"All Good Things"

Final Total Accrued Miles: 735.5

Final Total Mountains "Overed": 49

Sometimes it's over before you realize it's over; this is okay. Settle in for a long one -- conclusion post incoming.

Before I begin, I want to thank everyone for their support over the past 4 or so months of this journey. Deciding to walk away from your regular life into the wilderness for months at a time isn't easy, and having the verbal, emotional, and tangible support of friends and family helped make this a doable feat. You are all very much appreciated.

As stated in my previous post, I did in fact return to the trail and hiked for 2 days and about 20 miles before hopping off again for a reunion with some long time friends. We call ourselves "The Kids Table" in a very lighthearted fashion and it's been a standing tradition to get together every year for a long weekend to catch up in person. Trail or no trail I wouldn't miss that for the world. We had an excellent weekend together, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with my friends.

When the weekend came to an end and it was time to head back to the trail, I found myself strangely reticent. An opportunity presented itself to stay off trail longer and I found myself taking it. What's more I didn't really feel any guilt for doing so. Yes the weather was good, the leaves changing making for ideal conditions out on the trail, however deep down I just didn't have the same drive to be out there that had propelled me earlier in the year. As I meditated on that over the coming days and week it became increasingly clear that while I could go back out there, it wasn't because I felt a call or drive to do so. I would certainly enjoy myself if I did, but the deeper things I wanted to experience weren't necessarily out there any more at this time for me (or so I believe). It took taking some time off, then trying to restart again for me to realize that.

So I've decided the hike is over. It's both strange and relieving. It cannot be overstated how important taking these steps and going on this fully layered physical, mental, and spiritual journey were for me. When I began this I didn't necessarily know how it would end and I think that's a lot of what made it special. I was free to walk and explore as long as I needed to. It turns out that was 735.5 miles from Virginia to Connecticut. There were incredible days, tough days, meeting all kinds of people from all different walks of life, deep introspection, and a certain focus on being present for all of it. Because of that leaving now feels like it would be the same as leaving a month from now, or even a month prior. I got and gave what I needed on the Trail.

Now I'll be the first to say that I don't have everything figured out. I didn't really go into this quest with that kind of expectation. Life continues to move for us all and while incredibly unique and formative, hiking was not the end-all-be-all. I will continue to "walk" even though it won't be on the Appalachian Trail.

I'm sure people will want to know where I will live and what I will do now that the trail is done. While I have some ideas (either discovered or reinforced from the trail), I don't have anything I'm ready to commit to yet. I think I want to explore this liminal state a bit more before fully re-entering the world I left. There are some wonderful people helping me do this. I am not deluding myself though, this state will end as all liminal states do. I can only hope to be ready for it when it does.

Like all good things, I guess that means the end of this blog too. To my surprise it's actually been fun keeping up with the posts. I'm not much of a natural journaler, but I've found it to be helpful in organizing my experience out here. Hopefully you've gotten some enjoyment and edification out of it as well; thank you for coming along on my journey. I look forward to seeing where my path leads from here. Drop me a line sometime, I'd love to chat about it -- the end is never really the end.

Happy Trails,



Strangers -- City and Color: https://youtu.be/_lDPxeiXzvs?si=g9qGlyargJ_rzQ_c

I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) -- The Proclaimers: https://youtu.be/aJ9usrpAPao?si=SueBAFYiZoAFY6jL

State of Grace (acoustic) -- Taylor Swift: https://youtu.be/D3mJe28un4M?si=KuQ-RHog2BT1WZqv

The Other Side -- Geographer: https://youtu.be/8hqAH11cbrs?si=QrzeKjc1hEsO0nGt

Intermission Recap

Hey folks, stepping back in here. Sorry for the delay, my 2 week break turned into 3. My legs were feeling much better, but I ended up needing to run some more errands, plus I came down with a minor cold for a couple days. I'm back in the trail as of today, but I figured I'd give a brief rundown before we get back to trail business.

The following Sunday after the baseball game L.J. kindly dropped me off in Gettysburg where I was able to hang out with my mom and her friend Lindsay. We got to check out some of the Gettysburg sights, and I've got to say it's a really nice town in addition to all of the history there. We got to watch some Band of Brothers too which I hadn't seen before and really enjoyed.

Went back to Bedford with Mom and then jetted off to the beach. I usually have a yearly impulse to get to the ocean, and coming from the mountains it was a really nice contrast. Unfortunately the surf lessons I wanted to take got washed out because of high riptide, but I did get to do some swimming the day prior. I also got to cook up some tasty fish both nights which was a real treat. Got out of town just in time to avoid the tropical storm that spun up off the coast. A short and sweet trip.

A large portion of my time was spent visiting with people. I drove around to Northern Virginia, Maryland, Harrisonburg, Roanoke, and Central Virginia hanging out with friends and family. Some highlights include: a housewarming party, meeting newborn Adrian, fire pit at the parent's house, double-date Thai, hiking (yes, more!) Devil's Marble Yard, a nostalgic evening at Windsor Rd having dinner and playing Magic like the old days, and of course seeing people in person. Being a woods hermit is cool and all, but you definitely start to miss people.

It was great seeing everyone, and if I didn't get a chance to meet with you this time let's make sure to get together once I'm back from the second leg here! I'll begin my usual cadence here again with regular trail updates coming. It feels good to be back out here again, stayed tuned.



Random Thoughts -- Nappy Roots: https://youtu.be/ulZb00fhlgM?si=v-30KDqIXDFugXyI

Dirty Cigarettes -- Beach Slang: https://youtu.be/r6zfAlzZOxI?si=t31WmqesO1SCz5le

Yours -- Now Now: https://youtu.be/ahs7l3irsG0?si=L9sEAtpnLqE9f1r9

Reflecting Light -- The Avalanches: https://youtu.be/GAPlnoeEcH0?si=whB80DSwj641gHkL

Break My Heart -- Living Legends: https://youtu.be/bZkLGAxDv2U?si=HDG4pysl-k9xIZXN

Saw You In a Dream -- Hidden States: https://youtu.be/wq3dXNmpcZg?si=ZhN94zPOeqTpRvPt


Well folks, we've hit my intermission point for this journey. I've done about 1/3 of the trail so far and this felt like a good point to pause. I'm going to be taking a couple weeks off to rest up a bit. Overall I'm feeling good, but my knees have been showing some wear so I think it's prudent to let them recuperate some before heading back out.

It's also a good opportunity to visit with friends and family. I'll be driving around to various places so if you have some free time let me know and I'm happy to drop by for a bit and share some of my trail stories and findings. The plan is to resume the trail October 3rd or 4th and then press on as long as I can before weather or finances ultimately prevent me from going further. If I'm lucky, I can get the southern 3rd done by Christmas. We shall see!

Since this is a trail blog, I probably won't update much in the interum, but definitely expect a wrap up post before I begin hiking again in a couple weeks. Looking forward to cooler, bug-free Virginia fall with plenty of colors! See you then.


Days 108-109 "Road Series"

NB 1472.1

Total Accrued Miles: 717.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 48

Hikers Met: Pika, Vincent, Spruce, Redwood, TwoRight, Rodrigo, Chaps, Knowledge, Gary

I hiked 700 miles to go to a baseball game. More on that in a minute though.

The past couple days have been immaculate -- really amazing weather and the hiking has been top notch. I couldn't ask for a better couple of days to finish off the Mid-Atlantic section of the trail here. I've hit my mile goal for this stretch too and on top of that it feels to good to knock out New York state. Since Bear Mountain was closed I'll have to come back at some point and get those 4.7 miles, but I figure I can do that in a few years when I start tackling New England.

Despite it being fairly quiet out on the trail here recently, I've gotten to meet and hang out with quite a few people in the past couple days. I met Pika at the Bull Bridge, a covered bridge where we chatted for a bit then decided to grab lunch at a convenience store. She was going Sobo and since I'm Nobo (for now) we shared some info about the respective sections we just crossed. The convenience store had frozen Indian meals which was a nice treat and a good way to shake up my diet some. We also chatted with a local Ridgerunner about trail things. All in all a good morning.

As stated the hiking and weather were great. Some moderately challenging hills and nice cruise-y secitons coupled with the cool temps made the hours fly by. I met another day hiker out there and ended up giving him a bunch of tips on backpacking. He's been strongly considering it for a while and I hope he gets the chance to do it. Shout out to Rodrigo if you're reading this!

Got to my last shelter here for a bit and sure enough there were more hikers there. One was a former thru-hiker and now runs a backpacking tour and coaching service. Another guy Chaps was former military and doing some sections here for a few weeks and working on a book. I think I've talked a bit before about the trail network out here, but it's really interesting and cool how people know people out here, and how almost none of us actually use our real names. Chaps knew Pika from earlier and as it turns out, she actually knows Scout! I met Scout back down in VA and it was cool to hear about someone I met so many miles and weeks ago. Scout, if you're reading this keep it up and Pika says hi!

At Knowledge's suggestion I put up my tarp before bed; not because of rain, but because of wind. Hurricane Lee offshore wasn't supposed to bring too much inland, but the winds were elevated and I'm glad he mentioned it. The nights are getting cooler too so having the rainfly up to block the wind helped keep the temperatures in the hammock more comfortable.

Took my time and enjoyed my coffee at camp the following morning while chatting with the guys from last night who were also taking it easy. Eventually we parted ways and I hiked the short distance down the road and another mile into town in Kent, CT for my scheduled pickup by L.J. Got some more coffee and a lox bagel from a cafe and swung by the bookstore in town to kill some time until he got there. Everything was really good and Kent seems like a neat little town. I'll have to explore more when I come back next time.

L.J. arrived and we proceeded to head back south. It's pretty wild watching the miles fly by that took you weeks to hike. Heading back to civilization, it was imperative I grab some non-trail (aka clean) clothes and most importantly, a shower. As we discovered, getting a shower on the road without renting a hotel room is kind of difficult. After a couple tries we found a truck stop without a ridiculous wait time, and I was mercifully able to clean up and change into my new wardrobe from a local Macy's.

Necessities taken care of, we headed on down to Baltimore. It just so happened that L.J. had tickets to an Orioles game that night and being fans, we headed on down to Camden Yards. I've mostly given up watching sports over the years, but I've always been drawn back to the timelessness of baseball. The experience at the park is really nice too and a great way to spend an evening. Camden Yards in Baltimore is beautiful and the O's put on a heck of a show going 8-0 on the day with some spectactular pitching. An excellent day out at the park.

Going from being out in the woods into a major city was also quite an experience. The sheer contrast was a bit mind-blowing, and not something I experienced before. Definitely something I'll be remembering for a while.

Major kudos to L.J. for coming to pick me up and for going to the baseball game. It's been great seeing friends and family out on the trail and you definitely "went the extra mile".

Check out the next post for the updated plan for the next few weeks and trail ahead.



Running Red Lights -- The Avalanches: https://youtu.be/nsjQ3Gblzys?si=x5QX6Ur_wKdLteWe

Days 106-107 "Escape From New York"

NB 1463.0

Total Accrued Miles: 708.0

Total Mountains "Overed": 48

Hikers Met: Mayqueen, Lemonhope, Dan, JustRose

Snake Plisskin here again, hiking my butt out of another crappy state. Like the John Carpenter movies I'm riffing the Escape from New York is better than the Escape from L.A. (or in my case P.A.). The closer I get to the Connecticut border things start to improve. Still lots of trash, road walking, and poorly maintained trails though and I am very happy to be moving on. Some days I'm literally walking on broken glass.

It's not all bad though. Stayed at the Telephone Pioneers Shelter one night and was able to see a pretty spectacular sunrise right from my hammock. Another deli sandwich or two have helped things along as well. The weather is drying up here too, and taking the heat along with it, leaving some beautiful cool weather. I also got to see the Dover Oak -- the oldest oak tree on the AT. Over 20 feet in diameter around the trunk, and at over 300 years old, it was definitely something to see. Click on today's picture for a better look. A lovely old tree and I spent a bit of time visiting with it and checking it out.

The last 10 miles or so have been mostly forgiving. Coming down from the Telephone shelter I crossed another boardwalk over some pretty swampland. At the the end the trail actually crossed a region rail line, which I'd consider using if L.J. wasn't coming up in a couple days to retrieve me from New England. There was also a lawn and garden center at a crossroads that had some useful supplies I needed to get through the next few days. I've been stretching my rations to avoid having to go into town and the cliff bars, dehydrated meal, soda, and fresh water were all needed.

The last 1.5 miles into Connecticut were what you'd expect from this state. The bridge over the brook was out (and apparently has been for some time), yet NY state doesn't care enough to replace it. The alternative is a fairly dangerous road walk around the area, and was definitely not pleasant. I made it thought, and was very pleased to cross the border. It's very evident immediately as the trail on the CT is very manicured and even had some nice gravel walkways as I entered the state. The forests seemed to be in a better state too and reminded me some of Virginia, making me a bit homesick. Looking forward to seeing it soon and hiking the bigger mountains again.

Got to camp and met this very nice elderly duo named Dan and JustRose. They're a brother and sister from Vermont section hiking the 40 miles of Connecticut. They're well into their 70's, but doing the same or more miles than me on any given day. They've hiked a bunch of New England already, and it was cool to hear their experiences. I was very impressed by their fitness and it just goes to show you that if you take care of yourself you can accomplish things at any age. We chatted for a couple hours after dinner, and I finally turned in for the night. A couple more days here and I'll be going on break!



Walking on Broken Glass -- Annie Lenox: https://youtu.be/y25stK5ymlA?si=aNTu-gHTd0Ry18le

Drive That Fast -- Kitchens of Distinction: https://youtu.be/D5xOXZxC0jY?si=U33FxH3Jckm52GQa

Days 102-105 "Deli Blazing (With a Heavy Side of Rain)"

NB 1442.4

Total Accrued Miles: 687.4

Total Mountains "Overed": 47

Hikers Met: Max, Hendrix, Mr. Freeze, Cardinal

Yep, the rains are here. I do think I prefer it to the reckless heat that's been so oppressive. I don't mind hiking in rain, at least for a few days. Mornings have been dry too, which helps with getting camp packed up. Night are wet, but my rain fly keeps the hammock nice and dry, even in a downpour.

Said goodbye to Chris, left Bear Mtn Motel, and proceeded to hike across the Hudson River. One of the bigger crossings I've done, and this one was pretty far up! Made it across safely and hiked on up the mountain. New York still isn't great, but things are improving the further away I get from the city.

One nice thing about the state however is the amount of delis located at or near road crossings. Packing out a fresh Italian sub and chips for dinner later in the evening really lifts the spirits. Not to mention cold drinks to cool off and a place to rest before moving on.

One not nice thing about the stretch is the mosquitos. For the vast majority of my travels these past 3 months, bugs haven't been bad at all. Queue NY though, where they are downright aggressive here. Probably a combo of the summer heat and rain, but they really have been a problem. Long sleeves and pants help, but for the past few nights I've been running to the safety of my hammock (w/ bug net) to escape the onslaught.

Speaking of road crossings, towards the end of the day I crossed a no name road in the middle of nowhere and a guy asked if I had seen a group behind me. Turns out he was looking for Chris and his wife (Chris's sister) who were hiking behind me. He gave me some water and snacks while we waited, and sure enough they showed up about a half hour later. It was nice bumping into them again.

One last thing to report for this stretch -- shelter pizza delivery. You read that right. A couple nights later I was staying at the RPH shelter with a hiker named Cardinal a retired SoBo heading the other way through NY. Reading the shelter log it appeared the local pizza joint would deliver to the shelter. Sure enough and hour later we were chowing down on cheese pizza and wings. A lot of days out here are "roughing it", but it was a nice treat to have hot food sent out on the trail.

Only a couple more days in New York here, then a little stretch of Connecticut before ending my northern section of the trail here and going on hiatus for a couple weeks. Looking forward to it.



Third Eye -- Florence and the Machine: https://youtu.be/e67laA_11NM?si=0ydkr0dEahigaRC3

Ramble On -- Led Zeppelin: https://youtu.be/EAmIuTI4wRg?si=pmpK94L10tsVPlOX

Days 98-101 "Breaking Points"

NB 1408.0

Total Accrued Miles: 653.0

Total Mountains "Overed": 45

Hikers Met: House, Chris

Oh my, the heat is here. I knew I was getting off too easy without some summer wrath. It's been in the upper 80's this week with the heat index into the 90's and man it takes its toll. I make sure to stay stocked up on water and it means taking more breaks and doing less miles. One day I only did 1 mile of hiking before stopping for the day.

Morale has been low too, to the point where I considered quitting the northern leg early on a day going through the "Lemon Squeezer". Talked with a friend though and that helped a lot to reframe it for me. It would really be nice to knock out New York and finish up the Mid-Atlantic here on this part of my journey. A few more days and it would cool off anyway.

So I kept going, and I'm glad I did! That very day I met House again. I had met him for the first time all the way back in VA near The Priest, and sure enough that day he was hiking Sobo after flipping up to Maine a couple months ago. It was nice seeing a familiar face from earlier in my journey and it brought back some memories.

It's sad to say, but the trail here in NY feels very.... neglected. Like they ran it through the garbage parts of the state and didn't bother with the trail maintenance. There's hardly any wildlife here, no deer to speak of and I don't even think I've seen squirrels. A lot of the trees are dead too. I guess it's the proximity to the city, but I came out here for communion with nature so it's been somewhat jarring. It's part of the AT though and it won't always be beautiful out here. As I get away from the city it seems to be improving somewhat at least.

Arrived in Bear Mountian, NY after skipping the aforementioned mountain itself. I heard from other hikers that it was closed, and sure enough there was orange netting blocking off the AT with "Extremely Dangerous" signs posted. I hate having to miss sections of trail, but it's not worth risking my life on washed out sections that are patently unsafe. Since I'm coming back up north somewhere in the future, I'll swing though and grab those 4.7 miles I missed. Hopefully they can repair that section of trail in the next year or two.

Stayed at the Bear Mountain Motel where I met "Grandpa", the surly but nice caretaker. He told me about the rainstorm in July that washed everything out, and based off what he told me I'm really glad I decided to skip that section! Got some good rest that night and the next day I met another hiker named Chris who offered to split his room with me. Faced with another hot day, I decided to take him up on the offer of a half price room and enjoy the 0 day in AC.

He's from Philly and recently quit his job to hike up to New Hampshire where he bought a house recently. We chatted about gear and he picked my brain a bit about my trail experience so far. It was a nice chill day (literally) and a nice break from the heat.

Thankfully the heat will leaving in a couple days, but at the cost of rain and thunderstorms. At this point I think I may prefer it. Onward and outward!



Mary -- Big Thief: https://youtu.be/G5OV1JPqlNQ?si=WFlloaYUiOmrIhKY

Heaven Knows What -- Holy Ghost! : https://youtu.be/YjR6OLQqhTU?si=yWXp8kb-kuqxr53Z

Idiot Heart -- Sunset Rubdown: https://youtu.be/xnnuGZ3QKgM?si=p0yJRZFhxtAhlSRS

Day 95-97 "New York New Challenges"

NB 1388.2

Total Accrued Miles: 637.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 42

Hikers Met: B Minus

Trail Magic from: Greg

Hiked the last 6 miles out of New Jersey, and sure enough it really was a nice hike through this state. Near the border some bigger rocks started to appear with the actual state line crossing being over one big boulder. This would be a taste of what was to come.

So far there's been a lot of up and down over boulders in New York. They've thankfully been mostly manageable, but they're certainly stretching and taxing me. Here in NY they're much more frequent, where in Pennsylvania the scrambles were less frequent, but much more intense. The NY trail is mostly dirt though and that is definitely an improvement from PA. I miss NJ though.

Water has also been a challenge here. Sources are common enough, but many are stagnant or if they are moving have a dirty brown color to them. I run it through my gravity filter as always, but I'm finding myself tossing a chemical tab in as well to be safe. No issues so far, but I miss those clear springs from other states.

That does bring me to some trail magic. A kind man name Greg stocks ice water 2-3 times a day on one of the road crossings in a bucket. I happened to catch him on one of his refills and I tell ya, I appreciate his dedication. That cold water is amazing now that it's heating up out here. He even let me pack out an ice bottle that kept me cool through the afternoon, it was quite a treat.

Speaking of treats, one of the road crossings had a hot dog stand and a creamery with local ice cream. Both were excellent. "Top" who runs the dog stand is former military and it was nice chatting with him a bit while he made my hot dogs. The creamery had a water spigot and charging station for hikers which was also a boon.

Mosquitos have been more aggressive here so I'm wearing my shirt sleeves down and using my buff at times as a mask to fight them off. It's not all the time thankfully, but it's definitely a more intense bug situation than at the beginning of my journey.

Descended "Agony Grind", a particularly steep rock scramble down into town. I'm glad I got to go down rather than up it; not sure I would have made it otherwise. The cold water from Greg was also helpful in keeping me from overheating and my morale up. Got down and caught a Lyft ride into Tuxedo, NY. The driver and I chatted about manual cars on the way. Hers was a Subaru and I was shocked they still manufactured them in stick shift. Lodging for the night was at the Tuxedo Motel, a real throwback. I think time forgot it, but AC, shower, laundry, and phone charge (4 of the 5 town requirements) were met so I won't get down on it. Rates were reasonable too. Had a calzone for dinner from a local joint and rested up for the night to get ready for the heat wave coming in the next few days.



Chances -- Cloquet: https://youtu.be/r-t2FumLLJY?si=DeFXPQlQjrmb9SMw

Don't Take the Money -- Bleachers: https://youtu.be/XEeJM6Rewz8?si=pADoDFYcQHWou6Gb

Days 93-94 "New Jersey I Hardly Knew Ya"

NB 1363.8

Total Accrued Miles: 613.5

Total Mountains "Overed": 40

Hikers Met: Larry Bird, Papa Ski, Nina (the dog), U.B.

Last two full days here in New Jersey, and I can't believe I'm saying it, but it's been and downright pleasant experience. The stuff near the city may get a bad rap, but the more rural section the trail runs through is quite nice.

Flew through miles to get to Unionville, NY (you dip over the border briefly) for my resupply package. Grabbed pizza and ice cream in town and let my phone charge a while before heading out back into NJ and crossing through the Wallkill Wildlife refuge. There were a ton of cool birds and scenery there! If you're ever in the area I'd highly recommend, not to mention it's free. Climbed up Pochuck Mountain and made it just before dark. Got to catch a pretty rad sunset before getting in the hammock for the night.

Next day I was a little tired, but I cruised along alright. Covered a few miles with some boardwalk over swampy ground. I've seen a few before, but never this long or sophisticated -- there was even a suspension bridge. The swampland was actually nice too with some pretty views and plants.

Swung through Vernon, NJ and grabbed some ice cream and cider donuts at Heaven Hill Creamery (I'm sure you can see a trend here). I met a family from Williamsburg up visiting for a wedding and it was nice to chat about VA things for a bit. Full of ice cream I climbed the "Stairway to Heaven" as the locals call it which is about a 1000 ft gain of rocks to a decent view of the valley. A bit challenging, but I felt pretty competent after 600 miles. Met a climber named U.B. who I hiked with for a while. He's a retired Aviation Engineer for GE and we got along well for the couple hours we hiked together. He was finishing up his section that day and heading home so we parted ways before I set up camp for the night. A shame we couldn't hang out longer, but that's how it goes.

Tomorrow it's on to New York!


Time -- Pink Floyd: https://youtu.be/yl-Ms_ek-kE?si=77tR_8jmuYkVSMBs

Under the Boardwalk -- The Drifters: https://youtu.be/EPEqRMVnZNU?si=TJZxPeWLX91YKqBI

Stairway to Heaven -- Led Zeppelin: https://youtu.be/xbhCPt6PZIU?si=kRZ1neIKd5-MXmKd

Days 90-92 "Variety is the Spice (of the trail)"

NB 1342.2

Total Accrued Miles: 591.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 39

Hikers Met: Whittler, Loki, Olaf (the dog), No Joke, Reset

Trail Magic from: Anonymous Roadside Cooler

Really sliding through New Jersey here. There's a lot of variation on any given day, and that's been a welcome change. Sure there's some rocky sections, but they're interspersed with dirt trail and nice cruisey sections that make for a really pleasant experience most of the time. Lots of healthy flora and fauna too. Even the bigger rocks are mostly flat and pretty easy to traverse. The weather has been downright nice for August as well with minimal rain and highs in the high 70's. If I were to nitpick one thing there's been some PUDS (Pointless Ups and Downs), but they haven't been too bad. You make your peace with not always getting views out here and appreciating the more humble aspects of the trail. Bugs haven't been bad aside from one section with some aggressive mosquitos. I was able to make a decent mask with my buff and by rolling my sleeves down I was able to soldier through.

Due to a post office delay on my resupply package I had to spend an unaccounted for zero. There was a park near the shelter I was camping at so I hiked the mile back and layed out near the High Point lake beach and was able to grab a shower which felt great. It's at the highest point in NJ here, hence the name. Not much else to report aside from a thunderstorm one night and on a different night I thought I heard animal at camp, but I didn't see anything and nothing was amiss in the morning so no harm no foul there.

Also, plans are solidifying for the end of this section of my journey. I'll be doing my best to get through New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut in the next 2 weeks before being escorted back down south. I'll probably take a week or two off to rest up, then God willing head south from Bedford and try to tackle as much as I can of the southern part of the trail the remainder of the year. Will keep you guys posted.


As It Was -- Harry Styles: https://youtu.be/H5v3kku4y6Q?si=Vc_2eedYqXkICrPp

Summer Didn't Change a Thing -- White Lies: https://youtu.be/Q1uDtq4XtR0?si=tIJB5hFwUFj3DwsL

Everybody Lost Somebody -- Bleachers: https://youtu.be/vq_eOM8h4TM?si=Tj6inOfd1rV_JFse

Days 87-89 "New Adventures in New Jersey"

NB 1319.9

Total Accrued Miles: 569.6

Total Mountains "Overed": 37

Hikers Met: Charlotte, Anna, Matthew

Trail Magic from: Hoot

Made it! Had breakfast with the other hikers and some more coffee at Mystical Mug before getting out of town. Hiked down to the river and proceeded to cross the I-80 bridge over the Delaware River and into New Jersey. A lot of it is psychological, but it sure feels good to be out of Pennsylvania. Also, it means I've officially completed over 1/4 of the whole AT by miles! Pretty cool.

New Jersey has been pretty decent so far. Sure, there's some stretches like PA, but there's far more variety here and helps to break up the monotony. Mostly grey weather, but not much rain to have to contend with thankfully. Along the way I met a Ridgerunner named Hoot out here working for New Jersey parks and the ATC. Ridgerunners are paid professionals that go along the trail and trim brush back and help maintain sections and report issues.

Hoot was finishing up for the day and invited me to hike down with her for some trail magic soda and sandwich at her car. It was really nice of her and I was thankful for the food and drink. We chatted for a while and I eventually hiked on. On the way across the ridge I had my second bear encounter of the trip. Mom and 2 cubs off in the distance. They heard my bell and ended up scurrying off thankfully. I passed a couple hikers camping up there and made sure to pass along the info and to suggest making sure to do a proper food hang that night.

My detour to hang out with Hoot and seeing the bears put me a little behind schedule so in order to get water and get to camp I had to use my headlamp some, but no issues thankfully. New Jersey is only about 70 miles of trail, but we're off to a good start!


Age of Anxiety -- Arcade Fire: https://youtu.be/IEh4Vfzow5U?si=MfMv85tG1Uy3yZx6

Days 85-86 "Escape From P.A."

NB 1297.6

Total Accrued Miles: 547.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 36

Hikers Met: Joe, Wheels, Bottles, Stitch

Call me Snake Plisskin, I'm almost out of here. Made it through to Delaware Water Gap which is a boring name for a town, but in practice is actually pretty nice. It's also right on the border of New Jersey so I am just over a mile away from leaving this state behind.

Got an early start to the day and was able to make pretty good time. There was even a rock scramble, but it wasn't too bad and the goal was in sight. Water has been tight this stretch, but thanks to another hiker named Joe from Crozet, VA I ran into we discovered a working pump which made the last 5 miles much easier. Lots of rocks on the way into town, but there was mercifully a nice 2 mile stretch of fire road that was easy to traverse. Standards are low at this point.

Got into town and checked into the local Church of the Mountain hostel for a much needed shower and some food at the local pizza shop. Got to chat with some other SoBo hikers staying there to get an ideas of the trail ahead, then we all turned in for the night.

The next day was forecasted to be rainy, thankfully I had already planned on taking the Zero. I've been going for 2 weeks straight since I took my last one and it was definitely due. Got to sample to local coffee at the Mystical Mug which was excellent and do some reading with excellent rainy day coffee shop vibes. I also got a nap in and stopped by the local bakery for their $5 apple pie and hot dog combo -- excellent!

The SoBo hikers stayed too so we hung out some more as well and swapped trail talk. The hostel was a great place to spend the extra day. Tomorrow I make my escape complete across the Delaware!



Roundabout - Yes: https://youtu.be/DwPWGUhEtP0?si=Y-QekxhspuBcxD9l

Days 83-84 "Wear and Tear"

NB 1287.5

Total Accrued Miles: 537.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 35

Hikers Met: Big Agnes

Back to hiking solo and slogging it out in the home stretch here. More rocks, more ankle and foot pain. My shoes are taking a beating too, whole sections are shorn off in places. Lots of spider webs on this stretch too. On the plus side it means less other bugs, but man I must have had to brush off about 2 dozen webs from my face and arms. Usually it's only 1 or 2 a day.

I also had the buckle in my hip belt break after a particularly twisty step down. Surprisingly it still clips, despite missing a whole wing piece. Kudos on Osprey for making a durable piece of equipment that still functions even in a degraded state. I talked to their support as well and they're going to send me a new one ASAP.

Crossed Wind Gap, the first of the last 2 gaps before leaving this state. For you city folks a gap is simply a lower elevation "gap" in the mountains where roads usually cross and occasionally there are towns. For me it means going down about 1000 feet and then immediately climbing up 1000 feet or so again shortly after (sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less). Next will be the Delaware Water Gap and crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey. I'm counting it down.

While grabbing a lunch break in Wind Gap I saw a guy running by. I said hi briefly, but he was booking it. Come to find out he was actually Kristian Morgan, an ultrarunner going for the AT FKT (Fastest Known Time). I looked him up and yeah he's running 50+ miles every day to try and finish the trail in a little over 40 days. As a hiker I can only imagine what it's like to do something that intense. People really are incredible. You can follow him live on his website here: https://www.kristianultra.com/

Stay tuned, soon you can look forward to me complaining about NJ instead of PA :)



Die Young -- Sylvan Esso: https://youtu.be/5Gh8hdjcU4E?si=iWiQ0ssTmcRXYDwt

Day 82 "Redemption"

NB 1269.5

Total Accrued Miles: 519.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 35

The power of friendship. I had only known Matt for a few days, but we've become fast friends. After I got back and told him the ordeal, he suggested we try slack packing the section with the help of the local shuttles. I hadn't considered this and it sounded like a good plan. "Slack packing" is a trail term for hiking the AT, but without all of the extra gear. Think of if you were going out for a hike for a day, you'd pack some water and a few snacks but probably not much else. That's essentially it. It's easy by definition, but difficult or expensive to do in practic for thru hikers as it involves hiring someone to drive your gear up trail and meeting them at a designated location. With Matt splitting the cost though it seemed feasible and going over the mountain more doable. We were able to schedule the ride for the next day with a local lady.

The next morning we had a quick breakfast, then arrived at our pickup location. Our shuttle lady was kind of a Karen, but mostly okay. She insisted dropping us off about about a 1/3rd of a mile away from where we wanted, but we figured it wasn't worth arguing over. I left my pack in her car and she agreed to meet us about 5 miles (as the crow flies) in Danielsville.

Nervous, I set out again. This time was different though. Less weight on my back, and really having Matt along made all the difference. We chatted about all kinds of things from Star Trek to Lord of the Rings, religion, our families, and the things we didn't like about PA. It really made the distance fly by.

We got to the rocks again and begun the climb. I was pretty nervous after yesterday's events, but Matt was encouraging and things went well until we hit my wall again. He agreed that it looked too tall to climb. We took in the view a bit. It was then Matt decided to scout out a section to the side. Sure enough, he found a way around the wall. It was only visible if you were coming from the other direction! There was no marker for NoBo hikers. Matt got lucky and happened to spot the SoBo marker. I wouldn't have found it and I'm glad he hiked around to check.

The climb after was still scrambling over rocks, but this was doable. We finally made it off the rocks and back to regular trail. We had 4 miles to go before our pickup and honestly it's some of the nicest trail I've seen here in PA. We had to work for it, but we finally had some flat, rock free (mostly) trail with some nice views and forests to walk through. The nice trail coupled with the company made the miles fly by and before we knew it we were at the meetup.

Matt had to head home so he caught a ride back with the shuttle lady. We said a heartfelt goodbye and I reclaimed my pack and pushed on for a few more miles.

I'm incredibly grateful for Matt's support in coming along. I was feeling incredibly defeated yesterday and thanks to his help I was able to push past my fears of failure and keep my continuous streak of trail alive. Thanks Matt!

Home stretch now. 2 more gap crossings and I'll be out of this state. I can't wait.


One More Try -- Joey Dosik: https://youtu.be/QGYShHJ7GHM?si=2BCN9cn6ttIRJM3b

Day 81 "The Wall"

NB 1261.4

Total Accrued Miles: 511.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 34

I had a feeling weeks ago, like a deep down gut impression that Pennsylvania was going to metaphorically break me somehow. There hasn't been anything out of the ordinary hiking wise, but the idea has been living in the back of my mind for a few weeksa and I haven't been able to shake it. And sure, up until now there have been some difficult days, but nothing showstopping...until today that is.

Hung out with Matt and had leftover pizza for breakfast, before saying goodbye and heading up the trail. He was going to take a 0 in town and rest up since his feet were bothering him. I took the same "winter trail" out of town and back to the AT where I started my ascent out of Lehigh Gap. Weather was clear and cool thankfully, and the usual out of town climb presented itself. I slogged up the steep slopes in my usual fashion, and for about 2/3 of the way up it was tough but doable.

As I got further up though the rocks got progressively more and more steep to the point where hand over hand climbing was required. Scaling the 5-10 foot sections was okay, if not that fun. The pack makes balancing difficult and carrying the extra weight means you better be damn sure where you put your feet and hands to secure yourself. Not to mention I'm carrying an extra 4 liters of water because the next stretch doesn't have reliable water sources. Thanks, PA.

Going up further things get progressively worse. I had to do a 20 foot section of even steeper climbing and hauling myself and the pack meant pushing myself mentally and physically harder than I can recall in a very long time. Finding purchase proved exceedingly difficult and near the top I had to take a leap of faith to get to the final foothold. I made it though and hauled myself to one of the few relatively flat surfaces. Exhausted, I set the pack down and tried to collect myself because looking up there were still rocks to scramble up.

After about a half hour I still wasn't fully confident in pushing on, but faced with the only options of going on or going back I went on. The next section had great views of the surrounding valley, but as a result was very exposed with steep angled rocks to try and get over.

I continued up, trying to follow the limited blazes until I hit it. The wall. A literal, phyical, rock wall in this case, but it works metaphorically too. The way forward appeared to be climb up over a boulder that was taller than me and no way to get a foot up to even attempt to go over. I could barely risk it sans pack, let alone with 40 pounds of unbalancing weight. I'm not a rock climber, just some idiot that decided to walk a whole lot of miles. Perched up there exposed and doing my best to just keep balance I knew I couldn't go on. I came to the realization quickly, and knew it in my bones. The trail isn't worth dying over and the right call was to turn around.

Out in the wilderness though, quitting doesn't mean you're done. I was still perched on a rock 1000 feet up in the air and had to get back down before I could relax. I slowly and methodically slid down to my previous rock where I took the break before. I rested up some more and being resolute in my decision I started heading down the rest of the way.

For the really steep sections I climbed up earlier there was no way to descend safely with the pack. This meant letting my pack and poles drop the 20 feet or so and then me climbing down after them. Rinse and repeat a few times. I'm very fortunate in that nothing broke during these drops. I then picked my way down the same climb I slogged up earlier that morning.

Defeated, I walked back into Palmerton and checked back into Bert's the diner/hostel for some food and rest. Next steps flashing through my mind, from stopping there and flipping back to VA early, to finding a way to still get the section (I'm resolved to not skip sections heading north) It's the first major setback I've had all trip and a very tough day. Thankfully Matt arrived back at the hostel and we were able to hatch a plan together. More details in the next post.


Earworm(s): None

Day 80 "Common Ground"

NB 1261.4

Total Accrued Miles: 511.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 34

Hikers Met: Matt, Copper

Hung out with the Lost Boys in the morning and had breakfast, then we said our goodbyes. Shorter day into town, and somehow mostly rock free. A couple miles even opened up on the ridge for some nice views down into the valley. Getting down to Lehigh Gap meant walking across the river over a bridge, then some road walking with some not very well blazed sections meaning I wasn't always sure where I was going. Part of the adventure I guess. I did meet a Lost Boy there named Cooper who I didn't see the night before, trying to catch up with the group. We didn't talk long, but he was cool like the rest of them and I'm sure we would have gotten along.

Found the "Winter Trail" which took me far above the highway safely into Palmerton, PA where my resupply was waiting for me. I checked into the local diner which was also my hostel for the night named Bert's. Never been to a diner/hostel before, but accommodations were comfortable enough and the price was right. Once I settled in I grabbed a pizza from a local place along with some supplemental goodies to pack out the next day.

Palmerton is one of the nicer towns I've stopped off in. They had a nice park and easy to access downtown with cute shops and a pretty lively scene. This was "sidewalk weekend" so a lot of shops had tents set up showing off their wares. I'd consider visiting again if I'm in the area.

It was just me at the hostel until another hiker named Matt arrived around 8PM. We chatted for a while that evening and it turns out we have a lot in common, from hiking philosopjy even down to our musical tastes. He's from Arkansas and working on section hiking up from Port Clinton, continuing a thru hike he started about 5 years ago. Eventually the evening wore on though and I turned in for the night in preparation for the climb out tomorrow.



Rich Girl -- Hall and Oates:

Call 719-266-2837 and choose Option 2 (it's legit, I promise)

Days 78-79 "And I Would Walk.... (ft. The Lost Boys)"

NB 1255.2

Total Accrued Miles: 504.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 34

Hikers Met: Pale Ryder, The Lost Boys (Bushwhack, Birdy, Pot Roast, Dipper, Doc, and a few others)

500 Miles! Almost hard to believe in a way. In another 50 or so I'll have done a quarter of the trail. On we go!

Reliable water sources have been harder and harder to come by in this northeastern stretch of PA. Add that to my laundry list of complaints for this state. The stream about a mile from camp was just coming out as a trickle. Thankfully my guide showed a restaurant about 4 miles up had a public spigot I could use. Fortunately easy trail getting there and I was able to fill up my 2L bags. The restaurant looked like it had good food so I decided to wait a couple hours until it opened. I strung up the hammock in their backyard and got caught up on the blog (and some sleep). Upon waking I found another NoBo hiker (a rarity these days) named Pale Ryder after the Clint Eastwood film and we chatted for a bit. Turns out he was from Akron, OH close to where I was born so we had some common ground. Food at Thunder Hill Lodge was good, as well as the service. After the early dinner I hiked on another 2 miles to a nice campsite where I got to do some reading on top of a mountain and catch a pretty sunset.

The following day was really tough. Some of the toughest rock scrambles yet, requiring some slow methodical hand over hand climbing. Difficult to say the least, especially with the large pack on. One section called "Knife Edge" was particularly perilous, and Bake Oven Knob was filled with so many boulders one could hardly deem it trail.

I made it through thankfully, but not in the best mood. On top of that, I was light on water which meant hiking an additional mile round trip off trail to the only reliable spring. I'm glad I did though, because that's where I met Bushwhack and Birdy! They were both really friendly and also stocking up on water for the rest of their crew. We chatted for a while waiting for the water to filter and they invited me to camp with them. As it was starting to get dark I decided that sounded good.

We hiked back up the hill to the trail and started setting up camp while the rest of the Lost Boys started rolling in. There were about 8 people total and everyone was super nice. We had a fire and hung out late into the evening. It had been a while since seeing friendly faces and I had a great time. They even invited me to join them, but I regrettably declined as I don't think I could keep up with their 20 miles a day they were pushing to get to Maine. A real shame, I think it would have been fun to roll with those guys. Probably the closest I'll get to a Tramily out here. I wish them well and am thankful we had a chance to meet.

Time to go walk 500 more!


Earworm(s): None

Days 75-77 "In a (very rocky) Rut"

NB 1242.7

Total Accrued Miles: 492.6

Total Mountains "Overed": 32

Rough few days heading out of Port Clinton. Thanks to this previous night's rain it was really muggy making the steep climb back up to the ridgeline difficult. Rocks were also slick and I slipped pretty badly on a steep section down later on in the day. Thankfully no injuries to myself, but one of my trekking poles suffered a pretty serious bend. It's still usable, but it's cause for concern.

The rocks continue. For a couple days here there was hardly any regular terrain. It's really taking a toll on my feet as well as my mental state. I saw an entry in the shelter log from a hiker I met back in Front Royal named Air Quotes complaining of the "Pennsylvania Blues". Most hikers complain about the "Virginia Blues" because it's such a long state, but I think I agree with Air Quotes. PA is the second longest state and between all of the rocks, tons of bugs, road crossings, frequent gunshots, and lack of birdsong, I think the PA Blues are getting to me. Thankfully I'm only about 50 miles from the border to New Jersey. Who ever thought I'd be excited to get there? Word on the trail it's a mystical land of "deli blazing". I'll update on that if/when I get there.

Oh, also had my first rattlesnake encounter. I was rock hopping along (as one is forced to do in Pennsylvania) across some pretty big rocks (5' x 5' or so on the top) and all of a sudden I heard a very loud rattling sound. I was daydreaming a bit but that snapped me out real quick and I immediately knew what I was looking at. About 7 feet away tucked under a rock was a rattlesnake waving its tail at me. I was limited in my movements because of the rock I was standing on, but I backed up as much as I could and thankfully it started to scurry away from me under the rock it was on.

That was all well and good, but thanks to the rock field, my only way out was over and through that rock with the snake. I though about waiting, but there was no way to know if the snake was crawling to or away from me since the rock field was cavernous underneath. After about 20 seconds of not seeing/hearing the snake, working up the courage, and saying a couple prayers I made a quick light jump across the rock and boogied out of there. Didn't hear or see the snake. A close call and I'm grateful it turned out alright. I went a little way up trail out of the rock field and promptly took a nap after all that excitement.

A rough few days here, but I'm resolved to keep soldiering on. Stay tuned.


Earworm(s): None

Days 74 "Candy Shop"

NB 1220.3

Total Accrued Miles: 470.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 32

Hikers Met: Opto, Zoƫ (the dog)

Headed into town today. Was able to cruise for a bit, then hit more rocks and probably my steepest descent yet down into Port Clinton. Along the way I met another hiker named Opto who was doing PA, just in the opposite direction. He hikes with a CPAP machine and carries 7 pounds in just batteries. I was impressed! That's some dedication to being out here and on top of that he was putting in some big miles.

Port Clinton is small, but charming enough. I stayed at the Port Clinton hotel for the evening which had a historic flavor like the one in Duncannon. Next door was a candy shop, so I was able to splurge on my resupply a bit with some premium gummy centipedes, trail mix, black licorice, and dark chocolate salted caramels.

Also grabbed a Lyft over to nearby Hamburg, PA for some outfitter supplies at the Cabela's. The store was huge, but they didn't actually have a good selection of the things I needed - shoe glue, cliff bars, and trekking pole caps. I was pretty disappointed. I was able make do, but the items I got were subpar (the caps didn't even make it a week). I think the store caters less to hikers and more to hunters and other outdoor "sports". On the plus side there was a Taco Bell nearby and it was nice to have a Frito Burrito for the first time in over 2 months.

Speaking of shoe glue, the Keens I got back in Carlisle are getting torn up badly on all these rocks to the point where the tread is starting to separate. The glue seems to be holding for now, but it's only been 100 miles and even with the rough terrain it's too soon for them to be falling apart. I'm disappointed in these Keens and will be looking for a different boot brand next time I swap out.

Dinner was a nice blackened salmon at the hotel, and a call with the family afterwards. A full day, but a good day and it's back at it tomorrow.


Message in a Bottle -- The Police: https://youtu.be/4m3CMTeo-nU

Fire of Mercy -- Hot Chip:


Days 71-73 "Continued Rocks and Showers"

NB 1214.9

Total Accrued Miles: 464.8

Total Mountains "Overed": 32

Hikers Met: Billy goat

Put in some decent miles the first day, but more rocks here are really putting a hurting on my feet. Today's pic should give you an idea of what it looks like out here. It's not all bad though and I was able to cruise into Eagles Nest shelter for the night.

The following day more rain came, and while it wasn't too bad, it coupled with the rocks gave me pause and I decided to take a zero. PA has kind of slogged on here and motivation has been somewhat dry.

The following day I got to chat with a SoBo hiker who stopped by camp as I was packing up. He was really friendly and it was nice to see another hiker. After packing up I moved up trail. Not much else to report, aside from the bugs at night. For some reason this part of the state has really loud bugs at night. Most of the time on the trail the wildlife sounds lull me to sleep, but these are so loud that it almost keeps me awake some nights. All the more reason to get out of PA.


Earworm(s): None

Days 68-70 "Washout"

NB 1202.5

Total Accrued Miles: 452.4

Total Mountains "Overed": 32

Hikers Met: Josh

Okay, first of the recap days. Days 68 and 69 were spent at a Comfort Inn at Pine Grove, PA. I wasn't planning on dropping 2 days right after a town stay, but when I woke up the morning of the 28th, there were severe thunderstorm warnings for the next 2 days. I went back and forth a lot but in the end decided to play it safe and stay in town.

There's not much to Pine Grove, but thankfully the hotel did have a pool to swim in. Other than that though not much to do but wait out the storms and sample the local fast food, which was the only option for food. It did storm, but not as hard as what was called for. Kind of frustrating, but not much to be done about it.

Day 70 I got up early and shuttled back to the trail by 7 hoping to make progress. I only made it a couple miles though before I had to grab a nap. Guess I needed more sleep. After that I pushed on another 5 miles, but due to some indigestion decided to call it early for the day. I'm going to blame the fast food I had the days prior. Thanfully I did find a nice little secluded site to hang up the hammock and wind down the day.


Earworm(s): None

Journey and Format Update

It's been about 2 and half months since I've set out on my journey, and what a journey it's been. In addition to the changing landscape, my experience has changed as well. Overall things are mostly good, I think I've adapted pretty well to living out here, though I've come to realize that after about 5-7 days I'm certainly ready for a few comforts like a shower, AC, and fresh food for a night. Getting a lot of time to myself, and while a lot is spent on hiking and camping logistics, there has been some good introspection as well.

So getting this out of the way: I don't think I'll make it to Maine this year. This was always in doubt in my mind, even before I left. I knew I was starting late at the end of May, and as I started hiking and feeling out my daily milleage this has confirmed what I thought.

Doing the miles has always been a secondary goal for me out here, and instead of killing myself for the sake of "getting there" I've opted for a slower pace and to try and be more present for the experience. For those that know me, it's more in line with who I am and I've been confident in my choices so far. I can't just wander forever out here though, and setting a more firm goal seems wise. Up until now, the end of the trail in Maine was a soft target just to have something, but based off of the above though, here's what my current plan is:

I definitely have to get out of PA (see later posts), but beyond that I think I'd like to push through New Jersey and New York into Connecticut or maybe even Massachusetts before flipping back down to Virginia as originally planned. That would be about 300-350 miles in the next 5 weeks which feels pretty doable, though I will be pushing myself some. That would be about 1/3 of the trail to date. I'd then "flip" back down to VA as planned. Once I get back to VA I may take a bit of time, but then likely head south and try to get the bottom 1/3 through the end of the year as previously planned.

This seems like a decent plan, with the caveat of I may just stop one day altogether. I think a lot of my primary objectives for being out here are already accomplished, so now it's really just how far id like to go. One day I'll just decide to be done, whether that's after the above plan or not. And that's okay.

Okay? Okay! Now on to the second part of the post -- the blog itself. Not being a natural blogger it's been surprisingly pleasant doing the posts; it's helped me keep track of events and it's fun sharing the experience in part with you all. Recently though, I've found it harder to keep up with the daily cadence. Coupled with that, as time has gone on there is less "new" things happening -- partly because many hikers with speedy-er legs have moved up trail, and partly just because like anything you do long enough, some of the novelty wears off.

Bearing that in mind, I think I'm going to move back to a 2-3 times week cadence. This will take some of the pressure off of me to make constant updates, but I'd still like to keep you all informed as to my comings and goings. There's still plenty of neat stuff to see and tell out here!

For now though, I have some backlog to work through so there will be some catch-up posts the next few days (I'm currently on day 76). Thanks for sticking through to the end here, I felt that some general housekeeping was in order and it feels good to get it done here. Hope everyone is well, and keep an eye out soon for the posts.


Freebie Earworm:

Walking Backwards -- Ben Howard: https://youtu.be/Lxp9S_72KaE

Just a quick check in to let ya'll know I'm alive and well. Going to be switching the style and cadence up a bit in the next few days so stay tuned for that. Overall trail is good and I'm feeling well.


Day 67 "Riverwalk"

NB 1196.4

Total Accrued Miles: 446.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 32

Hikers Met: Giddyup, Josh

Trail Magic from: Fearless

Another round of excellent continental breakfast complete with tons of eggs, bacon, sausage, and yogurt. All the protein a hiker could ask for. I didn't get packed up until 11 or so; for better or worse I've found I like to maximize my in-town sleep time. Oh, and randomly the desk clerk told me that Pharrell was staying at the hotel the same nights I was. I never saw him though so I'm not sure if it's true or not.

It was a 3 mile hike back to the AT, but I made good time. Back on the real trail, I crossed over a river with a cool bridge (today's pic) and met a couple that were hiking the trail for their 3rd time! Seems crazy, especially since I'm still very far from only completing it once. They gave me some cold Gatorade which is always welcome and I talked with them and another hiker for about 10 minutes before heading on up and out of the valley.

Still rocks today, but less ish maybe than previous days? It's all relative in PA here. Stopped a little early for my afternoon break, but then made a significant push to get to the 501 shelter. Even though I started late I was still able to cover 11 AT miles in addition to the 3 miles out of town. It was getting dark as I pulled in so I ate dinner quickly and strung up the hammock. This shelter actually has an outdoor shower, but since I just had one in town and due to the late hour I decided to hold off. Pretty cool though.


After leaving at 11


Swamp Thing -- The Chameleons: https://youtu.be/lYNHjmnlZbA

Day 66 "Laundry Day"

NB 1185.0

Total Accrued Miles: 434.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 32

Not much to report today. In light of the severe thunderstorm forecast I decided not to rush out out town and spend another night. I'm not sure if it was the right call or not, but it did give me some time to relax and take my time with chores and do other indoorsy things like watch some old episodes of the X Files and some reading as well.

Quite the robust continental breakfast at the Holiday Inn. Wendy's for lunch and dinner since it was really the only thing close. Normally I'd be worried about so much fast food, but when you're hiking most days the extra calories can actually be beneficial rather than detrimental. Also, they had a Ghost pepper chicken sandwich that was good enough to get twice. I also tried a strawberry frostee and definitely approve as strawberry is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. Looking forward to being back on trail tomorrow.


Earworm(s): None

Day 65 "Dams and Mountains"

NB 1185.0

Total Accrued Miles: 434.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 32

Got up and packed down out of my remote campsite and hiked back to the AT. Got some water at a small stream, but my filter was running slow -- perhaps a bit clogged from the stagnant stream from yesterday. Hiking wise I ended up making good time today. Aside from the annoying rocks, PA is actually pretty level so it's easy to roll as long as the ground is decent.

Took an early lunch and rested up for the remaining miles to get to the riverwalk that would take me in to town. Lunch recently has been a light affair, usually a hearty meal bar or some combination of lighter snacks. I've found that a big breakfast and big dinner seem to be the right call most of the time with lunch and snacks filling the in-betweens.

After lunch break I encountered my first beaver dam crossing. Yep, some industrious beavers clogged up a river and there were signs warning of this. In practice, there were a ton of downed trees and about 300 ft to cross of still water full of debris. The trekking poles were useful for testing the water depth, but there were some unavoidable spots where I just had to submerge my boots. Aside from wet feet, no major issues. I pulled over on the other side to towel off my feet and put on my other pair of socks which weren't exactly clean, but at least dry. Laundry in town was definitely happening.

Post dam crossing I ascended one of the few marked mountains in PA. It's been a while since I've been able to up the Overed tally as previously mentioned it's mostly neutral elevation gain for large chunks of this state. "Second Mountain" was pretty underwhelming. Lots of spiky plants, not much view, and the descent was pretty unpleasant. Consider me biased, but VA mountains are way better.

Rolled the last few miles until I got to the riverwalk, but then I still had 3 miles to go to get into town! It was mostly flat thankfully, but I was pretty gassed by the time I finally got in. Had not 1, but 2 dinners (from Burger King and Wendy's respectively -- selection was limited in Jonestown), and got to join a friend video call too. Quite the busy, full day!



Grace Kelly -- Pomplamoose (covering Mika): https://youtu.be/5b7wLP1Bmwg

Day 64 "Rambling On"

NB 1174.3

Total Accrued Miles: 424.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 31

Productive day today, was able to get 13+ miles in. No water for 6 miles, but I did a good job budgeting my supply and packed some extra in to camp last night. Got to the spring and enjoyed the deliciously cool water and a mid-day break.

After lunch I loaded everything back into the pack (I've got it down to a science now) and set out again. The next section was a steep ascent up a rocky fire road, but I made good time and was pleased with my stamina going up. I'm sure the break helped with that. Kept along to get to my next water source since there wouldn't be any at my campsite tonight either. I do my best to camp close to water sources, and most shelters do have them, but for some reason this stretch has had some issues.

Speaking of issues, the water source I got to "Rambling Run", while marked good, wasnt actually running and pretty stagnant. I didn't have any other options for sources today though (and I am loathe to go without) so I grabbed some anyway. In addition to doing my normal gravity filtration, I threw an extra sterilization tab in for good measure. It's pretty rare I have to double up on water treatment, but better safe than sorry. The tabs leave an aftertaste, but hydration pouches helped cover it up decently.

Thanks to yet more rocks, my feet and legs were complaining pretty badly toward the end of the day. In my fatigued state I ended up going off a side trail thinking it was a site. I was still able set up camp, but I got off by about a half mile before I realized my blunder and did some extra climbing to boot! Frustrating, but was grateful to crawl into the hammock and get some good sleep. Hoping to to make good miles again tomorrow into town.



Water -- Ra Ra Riot: https://youtu.be/Y-cxevaA-38

In the Evening -- Led Zeppelin: https://youtu.be/bJSJavz1AOM

Day 63 "Building Up Steam"

NB 1160.9

Total Accrued Miles: 410.8

Total Mountains "Overed": 31

Hikers Met: Sloth

Magic From: Dave

Ah, more rocks today. Thankfully no big scrambling ones at least. There were also quite a few downed trees I had to step over, step through, or step around in a lot of sections just to proceed. I don't think maintenance has been done for a while out here. One large positive is the weather has been absolutely immaculate the last few days. Low 80's and some good cloud cover. I'm hoping it holds out for at least a few more days.

Got some trail magic in the form of candy from a church group out here, everyone was really friendly. Also got a pretty good view where we met up. There's been a lack of those recently so it was nice to catch some good sights. Crossed paths with a hiker named Sloth a few times as well. He's from the UK and it was cool getting to know him a bit.

Pulled over a little early since the feet were hurting and to get a chance to catch up on the blog here, thanks for your patience. Hoping to put in some productive miles tomorrow if the terrain will let me.



Out of Sight -- Jonwayne: https://youtu.be/vMucoAUuRC4

Days 61-62 "Rocksylvania"

NB 1154.2

Total Accrued Miles: 404.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 30

Hikers Met: Pyro

Got breakfast with Katie, then she dropped me back off in Duncannon at the ice cream shop so I could resume my journey (no ice cream this time). Leaving town I crossed not 1, but 2 bridges over rivers. Definitely cool, but also kind of scary as there's traffic driving fast to your left and a steep drop off to your right down to the river.

Got across quickly, but carefully and started the 1000 foot climb out of the valley. Went well for the most part, but at the top I reached some of the dreaded Pennsylvania rocks ive been hearing about. Had to do some scrambling, and the trail is hard to figure out at times resulting in having to double back and perching precariously on rocks. Even without big rocks, the ground is still littered with medium sized ones and it takes a toll on the feet after a while.

Suffice it to say they broke my spirit a bit so I pulled over early for the day. I did get to chat with another hiker for a while so that was nice. Hoping tomorrow isnt as severe with all the rocks, but we'll just have to see.




Day 60 "Sibling Shenanigans"

NB 1149.9

Total Accrued Miles: 399.8

Total Mountains "Overed": 30

Checked out of my hotel and headed over to the Wilderlove coffee shop again to burn time until Katie arrived later in the afternoon. Coffee was excellent again and I spent a good few hours reading until they closed at 2. Afterwards I walked up town a bit to hang out in the cemetery. There have been a few along the trail so far, and I try and pull over when I have the chance for some quiet contemplation.

After an hour or so I walked to the ice cream shop for our rondezvous. Katie arrived, excitement and hugs were exchanged, and we had some of the excellent local ice cream (perhaps too much). Afterwards we drove up to the cabin we rented out for the night at the Jonestown KOA. We took some time to catch up and walk around near the creek up there. It's a pretty nice setup and we enjoyed the cabin.

Dinner was "Moose's LZ" which had some strange branding, but overall above average food -- especially for small town PA. When we got back we made a fire in the pit next to the cabin. Spent a couple hours enjoying the fire, each other's company, and some delux smores. A lovely day and it was great having Katie up to visit.



Out of the Woods -- Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift: https://youtu.be/i65kX8cnswg

Day 58-59 "Holed Up"

NB 1149.9

Total Accrued Miles: 399.8

Total Mountains "Overed": 30

Hikers Met: Matt, Panzer

Hauled 4 miles downhill over some more PA rocks into Duncannon for the next 2 days. Mental trail fatigue being high, it's nice to post up and do some reading and other mentally stimulating activities. There isn't much to Duncannon itself, but there is a cute coffee shop with excellent coffee where I spent a good amount of time. My hotel "The Doyle" is also nice. It's from the 1800's, but updated enough and comfortable while keeping the historical charm.

It works out as well since the heat wave we're having is pretty brutal and im not so proud as to turn my nose up at air conditioning during this particularly hot stretch. Food here is decent as well, and they're pretty friendly towards hikers. In addtion to reading I'm also rewathing some Venture Bros since the new/last movie just dropped. Looking forward to seeing that whenever I can.

Katie arrives tomorrow for a visit, so fun shenanigans to look forward to there. See you then.



Take it on Faith -- Matt Mays: https://youtu.be/ESRofDkmg0I

Day 56-57 "Attrition"

NB 1145.9

Total Accrued Miles: 395.8

Total Mountains "Overed": 30

Hikers Met: Chris

Slow couple of days headed out of Carlisle. Started out well, covering 5 miles across farmland in just over a couple hours. New shoes are surprisingly comfortable and havent taken much to break in thankfully. Even so, I think some of the fatigue is catching up with me, not to mention the summer heat, Pennsylvania's rocky sections, and the increase in bugs. The last 10 miles or so have been full of them.

Anyway, I think I could use a mental changeup so heading into Duncannon itll be nice to spend a few days off trail to reset while dodging the heat wave. My sister Katie is coming up to visit on Saturday so Im looking forward to visiting with her as well. I may have to dial back the posts a bit as well, but we'll see. Going to rest up a couple of days and see how I feel.


Earworm(s): None

Day 55 "Barbenheimer Pt 2/2"

NB 1132.3

Total Accrued Miles: 382.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 30

Carlisle had two places I needed to visit, REI and the bank so I decided to stay an additional day to take care errands. First was getting my pair of boots swapped out. Unfortunately the pair of Keens I got a few weeks ago have torn. I guess they were trying a new kind of design with a thin rubber material thats supposed to flex. It's not durable though and started to tear after about a week. The boots still worked for the most part so it wasn't an emergency, but it's something that still needed fixing before I saw too much rainfall/water.

REI came through with the swap, no questions asked. I ended up getting another pair of different Keens. The brand fits well on my foot and the previous pair (before the busted one) lasted a long time so I decided to give them a second chance. The new pair doesn't have the thin rubber anywhere and I'm pretty confident it was just a fluke with the last pair.

After getting the new shoes I swung by the bank and grabbed a hot dog for lunch at a Nathan's stand. On the way over I had a spirited conversation with my Lyft driver/pastor "Gospel Mike". One of the most humble and caring people Ive spoken to in a while. It was a pleasure getting to know him.

Errands done and with most of the day taken up, I went and saw Oppenheimer. Overall, I was impressed with the film. I don't know enough about the history to say how accurate it is to what we know, but it was certainly a compelling drama. It's a long movie, but even so I think some of the plot points and motivations could have been fleshed out better, maybe if they had made it a TV miniseries rather than a movie. I'd have also liked to see more of a discourse in the movie about the use of mass destruction weapons and putting such tools in the hands of fallible people. It's certainly addresses that as it haunted Oppenheimer in real life, but I'd have liked to see a bit more said about it in the film. Again though I think they were just pressed for runtime as the movie is already very long. Would recommend overall, and a good movie to see in the theater.

Not much to report after the movie, I swung by Walmart for a small resuppy and dinner since it was close and headed back to the hotel for the evening. Tomorrow's another day and will look to break in the new shoes on the trail.



Symphony of Destruction -- Megadeth: https://youtu.be/WdoXZf-FZyA

Day 54 "Barbenheimer Pt 1/2"

NB 1132.3

Total Accrued Miles: 382.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 30

Hikers Met: Avalanche, Mummy, Emerson, Jeff, Questions, Milk

Was able to get up pretty early and head out. After a couple moderately challenging hills, it was smooth sailing downhill until I hit Pennsylvania farmland. The change of scenery was nice, and kind of fun walking through the corn fields until I hit boiling springs.

Got breakfast at a cafe that was okay, but with very poor service. To their credit it was a Sunday breakfast time and they seemed a bit short staffed, but ive worked those conditions before and even so it doesnt take 15 minutes to get a drink order and another 20 to remember to come back to get a food order. I dont have a particularly tight schedule though so i tried to be patient with them. To add a bit of insult, the water spigot advertised at the old AT site was out of order. I was planning on filling up there before heading out of town, but that threw a wrench in things. Summertime is a bad time to not have the water working.

Headed up trail which cut through some not-quite-woods. Another downside of PA AT being so close to people is the sheer amount of gunshots going off. Its near constant at times and I wonder if people have anything better to do out here. Anyway, sorry for all the griping, things do get better from here!

I was feeling pretty thirsty and irritated from lack of aftormentioned water, but before i reached the next source in 2 miles I happened upon some trail magic! Some anonymous kind soul(s) had set up a tent with free cold water and other drinks with chairs! It was in the exact right place at the right time.

Refreshed, I pushed on another 6 miles into Carlisle where I was going to meet up for the movie later. Checked into my hotel, got a much needed shower, and got some Chinese food before meeting up with Emerson and crew to see the Barbie movie.

I'll try and keep it spoiler free here -- I was pleasantly entertained by it. The plot lines are about as thin as a Barbie Doll's hair, but its fun, silly, and has some actual solid content and points to it. It's certianly better than any movie based on a childrens toy has any right to be. Stayed tuned for tomorrow's Part 2 of the Double Feature.



I Miss Those Days -- Bleachers: https://youtu.be/qQy12GH1Fl4

Day 53 "Summer Rockbusters"

NB 1120.3

Total Accrued Miles: 370.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 29

Hikers Met: Avalanche, Mummy, Emerson

Still a bit groggy this morning, but overall feeling better and I think I've shaken whatever it was that was holding me down. It's been tough keeping some of the days straight, but im doing my best since I know some of ya'll are checking in regularly (and for that I'm grateful!).

Pennsylvania AT has been...okay so far. Less elevation gain and loss than other areas which can be nice, but a lot of road crossings and a fair amount of car noise at nights. Makes me miss the mountains where it was quieter and more removed. One benefit of the roads though means that it's easier to access roadside stores like Green Mountain Deli where I got a full salad and sandwhich and bumped into Avalanche and Mummy again from the night of the crazy storm.

We had lunch together and they invited me to come see the new Barbie movie tomorrow in Carlisle. Ive heard good things, and along with Oppenheimer it's one of the movies id like to see this summer. Hey the woods are great, but some nice AC and feature to watch isnt a bad way to shake it up too.

Plans made, we split and headed up the trail. Knocking out most of uphill today, with not 1, but 2 "rock mazes" which are basically mini rock scrambles. With the full pack on it was definitely a challenge and i was worn out by the time I hit camp. Going to get up early tomorrow to roll miles to get to Carlisle by the afternoon in time for the movie!



You're So Vain -- Carly Simon: https://youtu.be/j13oJajXx0M

Day 52 "Cool Treats"

NB 1109.5

Total Accrued Miles: 359.4

Total Mountains "Overed": 29

Hikers Met: HR, Whiskey

That storm last night really did a number out here. The camp I stayed at was mostly fine, but shortly after leaving there were a ton of blown down branches littering the trail.

Went about 4 miles to reach Pine Grove Furnace state park where the famed general store sells Hershey's ice cream (by the half gallon challenge for the brave -- I determined ahead of time I wasn't that brave). I get there though and turns out the storm knocked out the power to the whole area. I was still able to buy some snacks with cash, and while I was there the owner decided to give me and the other hikers free ice cream before it all melted! I got my fill of blueberry cheesecake, complements of the freak weather occurrence.

Post ice cream I stopped by the AT museum, which was alright. I didn't spend too much time there though -- I respect what they're doing, but hey I'm out here living the AT, I don't really need to see a museum about it. Plus half a mile up the road was a lake I could swim in which I definitely wanted to take advantage of. It felt really good to exercise other muscles rather than my hiking muscles, and cooling in off in the lake plus laying on the shore felt incredible.

Once I towled off I changed back into hiking clothes and hoofed it back up the trail about 4 miles. There I came across not 1, but 2 separate instances of adult, fully grown trees completely uprooted in the storm last night. Incredible to see, and a bit of a challenge to circumvent in order to progress up the trail. I'm glad I didn't camp near here last night. Thankfully the forecast is clear the next few days so if that holds there shouldn't be much to worry about.



Comeback -- Carly Rae Jepsen: https://youtu.be/CxI5C4Hel1o

Day 51 "God's Strobelight"

NB 1101.4

Total Accrued Miles: 351.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 29

Hikers Met: Wade, Mushroom, Avalanche

Slow going and still feeling a bit off in the morning, but things are improving! Chipped away at packing up camp (with a few breaks) and got moving by lunchtime. Made it a mile to water, took a break and rehydrated. Made it another 2 miles to the first shelter, and was just hungry enough for lunch. After a brief nap was feeling better and more confident so decided to push the next 6 miles to the next shelter.

It's been relatively cooler here in the low-mid 80s and with the overcast sky the weather thanfully has been much more tolerable. After talking with a first time section hikers named Wade on the way I was informed that a big storm was blowing in later, which turned out to be very fortunate considering I didn't have cell service for the past day.

Sure enough, at about 1 AM one of the wildest storms I've ever experienced (on trail or off) happened. It's hard to describe, but the lighting was near constant -- almost like a recurring strobe light. Thunder was further off so I while I was a bit worried, it was more cool than scary. A fair bit of wind and a lot of rain too, but the rainfly held up admirably staked into the ground with only very minimal dampness getting through and keeping me dry most of the night. Overall a very unique experience and cool experience.



Talking to Yourself -- Carly Rae Jepsen: https://youtu.be/9u2PPXhEelo

Daisy Bell (HAL version): https://youtu.be/E7WQ1tdxSqI

Days 49-50 "(Dis)Enchantment"

NB 1092.4

Total Accrued Miles: 342.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 29

Hikers Met: Brandy, Ben, Wrong Way, Crane

Tough couple days here. Climbing up out of Fayetteville was a slog, and I didn't feel quite right. I think I've come down with some low grade cold. Only symptoms are general fatigue and muscle soreness, but at any rate that makes hiking tough and so I only averaged 3 miles or so each day, pulling over early to try and rest.

For the first day, I stopped at what was possibly the best shelter I've stayed at so far. It was downright magical. Overall construction was great, and there were even things like potted flowers and a swing to use. If you're going to take a break somewhere, that's definitely the place. Some other hikers kept me company as well as the gnome figurines scattered about. The only downside of the whole place was the low roof and once I forgot to heed the sign (today's pic) and whanged my head pretty good. Not the best when you're already feeling a bit crummy.

Day 50 wasn't a whole lot better, but I worked up the energy and motivation to press on, for fear of being trapped at the magical fairy-tale shelter forever. I got about 3 miles again, but even with the more tolerable temperatures (low 80's) and somewhat mild terrain, my body was still feeling pretty run down. I pulled over early again at an unmarked site and set up the hammock. Not much to report after that mostly just tried not to focus on my headache or the pain too much, did a little reading where I could. There was also a small unexpected rain shower so had to scramble to get the rain fly up in time. Thanfully things didn't get too wet. Hoping for better days tomorrow.



Silly Me -- Yeasayer: https://youtu.be/PmZRaRkujHE

Days 48 "Rendezvous"

NB 1085.2

Total Accrued Miles: 335.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 29

Hikers Met: Beartracks, Brandy, Rapture (the dog), Comfort

I wasn't able to get my normal resupply package from the post office since it was on the weekend. Thanfully Soolah who runs the Sunflower Cottage offered to meet me up here at Rt 30 in PA today. Because of my short day yesterday that meant hauling 13.5 miles by 6PM to make the rendezvous.

I ended up sleeping in longer than I should have, but hey I perform better under pressure. Knocked out the missed miles from yesterday pretty fast, then slogged up a 1000 ft gain in 1 mile climb. After that it smoothed out a lot and I made good time. Broke for lunch (leftover Rocky's pizza) and even got a little power nap in.

Post lunch kept rolling pretty well until I hit some technical rock scrambles. I hear there's a bunch in northern PA, so this was the warmup I guess. I did okay, but I'm not particularly looking forward to those later on. One thing at a time though. Saw Brandy again, back on the trail after picking up her golden retriever; it was nice seeing her again. After the scramble I was pretty tired, but was able to push the remaining 2.5 miles and was right on time for my rendezvous!

Soolah arrived with package in tow and gave me a ride to the gas station so I could pick up dinner and then brought me to the church hostel where I could get out of the rain. Overall, a successful day!

Also, big shout out to my family for preparing and mailing out my resupply packages. Having them send my dehydrated meals and other essentials ahead makes a big difference and helps me out while I'm out in the wild. Thank you!



Season (Waiting On You) -- Future Islands: https://youtu.be/QbZJfutPvII

Days 47 "Welcome to Pennsylvania"

NB 1072.0

Total Accrued Miles: 321.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Longstrides, Village Tart, Handmade

Enjoyed a nice breakfast at Sunflower Cottage before being driven back to the trail. Had a persistent headache since I woke up though that wouldnt go away. Thanks to the rains last night the temps were a fair bit cooler, but muggy so the climb out of Pen Mar and into Pennsylvania proper was a slog. I got to the top with the headache still persisting and feeling overall uncomfortable so I decided to pull over and rest. Set up the hammock and took a nice long nap.

Woke up feeling better and pushed on to the next shelter. On the way I met not 1, but 2 barefoot hikers! If you think I'm crazy for hiking out here, these guys are on a whole other level. I'm not sure how they do it.

Made it to camp and chatted with a couple boy scout section hikers from Toledo before grabbing dinner and turning in early. Will be pushing more miles tomorrow to meet up with my package rondezvous.



Glory -- Young the Giant: https://youtu.be/zC-c4PGSNjI

Days 46 "The Hiker Who Smells Like Sunflowers"

NB 1067.0

Total Accrued Miles: 316.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Decided on a nice downtime to escape the heat. Had the Sunflower Cottage to myself for most of the day. Took a few naps along with Mistykoosh the sweetheart cat, watched some Futurama re-runs, and read some more of my trail book The Brothers Karamazov.

Not much else to report today, aside from an evening resupply. It's supposed to rain tonight so hopefully that'll cool things off for the next day or two. I'm definitely feeling rested and ready to tackle some more trail.



Samurai Champloo -- Intro: https://youtu.be/Eq6EYcpWB_c

Days 45 "Bear-ly Making It"

NB 1067.0

Total Accrued Miles: 316.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Beth, Hannah, Poptart, Lilo

Got up an hour earlier today, which was promising. Ended up crossing some large fields and a road. I was making good progress and was in a zone with my head down watching the terrain when I walked straight into the biggest spiderweb yet. When I looked up, I saw not 1, but 2 full sized black bears! They were a couple hundred feet away at most.

It took me a second to fully register what I was seeing. When I did though I held my ground and waited. We kind of sized each other up and I snapped today's pic, then I started slowly backing up while still facing them. One started to follow me a bit, but I remained calm and still slowly backed away with periods of stopping and eventually backed around a corner on the trail where we couldn't see each other.

I went back out to the road to regroup a bit and give the bears a chance to move on. While I was collecting myself about 10 minutes later some hikers came along. I told them about the bears, but they seemed pretty nonplussed about the whole thing. They pushed on while making some noise so I decided to tail behind figuring strength in numbers. We didn't see the bears again, which isn't surprising considering most black bears actually want to avoid people. Eventually the other hikers moved on and I continued my hike in the heat.

Honestly while it was somewhat scary, the bears acted like they're supposed to and I was safely able to disengage. A little shaken, but honestly a harmless encounter. I pressed on for another 4 miles or so until I hit a shelter for a well-deserved lunch and nap.

Post lunch I headed down to Pen Mar park and the MD-PA border. The heat is really starting to get to me day after day. I drink multiple liters of water during and at the end of the day, but even so it's tough to stay hydrated, let alone cool. Coupled with some rock scrambles a couple miles before the end and I was getting really taxed. The last mile was thankfully easy and when I got to the park I was picked up by Soolah who runs the Sunflower Cottage where I'll be spending the night. Got a large pizza and salad from Rocky's Italian and looking forward to being in from the elements for a couple nights.

Note -- For dealing with Black Bears, I'd highly recommend reading the info here from the park service. Knowing this ahead of time was crucial for me: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm



Summer Breeze -- Seals and Crofts: https://youtu.be/GQQbjpomexo

Days 44 "Heat Wave"

NB 1057.5

Total Accrued Miles: 307.4

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Brandy, Saxon (the dog), Rip

Had a good first couple hours hiking, covered a nice amount of miles. Met a hiker named Brandy that was trying for 27 miles today. I was very impressed! Even if I hit my peak, I dont think I'll be pushing those kinds of miles. To point, after speaking with her the heat of the day set in and the terrain, while technically flat from an elevation gain/loss perspective became very rocky and my pace slowed considerably. Was expecting to cruise this section, but hey you have to hike the trail that's there.

Eventually I was forced to pull over and take a long rest just to cool off and escape the heat of the day. I've kept up with my water/electrolytes pretty well, but it's an uphill battle and sometimes you just have to rest. Luckily the hammock makes that pretty easy and I found some good trees where I could relax some and give my body a break.

Post break I made a push for the next shelter. Met a guy hiking Sobo (southbound -- the opposite way) who said it was his birthday. I gave him one of my snack bars in lieu of cake and finally made it to camp where I filtered and drank a bunch of water before stringing up the hammock and joining a friend video call.

Ups and downs today, but the sustained high temps (in July, we haven't even hit August) have me concerned. I find myself dreaming of the beach sometimes in the heat of the day. What a contrast that would be!


Earworm(s): None

Days 43 "Parks and Rec"

NB 1049.3

Total Accrued Miles: 299.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

2nd day in Maryland, and I must say this is a pleasant section of AT hiking so far. There's only 40 miles here, but aside from some rocky sections it's good hiking. Hot again today, but here the humidity is only 40% -- much better than northern Virginia where it's always sweltering. Drinking tons of water (some with electrolyte powder) and taking more breaks to cool off. New shoes are broken in at this point too and that makes the miles easier.

The trail also runs through some state parks here, and one even had a shower today! I don't mind spending days out in the elements, but I certainly won't say no to a shower when offered. Solid way to spend a lunch break. The second park I hit had the original George Washington monument. Climbed to the top for a nice view of the valley.

Not much else to report, aside from crossing over I-70 and seeing seeing the backed up rush hour traffic. I sure don't miss that! Rolling the odometer over 300 miles tomorrow. See you then.



In the Middle -- Mona: https://youtu.be/_3Jl6g_I2N0

Searching for the Light -- VHS Collection: https://youtu.be/sRRjaFLH900

Days 42 "Double-back"

NB 1036.8

Total Accrued Miles: 286.7

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

The last .5 mile went by too fast last night before arriving at the shelter. According to the book there should have been some short (but significant) uphill. My path ended up being short and flat. The predominant and reassuring white blaze was also missing. For those that don't know the white blaze is a white stripe painted on trees and sometimes other objects to mark the trail. It's normally clearly marked and it's hard to miss making the AT easy to navigate. Not seeing those I was about to turn around when I hit the shelter -- somehow I found a shortcut. I pulled in for the night, but knowing I'd have to double back for that missing half-mile.

Everybody hikes their own hike out here; for me that means getting every inch of trail. I may not make it the whole way from VA to Maine, but I will at least cover all of the distance for the sections I do -- even if it means extra milleage doubling back for accidental skips. It also means no "yellow blazing" (walking on the road) "aqua blazing" (using a river) or taking a shortcut via blue blaze (what I accidentally did last night).

So today has been slow, but I did double back to grab that section I missed. I also got caught up on sleep and and some reading too I had been meaning to do. Will try for bigger miles tomorrow.



Drunk On a Rhythm -- Gothic Tropic: https://youtu.be/EmHzvclNN5g

Steam -- Leon Bridges: https://youtu.be/c7IxY6CTiVA

Days 41 "Disconnect"

NB 1036.8

Total Accrued Miles: 286.7

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Joe, Gone, Snackbar

Slow rolled the morning and had a tasty coffee and BLT bagel from Battlegrounds Coffee. Swung by the outfitter for a couple small things and ended up having a nice conversation with Joe the shopkeep about life. I appreciate his dry sense of humor and reminder to stay humble out here. We both appreciated getting away from the hustle and bustle and taking in nature in a simpler way.

Crossed the Potomac into Maryland and hiked on the C&O Canal towpath for a couple miles (it and the AT overlap). I had ridden on the C&O on my bike, but never this far north before. As far as hiking it, it's probably the easiest couple miles I've done so far. After pulling off I crossed some train tracks and began the climb out of the valley.

Cruised along through the afternoon, even had time for a nap before finally hitting camp. The shelter tonight left a little to be desired, not a whole lot of good spots to hang the hammock and wow so many mosquitoes! Thankfully the bug net on the hammock is keeping them at bay. Will try and scoot out here before they get bad tomorrow. Also, I found my room key from the stay last night in my pocket about 6 miles in to the trail -- whoops! I'll try and mail it back to them next time I hit a post office.



Cherry -- Chromatics: https://youtu.be/CjQ2jGUNSck

Days 40 "Harpers Ferry"

NB 1026.4

Total Accrued Miles: 276.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Freya (the dog), Freya (yes, a second dog), Coda (the dog), She-ra

Lot to report today! Was able to get up early after an early bedtime and get on the trail by 7. Packing up went easier (thankful), and I got to chat with the mom and her 3 sons before leaving camp. In addition to beating the heat there were also thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon so I was hoping to miss the bulk of those.

The new hiking boots are about 80%-85% broke in, which translates to workable, but not super comfy yet for longer miles. On top of that my left quad started complaining early. I was able to stretch it out and eventually it calmed down, but man it feels like I patch one system up and another goes down. Also, I got stung by a sweat bee. What a jerk!

Only got drizzled on a little as I headed down into Harpers Ferry, WV. It feels good and weird to be leaving Virginia behind. I definitely needed the morale boost of "state" change, but weird too as all my hiking at this point has been in VA. Terrain was mild most of the day until HF when it got really steep and really rocky near the river. Tired legs made it thankfully.

Passed through Storer College on the way in, and did a bit of history reading about its (and Harpers Ferry's) importance in providing a safe haven for Black Americans. Stopped by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to have my picture taken. It's a pretty simple affair tbh. They did have cold drinks and snacks at least and it was nice to take a break while I figured out my lodgings.

Ended up hiking another mile or so to downtown Harpers Ferry where I got a discounted rate at The Towns Inn (a play on the owners name Karen Townsend). It's a cute, quirky, little spot. For dinner I had a fabulous artichoke "crab cake style" sandwich complete with remoulade across the street at the Rabbit's Hole. The music was a bit dated, but thanks to mis-hearing a song today's one and only earworm was inspired.

It's a short stretch in WV (only 5 total trail miles in the whole state), and on through into Maryland tomorrow after a quick resupply and breakfast in the morning.



I Would Find You -- Oceanator: https://youtu.be/u8SOQBzWZYw

Days 39 "Glass Wall"

NB 1013.6

Total Accrued Miles: 263.5

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Cherry Cheeks, Summit (the dog)

Unplanned Zero today. Not to get too personal (but hey, you're reading my personal blog so it comes with the territory a bit), but some days are hard. Part of this trail journey is me learning to better understand and better manage the workings of my mind.

In short -- some days I can handle the tasks, some days I cannot. I could not mentally handle the tasks today. The key for me is getting better at identifying when that's the case and trying to be compassionate with myself when I'm unable to do them. It can be frustrating though. I can see what I need to do, but am unable to reach out and grab it; almost like there's a mental glass wall in the way. I've broken the wall in the past, but that sometimes does more harm than good so I'm trying to just sit with it today. Thankfully regular exercise (like hiking) helps with reducing days like these, but they still come around.

Anyway, not much to report. Took a few naps and did a bit of reading. Met a mom and her 3 sons who were doing some summer hiking before school started. Played chess with one of the boys and lost, but it was fun anyway. Will try again tomorrow.



Through the Roses -- Future Islands: https://youtu.be/gZ0TF3IzNm0

Days 38 "Re-Acclamation"

NB 1013.6

Total Accrued Miles: 263.5

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Much Obliged, Quartermaster

Trail Magic From: Blackmark Trail Center

Yep, still hot out here. I definitely got spoiled the past few days. Getting back out here and hiking was tough. Stu kindly dropped me off this morning, but the heat coupled with the end of the Rollercoaster really did a number on me. At least the humidity felt a little better today.

I'm also still breaking in the new hiking boots picked up on Monday and that really does slow the miles down. I was able to break them in with some walking around Adamstown and running errands, but there's always that necessary trail break-in as well. When you're thru hiking it's definitely more difficult to do it gracefully.

Also, due to a slight misprint in the guidebook I ended up short on water today. Thankfully I only had to go a couple miles down to the Blackburn Trail Center where they had easy potable water, and not only that but gave me a Sunkist and popcicle. Talk about refreshing! It's a nice setup complete with a screened in porch, and a good place to spend the night.

Going to make the push to Harpers Ferry tomorrow, we'll see what's in store there.



Creature Comforts -- Arcade Fire: https://youtu.be/ryuDRdcwc98

Rorschach -- Typhoon: https://youtu.be/NgIcKud50GA

Days 36 and 37 "Adamstown"

NB 1006.2

Total Accrued Miles: 256.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Trail Magic From: Stu, Trish, Wesley, and Lucy Porter

Spent a couple 0's hanging out with the Conlans in Adamstown. I won't get many chances further north to see friends so I don't mind taking the time now. Also USPS was a day late on dropping off my resupply, so I couldn't ask for a better place to wait it out.

It was a relaxing, chill time for the most part. We got fresh fruit at the local farm, some local creamery ice cream, hung out with Wes, played some more GT7, and grilled out with hot dogs. I indulged in things like taking regular showers, air conditioning, and sleeping in a bed.

Erica's mom Lucy also stopped by to drop off my new hiking pack that I ordered. I'm incredibly grateful for the trail magic and it was nice talking with her about my experience so far and her plans to thru-hike the AT in the future. Thanks again! Also shout out to Trish for the day pack donation and help rigging it up to the big pack.

Back to the trail tomorrow. It's been nice to have the break, but I've definitely missed it (well, maybe not the heat but definitely the trail itself).



If I Were a Rich Man -- Fiddler on the Roof: https://youtu.be/D1TC1n9lhXU

Day 35 - "Gran Turismo"

NB 1006.2

Total Accrued Miles: 256.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Very relaxing day today. My friends Stu and Trish have kindly allowed me to house-sit for a couple days. It's given me a much needed chance to relax, clean up, do laundry, and reset/reorganize myself to get ready for the next section.

Aside from that though I've mostly been playing Gran Turismo 7 on Stu's PS5 and frankly it's been amazing. Of course I can't play games on the trail (and I wouldn't want to), but even before I left I just hadn't been playing as much. It was really nice today to veg out and use my brain for something completely different than what Ive been doing for the last month plus.

For the uninitiated, Gran Turismo is a fairly realistic car racing game with all kinds of vehicles both current and historical. I used to play GT5 a ton about 10 years ago and the kind of brief single minded focus it requires very much appeals to me. Though it can be frustrating at times (shout to to Brian, remember that Goodwood challenge?). Anyway I don't get to do this as much anymore so today was a real treat. GT always has a good soundtrack to listen to while you speed along race courses, so enjoy my fave song from GT5 as today's earworm.


Baby (Breakbot Remix) -- PNAU (from Gran Turismo 5): https://youtu.be/GhuGMK18Bss

Day 34 -- "Capital 'V' Vibes"

NB 1006.2

Total Accrued Miles: 256.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Trail Magic From: Erica

Busy, fun day with a great friend. After a short hike out to Route 7 this morning I met up with Erica who was kind enough to run me around for some important errands. We got excellent coffee at Weird Bros to catch up about trail and non-trail life, got me my hot chicken fix from Wooboi, and swung by not 1, but 2 REI's to shore up my hiking equipment (for reference we determined with the store helper Anna that my pack size is 20 "vibes").

It's hard to put into words, but some people just get you. The vibes are just right. I'm incredibly blessed with having some long term friends that still keep in touch and are cheering me on while I do this amazing and frankly ridiculous task.

Having Erica along today not only lifted my spirits, but made the day go by smoother. It's in the details so it's hard to elaborate further, but friendship is its own kind of trail magic. Catch up with your friends if you haven't in a while, all the tools are right in your hand as you read this.



Oil -- Gorillaz ft. Stevie Nicks: https://youtu.be/ZSxdftA6NEM

I Say a Little Prayer -- Aretha Franklin: https://youtu.be/-8y0onSG3kg

Day 33 -- "Early Riser"

NB 1005.1

Total Accrued Miles: 255.0

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Nathan

Well, by some miracle I woke up at 5 AM, not all that tired. My brain is always slow in the morning though so it still took a bit to get going. On the trail by 7.....yes, this is the way.

It's still muggy out, but hiking at 72 degrees is far more preferable than hiking at 85+ degrees. The key will be implementing this going forward. As stated I am the opposite of a morning person, so this will be a real test and I may need to get creative. There's no way I can cover big miles during the heat of the day when the humidity prevents my body from cooling itself properly though so I must adapt to move forward.

Tackled 4 roller coaster hills with a break or two in between. Talked to a couple day hikers at the shelter when I stopped for second breakfast (they knew about it). Also chatted about NoVA things since I did live here for 8 years. It's fun to be in this section and have working knowledge of the area. That will change of course when I get up to PA and beyond.

Worked out my "weekend" plans for the 4th and ended up pulling over a little early since I didn't need to force miles and to escape the heat of the day. Friend hangouts tomorrow!



Ghost -- VHS Collection: https://youtu.be/-iLHH9pBgBU

Running Home to You -- Bee Caves: https://youtu.be/DvJGBZpG4lQ

Day 32 -- "The RollerCoaster"

NB 999.0

Total Accrued Miles: 248.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: K2, Frog Spirit, CD

Summer is here, ya'll. I'm talking that oppressively humid, mid-80's and higher VA heat. Started hiking by 10, and it was already kind of hot. Made it to the next shelter by lunch, where I took a break from the heat with a nap in order to rest up for.....the RollerCoaster.

Normally I like rollercoasters. They're thrilling and fun. Hiking roller coasters are similar to the theme park ones, in that they have sharp up and down elevation changes, but since I'm the one powering the cart, it's decidedly less fun. I think it's mostly the heat, but it's definitely a trying time. I did make it through the first 2 big hills, but had to pull over shortly after to rest. Now that the real heat over summer is here, I'm going to have to get in gear much earlier to try and avoid the heat of the day.

Going to bed early tonight, we'll see how it goes.



Honey On My Tongue -- Steep Canyon Rangers: https://youtu.be/xPRfuRJvJ8Q

The Lightning I & II -- Arcade Fire: https://youtu.be/qJiALpiqpk8

Day 31 -- "Wildlife Friends"

NB 993.5

Total Accrued Miles: 243.4

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Not a whole lot to report today. Just trying to cover the last VA miles here to Harpers Ferry. Wanted to push further than I did, but ~10.5 miles isn't shabby by any stretch.

I did make friends with a super awesome turtle. I'd adopt him, but I think he's pretty happy out here. I've named him Chesterton. Also saw about 8 rabbits in less than half a mile so it was definitely a day for wildlife.

Tomorrow is the Rollercoaster so wish me luck on that. Going to be a tough one.



Devotion -- Pure Bathing Culture: https://youtu.be/UCrqVyWreP4

Day 30 -- "Canadian Haze"

NB 982.8

Total Accrued Miles: 232.7

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Siren, Willow, Masters

Had a nice full spread breakfast at the BnB before heading up the trail. Its located a couple hundred feet nearby so it was nice being able to walk out the door and pick up the AT without having to grab a shuttle.

Most of your probably know about the Canadian wildfire smoke. It's definitely a problem out here. I've noticed it isn't as bad at higher elevations, but I haven't been able to hike as far because of the fatigue. It's a real problem, but I'm doing okay for now and there may be some hope of relief tomorrow.

Saw some hikers again today that I had met before which is notable because it hasn't happened much to me. Most hikers already are seasoned from Georgia so are doing more miles, but it was nice to see friendly faces again for a variety of reasons. Had lunch at the most bodacious shelter so far, complete with a deck. It's a shame it wasn't further along or I definitely would have speng the night. Got to call into HH this week too for the first time in a month so that's a plus. Now it's off to bed and hopefully an early start tomorrow.



Stranger -- VHS Collection: https://youtu.be/BnIKckZa3eo

At the Door -- The Strokes: https://youtu.be/9CAz_vvsK9M

Day 29 -- "Front Royale with Cheese"

NB 972.1

Total Accrued Miles: 222.0

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: No Rush, Masters, Willow, Air Quotes, Torch

Trail Magic From: Unknown Dew

We actually went to the local place called Spelunky's, but burgers were still had. Short day hiking -- about 3 miles out to the road to meet my parents who came up to visit. While I waited for them to arrive, I enjoyed a cold can of Mountain Dew some anonymous trail angel left in a cooler for hikers. It's no adrenaline shot to the heart, but it definitely put some pep in my step.

It was nice getting to spend the afternoon with my parents. After lunch we ran some of my town errands and got to check out Front Royal a bit. Not quite as cool as Waynesboro in my opinion, but their downtown had some neat things going on. Got a couple supplies at the local outfitter and stocked up on groceries before they dropped my off at my BnB for the night before they headed back down to Bedford.

Speaking of my BnB, I'd highly recommend Mountain Home. The couple that runs it restored an old historic house and have it on the historic places register. They cater to both hikers and regular patrons alike and I can recommend the hospitality and lodgings. There website is here if you're interested:


One last cool thing about it is they give out free croissants and cheese to hikers! They local elderly home gets food donations, which then get passed to the food bank, but there are still leftovers and they give it out to hikers! I got to pack out some truffle cheese and a wedge of brie, which was pretty cool. Check out today's pic for the full story (click for bigger image).

Up and out tomorrow to push on to Harpers Ferry.



StarCraft Menu Theme: https://youtu.be/4xjbTVQL0g8

Day 28 -- "Dreams"

NB 969.2

Total Accrued Miles: 219.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 28

Hikers Met: Tumeric, Scrubs, Mowgli

It's said that people dream every night, whether you remember them or not. I've always been an active dreamer, ever since I was young. I go through phases, but on average I'd say I dream (or at least remember) my dreams about 50% of the time and of those at least 50% of them tend to be of the more "out there" variety. Content varies of course, but I've had some intense ones over the years.

Something about being outdoors every night has changed that where I can only describe my dreams as more "wild". The frequency is the same but they're just different. Good and bad, and sometimes just very different.

Anyway, last night's was rough. Had trouble getting to sleep, and then when I did I had very sad, very anxious dreams. Made getting up and hiking today pretty difficult. I was able to have breakfast with Tumeric and Scrubs and that did help to boost my spirits. Tumeric even complimented my stickers on my bear can. According to her "You're not a defective horse, you're a Zebra!".

Despite the late start, the hiking went pretty well. Got rained on a bit, but then the sun came out for the rest of the day. Hit the end of Shenandoah, and honestly the last 2 miles of the park were some of the best I've seen. Gorgeous forests with late afternoon sunlight cascading through and easy hiking.

Anyway, hopefully this wasn't too much of a downer. We all have bad dreams, and many nights I have good or at least neutral ones. It's part of life (and trail life). Looking forward to seeing my parents tomorrow in Front Royal, see ya'll then.



Five Seconds -- Twin Shadow: https://youtu.be/5fvqyvJB_5g

Dreams -- Jaguar Dreams (Fleetwood Mac): https://youtu.be/322Ohsrq9bo

Day 27 -- "Snapshot"

NB 958.7

Total Accrued Miles: 208.6

Total Mountains "Overed": 25

Hikers Met: Ranger Dan, Badger, Billy Bob, John Deer, Siren

Trail Magic from: Badger

Short day today. With my folks coming up to visit in Front Royal I've got a bit of crush time. Got out of my rocky camp site and put in about 4 miles to the next shelter. On the way met a hiker named Badger and we chatted about photography and just life on the trail in general for a bit.

Pulled into the next shelter where we shared some coffee (complete with pecan Sandies) and lunch before he headed on up the trail. After a while quite a few people showed up so it's a full shelter for this evening. Another hiker named Siren also had a camera so it was a fun day to talk camera shop. Now though I've tucked off to the side down the hill for a little more piece and quiet. Bigger day tomorrow and it'll be leaving Shenandoah.

Ive enjoyed my time here, but I'm definitely ready to leave the national park and get back to a more secluded kind of experience. It's nice having the amenities, but I think if anything it's coddled me a bit and I'm ready to return to the hiking I was doing before entering the park. You take the good with the bad. Onwards to Front Royal and in a few days Harpers Ferry for 4th of July celebrating.



Quietest Friend -- Pedro the Lion: https://youtu.be/1goT7Sd4eME

Day 26 -- "100...again!"

NB 954.5

Total Accrued Miles: 204.4

Total Mountains "Overed": 24

Hikers Met: Hot Meals, Pony, Zoe (the dog), Skyline

Trail Magic from: Zoe's parents

Rolled over 200 miles today. It's hard to believe sometimes, I've never done this much walking in my life (the closest I came was in Europe a few years ago). Long day today, but goals were in sight.

As my friend Tara (a multi-ironman) could tell you, when doing endurance activities nothing motivates quite like a milkshake. It's cold, packed full of calories, and delicious after spending hours outside doing hard miles.

Made it to Elkwallow wayside after 11 miles for a delicious milkshake and hot dogs (plus a lot of Gatorade, I was pretty dehydrated). Stocked up with food for the next few days until I hit front Royal as well.

Full from dinner, I wanted to pull over for the night. Unfortunately for me though, I just couldn't find a suitable site with healthy trees to string up my hammock. Not much to do but press on. Ended up at 13.5 miles for the day and while not ideal I was able to get the hammock up (albeit with some tired person issues, I fell out of it! Nobody around to see, but I'm sure it was hilarious).

Short day tomorrow, then 1 solid day hiking before Front Royal and a visit from the parents. Looking forward to being out of Shenandoah!



Nothing today but leftovers and re-runs

Day 25 -- "ShenanDOah Not ShenanDONTah"

NB 941.2

Total Accrued Miles: 191.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 23

Hikers Met: Mischief

Best laid plans. It might have been the gloomy weather or it may just be that I'm pushing myself every day more than I have before, or it may just be the weird dreams I had. At any rate I got up around 9 but just couldn't get going and ended up back in the hammock until 12 or so.

I thought about scrapping the day and taking the zero, but the sun started to peak out and like that day I met Scout I reminded myself that some progress is still progress, even if the day didn't start out as planned. Got camp packed up and was out on the trail a little before 2. Sure enough, I was able to put in 7 miles! Not a bad way to salvage the day. The sun stayed out and it was a fairly pleasant day hiking. Hiked to the top of the Pinnacle for a great view (today's pic) and got to camp in time to get settled in. Hoping for a resupply at the wayside tomorrow and looking forward to finishing up Shenandoah in the next few days.



Human Nature -- Paperwhite: https://youtu.be/N91BfjiENCo

Day 24 -- "Rain Dodger"

NB 933.5

Total Accrued Miles: 183.4

Total Mountains "Overed": 22

Slow start today, but when you have a nice warm bed you tend to take advantage of it. Hot breakfast and coffee were also on the menu and very welcome as well.

After checking out from the lodge I made some adjustments to the fit of my pack so the weight gets distributed better while hiking. I had it fitted by someone at REI before leaving, but after being out here 24 days you start to notice where improvements can be made. Better to adjust things now before they become problems later.

The rain actually held off for the morning and I ran into a family from Portland out here vacationing and checking out the AT. They gave me some snacks and we chatted about my trip so far and Forest Park bears (they exist apparently!). Ducked into a shelter for lunch before the rain finally opened up again. Chatted with a French couple who were very tired of the wetness, then I decided to push on when it cleared up. My luck didn't hold though and the rain started again about an hour in. I did see the sun though by 5, so there's hope this perpetual rain will end at some point. Heading to bed early in hopes of an early start and getting some good miles in tomorrow.



Up 18 North -- Kruger Brothers: https://youtu.be/WbrWGGHmH2g

Day 23 -- "A Tale of Two Rainy Days"

NB 926.8

Total Accrued Miles: 176.7

Total Mountains "Overed": 22

Flip-flop. The style of hike im trying to do. Also the tone of the past 2 days. Everything from yesterday felt flipped today. Mostly heavy rain with drizzle yesterday, mostly drizzle with a little heavy rain today. Felt energetic and powered through miles yesterday, dragged myself by my bootstraps through the same amount of miles today. Simple, sparse accommodations yesterday, full lodge accomodations this evening.

It feels a bit like cheating staying at the lodge, but plenty of hikers do and it really felt like work getting here today. There aren't many opportunities for direct-access lodgings on the trail either so it's a nice splurge. Had a good dinner and will be hitting the sack early in hopes to put in some more miles tomorrow.

Will be wrapping up Shenandoah this weekend/early next week then it'll be up to Harpers Ferry and beyond. Likely more rain in store, but tomorrow's problems are tomorrow's problems. I will say the wet, foggy weather definitely fits the cemeteries I've been passing on the trail.



Sojourner -- Rapsody, J. Cole: https://youtu.be/k7-VMlsfClw

Resistance -- Muse: https://youtu.be/TPE9uSFFxrI

House on Fire -- Plants and Animals: https://youtu.be/-ZE3pzOQxhE

Day 22 -- " 'Summer' "

NB 918.0

Total Accrued Miles: 167.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 21

Thankfully the rain held off long enough for me to pack up camp. Once I got going though it picked up with pretty steady fall and surprisingly high winds at times. Who would have thought it would be 62 degrees on the summer solstice? Pretty wild.

As long as I'm moving I tend to stay pretty warm and being wet doesn't bother me all that much. Was able to put in some good miles before pulling off at Lewis Mountain to resupply. Started to get chilly once I sat down so decided to opt for one of the hiker cabins to dry off for the night.

Hiker cabins are a spartan affair, with simple bunks, no plumbing (there's a nearby bathhouse), but we did have a 4 walls, a roof and a wood stove to keep warm. Got the fire going without issue (and both thumbs intact) and spent the evening drying out and chatting with my bunkmate T. He recently got a job teaching history at a site out in Idaho and was doing some cross country car site-seeing before starting the new job. He's also the second person from Gainesville, FL I've met in the past week. A nice quiet evening and happy to dry off after a wet day hiking.



Red Earth & Pouring Rain -- Bears Den: https://youtu.be/G_kTCDqtnm8

Day 21 -- "A Change in the Weather"

NB 910.0

Total Accrued Miles: 159.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 20

Hikers Met: Scout

The weather has been quite pleasant most days out here since I've started, but nothing holds out forever. Heavy rain last night and into this morning. My rainfly that goes over the hammock keeps me pretty dry, but man is it hard to get going on wet days.

Hung around camp for a while in what I can only describe as a funk. I probably would have remained and taken a zero had Scout not stopped by for lunch. We chatted for a while and thanks to her suggestion I decided to turn my zero into a near-o and we put in about 4 miles.

I've done a lot of hiking by myself out here and generally really enjoy it, but it was nice to make a new friend and have some company for a little while. Talking about trail experiences, places visited, and favorite horror movies were all a highlight and helped the miles fly by. Thankful for grace and new friends that help pull you through.



I Was Born To Be a Cowboy -- Charlie Fink: https://youtu.be/FM87P9KWbfg

Day 20 -- "Pressure Spike"

NB 906.4

Total Accrued Miles: 156.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 19

Hikers Met: Relax, Blue (the dog)

Had coffee with Grof this morning before hitting the trail at a reasonable time. The weather the past week has been impeccable, but today the rain finally came. About an hour in and the heavens opened up for about 45 minutes. I talked to a couple ladies out here section hiking from Northern VA and according to them there was this very focused red cell on our location. It dried out after that, but more rain is expected this week (and it's currently raining as I type this).

Since it's summer I don't really mind the rain -- on me that is. Keeping my pack (and by extension my sleeping stuff and change of clothes) dry is a concern though. Thankfully the pack cover I got is doing its job, and inside the pack are dry bags that both keep things dry and keep me organized! Forgetting something out here more often than not means I won't see it again, so keeping things organized goes a long way to making sure I don't forget things when breaking camp.

Didn't have any earworms all day until dinnertime when someone at the shelter table started up with Immigrant Song and then all of us at the table round-robin'd a couple lines. It's definitely stuck in my head now.



Immigrant Song -- Led Zeppelin: https://youtu.be/y8OtzJtp-EM

Day 19 -- "Mountains, Milkshakes, and Memorials"

NB 898.2

Total Accrued Miles: 148.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 18

Hikers Met: Grof

Happy Father's Day, dad! Headed up and out from the Hut this morning. Got to do a bit of rock scrambling on top of Blackrock Mountain where April, Thomas and I visited back in April. Talked to a couple from Missouri on vacation and watched a couple youngins attempt the scramble as well.

Passed through Loft Mountain Campground, but only stopped at the store for some gatorade and snacks. Chatted with one of the Tramilys (trail family, a large group that meets on the trail and hikes together), but moved on after a little bit because I wanted to hit the Wayside about 3 miles up. Got a burger, full salad, and blackberry milkshake for dinner which was just fantastic. Fresh food is pretty much always worth the detour out here in my opinion.

Full of food, I decided to press on the additional 4 miles to the next shelter. There was a harder section of uphill, but was able to make it to camp about 45 minutes before dark. Another full house tonight meant slim pickings on sites.

Met another hiker that passed me earlier named Grof and he helped me pick out a good site to hang my hammock. Turns out we use the same brand and it was fun to talk hammock shop a bit. Had a another trail harmony too where it turns out his trail name and my trail name are related. It's wild the connections you make out here.



Down on the Corner -- Credence Clearwater Revival: https://youtu.be/clJb4zx0o1o

Love -- Marley B, Murs: https://youtu.be/49fdoPIv5uU

Shallow Tears -- Light Asylum: https://youtu.be/ALa_FcuJ5LY

Day 18 -- "Refreshed"

NB 885.0

Total Accrued Miles: 134.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 17

Hikers Met: George, George, and George, Dr. Bill (promoted from Mr. Bill)

Feeling much better today. Woke up to birds around sunrise and was able to get in gear and on the trail by 7 (breaking camp and breakfast usually takes around an hour unless I'm really rushing which I try very hard not to do). Cool morning air and pretty sun rays really made for a better experience than yesterday when my late start meant hiking in muggy-er weather. Also getting a full meal before bed last night really did help.

There was some urgency to get to the destination (Blackrock Hut) today as the current stretch I've been on has had a particular dirth of any water sources. Normally I walk past at least 2 or 3 streams a day which I can then filter for drinkable water, but for some reason the south end of Shenandoah here doesn't have as many.

I was able to ration enough, even with last night's unexpected early stop, but I was definitely thirsty by the time I got to Blackrock. It sure was refreshing to get to that stream! At 7 and some miles, I more than doubled yesterday's distance so I decided not to push my luck and stayed at the campsite.

Got to relax and listen to music this afternoon and devote some time to reading the book I brought which was nice. Trying to enjoy the ride, even if I'm not getting as far as I'd like initially. We'll see what tomorrow brings.



Anitra's Basement Tapes -- The Coup: https://youtu.be/zjgx-ks2rQk

Day 17 -- "Near-o"

NB 877.4

Total Accrued Miles: 127.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 17

Hikers Met: Splat

No, not the crazy emperor. A "near-o" is not quite a zero day, but at just over 3 miles, this one definitely feels like it. Another tough one today. Slept very late for the woods -- 9:30 and just couldn't shake the sluggishness no matter what I did. Ended up pulling over into a clearing around 1 after fighting a hill and made the call to spend the night, despite the lack of the water source. Spent the rest of the day napping and relaxing trying to get tested to try again tomorrow.

In hindsight I don't think I had enough for dinner the night before. I did stop for dinner around six yesterday, but I then proceeded to hike another 2 hours which I think ate into the following days calories. Everyone runs a calorie deficit out here, but I need to be more careful about eating plenty the night before so I can use it the next day. Definitely ate a big dinner tonight and went to bed early. Hoping to bounce back tomorrow.

One silver lining was seeing a bunch of friendly hikers and running into Splat again who was back after going to her mom's 90th birthday. They definitely brought a bit of cheer to the day.



The Walk Home -- Young the Giant: https://youtu.be/

Day 16 -- "Shenandoah Begins"

NB 873.9

Total Accrued Miles: 123.8

Total Mountains "Overed": 17

Was kindly offered a lift back up to the trail by Thomas's mom in the morning, then proceeded to enter into Shenandoah. While I've been here many times, this is the first time I've hiked at the south end and the first time attempting to hike all the way through.

Filled out my backcountey permit, then headed on into the park proper. The trail is well kept, and the elevation changes, while still substantial are a bit milder than what I've seen up until this point. You also occasionally walk by things like radio towers which is interesting and changes up the scenery a bit.

Ended up grabbing a nap in the afternoon and then pushing on late into the evening before pulling over and finding a site. Not a bad day, and was able to put down about 10 miles.



Thrift Shop -- Macklemore: https://youtu.be/QK8mJJJvaes

Lazy Sunday -- Lonely Island (SNL): https://youtu.be/sRhTeaa_B98

Day 15 -- "Double Ought"

NB 864.4

Total Accrued Miles: 114.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 14

Ended up taking 2 break days in a row, but it's not often you have a friend close to the trail. Got to sample the Harrisonburg version of the T Room (I didn't even know they had one), got new water bottles and food storage from an outfitter, plus some new stickers for the bear can.

Also got to check out the Blue Ridge Tunnel again ( https://gohikevirginia.com/blue-ridge-tunnel-hike/ ) and meet Lily the dog at the elder Harringtons' house who is an incredibly sweet pupper. A fun and mostly relaxing day, and I'm definitely ready to get back out there on the trail tomorrow!


Scatman -- Scatman John: https://youtu.be/Hy8kmNEo1i8

Day 14 -- "Waynesboro"

NB 864.4

Total Accrued Miles: 114.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 14

Party time. Excellent. 2nd Zero day with a resupply in town. Hot breakfast is always welcome, and Weasie's Kitchen did not disappoint. Hung out at the local library for a few hours (it's very nice, complete with a dinosaur skeleton) and got caught up on some non-trail business. Also got to relax and read a few issues of Swamp Thing which was nice.

My friend and former roommate Thomas came down from Harrisonburg mid-afternoon and we grabbed tacos at a food truck, then headed back to his place to hang out and watch Kung Fu movies. All in all a nice day. Waynesboro is a cool town, I'd highly recommend stopping by if you're ever in the area. Some quality restaurants downtown and some nice outdoor spaces. They also do a HikerFest which I just missed and may try to swing by on next year.


I Wanna Get Better -- Bleachers: https://youtu.be/8twpQTna_9w

Waynes World (SNL): https://youtu.be/l2IQE6ZpNZ0e

Day 13-- "Trail Harmonies"

NB 864.4

Total Accrued Miles: 114.3

Total Mountains "Overed": 14

Hikers Met: Iwox, Trail Mark, Mr. Dale, Jerry Springer

Trail Magic from:

Iwox, Trail Mark, Grace Lutheran

Hiking in the rain can be fun, provided it's not cold out and you cover your pack appropriately. Woke up early and hiked 3 miles to the next shelter for breakfast. It might be hard to imagine, but with the weather, venue, and general mood I basically had rainy day coffee shop vibes in the woods. Highly recommend the Paul C Wolfe shelter.

Afterwards hiked out to Rockfish Gap in Waynesboro where I met Iwox, a former thru hiker handing out snacks for the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association. Sat and swapped stories with her for a while, and wouldn't ya know a magical thing happened. One of her local trail contacts stopped by to say hi, and I knew him!

Last summer I was day hiking out in Shenandoah and met a trail maintainer named Mark who happened to be staying at the same campground. We chatted for an hour or so until he went home to Crozet. Fast forward almost a year later, and he happens to just be driving by on the way up to do more trail maintenance. What are the odds! He also happened to be running the local hiker hostel at the Lutheran church this week. I got to catch up with him over dinner and it was just an incredible re-meeting. We swapped contact info and ill be keeping in touch. Things like that just happen out here and I feel very fortunate to be able to experience them.


A Moment of Silence -- Streetlight Manifesto: https://youtu.be/U5_tbnaoGiE

Little Lies -- Fleetwood Mac: https://youtu.be/uCGD9dT12C0

Here Comes the Rain Again -- Eurythmics: https://youtu.be/TzFnYcIqj6I

Day 12 -- "100! And Then Some"

NB 856.8

Total Accrued Miles: 106.7

Total Mountains "Overed": 14

Hikers Met: Shadow (the dog)

Trail Magic from: Carol, Aiyla, Willshe

Bouncing back today. Still a bit sluggish this morning but was able to push through it. Today marks my first 100 miles! Hard to believe really. No good campsites for a long stretch so it also ended up being my longest day to date at 13.4 miles total. I don't think I would have made it this far, but had 2 quality instances of trail magic that really boosted my day.

Both happened on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but about 7 miles a part. The first when I stopped to empty trash into one of the provided bins (hikers get excited about trash cans, otherwise we have to pack it all out until resupply in town). A lady named Carol and her daughter approached me and asked me if I'd like any snacks or cold drinks. I thankfully took them up on both.

The second was another lady running support for her husband and daughter. She started out hiking with them in GA but the stress caught up to her and she decided to fill a more auxiliary roll. The family hails from Gainesville, FL.

Before I started this I didn't drink much soda or juice, but let me tell you on a hot day and many miles behind and ahead of me that apple juice and Dr. Pepper I got tasted like ambrosia.

Thanks to the long day today, tomorrow should be shorter, then on in to Waynesboro!


Suckers (Space Flight Remix) -- Ra Ra Riot: https://youtu.be/fhtgD8LpkK0

Day 11 -- "2 out of 3 (is bad)"

NB 843.5

Total Accrued Miles: 93.4

Total Mountains "Overed": 13

Hikers Met: Obsession, Enzo (the dog), Stacey, Still Dark, Tuna Shorts

When you're hiking as long as I am, there's bound to be bad days. Hiking is part of life, and even doing something amazing like this, not every day can be sunshine and flowers (though today was sunny, and there were thankfully some flowers). Some days are just hard.

I woke up late, even though I set my alarm early. The climb out of camp was brutal, at least for me still getting used to hauling a 40lb pack around on the daily. 3500 feet of climbing in just about 3 miles, coupled with my first set of rock scrambles. I made it to the top, but not without some help. Even knocking out the first ridge yesterday, the other 2 of Three Ridge Mountain really tested me and I definitely left something (metaphorical) up there.

I made it down okay, but was so worn-out from the ascent that I pulled in early for the night. Thankfully I crossed paths with Stacey again who was very nice to chat with (shout-out if you actually read this!) and met Tuna Shorts for the first time and we got to talk DnD shop after he saw the beholder sticker on my bear can. Hoping for a better crack at it tomorrow. Waynesboro is in sight for the next resupply in a couple days.


Billy Jean -- Michael Jackson: https://youtu.be/OZGtRvYF-A4

Day 10 -- "The Priest"

NB 837.3

Total Accrued Miles: 87.2

Total Mountains "Overed": 12

Hikers Met: Passer, Matador, Maurice (the dog)

Lots of earworms today! Just had a lot of tunes going on in my head I guess; two of which actually correspond to places I crossed on the trail. The Priest was a challenging and long descent, but my knees held up and I made it. Not sure how the mountain got its name, but people actually do write confessions in the shelter log.

It's hard to explain how different thru-hiking is compared to day hiking, but my approach is much different with the full kit on. Things I used to be more cavalier about on day hikes I now have to take my time on and make sure I don't mess up because of the added pack weight could really throw me off. I hear about "slack-packing" out here which I may consider and elaborate on more at another point.

Had lunch down by the Tye River (one of the earworms), then started the ascent on Three Ridges Mountain which has, you guessed it, 3 ridges. Got the 1st one done today, with the next (and harder) 2 tomorrow. Going to hit the sack early tonight to get an early morning jump on it tomorrow.

By the way, it occurs that we never built a comment feature for the site (this is both a feature and bug imo), but if you've got questions or just want to pass along some comments, you're welcome to email me @ s.p.jaberg@gmail.com

I may even mail you back when I have service :)



Before My Body is Dry (Kill la Kill theme): https://youtu.be/1_PWdjym25g

Kiss of Death -- Mika Nakashima (Darling in the Franxx theme): https://youtu.be/qLsVuVSKLRI

Thrill -- Future Islands: https://youtu.be/8eiRU9pXs-s

Up On Cripple Creek -- The Band: https://youtu.be/NKu0OTDvQ-w

Roses -- OutKast: https://youtu.be/gWju37TZfo0

Day 9 -- "Great Smokies in VA?"

NB 829.7

Total Accrued Miles: 79.6

Total Mountains "Overed": 11

Hikers Met: Brian, House, Sweathog, Miracle, Sunshine, Akela (the dog)

Slept like a rock (and behind a very large rock). If I haven't talked to you yet about it, I use a hammock system to sleep in at nights. I still camp near the AT shelters or use marked sites when possible, but as long as I have 2 decently spaced trees, I'm in business for sleeping comfortably. If you've never tried a hammock before I'd highly recommend it. I've also got a rainfly that goes over the top to keep dry as well as for privacy.

The views have been hazy thanks to the Canadian wildfire, but since I'm at higher elevation I haven't seen too much drop in air quality. Amazing to see the ranges from Spy Rock off the trail, even with the haze. Got to meet a sweet pup and her owners too up there. Closed the gap to The Priest at the end of the day which is a large mountain in the range here. Will camp up top over night and will summit tomorrow with some steep descents in store.


Moving On -- Anna of the North: https://youtu.be/5Eu9I7unmhk

Dancing in the Dark -- Pomplamoose (Cover of Bruce Springsteen): https://youtu.be/-4i9lbY10nA

Doing It For the Money -- Foster the People: https://youtu.be/1dZTkLNcZ2c

Day 8 -- "The Working Hour"

NB 821.2

Total Accrued Miles: 71.1

Total Mountains "Overed": 11

Hikers Met: Trent, Splat, Jose Frio

Was an early morning, my shuttle back up to the trail left at 6:30AM. A lot of uphill to grind through, especially with a fully resupplied pack. Thankfully the weather was cool and nice which made the ascent bearable. Saw a few other hikers, but for the most part the trail has been pretty quiet the last few days I've been on it.

Summited Cole Mountain which had a large lovely meadow on top with great views. It's also where todays pic came from. Today's pic also inspired one of the earworms, can you guess which one?

The rest of the day was more of a grind -- there weren't a whole lot of campsites until I hit Nelson County so I had to push miles. I did get an excellent mid-day nap in however. Tomorrow will definitely be a lighter day.



Dissect the Bird -- John Craigie: https://youtu.be/gn-wGaM7x5c

Everybody Wants to Rule the World -- Tears for Fears: https://youtu.be/SFU1GeGFpzY

Save the Day -- College: https://youtu.be/Dmo4qIIxels

Drivers License -- Scary Pockets: https://youtu.be/590pA-PHcsI

Day 7 -- "Zero Day"

Buena Vista, VA

NB 809.1

Total Accrued Miles: 58.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 9

On the AT, a "0" is a day where you put in 0 miles on the AT. That's not to say I didn't walk though! I probably did 3-4 miles in town running errands and getting more supplies. Other than that though it was a pretty relaxing day and taking some time for recovery was nice. There isn't a whole lot to Buena Vista, but I did have some solid Italian food for dinner (definitely needed for my climb tomorrow) and saw a sunset that might live up to the town's name. Now, on to Waynesboro!


Country Figs -- Alex Cameron: https://youtu.be/YidRNvL535I


Day 6 -- "Trail Magic"

NB 809.1

Total Accrued Miles: 58.9

Total Mountains "Overed": 9

Hikers Met: Shadow, Hardhat, Rolodex

Trail Magic from: Candied Ginger, Tom

I knew this going in, but some days just don't go as planned. When initially packing my food supplies I built out a tentative itinerary. While I didn't hold exactly to it (and didn't intend to), I got about as far as I thought I would in 5.5 days. When heading down to Route 607 to try and get a shuttle down to Buena Vista though I ran into a snag -- I didn't have cell service to call a ride. Not having enough food to press another day on the trail, I was considering my limited options which were: wait for a potential random pickup (not preferred) or hike down the road 6 miles to town (also not preferred).

Sitting there trying to decide, a hiker I met 2 days prior at camp named Candied Ginger happened to pass me and asked me if I needed some food to get me through to the next 10ish miles of AT to Route 60, the next road down to town. He kindly gave me 5 or so calorie packed snacks out of his rations including a much-needed protein bar with caffeine. I wasn't planning on hiking more miles on the trail that day, but that food and the gesture gave me the confidence to try.

About 3 or 4 miles down at a side-road I met a guy named Tom. He was handing out snacks and drinks to hikers and was car-camping along the AT to help support his brother who was thru-hiking. Tom had heard about my situation from CG as well as Shadow and Hardhat and went out of his way to give me a whole dehydrated dinner and a bunch of snacks. I sat on the ground and chatted with him for a while and it was nice to have a break.

Both instances above are what hikers call "trail Magic" or "the trail provides", but what it really is is simply the kindness of people you haven't met, willing to lend a hand when things have taken a strange turn for you. Thanks to the above 2 gentlemen I was able to push on those 10 miles and make it up to Route 60 where I did have cell service and was able to arrange my ride into town for the night. I'm very grateful and will look for opportunities myself to pay it forward and help others in need. See ya'll tomorrow for a much-needed resupply.



Spirits In The Material World -- The Police: https://youtu.be/9Q73LMKKxbc

Hangar 18 -- Megadeth: https://youtu.be/B-oU2xlViRQ

Day 5 -- "Resume"

NB 797.8

Total Accrued Miles: 47.6

Total Mountains "Overed": 8

Hikers Met: SoDuck

Felt much better after the mostly-rest day. Got up pretty early to tackle the big climb out of Johns Hollow. Something Ive noticed while being out here is my sleep cycle has shifted back. Where 7AM was unheard of really back home, it's quite natural now for me to wake up around then. I'm sure then sun has something to do with it, but it's been an interesting change. Some light rain and cool which ended up making the climb easier. Afterwards there was some pretty incredible fog creating interesting atmosphere on top of the mountains I was crossing. Found an amazing little lizard friend while climbing up a particularly steep section. He really stood out with all the grey colors around. Got to camp a little early so I did some hanging out with a couple of campers like SoDuck and then got some reading in before nodding off in the hammock. If you're wondering what SoDuck stands for, in his words "Southbound Only [direction on the AT] Dude Ur Crazy...Kool". According to him you have to be at least a little crazy to attempt hiking this trail, and I think he may have a point. Going to try to get to town tomorrow for my first resupply, see you then.



King Without a Crown -- Matisyahu: https://youtu.be/-w1Va4DqDWs

Into the West -- Annie Lennox: https://youtu.be/HvF31-2bVNE

Put Your Money on Me (Steve Mackey Remix) -- Arcade Fire: https://youtu.be/rUdlb8FAPho

Day 4 -- "Rest"

NB 789.0

Total Accrued Miles: 38.8

Total Mountains "Overed": 5

Hikers Met: Gunner (the dog), Candied Ginger, Hip

Got up early and made my way down to the James River crossing where I crossed the longest pedestrian-only bridge on the AT (see today's pic). Made it a couple more miles to the shelter, but the super long day yesterday coupled with the steep upcoming assent were enough for me to decide to take a light day and rest up. It ended up being really nice to be able to take my time setting up camp, lounge around a bit, and chat with another hiker who pulled over early named Candied Ginger who is a wilderness guide attempting the whole AT. Was able to ask him some hiking questions and get him to inspect my boots (they should last to Harpers Ferry). All and all not a bad day, aside from not putting in as many miles as I'd like.



About Work the Dancefloor -- Georgia: https://youtu.be/A4Y9V07wry4

Day 3 -- "Over-clocked"

NB 785.1

Total Accrued Miles: 34.9

Mountains "Overed": 5

Hikers Met: Matthew, Christian

Woke up early to try and push miles. There was a sign at Thunder Hill that I discovered when pulling in for the night before warning of elevated bear activity and I wanted to get clear of it if possible. Unfortunately though it meant almost doubling my mileage from the previous day, with a mountain in between to boot! I ended up doing 12.3 total which really felt like work. I was trying to keep the daily totals below 10 for the first week, but it felt like extraneous circumstances were forcing my hand.

I'm not particularly worried about bears usually, this post from a hiker I met out in the trail here named Ranger explains why: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CtAJtzztwAm/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==

She's got a cool page if you're looking for more of a vlog experience: @beer_in_beautiful_places

Met up with a couple local section hikers from Goode, VA for a bit as we cris-crossed each other. At the rate we're going we may sync up later down the trail. For now though, my legs need a break!



Once in a Lifetime -- Talking Heads: https://youtu.be/5IsSpAOD6K8

Flashing Lights -- Kanye West: https://youtu.be/ZAz3rnLGthg

Day 2 -- "Overlook"

NB 772.5

Total Accrued Miles: 22.3

Mountains "Overed": 4

Hikers Met: Daniel, TeaBag, Sprout, Medic T, Trail Jesus, SCRAM

More climbing! Also more lack of cell service. A particularly tough couple of days with a lot of uphill. You eat the elephant one bite at a time though (and take lots of breaks). Floyd Mountain is tough, but actually really pretty higher up with some sun-dappled grottos. Also got to the top of Apple Orchard Mountain for a nice view at 4550 ft. Met TeaBag and Sprout at a shelter while having a late breakfast. TeaBag is from Birmingham, UK and Sprout is from Corvallis, OR. Nice couple of guys. Also did some hiker engineering on the privy -- ask me about it sometime. The pic today is from Black Rock Overlook. Had dinner with a hiker named SCRAM who is both a very quick hiker and a former sailor and nuclear engineer. Expecting a lot of miles tomorrow (at least they're downhill). I'll elaborate more in the next post.

Earworm(s): Don't Take Me Alive -- Steely Dan: https://youtu.be/3gV1sxB8TxI

Day 1-- "Over Mountains"

NB 765.4

Total Accrued Miles: 15.2

Mountains "Overed": 2

Hikers Met: Sam, Jaymo

Lack of cell service has meant the posts are delayed, but here's some updates! It occured to me while I was out today that since I named this blog Yes Mountain Over Mountains, that it would be fun to actually track the number of mountains I cross on my journey. In light of this, I've added a tally to the other things at the beginning of the posts. Also tracking number of miles covered, cause well, duh, I should have been doing that already. Regarding the "YesMountain" part if you don't know already then you'll have to wait for a later post. Speaking of mountains, my 1st full day out here had a bunch of climbing with crossing over Fork Mountain, then part of the way up Floyd Mountain. All in all I did probably 3500 ft of climbing which was a lot to put it mildly. Thankfully I got some good sleep. There will be many more mountains though, so look for the tally to go up soon!



Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)-- Arcade Fire: https://youtu.be/NuSbELCNloc

Pay the Man -- Foster the People: https://youtu.be/mAW37LSCkQg

Day 0 -- "The Overture"

NB Mile 750.2 to NB 755.3

Hikers Met: Silverback, Care Bear, Ranger, Pacman, SingSong, Smokemaster, Dozer

A day for firsts! Took it easy this morning, then did my remaining packing and headed up to Mills Gap with the family for a picnic lunch before setting out on my AT adventure. Really got a taste of all kinds of weather. In 3 hours I had partly cloudy, heavy rain, thick fog, and a pretty and clear sunset. Was able to get my pack cover out in time and it did a good job keeping my things dry despite the heavy downpour. Met a few hikers while on trail and bunch more in camp. Chatted about gear setups with Silverback and received my first "trail magic" from Care Bear in the form of hostess cupcakes and muffins. Looking forward to a nice morning and tackling more miles tomorrow.


Hello! Welcome to my little Appalachian Trail log. I will be setting out on Tuesday May 30th 2023 for my NoBo (Northbound) Flip-Flop thru-hike of the AT out of Mills Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Bedford, VA.

I'm not sure how often I'll update, but I'm hoping at least once or twice a week with some fun or notable things I see and experience while out hiking the 2190 miles of the trail. I'm happy to have you along for the ride!