Friday, March 29, 2013

A Dog, A Trail and Some Snow - Day 3

Morning came once again.  Ginger was moving around at 0200 and I let her out for a bit to see if she had to go to the bathroom, but she just looked around a bit and came back in.  It seemed that there wasn't too much snow at that time, but at 0600 when we both got up there was quite a different scene.  It looked like around 3 or more inches were on the ground and the flakes were still coming done steadily.

I started getting breakfast ready in the now 45 degree cabin and we waited for the day to begin.  The alcohol stove had no problem getting lit this morning and after eating a warm breakfast and drinking some coffee, I started packing up, cleaning the cabin and getting ready to face the snow. 

Snowy morning arrives
Cabin in the morning
The trees have eyes
We were all ready to go at 0750.  Ginger eagerly headed out breaking trail.  We had quite a climb out of the valley to the trail and the snow was pretty deep with our tracks the only ones in the forest.  The snow had stuck on everything.  Every branch, twig and leaf had a white coating.  I could tell within the first few minutes that this was going to be a challenge with Ginger.  Snow just loves to clump on her paws and after about five or ten minutes, she was laying down and working on her paws.  This started the process of letting her break trail (she wanted to be out front all the time), me watching her and cleaning off her paws of all the snow I could when the need arose.  We had about 2.5 miles until we hit the first road crossing so my concern grew as Ginger's hiking times became shorter and shorter.  I was pretty sure that we weren't going to be able to do the whole 10 miles of trail.  I wasn't too worried because I know that things have a way of working out on the trail.  It would be interesting to see just how things would turn out.  We would find out before too long.

Ginger on the snowy trail
The heavy snow sticking on all the rhododendron made the plants lean into the trail.  One time my pole and leg slipped out from under me and I went down on my left knee and bumped into a tree next to the trail.  Of course the tree's whole load of snow cascaded right down on to me.  I just laughed and moved on.

Back on the AT after quite a climb
The temperature was right around freezing, maybe even a little warmer and there was no wind at all.  This made my hiking rather comfortable even though my two merino wool shirts were soaked with sweat from climbing out of the valley.  I just kept walking and cleaning Gingers paws, which made my gloves rather wet, but I wasn't cold in any way. 

Same view of White Rocks as yesterday, but a little different
We arrived back at White Rocks overlook and you couldn't see very far this day.  The rocks were truly white along with everything else.  Every once and a while the snow would decide to fall off a bush or branch off in the distance and Ginger would see it.  She would always go on alert, thinking that it was an animal or something.  It was rather funny to watch.  I used my hiking poles a lot to knock the snow off branches blocking the trail.  Once I tapped the branch, the snow would fall and the branch would spring up out of the way.  It was magical.

A creative sawyer
We made our way up to the top of the knoll and before too long, we came upon the road that leads to the top of the knoll.  I was rather surprised that the road was clear, but being clear, I knew what our next course of action was going to be.  I got out the map and saw that the road led to Fox Gap exactly where the trail would come out.  The road it was.  My relief was palatable as we started walking down the road and Ginger's paws, which had resembled large Q-Tips for the last hour or so began to look normal again as the snow melted off.  The road was actually a few tenths of a mile less than the trail, so no worries.  

Our road out of here
We got to the bottom of the hill at Fox Gap where we had seen the Union Soldiers two days ago.  I studied the map again and saw that it was a one mile straight shot on the trail to Rt 40 where the Old South Mountain Inn was located.  My plan was to get there, even though it was probably closed, and get my phone out, study maps, maybe find a shuttle driver to call or something, but I knew I would do something.  The map also showed that I could walk down the road for about .6 of a mile then head north on another road for a mile that paralleled the ridge.  I again decided to go the road route.  There would be people driving by on these roads, and who knows when you would find an angel behind the wheel ready to help a pitiful looking hiker and his snowy, wet dog.

Same power line I would have crossed on the trail
The road was going to be about 1/2 a mile longer than the trail, but all was good.  Keeping Ginger's paws clean was worth the extra mileage and it was real easy trail.  We got to the bottom of the hill and started up the second road.  This road rose back up in elevation as we made our way to Rt 40.  Just as we came to the stop sign at Rt 40, an SUV came down the road we were walking on and stopped.  I saw the window go down, so I went over to the truck.  The woman inside said I could cross the street, but I asked her if the Old South Mountain Inn was up the road.  She confirmed it was and also confirmed that it was closed.  I told her I just wanted to regroup there as I was just trying to get back to my truck outside of Myersville.  Eventually she told me to get in and we loaded up and we were off for the trail head.  Gale was the name of my trail angel.  We had some good conversation during the ten minute drive back to the truck and by 1100 Ginger and I were back at the Subaru and heading to McDonald's to celebrate our weekend of adventure. 

Looking at Google Maps the next day, I saw there were good roads paralleling the trail all the way back to the trail head.  It would have been another five miles of road walking, but we could have made it easily.

Like I always say.  There is something magical surrounding the trail.  Things just work out.  Keeping the right attitude and a clear mind is all it takes.  I can't wait for the next adventure. 

Class of 2013 Update

The trail giveith and the trail taketh away.

Here is a status update of the hikers I am following this year.  A couple got off trail, some for good, others to heal.  I removed a couple who don't journal much and added some new starters and two Warrior Hikers.

Keep on hiking hikers.

Trail Name Start Date Last Entry Location Total Miles Days since Start
PrayerWalker 14-Feb-13 27-Mar-13 Home 150.7 41
Blues Man 16-Feb-13 27-Mar-13 Damascus 468.3 39
Rash 17-Feb-13 28-Mar-13 Erwin, TN 343.4 39
Groundpounder 18-Feb-13 25-Mar-13 Erwin, TN 340 35
Boo Boo 21-Feb-13 25-Mar-13 Hot Springs, NC 282.7 32
Bazinga 27-Feb-13 26-Mar-13 Hughes Gap 371.3 27
HotDog 6-Mar-13 28-Mar-13 Derrick Knob Shelter 188.8 22
Karma 7-Mar-13 28-Mar-13 Cody's Gap 156 21
Hiking Home 7-Mar-13 23-Mar-13 Newfound Gap/Home 206.8 16
Infinity 8-Mar-13 24-Mar-13 Past Tellico Gap/Not sure 129.3 16
Lady Grey 8-Mar-13 28-Mar-13 Newfound Gap/Gatlinburg 206.2 20
50/50 15-Mar-13 27-Mar-13 Franklin, NC 95.3 12
Brown Squirrel 17-Mar-13 25-Mar-13 Dicks Creek Gap/Hiawassee 68 8
Jacko 21-Mar-13 24-Mar-13 Neels Gap/Blairsville 31.7 3
Odat 25-Mar-13 28-Mar-13 Low Gap Shelter 43.3 3
Mother Goose 28-Mar-13

PrayerWalker is back home again with a hurt leg.  Still plans on returning
Bazinga has left the trail and has done all he needed to. 
Hiking Home had to get off for a while due to the weather and an old frost bite injury that had to be protected.
Infinity is done.  Her knees done her in. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Dog, A Trail and Some Snow - Day 2

We tossed and turned a lot during the night.  The temperature dipped into the 20s and Ginger kept tossing and turning all night (me too).  I tired to get her into my bag, but she couldn't figure out what I was doing.  I ended  up covering her with her own blanket and around 0700 the woods began to lighten with the dawn. 

Ginger greeting the day
Since today's hike wasn't going to be very far, I leisurely went about the morning camp chores.  I got the fire going again and started getting ready to heat some water for coffee.  The thermometer said about 25 degrees and the water in my bottle was a little slushy. 

It was so cold, my alcohol stove didn't want to light. Luckily the fire was going nice and there was a spot to set the pot, so I used the fire to heat my water.  The problem with alcohol stoves at cold temperatures is the alcohol needs to vaporize and that is what catches aflame.  It was so cold that the alcohol wouldn't evaporate and therefore I couldn't get it lit with my ferro rod. 

The fire did its job and I had some hot coffee and cold cereal for breakfast.  Ginger had a nice helping of dry dog food and I slowly got everything packed and ready to go. 

We set out on the trail at around 0900.  The trail quickly heads up Lamb's Knoll, named after a family by the name of Lamb who farmed the summit in the 1830s.  It is the second tallest peak on South Mountain in Maryland.  Shortly after crossing the road that leads to the peak, I searched for and found my last geocache of the trip.  The hint was right on and I quickly saw a place to look for the cache after bushwhacking for a while and there it was.  We ambled along the trail, neither one of us in a hurry.  Pileated woodpeckers would belt out their laugh like call and their pounding would echo deeply throughout the forest.  Ginger would stop and wonder what the bass like rapping was every once and a while.

Deer skull
I knew we would be coming to the White Rocks overlook soon and just before we arrived we came across this cool deer skull up in a tree.  As we came down the trail to the overlook we saw two hikers hanging out at the view.  We dropped packs and had some water. We talked a little and I learned of a campsite down in the valley near the cabin but far enough away to avoid disturbing the current residents if they were still in occupancy.  I knew that someone had rented out the cabin for the weekend and technically I wasn't supposed to check in until 1500, but if they were gone, I was moving in.  The guys said that a couple had been at the cabin when they checked it out. 

What a view
As we were checking out the view and taking pictures, three other hikers came down the trail from the south.  We had another nice talk about the things all hikers talk about and before long the five guys were heading north and Ginger and I continued south.
I know you have a snack in your hand

It was just another .6 of a mile until our blue blaze trail down to the cabin and not even 1030 yet, so slow going was the rule of the day.  Before long we came to the sign that told us to now follow the blazes colored blue instead of white, and they headed down hill.  We would move to almost the bottom of this valley before our hike was done for the day.  About 560 feet in elevation.

After about a half mile or so, we came to Bear Spring.  The water looked delicious coming out of the hillside and of course we filled up and cameled up at the same time.  Within about 100 yards of the spring was the campsite that the guys had mentioned.  I figured it was time to take another break as it was only around 1100.  I went over to the fire pit and felt that there was still quite a bit of heat coming from the coals.  Before long I had another nice fire going to help warm us as we sat still and killed some time.  There was plenty of wood nearby. 

We ate some snacks and explored around a little.  As we were hanging out a couple with a german shepherd came by and said hello as they passed down the trail towards the cabin.  Ginger got a little possessive (and she doesn't like german shepherds much for some reason) and she had to give a little aggressive display as they passed.  Before long I figured it was time to check out the cabin.  If the occupants were still there, we could continue down to the parking area and just so some more hiking.  As we were heading down, the couple with the dog were coming back up and we talked a while.  They had mistakenly thought that all the blue blazes connect together.  They had started near Gathland State Park and had thought they could get back there by following the blue blaze down the hillside.  Unfortunately they had a nice uphill climb to get back to the AT and eventually back to their starting point.  The one thing they did was confirm that the cabin was empty. 
Bear Spring
Down the trail we went and before long we could see the cabin and its summer kitchen pavilion.  It was a cool looking sight.  One of the rules of staying in the cabin was to leave at least enough dry wood in the cabin to run the stove the first night.  After checking that there was a large amount of wood in the cabin, I started doing some gathering.  I wanted to make sure I had gathered enough wood (and then some) for my needs this night as I was pretty sure the ground was going to be covered with that cold white stuff in the morning and I certainly didn't want to be trying to find good wood and cutting it in the cold snowy morning.  So that was my priority.  We made about three trips out into the level forest and I had a nice pile of uncut wood going.  It was now time to break for lunch.  We had a nice lunch in the cabin and then it was time to bring in some more wood. 

Just as we headed into the forest, I looked back and saw a hiker by the cabin.  I headed back and there was a family of three checking out the site.  We started talking some more and they conveyed that they were thinking of renting the cabin some day.  I immediately invited them in to check out the cabin and we talked for a while.  They were heading for Rocky Run shelter tonight and continuing north in the morning to where we had parked at the Rt 40/70 trail head.  Before long they were on their way up the trail with the excitement of one day renting the cabin and I was back into the forest looking for some bigger sized dead logs to cut up.  I found a very nice tree that looked like it had fallen fairly recently.  It was long dead and perfectly dry.  I broke some pieces off and lugged a very long piece back to the cutting area and my wood gathering was complete.  It was now time to make wood burner sized pieces out of them. 

That chore didn't take too long and it really got the blood flowing.  Once I had most of the wood cut and stacked, I took a large bundle into the cabin and it was now time to get the placed heated up some.
Bear Spring cabin
Once we got the fire going and the cabin warmed up, it was time for a nap.  We rested for an hour or two and then we just played around the cabin site and explored some.  The creek runs right behind the cabin so I filled a water jug for some cooking water and soon it was time for dinner.  I had tried to warm water on the stove, but it didn't get real hot and when I put my can of chicken into the mixture, it was so cold that it lowered the temperature of the whole meal.  I warmed it up some on the stove, but it just wasn't doing the trick, so Ginger got a second dinner of my left overs. 
Wood burner
The sun went behind the mountain a little earlier this day since we were so far down the side of the ridge and I saw a flake or two falling around 1900.  We went inside and I lit some candles and we just laid around and read for a while.  I finally rolled over to sleep near 2100.  It was time for our second night on the trail.  The cabin had warmed up nicely, but I knew it wouldn't last the whole night.  I had my trusty sleeping bag and Ginger had her blanket.  Bring on the snow...

Summer Kitchen
To be continued... Day 3 - The snow arrives and we find a trail angel. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Dog, A Trail and Some Snow - Day 1

My obsession with the AT continues.  I look for ways to hike on it and sleep on it whenever I can.  Last weekend, was another of those chances to do some hiking and some sleeping on the trail.  Three days of hiking with two overnights.  My hiking partner for this trip would be my faithful companion Ginger.  She loves going for walks and when she is in the woods, she is even happier.

Since my Friday nights are still occupied with Wallyball, the plan was to head out Saturday morning and stay out until Monday afternoon.  I had taken a day of leave on Monday.  One of my last days of leave before my final chunk as I head into retirement.  The first night we planned on staying at the Rocky Run Shelter, about 6.9 miles south of the Rt 70/40 trail head.  For the second night I had reserved the PATC Bear Spring Cabin.  I had also looked up a few Geocaches as something I might do to break up the hiking day.  I was very excited to get on the trail again and even though the weather forecast called for possible snow on Sunday night, so it was sure to make things interesting as we hiked back to the truck on Monday morning.

I left the club a little earlier than usual as I wanted to try and get some sleep before we hit the trail.  I got up just before 0700 and after some coffee and gear load out we were on the road at about 0850.  We stopped at McDonald's for some breakfast and were at the trailhead at about 1015 or so.  Now, this is a Saturday with a bright blue sky and the temperatures near 50.  Everyone and their doggie brother were at the trail head and after a ride through, there were no real spaces to park.  I found a place to put the Subaru while I waited for a space to open up.  I hoped it wouldn't be too long, but I knew I had some time before things would get dicey.  I let Ginger out and we were going to walk to the end of the lot where a guard rail cache was supposed to be hidden, but before I got 30 feet I saw two guys getting into their car.  I asked them if they were heading out and when they replied in the affirmative, I ran back to the SUV and got a pretty primo spot in the lot.  We were on the trail by 1037. 
The start of our hike. Crossing over Interstate 70
I have done this hike to Rocky Run before,  It is a real nice and pretty easy going, but I was in no hurry.  After we cleared the two road crossings, I let Ginger have her lead and we meandered on to our first waypoint.  The Washington Monument is about three miles down the trail.  This monument dates back to 1827 and was initially built by the citizens of Boonsboro, MD and was refurbished by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936.  Just before the path veers off towards the monument, there is a large boulder field.  Within this boulder field is the next Geocache that we were going to find.  I headed into the field using the hint and Ginger bounced along behind me.  She seemed to enjoy the boulders and she explored while I quickly found the cache on the cold stone and signed the log, then re-hid the cache.
Ginger hopping boulders
Ready to head out
We continued up to the monument for our first break, where Ginger had a little snack and some water.  The breeze was cold moving over the ridge, so we shouldered our packs and continued on down the hill.  After refilling our water bottle with some nice rusty water at the pump near the visitor center, we continued on our hike.

Before long we were approaching the old Route 40 where the Dahlgren Chapel has stood since 1881. 
Dahlgren Chapel

View to the east
Here I found another cache after enjoying a nice view to the east.

A short few minutes later we were at Dahlgren campground, which is a free campground with a shower house and rest rooms.  Of course the building was closed for the season, but there was a porta potty there and water was 150 yards back up the road.  We filled up on water took a little pack off break and then headed on after eating some more snacks.  We were getting pretty close to the end of our first days hike, but we had one more cache to find before we arrived at the shelter. 
Dahlgren Campground
Fife and Drum Family
 As we came upon the road crossing at Fox Gap where Major General Reno's monument was, I saw an interesting sight.  Next to the monument dedicated to the general who was killed here in 1862 by friendly fire in the darkness after a battle were three union soldiers all equipped with fife and drum.  I had to see what they were doing, so Ginger and I headed over.  They were practicing and I asked if I could take a picture.  They obliged and as I headed back down the trail I could hear their music flowing across the field.

We found the last cache of the day on the edge of a power line about a mile or so from the shelter and before long we were walking down the blue blaze trail to the shelter.  Rocky Run shelter is actually two shelters.  The older one is further down the trail near the nice spring and the new one is a really nice shelter.  There was no one else around and after checking out the area for good tent sites, I decided to set up the tent inside the shelter.  I wanted to use the tent to corral Ginger since she can get a little skittish at night, growing and barking at imagined noises in the dark.  I figured if anyone else showed up I could always move to one of the other sites I scouted, but we ended up being the only occupants of the shelter for the night.

The last time I was here I was also all alone.  That night was quite different back in July of last year, I suffered through the night as the local tree frogs peeped a cacophony throughout the night.  I cursed myself for forgetting my earplugs.  This night would be filled with a deafening silence as the woods continued their sleep not realizing that Spring had arrived a few days ago.

Just chillin
As I hung out by the shelter, doing the chores one does while preparing for the night, I had three sets of visitors.  First a couple who were were looking for the shelter that had a swing.  I told them that the swing was at the old shelter down the trail a little by the spring and I pointed it out through the bare woods.  The second was a group of three that were just out checking the area in preparation of bringing some boy scouts out later in the year.  The third was a man and his son. The man was a two time thru hiker by the name of Han Solo.  He was introducing his younger son to the trail.  The boy's older brother was on the trail now, down south, attempting his own thru hike.

I made a nice fire and was getting ready to get inside the tent as the sun dropped behind the ridge and the temperature started to plummet.  I enjoyed talking to each of the other hikers and it would have been nice to share the large shelter with other hikers, but tonight Ginger and I would be alone together. 

It ain't camp unless there is a fire
Ginger was in a playful mood and would keep grabbing her blanket in her mouth and taking it down by the fire pit to play with.  She seemed to be really enjoying herself and already had a hiker's appetite. 

Playful puppy
The night would grow even colder, but we both survived it and were ready for a new day as the forest grew lighter and the new day arrived. 

To be Continued...  Next - Day 2 - Hiking to the cabin

Monday, March 25, 2013

AT Hike

I'm in a cabin in the woods with my dog. We are having fun hiking.  Love it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Weekend on the Trail and The Warrior Hike

The First Washington Monument
With Lisa in Florida, I made plans for Ginger and I to hit the trail here in Maryland and head south for a 20 mile or so two night three day hike.

Here is the plan:
Today: (Friday Mar 22) Make sure everything is ready to go.  I have my and Ginger's backpacks all ready to go with a few exceptions.  I will probably be digging out some cold weather gear as it is around 28 degrees now and should be about the same tomorrow morning when we head out.  Tonight is Wallyball, so when that is done, I will try to not stay too late and get home for some sleep.

Saturday: We will get up when we do (I rarely sleep late) and head out after some coffee and treats.  I think we will hit the McDonald's for breakfast a few miles from the trail head.  We will park near Rt 70 and head south.  I have marked a couple geocaches on my phone and we may search for some of them if the mood strikes me.  There is one (most likely a guardrail) near the trail head by a sign.  If Ginger is ok, we will take a quick look for it.

Heading south we will pass through a neighborhood and up towards the Washington Monument.  That is about three miles in.  There is a cache in pile of rocks next to the trail that we have failed to find in the past.  Maybe I will try again with the hint.  Down the hill is a water faucet, so no treatment needed yet as we camel up.  From there we move along the ridge.  We pass the Dahlgren Chapel where the next cache lies  and will continue on until we come to a power line right away where another cache awaits.  Shortly after that we will be at Rocky Run Shelter where we will spend the night.  This is about a 6.9 mile hike.  Since Ginger is a little skittish in the woods at night, I will be bringing the tent and going to ground for this night.  There should be plenty of places to set up even though this is the last weekend of spring break for the area schools.

Sunday: We will slowly make our way up the nearby mountain of Lamb's Knoll.  Today is a short hike because I have reservations at the Bear Spring Cabin which is down a blue blaze trail from atop the knoll.  We aren't supposed to show up there until 3:00 pm, so there will be no hurry to break camp and get down the trail.  There is one more cache up near the top of the knoll that we will search for using the hints.  This day's hike is only about 3 miles or so.  It looks like someone is using the cabin for the weekend, so I probably shouldn't show up too early, but I can always get close and start gathering some fire wood.

Sunday night the weather is due to arrive.  It won't be very warm and right now it looks like a wintry mix.  It will be good having a roof over our heads and I plan on using that wood stove to its fullest.

Monday: The cold, snowy weather is predicted to remain throughout this day, so it will be a fun 10 mile hike back to the car.  There are numerous places where we will be able to get out of the weather if need be, but I think we will do just fine.  This will be a good test of the meager cold weather gear I have as well as some practice in late winter (actually early spring) hiking.

Warrior Hike
I have a few more hikers to follow.  Last year two Marine Captains who were finishing their military careers hiked the trail for a great charity.  They made it all the way of course and ended up raising over $50K for specially equipped vehicles for wounded warriors.  This year they are sponsoring (along with the ATC) 14 veteran hikers as they "Walk Off the War".  They will also be visiting VFWs and raising funds but have had their hike virtually paid for by sponsors.  I good bit of healing and doing good as they hike the trail.  Check out their website at

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Class of 13 Update - 3/17

Let's see where St Patrick's Day finds our hikers.

I removed two hikers from my update list (Inchworm and Bush Whacker).  Inchworm hasn't made any updates, but I did see someone else mention her being on the trail.  Sometimes it is just too much to on-line journal when hiking.  Completely understandable.  Bush Whacker's posts are sporadic and he doesn't record location or miles much.  I will replace him with more prolific journalists.  I added Lady Gray to the list and 50/50 just started on Friday.  Lady Gray was hiking with Infinity, but has moved ahead, so she gets her own line now.  Female Sasquatch is now Hotdog, acquiring her trail name as she ate a delicious hotdog at Neel's Gap. 

Here are the hiker's latest status:  Notes= date of last entry, location and total (AT) miles hiked.

Trail NameStart DateNotes
PrayerWalker14-Feb-13  3/16-Back on trail-Franklin, NC-78.1
Blues Man16-Feb-13  3/13-Hot Springs-275.4
Rash17-Feb-13  3/15-Standing Bear Hostel-242.3
Groundpounder18-Feb-13  3/14-Gatlinburg-210
Boo Boo21-Feb-13  3/13-Fontana Dam-173.4
Bazinga27-Feb-13  3/16-Standing Bear Hostel-240.8
Sole Sister1-Mar-13  3/8-Steel Trap Gap-45.1
punkin pie1-Mar-13  3/8-Fontana Dam
Hotdog6-Mar-13  3/16-Standing Indian Shelter-86.3
Karma7-Mar-13  3/14-Hiawassee-52.9
Hiking Home7-Mar-13  3/14-Wallace Gap-106.7
Infinity8-Mar-13  3/16-Bly Gap-79
Lady Grey8-Mar-13  3/16-Muskrat Creek Shelter-81.5
50/5015-Mar-13  3/15-Hawk Mountain Shelter-8.1

Hike on Class of 13 .


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gearing up for Spring(er) and Springing up for Gear

The other night we headed out once again on our forever quest of finding shoes for Lisa that won't produce the mother of all blisters.  She always has had a problem and is real picky on choosing a shoe with the proper fit.  Or as close to proper as she can get.

We went to the old mall and hit some of the stores.  Finally in Sears I think, we found some New Balance that didn't pinch the sides of her feet.  Hopefully these will work.

We also found some cheapo Crocks in the Five Below.  A bright yellow.  Lisa is just about done on gear.  I think the last thing she needs to decide on is a fleece, hoodie, thingy for in camp warmth.

On another note, Ginger and I will be heading to the trail next Saturday while Lisa is in Florida.  We tried on her pack the other day. I wanted to have her get used to it again.  I had to loosen a few of the straps since Ginger, like her master, has put on a few pounds.  May the trail take them away from us together.

Giving me a pissed off look
But getting into the groove later on

Our trip is simple and one I had basically done before.  We park at the Rt 70 overpass and hike south to Rocky Run Shelter.  The next day we will spend slinking around White Rocks and the Lambs Knoll.  We are staying in the Bear Spring Cabin the second night and can't check in until 3:00 pm.  This is a pretty short hike, so slowness will be the rule of the day.  The final day, we will hike about 10 miles back to the car.  I wanted to see what one of the PATC cabins look like and this one is as good as any and fairly close to home. 

This week, the temperatures rose, the peepers started to peep, my allergies came around for a visit and the Silver Maple in the yard has sent out some buds.  Spring is about to arrive here in Central Maryland. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Garden Maintenance

Today was a beautiful March day. The temps are up around 60 and my weed filled garden was screaming for some TLC. So I went out and had some dirt time as I pulled all the chick weed, purse glove and wood sorrel that has overtaken the garden over the winter months. I had to be careful around the garlic and asparagus, but it was nice to get my hands dirty and start the clean up process in preparation for some planting. I am keeping it simple again this year. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs. Plus the asparagus and garlic. I really like to cook with my herb medley of basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.

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Another 13 of 13 Update

Here is a quick update of the Thru Hikers I am following this year.  Happily for me, most of them are prolific updaters to their journals.  Some better than others, but I have plenty of reading each day.

It is really fun to follow along with these hikers and hear about the ups and downs and all the adventures and pains they are experiencing.  Some do very well updating their on-line journals, even though they are out there in the bush.

Here is an update of 14 hikers.  Some don't update much if at all and will probably fall off my list.  But if I see them down the trail, I will add them back on. Trail Name-Start Date-Last update and progress.

PrayerWalker 14-Feb-13  3/10-still off trail
Blues Man 16-Feb-13  3/6-Newfound Gap-Gatlinburg-206.8
Rash 17-Feb-13  3/9-Spence Field Shelter-182.5
Groundpounder 18-Feb-13  3/7-Fontana Dam Shelter-165.8
Boo Boo 21-Feb-13  3/7 - Wayah Bald Parking Lot -119.5
Bush Whacker 21-Feb-13  3/7-Franklin-Winding Stair-109.8
Bazinga 27-Feb-13  3/9-NOC-137.3
Inchworm 1-Mar-13  Nothing
Sole Sister 1-Mar-13  3/1-Starting, nothing since
punkin pie 1-Mar-13  3/6-Muskrat Creek Shelter?-81.4
Female Sasquatch 6-Mar-13  3/9-Lance Creek-24.3
Karma 7-Mar-13  3/9-Gooch Mt Shelter-15.8
Hiking Home 7-Mar-13  3/7-Big Stamp Gap-1
Infinity 8-Mar-13  3/9-Gooch Mt Shelter-15.8

Hike on Class of 13.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Trilemma of Logging Your Trip

Not a Dilemma, but making the choice of three possibilities instead of two.

I keep a Blog. at I can use my phone to post and it seems to work fine up to the publishing point. I need to do more tests, but when I tried to publish from work without a wifi connection... Fail...

Next, I have been reporting all my section hikes, here on Trail Journals. This seems to work with just a data connection (more tests in the bush needed), but I have to use the browser, need to log on and it can be a bit clunky. My TJ link is

I have recently been trying out This is most likely going to be my "in the field" journal posting method. I found an app called PCTHYOH which makes posting an entry using my email program very easy. If I don't have a connection, it will save the email in my outbox until I do. It can transfer a large amount of information like GPS coordinates which pull up a map, start and stop points, miles traveled, elevation changes, hours hiked, temperatures and even SPOT information if I had one of those. The real test will be when I'm actually out on the trail hiking to see how it works. My personal link is

Regardless of which one I use, I will be taking notes on paper and most likely typing notes into my phone's notepad program and I will triple post to each site when I am home or at a computer somewhere.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March-The Month of Thru Starts

My list of 13 Thru Hikers that I am following has grown to 21.  I have been checking the "Currently Hiking" section of Trail Journals and there are a few who started out in mid to late February and early March that have been posting regularly or interestingly, so I have started to read their journals.  I will keep with them as long as they stay on the trail and keep up their journals. 

March is when the abundance of starts happen in the Thru Hiker world or "Trail World" as one of the journalists calls it and my list of 13 21 have the majority starting this month.  The weather has slowed some down and forced some hikers off, but there are those who chomp at the bit to get back on the trail and these are who I follow.  They give me motivation and I like reading about their adventures as they travel the land I hope to see in a little over two months.

First those who have started that I mentioned in an earlier post:

PrayerWalker is still off the trail as far as I can tell.  She had a mole removed and biopsied when she got off and is now dealing with that (basil cell carcinoma), but plans to return before too long. 

Bazinga is moving along nicely and updating regularly.  His last position was 81.4 miles up the trail (plus the Approach) and he is doing great.  The one thing about Bazinga's hike so far is he is exactly duplicated one of my hike plans so far.  Each day he hikes the same mileage I have as a potential plan and stays in the same shelters or camping area.  The one difference is he stayed at the Blueberry Patch Hostel a day or so ago and that will be closed by the time we hit the trail.  So my plans are not complete bunk, at least not for Bazinga.

Those who are on the trail who I have started to follow since I established my 13 of 13:

Blues Man - A youngish gent who started on 16 February.   His last post was on the first of the month where he was taking a zero after reaching Fontana Dam.  He was staying in the Lodge.  It is likely that he has headed into the Smokies and is somewhat out of contact for a while.  I will continue to monitor.

Rash - Rash (start date 17 Feb) is another young man from NC who appears to be completely at home in the woods and on the trail.  He seems to be having a great time and his last update had him also sitting at the Fontana Lodge and awaiting to see what the latest storm was going to dump on the Smokies.  He is moving good and having a good time. 

Groundpounder (aka Mace) - This 40ish looking guy's last know whereabouts was taking a zero in Franklin.  The name Mace came from when he was alone in a shelter with a can of bear spray.  He accidentally lit it off and maced himself out of the shelter.  I'm sure he isn't sharing that story with his trail mates, so the name if mostly being used by his guest book visitors.  He takes some boring videos of himself walking up a trail, with no dialog.  Just his breathing and the views.  GP started 18 Feb.

Boo Boo - Started 21st of February and his last log entry of the 3rd of March had him hiking through eight inches of snow as he tried to get 9 miles down the trail.  The temps are quite cold.  He is about 100 miles into his hike. 

Bush Whacker - This guy is a multi-year hiker.  He attempted a thru in 06 and came off the trail with a serious case of Guillian Barre Syndrome which seriously fucks you up.  He came back in 2007 and finished his thru.  Since then, he appears to start the trail each Feb and go for a few weeks to a couple months.  He has also done the Florida Trail a couple times.

Those who have or planned to start from March 1st to March 6th:

Inchworm.  No recent entries or anything that shows she has headed to the trail. 

Sole Sister is another new hiker to my list.  She was scheduled to start on 1 March, but I haven't seen any updates lately.  Lisa told me about her and her situation.  She is walking the trail for her long dead sister and has a heart breaking story about her. 

Female Sasquatch - Starts today.  I am rooting for her. She seems well prepared and in the right frame of mind (whatever that is) and should do fine. 

So there you have it.  Karma is due to start tomorrow and Infinity the day after.  Another five from my list plan on hitting the trail this month.  Good luck to all you Class of  2013.  I'm rooting for you all.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

REI Candy Factory

Last Saturday, Lisa and I headed to REI to pick up some liner socks.  We spent about an hour looking at all the cool gear and discussing different things.  After finding my socks we headed over by the sleeping bag area and found a nice Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15 degree bag for Lisa.  It was on clearance.  It usually goes for about $235 or so and was listed at $135.  It was the last one left and on display.  All the down had migrated down to the head of the bag, but after a little fluffing, it was back where it belonged. 

This bag is like my BA Fish Hawk as it needs a pad for the bottom insulation, but being a right side zip, it will mate with the Fish Hawk if we want to do some dual sleeping, just like I remember doing back in the early 90’s before our first daughter was born.  It seemed plenty warm and very roomy and I think she will like it better than the cheapo 40 degree bag she was planning on taking on our hike.  It even weighs less than the other bag and should keep my cold sleeping bride much warmer than would have been possible with the other bag.

Since we spent over $100 we got a $20 coupon that we have to spend between March 6 and 18th.  Looks like I will be headed back to REI this weekend. 

The liner socks I bought seem rather nice.  They are thin, but made of merino wool.  I’m thinking of getting another pair and they will be my hiking socks, with a thicker pair for in camp as the third pair. 

In other gear news, I ordered us some O2 rain jackets.  They are very light, wind proof and breathable.  They should be arriving this Friday.  Also, I ordered Lisa her own Aqua Mira to carry herself, just in case we are separated during the day and she needs to treat water.  I like to keep each of us self contained and separate.  Since we use hammocks, we don’t have to break up tenting gear to spread the weight.  Also our kitchens are simple and separate with each of us carrying our own Cat stove and fuel. 

My mind is occupied all day long with this upcoming hike.  Even though it is just a section hike, it feels like a thru to me and will be the longest hike we have taken yet.  Baby steps…