Author Archives: John Simmons
My sister is driving me to the trailhead this afternoon to begin my journey. I feel quite underprepared but I suspect this is normal. I don’t plan on making many miles today, just plan on getting myself situated and make today an easy day, the real walking begins tomorrow.
I have spent 2 days walking the trail so far, about 18 miles in total. On this second night, once again there is a group of freshman from Princeton in camp…apparently, all freshmen are required to spend 6 days on the Appalchian Trail before going to class. They have been doing this for over 40 … Continue reading
My friend Graemlin was kind enough to send me off with a traveling companion…he was too heavy to carry so another friend made a digital version which i have made my screensaver for those lonely nights!
Stopped here to take care of the feet…just lovely!
When I first learned about the Appalachian Trail one of the “memorable” stops was a shelter where you could have a pizza delivered. Well, today was that day! Its called the RPH Shelter and I ordered a chef salad and a dozen chicken wings…couldnt pass up the chance to eat something green! As I was … Continue reading
In about 9 hours of hiking today i came across 1 stream that was more than a mile from where i started this morning…this is what it looked like…would you drink from it? And i met a guy who just hiked north from the NY/NJ border…he said all water sources have dried up…so for the … Continue reading
Part of the trail winds through some zoo here in NY, I dont know the name but in front of the bear cage is supposedly the lowest point on the entire Appalachian Trail…after seeing these two beautiful animals bored out of their skulls i would have to agree…
I dont know what bridge this is but there were loads of “dont jump” signs all over the place…and a handy dandy phone (yeah, i thought it would have been funny too if i called and said bring me a pizza and i wont jump”…
Water is pretty scarce on the trail but saw this a few days ago traipsing through the woods…if it would have been later in the day it would have made for a very memorable campsite…
So there are a few lakes not too far away from the trail which make fine bathing and cool down spots…I met a guy named Grasshopper who highly recommended that i stop and swim here despite the pesky rumors the gubmnt used to dump stuff in here…and I will admit, he did a very good … Continue reading
This formation is famous along the trail, its literally only 100 yards long but there are 3 sections that are absolutely brutal to get over/under/through. This is the middle part, I was going down it, y’all know I’m not a tiny dude…so I had to put my poles aside, take off my pack, and carry … Continue reading
I am meeting my buddy in Harriman, NY tonight so needed to get into town. Its about 4 miles on a highway if you walk in the right direction, 8 miles if you walk in the wrong direction and dont realize it until you read the city limit sign. In NY hitchhiking is illegal, at … Continue reading
I ran across a dude in the woods this morning, apparently a bit of a geology buff. He told me he was looking at old iron mines and the hills were filled with them…I turned around and yep, old iron mine!
Yesterday I hit the 100 mile mark, took me 10 days but nice to hit this first milestone. I was a bit disappointed at the size of the ticker tape parade going across the bridge…ah well, maybe mile 1,000 is where the Swedish Bikini Team shows up with a cigar and champagne…
Apparently, on a clear day you can see NYC from three different mountaintops…unfortunately, the day I crossed those 3 were overcast…so instead of a long distance view of NYC picture, I bring you instead this picture of a sign about NYC…almost the same;-)
This was the first time in a while where the weather actually helped to dry some stuff out. I was sitting on a bench looking at my stuff and realized it looked a bit like a hobo camp. At least I got to sleep under a dry bed that night!
Stopped at the Appalachian Mountain Club for the night, fresh food, soap, towel and hot water…who could ask for more?
I don’t know what happened but I just couldn’t get going today. I stopped here and napped for an hour hoping for an energy boost but got nada. As you can see, lovely spot, had a strong breeze so quite conducive to some good Zzz’s.
So my guidebook is full of places to stop that are “hiker friendly”. Usually hiker friendly means you enter through a back or side door and stay away from their other customers. This sign is from Joe’s Coffee Shop. ..kind of says it all.
The world really is full of good and lovely people. I have experienced it virtually everywhere I have ever travelled. I never intended to write about water on this blog but it is such a huge issue when it’s 20 miles between water sources. On behalf of all hikers I’ve met so far, thank you … Continue reading
Is located on top of a mountain, there are no roads, elevators or escalators, in fact, you need to be a bit fit to make it here…so why oh why is this privy ADA compliant? Something to ponder…
You can see the AT makes its way through this pasture. For some unknown reason, one of the cows decided it really liked me and invited the others to come say hi. I felt like I was about to get stampeded so many were coming towards me to say hi. Luckily they all behaved and … Continue reading
I now have a sprouting bag and seeds, so I’m “growing my own” as I make my way south. Looks scrumptuous, eh?
After a night sleeping in a church basement and some breakfast we sadly had to part ways. Get well Good Sir. Hope to see you on the trail in NC and thanks a million for the supplies and getting this blog sorted out, couldn’t have done it without you!
Somewhere in here is where Jason tweaked his knee. I was walking ahead and thought I’d be waiting about 30 mind for him to catch up. After 1.5 hours I figured something happened and then sure enough, he pops up over the hill limping. His knee was already swelling so naturally I called him a … Continue reading
There’s a section where in my trail guide it just says “ladder”. Had no idea what I was in for. Turns out you are walking down a super steep boulder for about 100 yards, then, you need to toss your poles down and hold on dearly while Hou make your way to the ladder, once … Continue reading
This is the highest point on the AT in NY. If I recall , it’s one of the landmarks you can see from the Empire State building as well. With the naked eye you could see the NY skyline, sadly the camera didn’t pick it up.
Jason at some point wanted to show his toughness by wrestling a boulder… Boulder 1 Jason 0
Everyone out here uses a trail name, some choose their name, others have theirs chosen for them. I finally chose my own trail name: Freebird. My interpretation = Free of Burdens.
Had a great day even after the 10:30 a.m. start. Crossed the NY/PA border, passed 200 mile mark and did my first 17 mile day. I got my butt kicked hiking with Marathon Man but now I know the pace i need to hit to do 18-20 mile days…it’s fast so definitely looking forward to … Continue reading
Greetings All, Just a quick Fyi, I am having issues uploading posts. It’s hard to find WiFi on mountain tops and these small mountain towns aren’t really hubs for super fast bandwidth. All is well, in Southern PA now, will cross into Maryland in 3-4 days. Everyone I meet on the trail says to get … Continue reading
That’s the mileage I did each of the last 7 days. It’s been brutal on the feet. This State (PA) is known for its rocky terrain. My evenings have been spent massaging the cramps out of my feet, hence no blog posts. All should be well now, this part of the trail is famous for … Continue reading
Here’s a view of the river and some bridge, nice sunshine and blue skies now despite it getting into the 30’s last night.
I technically did only request that he get the mountain in the background, so enjoy 30% of the mountain!
So I was having my lunch in Harper’s Ferry when this ‘friend’ decided to join me. It flew off with Bleu Cheese dressing on its feet and tail. This led the people across the deck to inquire about my journey. We chatted for a few minutes, then their food arrived. I finished eating, checked my … Continue reading
It’s cold and rainy here in VA today so I decided to take today off and give my feet a rest…will write some posts later if we run out of whiskey and hot chocolate; -)
The PA/MD border sign always gets stolen, apparently there’s still somewhat of a dispute over the Mason/Dixon line…WV and VA don’t seem to share that issue…
That’s how much weight I’ve lost so far…so my 10 snicker bars a day diet is really working!
Heading north from Georgia this sign marks how far you’ve come…for me, it marks how many miles I have left to go…which also means I’ve walked 500 miles so far…
It’s been many years since I’ve seen the seasons change. Looking forward to the color changes and leaves on the ground (yes, it makes every step a surprise but at least every rock isn’t sharp and pointy).
I don’t know if it’s still the case or not but when I lived in the DC area, the advertising slogan for Virginia was “Virginia is for lovers”…so it was a bit funny when I ran across this sticker on a power transmission line…not sure who they are marketing to these days but found tjou … Continue reading
Here’s a photo of Lock #32 from the C & O Canal. For those unfamiliar with this area, they built, by hand, a tow path and waterway next to the Chesapeake & Ohio Rivers to move goods via mule and boat. Much of the area is now overgrown and unrecognizable but this Lock was preserved. … Continue reading
Less than 5 minutes into today’s hike and this was my view…
Did a 13 mile section called The Roller Coaster today. The weather was supposed to be sunny and warm, then rain for the next 2 days. Well, around 11 a cool wind started blowing, by 2 it was raining and windy. So not a lot of pictures from today, most of my day was spent … Continue reading
There is some bad weather moving into the area (Front Royal, VA) and I learned last night that my tent seam sealing job wasn’t a 100% success…so I am smiling here because I was less than 10 miles from a hostel where I could stay dry for the next day or two while I also … Continue reading
It rained most of today, never got a chance to enjoy a view. Naturally, the trail went straight up this mountain.
One of the things I’ve learned to fear is walking over wet wood with muddy shoes…I have come very close to falling off these planks many times…luckily my poles and sloth like reflexes have saved me.
One more fun obstacle to cross in the rain is creeks and streams…so they make bathrooms on the top of rocky mountains which are only accessible on foot ADA compliant but don’t put handrails on these crossings which are usually near road crossings and car parks…some day I aspire to understand this type of logic.
I am still in Front Royal, VA. The rain hasn’t let up yet and we actually had a tornado warning this morning. I am hoping to get on the trail this afternoon and put in either 3 or 13 miles to get to the next shelter so I can stay dry over night.
Woo-hoo, back on the trail!
Enjoying a snack here. 3 miles to the campsite. Already went through a nice downpour.
Here’s the view from the southern peak.
I climbed about 2,000 feet first thing this morning to get into the park. Once in the park, the trails became wide and for the most part, smooth. It made for easy walking…which allowed my mind to wander…leading to me missing the sign for the shelter I was planning on staying at. So instead of … Continue reading
It’s almost a 360° view from this one.
At some point I’ll learn how to properly light a photo…
And yes, I even got a campfire going….pretty awesome place.
At virtually every road crossing you see a sign that says foot traffic only. Sometimes they list no horses, no motorized vehicles etc. Today, I met a local guy who saw horses on the AT a few weeks ago. A couple was driving home with their horse trailer and had car trouble. Turns out their … Continue reading
A few pictures from today.
It was very windy and cold. I was at this spot for under one minute because I was getting blown around. Nice view though, eh?
Most of the time when there is an opportunity to take a picture it looks something like below. Usually it’s rocky and drops straight down.
I took a few days off to help my feet out…this is the first view from today.
The only thing left is the chimney, which is a bit odd to see on my stroll in the woods.
Tomorrow I will climb a mountain called The Priest. You start around 1,000 feet and go straight up to a bit over 4,000 feet. Then, because you are exhausted, you get to sleep near the top of the mountain, which should be a real treat given that it will be cold and windy. Should make … Continue reading
I climbed close to 4 miles uphill in a bit over 2 hours. The wind was whipping so didn’t really get a chance to sit and enjoy the views.
Crossed this small river today on a suspension bridge. Thought this was a nice view.
It was extremely windy last night, I got up twice to use logs as windbreaks for my tent. The gusts were at least 40 mph. Anways, tonight I’m trying something new, if I’m going to be at a shelter alone I might as well take advantage, right?
After the wind the past few days many leaves have fallen. In some places the trail is clear of leaves, in others, it’s almost to my knees. Makes walking quite interesting!
The ridge on the left is what I walked up and then down, crossed that valley below and then climbed The Priest which is the highest point on the right. Fun day, lot of work though:-)
I ran across something like this in NY as well. Looks like someone was out practicing bushcraft.
Last night I accidentally slept about 100 yards away from a parking lot and people were arriving until midnight. Tonight looks much more promising for a restful evening.
This was the view heading to the campground last night. Pretty amazing to have green grass on top of a mountain plus behind me were all kinds of nut trees and berry plants. Almost sure there used to be a house up here.
I was behind this group of kids, when they got to the peak on the right they thought they were at the top…little did they know it was another 1,500 feet up to the real top!
The wind from the last few days knocked down bunches of trees. This old fella was right on the trail.
Ran across this sign.
I don’t know the name but I’m on the highest point around and have the sweat pouring out of me to prove I’ve earned it! Of course, about 300 yards, from here is a parking lot…luckily I get to enjoy this alone. Quite spectacular views and the weather is decent. 2 more miles to the … Continue reading
Saw this on top of a mountain. Have no idea of the history, just thought it was a bit odd…
I awoke to a scratching sound on the tent. Opened my eyes and this is what I saw…isn’t it a cutie?
On my phone these two pictures look amazing.
This is the longest footbridge on the AT, it goes over the James River.
I like this one for the lens flare.
I’m writing this from the Thunder Hill Shelter prior to sleeping. There is a hiker log book at each shelter where you can pretty much write anything you’d like in them. Most are simple things like “trail name” in for the night, hiked 17 today, no water between x and x. Well, the last entry … Continue reading
Saw this in the morning.
I did my biggest day today, 23.7 miles despite running out of water twice and hiking almost 3 hours in the dark…it’s 10:30 now, normally I’m asleep by 8 (although I always wake up at 2 for some reason) so no posts today. My goal is to get to Troutville, VA tomorrow (18 miles). Their … Continue reading
From Hay Rocks, here’s a view of Daleville. I could also hear a high school marching band practicing from up here, it was nice to hear something other than the sound of leaves crunching.
Almost crushed the little fella. BTW, he made a great soup!
This is probably the most photographed point on the trail and I had very much been looking forward to being here. No, I wasn’t gutsy enough to hang my feet over the ledge, didn’t need that adrenaline rush.
I passed my personal halfway point yesterday, then came across this super deluxe marker letting me know only 700 to go…
We have a couple of days of bad weather happening. Stayed here in this 3 car garage last night with 5 other people. Heading out later today in what will likely be snow on the mountain tops…not looking forward to it but it’s good practice for what the Smokey Mountains will be like…
It was a bit of a climb getting up there but the view was quite spectacular. Luckily this photo doesn’t include smell-o-vision…
The memorial for the most decorated soldier of WWII.
Very happy I got to cross this one when it was dry. I have a bad habit of walking across wet wood way too fast.
The recent storm that passed through was quite cold, it snowed 2 nights in a row. Some remnants here…and a preview of what the next 6 weeks or so is going to be like…I fell 3 times today, I hadn’t fallen once before today, fell twice going uphill and once going downhill. No serious bruises … Continue reading
It was in the 30’s on the top of the ridges today with windchill. Then came down off the ridge and walked through some farmland where I got to warm up before climbing up and doing another ridge walk. Quite lovely, eh?
Stopped and had lunch on the top of a mountain today, was able to block the wind and was in full sunshine (rare on the AT). Spent 30 minutes here enjoying the views and crisp air.
You see some interesting signs along the trail. I had no idea this was coming up today, kind of an unexpected surprise.
Every day some feature unexpectedly scares the crap out of me. Today, as I was walking across this ridge the wind was gusting to 40 or so and it was twisting me around with my pack on. It got the adrenaline pumping, that’s for sure!
This tree is over 300 years old and is about 18 feet in circumference. It’s the oldest and largest Oak on the Southern portion of the AT. Spent some time admiring this beauty, can you imagine the history this tree has seen?
This is the first flower I have seen I’m quite a while. Was crossing a field and it caught my eye, being a plant geek, had to share.
I have written the posts tonight while sitting around a campfire. I don’t light one often because it’s too much energy to expend but had to dry out my shoes so they weigh less than a brick. Enjoy!
Stopped at a shelter for some water but the spring isn’t running…so had to improvise.
Some spots are better than others, quite liked this one. To give you an idea how remote I am, this is the tallest peak around and I still couldn’t get a cell signal. Still a great lunch spot though!
The snow on this ridge was about 6″ deep, just enough to completely hide what’s underneath. As a result, I ended up doing a pretty sweet faceplant with the splits thrown in for extra style points, sadly no video of the event to share…this is me about an hour before the event, if only I … Continue reading
My original plan was to hike 25 miles today but once I hit the snow and rocks I knew I would never make it without hiking at night. So I changed plans and ended up at this shelter with an indoor fireplace. Basically everything I have is wet from either snow or condensation so I … Continue reading
Ok, this was odd, literally the trail runs 10 feet behind this privy…must make for some interesting conversations when hundreds of north bound hikers pass through in the summertime.
Unfortunately, life happened and I needed to pull off the trail last week and deal with a personal matter. With winter coming early, it makes picking up where I pulled off quite dangerous so I will finish this journey at a later point in my life. I will say this was truly a fantastic experience, … Continue reading