That’s the message I sent to some friends upon my family’s arrival to the Volunteer State. I already have an affinity for the mountains that was birthed in me when I grew up in Oregon, and as November began, with the leaves turned a beautiful golden yellow color, the air carried a crisp - almost cedar tasting - feel to it – and I was loving life. Add to that, the fact that it was my 31st birthday and we were in town for a wedding – and it’s clear to me that the galaxy had offered me a most radical weekend adventure.
Explaining the functionality of my internal framed Gregory Z-Series (Jade Series for the ladies) backpack is like trying to explain the resourcefulness of a pocketknife on the trail - it's essential. The versatility is broad, no matter where you find your destination.
My experience with the Gregory Z 55 has resulted in me falling in love with it…as well as a professional butt kicking to my ego because my backpack has proven to be more rugged and resilient than me! Now I know you could be thinking “there’s no way that an inanimate object can possibly throw punches…” but I kid you not, it very well might be able to do so with all its advantageous features. (It’s these) that help make it the ultimate companion on any domestic or international adventure!
I began this journey wanting to take a walk on the Appalachian Trail. In fact, this was not the initial trail I wanted to walk. I had several other long distance trails in mind. One by one, family matters and logistics, made those trails impossible to walk. Then, the AT came into my head. I often wondered if I had the chance to hike the AT again how would I do it.
My intention was to call it a walk based on the fact all I wanted to do was go for a long walk. I did not know how long my walk would be, 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, longer? The distance did not matter.I had not made plans to summit Katahdin or, even go beyond Damascus, Virginia. The trail I felt would let me know when it was time to to go off trail.
Our own Krispy Kritter is getting close to completing his AT journey, only 477.9 miles to go!
August 08, 2010 – Day 126 - Sunday
"Courage and Perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air." ~ John Quincy Adams
It was Krispy Kritter's birthday today, happy birthday man!May 30, 2010 – Day 55 - Sunday Destination: Jennings Creek, Va 614 Starting Location: Wilson Creek Shelter Today's Miles: 17.00 Trip Miles: 746.80
"Life is known only by those who have found a way to be comfortable with change and the unknown. Given the nature of life, there may be no security, but only adventure."
~ Rachel Naomi Remen
"Fall seven times, stand up eight." ~Japanese proverb
Timber and Advatar wanted to slack pack 13 miles back into town. I didn't want to stay in town another night. I had several options on when to leave and how many miles I was going to do. I ended up hiking out of town with Red Stick around 11:30. It was going to be a short day (a nero) because I wanted to break in the new boots. I was afraid to hike too far or too hard and develop foot problems. Doing the 11 miles out of town would also, if the weather holds out for me, set me up for a campout on Jennings Creek (one of my favorite creeks in Va.).
"You can only do what you can do." ~ King Lui, Glastonbury Castle
I couldn't figure out the name of Pine Swamp Branch Shelter. It wasn't near a swamp and it did not have very many pine trees. The shelter was dedicated to Trimpi which was the name of another shelter near Troutdale, Va. I guess this is one of those AT mysteries solved at a later date.
"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Hardcore was over and everyone was up early to catch some type of breakfast and coffee, pack and catch their ride back to where you left the trail. I was designated to 1-Pint (our driver) along with Jesse and Eric the Red. We left Kincora 9:00 am and was driving up the interstate towards Atkins. By 11:30 I was back on the AT looking for the white blazes north.
May 14, 2010 - Day 39 - FridayDestination: Damascus, VA - Trail Days Starting Location: Atkins, VA Today's Miles: 0.00 Trip Miles: 539.10
The first thing I did when I got into Damascus was walk up to tent city where the majority of the hikers were staying. Tent City was laid out differently this year because part of the land was under construction for new baseball/soccer fields. Volunteers for the last three days had been cutting and constructing trails and campsites in the posion ivy infested woods running along a stream. The trails ran a 1/2 of a mile in one direction and a 1/4 of a mile in the other. Premium tent sites were being taken quickly. Several communities were springing up with names like Billville, Miss Janets, Riff Raff, Alcatraz, Trail Talk, Dog Bone Fire to name a few. I decided to head over to the Gear repair site to meet old friends. Granite Gear, big Agnes, Osprey, Mountain Hardwear and others were present repairing for free broken or torn gear brought over by thru hikers. Due to the new configuration, the crowds did not enter through this section to get to tent city this year so the numbers of visitors were down this year. Met up with my friend, Fix It Man and he set me up for the weekend. I decided I wasn't going to do anything but relax, eat and have a few beers.
May 4, 2010 – Day 29 - TuesdayDestination: Mountaineer Shelter Starting Location: Overmountain Shelter Today's Miles: 18.00 Trip Miles: 397.50
"Forget about time...concentrate on timing." ~Jonathan Passel
My night at Overmountain Shelter exceeded my expectations. The dark grey clouds continued to intermittently shroud the valley below as the sun was setting and I was fast falling asleep. During the night I was awakened by howling of coyotes. The wailing cry was so close I think they were in the meadow directly below the shelter. Now fully awake I realized the moon was breaking through the clouds dusting the valley in light. The coyotes announced the passing of the moon beams.