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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This is it

OK friends, this is the last update of this blog (unless of course, I decide to hike it again...). Herein you will find an abbreviated account of my time spent on the AT from Hot Springs, NC to Springer Mtn, GA. Sorry for the delay in wrapping everything up, but I've been a bit caught up in my move back to Asheville. I'm back working at the Chocolate Lounge, living now at

25 Barnard Ave
Asheville, NC 28804

After dinner in Hot Springs, I got back on the trail and (tipsily) hiked out, just beating sunset to spend a night alone in an old shelter. Two days later found me breaking out of the tree-line at Max Patch at the exact second the sun crested the horizon. Forget sunsets - sunrise is where it's at. If you've never been there, make a point to do it soon. Having knocked out 15 miles by 1PM, I called it a day at Standing Bear Farm Hostel - a great place in the middle of nowhere at the foot of the Smokies, where I saw Butter and Six Toes again (NoBo's I had met just outside Salsbury, CT). Bun Yip and Greyson were there, too, but I managed to catch them again in Hiawassee, GA.

I caught the first half of the Smokies in beautiful weather. It contained the best maintained and constructed trails I remember from the whole trail, which was of course very pleasant. I met an amazing older couple, Gail & Tom, who gave me a lift into Gatlinburg and fed me lunch. Never before have I witnessed kindness like that towards hikers on the trail. For no reason other than they had the ability, they gave freely to a smelly, dirty hiker previously unknown to them. It's one thing for my friends to support me (as they did to no end), but another entirely to give to a stranger. I can't think of a more noble action given the circumstances. That being said, Gatlinburg was disgusting. It's sickening to see a place so beautiful marred with opportunists piggybacking on the natural surroundings and selling absolute crap. I will never return there nor send another dime and I encourage you to do the same. Though it was raining for the remainder of my time there and I now see why NoBos cringe at the thought of GSMNP in the springtime the rest of the Smokies was great: I met back up with Pluto, a fellow SoBo I hadn't seen since VT and had a great day by myself blue-blazing down the Eagle Creek Trail in a heavy rain. Little did I know that this particular trail crossed Eagle Creek 13 times from its headwater as a spring to a raging river down by Fontana Lake. It was still nice to hike sockless, trudging through roaring water. I almost lost it at some point, but recovered just before being swept downstream.

Cheoah bald was just gorgeous and the Nantahala was just gorges. Stopped into Bryson city for a beer or 8, where I ran into Rockefeller and Turtle (hadn't seen them since NY) who gave me a ride back to NOC in my blitzed state. Had my first coyote encounter at A. Rufus Morgan Shelter - they circled within a hundred yards of the shelter howling for a few hours before dawn.
Wayah Bald is just as gorgeous as it was last year. That's where I started my first adult hike with my Dad and brother about 19 months ago. Siler Bald was equally pretty. Then into GA:

Hiawassee is home to the theatre and bar closest to Woodruff Scout Reservation, where I worked the previous 4 Summers. I took a few days to relax here. My body is at the point now where it can't recover from all of the abuse I'm putting it through and my joints are almost completely shot. So I decided to rest up for the final 67 mile push. Good thing, because it gave Djangle a chance to catch up. With 4 days left, it looks like the two of us will finish together. Saw off Bun Yip and Mudd for the last time and hunkered down in the sleet and snow to wait for my Dad. Excitedly, my brother decided to join for the last few miles as well.

On the last morning, we awoke at Hawk Mtn. Shelter, packed up and headed out to meet Troop 74, my home scout troop wherein I got my start hiking just a few miles from where I was to meet them. An auspicious beginning or ending, depending on how you look at it. About an inch of snow had fallen the night before, providing the perfect setting for the sunrise on the last day. With boundless energy and excitement, our huge group of Scouts met my Mom and slowly made our way up the last mountain on a beautiful day: sunny, windless and with many of the people that I love dearly. I could not have asked for a more perfect ending to the greatest adventure of my life.

I spent months thinking about the precise manner in which that last day should unfold. I fretted about big and small details. None of it mattered. When i woke up that morning, everything fell into place and played out better than could have ever been planned. No ridiculous finish, no fireworks, no eloquently-composed register entry. Somehow I had been blessed with dear friends, family, weather and an atmosphere that could bear no improvement. All the right words flowed confidently and unobstructed from my mouth and my feet knew precisely where to land - neither with any conscious effort on my part. The pencil etched a simple, but befitting sentiment in that last register. Neither have I tasted a cigar so sweet, nor embraced others with such perfect sincerity.

To each and every one of you, I can only utter a woefully inadequate 'Thank You'. Know that from the depth of my heart, I will forever cherish every encouraging word written and package sent along the way. The sincere smile you wear is priceless, and though I've finished my thruhike, I will ever carry those images with me in everything I do. But rather than weigh me down, your support has helped to nimble my feet and lighten my load for all my life. Your kindness has no match and has served a much more important purpose than perhaps you thought: I have faith now that success is always possible due to that done by those willing, who are greater than you might imagine. My confidence in the great possibility of humanity has been bolstered by the actions of a few wonderful people. You have been truly awe-inspiring.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Photos! And videos!

Hi friends,
I've finished uploading my photos (finally). I was looking for a good, free image-hosting web-site to post all of these. I settled for Picasa Web, the Google site. Flickr has a limit on monthly uploads and I'm really not sure why I settled away from Photobucket but it seemed like a good idea at the time. OK in looking back at it, PB has a 1MB image size limit. Picasa seems to bridge the gap, and I do love Google. The images are still reduced down to about 1/4 of their original resolution, but I'm OK with that. If anyone wants full-sized copies of anything, let me know and I'll find a way to post 'em or get you a copy. Oh yeah, annoyingly enough I couldn't get iPhoto to export the comments field of each image but rather only the title, so no locations on most of the pics. Maybe I'll change that soon, but it's a time-consuming project so then again maybe not. They're in order from start to finish, giving you a general idea of where things are. Again, let me know if you want specifics.
I also uploaded the videos I took. I got a bunch of the LEAF poetry slam. The rest are just quick pans to give you an idea of the grandeur of some of the views. Not very interesting, but should give you perspective.
For now:

One last post is coming soon, but for now enjoy the pics!


P.S. If you follow me on Twitter or we're FB friends, sorry for the redundancy.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Throughout the hike, food was one of the most common conversational topics. Food, poop, feet and gear made up at least 95% of what thruhikers talk about. I'm really not exaggerating. It was so common because, amongst other reasons, eating was the third most time-consuming activity, behind walking and sleeping. I spent about 3 hours of my day actively involved with food.

A lot of positive things came of this:
1) There are no longer any foods that I don't like. Olives, tomatoes, avocados and pickles were the last 4 that I didn't particularly care for before my hike. I like 'em all now. As a matter of fact, I like them all more than a lot of other foods that I liked before.
2) I know the caloric content of any packaged food in the grocery store. Thruhikers are the only ones who go into a supermarket and compare PopTarts to see which has the MOST Calories and then buy that one (surprisingly, the unfrosted fruit PopTarts have 10 more per tart than the unfrosted)
3) I am now very in touch with my body's caloric and nutritional needs

While hiking, I was burning about 200 Calories per mile while hiking, and another 1,000+ during the night to repair muscle tissue and replenish glycogens. This totaled out to about 6,000-7,000 Calories on an average day at my peak of 25 miles average. I was consuming approximately 3,500 Calories per day on the trail. Once you begin carrying more than about 2 pounds of food per day, there's actually a diminishing return. It requires more calories to carry this weight than they can provide. If you were carrying pure fat (olive oil, butter, lard, etc.), it would provide 3,500 Calories per pound. You can't eat pure fat. Your body needs other things to function. So, 2 pounds of food works out to 3,500 Calories LESS than what I needed. This is a net loss of 1 pound of body fat per day. When I'd get to town, I'd eat 10,000 calories or more in 1 or 2 meals.

In the first 10 days, Djangle and I each lost about 22 pounds. Then gained some of it back in Monson and settled back in at 22 pounds down by the time we reached Stratton, ME. Our blood sugar and muscle glycogen were so low that neither of us were capable of writing our names in a trail register. That night, we each ate 10 pounds worth of food and beer. This was a result of eating less than 2,000 calories per day, getting into shape and traversing the most difficult terrain with our packs at their heaviest. Add to this the fact that we were only stopping in town once every 7 days or so, rather than 3, which was the norm at the end of my hike.

In Pearisburg, VA I ate more than 10,000 calories in 1 hour at the Pizza Plus buffet. That's what 27 pieces of pizza, more than a dozen breadsticks, 2 salads with ranch and 2 32oz. cokes will get you. I then ate 2,000 calories worth of Ben & Jerry's and drank 1,400 calories worth of beer. And 2 packages of beef jerky. Mind you, I had eaten a 1,000 calorie breakfast and snacked on 1,000 calories before I got to town in the first place. And ate some cookies and a bag of M&Ms out of a care package. So, 16,000 calories in one day, and I didn't even feel particularly stuffed. This was during my peak of hiking 2 weeks straight of 25+ mile days.

So, the moral of the story is: if you want to lose weight, I have a sure-fire way of doing it. If you want to gain weight, I can help you do that too.

Here's how I ate:
Breakfast 6-7AM: 800-1200 Calories
2nd Breakfast 8-9AM: 400 C
Morning Snack while walking: 200 C
Lunch 12-1PM: 700 C
Afternoon snack 4PM: 200 C
Dinner 6PM: 800 C

Here's what I carried all the time:
PopTarts (B): Brown Sugar & Cinnamon or unfrosted fruit had 210C/tart (high fiber when available)*
Apples (2B): They're good for the mind and body. Granny smith.
Granola/Trail Mix (S): It never got old, surprisingly. I did like to mix my own when feasible
Raisins (S): Very high in calories and fiber*
Tortillas (S,L,D): Whole wheat when available
Bagels (L): Thomas' whole wheat, honey wheat or any of the harvest grains varieties
Cheese (L/D): Asiago, Parmesan & Romano during hot weather; Cheddar, Pepper Jack and cream during cooler months †
PB (B/L/D/S): At 200 C per 2T/32g serving, this is the highest calorie food readily available.
Lipton Sides or Idahoan Loaded Baked Potatoes instant mashed potatoes(D): Easy meal, lots of varieties and very filling, plus with some cheese and in a tortilla it makes a pretty good burrito.

Things I carried off and on:
-Avocado, lime, garlic, onion and pepper. Fresh guacamole is amazing. This was my dinner for about 2 weeks in VA
-McCormicks Garlic & Herb grill seasoning. Your body needs a huge amount of salt that isn't supplied by most of my other trail foods, so I added this dinner, cheese and whatever else. Sometimes I just ate it straight
-Snickers carry well and provide 270 readily available Calories
-Planters Dark Chocolate & Nut chewy granola bars are delicious and a nice break
-Cliff/Power/Protein bars very rarely. They're expensive. And all the cliff bars taste the same
-Beef Jerky. Great source of protein, but incredibly expensive. Thanks to my dad who sent pounds of it home-made at a time
-Dark Chocolate M&Ms are good calorically and delicious, easily edible and pack well
-Summer Sausage. Summer sausage is a great lunch meat or addition to dinner.
-Yellowfin Tuna in olive oil. None of the others are worth the weight calorically, but the OO brings the pouch to 200 calories and tuna is a nice change
-Honey contains a lot of essential nutrients and is a nice addition to cereal, a wrap or a PB sandwich
-Almond butter is a nice break from PB (although a little bit less caloric and more expensive)

Things I carried earlier on, but stopped eating for one reason or another:
-Ramen. It's 100% crap. Trust me, you'll be happier and healthier if you don't
-Oatmeal. It has been said that it contains about as much nutritional value as the box it comes in
-Pepperoni. I stopped carrying it after I had eaten a pound of it in one morning and earned the disrespect of my hiking partners with the title of "Worst Fart of the Trail"
-SPAM. It's actually pretty good, but I'd much rather spend that money on an extra hamburger in town and not have to carry the can
-Carrots. Good for you, but they get limp pretty quickly
-hehe, limp carrots
-Olive Oil. Great source of calories, Omega 3 fatty acids and a natural anti-inflammatory, but I had gotten rid of my stove and didn't have anything to use it for until the end, where I just didn't think about it. Good addition to rice/pasta meals and guacamole
-Oranges. They make you so happy, but are a pain because you really shouldn't throw the peals out in the woods
-Whoopie Pies. If you're a New Englander, you know what these are. 760 calories per pouch of pure, delicious, horrible-for-you filling and cake. You just can't get 'em South of Connecticut
-Moon pies. The worst imaginable thing in terms of packability. You might as well just crumble them into dust as soon as you buy them
-Powdered whole milk. Nido is hard to find; everything else is skim milk (low fat=worthless). I stopped because I thought it might be causing some of my nausea after my illness in Waynesboro, VA. I didn't carry it after that because I had switched back to PopTarts from cereal for breakfast
-Cereal: I loved cereal for breakfast, but it just fell out of favor, I s'pose
-Gatorade (or other drink) powder. It didn't provide much of anything besides flavor. And to be honest, I really liked the taste of fresh spring water more than anything

*Not that I needed extra fiber, but having a good poop was paramount to having a good day. I was very fortunate in being regular: every day within 30 minutes of waking up and always before I left the shelter. As a matter of fact, there were some mornings in Maine where I was awoken by my bowels with less than 1 minutes warning before it was going to happen whether I was ready or not.
†Cheese will keep for weeks at a time unrefrigerated. If it's too hot, it doesn't actually go bad, either. It just gets oily and crumbly. Remember: the original purpose of cheese was to preserve milk.

In town:
-The Dollar menu in any fast food restaurant
-Cheeseburgers and fries
-Subway footlong. It's delicious and cheap
-Lots of beer (a great source of calories) and soda
-All You Can Eat Buffet
-Salad bar. You have no idea how much I craved salad.
-Biscuits and Gravy
-Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. It has about twice as many calories as any other ice cream on the market, and it's about 3 times as delicious

So basically, I was hungry all the time. So much so, that I stopped being hungry. It's hard for me to tell now when I need to eat something until I start to get shaky. I ate as much as possible in town when there so that I could put on some meager reserves for the next few days. I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night so hungry that it hurt and I would have to get up to feed myself. And there were definitely a few times where I was so weak that my body had shut down any other functions: like being able to use my hands at all.

I'd only carry 3 days or less of food at a time where possible. If I carried 4 days, I found that it slowed me down so much, that I could have made the journey in 3 if I had less weight. Plus, my pack really didn't allow for much more than that, given the size and weight of my food-sack by the end of the hike.

So, there you have it: A thruhiker's view on food.

Carry on


Friday, November 19, 2010

A list of funny terms from our section-hiking friend, Boudreau

Boudreau’s Lexicon of A.T. Through-hiker Slang

Appalachian Trail Thruhikers [T-hkr] have cobbled up a strange lingo known only unto themselves.
Terms like, nobo, sobo, flipflop, trail magic, trail angel and bounce-box are familiar to most. But for
those who wish to better understand this gnarly human? subculture, a further compendium is below.

Appalachian Trial: a more accurate name for the national footpath stretching from Georgia to Maine

Appalachian stream: the A.T. after several days of rain; requires slogging; may create delamming

Bubble: “the pack,” the slowest batch of nobos or sobos together on trail; aka: “the partiers”

Blazing: the T-hkr’s methodical way of moving along the A.T. There are many types of blazing: white-
blazing: following the 2x6 inch white-striped markings for 2200 miles to completion; green-blazing:
hiking stoned; blue-blazing: following a side trail to spring, overlook, or [bad form] a mile-saving
shortcut; yellow-blazing: hitch-hiking, jumping many miles up the trail; frowned on by T-hkrs; pink-
blazing: hkr has fallen in love, is madly chasing a girl [boy] up the trail; aqua-blazing: “trails to sails;”
hkr parallels a section of trail via a water route*; brown-blazing: privy-hopping; tired of doing his
business in the woods, hkr hits every privy along trail

Camel-up: fending off dehydration, hkr drinks a liter or more at every water source

Coned: privy is full to overflowing

Cowboy camp: in clear weather, hkr eschews tent, spreads bed-roll under stars

Delammed: hkr’s shoes/boots have delaminated, shoe is shredded; often happens in Rocksylvania

FLASH: freakin’ lazy ass section hiker; day/weekend hiker who is loud, boring, makes a mess in shelter

Hangry: famished, starving; hkr is so hungry she is angry. Ex: Hkr A sees Hkr B approaching up-trail. As
they pass, A says “How ya doin?” B replies “Go fuck yourself.” Hkr B shows signs of being hangry. #

Hiker midnight: 9 p.m. Hkr is already sound asleep, or will be in the next 5 minutes

Hiker trash: us; the T-hkr community, sometimes looked down on by civilians in the towns

Nearo: rest day, almost a Zero; hkr wakes up, walks few miles to town, resupplies & overnights off-trail

Pud: a pointless up & down; the A.T. never goes around an elevation, always over the damn thing

Punchion: tech term for those split log bog-bridges, mostly in NH, VT and ME. Thank you, AMC!

Ratbaffle: string+stick+tunacan = those ubiquitous food-bag hanger gizmos that foil shelter varmints

Rocknroller: that tricky, unstable next rock; misjudge it at peril of ankle sprain or worse

Rocksylvania: almost the entire state of PA

Schwasted: excess beer consumption; hkr so wasted he can no longer pronounce this word intelligibly

Slack-pack: friend transports pack by car to distant trailhead; hkr makes an easy 25+ mile day

Slammed & delammed: exhausted, after a long day making too many miles, trudging over too many puds;
one hkr calls this feeling “eaten by a wolf and shit off a cliff”

Somebodies vs. Nobodies: the perennial sobo/nobo shelter bicker; which group are the tougher mules?

Stealth camp: hkr finds comfy porch or shed in town, sleeps there, resupplies early & hits trailhead

Vitamin I: Ibuprophen, eaten like candy on the A.T.

Work for stay: hkr does chores in the NH huts in return for free food; a must for nobos headed for ME

Yogi: to subtly beg day campers for food; hkr offers a dirty dollar bill for some chips, hopes for handout

Zero: hkr takes a full day off for well deserved R&R; she hikes zero miles this day

* Best spots for aqua blazing– nobo: from Waynesboro VA, rent one-way canoe to Harpers Ferry WV; sobo:
from High Point NJ, kayak down to Delaware Water Gap PA; either way: borrow a canoe and paddle some of
those numerous long lakes in ME [requires good map-reading].

# An actual “hangry” event, excerpted from a NJ shelter journal, August 2010.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gear Catalog

In case any of you are interested in what I was carrying with me by the end of the trip, here's a list of the contents of my pack with 5 months of active revision.

Pack: Osprey Exos 46*
Bag: R.E.I. 20º (Cold weather)/ L.L. Bean down liner ≈50º(Summer)
Pad: Thermarest Prolite Mattress
Shelter: Hennessy Ultralight Backpacker (warm weather only)
Stove: Homemade soda can alcohol stove*, windscreen & base
Fuel Bottle: MSR 20oz. fuel bottle
Pot (well, cookpot): MSR Alpine Stowaway 1.1L*
Utensils: Snowpeak Titanium spork, GSI pot scraper*, Guyot Squishy Bowl* (Bowl only)
Knife: Cheap no-name 2" folding blade
Toiletries: Swiss Tech fingernail clippers/multi-use tool, contact case, airplane bottle contact solution, toothbrush, travel-sized toothpaste, travel-sized Goldbond, Dr. Bronner's Eucalyptus 2oz liquid soap, eyeglasses and case
Stuffsacks: Granite Gear #6 16L Airbag*, R.E.I. 2L, 3L & 7L stuff sacks
Raingear: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil pack cover, Sierra Designs Microlight Pants (cold weather only), Sierra Designs Hurricane HP rain coat
Shortsleeve Shirts: Sierra Designs Topo T, Sierra Designs Spectrum T-Lite
Longsleeve Shirt: Patagonia poly/wool quarter zip lightweight T
Pants: REI Sahara Convertible Pants (pantlegs only in cold weather)
Shorts: Asics Core Microfiber Short
Socks: Darn Tough Vermont Microcrew cushion coolmax *, Darn Tough Vermont 1/4 Sock Merino Wool*
Shoes: Solamon XA Pro 3D Ultra breathable*, Superfeet insoles
Headwear: Insect Shield Buff, Columbia Chunky Earflap hat(cold weather only)*
Jacket: super-heavy windstop fleece(cold weather only)*
Gloves: fleece running gloves(cold weather only)*
Thermal Bottoms: Smartwool NTS Midweight bottom(cold weather only)
Underwear: ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs
Guidebook: ALDHA Thru-Hikers' Companion
Writing Materials: Moleskine Large Ruled Notebook, Moleskine Pocket Address Book, letter sized paper, stamped envelopes, Pilot G2 pen
Electronics: iPhone 3GS with charger and headphones, Sony Cybershot DSC-S2100 camera with 8GB memory card and Energizer Ultimate Lithium Batteries
Electronics Cases: SealLine E-Case - small for iPhone, Case Logic Compact Camera Case
Sunglasses: Maui Jim Makaha and case
Water: 2x 1Qt. Gatorade bottles*, Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification Tablets*
Misc: Bic lighter, RYOT KryptoKit tobacco pouch*, Scott TP, Ziploc Double Zipper Smart Zip - Qt & Gallon, heavy duty trash bag as pack liner, Sea to Summit Pack Towel

Dry/Base weight (without food or water):13-16 pounds
Average weight (2 days food, 10oz fuel, 1L water): 20 pounds
Max. Weight (4 days food, 2L water, 20oz fuel): 34 pounds
Weights exclude 1 shirt, 1 pair socks, shoes and running shorts.

*Indicates something that I didn't start with.

And now for some explanations:
-I started with an Osprey Crescent 90, 90Liter pack. This was enourmous so I downsized and never needed any more space. The only complaint I have about the Exos 46 is the fact that it carries weight over 30 pounds very poorly. But, then again, it's not designed to, so I just had to change my resupply to be more frequent.
-The hammock wasn't warm enough once it got below 40º, so I slept exclusively in shelters for the last 500 miles of the trail. Besides that, it was amazing. I highly suggest that anybody who's planning on camping to get one. Advantages: at 1 pound 15oz, it's lighter and smaller than almost any other form of shelter; at $136 it's cheaper than anything else out there; I slept better in the hammock than I do in a bed; There are a number of times where I awoke in a thunderstorm bone-dry, whereas were I on the ground I would have been drenched; set-up and take-down take <5 minutes each.
-The soda can stove (Wiki) was amazing. I started with a MSR Whisperlite, a great stove for more than 1 person, but it weighs in at 1 pound - the soda can weighs 1 oz. You do the math. Disadvantages: difficult to use <30º or >4,000' and in high wind. Advantages: did I mention it only weighs 1oz? and it's fast to set up, use and clean up; the size is pretty great, too - I could fit my spork, bowl, stove, pot scraper, wind screen and lighter all in my 1 L pot with room to spare. Denatured alcohol is easier to find for it than coleman fuel (white gas). Definitely give it a shot if you're the DIY backpacker type.
-The potscraper was the best piece of equipment I bought on the trail. It will revolutionize your mess kit.
-I could have used a much smaller knife and simpler fingernail clippers, I'm sure. The only thing you need a knife for is opening plastic packaging and cutting cheese. Seriously, leave the bear knife at home. And bear mace for that matter, the stuff is ridiculous.
-If you need corrective lenses to see well enough to hike, get Lasik. Contacts are impossible to keep clean and glasses are annoying on a sweaty face and fog up in even the slightest drizzle.
-Gold Bond is amazing.
-I started with a 13L Sea to Summit Dry Sack. It was great, but I realized I didn't need that much protection for my food.
-Darn Tough Vermont make the best socks I've ever worn. And they're unconditionally guaranteed for a lifetime.
-I switched to lighter trail shoes after 441 miles and never looked back. Wearing 1 pound on your feet is the energy-consumption equivalent of carrying 3 on your back. Not only this but the greater the cushioning, the More impact imparted to your joints; this adds up over 2,200 miles. The low-top also reduces the likelihood of ankle/foot injury. By reducing the 'support', you actually strengthen the muscles in your ankles, feet and legs; and in so doing create stronger joints that are more resistant to damage through a rolled ankle or misstep.
-Unless you'll be hiking somewhere exceptionally cold and completely dry, don't get GoreTex shoes. They're so hot that your feet sweat, negating the purpose. And they don't actually keep water out. AND once water is in, the GoreTex actually prevents it from escaping. If you're hiking somewhere super-wet and cold, look into full-leather. Otherwise, the more breathable, the better. My feet actually stayed dryer in my mesh shoes in a heavy rain than they did in my GoreTex boots or shoes.
-If I had to get another guidebook, I'd get AWOL's. Elevation profile, more accurate information and better layout.
-ExOfficio underwear is the shit. I might switch to them for every day life, too. Absolutely no complaints.
-Make certain you use Lithium batteries in your camera. I used the same pair of AAs from Rutland Vermont to Tennessee. 700 photos and lots of viewings.
-I mentioned the type of Ziploc because I've now tried them all, and these are by far the best. The worst are the ones with the sliding zipper.
-I started with a 1L Nalgene, a 3L Camelback and a 1L Platypus. The Nalgene went back early on. Followed by the Platypus, then the Camelback. I found that I almost never needed to carry more than 1L of water at any given time. I would 'camel up'(drink my fill, usually 1/2-1L) where I stopped and then walk out with 1L. Then I'd repeat it as soon as I got to the next good water source.
-I stopped treating my water in Vermont. I then only treated it twice for the remaining 1,700 miles of the hike. Several studies I have read indicate that people who treat their water are actually more likely to contract some sort of gastrointestinal illness on a long-distance hike. The reasons for this are: 1) people who treat their water are much less selective about where they draw it from, therefore increasing the likelihood of utilizing a contaminated source. 2) The chance of incomplete treatment or cross-contamination are high with all forms of treatment. 3) One's body may build a natural tolerance/immunity to some waterborne diseases. I must stress, though, that this is something you need to take full responsibility for and be prepared. I hiked with the medication for Giardia, should I ever contract it. Never did, though.
-Before we ditched the water filter, we used a Sawyer gravity feed filter and were incredibly pleased with its function. The fact that it's a lifetime replacement on the filter is totally sweet.

The biggest pieces of advice I received on the trail:
1) If you don't use it in 10 days, you don't need it - get rid of it
2) There is absolutely nothing you can do to keep your stuff dry. Get over it. Rain gear is not designed to keep you dry, it exists to keep you warm. I went for 6 weeks without wearing my raincoat once, during which time it rained several times. It's like a free shower. Everything in your pack that needs to stay dry should be in: a drybag, ziploc and/or in the heavy duty contractor trash bag that's lining your pack. Oh yeah, you don't need a pack cover; they don't really do much.

That should be about enough for right now. Food soon!



Hi friends,
So, I'm assuming most of you are aware that I've finished. If you're not than you probably don't understand the basic meaning of the word, 'done'. There will be more specific updates about the last few hundred miles and some general reflections about my Appalachian Odyssey; But for now, I'll leave you with what I'm up to:

Saturday, November 6th saw Troop 74, my parents and brother, Djangle and I summit Springer Mountain, thus completing my 159 day journey from Maine to Georgia. We had high hopes of getting the infamous Super-Stack Heart Attack Burger at The Vortex in Little 5 Points. Unfortunately for us, if you attempt to get a table for 11 at 7PM on a Saturday night, the wait is 2 hours, so we called it off and went to 6 Feet Under instead, which turned out to be awesome. The only disappointment being the fact that they didn't have a burger that involved 10 strips of bacon. One day, Super-Stack, one day.

Since that night, I've been staying with my parents in Atlanta and being generally productive. I'm going to post pictures and videos to Facebook and Photobucket and send some thank-yous soon, but there are 979 of the former (after winnowing out the bad ones) and about 75 of the latter to send, so it may take me a little bit.

Family Thanksgiving at the beach next week, then it's back to Asheville! Dan and Jael have been so kind as to offer me (at least temporary) employment back at the ChoLo. So starting the following week I'll be back there doing delicious things with delicious chocolate. It's about time for the Chocolate Lounge to have a smelly, bedreaded employee again. I'm looking for a place to live at the moment and have a few really promising leads. Thanks to my wonderful friends for being so helpful!

Never before have I felt so confident and motivated; I can't wait to return home to share the season - which will be my bon hiver- with my beloved Asheville family and begin work on a HUGE project (more on this later, too.)

For now: a big, general 'Thank You' to everyone who followed and supported me on this crazy walkabout, and I hope you are all well!



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

More soon (but not for long)

Hi friends!

This is to let you all know that I've gone ahead and set a finish date. Next Saturday, November 6th I'll be walking up Springer Mtn. in the early afternoon. Immediately after, I'm planning on going home to take a hot shower and change into some cotton clothing before heading to The Vortex to eat the biggest burger on the menu. You're all welcome to join me there for dinner if you'd like. After that I'll be living with my parents fo most of November before heading back to Q
Address until A'ville:
195 Valley Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30305

P.O. Box 7322
Asheville, NC 28802

more to come soon!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rocky Top, you'll always be home, sweet home to me...

Monday, October 25, 2010

I actually just utilized the Coors Cold Activated Can to determine whether I should start 11:58AM. Not blue yet.

Monday, October 11, 2010

OK, so I'm back in Tennessee

Since I wrote last, the trail has become increasingly more beautiful and interesting; fall crept in seemingly overnight and I'm finally back in peak shape. I will say though: my body is still limited to a certain number of consecutive 24-27 mile days.

I finally left the unbelievably long (10 miles short of 1/4 of the trail) state of Virginia and hit Tennessee for two days before touching the border of North Carolina. Only one state left to touch now! The trail here literally crosses back and forth over the TN/NC border dozens of times through this 150 stretch. I since passed into Great Smoky Mountains National Park and will soon be fully in North Carolina for 85 more miles before finally crossing that last state line into the Peach State for the last few days of my trip.

The first stretch of the NC/TN border included Roan Mountain, the first 6000 footer since Mt. Washington in NH- nearly 1,600 miles and 3.5 months ago on the trail. This and Unaka Mtn. are both remarkebly similar to the green and white mountains of New England except Goethe lack of treeline down South. The great Southern grassy balds of Hump Mtn. (where there was sadly but understandably no sign to...uh, photograph in a completely appropriate and mature fashion. Yup), Grassy Ridge, Jenny's knob, Beauty Spot and many others ar truly a magnificent sight that I'd like to share personally with anyone who hasn't seen them. You won't need to convince me to go. Tennessee and North Carolina apple orchards supplemented my meager foodsack contents often through this stretch. What perfect timing!

Erwin, TN didn't have much, but Uncle Johnny's Hostel on the Nolichucky and my first Mexican food on trail (Taco Bell not counting of course) were reason enough to take my time with some thruhikers I had just met: Guac, Queso and Stump. The next night we all camped at Bald Mtn. Shelter (one of the highest on the trail), made smores and experinced a swarming of salamanders out of the rain around our fire. Maybe there's something to the myth... On Big Bald, I had the opportunity to watch a bird banding program at work. The volunteer even let me hold and release a Tennessee Warbler, Dark-eyed (slate-colored) Junco and Swainson's Thrush. Great sunrise view from the bald after my bird extravaganza.

Here's where my trip took a turn for the different. As soon as I crossed I26 for the first time I thumbed into Asheville to meet friends and go to LEAF. Thanks to MJ Sailor for the last minute ticket! Thanks too to all of my amazing friends for taking a smelly, sweaty hobo hiker into their homes and allowing me to shower, do laundry and sleep. It was very kind of all of you. As a matter of fact, I had more offers for places to sleep than I spent nights in the city! LEAF was amazing of course. I'm especially pleased with the little bit of newfounfld confidence that allowed me to happily do everything that I wanted to. The poetry slam was absolutely unbelievable as usual, but some other highlghts were learning to Cajun dance, Cailen and David (Contraversial), and most of all spending time with dear friends, all of whom I'm happy to say seem happy :). I honestly can't wait to return to my home city and all of the wonderful people that I share it with.

With hardly any sleep, but plenty of extra calories to burn off in the remaining 17 days I said goodbye. Then stayed anoher day, then said goodbye again. On the way out of town, Adina and (Patick?) turned around on Broadway and drove me all the way to Hot Springs. I am so forunate to have such generous friends. Sadly, I discovered in Hot Springs that my pack has a broken stay. They're sending me a new one in Gatlinburg, but I'll have to deal with it jabbing into my hip until then. Also, the Rock Bottom bar lives up to it's name. Onwards out of the valley and back on the trail after a week off!

I'm going to split this up so as to be a litle bit more managable to read. More to come soon!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

North Carolina!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Changing Seasons

So I left Wood's Hole finally and hauled to meet my dad near Troutdale to hike Grayson Highlands together. This included my 2nd biggest day: 27 miles. Sight unseen I picked a spot for him to meet me. It just so happened that out of the 540 miles in VA, this was by far the prettiest. Some of the highlights:
-Feral Ponies! In order to maintain the bald mountains here, ponies were introduced to graze and trample down. They're very small, but fat and happy. Quite tenacious, too. As much as it would have been a cool story to have been attacked by wild ponies, I decided not to try and ride one. Maybe some day...
-Snow. That's right, it snowed and sleeted on us on Tuesday. Yesterday however, was a quintessential fall day: it started cold and windy and slowly warmed up to mid-70s golden sunlight and long shadows in a wood ever more diverse in color. Fall is in full swing, folks. I sent my hammock home and replaced it's weight with a warm fleece, long johns, gloves and a stove. This week I cooked for the first time in 1,300 miles. I'm definitely glad for hot food again. The weather should be warmer again through the weekend, but It's still chilly at night. Never before have I noticed the vast differences in the changing of the seasons.

The best part was definitely getting to hike and spend some uninterrupted time with my dad. (As one hiker pointed out, Paps is meeting his Pops to hike). I've had a chance to see my mom and brother briefly further North, so now that rounds out my family visits. We had a great time hiking over the big balds of the highlands through some gorgeous scenery. It was cold, but we had a warm fire both nights, drank some J.D. (what can I say, my dad knows how to pack for a 3 day trip), and played cribbage. I've been practicing. When we got to town we had burgers and beer before I had to say good bye. It was hard- 3 days flew by and I wish there had been more time. It just means we'll have to plan more trips like this in the future. Truth be told, much of our time talking was spent discussing what would make good trips in the future.

Right now I'm in Damascus, VA (supposedly the friendliest town on the trail) drinking coffee at Mojoe's, which happens to serve my favorite coffee from Leopard Forest in T.R. South Carolina. Time to move on down the trail. My nightly stops are a lot more specific now as I have to stay in shelters exclusively. we go!


P.S. I'll finally be out of Virginia today!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another long one

So a lot has happened since I last posted. Sorry to be so sporadic with these entries, but I've been a little unorganized. I'll start from where I left off in Shenandoah National Park:

The rest of the Shennies were uneventful until the morning I was rolling into Waynesboro. I had high hopes for the Ming Garden Chinese buffet I had first heard about in Maine from two guys named Cake and Stiltz. That is I had high hopes until I started getting stomach cramps. Then as the day progressed the list of symptoms grew to include nausea, chills, fever, headache and fatigue. So, I only ate 4 plates and soup-a vast drop from my 6 plates and soup in Gorham, NH. Without going into graphic details, I thought I had Giardiasis, complete with all the normal, lovely and familiar effects. So I holed up in a hotel room after hitching into Charlottesville. Then it mostly passed. Thank you baby Jesus. So I toured UVa and reveled in feeling better by drinking a smoothie (baby steps). 

I was able to meet up with Ashley, my friend from the ChoLo back in Asheville. After staying with her for 2 days and meeting some of her lovely friends: Gus, Maya, and Ruth,  I felt much better and even had my appetite back for some part. We had a great time around town and generally being lazy. While I was there I had a chance to visit Woodberry Forest, my high school about 10 minutes from her house.  It was really amazing to be back after almost 5 years without so much as a word to or from anyone there. A lot was the same, but there were a lot of changes. Not the least of which was apparently me: not a single person recognized me without my prompting them. I guess I have changed a bit in the last half-decade. 
I left there all smiles and feeling stronger all the time and made for Bronwyn's house. She's an older British lady who my parents met while living in Charlottesville (which is where they met while my dad was teaching anesthesia and my mom working in the ER as a nurse). She is an amazing cook and I left there with some fresh eggs and pears from the farm where she works. I spent one more night in Waynesboro before meeting my mom, who had to be in Charlottesville for a meeting. We had a great time, and after another night in a hotel (this time on her dime) and 3 good meals she deposited me back at the trailhead so I could keep on. And that, friends, is how my night in town turned into 6 1/2 unintended days off. 

Back on the trail, things were a little tough to get back into, but after a week I cruised into Bearwallow Gap where I met my mom's cousin and was joined by mommy and my brother, who I hadn't seen since February. You see, he had been in China studying at the University of Shanghai and has just returned to the U.S. Another zero, great food and 19 episodes of How I Met Your Mother (which is an amzing show, by the way) later, I got back on again and headed South to Pearisburg. 

The trail was nice but the heat kept me below 20 miles a day for most of the past week. There have been some significant stops and beautiful views: Mcafee Knob (I promise you know what it looks like: a rock sticking out about 10 feet over nothing below. If you've seen a picture of Virginia tourism or the A.T. in VA this is probably the one), Dragon's Tooth, Timker Cliffs, Hay Rock and plenty if others that just popped up along the way. Don't worry I have plenty of pictures if you want to see when I get back. If you don't, I won't force you to sit through the slide show. I watched only my 3rd sunset and my 1st sunrise of my trip from Rice Field Shelter just outside of Pearisburg. 

Pearisburg: went to the Pizza Plus lunch buffet and ate 26 pieces of pizza, > a dozen cheesy breadsticks, a salad and 2 sodas in under an hour. I even squeezed in 2 games of Galaga, my favorite (and probably best) video game of all time. I then waddled over to the Plaza Motel and checked in where the proprietor did my laundry for me!  Then I proceeded to sit in my room and watch T.V. for many hours while many beers were consumed. Did you know that the only thing on after 2 A.M. is jail specials?  Why is that?  Oh well, it was nice to take a break after a big push over the last few days to make it to the P.O. before it closed on Saturday. Thanks to Gena, mom, May and the Jeffries for your mail. Some was delicious, some made me laugh and it all made me smile. 

Which brings me to right now. I'm writing you from Wood's Hole Hostel, an old mid-19th century chestnut homestead in the middle of a National Forest. They've been taking in hikers basically since it was rediscovered in the 1940s. It really is a little slice of heaven in the middle of nowhere. With no TV and no cell phone reception or bars or anything else around, I've done everything I have meant to for the past week and more all in one day. I can't tell you how amazing it is to be in such a lovely setting all alone to relax and regroup. I wanted to meet Michael and Neville, the owners/operators of this special place, but they've been off in GA over the weekend so I decided to stay over one day in hopes of catching them and one of their legendary meals. The fact that it's been raining since yesterday was certainly an influence. That and I'm meeting my dad to hike for a few days together through Grayson Highlands. There are feral ponies there!

600 miles left, friends. The landscape looks more familiar and the smell and colors of autumn are upon me here in the woods. I'm getting anxious to be home, but at the same time don't want this Odyssey to end. 

My next planned stops are: 
Erwin , TN 37650
Expected: 10/12

Hot Springs, NC 28743
Expected: 10/14

Does anyone have an extra LEAF ticket for free or cheap? Or if not either of those, does anyone have one at all? 

Can anyone pick me up in Hot Springs on October 14th or 15th and take me into Asheville?

As I get close to home, I'd love for any of you to join me for a day or night or two.  If you'd like to or have an answer to any of the above questions, let me know via email or texting or calling me. The ticket would be huge and I would love you forever. 

I already love you all forever,


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

P.S. Next stop:

Crawford Rizor
c/o General Delivery
Pearisburg, VA 24134

Estimated date of arrival: 9/17

take care!

Recent (Wonderful!) happenings

Here I am in Shenandoah National Park writing from Big Meadow Lodge where I seem to have taken up residence for the day. After hiking 4 miles to get here from my campsite last night, I have had breakfast and now lunch, reading the newspaper and written a few letters. I'd like to think that the only reason for my laziness is the heat, which is high mind you, but I can hardly say 'no' to coffee and beer ( not at the same time, at least not this time...), two things I don't carry with me on the trail.

The last section of trail has been absolutely wonderful but quite different. The terrain and landscape are different, of course, but that isn't the biggest change. I'm sure it won't be spoiling the surprise for anyone, but I am now hiking alone. Mzungu has gone home to be with a friend for the birth of her baby; Lobo is ahead due to my being delayed in Front Royal, VA (more about this later); and Djangle has had to take a medical leave of the trail-nothing serious mind you. It has been wonderful to be entirely alone in my planning (see the F.R. adventure) and to have the trail almost entirely to myself- to lose myself in thought or be absorbed by nature all around. It has put a serious dent in my motivation to hike longer days, but I didn't come out here just to run home again. I'm sure that by the time I finish I'll not be ready for it to be done even then.

On to my most recent adventure: This past Saturday I walked my shortest day at .3 miles to the road to Front Royal. As I got to the trailhead 3 hikers got out of a taxi across the street. As they were paying the cabbie, I put out a thumb and immediately caught a ride with a kind young lady headed into work. Score one for me! I spent most of the day reading the newspaper and The Hobbit (an amazing adventure story that has left me inspired anew as to the nature of my journey) and drinking coffee downtown. As I wrapped up my affairs in town, I decided to go to the library to update this very blog. But I never got there.

Shortly before I was to arrive a couple of folks in a car stopped me in the middle of crossing a street: "are you thru-hiking?". Shortly I learned that Zombie had thruhiked last year, Southbound as well. He and Kelly, who was driving, were out for the day hiking (with the intention of picking up a thru-hiker to take home and take care of I was soon to learn). Then began a series of events in unbelievable kindness:
I was treated to a beer or three at a local biker bar. Then with a grin they asked if I needed a shower... and laundry... and dinner... and a cozy bed in which to sleep. Soon we were on our way to a BBQ dinne, complete with fried okra and a free beer and desert from the manager, himself amazed at what I'm doing and Zombie had done. A shower and clean (cotton!) clothes were next. Then a party, the likes of which I haven't been to since Freshman year of college.

I tell you that I've never played flip-cup, but caught on rather quickly despite the more than adequate beer in my system already (7 at this point if you're keeping track). Beer pong was played and cupcakes were nearly sat upon. With the night nearly at a close I took up my usual wallflower position at the local club before we went home and called it a night. I was to sleep in a bed never before slept in by anybody else.
The next morning, after a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, bacon and more coffee I was invited to service with these two and we went as if old friends. My new friends then treated me to a Mexican lunch before finally we said our goodbyes. The past 24 hours had been nothing short of the stuff dreams are made of, especially for the weary and worn (and smelly and hungry) hiker.

Kelt and Zombie, wherever you ar I give you my heartfelt thanks. I cannot recall ever having met people more willing to care for another simply to make the day of a stranger. I can hardly type these words without an immeasurably huge smile on my lips. Thank you. Thank you!

I believe that's quite enough for now as my thumbs grow weary and the mid-afternoon draws on with only 4 miles under my soles today and many more to go before I string my hammock. Then again, why not take my time?

I miss you all and hope all is well in each of your lives.



Saturday, August 14, 2010

rovided by the local venture crew camping out here. Amazing!
Just ate two delicious pieces of house-made chocolate-covered bacon strips at the Peanut Shop in Port Clinton, PA after a free Dutch oven 2nd breakfast p

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Since y'all are probably mostly in the dark...

Hello friends!
I have a little bit of time to update before Djangle and Mzungu get here. Ah yes, an explaination is due: Eli goes by Djangle on the trail and we both started hiking with a fellow by the name of Mzungu (Swahili for 'white guy') about three weeks ago. I'm sitting right now at the Mohican Outdoor Center in NJ waiting for them so we can make new plans for the night because the next 10 miles of trail are closed for about three days due to a forest fire that started yesterday. I know what you're all saying: "but Paps, you won't have hiked all 2,178 miles!?". Well, I think exceptions can be made. It's just a damn shame these 10 miles aren't in the Northern part of PA- what every single NoBo has said to be their least favorite section. This is due to the 40 miles of trail comprised of nothing but football-sized rocks turned pointy side up, most of which is exposed to the sun for hours at a time. C'est la vie.
The whole trail has been magnificent. While some days are more action-packed than others or may provide more spectacular views, each state posesses it's own unique sights and experiences. I am constantly in awe and wonderment at the beauty in our very own backyards. We all have such an amazing resource at our fingertips and yet very few turn to Nature for answers to questions, heals for our hurts or satisfying so many other human needs and desires.

In the past 3 weeks I've traveled through VT, MA, CT, NY and NJ now. We stayed with the 12 Tribes at one of their intentional communities in Rutland, VT, the Back Home Again Cafe. Doing work trade got us showers, meals, a place to sleep and the wonderful comfort of a loving and selfless community in which we learned of their ways, rested, relaxed and generally got back in a great mindset. Here we watched Toy Story 3 in 3D. What a shock to go from such natural stimulation to this sort of production. Still great though :). I met up with another hiker who started the same day as us, but who we haven't seen since. Met a 75 year old woman who is completing a through-hike she started last year. She attempted her first IronMan in her mid-60s and made it to me 21 only to be cut off because of the time limit. But she was still going!
In Dalton, MA I stayed at Tom Levardi's house. Tom has been taking in hikers and giving them all the necessary hostel accomodations for free for the last 30 years. He really is a trail legend. He gave all of us an environment in which it was easy to take my mind off my swollen feet for which I am always thankful.
Connecticut had some big beautiful old trees and nice river walks. And it was expensive. That's about it for CT.
New York broght the Deli Hop, a chance to stop once or twice a day and get New York deli sandwiches. I had a Reuben, a pastrami and Swiss, an Italian, and several more. I think I managed to gain some more weight back. Hurray!
Someone left beer and all kinds of other snacks in a cooler for hikers on the side of the trail off of NY52. It just happened to be at 7:45AM so I had a beer or 4 with my deli sandwich and coffee. Hey, it's a great, readily accesible source of calories. Some other trail angel was parked beside the road a few days later giving away coke, apples, candy, fuel and socks. I can't think of a better gift for a hiker: food and socks.
New jersey is surprisingly beautiful! I say surprisingly because I only really think of Jersey City and the like.
Stayed at the house of the former Mayor of Unionville, NY for a few nights where we got free and cheap beer. I'll write more later about The Mayor's because it deserves its own. This guy is an amazing person who opens his home to hikers to give them the encouragement to finish the journey. Amazing.
And now, here I am at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain hostel in Delaware Water Gap, PA. 7 states down and 7 to go.

I hope all of you out there are having a wonderful Summer and know that I miss each of you. Stay well!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Next stop: Boiling Springs, PA 17007. ETA: 8/16. Stay well.
New York State is beautiful. It's my favorite (along with every other place I've yet been).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

s got broken up like that. Weird.
Already out of Massachusets. In Connecticut for 2 more days then on to New York. States are just flying by now! Also, I'm not sure why the last two post

Saturday, July 24, 2010

one for the gifts of food and kind words. I think what was waiting for us here in Dalton will tide us over for a good 6 days. Thank you all!
A great stay the last two nights at Tom Levardi's in Dalton, MA. Three states down, 11 to go. Next stop: Ft. Montgomery, NY by about 8/1. Thanks to every

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'll be in MA. The states feel like they're starting to fly by. More when I get to Dalton. Love you all.
Sitting in Bennington, VT after a small resupply waiting for a ride back to the trail from a kind fellow who picked us up on the way into town. The last
few days have been big: 17, 17.6, 17.6, 22.9, and today's shaping up to be about 19 miles. Yesterday and today we did 15 by 12:30. A few more days and I

Monday, July 12, 2010

After two days off my legs are aching to go. We leave Hanover this morning and say good bye to Ricker who has been nothing short of amazing to us. The weekend consisted of beer, pizza, whiskey, AYCE brunch, Lou's, lobster, Finding Nemo, hot tub, Ben & Jerry's, reading the newspaper, writing letters, etc. The best part by far, though was reconnecting with an old friend and meeting new ones. Totally rested, recharged and fattened up, it's time to start walking (waddling) again. I hope all is well out there.
Love, Paps.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sitting here in Hanover at Dirty Cowboy Coffee after a much-longer-than-expected trip through the Whites Mountains. More to come about this, but suffice it to say for now that I could not have asked for better weather for a full week; I availed myself of the opportunity to the fullest extent. Hopefully spending some time with my dad's best friend, Ricker for the weekend- taking the first 'zero' of the hike after 441 miles (>1/5th complete!). In other news: I ran .9 mi in 6:10 around a lake on boardwalks, roots, rocks and mud in my hiking boots immediately after dropping my pack after a 10 mile hike. More Running is in my future. Also, Mt. Moosilauke (last of the Whites) was the last 4,000 footer for 973 miles. I'll post again soon. Off to the Post Office!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Resupply in Gorham, NH has resulted in me eating so much at a $5.95 Chinese buffet (6 trips) that I could do nothing but sit on the asphault in the parking lot and groan for 20 minutes. In other news: 1 state and 295 miles down! 13 and 1884.1 to go.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just spent the night at Pine Ellis Hostel in Andover, ME. Great night! Lots of food and great company. Just 4 more days in Maine then it's on to the White Mtns. I expect to be in Hanover , NH on 7/5 (hint hint to anyone that might want to send us brownies *coughChoLocough*. I hope all is well back home!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I am now through the 100 mile wilderness and have just eaten a large pizza, a pint of ice cream and a killer AYCE breakfast(3 pancakes 3 eggs 6 strips of bacon 8 sausage links and 3 cups of home fries) at Shaw's since we got in last night. My caloric intake has doubled already and I've still lost noticable weight. Crawford's going to be skinny! It's back in the woods for another 10 days or so in Maine. Doing great so far! Thanks so much for the good thoughts and I'll see you sooner than you think...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Last night we slept in the trees on the side of the highway. Tonight we're in a hostel. Tomorrow we spend our first night sleeping on the trail. It's been a great trip getting up here - thanks to all those who helped us along the way so far. I hope to write very soon if I have your address. But above all else: I love you all!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Post Offices closest to the AT

Here is a list of P.O.s along the trail. It's the only comprehensive list that I could find, but may have been updated as long ago as 2002. The best thing to do is call them ahead of time to make certain it's still in existence. Also, try and send to the closest (those with no parentheses below the town, or within a few miles, i.e. not 18 mi. away like Dahlonega). E-mail me about 2 weeks before you plan on it arriving, and send it at least a week before you expect me to be there.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Handy Links

Here is a handful of helpful links regarding the AT.

'An Appalachian Trail'. the article by Benton MacKaye that started it all
Appalachian Trail. the wikipedia entry
Appalachian Trail Conservancy. the homepage for the AT
Distance Calculator. see how far we've gone between any two points

Sunday, April 18, 2010


As mentioned before, we'll be secluding ourselves intentionally. To be perfectly honest, I think that we're all way to hung up on being able to get a hold of someone in the time it takes to root through our oversize pockets and dial a few digits. The world got along just fine 50 years ago with just the telephone. And another 50 years before that, you were at the will and whim of a horse, sleepy telegraph operator or train engineer. Chances are good that we're fine. If you're concerned about our progress, I'll try and be good about at least updating our past in-town days. Whoa there, don't get too excited. Most likely, it'll just be something like: 'hey, we're alive. Just ate a 13 egg omelet in Harper's Ferry. Haven't had a BM in days; still waiting for the big one...'

The best way to get in touch with us (since we won't have regular access to the internet or phone service - partly as a function of our distance from 'civilization', and entirely by choice) is good old-fashioned USPS or e-mail. Please don't leave a voice-mail, Facebook message, IM or comment on the blog and expect me to get back to you. It'll be great to look back on your input and insight after we're done, but I plan to keep in touch with our I'llgetbacktoyouassoonaspossible-lovin' world as little as possible. E-mail is probably the easiest, but I'm planning of conducting most of my return correspondence via post card and letter.

I will hopefully update this Blog before we leave with a list of post offices that we'll be stopping at in town. Here's what to do if you know that we'll be in somewhere.

1) Make sure that the stuff you're sending is useful. I love all of you and I love all of the thoughtful things that I've ever received from you through the years, but space and carrying capacity are limited. To give you an idea of what I'm doing to save both, I'll be cutting the handle off of my toothbrush. Think about it before you send it.

2) Package it in some way that it will survive the (perhaps several) weeks before we get there. Our time-frame will be difficult to predict accurately beyond a few days out due to schedule-altering possibilities inherent in long-distance hiking. No ice cream sandwiches or books please. Ziplock bags are your friend. Priority Mail Flat-Rate boxes are also a good thing. I can re-use the flat-rate boxes to send stuff home that I don't need any more.

3) Write 'Please Hold for Appalachian Trail Hiker' across the front/top and address it in the following format:
Crawford Rizor
c/o General Delivery
(City/Town, State, Zip)

4) Be patient with my response.

I'll still have a phone, so if it is an emergency, I can call. Emergencies only please. It's not that I don't want to talk to you. It's just that I don't want to talk on the phone.

In the case of an emergency, you can contact my parents (404)-262-3314. But, take note that they cannot get in touch with me any faster than you. They might have a little more detailed information on how to find me faster if absolutely necessary. If you want to send me a letter or something and don't know where I'll be, you can send it to my parents to include in their next support package:

Crawford Rizor (fwd. to AT)
195 Valley Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30305

Happy Trails.


I intend to hike the Appalachian Trail. Nothing more. There are innumerable desirable side-effects that I could wish for but I have no high hopes. It'd be a shame if pursuing something kept me from walking these 2,179.1 miles with acuity and an open mind. So, as it stands I have one goal: hike the AT. This hike is for me. I hope you don't take offense if I'm not available during the next 6 months. I'm isolating myself from the world-at-large to a huge degree, so it seemed right to further that trend rather than fight it. The opportunities that will present themselves are endless and I look forward to being occupied with only the most important for that time. I strive for simplicity on the trail, so I'm leaving a lot behind. I'm giving a lot away because I hope to live more simply upon my return to Asheville. Which, by the way, should be before Dec. 1st.

Stay Tuned