE Shit) Tune in next year to see if I eat crow or maybe, just maybe, find a way to keep on living a decent life no matter who lives in the White House.

If you are still reading, I commend you for sticking with my blather. I welcome your comments, but there is no need to repost, like, share or anything else you don't feel like doing.

Carry on,

Gifts to the Voters

I have lately been getting a kick out of going over to and reading all the funny petitions that people have started demanding to secede from the union.  It's just too funny.  First Louisiana wanted out,  then Texas (which has been wanting out ever since we "forced" them in), then all manner of other states.  Did we learn nothing from the Civil War so long ago?  Do these states understand what seceding from the union means?  Nothing like that is ever done peacefully and when you are out, all the wonderful things that being a part of the United States means goes away too.  Get a grip and get real.

After a day or two a few other petitions popped up calling for the immediate deportation of all those who signed any petition to secede.  This just keeps getting better and better.

This morning I heard that Mittens is still a little bitter about losing.  He was trying to explain to these sad republicans that Obama won because he offered "gifts" to certain groups to vote for him.  I can't wait to see where this one goes.  When do these gifts arrive in the mail?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Luckily, for us, the storm was a non issue. Our power flickered once and it messed up my On Demand watching of the latest episode of Boardwalk Empire, but I just had to wait until the box updated itself and then I continued watching.

Our back yard looks like a pond with a creek running through it, and the pool cover collapsed into the pool, but I was able to fix the extra accumulation of water on the hot tub cover by shoring the cover up with poles, brooms and rakes.

The girl's schools have been closed the last two days and the Federal Government has also been shut down, so no work for me.  Not complaining, but I actually contemplated driving down to the office today just for something to do.  I quickly came to my senses and will just monitor my phone for emails during the day.

The wind was pretty strong throughout the day yesterday, but it didn't knock all the leaves off the maple and river birch, nor did it blow all the leaves off my lawn thus saving me any raking.  The rain was constant yesterday and pretty heavy at times.  Ginger and I still enjoyed two quick walks into the woods though, but we hurried back each time after the business was done. 

This bucket was empty yesterday...

So, I think we live in a good area of Pasadena.  Our power lines are underground and we rarely have long outages when the storms blow through.  The creek in the yard will eventually drain into the nearby settlement pond and life will go on. 

Thoughts go out to those more negatively affected.  Hopefully everyone was prepared.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Some pictures from our section hike:

Friday, September 28, 2012

AT Section Hike - Snickers Gap to VA602

1. 23 SEP 2012
2. Day 1
3. 10.5
4. 58 degrees @ 1130
5. Mostly sunny, cool - Perfect!
6. Rod Hollow Shelter
7. Lots of hikers - a mushroom growing in the hollow of a tree

(Total trip for the day was 10.5, but the entry only measures the distance from Sam Moore to Rod Hollow, since the first 3.6 miles were a repeat from April)

We were up and out the door a little after 0800 and after dropping the truck at the NOVA 4H, we arrived at the Snickers Gap (Rt 7) parking lot around 1130, right on schedule.

We saw quite a few day hikers and a couple back packers as we made our way past Bear's Den Rocks and towards Sam Moore Shelter where we ate lunch. We had a nice talk with a group out for the weekend that had started somewhere south and were headed to Harpers Ferry.

The hike was nice, with perfect weather. We each felt good and at the two test points, decided to go the whole 10.5 for day 1. I had done some calculations using a 2 mph rate and found that we were a little behind the first few hours, but seemed to pick up our pace later in the day as we finished the roller coaster.

We arrived at Rod Hollow Shelter at 1810 which put our first hiking day at 6 hours and 37 minutes. So we averaged just under 1.4 mph. This includes all rest stops, water breaks and lunch. Not too bad. We felt good, but tired as expected.

We set up our hammocks using three trees and gathered some wood for a fire.

Today was my 50th birthday and Lisa surprised me with two cupcakes and a lit candle and a few "refreshments". We cooked some hotdogs over the fire and were heading to the hammocks to read and sleep at 2000. I can't think of a better way to spend any birthday than on the trail.

So ended day 1.

1. 24 SEP 2012
2. Day 2
3. 12.9
4. 44 degrees @ 0530
5. Clear and sunny. Some fair weather clouds off and on.
6. Manassas Gap Shelter
7. Rt 50, Ava (Hot Pants)

Lessons (re)learned: Socks and hat to bed. Covering those two areas sure help with keeping warm.

I wasn't too cold during the night, but could have been warmer. I had decided to bring my patrol bag (which is probably a 40 degree bag) and we were trying out some reflector type insulation under us, (which you really need in a hammock), but not having my feet and head covered made me notice the early morning chill.

I never sleep very well the first night on the trail and I was tossing and turning around 0400 and after some reading, I decided to get up at 0430 and start a fire. I puttered around a bit making coffee and packing up my stuff as I waited for the day to start and my bride to stir. We broke camp and headed out at 0805.

Once again, the weather was perfect for hiking. The mid 40's temp slowly rose into the 60's and the hills kept us warmed enough as the day went on. We moved along at our leisurely pace, taking short breaks when we felt like it and arrived at Dick's Dome Shelter just before 1300. This was a possible stop for the day at 8.4 miles, but it was still early and we felt good. Besides, there really weren't any good places to hang our hammocks near the shelter.

We headed out after our lunch and passed a possible SOBO thru hiker as we climbed back to the trail, saying hi as we passed. We really hadn't seen many people out during our morning hike, but we did pass a sleeping tent around 0900 about two miles from last night's shelter.

Onwards we headed south towards Manassas Gap Shelter which would be our stop for the night. We arrived at the Shelter at 1545 and scouted out the area. Our pace had picked up a bit today. We hiked 7 hours 40 minutes which put us at a 1.68 mph pace for the 12.9 miles. Not too bad for section hikers.

There were no good trees near the shelter, but a nice campsite on the other side of the AT, so we claimed that area for the night.

As we hung out at the shelter getting ready for dinner, another hiker came down the blue blaze to the shelter. She was Ava aka Hot Pants and that was her tent we had passed in the morning. She had started a SOBO thru a few years ago and got as far as Harpers Ferry and was now out for 10 days or so to get a little more done. She had been with a friend up until now, but he had a plane to catch and she was now alone.

We ended up making a fire after dinner and had some good conversation. Her plans were rather loose and free of care, but as she talked of her possible plans, I offered to give her a ride to Harpers Ferry if we all ended up at the same place at the same time at the end of tomorrow's hike. She readily accepted.

Our original plan was four days of hiking (about 8 to 10 miles a day) with three nights out on the trail, but we were making better miles and were going to easily finish the 35.4 miles that were planned by tomorrow afternoon.

Once again our hiker midnight approached and we headed up the trail to our waiting hammocks for another night on the trail.

So ended day 2.

1. 25 SEP 2012
2. Day 3
3. 12.1
4. 44 degrees @ 0730
5. Another beautiful day
6. VA 602, and then Harpers Ferry
7. Zoological Society area

After another cool night, I actually didn't get out of the hammock until daylight had started to creep into the woods and after breakfast and packing up, we hit the trail at 0903 for our last day's hike.

We had now found our groove and were getting used to hiking up and down ridges all day with 30 plus pounds on our backs. I had actually gotten my first blister in I don't know how long, but it was on my little toe of my right foot. I drained it and put a little neosporen on it and used a little of the liquid powder on my feet to try and make sure I didn't get more. We all had that hiker hobble that makes you move like an old person for a few seconds after sitting still for a while and just about every muscle from my lower back to my feet was sore. But as I always say, it was a good soreness. It told me that I was challenging my body and even though it was complaining, I was doing OK. It is that kind of feeling that tells you you are alive.

Hot Pants left a little after us, but shortly caught up. I think she was pacing herself to not get ahead of us, but she did say her hiking style is pretty slow as she stops to take a picture or talk to another hiker. All during the day she would fall behind quite a ways, and then would be right with us again.

Once again we couldn't have asked for better weather. The sun was shining and I actually put on my sun glasses for one meadow walk, if only to justify carrying them for over 20 miles without needing them. I will most likely leave them behind next time to try and save some weight.

We stopped at the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter for lunch. It is a very nice and new shelter and there was even a solar shower there that I used to rinse off my shirt and bandannas and give myself a quick upper body wipe even though the water was spring water cold. It was refreshing.

Before too long we only had one more climb ahead of us before our hike was over. We took a nice break at a stream where we filled our bottles for the final push. My epi pen was acting up so Hot Pants let us use her Aqua Mira. I decided to get me some of that for either my primary if the epi doesn't fix itself or at least a back up for future use.

We all arrived at the road within 5-10 minutes of each other and headed towards the truck. Today's hike was 12.1 miles and we finished in 6 hours and 15 minutes which showed we had sped up a tad more to 1.9 mph. They weren't hikers legs, but we were definitely improving our speed.

We had parked near the pool at the top of a hill, so when we got to the bottom, we dropped our packs and I headed up to retrieve the truck. I tried to run a little up the hill, but only lasted for a couple hundred meters. When I got to the Vue, there were stink bugs all over the sunny side of it. As I opened the doors, a whole lot of them had made their way into the cracks of the door and getting them off gave me the creeps. I had a flashback to 1975 when the movie Bug had come out. The bugs in the film were cockroaches that could heat up and catch people and things on fire, but still it was just creepy.

We loaded up the truck and headed to the van up at snickers gap and then to Harpers Ferry and the Teahorse Hostel. We checked in and Hot Pants treated us to some nice pizza down the road. There was a SOBO thru hiker there named Half Way who was trying to heal a shin problem and three section hikers who had slacked from Snickers Gap that day.

After a dessert of a Klondike bar, we headed off to bed at our latest for the week. Lisa and I were in the "women's" bunk room, while the rest stayed in the "men's".

Thus ended day three and the hiking part of our adventure.

Today was also a good day.

I woke up some time after six and got up to some nice coffee and waffle.

Lisa and I thought the ATC opened at 0800 and we went over there, but it didn't open until 0900, so Lisa brought me back to the Hostel and then she headed home.

I had offered Half Way a ride to the Urgent Care place in Charles Town which opened at 0900.

Hot Pants came along and we did a quick shopping trip to Wal-mart where I got a replacement food bag which I had broke while trying to get it off the bear pole yesterday morning.

We checked back with Half Way and he had a rather long wait, so we headed back to Harpers Ferry.

I dropped Hot Pants off at the Hostel and headed to the ATC.

I was like a kid in a candy store there and after joining the Conservancy, I bought a few items to feed my fixation of the trail.

Next stop was the outfitter on Potomac St where I bought some Aqua Mira and after that I headed home.

Once again this was a good hike and I had the best company I could wish for in my bride Lisa. She can not only keep up, but usually she leaves me behind on the up hills. She was going slow on the down hills as the were hurting her knee (downs hurt me too), so I was giving here the tentative trail name of Low Gear, which she promptly vetoed. I really need to find my own trail name before I go off naming others, but for now El Jefe will work.

I do get a lot of comment on my Steeler tattoo, so....

Thus ended our annual adventure. Turning 50 isn't nothin. It's just a number.

I'll see you on the trail.