Epilogue Part 2: Gear Review

Gossamer Gear Mariposa – 32.7 oz

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The Grey Ghost’s school pic

Seeing as how I’ve never backpacked before, I didn’t have many preconceived notions about how they should look and feel. If I had, this pack would have met all those expectations. Coming in at just a little over 2 pounds, this lightweight pack meets the sweet spot of weight, price and load capacity. For me anyway.

I had to dial in how the pack works because the stays came out and ended up poking through the pack making everything crumble. Gossamer Gear’s customer service sent me a new smaller hip belt and the Air Flow Sitlight Camp seat that acts as a back pad in the pack. I’m not sure why they just don’t go ahead and make that the standard back pad because that foam piece it comes with, is useless and sweaty. With the new hip belt and airy back pad I was set. The weight is displaced on your hips and the shoulders keep the pack from shifting. The hip belt was cushy and never caused any skin breakdown. I usually carried a load of 25-30 lbs with food and water and noticed that the pack carried heavier loads beautifully. In fact it seemed like the pack carried better when it was loaded down.

I am a big fan of the the pocket set up. The large side pocket kept my hammock easily accessible for quick set up. The smaller side pockets kept the things I use everyday within reach. Unlike some certain bird-named packs, I could reach my water bottles with the pack still on. The large back mesh pocket allowed me to carry wet things to dry out while I walked. The top flap (not technically a pocket I know) was great for putting extra things on top to cinch down. The hip belt pockets were big enough to carry my phone (Galaxy S9) and wallet in one and a days worth of snacks in the other. I came to judge other packs on their pocket arrangement and only ULA came close.

The only thing I’d change about it other than the back pad is the width of the shoulder straps. They were definitely made for wide shoulders and no boobs. I made it work, but I think narrower straps would have been more comfortable.

The Gray Ghost, as it came to be known, held up through thunderstorms, rocks, and every other weather/terrain the Appalachian Trail offers. After five months it survived with only two little tears in the mesh pocket. Overall, I’d say this is a great pack for loads up to 30ish lbs and long distance hiking.

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The Gray Ghost in action

 

Six Moons Lunar Solo – 26 oz

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TL;DR: It never looked like this

Initially I liked the ease of set up and the weight, but I never could get the damn vestibule taut. It was a choice of one side or the other. I set up this tent over 30 times, all in different ways, and could never get it to a) form a bathtub bottom and b) form a vestibule both low to the ground and taut. Also it does not block the rain very well. I got caught in a thunderstorm and despite putting leaves all around to divert the water, the rain soaked through all my stuff. I also felt very claustrophobic in the small space. I sent this home for my hammock in Damascus.

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Meh.

Hennessy Hammock Ultralite Backpacker – 31 oz

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Henny class photo.

The Appalachian trail is all trees so you are never worried about finding enough of those to hang a hammock. This particular hammock is super lightweight and super comfortable. It takes a few set ups to figure out the hanging angles and what works for you. I added an under quilt to my set up and slept like a baby. The asymmetrical fly is designed to coordinate with the hammock to keep the rain off without adding too much weight. I used this in the pouring rain and stayed dry and warm all night. I like the bug net attached to hammock and the pocket hanging from the main line.

The only draw back (and this applies to all hammocks) is that you have nowhere to put your backpack. I usually left it hanging out underneath me and in wet conditions would wrap it my Tyvek sheet left over from my tent.

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Henny in action

REI Joule 21 Sleeping bag – 35 oz & Enlightened Equipment Revelation – 16.55 oz

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The beetle of sleeping bags
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The ferrari of sleeping quilts

The Joule 21 is a perfectly serviceable cold weather sleeping bag rated to 21 degrees. I got this with my REI Co-op dividends and a sale, otherwise I would have gone for a more light weight option. My feet never got cold and in fact I often had to open the bag to cool down. It is also very water resistant. One time I went to sleep with damp clothes from rain and woke up totally dry and warm. This thing is like an oven. However it is just a hair north of being too heavy for thru hiking.

I ended up sending home for my Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilt rated to 30 degrees when it got warmer. The only reason I didn’t take it to begin with was that the temperature rating on the quilt was not accurate. I spent a very cold night at Death Valley NP in the EE quilt where it got down to the 30s and froze my butt off. I’d say EE’s temp rating system is optimistic at best, and if you go with them to add 10 degrees to what you think you might need. If you are a cold sleeper, go down 20 degrees. During warmer months though, this quilt is nice because it allows for better air flow acting like a normal blanket. If it gets cool, you can use the elastic bands to cinch it close to your body and to your sleeping pad, as well as using the zipper and cord to close up the foot box. This quilt packs down to the size of a Nalgene bottle and you can stuff it anywhere.

 

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Sleeping Pad Short – 20.1 oz

S2S Comfort light insulated

I went with this pad for it’s insulation rating (R-value) of 4.2 and it’s thickness of 2.5 inches. I’m a serious side sleeper and knew I’d need the cushion on my hips. This pad performed very well. I never felt my hips touch the ground, it never leaked and I was never cold. It took about 10 breaths to blow up and the clever dump valve let air out in one big poof. I didn’t have to squeeze any air out like the other pads. This brand is also the quietest. A lot of other pads are loud AF (I’m looking at you Therm-a-rest) when people shift in the night.

I switched over to the Sea to Summit Ultralight pad with the warmer weather. It weighs considerably less at 12.1 oz and packs down much smaller. I lost 1/2 inch in thickness, but it didn’t seem to matter. I put my sit pad under my hips anyway and still slept fine. The R-value is non-existent at 0.7 and I felt it the last night in Maine when it got down to the 30s, but it was only a mild chill underneath that didn’t keep me from sleeping.

Sea to Summit Aero Ultralight Pillow – 2 oz

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A must have. I will never not use it. I kept it under inflated for a more comfortable sleep. The only thing is that the fabric can get sticky with sweat, so I would usually add my fleece pull over over it.

Snow Peak Litemax – 1.9 oz

lite max

This stove is a champ. I made a aluminum foil wind screen and it always lit and boiled my water. It’s super small, lightweight, and never failed me.

Snow Peak Mini Solo Cookset – 5.5 oz

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Shown here is the smaller cup in the set. I ended up not using it as much and could have sent it home. The larger “pot” holds the fuel canister and stove when packed up. I used the pot the most. The handles do get hot but cool down very quickly once the heat is turned off. I would like the handles to be coated with some sort of heat reducer for better use when cooking. I used a camp towel to insulate my hand. Otherwise, very useful and compact.

Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork Long – 0.4 oz

It’s a spork. It did its job.

Marmot Precip Rain Jacket – 11.4 oz

Did not like. It’s very heavy to carry and did not repel water at all. I was more soaked on the inside than out. The only thing it did well was keep the heat in. If I’m going to be wet anyway, I’m going to find a lighter weight jacket.

Bedrock Sandals – 9 oz

LOVED! They pack down really flat and if you pair them with toe socks become the best camp shoes! They are pretty comfortable to walk in around town too. Mine are still going strong, unlike some of those bulky Crocs I saw on the trail.

Petzl Tikka Headlamp – 3 oz

Probably could have gone for no-weight LED pen light or something, but I already had this and it worked great. It’s better suited for night hiking, which I did none of, so I didn’t use it much. I paired it with the USB rechargeable battery and didn’t have any issues. The most I used this was the red light for going to pee in the middle of the night. FYI: use the damn red light when getting up in the dark, especially if you are in the shelter. I was surprised at how many people would nonchalantly blast the white high beam with everyone sleeping.

Black Diamond Hiking poles

The Z-poles kept breaking on me. Dirt and grit gets up in the pole and makes it impossible to disassemble. Next time I’m going to go with adjustable.

Darn Tough Socks

The only problem with these is not having enough.

Ex-Officio Underwear

Best underwear ever! Thru hikers, do yourself a favor and get black undies. I wore one pair pretty much the whole way. They are still intact, kept the smell down, and dried out in 5 minutes. For some reason the outfitters think women want flowers and pastels so I ended up with a lavender pair, but only wore them in town. Like I said, get black.

Patagonia R2 Fleece

Easily my favorite piece of clothing. It was light enough to hike in and not get too sweaty, but still warm. I’d put the hood up on cold nights to cover my head while sleeping. When it was warm, I’d use it over my pillow. I ended up using it for warmth more than I thought I would. It gets chilly up at night up in them mountains.

Guthook’s App

Very useful. It tells you where you are on a map, how far away you are from waypoints, and has elevation profiles. You can change it from Northbound to Southbound. The comments on waypoints are helpful for finding out if water sources are dry or services in town.

 

Any questions about gear, just let me know!

100 Mile Wilderness and the Last Boss Level: Katahdin

Day 145

Mile 2190

Thanks for the pep talk Teddy

Starting after Monson, Maine is the great 100 mile wilderness. It leads right up to Baxter state park which, of course is end of the AT and Katahdin. Before you even start the trail is this funny sign that warns you of the many dangers of the wilderness.

Not to downplay what could be some serious danger, but there were logging roads and you heard planes, trains, and automobiles all through the place. We got Shaw’s in Monson to drop off a supply of food about halfway through which took some weight off the back. The first half the trail is pretty rugged and had some serious ups and downs. I liked that there were ponds and lakes everywhere. Even if you weren’t on top of a mountain there was still some scenery. I have to hand it to the Maine Appalachian Trail Club for maintaining this part through. They had a lot of stone steps that were helpful.

On the third day Tiger decided it was time for him to head out and go home. He wasn’t feeling it anymore I suppose and on that day I wasn’t either. It was oddly hot and humid, but I decided I was going to get to Katahdin come hell or high water…or chaffing. After a rather anticlimactic goodbye, I slogged my way to the next stop. Luckily the weather turned cooler the next day and I tackled White Cap mountain range where I spied my first view of Katahdin.

After White Cap and my food delivery the trail got substantially easier. I managed 17 miles without much pain which is a first. This section of the trail made is easy to camp next to lakes. So for the next three nights I stealth camped next to gently lapping water and caught amazing sunsets and sunrises. I met quite a few NOBOs who were flying through this part in a hurry to get to Big K. Im not sure why they didn’t slow down and enjoy the last few miles as they were the prettiest I’ve seen so far.

The last night before Baxter I stayed at Rainbow Lake with two other hikers, Daniel and Larry. They started up a fire by the lake. It got pretty chilly overnight and in the morning it had to be in the 40s. I started early so I could secure a spot at the Birches in Baxter which only lets in 12 hikers for the night.

Throughout the final half of the 100 miles you keep getting glimpses of Katahdin looming in the distance. It gets closer and closer. After all this time and effort to get there I felt my self slowing down to enjoy what little time I had left of the “easy stuff”. But I knew I’d have to confront the last boss level soon and as I crossed Abol bridge there it was up close and very real.

I made my way into Baxter State park and signed up to camp at the Birches. At 10:40am I was already 9th on the list. Everyone who signed up before me was there at 7:50. The 8 miles to the ranger station at Katahdin Stream Campround were bittersweet. They managed throw in some more pointless ups and downs while mixing in some of the prettiest riverside walking. And then finally I was there, ready to camp for the last time. Two guys bought some fire wood and we all sat around the blessedly hot fire telling tales and complaining about the trail.

I took my time going up Katahdin partly to be in the moment and also because it is really freaking hard. About halfway up you start to get into seriously technical rock climbing. It’s an amazing feeling to be at the top looking down from something that looked impossible and think “I did that”.

Once you get onto the Tablelands the last mile or so is pretty easy. I crested the last hill and saw the famous sign. I got a little teary eyed and then noticed there about 50 people around it. I waited my turn to take a picture and then I was done. It was both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.

I didn’t know how I felt, and still don’t. That scene from Forrest Gump kept running through my head. Where he stops running and says “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now”.

So I went back down the mountain on the ridiculously hard Abol trail and set my sights on getting to Millinocket, where I showered, laundered, drank one beer and then fell promptly fell asleep.

I thought I might have some life altering revelation, but it’s not as big as that. Just little moments that you can hold onto like weightless gold coins in your hand. Snippets of memories like laughing with Tiger at camp, sunsets, amazing mountain views, the sunlight turning the forest into a cathedral, the pain in my knees and the breath in my lungs. All those things add up to something I suppose. I’m not sure what yet though.

New Hampshire

Day 134

Mile 1845.5

New Hampshire starts out right away letting you know it’s not fooling around. The mud is deep, the climbs are steep, and the city prices are expensive. You start out in Hanover which is the home of Dartmouth. Even though the trail literally walks through that town, the townsfolk look at you like you are a dirty vagrant. Which is technically true. But still, I didn’t appreciate the implication. Oh and a cashier at the co-op told me that my driver’s license picture didn’t do me any favors…um, thanks?

Nothing about the town is cheap, so a few of the locals got together and formed a group of trail angels who let you stay at their house. One such angel, Greg, invited us to stay in his home. He makes a book each year of all the thru hikers he hosts.

The southern part of NH ramps up the difficulty level incrementally. Each mountain I went over seemed bigger and harder than the last. All the way up Moose mountain it threatened to rain so there wasn’t a view, but someone marked up the sign to the shelter. That gave me a chuckle.

Smarts mountain had a fire tower on top of it that was my end point for the day. I kept seeing it at various points and everytime it seemed so far away. At one opening in the trees which was supposedly 1.8 miles away I saw the tower again and about cried. It still looked like a twig on top of this huge mountain. Going up Smarts was steep enough that there was rebar steps to get up the slick rock face. Once I got to the top I of course had to climb the fire tower and enjoy the sunset.

The Dartmouth Outdoor Club (DOC) seems to have a sense of humor when it comes to their shelters and privies.

I got into Glencliff where the hardware store was also a gas station and my resupply.

The next big climb was Moosilauke, in which I took a wrong turn and briefly ended up in a forgotten cemetary. Going up wasn’t actually that bad, it was going down that was treacherous. On top was windy (at least 40 mph) and cold. I tried to take a panorama but everytime I turned west, the wind knocked me over. So I didn’t stick around too long. But like I said going down was rock hopping from one precarious situation to the next. The was a nice brook waterfall next to the trail that changed characteristics as you went down.

After a lovely stay in the town of Lincoln, we started on the deceptively begnin sounding White Mountains. Serendipitously, Hollow Leg (who I met in GA and actually lives in NH) texted me and gave us a ride to the trailhead. I’m kicking myself because I forgot to get a picture!

So the thing about the Whites is that they are known as the seriously hardest part of the trail. Dante could have based The Divine Comedy off these moutains. I knew this and thought I was prepared, but oh how wrong I was. Mt Wolf wasn’t so bad, but going up the Kinsmans demonstrated my clear lack of athletic ability and preparedness. Imagine two miles of just straight up rock climbing on slippery surfaces carrying a 30 pound pack. My knees quickly stated that they did not sign up for this. Where before my pace was 2-2.5 mph, it slowed down to a crawl. So it’s taking longer than I thought it would, I’m not as tough as I though I was, and my knees are pretty much kaput now. The views are spectacular though.

Franconia Ridge was quite the hike. Its above the treeline and very cinematic. Also very windy. There were several cloud rivers going over the peaks. I stood and watched as they flowed from one side to dissipate on the other. By the time I got up to Mt Lafayette everything was cloud covered and gray with hurricane-esque winds. I hunkered down behind a rock wall to eat my lunch. Then it was the bone crunching descent that seriously worried me. It might have been fun if it was a slip and slide situation with pillows at the bottom…but it wasn’t.

I’ve been feeling like quitting every day since I started the Whites. Not because I don’t want the challenge, but my body has clearly stated is no uncertain terms that it isn’t ready for this. You’d think after all this time I would’ve been, but I know I started at a serious deficit in the fitness department. And while I have gained some muscle it’s still not enough to safely enjoy this hardest part. I’ve decided to skip, again, and go up to Monson where the 100 mile wilderness begins and finish this journey. My knees just let out a sigh of relief.

I don’t think of it as a failure, but of as a lesson learned of my own physical limitations and the necessary preparation required for future difficult adventures. I’ve already got vaporous plans of a SOBO thru hike one day, where you get the hard stuff out of the way first. Kinda like eating all your vegetables before enjoying the steak.

Tiger’s action shots:

Vermont (or Vermud)

Day 121

Mile 1748.7

The rain kept me and Tiger in Bennington, VT longer than planned. The downpour flooded the roads and there were flash flood warnings for our exact location. It would seem that Vermont does not divert its water well.

We waited out the worst of the rain. Even so, it was raining when we got back on the trail. The first thing I heard was a loud rumbling of an overfull creek. Luckily there was a bridge. The actual rain died down as the day went on. The mud situation was out of control though. It was giving me flashbacks of that traumatizing childhood movie The Neverending Story.

Nooooo Artax!

There was no going around the mud. You try to bushwack to get around it but there is so much, it eventually becomes a pointless endeavor to stay dry. You get mud in shoes, on your legs, in your hair, and in your soul. You become one with the mud. This is my home now.

The water up here is tinted brown. I hear that’s because of tannins caused by peat and other decaying organic matter. It makes the creeks look like flowing beer. Or maybe that’s just me.

The water at one creek was so high I had to wade through it. It was a little nerve racking. I put on my sandals and got to stepping through the beer river.

The first night out of Bennington we stayed at a shelter where two nitwits woke up 6am and started yakking at each other loudly about their water bottles and other related hiking issues. I was, of course, still asleep but that didn’t deter our intrepid explorers from yelling their very important business for everyone to hear. Tiger got a hilarious picture of me rising from my slumber.

Seriously dude? STFU!

There was a lovely fire tower after that on top of Glastenbury mountain to assauge my nerves though. 360° views of somewhat not rainy Vermont. The breeze was cool and the sun was bright…for awhile.

The next night we were at an unofficial AT cabin with an actual wood burning stove. The water source was a refreshing brook with cold clear water. It made my feet go numb after two minutes which was a blessing.

Another group of nitwits came up dithering about whether or not to sleep in the cabin. Are there mice or not? I don’t know, I don’t want to sleep in here if there are mice. Where is that other person going to sleep? Who’s sleeping where? Are there mice? What are we eating for dinner? Did you put your stuff down? Are there mice in here?

This went on for 20 minutes, which is 19 minutes too long. I was already laying down and rolled my eyes so hard I might have pulled a muscle.

Yes they stayed in the cabin.

No there were no mice.

There was a pub in Manchester Center that boasted the portrait below as their original founder. The cheeseburger was good.

The best sleep in a shelter I’ve had so far was in Peru Peak. There was a rushing creek right in front and it masked all the normal nighttime noises one gets in a shelter. All the snoring, farting, and squeaky sleep pads disappeared as I listened to real time nature sounds.

It started raining off and on. We made it by Lost Pond in a freak break from the never ending precipitation. It would have been a nice spot to camp if the hordes of boy scouts hadn’t already claimed it.

There are these stone walls all over the place. I’m sure they marked boundaries of old farms and whatnot, but I still don’t like them. The Blair Witch Project, while hilariously not scary, left me with a distrust of old stone walls in the middle of nowhere. Especially when they have rusty implements sitting around them.

Going up over White Rocks was spooky. There were two rock gardens where people started a stacking trend. The light was a humid gray that sharpened the edges. The tall pines creaked and moaned like an old house. As pretty as it was, I didn’t dally too long.

There is apparently a porcupine problem up in this area. I guess they’re like possums down south.

And then it was off to Killington peak. Which I didn’t go all the way up. It was a 0.2 steep climb up some rocks and it was a cloudy day. On the way down I saw this puppy in a basket. I lost my shit.

At the end of a blue blaze you come upon this vision.

Dry beds! Showers! Best of all an Irish pub! The Inn at Long Trail! Tiger and I zeroed here and went to the next town over to resupply.

Incidentally Rutland also boasts the Yellow Deli and Hiker hostel run by the 12 Tribes. It’s known on the trail as “that cult deli”. They serve good food and Tiger remarked that whoever is running their marketing knows their stuff. I didn’t drink the kool-aid, but their Chai latte was delicious.

A random selfie picture Inception moment:

The stretch after Killington was super hilly and seemed to go up and down for no reason. I learned a new term: PUDS, or pointless ups and downs. At some point we had to climb down a ladder.

We stayed at a privately owned cabin that had a deck on top. Unfortunately the clouds obscured the views, but they made for some interesting pictures.

Tiger wanted to go into Woodstock which wasn’t anywhere near the trail. I said alright “but only because I don’t want a pouty and sulky Tiger, and if this shit goes sideways you’re gonna hear about it!” We managed to get a hitch from a nice lady named Victoria and ate at the Mountain Creamery. I had the best Brownie a la mode! So I guess it didn’t go sideways.

A Tiger and his pack

In West Hartford a trail angel named Linda gave us cold sodas and let us sleep in her barn.

West Hartford also had the most interesting signs.

Then it was a nice walk into Hanover, New Hampshire! Vermont is done!

Massachusetts

Day 106

Mile 1611.7

The forest is has a different feel in New England. We entered into what is called a Temperate Broad Leaf and Mixed Forest or Boreal, as a sign on one Mt. Greylock helpfully informed me. There are Birches, Maple, and Beeches mixed in with Balsam Firs and lots of moss. In the higher elevation the pines create a different color scheme so as to make everything seem that it is coated in this deep burgundy purple sepia. Combined with the sun shining down through the trees it feels like a sacred place; like a cathedral in the woods. That along with all the positive comments on Facebook has revived my commitment to see this journey through to the end. So thank you guys!

The first place we stopped at Goose Lake Cabin which boasted a large bunk house but after getting there we found out it was full of STINKY hikers. Seriously, I went in and checked for any open spots and was nearly suffocated by the stench. Closer quarters are not kind to the hiker. The pond itself was nice though.

The mosquitoes up here are no joke either, bout got ate up alive. I finally retreated to my hammock with its new under quilt, which was cozy and blissfully bug free.

The awesome thing about Massachusetts are the little towns you walk through within a day of each other. In Dalton we stopped for an awesome brunch full of real food that powered my way up a mountain.

Mt. Greylock had a CCC built lodge on top that offered a cheap bunk room and well received showers. However their $38 prix fixe dinner was not so well received. I ate the usual trail food from my bag, but with a nice view.

Afterwards we passed through a little town called North Adams that had a weird playground next to an elementary school. I’m sure most of the “figures” were bugs or animals it I’m not certain what the last one was supposed to be.

Finally after one last insane rocky climb there was the Vermont border and the start of the Long Trail. And the mud got even worse. It about grabbed my shoe off at one point!

Finally we got to Bennington, VT in much rain to a quaint little hotel with squirrels of a different sort.

After a much needed break we’ll be heading out into what the forecast says is more rain. Yaaaay. But at least I have many clean dry socks (as of right now.)

My way and the highway

Day forever

Mile it doesn’t matter

After Hapers Ferry, Tiger had to go home to care of his sick wife and I was suddenly on my own for Maryland. The first day out I could barely make it 6 miles. The combination of multiple days off, mental fatigue, homesickness, and intestinal distress really took a toll. Also I was missing my friend who made the trail seem like less of a trial.

A few days into what should have been one of the easiest parts became a burden. I was cry-walking and stumbling over my feet. I wasn’t enjoying any part of it, which sounds whiney I know. But it made me think again of why I’m doing this and after a pep talk from my Dad (and some food) I decided to at least get to Waynesboro, PA. Then it started to downpour, like flooding.

I got to a hotel and holed up. The rain caused a leak in the bathroom ceiling. I watched videos of the trail turned into a river. And then Tiger texted with plans of coming back! So we decided to skip up to Massachusetts.

Now some thru hiking purists would scoff at such a plan. But I really dont care. I was super close to quitting anyway and this isn’t a job I have to complete. I guess I can’t really call myself a thru hiker anymore, maybe an adventure hiker?

So we skipped up to Great Barrington, MA and will be getting back onto trail tomorrow.

Harpers Ferry: Halfway to the Danger Zone

Day 88

Mile 1024.8

It has been a lot of stops and starts from Front Royal. The heat and humidity have done what previous perils could not: made me just want to up and stop. Mentally anyway. Other than sweating forever times, it hasn’t any ill effects. It takes a real toll on the old brain meats though. I didn’t want to quit, but a nice vacation from my vacation is what we needed.

Coming out of Front Royal was a Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute that had in parts some serious Jurassic Park and Stranger Things vibes going on.

Went through Sky Meadows which was quite nice.

And then the Rollercoaster started. It’s 14 miles of brutal climbs and knee crunching descents. Not a switch back in sight. The maintainers of this trail think it is funny and put up a sign. I was not as amused. It is during this sadistic hike that I passed the 1000 mile mark.

Got into Harpers Ferry which is the “mental halfway point” with the actual mile halfway point being a little over 100 miles past the town. Is a cute little historic town that sits on the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. It also played a starring role in the Civil War with John Brown.

I stopped by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to get my photo taken. I’m NOBO hiker #1509 to register at the center.

Tiger’s wife Lyda picked us up for a quick break in Berkeley Springs WV. I sat in AC, met some kittens, and ate a bunch of good food. The star of the show was the pupper Zinger though. See below.

And now it’s back onto the trail.