Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 48. The longest day so far

Day 48. The longest day so far

Date: April 29, 2012

Day number: 48

Wake info: 0545h @ hotel in Bland, VA to finish my blogs

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 605.5 mile @ 0852h at VA 606

Pain scale AM (1-10): 1

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 8

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 1

Start weather: Sunny, cool, calm, high 50s, perfect


End MM & TOD: 629.8 mile @ 2045h at Lane St, Pearisburg, VA

Approximate miles covered today: 24.5 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 3

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 8

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 1

End weather: Sunny (after dark when I arrived, though), clear, warm, lite 70s, low humidity, nice


Resting time: 1:59

Bedtime: in bed @ 2250h to take notes on the day while watching a baseball game (Tampa Bay at Texas). Asleep @ 2340h

Where slept: bed @ Rendezvous Hotel

Money spent: $40 (hotel)

Resupply: no


Trail conditions: In order: muddy, smooth, rocky (slow), smooth, steep descent


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • Used gasoline in stove for the first time on this excursion (unleaded regular). Worked fine but a little sooty even after priming.

Liters of water consumed: 10.5 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 10 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 45 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 3 (VA 606, Cross Ave, Lane Rd)

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits: 0

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 13

Number of times I've fallen: 0

Number of bugs swallowed: 0

Number and location of showers: 1 (hotel)


Songs playing in my head:


  • On th Road Again - Willie Nelson
  • Brandi
  • Don't Break My Stride
  • Rhapsody in Blue - Gershwin


Happenings at home: Archer got off fine to Wallops Is. I am happy that his roommates are Dzian, Nathan, and Will. He's having fun, Kathleen says. Josie is happy to have the house to herself. Kathleen was putting together a bookshelf for Archer's room.


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): I hiked solo all day and only saw for NOBOs (two pair) each moving pretty slowly. I know a large number of folks were staying at Woods Hole Hostel. I did meet a SOBO who was completing his thru-hike from last year after being forced off near Waynesboro, VA due to being bitten by a copperhead snake. (His leg was swollen for 8 weeks.)


Trail Magic: none


Flora: Sweet smelling flowering trees. Thick lush forest at the lower elevations


Fauna: chipmunk. I saw several old squirrel nests that were now supporting a plethora of plant growth high in the trees, especially ferns; they looked like hanging plant baskets. A mother deer with one juvenile; the mom was calling and calling for her baby to run away when I came into view, but the baby was reluctant to leave.


Vistas: A great view from a rock outcropping at mile 615. Angels Rest and the view of town


Attractions: Dismal Falls (I didn't hike the 0.3 miles to it, but it sounded nice.) Lots of water, swimming holes, and camping between VA 606 and Wapiti Shelter - a great place to bring the family!


State of body: Everything is rested and ready to go! By the end of the hike, however, my left knee is pretty swollen, but not in pain.


State of mind: I'm ready to go! Motivated to reach Daleville by Friday to see the family. My mission: make it so Kathleen has to do no extra driving that day and spend time coming to find me.


Notes:


  • I was sad to see Dad and Gy drive away, but I had a GREAT time with them (once I was over my stomach bug). I was so appreciative of their visit, for they helped me recover and were instrumental in helping me make up lost ground. I was so happy that Dad and I were able to walk significant parts of the Trail together.
  • Being ill those couple of days was a disguised blessing. I slept through what was biblical amount of rain Wednesday night. And I've adjusted my mental attitude - if I can hike 20 miles while feeling that sick, I can do anything.
  • I took very few breaks today (only 2 hours total) on the 24-mile, 12-hour hike. The day was a blur.
  • Once I made the decision to make it to town and stay in a hotel, I knew I would be able to charge my phone, so as I hiked I called and talked to Josie and Dad briefly, and to Mom and Bill for an extend period since I hasn't spoken to then for a while.
  • I had to use a headlamp for the last 30 minutes of the hike because I was hiking in the dark. That's always fun. No, really, it is!
  • The long descent into Pearisburg was one of the steepest I've encountered on the AT. Even with switchbacks, it was vertical in places.
  • Sketter, the friendly caretaker of the Rendezvous Hotel, sincerely told me just to call him at home if I needed a ride anywhere in town. He was a supremely nice fellow.


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • If I do big miles, my speed is such that there's no time for me to relax and soak in my surroundings.


Droid Phone Notes: I charged the phone in the hotel.


Photos:


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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 47. One last day of slack packing with Dad

Day 47. One last day of slack packing with Dad

Date: April 28, 2012

Day number: 47

Wake info: 0600h @ hotel in Marion, VA

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 586.9 mile @ 0734h at US 52 near Bland, VA

Pain scale AM (1-10): 1

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 9

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 3

Start weather: Cool, low 40s, mostly cloudy


End MM & TOD: 605.5 mile @ 1715h at VA 606

Approximate miles covered today: 18.8 miles (extra to shelter)

Pain scale PM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 9

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 4

End weather: Plentiful sunshine, balmy, pleasant, low 70s


Resting time: 2:07

Bedtime: 2345h

Where slept: bed @ hotel in Bland, VA

Money spent: $0.25 (gasoline for stove)

Resupply: Yes, fuel


Trail conditions: Generally very smooth. The last five miles were somewhat rocky and muddy.


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • I am wearing my new boots today! I forgot what the boots were supposed to feel like, for my original ones were worn out! These feel great, and they are waterproof!
  • I couldn't find a sporting goods store that sold white gas by the once, so I will use regular, unleaded gasoline for the next week until I arrive in Catawba or Daleville.

Liters of water consumed: 10 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 0 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 17 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 1

Number of road miles: 0.8

Number of named mountain summits: 1 (Brushy Mountain. This is at least the fifth time the AT has traveled over a Brushy Mountain.)

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 3

Number of times I've fallen: 0

Number of bugs swallowed: 1

Number and location of showers: 1, hotel


Songs playing in my head:


  • Brandi


Happenings at home: The kids were about to head down to the George School carnival when I phoned this afternoon. Archer and I discussed his upcoming 4-day Wallops Island trip with his classmates. He's so excited and I am, too, for him! Josie was designing and making a stuffed animal in the shape of a tater-tot. She's calling him Small Fry.


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): My father! Blue, a friendly thru-hiker who is from just north of Doylestown, PA. He was really the only thru-hiker we saw on the Trail. Gun Runner (the fellow who is always smoking a cigar), Doug, one other NOBO, and one southbound DH were at the Jenny Knob Shelter when we arrived around 2:00 and they didn't look like they were ready to move on.


Trail Magic: One last day of awesome Trail Magic


Flora: The trees here were bursting with their summer green leaves, obscuring many views.


Fauna: A tiny, beautiful yellow bird with dark wings that flies from bush to bush just in front of me as if it were bouncing like a ball.


Vistas: None really, but some ok views of the surrounding hills and Valleys while on the ridgeline.


Attractions: Flat, easy hiking for the most part. Kimberling Creek suspension bridge was an impressive structure.


State of body: I feel great!


State of mind: I feel great, but am anxious about not publishing my blog posts because I'm so far behind. Oh well, sleep is more important.


Notes:


  • We were all so tired this morning that none of us wanted to get up.
  • I hiked the first nine miles alone while Dad and Gy secured a hotel for our last evening together and sandwiches for lunch.
  • Gy drove for hours to by me another water filter cartridge because I'm pretty sure mine had frozen the night before the snow storm, despite my efforts to prevent that from happening. (If water in the hollow fibers of the element freezes, it will destroy the tiny matrices and render the cartridge useless.) I was very touched by his kind gesture.
  • Dad hiked ten miles over some pretty rough terrain and up and down a pretty good sized mountain today. I was very happy be on the Trail again with him and was proud of how well he did on his newly replaced knee. I was pleased the rain had stopped falling just before he and I set out.
  • When Gy was waiting for Dad and me at the trail's end, he met and chatted with No Trace, Unbreakable, Rainbow, and Nutter Butter.
  • The three of us drove into Wytheville to do one more small load of laundry (including my smelly hat that was about to gag me) and eat some great Mexican food. I'm really going to miss them!


Lessons learned/confirmed today:









Droid Phone Notes: Every device is charged and ready to go.


Photos:


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Day 46. A great 23 mile slack-packing day with Dad and Gy

Day 46. A great 23 mile slack-packing day with Dad and Gy

Date: April 27, 2012

Day number: 46

Wake info: 0609h @ Hotel in Marion

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 530.6 mile @ 0738h at Partnership Shelter

Pain scale AM (1-10): 1

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 6

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 2 (stomach is still not back to 100%)

Start weather: Mostly cloudy, cool, low 50s, clear.


End MM & TOD: 554.0 mile @ 2005h at VA 42

Approximate miles covered today: miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 10

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 5

End weather: Plentiful sunshine, pleasant, calm, 60s-70s, perfect hiking weather


Resting time: 2:31

Bedtime: 2358h

Where slept: bed in a hotel in Marion, VA

Money spent: $0

Resupply: no


Trail conditions: Generally very smooth with occasional patches of roots, rocks, mud, and running water


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


Liters of water consumed: 8 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 0 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 15 lbs (slacking!)

Number of river fords: 1 (Holsten River overflowed the bridge)

Number of paved road X-ings: 0

Number of road miles: 0.3

Number of named mountain summits:

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 7

Number of times I've fallen: 0

Number of bugs swallowed: 0


Songs playing in my head:


  • None


Happenings at home:


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): My father (DH) and my brother, Gy (DH). We met in passing the following thru-hikers: Dundee (this real-life Aussie looks a lot like the movie character's namesake); a young, soft-spoken couple named Flowers and Daisy; Doc (this was a new Doc for me. She realized that there are a number of others in the Trail with her name)


Trail Magic: Dad and Gy hiking with me, feeding me, encouraging me


Flora: Rhododendrons and Cherry trees blooming; Dogwoods


Fauna: Lots of colorful millipedes (Gy taught me how to distinguish them from centipedes.)


Vistas: Early this morning on top of the ridge to the east of I-81 looking down on the rolling hills of the countryside and the interstate. Despite the distant view of the highway, this is one of my favorite vistas because I've driven down this very section of the interstate and always looked longingly and wistfully at the mountain ridge I was currently on thinking, "One day I'll be up there hiking the AT along those mountain ridges." There were several other vistas in the afternoon portion of the hike of several of the the gently rolling Virginia farmlands.


Attractions: Lots of water along this hike, especially early. Plenty of views of rolling hills. Xxx museum. Holsten River.


State of body: I feel great! My left knee is swollen a tiny bit, but this I feel is normal after a two-fast hiatus and not enough water in my system. As I hiked, my strength, stamina, and appetite all returned to levels near where they were before I became sick.


State of mind: I'm lying in a soft bed in a hotel, still recovering and feeling tired from my recent GI tract illness, and I'm trying to convince myself that I'd rather be hiking than sleeping. The urge to just roll over and sleep some more is almost too powerful. However, I know I must battle these feelings, for I'll probably feel differently once I'm on the Trail. Towns have a way of poisoning the mind. Plus, if I get an early start I'll have a chance to do a big mile day if I feel up to it. And having some big mile days are my only chance of seeing Kathleen and the kids in a week without them having to drive hours out of their way to find me on back country roads. I'm now feeling more motivated and ready to hike. ... I ended the day feeling happy, satisfied, and super-positive that I'll be able to get to a place where Kathleen and the kids can easily reach me.


Notes:


  • The box was at the Relax Inn all along. The owners of the hotel were unable to speak or read English and could not match a handwritten "Chris Odom" with the sane name on my box. If a thru-hiker sends a box here (and many do) do not assume that is missing if the proprietors tell you the box is not there. Rather, insist that you look through the packages yourself. Also, the hotel is a not a very appealing place.
  • The food at the xxx is super and very affordable.
  • It was great to hike again with Gy, although I worry that the miles may have been to many for him today. However as always, he never complained. And I was thrilled to be able to hike five miles of the AT today with Dad. His replaced knee gave him no trouble at all, and I couldn't even tell that he had had surgery just 5 months ago. I'm happy that some of today's terrain was level and smooth!
  • Today I passed a major milestone: I've hiked over 25% of the entire AT!



Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • Be assertive if someone tells you, "I'm sorry, but your resupply box is not here," and check the boxes yourself.






Droid Phone Notes: The phone was recharged via the wall outlet in the hotel in the evening.


Photos:


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Day 45. Another zero day of recovery

Day 45. Another zero day of recovery

Date: April 26, 2012

Day number:

Wake info: h @

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): mile @ h at

Pain scale AM (1-10):

Happiness scale AM (1-10):

Hunger scale AM (1-10):

Start weather:


End MM & TOD: mile @ h at

Approximate miles covered today: miles

Pain scale PM (1-10):

Happiness scale PM (1-10):

Hunger scale PM (1-10):

End weather:


Resting time:

Bedtime: h

Where slept: hammock @

Money spent: $0

Resupply: no


Trail conditions:


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


Liters of water consumed: Liters

Approx fuel burn time: minutes

Approx. pack weight: lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 0

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits:

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 0

Number of times I've fallen: 0

Number of bugs swallowed: 0


Songs playing in my head:









Happenings at home: Had great conversations with the family today; it was great talking to everyone! Josie played charades at school today in which each student had to act out their favorite book, sport, food, etc., and what made them happiest and saddest, etc. She told me all of her selections, but left out what made her saddest. So I asked her, and she replied without tears that it was having me away from home for so long. I asked her if she needed me to quit the Trail and come home, and she responded forcefully and without hesitation, "Absolutely not, Daddy! You HAVE to finish. I'm so proud of you!" I asked the same question of Archer and Kathleen, and they responded just about identically as my daughter. THIS is support and I am constantly amazed and buoyed by it! It literally kept me going. (Because I was feeling so rotten at the time, if they had hinted that they needed me back home I would have hopped on the nearest northbound transport without hesitation. Which is why you should never quit on a bad day, our when you're feeling sick, our when the weather is bad.)


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker):


Trail Magic:


Flora:


Fauna:


Vistas:


Attractions:


State of body:


State of mind:


Notes:








Lessons learned/confirmed today:









Droid Phone Notes:


Photos:


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Day 44. An unscheduled zero to convalesce

Day 44. An unscheduled zero to convalesce

Date: April 25, 2012

Day number: 44

Wake info: h @

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): mile @ h at

Pain scale AM (1-10):

Happiness scale AM (1-10):

Hunger scale AM (1-10):

Start weather:


End MM & TOD: mile @ h at

Approximate miles covered today: miles

Pain scale PM (1-10):

Happiness scale PM (1-10):

Hunger scale PM (1-10):

End weather:


Resting time:

Bedtime: h

Where slept: hammock @

Money spent: $0

Resupply: no


Trail conditions:


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


Liters of water consumed: Liters

Approx fuel burn time: minutes

Approx. pack weight: lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 0

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits:

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 0

Number of times I've fallen: 0

Number of bugs swallowed: 0


Songs playing in my head:









Happenings at home:


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker):


Trail Magic:


Flora:


Fauna:


Vistas:


Attractions:


State of body:


State of mind:


Notes:








Lessons learned/confirmed today:









Droid Phone Notes:


Photos:


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Day 43. Sick and tired and 20 miles

Day 43. Sick and tired and 20 miles

Date: April 24, 2012

Day number: 43

Wake info: h @

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): mile @ h at

Pain scale AM (1-10):

Happiness scale AM (1-10):

Hunger scale AM (1-10):

Start weather:


End MM & TOD: mile @ h at

Approximate miles covered today: miles

Pain scale PM (1-10):

Happiness scale PM (1-10):

Hunger scale PM (1-10):

End weather:


Resting time:

Bedtime: h

Where slept: hammock @

Money spent: $0

Resupply: no


Trail conditions:


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


Liters of water consumed: Liters

Approx fuel burn time: minutes

Approx. pack weight: lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 0

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits:

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 0

Number of times I've fallen: 0

Number of bugs swallowed: 0


Songs playing in my head:









Happenings at home:


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker):


Trail Magic:


Flora:


Fauna:


Vistas:


Attractions:


State of body:


State of mind:


Notes:








Lessons learned/confirmed today:









Droid Phone Notes:


Photos:


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