I had planned to hike 300 miles, I hiked 260 miles. I really thought 360 miles would be great, that would give me 900 miles of the AT. I got off at 800 miles total on the AT. This years hike did not have the same FLAVOR as last years. Some of the reasons, not in any order of importance are….
I missed my wife, she is my best friend and my goddess.
I missed my life, family, puppy, gardens, chickens and just being home
There were things going on at home that I felt I should be home taking care of.
Much of this hike was the same, it was hard physically the first weeks, the scenery was much the same, the trail food was the same and the tenting and sleeping on the ground were the same. I have a water-bed at home. There is nothing like sleeping on a hot water bottle.
There were differences this hike. Last year I started as a greenhorn with everyone else. I met hikers and saw them over and over again. I belonged, I was a member of the class of 2014. This year I started hiking with hikers who had 500 miles of hiking on their legs, they were doing 20 or more miles a day, I wasn’t. I would meet a hiker and never see them again. Last year I would go to a trail town and know a lot of hikers, this year I recognized them as hikers in a town but I didn’t know anyone. Not the same flavor. This year I was hiking in hotter weather and drinking 4-5 liters of water a day, hiking like this I found not as much fun.
I have pondered a lot about why I went back to the trail this year after the trail broke me and sent me home last year. I think I went back so I could go home when I decided to and not when the trail kicked me off. Some of my Dad’s stubbornness. Just like last year I’m done. Well I’m thinking I should do the AT in MA since I live here. That’s just a week or so.
Good morning. I’ve been at the Budget Inn in Buena Vista VA for the last two nights. I’m waiting for an AT shuttle trail angel, Joe, to take me to Staunton VA and a train home. This is Friday the 22nd of May
5/20/15. Day 21 11.3 mi. 263.8. 802.6 total.
I decided Wednesday morning to stop at 800 miles and go home. There are many parts to this decision and when I get home I will try to explain it in a post.
I hiked the 11.3 miles to Va 60 and hitched a ride to the Budget Inn, did laundry and showered. Then down to the library to a computer to get a train ticket home. With some difficulty I did get a ticket printed. The biggest problem was the next train is Friday, so I will have to stay all day Thursday waiting and another night. Since it rained most of Thursday having a dry motel room and not a wet tent was fine with me. I would look up at the mountains Thursday and see clouds covering them.
With all of my charm and persuasive powers, Lil has agreed to pick me up early Saturday morning. I am a VERY LUCKY GUY.
Thank you for all of the comments, I find it hard to respond to them using the phone and will try to respond when I get home and settled.
19th day. 17.1 mi. 234.3. 773.1 total
I’m outside Buchanan VA. The day started with a 2254 ft climb then it was PUDS for most of the day. Pointless ups and downs. Walking in the woods. Saw a 5 ft black snake on the trail, they’re getting bigger. Crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway twice, very little traffic. I guess it isn’t THE destination anymore. Not many people out here. Tenting with Corkscrew and Criss-cross at Marble Spring campsite.
20th day. 18.2 mi. 252.5. 791.3 total
I’m at the Punchbowl Shelter south of Buena Vista VA. A long walk today. Saw my first ever green snake, just green, about 2 ft kind of pretty. Crossed the James River on the longest foot bridge on the AT at 11:00 in the morning. At 2:00 in the afternoon I took a picture from the mountainside looking down on the river and that bridge. It was hot and a brutal climb up that mountain but I pushed on to the shelter.
There are about ten hikers here and a twenty or so guy with pig tails, shaving his legs, bouncing to the music in his headphones while sucking on a pacifier. I will sleep with one eye open tonight.
17th day. 13.5 mi. 203.7. 742.5 total
My attitude is better today. I’m tired but in the shelter at 4:30 so I can rest some. Relatively gentle hike today, no long ups or downs. Found a stream large enough to rinse off the stickies and lower my core temperature.
I’ve started the section of trail that runs with the Blue Ridge Parkway. Had a nice conversation with 4 aging bikers at one of the overlooks. It rained some today, only took one picture at the second overlook, then back into the woods to the shelter with sunshine to my right and thunder, black clouds to my left.
18th day. 13.5. 217.2. 756 total
I’m in a grand shelter, Bryant Ridge Shelter. It sleeps 20 and has a loft.
The hills are decorated with blooming Mt Laurel. There was a 4 ft black snake on the path to the privy. There are 4 of us at the shelter and when we went to bed the mosquitoes came out. It is too hot to be zipped into a mummy bag so after considering the options, I set my tent up in the shelter and moved in, problem solved. Rickshaw, Corkscrew and Criss-cross followed suit. Not a bad nights sleep.
A lot of walking today. Excellent views and large, well HUGE rocks. Went into Daleville for stove alcohol and liner socks. The men’s dress socks from Wall-mart worked all right, but they came up to my knees and were always soaked with sweat. Ate at Wendy’s and then climbed out of town. I’m in Troutsville at the Fullhardt Knob Shelter. Just myself and Dragonfly from Ohio. The trail was empty today, a lot of hikers have gone to Trail Days in Damascus VA. Big party. I’m not the right age for that. Cool. Ice start this morning then HOT then showers and cool again. I’m writing in my book at the shelter pick nick table in my puffy jacket
I’m thinking of going home again. Tomorrow will give me 200 miles this year. I had set 300 as my goal when I came down. But it is still very hard and I’m done at the end of the day. 14.4 miles with a climb at the end of the day plus 2-3 miles walking in town. I’m not 20 anymore.
I got to the most photographed site on the AT, McAfee Knob today and just north of McAfee, the Tinkers Cliff Walk. I will let the pictures tell the story. At the end of the hike a grey fox walked right across the trail in front of me. Handsome animal, stay away from my chickens.
I’m at the Four Pines Hostel taking a zero. The guide book says it is a 3 car garage and it is but this is a nice place to be for the day. They have chickens. The hostel is in Catawba VA.