Friday, June 7, 2013

6/6: Punchbowl Shelter, 790.8

No Rain, No Pain, No Maine.

Hello loyal followers, it's Breeze. As you may have noticed, I typically have a pretty positive attitude out here on the trail. On really bad days, I try and find the silver lining, or at least a life lesson or something. I've been sitting in my hammock for a while now, listening to the downpour, watching the campsite slowly flood, trying to figure out what that silver lining might be. I've come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, the AT didn't provide me with any silver lining today. Allow me to explain.

It has been a torrential downpour the entire day and most of last night. Packing up in the rain is never fun, but it  was particularly awful for my poor brother. He had a serious tarp malfunction last night, and most of his stuff is completely soaked, including his tent and sleeping bag. Earlier this morning I literally poured water out of his hammock - not good!  With nothing else to do, he packed up his wet gear and put it in his bag. A really bad start to a really bad day. Once we began hiking, I think the rain got worse. About a mile into the day, everyone was drenched from head to toe, and no one was talking. For the time being, we are operating under the assumption that Luke is shelterless. Because of this, we had to stop at Punchbowl Shelter for the night. With the shelter mostly full, I elected to tent to save room for Luke. I went out in the still pouring rain to setup and attempt to get dry. I've been in my hammock prison since 3, and have only seen the others a few times. The rain likes to keep you in solitary confinement - it's how it maintains it's power. Well, I guess I'm going to go back to's all I really have to do. The AT giveth, and the AT taketh away. Let's hope for clear skies tomorrow. 


Ok this may seem weird, but I think I'm going to blog twice today. You see, I wrote the first piece much earlier in the day when things were really bad. Although the weather hasn't gotten any better, my mood sure has. That's because just a few minutes ago, Luke was bored so he decided to come get me. Me, Luke, and Cheese then spent the next 30 minutes out in the rain trying our best to build a little fort out of the leftover tarps we have. Oh my Lord, what an abject disaster!  Honestly guys, the whole debacle was a complete and total failure. But we had so much fun! I posted pictures of our attempt down below for your viewing pleasure. From there we went to hang out in the shelter like normal people and talk to other thru hikers. Life's a mess, but it's good.

P.s Things could always be worse. Our friend Occupy came in to the shelter earlier, and everything he owns is soaked! That's his stuff on the picnic table in the picture. Oh and Luke's sleeping bag got dry so he is good to go :) 

6/5: John's Hollow Shelter

Hello friendly followers,

It's Wendy again with another update from the trail! Today was another great day on the trail with our new hiking partners. We have had very little easy terrain for them thus far so today was a nice break for them! Before we get to talk about how great the day was, however, let me tell you how the night went. 

Apparently there are these birds. It appears that the males and females have distinctly different calls. These calls, when put together, form quite a screechy bird tune. This tune began around 1AM. Apparently we were in mating habitat for these things because until around 6AM this morning all we heard was the constant chirp of their respective calls. It was my nightmare!

After that, however, things looked up. We had a great morning, a fairly easy hitch to Glasgow, and also did a great job of making it out of town! We all 4 got picked up both times which was a relief! It always feels good to have a productive day in town. 

My only complaint about these last few days would have to be my unwillingness to integrate with others. I miss the group we left a tremendous amount and I really want to skip back ahead so we can hike with them again. Realistically I know that we will see them again, but I wish I could share all of this trail with them!

Until next time,

6/4: Marble Spring Campsite, 772.6

What's up everyone! Breeze here at the end of an awesome day. Our new four person group has been so much fun. Wendy and I have loved the additional company. But first let me tell you about what has been on every thru hikers mind lately: bugs.

Over the last few days, the insects have completely taken over the woods. And I mean completely taken over. The worst of them all are the tiny black bugs that you can barely see. They will bite you incessantly. I have so many bug bites on my body, I feel like I should volunteer myself for some sort of entomology study. Surely science could learning something from me. I need to do something differently, because I wake up in the night scratching my legs. I am currently hiding in my tent from the bugs. I dare not venture out for fear that those flying, biting devils will tout me off for good.

Other than the constant onslaught of biting insects, everything has gone well. After a certain incident today on trail, Holden, formally known as Zip, has been renamed Cheese Pants AKA The Wild Cheese. This a wild, hilarious story that I'm not sure is suited for the internet. Let's just say ole Cheese Pants had a large quantity of cheese in his pockets at lunch today, and we had a lot of fun with it.

Wendy and I have been really impressed with Cheese and Luke's hiking. I don't think it will be too long until they're the ones dragging us up the mountain. They have fallen in so well with us, you would have thought they started at Springer. These past two days haven't been easy either! We have been doing a lot of climbing. I really wish they could hike the rest of the summer with us :(. Luke and I make a pretty good team.

Hope everyone is doing well back home.


6/1: Daleville 0 day

Hey everyone, Breeze here again. Not bad for Luke's first time, huh? We're thinking of making him a regular here on the blog while he's around. And I'm sure everyone enjoyed a fresh perspective on trail life.

Luke and I have had a very lazy day in Daleville. Daleville is were we are supposed to meet back up with Wendy and his friend Holden, so we are just hanging out waiting for them to get here. I've spent so many nights at the Howard Johnson here, I feel like I should be getting some sort of loyalty discount. Tonight will be my fourth night in total. Luke and I split the hotel with a couple of new friends we met during out backtracking section, including Vitamin C, Honey Badger, and Double D. Come to find out, Double D is from my home town, and still has family in the area. Small world, right?! We had a good time catching each other up on all the latest town gossip and LaGrange happenings. Double D got his name because he hikes with two dogs, Dixie and Dakota. Why, what do you think his name meant? Come on guys, children read this. Get your mind out of the gutter.

The highlight of the day was going down to the outfitter with Luke to pick out a new pack. The pack he brought out is a great pack, but was way too big for his tiny frame. He went from an 82 liter pack to a 46! Now that he has a much lighter, smaller pack, he is definitely looking more like a thru hiker.

Wendy comes tomorrow so we can finally get back on track!  Redoing this beautiful section with Luke has been a blast, but I'm ready to start heading north once more!

Until next time,


5/31: Daleville, VA

Hello readers! We've got some new trail legs and a new blogger on our hands. It seems as though people these days are calling me Buckles, so I suppose you can too.

Breeze and I woke up at the Four Pines Hostel after a shower and a full face stuffing at the Home Place, feeling fresh and ready to go. Joe (the hostel owner) drove all of our gear to the Howard Johnsοn, which was 20 miles away. I was a little bit apprehensive about this trek on the fourth day, but I figured that if I wasn't carrying anything, I could manage.

We set out with a breezy pace (the man ''walks'' like he has something chasing him!), and got to McAfee Knob in no time at all. The views from that rock are some of the best I've seen! Setting back out at what could be a described as a trot, we roved over top of a half mile that was the Tinker Cliffs. It was view after view of beautiful Virginia as the cliffs wound around the side of the mountain.

While I can't say that my feet appreciated what I did to them that day, I won't forget the experiences of summitting two amazing views, eventually making our way to a mexican restaurant and a bed to sleep in. I made it, and made it smiling. That's what counts right?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

5/30: Four Pines Hostel, 698.0

What's up everybody. Breeze here once again with a trail update. Today we found ourselves at 4 pines hostel, right outside Catawba, VA. I wanted to stop and check out the hostel because Wendy and I skipped it the first time. Everyone that stayed there seemed to love it, so I had to pop in and check it out for myself. What an excellent decision that panned out to be! But first, let me tell you about 4 pines hostel, and more importantly, about Joe.

Joe is the owner of 4 pines hostel. The hostel itself is simply a 3 car garage that is built behind Joe's house. Inside the garage are a few old couches, some fold down pool chairs, 2 cots, and a recliner. To the right of the front door was the bathroom and the shower. There was one hostel towel that apparently was meant to be shared. Overall, it was a pretty shabby place. But it wasn't the physical hostel that made 4 pines worth stopping at. It was Joe. Joe is a super awesome guy that runs the hostel through donations. Not only does he provide a roof, he will also take you just about where ever you needed to go. He was providing shuttles to thru hikers to the grocery store, to the HomePlace restaurant in Catawba, to Daleville, or even to the airport in Roanoke! For those who don't know, access to a car like that is the absolute best luxury! And I also should mention that Joe was a lot of fun to hang out with and his hostel had a great vibe. Luke and I had a lot of fun with our new group of friends. Well, off to HomePlace! I have to take Luke there. It's a thru hiking must! This is America after all. I have to eat myself sick every once in a while!

Joe is going to slackpack a bunch of us 20 miles to Daleville. This is a long day, even without a pack. I hope Luke can handle it!

Monday, June 3, 2013

6/3: Cornelius Creek

Hello all,

Since Breeze got to blog all last week while I was away for the wedding, you get a double dose of Wendy!

Today was a good but very tough first day for Zip (previously called Holden in another life.) We started the morning quickly with a 1000 foot climb followed closely by a 2000 foot climb! 3k is a serious day for newbie legs and he handled it like a champ! We finished our 12 miles by 5pm.

When we got to the shelter it was already quite busy. Eager to get some privacy, I wandered off and managed to find us a pretty great campsite with a fire ring. We quickly got our shelters setup and built an awesome fire! Zip's shelter system worked out very well and we were glad that we stopped by Walmart to get some last minute comfort items.

Tomorrow is a new day!

6/2: Cove Mountain Shelter

Hello loyal followers,

Wendy here once again updating you from ground zero. It has been a while since you have heard from me! My great friends Evan Wallace and Brittney Creamer are now Mr. And Mrs. Wallace! Congratulations you two, I'm so happy for both of you and wish you the best. 

Well folks, the eagle has officially landed! I had a great trip back uphere, my loyal best man Joseph eagerly agreed to drive my friend Holden and I back to the trail today! As if I didn't owe him enough already (keep in mind he got us free stay in DC!) Holden is hiking with us until Harpers Ferry and we are super excited to have him out! The four of us had a great time hiking into the shelter today and I can't wait for the time spent with all of us!

Short post so that I can get some sleep before my first full day tomorrow!


5/29: Campsite, 690.0

Hello everyone, it's Breeze. With Wendy gone, it looks like you'll be stuck with me for the next few days. Although it might be fun to let Luke blog a day or two. I'll see if he's up to it.

It's been so much fun having Luke around all the time again. I've really gotten used to having him around over the years, so his absense has been odd for me. I've really enjoyed bringing him out here and introducing him to this whole new world of thru hiking. Hiking with Luke has really made me remember what it was like my first week on the trail. After being out here so long, I've grown accustomed to seeing beautiful wide open views, wildlife, and rivers - I see them every day. Luke on the other hand is coming from Statesboro, GA. For those who do not know, Statesboro may be the flattest place on earth. Coming from Statesboro to the middle of the Appalachians is like stepping into a whole new world.  Every time there is even the slightest gap in the trees, Luke will stop and say, "Wow, the views here are so big! Are we going to see views like this all the time?" All I can do is smile. With Dragon's Tooth and McAfee Knob on the horizon, I believe the phrase is, "you ain't seen nothin' yet". Luke is also experiencing the AT growing pains. Stuff like struggling up mountains, figuring out what gear mistakes he made, or trying to determine out much food to buy all sounded like problems from my first week. Unfortunately, this is a process every thru hiker must go through. No matter how much advice you get or research you do, there are certain things you can only learn and figure out first hand. Luke is catching on very fast.

I'm really glad we are redoing this section of the trail. Rehiking the trail recalls a lot of memories from just a short time ago. I'm sure Luke is tired of me doing it, but all day I will tell him about stuff I did the first time I was here.

"Hey man, Wendy and I climbed this rock wall!" Or "Luke, this is the campsite where I met Aquaman!" Good times :).

Well, that's it for me. Talk to you tomorrow.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

5/28: Backtrack to Campsite, 680.0

Hello everyone! Breeze here at the end of a very joyous day. The reason for my joy is because my brother Luke has finally come to do some hiking with me! Man has his hair gotten long since I've last seen him! And of course he had lots of things to say about my scraggly beard. He has been planning to come do a big section with me for a while now, and the time has finally come. The coming of my brother unfortunately marked the simultaneous departure of Wendy. Because Wendy is going to be gone for a few days, Luke and I decided we would go back together and redo one of my favorite sections: The Keiffer Oak to Daleville! Included in this section is the Dragon's Tooth views, McAfee's Knob, and the Tinker Cliffs! If you're read my blog from 5/25, you'll know how much I loved this section. Luke has a lot to look forward to on this trip. By the time we hit Daleville he'll have seen many of the highlights thru hikers look forward to the entire trip.

Well Mrs. Cindy came to pick us up and away we went!  We spent the whole rest of the day catching up and telling stories. Sometimes I feel like I'm missing so much by being out here. When we got to camp, Luke had a huge surprise: RIBS! Can you believe that?! He was carrying an entire rack of ribs! It was a literal dream come true for me out here in the woods. Thank you so much Mom and Dad for being so thoughtful :). And thank you Luke for carrying it! Perfect end to a perfect day.

5/27: 17 mile Slackpack into Daleville, 739.6

Hello everyone, it's Breeze. Daleville has been awesome! Wendy and I have had the best time hanging out with the ole gang, bumming around town from restaurant to restaurant. Today all of us decided to do a little southbound slack packing back to Daleville so that we could both do some hiking during the day and stay at the Howard Johnson one more night. Our master plan went off without a hitch! I was able to hike over 16 miles today and return "home" to a bed and food that I didn't have to cook.

Hanging out today with everyone was awesome! When you hike with the same people for multiple days, you really get to know them. Take Wooden Spoon for instance. She is an awesome girl that works in north Georgia as a therapist for people with mental disabilities. Her main focus is wilderness/nature therapy. She got her trail name because she makes wooden spoons as a hobby/side job. Some of her stuff is really cool! You should find her company on Facebook: Three Birds Spoon Company. I also found out that she worked at Philmont Scout Ranch while I was there back in 2007! Small world, right? While Wooden Spoon and I were talking about the Boy Scouts, Violet overheard that I was an Eagle Scout. She was thrilled to hear this because she came from a whole family of Eagle Scouts, including her dad and all her brothers. We talked for a while about all our scouting experiences and about my Eagle Scout Project (which she loved! ). For those that do not know, I built 2 large wheelchair accessible gardening boxes for a local nursing home.

If you've been following the blog, by now you've seen me mention Fool Hardy and Tumbleweed. They are an awesome couple from Maryland that have been together for over 6 years now. Tumbleweed is a comicbook artists that has some amazing stuff on her website. Google Jessi Sheron if you want to have your mind blown with her talent! Aquaman is another guy I've mentioned before. He went to school ride down the road from me at Auburn for Horticulture before moving out west. His thru hike is dedicated to his grandfather, whom died of ALS a few years back.  He is doing a charity walk to help raise money and awareness for this deadly disease.

I just thought I would take a moment and introduce you to just a handful of the amazing people I have met while thru hiking. What an incredible group.


5/26: Daleville, VA

Hello all,

Wendy again with an update from le trail. Today we hiked into Daleville and stayed the night with some friends of ours. Besides a late morning beer magic, the 9 miles into town went by very quickly. We left camp at 7am to be sure we would make it in time for the BBQ meetup at noon. Unfortunately logistics were botched and we ended up having to split into two tables. That said, it was a blast!

Staying with Foolhardy and Tumbleweed was great! I really like hanging out with them. Also we got to see Tumbleweed (Jessi Sheron in real life)'s comic art. She is incredibly talented and if you are remotely interested in digital media I urge you to go check her out!

We had a great night and I got to have some great Mexican food! Another great day in town.


5/25: Lamberts Meadow Campsite, 714.4

Wow! This has been without a doubt the best day I've had on the trail yet. Every single thing about this day was absolutely perfect. I only wish that everyone I knew was able to share today with me - It was that good. Hello everybody, it's Breeze. Let's begin.

Wendy and I left Catawba in extremely high spirits, for we were headed to the most iconic spot on the entire Appalachian Trail - McAfee Knob! McAfee Knob is home to a legendary cliff outlook where all thru hikers take a photo with their legs hanging off the side. 3.7 uphill miles stood between me and that view. Wendy and I knocked that out in right at an hour. We practically ran that mountain! The very best part about the climb up to McAfee Knob was passing day hikers! Here they come, on Memorial Day Weekend, with their tiny day packs and clean clothes, completely and totally out of breath. Wendy and I saw how many we could pass for sheer sport. Every time we passed one I would always be courteous, but in my head I would say, "Eat dust, day hiker!" One guy asked us how we were going up the hill so fast with full packs on. I shouted over my shoulder, "We walked over 700 miles to get here, that's how!" Once we got closer to the top, a day hiker told us we were about 15 minutes away. I thanked them for the information, but in my head I bet myself I could do it in 10. And I did. Silly day hiker! Don't get me wrong, thru hikers don't dislike day hikers. It's just that all thru hikers at this point are in ridiculously good shape, so you can only show off your mountain climbing abilities when day hikers are around.

Wendy and I hit McAfee Knob on the best possible day. Not only was it wonderful weather, but we got to hang out at the top with some of our best friends: Violet, Tumbleweed, Full Hardy, Aquaman, and Wooden Spoon. We had a great time at the knob, and also at the beautiful Tinker Cliffwalk a few miles down the trail. Later at camp, all the thru hikers got together and talked about what a perfect day it was. We built a fire and stayed up till hiker midnight telling jokes and stories from our trail experiences. We all laughed and shared our own stories of how we showed off in front of day hikers. Wendy said he liked to extend his legs a little extra to show off his trail calves! Rock em if you got em! Another popular topic of conversation was still the Homeplace restaurant - it was that good. I still can't believe they let us in that place. I kept expecting them to pull a curtain around our table, or nonchalantly light a candle or something. Everyone was dressed so nice, and we all smelled like goats! I wish a blog post could do a day like this more justice,  but unfortunately this is all I've got.

Until next time,