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Author Archives: John Simmons

The adventure ends…

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 »

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Privy on the trail

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.

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Fantastic Shelter!

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 »

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Faceplant

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 »

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Today’s lunch spot

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!

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Making Water

Stopped at a shelter for some water but the spring isn’t running…so had to improvise.

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Sitting around the campfire

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!

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Lonely Flower

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.

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Keffer Oak

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?

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Ridge Walking

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!

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Crossed the Continental Divide

You see some interesting signs along the trail. I had no idea this was coming up today, kind of an unexpected surprise.

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Lunch on Bruisers Mountain

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.

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Day of contrasts

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?

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First Snow

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 »

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Backcountry Bridge

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.

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Audie Murphy Memorial

The memorial for the most decorated soldier of WWII.

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Tinker Cliffs

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…

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4 Pines Hostel

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…

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700 miles to go

I passed my personal halfway point yesterday, then came across this super deluxe marker letting me know only 700 to go…

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McAfee Knob

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.

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Can you see it?

Almost crushed the little fella. BTW,  he made a great soup!

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Daleville, VA

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.

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Missed the safety meeting…

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 »

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Interesting Obstacle

Saw this in the morning.

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Interesting evening ahead

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 »

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Useful Sign

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Not so useful sign

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More Fall Photos

I like this one for the lens flare.

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Longest Footbridge

This is the longest footbridge on the AT, it goes over the James River.

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View from footbridge

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Brown Mountain Creek Community

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Watercolors

On my phone these two pictures look amazing.

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Wakeup buddy

I awoke to a scratching sound on the tent. Opened my eyes and this is what I saw…isn’t it a cutie?

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Odd Memorial

Saw this on top of a mountain. Have no idea of the history, just thought it was a bit odd…

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Nothing Higher

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 »

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Punch Mountain View

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Share cropping

Ran across this sign.

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Wind Casualty

The wind from the last few days knocked down bunches of trees. This old fella was right on the trail.

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Youth Group Outing

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!

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Hog Pen Camp

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.

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Interesting Rock Formation

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Sleeping next to a stream

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.

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The more you know, the Iess you carry

I ran across something like this in NY as well. Looks like someone was out practicing bushcraft.

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More Fall Pictures

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The days journey

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:-)

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Knee Deep

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!

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Deluxe Camping

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?

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Tye River

Crossed this small river today on a suspension bridge.  Thought this was a nice view.

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Views from The Priest

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.

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The Priest

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 »

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Here, once stood a cabin.

The only thing left is the chimney, which is a bit odd to see on my stroll in the woods.

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Chilly and windy but beautiful views

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Rare sight in the cold weather.

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Back on trail…

I took a few days off to help my feet out…this is the first view from today.

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Photo Spots

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.

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22.4 Miles 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?

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Fall is here…

A few pictures from today.

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AT = Foot Traffic Only

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 »

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First peak of the day!

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Home for the evening…

And yes, I even got a campfire going….pretty awesome place.

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Failed Selfie

At some point I’ll learn how to properly light a photo…

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Mary’s Mountain View

It’s almost a 360° view from this one.

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View from where I stealth camped

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Easy Walking

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 »

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Hogback Mountain View

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South Marshall Mountain

Here’s the view from the southern peak.

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Nice rack, dude!

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North Marshall Mountain

Enjoying a snack here. 3 miles to the campsite. Already went through a nice downpour.

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Entering Shenandoah Park

Woo-hoo,  back on the trail!

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Another Rainy Day

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.

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Wet rocks

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.

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Slow going…

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.

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Cloudy Day

It rained most of today, never got a chance to enjoy a view. Naturally, the trail went straight up this mountain.

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Happy Camper

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 »

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The Roller Coaster

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 »

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Gonna be a great day!

Less than 5 minutes into today’s hike and this was my view…

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Lock 32

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 »

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Virginia is for…

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 »

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The capture of Harper’s Ferry

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The seasons they are a changin’

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).

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1,000 Mile Countdown

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…

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20 Pounds

That’s how much weight I’ve lost so far…so my 10 snicker bars a day diet is really working!

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Border sign

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…

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Taking the day off…

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; -)

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Made it to my 7th State!

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“We respect the journey.”

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 »

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Lewis’ Boat

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Lunch in Harper’s Ferry

I technically did only request that he get the mountain in the background,  so enjoy 30% of the mountain!

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Heading into Harper’s Ferry, WV Today

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.

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16.8, 16.5, 14.7, 15.1, 17.5, 18.0, 11.1

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 »

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Uploading Issues

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 »

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Milestones galore!

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 »

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Trail Name

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.

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Boulder V. Man

Jason at some point wanted to show his toughness by wrestling a boulder… Boulder 1  Jason 0

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‘Merica

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.

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Ladder

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 »

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“Lost shit, broke shit and hurt shit”

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 »

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See you further down the trail…

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!

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Fresh Veggies!

I now have a sprouting bag and seeds, so I’m “growing my own” as I make my way south. Looks scrumptuous, eh?

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Cow Magnet

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 »

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High Point Shelter

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…

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Trail Magic

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 »

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Special Treatment!

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.

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Lost my MOJO today

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.

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The essentials

Stopped at the Appalachian Mountain Club for the night, fresh food,  soap, towel and hot water…who could ask for more?

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Hobo Camp

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!

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New York City

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;-)

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First 100 Miles Completed!

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…

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Old Iron Mine

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!

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So I got a ride from a paedophile today…

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 »

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Lemon Squeezer

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 »

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Nuclear Lake (newklr if you are a George W fan)

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 »

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First Waterfall

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…

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Crossing the Hudson

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”…

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Lowest point on trail

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…

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Would you?

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 »

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Trail Food…

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 »

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Rare View

Stopped here to take care of the feet…just lovely!

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Traveling companion

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!

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First Impressions

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 »

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The Journey Begins…

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.

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