Monday, July 13, 2009


He's done. Finally, done. Amos went back to hike the remaining 150 miles between Bennington, VT and N.H. 25 these past two weeks. Tupperware, Spock, and Twiggy came along for the last week for his return to the grand outdoors. Oh yeah, and he came home with Lyme's disease... again. (Moral of the story: DON'T HIKE THROUGH Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Connecticut during the last 2 weeks of JUNE!! Unless you're dying for your own spinal tap & a mildy entertaining case of Bell's palsy.)

Here's his late-spring/summer packing list... in case you're crazy enough to embark upon your own AT adventure.

Pack: Golite Quest
Pack Cover: Medium Etowah Gear
Sleeping Bag: Golite Adrenaline 40 degree with stuffsack
Sleeping Pad: Therm a Rest Prolite 4.75 length
Tarp: Granite Gear
Stakes: 6 Sierra Designs Titanium
Tarp Lines: 3 small parachute cords
Ground Cloth: Tyvek Homewrap
Trekking Poles: Komperdell Hike Antishock Light
Hiking Shoes: The North Face Hedgehog Trail Runners
Camp Shoes: Crocs
Water Bottles: 2 plastic quarts

Cookpot: MSR Titanium
Stove: PBR alcohol stove with chicken wire pot stand
Spork: Titanium
Lighter: Mini Bic
Stove Fuel: Heet 6-8oz. in sturdy plastic bottle
Stove stuff sack

Socks: 2 lightweight synthetic hiking, 1 lightweight wool camp
Underwear: 2 synthetic boxer briefs
Hiking Shorts: The North Face synthetic cargo shorts
Camp Shorts: gym shorts
Hiking Shirts: 2 polyester/spandex t-shirts
Long Underwear: 100% polyester long sleeve shirt and long pants
Lightweight/Breathable REI Rain Jacket
Waterproof Outdoor Research clothing stuff sack

Water Filter: Katadyn Hiker Pro with stuff sack
Cell phone and charger
Camera and charger
Ipod/Headphones and charger
Head Lamp: Petzl Tikka Plus
AAA Batteries: 3
Bug Spray: non Deet
Unfiltered Water Bottle: Platypus 1 Liter bag
Pocket Knife: Small Swiss Army
Guidebook/Map: AT Thru Hiker's Companion

Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner meals
Drink mixes
Condiment packets
Seasoning salt
Food stuff sack

Toilet Paper
Hand Sanitizer

First Aid:
Sunscreen: Waterproof 30 SPF or higher
Mole Skin: Dr. Scholl's
Gauze Pads: 2
Band-Aids: 5
Antibiotic/Pain Relief Cream: Neosporin +Pain Relief
Anti fungal Cream: Lamisil AT
Adhesive Tape: Latex Free/Waterproof
Lip Balm: Burt's Bees
Waterproof first aid stuff sack: Sea to Summit

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

1 Step at at Time...

7/21/08 - Amos decided to drive up to Lincoln, NH where Tupperware, Spock & Twiggy, Buns & Roses were waiting for him - he's planning on going back to finish the section of trail (157 miles worth) that he missed in Vermont after they reach the summit of Katahdin.
  • Arrived at Chet's house in Lincoln yesterday and just in time to enter the White Mtns! (Chet was blinded and confined to a wheelchair by a camp stove explosion years ago and has since opened a hostel for AT hikers.)
  • Woke up and went to McDonalds for breakfast - Egg McMuffin, hash browns & coffee.
  • A little out of shape from the 2 weeks worth of recovery (plus the White's are notoriously difficult) so they packed up slackpacks & took a shuttle to Kinsman Notch where they hiked south toward NH 25.
  • Started with a 3000 ft climb up Mt. Moosilauke - most of it following a really, really, really pretty waterfall - until it disappeared near Beaver Brook Shelter.
  • On Mt. Moosilauke, they were above treeline for the first time on the entire AT (I love that there are still "firsts" on his adventure!). They ate lunch up top where it was slightly windy & cold and where they met up with Mouth & Chef (2 north bounders).
  • Climbed back down to Jeffers Brook Shelter when it started raining.
  • Came to a brook near NH 25 and most crossed the raging torrent (sarcasm) in bare feet while Tupperware & Spock decided to build a bridge instead. They spent about a half hour stacking rocks and then crossed... Spock traversed successfully while Tupp fell in & got his shoes all wet anyway.
  • Arrived at NH 25 where they stuck their thumbs out and caught a hitch to a gas station down the road to use the phone. Called the shuttle service only to find it extremely expensive & settled on having the hostel pick them up instead.
  • Ate McDonalds - again! Then cleaned up- took showers & did laundry.
  • Chet's house was chaos but all Amos wanted to do was go to sleep as he had only 4 hrs the night before. Snagged a bunk & drifted off to la la land.
  • 9.5 mi slack.

7/22/08 - Ate breakfast at McDonalds AGAIN!! Hearts said he could feel his arteries clogging as he downed 3 hash browns - each of which you could squeeeze out the grease...

  • Stood outside to hitch a ride back to Kinsman Notch but had some difficulty so Roses decided they needed a catch... something to grab peoples attention & instill security that they weren't a bunch of crazies... something like choreographed hitchhiking!! You can think of it as being similar to synchronized swimming for thumbs... and they did become quite creative! Unfortunately, all they got were a bunch of giggles, looks, and people pointing at them but no ride - so it didn't quite work - but it did pass the time!
  • Eventually, a past thru-hiker from 1980 drove by & picked them up (they had given up the song & dance by then).
  • Steep ascent up the Kinsman Peaks where they were met with more above treeline action. From North Peak -whenever the clouds & fog would break- they could see Franconia Ridge (the start of the Presidential Range).
  • Then to the first hut - AMC Hut - to fill up water. [I learned that AMC stands for Appalachian Mountain Club and that they maintain the White Mtns but that they nickel and dime hikers to death and are thus often called the Appalachian Money Club. They argue that the $8 cost to stay in shelters and $90 cost to stay in their solar powered huts are necessary to helicopter in bark mulch for decomposition in the privies. At one point, Tupperware bought an AMC patch in one of the huts, asked for a red magic marker (in front of the salesman), proceeded to scribble a big circle with a line through their logo, and then safety pinned it to his pack. It would seem there's some tension between thru-hikers and the AMC...]
  • 3 miles downhill, they walked past Kinsman Falls which Amos described as being the beginning of an "awesome, amazing" class V section of river known as Cascade Creek. He took (and you can enjoy) SEVERAL (maybe a half a roll of film's worth of) photos.
  • Arrived at Franconia Notch & I-93 where it is illegal to hitchhike... they did it anyway. Got a hitch back to Rt 3 and then another from Rt 3 into Lincoln.
  • It was a zoo back at Chet's house. Every hiker you could imagine had converged: The General, Jukebox, Chief Daddy, Mouth & Chef, Loafy, Catfish, Root, a bunch of south-bounders they didn't know, and 1 homeless guy.
  • Not thrilled with the situation but Roses made up for it by whipping together a spaghetti dinner complete with salad & garlic bread for their little band (plus Chet).
  • 16 mi day.

7/23/08 - DIDN'T eat McDonalds! Whohoo! But they did zero today due to bad weather on the mountain.

  • Went to breakfast & had pancakes.
  • Spock & Hearts went to several different outfitters to find water filters and they somehow managed to convince a clerk to open brand new water filters, take the filter out of the pump and sell them just the filter! That's skill.
  • Then to the post office where everyone, except Hearts, mailed forward food.
  • Back to Chet's (more chaos) for Poker & Eukre tournaments. Hearts didn't win, but Tupperware did - the Poker champion!
  • Tupperware's dad surprised the group by putting $ into his account specifically to take the crew out to dinner!
  • They went to a really fancy restaurant that served "free" hors d'oeuvres while waiting to be seated. (The word "free" is in parentheses because we all know nothing in life is free. It has been suggested that the very same "free" hors d'oeuvres were probably responsible for making Spock & Roses sick later that night...) Once they were seated in the main dining room, they realized the food was too hoity-toity and decided to go back & eat in the bar.
  • Amos enjoyed a crab cake sandwich which was "to die for" (thankfully he didn't).
  • After dinner, Spock was challenged to a game of checkers by an elitist 9 year old & LOST!! Man, that hurts!
  • Amos shuttled the crew back to Chet's in his dad's little Honda Insight & then called it a day.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back to Bennington...

7/6/08 - Pain & puking continued all night.

  • Woke up with a full bladder, scrambled over to the side of the firetower & accidentally peed on Spock... who took it quite well, all things considered!
  • Pain was too much to handle so they decided to hike back to Bennington & the ER. Hearts was so weak that Tupperware, Buns & Roses split up his gear & carried it back to town for him as he crawled back the same 10.5 mi they had hiked the day before. (Spock & Twiggy, and Cuda continued north.)
  • Once at VT 9, Amos laid on the side of the road as the others stuck out their thumbs in hope of a hitch to the hospital... finally got a ride from a car full of drunks jamming to AC/DC. (I'm glad I don't hear about these things until WELL after the fact or I would have lost my already fragile mind a long time ago!)
  • Took about 5 hours for the doctors in the ER to realize that something was terribly wrong. Just as they were about to discharge him - yes I said discharge him - they drew a blood sample to test for Lyme's and took his temperature one more time to find it at 102. (When he went in to the ER he was on a significant amount of ibuprofen & his fever was down but the OTC meds wore off by the time he was about to be discharged and it had just come back up.)
  • It turns out that the new-found fever + his severe neck pain (and an assortment of other symptoms) = a spinal tap! ouch. (Going from almost being discharged to having a spinal tap is still a little inconceivable to me.)
  • It took about 1 hr for the results from the spinal tap to come back and for the doctors to confirm that he had spinal meningitis. They assured him that it was not the deadly form of spinal meningitis (bacterial) but that it was likely caused by Lyme disease. Unfortunately, the test results for Lyme disease would not be back for at least 4 days... [not knowing whether it was viral or caused by the tick caused it's own set of problems - but that's another story].
  • Tupperware stayed in the waiting room the whole time (!!!) and brought food from the vending machine room upstairs! It wasn't until 11:30 pm -when they said they were going to admit Amos- that he retired his post and met back up with Buns & Roses.
  • They actually admitted him around 7 am... the next morning. It was a looooong night. He was given IV antibiotics and fluids but no pain meds or food & the ER nurse was less than pleasant. Too much pain, no sleep.

Don't we make a lovely pair. (I broke my nose kayaking the same day.)

7/7/08 - This is what Amos describes as being THE worst day (including the events of last night). Luckily, he doesn't remember much of it...

  • Apparently, Tupperware, Buns & Roses stopped in to visit 2x - but he doesn't recall either visit - though he does remember Tupperware spilling something from Taco Bell all over the floor.
  • Admitted to the ICU which made everyone freak-out... ok, maybe just me. (I still didn't know it wasn't considered "life-threatening" - I mean c'mon, he was in the ICU for cryin' out loud!)
  • Spent much of the day rolling around, trying to get comfortable - that didn't happen. Nurse Jackie (really nice but really obtuse) took plenty of blood samples (4x).
  • Finally given pain meds in the early afternoon which proved "very helpful" - made sleeping possible (and random, incoherrent phone calls for that matter).
  • This is the day I really lost it & declared that I was driving back to Bennington and skipping the physics modeling workshop I was supposed to be enrolled in all week. MJ agreed to road trip, too!

7/8/08 - Started treatment for Lyme disease (still not officially diagnosed).

  • Spock & Twiggy, Tupperware, Buns & Roses all took a bus from Manchester Center to come back & visit around noon! About an hour later, MJ and I showed up.
  • Amos took a shower soon after we arrived & it was then that he discovered the bulls-eye rash on the lower-right corner of his back. It faded pretty quickly - already much less obvious an hour later.
  • Transferred out of solitary confinement & into a room with another dude. Amos was less than thrilled to have to pull the curtain to pee in his jug every 20 minutes.
  • We played cards & noshed on hospital food together (they gave MJ & I a free $5 voucher - yum!).
  • MJ & I left to sleep at the Bennington Motor Inn while the rest of the gang attempted to enroll in a hospital sleep study (denied) but wound-up stealth camping in the waiting room instead.

7/9/08 - Slept-in. Hiking companions went back to the trail.

  • Lyme results came back positive. Prescribed doxycycline.
  • Also diagnosed with another tick borne disease, Ehrlichiosis. In fact, he will go down in the medical literature as being the first confirmed case of Ehrlichiosis in all of Vermont! (What a lousy 15 minutes of fame.)
  • Ate a big breakfast & lunch - great to see the appetite back!!
  • Released from the hospital: took a shower, put on normal clothes & wheeled out to the car. (That means I got to be his own personal pack mule - I know he secretly loved it!)
  • Back to CVS to pick up his NEW prescription and then a long 10 hr trip back to Ohio.
  • Got home late & still in a lot of neck pain - but good to be home!

7/10/08 thru 7/20/08 - Just enough time for recovery...

  • Watched a bunch of movies.
  • Got my nose re-broken.
  • Played tennis.
  • Birthday celebration(s) with AMAZING homemade pizza and a live guitarist at Mama Hearts'.
  • Rafted the Lower Yough (R-2'd lunches in a bucket boat).
  • Dinner at Patrons with my Mom, Brandi & Jerrod.
  • Lots of crab rangoons!
  • Kayaked Upper Yough (NO, no not me! Just Amos.)
  • 9 holes of golf with (his) Dad.
  • Did I mention... we got engaged on the Upper Yough?!! Amos yanked me out of the Shredder in the same eddy that I shoved him into 9 months before... where we had our 1st kiss! Now, that's amore...

  • Oh yeah, and back to the trail...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wrong sort of fireworks...

7/1/08 - Left the shelter before 7 am (to meet up with me later). Trudged through miles of muddy trails, moose tracks & more moose poop.
  • Paralleled Roaring Creek for awhile - looked very kayakable.
  • Took a break at Congdon Shelter then up Harmon Hill - which had absolutely no views.
  • Finally an extremely steep descent to VT 9 where he waited around with Meltdown & another section-hiker until I arrived on the scene around 1 pm.
  • Took Meltdown into town then off to Greenwood Lodge & Campsites for showers and to set up shop (home) for the next few days.
  • Followed by THE MOST unproductive scavenger hunt for authentic Mexican food that you could possibly imagine... a good half an hour down the road (and then some) for a tribal-tattooed white guy to throw black beans and a "Mexican pizza" our way. I resorted to refried ice cream- for dinner.
  • Exchanged birthday presents while we waited in the parking lot for the faux-Mexican restaurant to open. I scored an iPod nano while Amos got stuck with an assortment of odd souvenirs from Europe which included: Scottish sweater, Guinness tee, deck of cards, Viking helmet, wooden sword & matching wooden shield. I might owe him. Big time.
  • Then back to the campground for margaritas & beer.
  • 11.5 mi day.

7/2/08 - Woke up. I took what Amos describes as a "long" shower. In reality, I got sucked into talking to the campground owner, Anne & her son Chris, for at least 20 minutes.

  • Into town to do laundry in a very smelly laundromat.
  • Blue Benn Diner for lunch.
  • Picked up Tupperware from the trail.
  • As we were driving through Bennington, Tup rented a town bicycle, rode alongside the pretty little luxury SUV that my Dad had gotten for his 50th birthday and had graciously let me borrow for the week, somehow got a little too close, and accidentally scratched the multicolored metallic smoky granite mica paint with the handle of the bike. (I'll admit that was a bit of a run-on.) So, while Amos sipped on microbrews in Madison Brewing Co. (and I on water), Tupp snuck off to the nearest auto center for a repair kit. It didn't quite do the trick but luckily Dad didn't mind (I LOVE YOU!).
  • Pizza next door then back to the campground for reheated Patron's, crab rangoons, an air hockey tournament and a game of HORSE - which I WON!!!
  • Another campfire, more beer & margarita, to bed.

7/3/08 - Packed up camp. HORSE rematch - Amos won...

  • To the library, Walmart, a bad stint at Taco Bell (man, we had absolutely NO luck with the Mexican!) then rented a room at the Best Western with Tupperware.
  • Picked up Buns & Roses, Spock & Twiggy, and Cuda out of a soaking rain.
  • Once we got everyone back to the hotel, Hearts started feeling ill & noticed a lump on the right side of his hip near his groin. After several phone calls to family pharmacists, two doctors and one dentist - all it took was one alarming allusion of impotence to trigger a trip to the ER.
  • When we arrived, Amos told the registration attendant that he had a fever (Roses suggested this trick to get in quicker) - it didn't work as intended - but it did get him a creepy blue surgical mask to wear in the waiting room.
  • Waited forever. Doctor finally showed up (maybe 3 hrs later) and instead of inquiring about Amos' symptoms he wound up spiraling into a 15 minute conversation about preferred hiking gear (no wonder we waited so long!). An ultrasound and a debate on appropriate water filtration later we left with a prescription for what the doctor decided -based on extenuating circumstances- was giardia. (NOTE: He had nothing intelligent to say about the lump on Amos' hip and assured us it was a bulging femoral artery - "no big deal"!!! We should have known...)
  • Back to the Best Western & off to bed.

7/4/08 - 1st stop... CVS for Tinidazole. The lady who initially set off to fill his prescription somehow forgot all about him & so we ended up waiting about an hour for the drugs.

  • Back to the Blue Benn diner for brunch but Hearts had no appetite.
  • Dropped everyone off in town where we struggled to say a very long, drawn-out, sad goodbye and then I left.
  • Hung out at Chris' house for the rest of the day. Played pool, cards, cooked on the grill, and enjoyed a Spock-led drum circle.
  • Tried to fall asleep on the couch but felt awful - very feverish - still didn't think much of it.

7/5/08 - In the morning, he felt really weak but thought it would pass so they packed up and decided to hike out anyway.

  • Stopped at the Blue Benn one more time for breakfast, then to the post office to pick up the Therm-a-Rest Half-brew sent in the mail to replace his - which had a small puncture wound.
  • Hitchhiked back to the trail.
  • Climbed up 1000 ft & immediately started feeling really weak and ill with a sharp/stiff neck pain.
  • Took a much needed break at Glastenbury Lookout.
  • Arrived at Goddard Shelter but it was full. Some lady pitched an entire tent inside the shelter and slept in it with her dogs! Another man in the shelter was shrouded in a full-body bug suit - which Hearts thought was hilarious.
  • Moved on to camp on Glastenbury Mtn. Amos decided to sleep on top of the firetower to avoid setting up his tarp & Spock made him dinner.
  • From that point on, his condition deteriorated... he was very feverish and no matter how many or what type of pain relievers he took, the neck pain would not go away. Spent all night vomiting off of the firetower.
  • 10.5 mi.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pure Imagination...

6/25/08 - Woke up in the cemetery to people walking their dogs & staring at the two crazies sleeping in the cemetery...

  • Went into Salisbury to resupply at the IGA and then back to the trail to tackle Lions Head.
  • Snack time at Riga Lean-to then up Bear Mtn. - which used to be the highest point in CT - now it's not. But it did have some of the best views they'd seen in a while!
  • Down a giant hill into Sages Ravine... over a creek... and into Massachusetts!!
  • Climbed over Race Mtn where they (Hearts & Tupperware) picked and ate an obscene amount of blueberries.
  • Then way down & way back up Mt. Everett.
  • Walked along MA 41 into S. Egremont but it was late and everything was closed... luckily local hospitality wasn't...
  • Lady driving a Prius (let's call her Lady A) stopped and asked the boys if they needed a ride. They declined but stuck around to chit-chat. Another lady (Lady B - who Amos described as someone who 'could not be more hippie') pulled up an offered to cook them dinner out of her car... which she lives in and which runs solely on fry grease. Lady A then countered with an offer for them to stay at her house for the night.
  • It's decided that a combination of offers will suffice. Lady B agrees to cook at Lady A's house. (It's best to keep in mind that they don't know each other from Adam!)
  • Back at Lady A's house they (Amos & Tupp) took turns taking showers while Lady B cooked up some 'weird hippie food' which was described to me as a salmagundi of any and everything that came straight from the ground & was edible mixed with noodles - which were really the only distinguishable item. It was also mentioned that there seemed to be a bit of a love-connection between Lady B & Lady A as they did A LOT of hugging & also a few awkwardly placed pecks on one another's cheeks... bouw chicka wow-wow!
  • Anyway, they all ate, talked, and then went off to bed. (I know nothing of Lady A & Lady B sleeping arrangements - so don't ask - goodnight!)
  • 18.5 mi.

6/26/08 - Lady A gave the two a really early ride back to the trail.

  • Instead of going directly to the trail they walked down US 7 into Great Barrington to eat breakfast at a local diner then back MA 23 to find the trailhead.
  • Along the way, Tupperware had a #2 emergency and relieved himself in some guy's backyard... I can't believe I just typed that.
  • Once they got back to the trailhead they took a break & ate lunch - then found themselves faced with a 1000 ft climb right off the bat - up to The Ledges.
  • Then they took a big break at Beartown Mtn. Rd and had about an hour-long contest to see who could pelt a little sign with rocks the most (no clear winner). Entertainment should come so easy to the rest of us stuck out here in the real world...
  • Back on the trail between Beartown Mtn. Rd and Jerusalem Rd it was EXTREMELY mosquitoey -loads & loads of them- most they've encountered on the AT!
  • Walked along Jerusalem Rd into Tyringham where they bought brownies and soda from the Cobble View B&B and then caught a ride down to the town pavilion where they settled in for the night.
  • 23 mi.

6/27/08 - Hiked back up the main road and started with another 1000 ft climb up to Webster Rd (still REALLY bad mosquitoes).

  • Arrived at Upper Goose Pond about a mile before the shelter & decided to walk around the whole pond.
  • Hiked into Upper Goose Pond Cabin (about a 1/2 mile off the trail) - Amos said it was a 'sweet' cabin and because they were the 1st ones there, he got to choose his bunk 1st!
  • Met the caretaker, Nancy, who informed them that she would be making blueberry pancakes in the morning - score!!
  • Wandered down to the pond & waded around then Tupperware hiked out to meet his parents in Lee.
  • Right after Tup left, Meltdown rolled in with his "friend" Evan. Followed by Maggie & Furniture and then Memphis Tim (who Amos hasn't seen since the Smokys)!
  • They all decided to go swimming at the pond. So they swam about a quarter mile out to the island where they were met by Furniture who came & picked them up in a canoe!
  • Played some cards, cooked some dinner & then off to bed.
  • A leisurely 8.5 mi day.

6/28/08 - Awoke to the promised blueberry pancakes & coffee! Packed up & hiked out.

  • Down to US 20 where Tupperware's parents showed up with lunch food because Hearts ran out. Tupp's mom brought everything but the kitchen sink - coffee, cookies, fruit, sandwiches, chips, you name it! Wound up packing-out between 7-10 lbs of food!!
  • Of course now that he was good'n fed and completely weighed down, he was immediately faced with a daunting climb up Beckett Mtn.
  • Took a break at October Mtn Lean-to where the mosquitoes were bad with a capital 'B' and the logbook claimed a moose sighting the night before!
  • Eventually made it to Washington Mtn Road which is known for the Cookie Lady's House!! Turned out not to be a lady at all - her husband was there to pass out chocolate chip, walnut (yum!!) cookies. Amos played with their puppy - the one in the photos and the one he describes as being the cutest dog he's ever seen in his life! (now THAT's a distinction!)
  • Hiked up Warner Mtn & picked more blueberries. (I think if Amos were a character in a movie, he'd be the little American girl who ate the Three-course-dinner gum & turned into a giant blueberry - except he wouldn't be a little girl [of course] and he wouldn't incessantly chomp on a wad of gum - yeah, he'd just be a big blueberry.)
  • Walked into Dalton with Meltdown & man-friend, Evan, Maggie & Furniture. Headed toward the Shell Station where they called Rob Bird (an infamous trail angel and pseudo-hostel owner in town) who picked them up to stay at his house - The Bird Cage.
  • Bird Cage had showers, laundry & free beer in the fridge!
  • It was there where he met someone Isaac worked with last year (can't remember his name) and where he slept on the couch with Rob's dog.
  • 20.5 mi.

6/29/08 - Walked back down to the convenience store with Meltdown & Evan for breakfast.

  • Met a 'slightly disturbed' woman with the BRIGHTEST neon green shoes imaginable on his way out of town. Said she would not stop talking to him and that he had a really hard time getting away.
  • Hiked up Crystal Mtn and past a troop of Boy Scouts who looked like the were having the most miserable time.
  • Stopped for lunch on top and then walked around Gore Pond where he spotted moose poop & tracks! Then up to The Cobbles which had a good view of Cheshire.
  • Down into Cheshire to snag an ice cream cone from Diane's Twist. On his way out of town, he felt a random craving for potato salad so he stopped at a nearby convenience store to pack a container out... boy, I remember the good 'ol days when they used to pack-out beer!
  • Once he scored the potato salad he was faced with a good 2000 ft ascent to Mark Noepel Lean-to where he spent the night. (Free Hugs showed up and cooked corn on the cob.)
  • 13.5 mi.

6/30/08 - 1st to leave the shelter in the morning.

  • Passed the 1st legitimate south-bounder on the trail who spent a good portion of their chat spouting off about how awesome he was...
  • Climbed Mt. Greylock - 1st time over 3000 ft since Virginia! Sadly, it was cloudy so there were no views and everything was closed up top due to nearby road construction.
  • Started the long long long, very steep descent into North Adams. Once he arrived, he hit up the Price Chopper for a birthday card and then headed next door to stuff himself silly at the Chinese buffet!
  • Then back to the trail and onto a 2000 ft climb with an extremely full belly - quickly found out that immediately mobilizing after an MSG gorge-fest was a bad idea...
  • Met Meltdown - who seemed a little melancholy because he had just said goodbye to his boyfriend in North Adams - on Eph's Lookout.
  • Crossed the MA/VT state line with Meltdown and took their first few steps into the exceptionally muddy and horribly maintained section of trail that runs through Vermont - go GMC!
  • Slept at the Seth Warner Shelter with the Unknown Hiker (know-it-all) and another guy that had just started hiking the Long Trail and was carrying with him a full sized blow-up mattress!! zowie!
  • 16.5 mi day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A very Heartsy Birthday...

6/24/08 - Amos' Birthday!!

  • Woke up & went to Baird's General Store where Tupperware bought him breakfast - and planted a candle in his breakfast sausage... come to think of it, I'm not sure who had the sausage... also not sure if anyone sang 'Happy Birthday,' but Amos did say he made a very special birthday wish on that banger candle...!

  • Decided to spend the day off of the official trail and on the road instead. So, they hopped from town to town as they hiked along US 7.
  • En route, they came across Clarke Outdoors - an outfitter that rents kayaks along the Housatonic - tried to rent boats for the day but were a half an hour too late (they stopped renting at 11:00 am) - the lady in the store refused to run a shuttle for them and so the boys were denied. Birthday bummer.
  • Onward to West Cornwall where they hung out in a coffee shop/restaurant and where Tupp bought Hearts a birthday ice cream. Inside, they waited out a pretty fierce rainstorm while their packs waited under an overhang outside... problem is the gutters drained nearby & created a small pond which they found their packs floating in later...
  • Hiked out on River Rd. - flanked by the Housatonic and a set of railroad tracks. Stopped to yack it up with a few construction workers for about 1/2 hr - you know, trail talk.
  • Next, on to Falls Village where they stopped for snacks & hung out in an old caboose that had been transformed into the town visitors center.
  • Finally, the pair set off on a series of exceptionally scenic back roads up and over a mountain to Salisbury. The walk was highlighted by perfectly placed picturesque old colonial style houses encompassed by enormous, lush fields.
  • Once they arrived in Salisbury everything was closed except for the White Harts Inn where a local man walking his dog escorted them & bought the boys free drinks! They hung out in the Inn till around 11 when they deemed the town sleepy enough to pull off a little stealth camping... in the town cemetery. It's the latest craze among AT hikers - all the cool kids are doing it (actually, I think this may have started the craze). Amos said it was quite peaceful - Tupperware was completely freaked out!
  • 21.5 mi day - not too shabby!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Allow not nature more than nature needs...

6/17/08 - Breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts (chocolate donut!).

  • Creepy guy with the Mystery Machine showed up to shuttle them back to the trail... it reeked! I'm going to go out on a limb and assume it smelled so badly because he admitted to habitually relieving himself... in jugs... in the van. That, and his dog smelled like it was slowly decaying from the inside out.
  • Climbed up Wawayanda Mtn. and hiked along a ridge with views of the NYC skyline and conspicuously expensive homes nestled along picturesque lakes in the valley.
  • Crossed NJ/NY state line which was very fancy in-and-of itself - spray-painted on a rock.
  • Stopped for a tasty homemade ice cream treat at the Bellvale Creamery along NY 17A.
  • Final break at Wildcat Shelter followed by 2 mi hike to Fitzgerald Falls - where they decided to spend the night and where they eventually found nearly every mosquito in the northeast to have converged for the evening...
  • 19 total mi.
6/18/08 - Tupperware joined back up with the group. Mom dropped him off & he initially set-off the wrong way down the trail and had to turn around and hike back!! Eventually caught back up with the group & shared a box of donuts for breakfast!

  • Came across the much talked about, highly anticipated East Mombasha Rd. (the end of Half-brew's hike) - turned out to be your everyday, ordinary roadway. I don't think it quite lived up to the hype.
  • Water sources have been harder & harder to come-by. Most trail angels have been leaving jugs of water as trail magic.
  • Climbed up Arden Mtn.
  • Climbed down Arden Mtn. - described as 'horrible' - steep & rocky.
  • Blue blazed along Arden Valley Rd. (in the rain) - Twiggy's 1st blue blaze! (Spock hiked the trail.)
  • Hiked the last 4 mi to William Brien Memorial Shelter in the rain.
  • Found a really nice father & son duo already set-up in the shelter. The young boy turned out to have terrible night terrors though & broke out into bloodcurdling screams throughout the night. Hearts was lucky enough to have the bunk directly above him but slept surprisingly well in spite of it!
  • 18 mi day.
6/19/08 - Rain stopped. Hiked down to Palisades Parkway where a sign said 30 mi to NYC!
  • Climbed up Bear Mtn. which was a bit of a let-down because the observation tower was locked - but they did come across an operating soda machine!
  • Hearts left early to hit up the post office in Bear Mtn... also closed - really weird hours.
  • Hung out at the entrance to the Bear Mtn Museum/Zoo (the lowest pt. on the entire AT @ 124 ft!). Eventually the group took a walk thru the zoo (free to thru hikers). Said it was really sad & full native animals in small cages... it's a shame bolt & chain cutters add too much pack-weight otherwise those critters could have been free!
  • Crossed Bear Mtn Bridge which spans the Hudson River. Bridge must have a bad track record as it was lined with suicide hotline phones.
  • Arrived at US 9 and hitched a ride into Peekskill from a self-proclaimed 'Shakespeare nut' with tons of Shakespeare website decals all over her van.
  • Ate at local diner & realized there was nowhere to stay... so they headed to the library where they met a police officer who GAVE THEM HIS CAR so they could drive to Fishkill!! Yeah, a police officer GAVE THEM HIS CAR to borrow for the night! You've got to be kidding me - some people are unbelievable! I want to be that trusting & generous someday!
  • Taco Bell for dinner #2, resupplied at Walmart (bought my birthday present - a new iPod), and then shacked up in a sweet Holiday Inn Express with a big HD plasma TV for Twiggy's birthday!
  • 14.5 mi.

6/20/08 - Down to the lobby for a continental breakfast and then back to the room to pack-up.
Stopped at a gas station on the way out of town to load up on food & beer.

  • Took FOREVER to hitchhike back to the trail - eventually someone did stop and they turned out to be another Shakespeare nut! In fact, they were friends with the first Shakespeare nut!
  • Got back to the trail late.
  • Passed Graymoor Spiritual Life Center and were bummed because they realized they had missed out on an opportunity to experience monk hospitality as the monastery allows hikers to stay at their picnic shelter.
  • Hiked up to Clarence Fahnestock State Park & campground only to find the free hiker pavilion overrun with 15 other hikers from a Philadelphia hiking club. So they set up their tarps in their own area & did their own thing... listening to Tupp's radio & beer drinking.
  • 12.5 mi.

6/21/08 - Hiked back to the trail. Around Canopus Lake. And up Shenandoah Mtn.

  • Break at RPH Shelter - which was a little cabin that you could have pizza delivered to - but they didn't know & missed that opportunity.
  • Made up for it. At NY 52 they hiked down to Danny's Pizzeria & Mtn. Top Market where they ate their pizza and packed out more beer & munchies.
  • Hiked over I-84 & climbed Mt. Egbert.
  • Arrived at Morgan Stewart Shelter fairly early so they started a fire & hung out.
  • 16 mi.

6/22/08 - Woke up to rain, but it didn't last long.

  • Crossed NY 55. Hiked around Nuclear Lake - the site of a former nuclear fuels-processing research facility given a clean bill of health but they didn't take their chances with the water anyway - and there were no blueberries nearby for Hearts nibble on so we lucked out there, too.
  • Break at Telephone Pioneers Shelter (odd name).
    Saw the largest oak tree on the AT - the Dover Oak - I believe there is a picture of Amos hugging it...
  • Passed the AT train station - which shuttles day hikers from NYC & only runs on the weekends.
  • Hiked to NY 22 & stopped at Tony's Deli for lunch - bet you're wondering if they packed out more food & beer...
  • ... of course they did.
  • Heading back for the trail they came across a landscaping business and found that one of their fellow thru hikers, Root, got a temporary job there to help finance more of his trip!
    Next section of trail included some scenic field walking followed by pointless ups & downs. (Funny, that's how I see the entire AT!)
  • Break at Wiley Shelter - worst shelter ever - which says a lot if you remember the ones without roofs & running water back in Virginia. Described as small, dirty, crappy, rundown, with lots of mosquitoes.
  • Crossed the NY/CT border with a 'WELCOME TO Connecticut' sign!
  • Climbed up Ten Mile Hill and then back down to Ten Mile River where they took baths & swam for a bit. Amos went skinny-dipping while Tupperware preferred to remain in his skivvies.
  • Well deserved after a 20.5 mi day! Stayed at Ten Mile Lean-to.

6/23/08 - Trail meandered along the whitewater section of the Housatonic River Gorge (future kayaking trip)!

  • At Schaghticoke Rd. they veered off the trail and walked toward Kent to see an Indian Reservation - disappointed to find the residents very poor & living in run-down homes.
  • Arrived in Kent - 1st real New England style town. Upon entry they were greeted with rich Cape Cod influenced homes and a huge boarding school that looked fancier than most colleges... yes, even Muskingum!
  • Outfitter, laundry, grocery store, post office, Pizza Garden (expensive!), then beer.
  • Poured heavily while they were in the laundromat and the attendant shrieked at another thru hiker, Cricket, for being in the bathroom too long... wonder what she thought he was doing in there??
  • Left Kent, walked along the road & saw Kent Falls which was gushing from the recent downpour.
  • Next stop - Cornwall Bridge. Everything was closed except the liquor store and a gas station. BUT good news is that the owner of the gas station upholds a tradition that all thru hikers who stop by get a free beer! He also clued them in on a covert camping locale in town - a secluded spot behind the church.
  • So they snatched up a few snacks from the gas station and camped out behind the church!
  • 19.5 mi.