Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Well guys, I did a little pleading with the rain last night, and for once, she listened! It has been a beautiful day out here on the Appalachian Trail!
As you might have guessed, it's Breeze. You can't ask for better days than this. Wendy and I put in a solid but relaxing 15 mile day. Honestly, it was relaxing! I can really get used to these rolling hills in Virginia! Wendy and I took a ton of breaks, and enjoyed snacks, views, and a new hobby of ours: hackysack! A few days ago we saw a group of thru hikers playing and having a great time, so we had to give it a try! We aren't very good, but we're getting better fast. We'll be ready for the big leagues soon.
Tonight in camp has been so much fun. Since tomorrow is my birthday, our entire group of friends decided to pack out a few adult beverages in to camp. We have all been sitting around the picnic table for a while now, swapping jokes and telling stories. We even started quoting Will Ferrell movies for a while (one of my favorite activities)! At hiker midnight (9 pm for you townies), we all raised our cans and celebrated my birthday, and for hiking 25% of this trail. I couldn't have asked for a better time.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, especially mine. Mom, I wouldn't be out here without your love and support. Thank you so much for everything you do for me. I love you.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Rain, would you please stop? Please? Don't make me beg rain, because you know that I will.
What's up everyone, Breeze here. As you can see, I'm pretty tired of the rain. It's rained every day since my folks dropped us off on the trail last Sunday, and today was definitely the worst weather yet. There's just something about running from a thunderstorm at 3500 feet that makes you feel so alive. In the storms defense, the weather today was all Wendy's fault. He just wasn't believing hard enough. I guess this joke needs some explaining...
Wendy and I have had a running joke out here since we began the trail. Anytime the ball just doesn't seem to be bouncing our way, it's because one of us isn't believing hard enough. If the uphill is particularly tough, or the weather is bad, or the campsite just won't seem to appear, all we have to do is believe that things will get better, and they always seem to.
Ok, so now that you know the background, I can continue with the story. The sky was dropping buckets of rain on us, and lightning was flashing above our heads. I've never been so wet in my life, and keep in mind I have been swimming. Throughout the entire storm I was messing with Wendy. "Come on man, just believe the rain will stop, and it will," I would jokingly say. Or, "You aren't believing hard enough, Wendy. You have to believe! I believe!" Finally, Wendy got tired of my comments, and stops dead on the trail. "Thunderstorm, cease!" he cried, in a Gandalf-esque way. And low and behold, the rain and lightning quit. If you believe, good things will happen. We're thinking of changing our trail names to Wendy the Mystical and Breeze the Believer. We make things happen.
Another good story from the day is about Pretzel the Pony Kicker. Poor, poor Pretzel. Apparently while he was petting the Grayson ponies, one of the baby ponies began chewing on his rain jacket. In order to get the pony to stop, he gently nudged it with his foot. There's one thing you need to know about thru hikers: we love the telephone game. You know the game. Word of mouth has a way of manipulating a story. Wendy and I love the telephone game, so we began telling people that Pretzel the Pony Kicker double foot dropped kicked the poor baby pony off a cliff. By the time the tale reached Pretzel, he was a pony killer. All he could do was crack a grin, but couldn't figure out how so many people had heard the story so fast. Word travels faster than you think out here, Pretzel. Especially when you're going around killing innocent ponies.
Well guys, I've rambled to you long enough. Some of you have jobs I imagine. Until next time!
Thursday, May 9, 2013
What's up peeps. As you could have guessed by the pattern, it's Breeze.
I love trail towns on the AT. Actually, I love pretty much everything about the trail, but towns are where the most socializing occurs. It's difficult to describe to people that have never long distance hiked, but there is such a sense of community out here. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone is so friendly. I guess it's kind of the way people should normally act to one another. From the moment we hit the streets of Damascus, thru hikers were calling our names and asking us how we've been. It's really cool to be a part of a culture like this one.
Ok, so this next part is for my brother Luke only. If your name isn't Luke, you can't read this next little segment. Nah, I'm just kidding. You can read it too. But dude, I met the coolest guy on the trail that I really wish you could sit down and talk to. His name is Burrito, and he's about like how I picture you when you're in your 50s. Burrito is a professional woodworker that builds and restores instruments. He mostly builds drums and Indian style flutes, but he also mentioned that he recently restored an 1860s fiddle! I mean wow. Shockingly, this isn't the coolest thing about him. Turns out he used to be the lead singer in a Led Zeppelin cover band! How sick is that? We had a pretty long conversation sitting at a bar in Damascus about his past jobs, but mostly music. We even talked for a few minutes about your hero, Paul Simon, and his Ovation guitar. So thanks for that little bit of knowledge! I can't wait for you to get your butt out here and do some hiking with me. This place would be like a dream come true for you.
Ok guys, sorry about that. Just had to have some brother time. Well today we hiked out of Damascus and did a 15 mile day, mostly in the rain. Blah! It's been so wet lately! And I've still got a little bit of a cold, but I'm getting better. Overall it was a pretty good day. We're getting so close to Grayson and the wild horses I can almost smell them!
Hope everyone is doing well!
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Hello everyone, it's Breeze. Time to get caught up on the blog postings now that we have reliable service. What an amazing weekend we had in Damascus.
My parents came in for the weekend, and brought enough food to start a small catering service! We feasted all weekend on delicious pancakes, lasagna, and bbq. My mom is such a good cook, and I have definitely been missing her home cooked meals. We stayed at a great little house in downtown Damascus right next to the Dairy King. The AT literally passed by the front door, so we got to watch hikers roll by all day and even got to catch up with a few we haven't seen in a while. We even got see to see a hiker perform Thai Chi in his underwear outside of the downtown laundry mat...no wonder locals aren't always fond of hikers. Ain't nobody want to see that!
The highlight of the weekend was definitely getting to catch up with all my family at my great grandmother's 95th birthday party! I know I said 96 in a previous post...I was either misinformed or misunderstood. Nonetheless, it was a great party! Granny looks so great, I have no doubt that she'll break 100 :). I don't get to see this side of the family too much, so it was really nice to spend the weekend with everyone. Even Wendy made some new friends! All my little cousins were particularly fond of getting tickled and rough housing with his giant 6'6" self. Poor little Colton has never been so high in his life!
Damascus was everything I hoped it would be. I got my batteries nice and recharged with amazing food, family, and friends. Now off to tackle the great state of Virginia!
Wendy here with another update from the trail! Boy was this one fun, we got caught in a serious storm!
The day started out with us parting ways with Breeze's folks and heading up the hill. Because we got such a late start we planned to walk only 5 miles to Vanderventer shelter. interesting fact- a girl was murdered at this shelter in 1975. Apparently a man was staying there and said he wanted her pack. He coveted this gear so much he murdered her for it. Crazy people be crazy!
When we got to the shelter we found it to be quite full and quite small. This was the only excuse we needed to hike on past this creepy shelter! We munched down a quick bite of beef brisket sandwich and headed back out into the rain.
We made it another 4 miles to a campsite before calling it quits for the night. As the weather went from bad to worse we quickly got our tents pitched and got out of the nasty weather. Man did it get bad! Crazy wind gusts and rain made for a tough night to sleep. In addition, condensation got the foot box of my sleeping bag wet!
All in all it was a tough day. Leaving town is never easy and leaving family is even harder. Couple that with our worst storm yet and you have the makings of a fun day! Unfortunately the trail won't hike itself!
Until next time,
PS- bonus rant! This goes out once again to anyone that plans on thru hiking one day- don't be cheap on the stuff that matters! I thought I could get away with not paying $100+ for a set of nice trekking poles. Instead, I chose to buy Walmart brand. Do you know where that left me? With 2 ruined sets of Walmart poles! Gear that you will be using all day every day for 2200 miles just has to be made for it. This is no normal backpacking trip we are on!
Do your research and find out where you can afford to go cheap or DIY but when they say spend the money, do it! I broke $50 worth of Walmart gear before having to buy a nice set of Leki poles. They weren't cheap but if anything happens to them, Leki will send me a free replacement pair no questions asked!
Friday, May 3, 2013
Hey everyone, it's Breeze. I'm so sorry for the lack of updates the past few days. Let me tell you, this has been a whirlwind of a week. I honestly have no idea where to even begin.
The highlight of the past few days has definitely been Kincora Hostel, right outside of Hampton, TN. The word hostel isn't a very fitting word to describe the place however. It's more like a hiker haven, a kind of nirvana for any long distance backpacker enthusiast. Everywhere you turn, you are rubbing shoulders with literal Appalachian Trail rock stars. Let's start with Bob Peoples.
Bob Peoples is an Appalachian Trail maintenance legend. It is said that when Bob Peoples builds a switchback, an angel gets its wings. It is also said that when when Bob Peoples hikes, mountains move to the side out of respect. And I'm not making this up. These quotes actually appeared in a story inside Backpacker Magazine. He has won the "Maintainer of the Year" award several times, and the plaques are proudly displayed on the bunkhouse walls. He has a presence about that him that will command a room, and will turn a bunch of rowdy thru hikers into a quite group of Indian-style sitting school children. He captivated me for hours telling stories of past backpacking experiences in Spain, Panama, California, and Ireland. If there is a long distance backpacking trail in your country, chances are Bob Peoples has hiked it. He's heading to Portugal this winter.
The next one up is another AT legend, Seico. I had the pleasure of hanging out with him all morning. Ok guys, are you ready for this ? Well here it comes...the man has recorded over 50,000 miles of hiking in his lifetime. Yes, as in half of a 100,000! Considering I have around 700 miles, this is just mind boggling. He has thru hiked 12 times, and yo-yoed 2 times (a yo-yo is when you hike up to Maine and then back to Georgia). He has also triple crowned, which means he has thru hiked all three of the US's 2,000+ trails. The numbers are just insane. I could go on and on about stats from Seico. It's just unreal.
Finally, I have to throw a shout out to the infamous Baltimore Jack. He thru hiked 6 years in a row and yo-yoed one of those years. Also, in his former life, he was the theatre critic for the Boston Globe. Wendy and Baltimore had a very spirited conversation about their favorite movies. To our delight, one of our favorite movies, Pulp Fiction, came up!
As you probably could have guessed, everyone at Kincora was super helpful and gave lots of tips on can't miss places to see and things to do. Seico even gave us advice on how to spot a bear! All the guys I just named, plus many more, are the reason why the AT is the most popular trail in the world. They are also the reason why the AT is the home to so many thru hikers each year. You guys rock and I cannot think you enough.
Now there's northing left to do but sit by the lake and wait for my parents! My great grandmother is turning 96 and I get to be a part of it :).
Life couldn't be better. Unless Chewie where here :(
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
It is Wendy here with yet another update from ze trail. If yesterday was the best day we had, it didn't stay that way for long! Today trumped it with ease!
After our great night sleep at Overmountain shelter we got off to one of our signature late starts around 10:30. While we were a bit nervous because we had such a long day ahead of us, we felt pretty confident that the terrain was easy enough that we could make it to the shelter before it filled up. After all, the guide did say it fit 14! Don't forget that I am still without trekking poles so we cannot camp until Damascus!
The day quickly rewarded us with 3 back to back to back balds, all with incredible views. The climbs were tough but definitely worth it! Just when we though this would be the kind of terrain we would be seeing all day we were thrust down into the forest and away from the balds. The trail just kept lazily snaking downhill for what seemed like hours! We made up a ton of ground and even caught a few people who had left the previous shelter before us!
Nearing the bottom of our descent we found something that Breeze had been looking for since Springer- a rock face we could boulder! This one stood around 20 feet tall and it was a blast to climb! As if that wasn't enough, around 2 hours later we found an amazing tree to climb up for a view of what we had been hiking all day! To say I put my fear of heights to the test today is an understatement, I hope we can find some adventurous things to do closer to the ground next time!
Next on our list was a small side trail near the end of our hike to Jones Falls. WOW, talk about beautiful! Breeze loves waterfalls so at this point he was in hog heaven. After that we hiked on only to realize that our shelter is about 200 yards from a waterfall. What are the chances?!
Our final gift of the day was the shelter. Despite a full barn shelter last night this place was completely empty! This is surprising because it is one of the only 3 floor shelters on the trail! Having the whole place to ourselves was great and we spread out and stayed warm quite easily.
At this point I really don't know what else you could ask for from a trail in a day. Beautiful views, waterfalls, adventure, and a huge shelter all to ourselves- pinch me I'm dreaming!
Until the next dream come true,