on the AT with the Old Gray Goose
- 7-2-93***Whew, Talk about a rock scramble!
- Peter Rabbit hauled my pack up ahead of me twice today on that one. Started out a bit after 7:30 this morning in the rain (again). In fact it rained until about 5p.m. and we got to the shelter about 5:30. WET, wet, wet!! Didn't have a dry spot on my body when I got here. We hiked about 4 hours and got to the road crossing that had a restaurant just .4 mile away, so we took our wet selves up there for a good hot meal. It was very good and not expensive. It was awful putting the rain jacket back on-wet inside and out and cool, cool, cool. After we got going again, still in the rain, it wasn't so bad. We got warmed up ok and proceeded on. Only saw turtles and toads today. I keep forgetting to tell you, we had been seeing a lot of trees broken and blown down. Miles and miles of destruction. Come to find out, there was a bad ice storm and 80 to 100 m.p.h. winds on March 4th. A fellow told us that something like 800+ acres had been destroyed. Glad to be out of that area. Peter Rabbit said the reason we did 20 miles yesterday was because "the Goose was chasing the Rabbit down the trail". Can't you picture that? Funny huh. It feels so good all snugged into my sleeping bag I don't think I'm going to cook anything since we had a hot lunch. Poptart for "din-din" tonight. Love, Mom. P.S. We passed the half-way sign on the trail today!! Yes!!!!
- July 3rd.
- Made it into Boiling Springs by 9 a.m. Now to pick up my package and mail this. Love, mom.
- --Hi Kids: Well I guess Peter Rabbit was right with "It's only Wed. don't panic about Sat. yet". Managed that 20 mile day and that's what put us far enough up the trail to have only 3.5 miles to do this morning to get into Boiling Springs early. There are NO hostels, shelters or motels in Boiling Springs and the next shelter is at the top of a very steep looking profile. It would make a 20 mile day again and it would be VERY late getting there so, we have gone a total of 12.5 mi. to Rt.11 and are in the Pleasant Inn. Peter Rabbit and I are here that is, we are watching for Ngong Fats to show up. It turned out very warm and rather muggy today. Not the best for hiking, especially for an Englishman rather homesick for cool, moist, English weather! I just opened the door and came over to the laundry room and it's raining!!! Washed my clothes out in the wash bowl (yes, with laundry detergent), after I took a nice long shower. While we were in Boiling Springs, we ate lunch at an Italian Restaurant. Boy, I got a small stromboli and couldn't eat it all! It was delicious and BIG. Of course I had it "bagged" so I ate it now. (I'll save $ at supper tonight). Today we went on very different trails. Started out in very high rocky area and came down into farm lanes between corn fields and wheat fields, thru woodsy areas full of wild sweet black cherries. Of course they were VERY tall trees so, we had to be content to finding a few on the ground that were still edible, very few! Yummy. Had lots of black raspberries along the way today also. Oh yes, I had said we had found blueberries, well, they are on very, very, low, little bushes and locally they are called huckleberries. Also found out that copperhead snakes like to hide in them and eat the birds that come down for the berries!!!! Bet I look real close the next time I pick those. The rain has stopped, sun peeking out, but the clouds to the east (trail direction) are still looking pretty dark. I can think of so much to tell you as I'm hiking along and then at the end of the day I don't seem to be able to remember it all and get it down on paper. Met some new people last night. A couple from Florida. Vision Chaser and his wife Dream Catcher, who brought me "HELLO's" from the Montgomery's sister who lives in Ashtabula. (I had exchanged letters with the Montgomery folks as they were going to do some AT hiking.) Trail news system works well, ha ha. Also met a girl, Rachel (Kentucky Rebel). Ngong Fats showed up as well. As I said, we are looking for Ngong to show up here too, since we three agreed this would be the stopping spot for tonight and the motel cost split three ways is quite reasonable. We can shower, do laundry, sleep in a real bed, and even watch TV, wheee! It doesn't look like I'll get to see any fireworks tonight. Wondering if you all are?? I tried to call Pop but didn't get any answer. Maybe you all are picnicking. Gee, it's five to eight, dryer just stopped, clothes are dry. Yep, Ngong is here, we are a trio tonight. More tomorrow. Love Mom.
- July 4th
- Hi there, good spring here at the Thelma Marks shelter. Lots of stuff written in the register for Molly LaRue and Geoff Hood. They were murdered here in September of 1990. This is a very old log shelter. Large enough for 8 or 9 people at least. Kinda dark and dingy though, looks VERY old. I thought this day to be very tiring. Two or three very long, steep hills. Weather is beautiful--if you AREN'T hiking. A tad muggy. I really sweat today--a lot!! Have my water filtered and my feet rubbed down. Too tired to cook, ate a breakfast. It looks like it's much faster into Duncannon Pa. than I planned. Should be there tomorrow and the P.O. will be closed. Guess I'll just play it by ear. Don't know if we'll get rain tonight or not, have been hearing thunder since about 5 p.m.. We got here about 5:30 and it's a little after 8p.m. now. I'm going to put this away and get into my sleeping bag. The fellows are out at the picnic table doing supper. Love ya, Mom.
- July 5th Monday
- p.s. from last night-I saw a beautiful scarlet tanager and a pileated woodpecker and I think the other one was a downy woodpecker, as I was sitting there writing this to you. The birds were singing and even tho' it was thundering, the sun shown right up 'till dusk and I turned in.
On to today---It's another day on the trail here in Pennsylvania. An H.H.H. day, as in Hot, Hazy, and Humid. We got into Duncannon before noon today, didn't matter 'cause the P.O. is closed anyway, so we are passing the time by eating and walking around the place finding the grocery store where Ngong did his grocery shopping. Finding the Post Office where I'll pick up my food drop tomorrow before heading back on the trail. We are still a trio. The hotel we are in sure isn't one I'd normally be in. At least we have a lock on the door. The sheets look clean. The bathroom is a shared one and I washed the tub out so I could take a bath! It is one of those places that is a "tradition" on the trail. It's called "The Doyle Hotel". It was built around the turn of the century by Anheuser-Busch and purchased by the Doyle family four decades ago. The handbook says, today, it's a bring your own toilet paper kind of place. Rooms are inexpensive and come supplied with bed linens (one fellow has 1 sheet, I have 2) a dresser, an electric light (on the ceiling) and dust bunnies, some of which may have been on the loose since the early 1980s. Ha ha, does this give you a clue?? Hey, the toilets flush, the water is hot and my shirt and shorts will be on my body when I lay down on this bed, that doesn't feel uncomfortable at all. The bed, I mean. Besides, with the 3 of us, it was only $5.00 a piece. Left more to spend on PIZZA. I'm very full. Another hiker joined us for supper so we shared the expenses again and I stuffed myself for around $7.00. Lunch with the trio was even less! HOT & HUMID. I'm sitting on the bed writing this and the sweat is running down my face, back, etc., etc.. I may hit the juice machine tonight yet. Down and out and 'round the corner are about 3 machines. Hmm, gotta see if I have any change. Well I've had my rest day. Ngong Fats says it's a "Bushmans Holiday"--you do the same thing you normally do. Tomorrow it will be on the trail again. P.O. opens at 8 a.m. so, we should be there waiting for it to open and then the task of fitting my food drop into my food bags and into the pack. Have a long uphill first thing but it has been worked on and graded so it is not as steep as it once was. The profile map still looks pretty much like work. Plans are for a 12.3 mile day. The water is scarce up on that ridge, so we will have to carry water from here till the first shelter, about 7 mile up and away. Since it's so hot and muggy I'll take 2 quarts and then get 2 more quarts there to take me the rest of the distance to our destination. More weight, but you need the water, no choice. Don't know why I bother to wash my clothes to hike in, by the time I'm a half hour into the day they are soaked with sweat anyway. Not a dry spot to be found anywhere!!! It just feels so good to start out clean. Well kids, it's already 9 p.m.. Guess I'll see if the other hiker has the laundry done yet so I can have my pack ready to go in the morning after we eat breakfast------hotel has a restaurant/bar. Will mail this out in the a.m. Love you all. Mom.
- July 6th Tue. On the trail again..
- Hi Kids; Got my food drop at Duncannon and stuffed in my pack and away we went. Peter Rabbit asked if I wanted him to wait with me 'till the post office opened at 8 a.m. so, I told him I'd like that but, he could go on if he wanted. He waited. Guess that kind of officially puts us in the "trail partner" catagory. It is very nice hiking with a partner. This time out here has been a whole different kind of hike. I have a more relaxed feeling, a better sense of well being. I guess maybe it's knowing if I have a serious problem Peter Rabbit usually is in shouting distance if not a stones throw away. If you get a little frustrated at yourself at least you can get it out and off your chest and laugh over it and go on. when you start thinking about family, you can share and talk about them instead of dwelling on your thoughts. Peter Rabbit agrees that it is much nicer with a partner. One of the other hikers (No Pepsi) says he probably wouldn't have made it out of Georgia without company, but he was usually hiking alone and then meeting at the shelter because he didn't find others that hiked at the same pace he did.
As we left Duncannon today, we had to do some road walking. We had two rivers to cross. The Juniata River and the Susquehanna River. The Susquehanna is the longest one crossed by the trail, it's 444 miles long. We've crossed the James River in VA., that is the fourth longest at 340 Mi. We crossed the Potomac going out of Harpers Ferry and that is the third longest at 383 mi.. We have the second longest (Connecticut-411 mi.) and the fifth longest (Hudson-315 mi.) yet to cross.
We had some very large rocks to go over but for the most part today we had pretty decent trail and even had a light breeze. That was a very welcome addition since it was 90 plus degrees. Met a couple of section hikers a few days ago and they are here tonight. They go with the trail names "The Nuns" and they are.
The trail down to the spring from this shelter (Peter Mt.) was pretty far down hill and all over rocks. Quite a hike to get water but it was VERY cold and GOOD! A piped spring, didn't have to filter. Well, it's getting too dark to see, so guess I'll close for now. Love Mom.
- July7th Wed. A long hot day!
- Dear Kids. Tonight is one of those TIRED nights. Thank goodness the trail was pretty decent today. 17.9 miles and about 95*. Whew!! I don't know who called for the most rest breaks today, Rabbit or me. It seemed like we would never get to this shelter, but you have to get cooled down no matter how many breaks. One of the young couples I had met way back before Waynesboro, hiked thru the day I stayed in Duncannon and the girl ended up with heat exhaustion and had to be carried down. She spent the night in the Harrisburg hospital and was released the next day. She had been having knee problems already and had been frustrated by that too, don't know if she'll be back on the trail or not. Her partner said she really wanted to but didn't know for sure if she would. Well, you can see, you really have to listen to your body. When it says "rest" , you'd better!
At the shelter last night we had "fireworks"..Lightening. Boy, what a storm. The thunder rolled and the cracks that followed and accompnied the lightening were feroucious!! I was real glad I wasn't tenting!
The shelter tonight (Rausch shelter) is pretty big. It has a nice overhanging roof in front, just in case of rain. A piped spring right in front of the shelter on the other side of the picnic table and a stainless steel cooking area around the tree directly in front of it. The bad news is, the register (log book) has a notice in it that it Leaks Badly.
So far, Ngong Fats hasn't showed up. It is 8:30 p.m. already. We took 12 hours to get here though so he may come in yet since he left the other shelter after we did. If not, he will have tented. There were quite a few tent sites we passed but none with a water source. I was down to my last sip of water when we got here.
I have eaten my supper and am sitting here drinking a cup of coffee while I write this. Those little "coffee bags" taste pretty good. It will soon be too dark to write and I still have my stove to put away so I will close for now. Miss you all (miss my hugs and kisses!) Love, Mom ps. Has anyone found out where the bubble gum came from? (home note, I found out about a year later who left it)
- July 8th.. TOO TIRED..17 mi. HOT-HUMID.
- July 9th, Friday.
- Hi Kids. Let's see, where do I begin? I think of stuff while I hike along and then I forget to write it and think of it walking along the next day. (I seem to do that alot huh?). We have walked on a variety of the trails the past few days. Some very nice trail and some pretty awful trail. 3 1/2 to 4 foot wide, possibly old road, down to just barely wide enough for your feet side by side. Big stone, Little stones, No stones and Boulders. You name it! Fields, woods, brushy lots, "real" roads, back roads, farmers lanes between wheat and corn fields. We have picked black raspberries, purple flowered red raspberries, blueberries. Saw a nice black snake 3 1/2 to 4 feet long. It was stretched across the whole trail in one of those wide parts of the trail. Stepped over the tail end and was glad it was a Black Snake! Have seen a few orange newts and a few turtles, big hump back shells with yellow squares. Have seen some orange butterfly weed and black eye susans and blue day flowers and little pink flowers that look like pinks. Daisys too and lots of yarrow.
It has been pretty humid and in the 90's . It really tires me out fast. Have to stop and cool down about every hour and drink lots of water. Today we didn't make very good time and joked that we just hiked from spring to spring to replentish our water supply. Only 13 miles today and 8 tomorrow to get into Port Clinton PA.. The post office isn't open at all on Sat. but I'm way overloaded with food so, I'll just drop a foreward address card in the P.O.. I have to call Dad and do some major adjustments on my food. I've got way too much figured, it's too heavy, heavy, heavy!
Well kids, it's dark enough I can hardly see what I'm writing and my light is in the shelter so, I'll close and mail this out tomorrow. Love you all and miss you. Ps. Be sure and tell Becky that Peter Rabbit lent me his "ears" (radio headset) and the first song that came on was that one from Fivel!
- Sat. July 10th.
- Hi Kids. Well, we did a comparatively short day today. Arrived in Port Clinton around 1 p.m.. Dropped my stuff in the mail box and proceeded down the street to the hotel. Come to find out, it's an 81 year old lady who runs it, by herself, and it was too hot to open up today. There are no fans in the upstairs so it would have been too hot for comfort there! A man next door to the Peanut Shop transports hikers to Hamburg to the grocery store, we had heard. We asked the lady at the shop to call the motel in Hamburg but she got no ans. at all there. She confirmed the information we had on the neighbor, so we walked over and knocked on his door to see if he could drive us and our packs to Hamburg (probably to the motel we couldn't reach by phone). Well, he not only drove us to Hamburg, he brought us to the "American Hotel". Rooms are $15.00 per single so I have a room all to myself. Another shared bathroom, but at least this hotel has a "his and a hers". And there is a ceiling fan! Sure am glad of that. I'm sitting here right under it, drinking a half gallon of pink grapefruit juice. Really thirsty tonight. Also getting Really full! Anyway, this man said he wanted NO Money. Said if he wanted money he'd drive Cab service. And, he'll be here at 8 a.m. to pick us up and take us back to where the trail heads north out of Port Clinton. Pretty special people that do such nice stuff for dirty sweaty strangers. Bless 'em!!
Had a terrific hill to come down into town, sure hope the one going out of town isn't so steep or it will take HOURS to get up. I have come to the conclusion that I'm not getting better on the hills, they are just not as steep as the ones in the beginning. Also had a steep Uphill today... I just looked at the profile map for tomorrow. Hmmm, we may not do as many miles as we had planned if it's still hot and humid. Have to play it by ear I guess. Just finished my juice and here it is almost 10:30p.m.. Must rub down my feet and try to get to sleep. Love you all. Looking forward to seeing Dad Again. Love Mom.
- 5:30 A.M.--Whew, very warm even with the fan.
- Didn't sleep too well in town last night.
- 8:30 p.m. Sunday July 11th
- Dear Kids... Well, how about this, the weather co-operated today!! Had a light breeze most of the day and it wasn't as hot and muggy as it has been. Hooray!! 14 miles today. Got to the shelter tonight and it's full up so I have my tent up. Ngong Fats is here with his tent also. The crowd at the shelter (actually another shelter beside the caretakers house) had pizza so I had a couple pieces of pizza and bought 2 pepsies for my supper. I was getting ready to take a shower (solar type) and couldn't believe it, started to sprinkle! Threw everything in the tent and got the data book out to figure mileages and then it stopped. Well, I still haven't taken a shower and it's almost 9 o'clock and the bugs are bugging me so now I've used bug spray and it's cooling off very nicely so, forget it..
I keep forgetting to tell you that a week or so ago we had seen American Chestnut trees that had produced and showed NO sign of blight. Kinda nice to know there are still some. There are LOTS of lightening bugs. Looks real pretty. Have a few clouds floating over and couple stars showing. It is getting almost too dark tosee again. No almost about it! 9:30 and I'm in the tent ready to "sack out". Love you all and I sure do miss all my hugs and kisses ('specially the little ones) Mom, Grandma
- July 12 Monday.
- Tenting again tonight at the new Tripoli Campsite. It has a spring just over the hill. It is .3 mile off the trail, downhill.
Splurged today, The trail crossed PA 309 and went right across a restraunt parking lot so----- I had a huge cheeseburger with a thick slice of tomato and onion and crisp lettuce. YUM. Potato chip and a dill pickle and side order of potato salad and 2 glasses of iced tea. THEN we had to sit out in the shade on the grass for half an hour before we could even Think about hiking!! Now here it is two hours after that and I'm still stuffed. Geez, can't use up my food and reduce pack weight by doing that!
Peter Rabbit says he's going to cook, I'm going to sit and write to you and drink this nice cold spring water!
The weather was really pretty nice today. Had a breeze most of the day. Even had some "overcast time". The trail didn't have too many really difficult area and we only came 14.5 miles today with a break at a restraunt even. All in all it was a pretty nice day, even if I did have to rest on the rocks a couple of times.
We are expecting Ngong Fats to be here tonight also but, he may just park it along the trail. There seem to be quite a few tent sites in this area.
A local couple just walked down through to the spring and informed us that the maroon capped mushrooms are edible. Hmm, think I'll pass on that. I sure have seen a variety of fungi along the trail. Many colors and shapes. Maroon, Red, Yellow, Pale o.d.green, white, cream, orange, tan and I don't know what any of them are so I pass'em bye. The same folks also told us in the second week of August there are supposed to be large amounts of meteorites (falling stars) as the earth is passing through a comet tail.
Well kids, I guess I'd better throw my sleeping bag in my tent and figure out where I'm going to bear bag my food. Love ya all bunches. Looking forward to seeing Dad Again .... yep, Ngong came in, he had supper at the restraunt. Love Mom
- July 13th. Tue...
- Ahh, in early at the shelter, 3:30.
Hi kids, It's 5 p.m. and I've had supper and walked to the spring about three times already. Used about 2 quarts of water for cooking and drinking. Can't seem to suck up enough water. Tomorrow we have to go 17 miles to get water. Geez, we only came 11.9 today and I had drunk almost all of my two quarts of water that I started with this morning. We had a lot of rocks to climb over this morning. It was kinda scary in a couple places but I managed not to get "panic-y" and stayed (kinda) calm. If I hadn't been wearing 40 plus pounds of pack on my back it would have been a whole different story. It would have been kinda fun. It was called "The Knife Edge". And there I was, lookin down on both sides with nothing but Rocks, Rocks, and more Rocks wayyyy down. Actually we had another episode of rocks too but not as high up. We also had some easier trail to walk on today. We came thru one area that had been contaminated from a zinc smelter. Trees were dead and there were some warnings posted that kids should not use the area daily. It looks like the bushes and trees are growing again now though. By the way, the name of the man that took us to Hamburg and came again Sun. morning (all dressed for church) to pick us up was Robert H. Breon, Port Clinton. I'll include his address, it would be nice if somebody would drop him a little note of thanks. His transportation was greatly appreciated. He refused to take any money. We gave him a little and asked him to put it in the collection plate at church. He said "well, Ok".
As I was tromping thru the big rocks and woods, I got to thinking there must be a story written about "little characters" who reside in the cliffs and woods. Maybe they live on nuts and berries and mushrooms and line their beds with fern and sweet grass. Possibly they are friends of the bears and get donations of honey. It was such a beautiful day today! Sunny with little puffs of white clouds, bright blue sky. The woods were full of bird songs and I thought "somebody Must have written a story". Well, it made an hour or two pass by rather quickly anyway. Ha Ha.. We could all do do one I'll bet. I know a few that would have a good time doing that. Maybe I'd even get some pictures to go with it?
Well I can't say that I am really looking foreward to tomorrow. There are more negative than positives. I'm really not liking the thoughts of no water between here and the next shelter, 17 miles away. The map shows a spring, but it is not listed and the notice says the only spring in the area ( and just how big an area is that?) tested and fit for human consumption is at this shelter. Don't know if the aforementioned spring is dry or contaminated!? We have a rather large looking hill to climb not too long after we get started in the morning and who knows what kind of rock balancing act I'll have to do next? I guess the best thing to do is not to worry. I've been well looked after up till now and I expect I'll do just fine with a "Please" in the morning and a "Thank You" at night.
Let's see, when I got to Port Clinton, that was 40 days on the trail and 437.3 miles traveled. That averages 10.9 miles a day. Still below what I should have. But for the last 14 days I've averaged 13.5 mpd so it is bringing the average up. At the beginning, 244.9 miles from Petites Gap to Harpers Ferry for 26 days, the average was 9.4 mpd, so you can see it is getting up where it needs to be to finish before the weather gets bad.
Peter Rabbit and I seem to be doing well together. We feel that we are going to stay together for the rest of the journey or at least we figure it will be something to think on.
It is 7 p.m. and Ngong is in and two young fellows just came in that I hadn't met before. Mr.Clean and The Whistler. Guess I need to roll out my bag to "mark my spot". Love Mom.
- July 14th Wed. 7:05 p.m.
- Waiting for Peter Rabbit to come back to the shelter with water from the spring. Big notice says water unsafe, boil or treat with iodine. I wonder what that does that our filters don't? Hmmm.
Well, we climbed the dreaded---whoops, water is here... Had to put some water on to boil for a nice cup of coffee for supper. As I was saying, the dreaded Lehigh Gap or rather out of the gap. Boy, what a hill, what a rock climb! I got up the first part with not too much difficulty and I looked up and there was Peter Rabbit. He had gone up the second part and dropped his pack and came back to help me. He took my pack and away we went. That part, I had fun climbing! After that we went across more area that looked like it had been blasted by herbacide or something, more damage from the former zinc smelting plant. It seemed like Miles! Finally we got into more vegitation (trees etc.) and actually saw a deer as we were sitting taking a snack break.. Nice to see deer again. Flushed out two grouse today. Saw a little newt or salamander (not sure which it was).
Today seemed to go on forever. Got very tired. Took two looong rest breaks and tried to conserve on water since I had only two quarts. Drank the last when I got to this shelter. Actually got here about 20 to 6. Started to rain about 5:30, the thunder was rumbling for quite a while so I had my rain cover on my pack. It stopped for a little bit but now has started to come down even harder than before and have a little thunder and lightening too. Don't know if Ngong will make it in tonight or not. The stones and heat slow him down and his watch broke (it's about 40 years old and was his fathers) so he has to guess at the time is the sun isn't out.
It is going to feel VERY good to crawl into my bag tonight. Ought to sleep good with the rain on the roof. Gonna filter some drinking water. More tomorrow, love Mom ps.We crossed the Lehigh River today too. Love, Mom ps#2Found articles telling about the area we came through. 2000 acres. It's sprayed with a mixture of flyash and sludge to make new topsoil. Roots grew up out of contaminated soil into new growing medium. Palmerton is where the zinc smelting plant was.
- Thursday, July 15th.
- What a beautiful day today. The rain last night really cooled it down. It was quite windy today and the sun was shining. A few clouds floating through to block the sun every once in awhile. The trail was mostly very rocky today. Had only one fairly steep hill. A rock ledge to walk on, over, around, down, etc. but that wasn't too bad. I guess it was just such a beautiful day that having to walk slowly wasn't such a chore. A nice day for a stroll in the woods. On e fairly long stretch had rocks of all shapes and sizes and they all had Points or sharp edges on them somewhere! Got here to the shelter a little after 5 today. 13.3 miles. Just a short day tomorrow (6.4mi.) to get into town. If we'd have gotten in tonight we could have joined in a "feast". The hostel is in a church and every Thur. nite the church members join in and fix a covered dish picnic for the hikers. Pretty neat huh?
My stomach seems to be acting up. Have been running to the out house all evening. Good grief, gonna run out of t.p. at this rate! Sure hope it's nothing serious. Peter Rabbit has been drinking the same water but he does have a different brand of filter. At least I haven't been sick to my stomach. I had a slight case this morning too but all day I've been fine. Just untill I ate a lot for supper. I do hope it's just a passing thing that is done and over with!
This will get put in the mail tomorrow when I get into Delware Water Gap, PA. We are almost through the state of Pennsylvania. Another state done, well, almost done. Love you all, looking foreward to my letters that I should have received at Port Clinton. Mom
- Friday 16th.. Hi Kids. What a nice surprise to have your Dad come down a week early to see me!
- It will work out real well to "slack pack" thru this area. The water situation is rather scarce and the next shelter out is around 24 miles, way too far. So, Peter Rabbit and I will do a 28 mile slackpack on Sat.. After I opened all of my mail, we walked to a chocolate candy place and bought some fudge, YUM, not as good as yours Sheryl. Had reservations for dinner at a unique little restraunt for 6 p.m.. Got a really good dinner and very full. Then we drove up to the parking area for hikers and we have the camper popped up, home away from home!
- Sat. July 17th..
- Boy, New Jersey sure looks a lot like Pennsylvania as far as a rocky trail goes! It took me 11 1/2 hous to get the 27 miles walked. Not too bad considering the rocks and hills though. I had a really beautiful day. Sun was bright, breeze was brisk and I had NO PACK ON. I really enjoyed it~ Had some real pretty sights. Walked part way around a glacial lake. Had lots of trees the beaver had gnawed on, some down, some still standing. Got up on top of the first good sized hill after that and had a real nice view on both sides. Real clear today. I sure was glad when I got finished though. That's a long way to walk, even without a pack.
We are at a campground tonight and right by the stage area. They have a country western band, sounds good. I don't think Peter Rabbit likes CW, especially if it's after 10 p.m. (it's 10:30)..Hey, it IS Saturday nite!
Don't know what we're gonna do tomorrow. I guess we'll decide tomorrow. Don't plan on another BIG mileage day though, I know that! Love, Mom
- Sun. July 18th..
- Another beautiful day. Hi Kids. Well, it was a shorter day today, that was good. I had another enjoyable walk, even though the stones today seemed a bit worse to me. I saw a couple of squirrels today and 2 does and a fawn, still with spots. And LOTS of rocks (grin). Had a great view by a fire tower and the hikers who were camped there last night said you could see the lights of N.Y.City.
We have seen notices posted that Harriman State Park is closed. Evidently we'll need to walk the highway to the next possible spot to get back on the trail when we get up that far.
It is sure nice to come down off the trail and find your Dad patiently waiting by the truck for me. We are really able to make up some distance by "slackpacking". Just insures the probability of getting done before the weather turns bad.
I have 15.5 miles planned to walk tomorrow. Then we are hopeful we will be able to stay at a Bed and Breakfast in Glenwood N.J.. Hope to get an early start in the morning and it's most 9:30 p.m. so I'll close for now. Oh yah, they have possible rain predicted for tomorrow and it sure is dry around here. Guess I can't even wish for NO rain under these circumstances. Love you all, Mom.
- Mon. July 19th.
- Finally got some rain today. Hi kids. I got my feathers wet today but the area really needs rain. Actually didn't get enough to do much good. Did a days slackpack as planned today and came to this WONDERFUL B and B. So nice in fact that we have made plans to spend a second night. Tomorrow will be a short slackpack day and try and get my food organized in my pack so I'm not carrying way more weight than I need. Nothing other than one book and food that I can think of to eliminate, unfortunately.
This place is really neat. The folks who own it are super. The food is tasty. They really make the hikers feel at home here and they also have hiker rates (lower prices than regular B and B rates for here). It is called Apple Valley Bed and Breakfast. Dad and I are enjoying this. Love Mom.
- Tue. July 20th..
- Hello again.. Well today was a day off instead of just a short day. Peter Rabbit has had a sore throat and now it's into his chest, so, he is going to the Dr.. No hiking today at all.
We slackpacked "Hockey Stick" today. Took his pack 30 miles up the trail.. Whew, 28 was enough for me but he's a strong young man and he shouldn't have much of a problem. We do good deeds for others to repay good deeds done for me. Can't payback the actual ones who did it, so we just pass it on. Hope Peter Rabbit feels better tomorrow. We have an 18 plus mile day planned to slackpack and then Thur. I think we'll get to Arden where Herriman State Park starts and that is still closed. Dad will drive us down the roads they have the hikers routed onto. At least I did the miles in that park last year at this time so I've seen and walked what I'll be missing. They still have some ground fires and the ground is too dry to take chances on hikers going thru or people being on the trail for fire hazards. We (Dad and I) got a re-organization list for my food drops. I got my pack re-arranged and food sorted out. Hope I didn't over do on the memoval of food for weight reduction. Today went by very quickly. It is 10 p.m. already. We had a picnic outside for supper here. Fresh corn on the cob. Tomatoe, onions, lettuce, hamburgs, peach cobbler w/vanilla icecream.. Yummy!! i guess I'd better close this note. Breakfast is at 7 a.m. and I sure don't want to miss it. ha ha. Love ya all, Mom
- Wed. July 21st.
- On the trail again, Slackpackin! Yes! Boy, your Dad sure picked a good time to come down to visit. I think it's actually working out better than next week would have. Really is dry. Came across 18 miles and the spring halfway through had a note on the sign, it was DRY. A lot of the trees are dropping their leaves or turning yellow across the ridge.
Had a variety of trail again today. Started out with a pretty cood uphill climb. Lots of rocks. Had a couple of rock climbs too and I was real glad I didn't have my pack on. Had some nice soft trail, mixed in along the way with tall fir trees and a little brook that still had water in it. Met a ridgerunner today that I have met two other days on other parts of the trail in New Jersey. He was headed south and happened to be checking out this section today.
Actually I had another enjoyable day. Had fun going across the rock ridge with no pack. I guess maybe I just think about how difficult it would be if I was carrying my pack and then feel real happy doing it without. I can actually walk normal, my normal step, and normal speed. It feels so good to be able to do that. It's hard to explain just how much of a change putting on that pack makes. some people have about the same pace and speed with or without. Peter Rabbit and I hike about the same way when we both have our packs on BUT for this 18 mile stretch we hiked today, I've been here for two hours and he;s not here yet. Everyday that we have slackpacked, I have been finished well ahead of the Rabbit. A couple of times, he has made a wrong turn and that has slowed him but he just naturally walks a slower speed than I do. Just shows what a difference the pack makes for me.
When I got to the truck today, Dad had a surprise for me. He had gone shopping and I now have my very own set of "ears". I can listen to the weather and news at night and even take a "break" from the trail when I get tired. A song or two does wonders for a tired Goose! What a nice surprise. A thoughtful gift from Pop.
We don't know for sure what we are going to do tonight, for accomodations that is. Dad didn't see any campspots as he was driving around today. Who knows, maybe we'll end up right here in this parking spot where the trail crosses the road. Guess I'll tell you tomorrow. Love, Mom.
- Thur. July 22nd
- What a climb down to end the day today. Think I would have had to take my pack off and lower it at a time or two if I was wearing it. The last part down had loose stone and dirt and I was slipping and sliding even without my pack.. WHEW! It wasn't a real fun day. At least Peter Rabbit is feeling better. He was really late coming in last night. He said he just got slower and slower and really didn't feel well. Today I pretty much stayed with him to make sure he was feeling better. When I got down to the road crossing he was only about 45 minutes behind. Pop wasn't there when I got there 'cause he drove 3 thru-hikers(and packs) part way through Harriman Park. Glad I went back to the park last year. He let them out and they got a ride further with someone else. After Pop got back, a couple from FL (Dream Catcher and View Chaser) came down the trail and since P.Rabbit wasn't down yet Pops took those two over to the same area through the park. Finally after that we got on the road and proceeded to see if we could find Garnerville, NY as that is where "Monkey" lives now. You remember, she was one of the ones I was hiking with last year. In fact the last one I was with. Anyway, four sets of instructions later, from four different people of course, we finally did find her. It was nice to see her again. She had come to our house for a visit when she still lived in Rochester NY. We went to the grocery store and got the fixins for a big tossed salad and abig fruit salad and garlic bread and juice. And we Enjoyed! Our friend from VT. who was also with me last-last year, "B" ( as in Killinton and B, Killington was a teddy bear) is coming here this week-end for a visit. As things have worked out, Dad decided to stay two more days and slackpack the Rabbit and I and then he can meet "B" (Jeff) also. On Sat., Monkey and B are planning to drive up to the trail or rather at a road crossing and hike in to meet me.. It will be fun to see B again.. I haven't seen him since I left the trail last year in VA...
Friday will be a 14.6 mile day (no pack) Boy, I've really been spoiled this week. All this nice hiking through the woods with no pack and Dad sitting there waiting for me at the end of the days hike! I sure have enjoyed having my "honey" watching for me! More tomorrow, love mom..
- Friday July 23rd.
- Ah, another beautiful day. Hi, boy did I have some nice trail today. Well, not all of it but the biggest share of it was pretty nice. Had a couple little hills of course and rocks of one sort or another but nothing too much. Well I am rested now and full of food so maybe I'm forgetting a rough spot or two, ha ha.
Saw a few squirrels and chipmunks today and kicked up four deer. I must have really startled one of them 'cause she snorted real loud and did about three leaps then stood there and watched me while I picked and ate red raspberries.
Dad hit the grocery store today so we made hamburgs here in the camper. The road crossing we hiked to today has some campsites just a short ways from the trail and that is where we are spending the night. We have a little over 15 miles planned for tomorrow. I hope the trail tomorrow is as nice as todays was. I really only had a couple hills I got kinda "tuckered" on today and there was one stretch that was nice and soft and smooth and straight. I thought I might not even be on the trail ha ha.. Passed by a lot of stone wall boundry lines. Sure seems strange to be out in the middle of nowhere ( or it seems that way) and see all those stone walls. To think of all the work involved in moving all those stones. Even if it's not a real "inplace" wall but just a two foot high pile, it's a lot of work. Makes one wonder just how long ago they were build and are they boundry markers or fences to keep stock in or from the war to hide behind?? I guess I'll never know.
! A black and white cat just wandered through, no, not a "woods kitty". Must be a farm or house somewhere close. It doesn't look skinny so it's either got a home or is a very good hunter. The chickadees are really scolding it! It's gone into the weeds and woods. Don't know if it will venture out close to us or not. It's almost 8 o'clock already. The evening is nice and cool and has a breeze. Probably be wishing for a little warm before too long ha ha. Guess I'll go in the camper and rub down my feet. Love and miss you Mom.
- Sat. July 24th... Last day to have Dad slackpack P.R. and I..
- Hi Kids. Todays trail was pretty nice again. Part of it actually was on an old narrow gauge RR bed. More stone walls along the way. Most of the trails are closed except for "Thru-hikers". The water situation is very scarce. The next shelter we had planned to go to has no water so that is 11 miles we'd have to carry extra water. There is a family that is by the trail at a road crossing a couple miles past that who lets hikers get water at their house. I think the next shelter after that has water, that will be another 8 miles. Monkey and B met us. That was a nice treat to walk down the trail with them both again. When we got off the trail, we all went out for dinner. A Real nice tread from Dad. Monkey and B are going to slackpack us for 10 miles tomorrow. tonight we are going to park by one of the places the "Thru-hikers" stay. It's a garage that has been converted into a bunk house. Pretty good sized place and has a caretaker that comes by every night. Also can be used for a mail drop place. so anyhow Ill leave my pack here in the morning and Dad will drive me to the place I got off the trail today and drop me and P.R. off and head for home. Gee, he really has me spoiled. All this sleeping on a soft bed in the camper and restraunt food,and HUGS! I'm sure gonna miss 'em!
The caretaker here says the water situation doesn't get any better as we head north. He said they didn't even get an inch of rain in June and the last rain was the 28th (June). Even the oak trees are dropping their leaves in places. Green acorns all over. There are many fires still up in the park that was/is closed. I have an extra water bottle to carry with me. If it gets hot and muggy like the forecast says, I will be sweating a lot and then I'll have to drink more to keep from dehydrating. It wasn't as bad where we hiked from spring to spring back when we had that hot muggy spell.
Saw four deer and some gray squirrels and a couple red squirrels, chipmunks and a big hawk up in a tree watching us. Yesterday I spotted 2 hawks.
Here it is almost 9 p.m. . How the evening has raced bye. Tomorrow will be here before I know it. Hope all is well at home. Miss you all. Love, Mom.
- Sunday July 25th.
- Hi kids.. A long day today. 12 miles without a pack ('cause Monkey and B took them in a truck) and then 8 miles from the road, where we picked them up, to the shelter. At least this shelter has water. A spring fed cistern, it says. I filtered anyway. We have a 12+ day figured for tomorrow. Stopping just short of Kent, Connecticut then plan to go in on Tue. a.m. and pick up my mail drop and right back out again. love, Mom.
- Monday 26th.. Had a workout today.
- Seems like the most of the 12.7 milses we did today was uphill. Thank goodness they were not Steep. Just Long. Had a nice lunch break today. We are in Connecticut by the way. Stopped at a little store that had a picnic table in front of a telephone and they sold fresh sandwiches and juice and ICE CREAM. Had a tasty lunch and called home too. The evenings just aren't long on daylight after we get into the shelters. I don't even feel like cooking tonight. Think I'll rub down my feed again and take a couple of asprin and go to sleep. Pretty tired again tonight. Love ya, Mom.
- Tue. 27th.
- Hi.. Went into Kent this morning in a mist. Rained during the night. Still raining when we woke up but slacked off as we headed out. Mostly misty all morning. Got back on the trail about 10 a.m.. Lots of uphill and we were pretty slow so didn't get as far as we had hoped for. Since we needed a shower anyway, decided to come into Cornwelll Bridge. They have 1 motel. Charge and arm and a leg and it's NOT anything more than minimul. Didn't have much choice unfortunately. Don't expect we'll have to make another stop in Connecticutas my next mail drop will be Massachusetts.
It was a pretty good trail this afternoon. We had a nice flat river walk along the Housatonic River. Not sure what the trail looks like from here since I don't have the maps for Connecticut. I didn't have Dad bring them with him. I had more food than I needed so didn't have a regular food drop and the maps were in that at home. Probably won't get a very early start tomorrow. Our ride back to the trail is the motel mgr. and Rabbit needs to hit the postoffice and that opens at 8 a.m. so it will be a bit later than our usual startoff. That isn't so good, two mornings in a row to start late. I hope we get to the shelter we've planned before I fizzle out. Even though we stop for lunch break and a few short breaks during the rest of the day, I get pretty tired if we are much after 5 or 6 p.m gettin into the shelter. It doesn't leave much time to get everything done I should do and if I'm very tired, it just seems like too much to bother getting out my stove and fix supper. Glad I don't have many of those days. It's raining and I'm glad to be all showered and clean and sitting in this motel. Love Mom.
- Wed. July 28th.
- Hi Kids.. Boy, what a beautiful day. Had a lot of hard work today again. Uphill and warm and few water sources. Carried 2 extra quarts of water today--MORE WEIGHT, ugh! We decided to stop at a campsite tonight. 9 miles. The creek is dry so the extra water was really needed when we got here. It was almost 5 p.m... Next campsite is 2.9 mi. more and not positive the spring there has water. Shelter is 8l7 miles ahead yet and that one is half a mile off the trail. So, you can see we didn't have a lot of choice. Got on the trail at 9a.m today. Woke the fellow up to drive us back to the trail. we do have a road crossing in about 4 miles and we can get water .2mi. down that road. The spot we are camped at tonight has a viewpoint just a little bit away and maybe there will be a nice sunset. At least it's looking in the correct direction. Will make up for the slow hard day, maybe. Hope it doesn't rain tonight. If it does, at least I hope it's stopped by morning. It's bad enough to put the tent away wet let alone DO it in the rain. Forecast just said "in spots" for thunder storms. Well, I expect you're getting pretty bored with my daily notes. It seems like work walking along with my pack and on days with lots of uphills, I guerss I don't see the beauty of the trail like I think I should. Then you come to a road crossing and see you've just walked uphill and down, over stones and around 'em and covered almost 13 milse and the road sign says 9 miles. WHEW, who says it's closer as the crow flies? Ha ha. Well kids, I guess I'll get my camera and go check out the view spot and maybe I'll get a sunset picture. Don't think I've gotten any yet. Love you and am looking foreward to my letters.
- July 29th Thur.
- Another short day. At least we are in early. Got rain last night. Guess I should be grateful tho' it may just help keep the springs flowing. It was stopped by mornig anyhow. Got my tent out to dry as soon as I got here to this shelter. It was a trip getting down here. Met a south bounder, he says he's #4 headed south, who said there was good water down here and there is! (Also met #'s 2 and 3 a few days ago and #'s 5 and 6 today) A nice cold piped spring. Whew, will be a chore going up and out of here in the morning. He didn't give us a report on the trail, ha ha..Oh well, probably would have come down anyhow. It was already 3 p.m and we had come 9l3 miles and the next shelter is another 7+ miles. Figured it was a bit far at the rate we were hiking. Lots of ups and downs and ups and on and on today. Came by a falls, passed a dam outside of Falls Village Connecticut. The woods have been real pretty even with the dry spots through them. I feel like I've been hiking very slowly again. Had a couple of Very long hills and had one of those 'frustration, lack of patience, what am I doing here, how am I EVER going to do the White Mts.' spells today... Gee, I thought I was over those. I guess that's one of those things that creep up on ya. I've really been trying not to let the hills get me frustrated or my slow pace... Get's a little upsetting to walk so slowly and still have to take breaks to let my heart catch up to me on those hills. But, as I keep telling myself, you can only do what you body will let you do. Just have to accept that and not get frustrated... I'm still working on PATIENCE. Guess I'll go fix supper. Love ya, Mom.
- A.M. Friday July 30. back on the AT 2 months today, 4 months of adventure
- Good morning. I have a couple of minutes to write this a.m.. I started up that 1/2 mile hill before P.R., I figured I needed all the xtra I could get for that and take a break when I got back to the trail so, here I am. We had 5 of us in the shelter and one tenting. Quite a surprise. We haven't had too many in the shelters with us lately. Tow of these I'd met before, Squeek and David. One of them Dad had met, Paublo, and another was a fellow that is actually northbound but doing a section south. He jumped ahead and is hiking back so he can visit with family again. It's really a beautiful morning. The sun is up, it's 7:10 now, there is a little breeze and the birds are sounding off. Well, here's P.R. so, more tonight. xo Mom.
P.M. July 30, 737.3 miles this year so far. Hi kids. Well here we are another short day. Think with this one we've lost a day on our average though, about 10 miles short. Oh well, we've had some nice relaxing evenings yesterday and today. Had to make an unexpected trip into town today and get some padding to put in Peter Rabbit's shoes. He could hardly walk today. His insoles were all compressed down paper thin and the nerves by his toes on the ball of his foot were raising havoc with him. Didn't really want to lose my hiking partner and he was seriously thinking he might have to stop. After he got new insoles that gave his feet some protection they began to feel much better. Sooo, tomorrow is another day and we'll see what comes along then. Have a couple big climbs and at least one rock climb down so we may only have a 10 miler anyway. Just have to see what time it is when we get to that point (a shelter) if we want to go on it will have to be fairly early cause the next one after that is another 7.6 miles. That's one thing out here I can't do is make Definite plans on what I'm going to do as far as distances. Have to wait and see how you feel and how long it takes to get to your first option, if you have more than one distance possibility.
I found some garnets on the trail today. Peter Rabbit had pointed out some large stones with beading of garnets in them last Sunday. I spotted more today and since I was going uphill, I had time to check out the loose stuff around. Thought that was kinda neat. Different, anyway, to find them.
Well, as I go up those (again) steep hills I keep taking a mental inventory of my pack and wondering just what I can take out before I add my winter jacket and long johns and mitts.... It won't be too long before I'll be putting those things in. I will need them when I get into the White Mtns. Had a report the temp. at Mt. Washington was 32* the other day. burrrrr.
Had a message left for me on the bulletin board by the road and another in the shelter register from a couple I had met last year. Do you remember me telling you about Maggie and Billy? They even left me their telephone number so I could call them when I get to a phone and they live over in East Haven CT.. Don't know if I'll get into another place (road crossing? Restraunt?) in CT.. I had a girl who is getting off the trail give them a call to let them know I had received their message. Oh yah, Indiana Bob is getting off the trail and also Lightcomber. I took a break at another shelter just a couple miles back and let a rain move on. Had a little thunder but just a little rain. There was a great view there and should be a neat place for a sunrise view there so Light comber is going to spend her last night on the trail there and hope for a great beginning for her hike out to the real world. We really needed to add the miles on today and not have it on tomorrow so, here we are!
I have really enjoyed my "ears" at night before I go to sleep. Last night I listened to the Cleveland Symphony from Severence Hall. Sitting here after supper writing this, 7 p.m. and listening to a cw station. Well kids, I guess I'll go make a "privy" call and settle in for the night. It feels like it's gonna be a little cooler tonight. Love you and miss you. Mom
- July 31.. What a great day
- ... Hi Kids;- Well, the moon was out bright and pretty last night. The sun came out a big red ball behind the trees, took a picture and discovered I have NO more film 'cause I didn't put one in the box I sent ahead from NJ...We started out the day with a climb over Bear Mtn. The monument on top said "highest mtn. in Connecticut". Then we went down into Sages ravine. It was really beautiful. The stream was running right along over rocks and then there would be little pools and with the morning sun shining down through the trees it looked like pools of quicksilver. It was about 7 a.m. and we were headed toward the sun. There was just a little fog in the trees and the sunbeams were filtering down through. It was a very pretty walk through there. We had to walk UP of course after that, ha ha, always do. Had some pretty steep rocks to manuver down. I managed NOT to fall, although I did a bit of slipping. Peter Rabbit wasn't as lucky, he went down but didn't get hurt, just very sore where he landed. The first sheler was 8.8 not 10 as I had thought and it was about 2:30 when we got there so figured we needed to move on. There is quite a long stretch of road walk here and just a short ways from the trail is----you guessed it--a restraunt. They have a large pavillion in back that they allow hikers to stay in. sleep on picnic tables. That makes a 16.4 mile day possible. The next shelter is too far and the last shelter wasn't far enough so it worked out pretty good this way. Had a little town money left, since I didn't use any while Dad was here, so I got a yummy garlic steak sandwich and salad and french fries. They had good coffee too. There are 6 of us hikers here. There is a couple (man and wife) that I hadn't met before, The Polar Bears. One fellow, Star Gazer, I had met at the RPH cabin when Dad and I camped there. The other fellow goes by David, think his last name is Davidage or something like that. Planning 11 miles tomorrow..
OH, we also crossed another state line. We are now is Massachusetts! Love and miss you, Mom.
on to Chapter 6 to continue the journey