Sunday, September 6, 2015

Better late...?

I know, "It's been over a month now when are you going to write a blog?", is a phrase I've been getting for a while already.
I've been too busy either working, taking care of other things, or riding my bike since we got home to write...
Here we goat...

On July 29th 2015 Daniel and I summited Mt. Katahdin, ending our journey on the Appalachian Trail.
142 days, 2189.2 miles, we toiled through rain, shine, snow, mud, and rocks.

July 27th
After a super flat day through the hundred mile wilderness, we accomplished our last 20 mile day, when we stopped at the very last shelter outside of Baxter state park.
The shelter had one of the prettier hollows of the trail surrounding it, a stream could be heard from a little way off, and it also had plenty of tent sites.
We saw Katahdin for the first time on the rainbow ledges, a few miles before, were there was a fantastic amount of blueberries.
We ate blueberries by the pint, until we were forced off the mountain by an approaching thunderstorm.

The two days beforehand we had done 17-18 miles by 2:00 pm, and simply cut the days short, so that we wouldn't beat Mom and Dad to Katahdin.
The terrain was super easy, and the weather 3/4 of the time was with us.
Overall, we found that the Hundred Mile "Wilderness" was a lot of overhype.
While there are less people, there was still a feeling of civilization around the area.
The sign at the start of it warns all who enter the wilderness must have 10 days worth of food to make it through.
We did it in 5 days, with 2 of those days being cut short (with 5 days of food).

 July 28th
21 miles of trail remained between us and the summit of Katahdin
17 of those miles were done by 11:00 am.
We stopped by the Abol Bridge camp store for our final resupply, and, more importantly, a cup of coffee,
and took off from there at a pace of three and a half miles an hour.
We met a section hiker on his 17th and final year, and had the pleasure of finishing with him the next day.

Daniel was UBERexited, and was pushing me every time I deigned to slow down.
However, we did suffer a minor delay when Daniel fell in to a river and lost his trekking pole.
after a while of splashing about, he managed to find it a little ways down stream caught in some rocks.

Mom and Dad hadn't even finished setting up camp when we arrived to Katahdin Stream campsite, where Mom was a little less than pleased to be hugged by a sweat drenched hiker, who hadn't bathed in six days.

We could have summited the 28th, but we decided that an early start the next day would be better.

July 29th
It was a later start than what I really wanted, but it was a good morning none the less.
We had a hot breakfast of sausage, eggs, and real coffee, to mark the accession.
Dad was going to be accompanying us on our climb up Katahdin, while Mom was satisfied with just going as far as Katahdin Falls.

It was a great morning to be hiking, it was cool with a slight breeze, and hardly a cloud in the sky.
Without our full packs on, the climbs were easy (for us),
I felt kind of bad when we kept getting too far ahead of Dad, and had to let him catch up, when finally two people passed us and Daniel, who had been chomping at the bit all morning, couldn't take it anymore, and Dad told us to keep going on without him.

Katahdin proved to be the most technical climb of the trail, I don't think it was the hardest of them all, It was however, the most beautiful of them all.
It was the hardest in that it had the most boulders to climb, with no easy way around.
Rebar was set minimally in a few parts of the climb.

During our ascent we met several more thru-hikers that had only just caught up with us, two of them were twins them selves, although, not to each other.

And at long last, we reached the top.
On my part,there was no great feeling of triumph from reaching the top.
There was no grief about leaving the trail behind, or a feeling of a great achievement, just a feeling of "Oh, This is over... Now what?"
It was an odd feeling of a nonchalant achievement.

Although, the Knife's edge felt like a totally different trail.
It felt like we had wandered off the AT and on to another trail.
It was weird to follow blue blazes for the first time without any thought about having to go back.

I'm ending this post a little prematurely, but I've put it off to long.
Okay, does that satisfy you? No?
That's what I thought...
Ask me lots of questions in the comments below, and I'll try to answer them in a much more timely manner this time.
Pictures can be found here!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Not the Update you were waiting for...

Daniel and Sam did summit Katahdin! And Sam WILL be blogging about it. This is the Motherly Parental Unit, just letting the readers know that the blog has not been abandoned.
We got back to Arkansas on Sunday night- on Monday Sam was lined up to work... and to go to school. With almost 30 hours under his belt in three days, he is saying "Welcome to the world of grown ups!".
As the MPU, it has been my duty to nag him into a blog update... which he promises is forthcoming, as soon as he has time. (Hopefully by this weekend?)
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Georgia to Raine GA - ME

Maine has been the prettiest state on trail, its streams, rivers, and lake sized "Ponds" are the best sights I think we've had below treeline.
The mornings are cool, and if you're up early enough, you're quite likely to see a moose walking the trail.
We've been looking forward to Maine since Georgia, and have heard about how great the trail is through Maine.
On the balds of the mountains there are wild blueberries in abundance, and 360 views of the surrounding valleys.

We're about to enter the 100 mile Wilderness, just outside of Monson, ME, this is the home stretch!
This is our last resupply spot of the trail, apart from a mid Wilderness resupply box being sent halfway through.

I would love to visit this state again, but with all that said, I HATE MAINE!
This state thinks it can get away with treating thru-hikers with anything it throws at us, just because it's the prettiest state, but more importantly, the last state.

This is by far the muddiest, most mosquito filled puddle in all of the US!
The weather here is a backstabber, turning on you at any time.
You can wake with high hopes that your shoes will dry, because the skies are clear, and then it rains two hours later.
The humidity makes even the rocks sweat, and you slip on every other root and rock (the roots and rocks that make-up 80% of the trail).

Okay... Sorry about the rant, but we've had a lot of slips and almost serious falls lately, and have had a great deal of built up frustration over the past week and a half.
Our shoes have had it and are being replaced just before the Hundred mile Wilderness.
They've lasted over 1010 miles from Harper's Ferry, and at last, they've just given up.
We were hoping to make them last until Katahdin, but all the slips and falls have forced us to buy new ones and overnight them to Monson.

Also, we crossed the 2000 mile marker a few days ago!
Current mile: 2071.4
Miles remaining: 117.8

The Arkansas twins - Link & Folklore

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Maine 14/14

Georgia - North Carolina - Tennessee - Virginia - West Virginia - Maryland - Pennsylvania - New Jersey - New York - Connecticut - Massachusetts - Vermont - New Hampshire - Maine
As This is one of my only chances to put a blog up for a while I'll try to do a long one...this will be hard without bringing up the subject of food...
We're at the Farmhouse Inn in Rangeley, ME., halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.
This will probably be our last stay in a town for the rest of the trail.
The need for laundry, and the fact that we could use the kitchen helped us make the decision to stay.
We've been encountering a lot of southbounders lately, and have had quite a few mixed feelings about them. As with any group, you like  some -and then you come across the ones that think that they know better than someone who has walked 1700 miles more than them.
I didn't realize that we were the same when we started, it feels like it was an age ago. We thought at Harper's Ferry that we had learned everything that there was to learn... We were very wrong.
Our backpacking skills are still improving, our social views of the trail are still evolving, and our outlook is steadily becoming more optimistic.
I feel bad for some of the Southbounders, because they take a lot of abuse from some of the Northbounders, and start with the hardest part of the trail.
Maine has been the most beautiful state of them all so far, with all its lakes and sub alpine forests.
We're almost to the Hundred Mile "Wilderness", and as most of the Northbounders tell us, isn't as much wilderness as the name implies. And, as the Southbounders tell us, is like going three days were you don't see anyone...
Not that I don't believe the Southbounders, it's just that I've know the Northbounders quite a bit longer, and trust their word more.
Our tent got its pole replaced, and repaired, and now more problems are coming up with it that can be put off for a while.
And while also our shoes' tread is hanging on the last of the trail by a wing and a prayer, as all of the shoe stores in town failed to have anything useful for our purposes, we have to simply make these last the last 220 miles.
As a side note, if you're ever in Maine in summer, look for Wool coats on sale!
Shout out!
Hi Anthony and Diana!
Good job Yellow Beard and Little Goat!
And also Stoat and Poppins!
Please leave a comment below containing a question about the trail, as I am not a good writer and can't think about anything to write about.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Whites.

Trail legend tells of the White Mountains. Tales are told from Georgia all the way to southern New Hampshire.
Everyone talks about the hurricane force winds that hound Mt. Washington, the Huts that will feed you leftovers, the steepest climbs on trail.
You spend hours planning your journey through these legendary mountains, and worry that you're going to lose too much weight, that you won't have enough food, and that you'll get fined for camping somewhere you didn't know you weren't supposed to.
You start up Mt. Moosilauke with an excited pace, when you reach the top of the +2400 ft. climb, the sub alpine forest surrounds you in narrow spruce corridors leading the way to the top.
Moosilauke was the first good view we got in over 600 miles.
With a waterfall as a descent the other side... Literally.
Next came Lafayette mountain, a long bald ridge, with even better views than Moosilauke.
Later in the day after Lafayette, we had a major problem occur: as we set up our tent, the pole snapped.
With a non freestanding tent, this makes your shelter seem much more like a large useless lead brick, rather than the reliable nomadic house you've been living in for four months.
We managed a jerry-rig for the night, and got going early the next morning, quite thankful that it hadn't rained.
The Whites undoubtedly slowed us down, we went from 18-20 miles a day to a tough 12-16 miles a day.
And worse still was that we got even hungrier than normal, I truly dreamed of sausages and chocolate milk.
On the third day, we went over Mt. Washington, hoping to find 75-80 mph winds on top, and to be fair, that was quite possible in the morning.
It was a cold rain from 6:00 - 11:00 am with a dense fog surrounding us until we reach the Lake of the Clouds hut where it cleared away to blue skys.
Sadly, we only got gust of 50-55 mph winds on top, sent a few post cards at the P.O. there, then fought through the tourists and managed to get a slice pizza from the almost robot like staff.
We "cowboy" camped on the last of the Presidential Mountains, despite  that the weather could change quite suddenly in the mountains.
Our tent company was good about replacing the pole, and should be getting here to our current location in Gorham, NH. Mile 1891.6 with 297.6 miles left and only 17 miles to Maine.
Sorry no pictures, it won't let me put any up.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Less than 500

Oh, the places you'll go!
 The people you'll meet.
The things you'll smell,
The things that you eat!
The look of your feet!
The uphills,
the down hills,
you're covered in Deet ,
that stops the mosquitoes that bite in the heat.
With thanks to McGuyver for the first line.
We past a sign a few days ago th that got us all excited, it read: Katahdin 500 miles.
500 miles.

Today, we had a 2005 foot climb to start the day off, with a great deal of rain to go with it.
After a while we stopped trying to avoid the puddles, because our feet were already totally wet, and it was more energy to avoid them.
When we reached the top, we found that the wind was taking advantage of us sweating and getting wet, by trying to give us hypothermia.
I'm not joking when I say that we almost got hypothermia, it was that cold up on the mountain.

We've caught up with several of our trail Friends recently, which has helped keep us a little more motivated.

Current Mile: 1704.2
Miles left: 485.0

Please leave a comment below!
God bless! 
~Link and Folklore: The Arkansas twins.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lost, then found.

After Folklore and I finally figured out what happened to our stove that was being replaced, we were at last able to put out some good miles for change.
What happened to the stove was that it arrived in Salisbury Via FedEx, like it was supposed to, and was signed for... Then it disappeared.
The outfitter doesn't have it. It's fallen off the edge of world.
We've assumed that either FedEx didn't actually drop it off, or that it was stolen.
And now since MSR can't send us a new one again for free, they're selling us one for $20 instead of $60.
Apart from that, we've now got 1600+  miles behind us, and the Whites are just 150 miles away.
During a accidental wrong turn in the trail, I found a Boomerang!
Now all I need is to find a place to throw it.
We're in Manchester Center, VT.
Mile 1651.1
538.1 miles ahead
...And for some reason I can't upload any pictures...
Sorry, Mom.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Chasing the P.O.

This is Our fourth zero in the past two weeks, and although we probably needed it, We're ready to take off again.

Our first was when we were waiting for our replacement stove that was supposed to be In Salisbury, CT. We found that it wasn't there, and after zeroing, had to be bump it ahead a week to Williamstown MA.
During this wait, we came down with Norovirus and gained a total of 2 miles over three days.
Then we did 35 miles in two days to Dalton, MA where we stayed with a trail angel that lets hikers stay in his backyard, and he shuttled us to the Post office ahead to pick up our package.
When we got to Williamstown we found that the package wasn't there and that we would have to wait over Sunday just to see if it would be there.

A big thank you to Tom, he's let us camp in his backyard the past three nights and he did a "slackpack" for us, where we carry only a day pack for the whole hike.
We went over the Greylock mountain from Williamstown southbound back into Dalton some 23 miles.
Thus making our first +1500 climb since the Priest back in VA. rather easy, and trailwise we're in Williamstown.
During our southbond pilgrimage to Dalton, we ran across quite a few friends that had been either just ahead, or just behind us for a while.

Our energy has returned, and the Vermont and the Whites are just ahead!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sick day.

Norovirus = Hiker's bane.
Symptoms would be Vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, and overall just feeling like you will never have the will to eat again.
This is just a quick update, Daniel and I got sick on trail and needed to take a zero.
Our current mile should be 1532.7 but we had to hike 2.1 miles southbound to make it to the closest road.
I came down with it first, and I'll spare you the graphic description of what happened during the night we were in the shelter.
It was one of the most miserable nights I've had on trail.
Daniel got sick later that afternoon, thankfully he didn't have to walk two miles of trail and 1.5 of road to get to a hotel.
Also a quick thank you to everyone back at The Wooden Spoon for the Birthday card!
And Grandma Rose for hers.
We're feeling 76% normal now, and will be getting back on trail today.
Our current mile is 1532.7 (-2.1)
656.8 miles between us and Katahdin.
Thank you for reading my blog!
Leave me a comment down below if you have any questions, I think I set it up to where people without a Google account can leave comments now.
Additional pictures here!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

An odd encounter.

This is an unusual occurrence that happened on the NY-CT state line.

After we had had pizza and Coffee soda one day, at a pizzeria a little ways off trail, Daniel and I pressed a few more miles on to the next shelter, hoping to find our friend Werewolf, only to find that he had gone on to the next shelter some eight miles farther.
Our disappointment dissolved when I was able to give away as few Pasta sides to a fellow hiker, we pressed on, keeping a keen eye out for any good camping.
And after about a mile we found a passable spot, and wasting very little time, we set up and ate dinner.
Our hope was to get an extra early start the following morning by getting to bed early.

We were just about to retire for the night when a couple of teenagers came smashing through the woods.
They saw us and hesitated a moment, they seemed a little surprised to find us there.
"Oh, hello!" I greeted.
"We aren't trespassing are we?"
"Uh... Hey..." One of them answered awkwardly.

It was clear that these two were not hikers, they had no packs, and didn't seem to be there to see the trail.
They crashed through the woods on the other side of the hill from us, and we thought, at first, that they were cutting down a tree.
I went up the hill to see what they were doing as they came back up to the trail.
I gave them a friendly nod (I was brushing my teeth), and they just stared.
They kept shooting us nervous looks as they left, and something didn't seem right.
I turned back to Daniel as walked down the hill, and he had an odd expression on his face.
"What is it?" I asked.
"They just flipped us off..." Daniel answered.
Apparently, when they thought we weren't looking, they gave us a cowardly double handed salute.
"Knaves." I said aloud.
A little unsettled by this, we were in debate about leaving the area, thinking that they might return and vandalize us in someway, and decided to call home for their thoughts on it.
And as they advised us to move on, we packed up and night hiked the next two miles to Nuclear lake.

As to whether or not they would have bothered us again, I think that we made the right move and just moved on, and avoided any needless fights, rather than trusting that they were just cowardly plebeians.

We are in Kent, CT. Right now, approximately 1450 miles.
Nine states down, five more to go!

An update that is most likely out of date.

New York > New Jersey

During our adventures through New Jersey we saw a few curious sights, such as, an old man swearing at a mini van for stopping in a parking lot to let an older couple out, thus forcing him to move three steps over.
And I thought to myself as I witnessed this "I'm sure those extra three steps meant everything to you!"

Overall NJ had a bad, dirty, unpleasant vibe.
New York has made up for that, and then some!

We have had more Trailangels through this state than any other.

Our first experience with them was water caches placed by a local trail club.
Then as we ate some ice cream at a creamery, a lady and her family took us to their place for the night!
And just a day or two ago a man cooked us up some hot dogs, and gave us some Gatorade.
All of this within a week.

And almost just to prove my point about hikers being the most whiney people on earth, we complained about it raining on us this morning!

Current mile: 1433.9
Miles left: 755.3

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A (not so) lengthy blog.

As Mom ordered, a lengthy blog.
What life is like on the trail.
(Only 70% accurate)
Imagine waking up to the song of birds, right at the first light of dawn (5:25 am). You sit up and put away your bed with mechanical ease. You also wake to find that it rained during the night, and your tent is wet, all the same, you have to put it away.
You mix your normal breakfast drink and add the instant coffee to it. Oddly enough, it's one of the only foods you don't get totally sick of.
You finish packing your pack by 6:15 and head out for a 20 mile day.
The leaves above let loose the water they held kindly all the night, just so they could give you a morning shower, and the tall grass sees to it that your feet stay nice and wet.
Above, the caterpillar have started their descent on long silks to catch on you as you walk by, and the spiders, having left their webs, give you the same greeting.
The morning cool gives way to the heat of the noon day sun, and the humidity levels exceed 200%.
You've sweat 1 1/2 liters of water by 9:00 am, and you chafe more than you ever have, you try all you can to alleviate the pain, and yet almost nothing is achieved.
You come to the first water source of the day at 10:00 am, filter a liter of water in to your pouch, and down another.
The mosquitoes have devoured your arms and legs at this point of filtering water, while you struggle with opening a packet of drink mix, wishing that all of them would just go to a fiery underworld.
11:00 am rolls around and you've eaten half of your daily snacks and are trying to wait another hour for lunch.
Gnats suicidally attack your eyes.
By 2:30 pm you're half starved with 6 miles to go and the pointless up and downs become even more pointless.
You crash into your planned camp site at 5:00 pm to find that it's full, and decide to press on another 5 miles to the next water source.
Your guide book doesn't mark any camping so you hesitantly stay at a barely passable campsite just before the water.
In the morning you find that the water source has one of the best campsites on trail.
Now all of that sounds very negative, and you may be wondering why anybody would want to do a through hike?
A few answers.
Very few responsibilities.
No worries.
If you're around somebody that wants to argue, you can just leave the shelter.
You can eat more than you ever have, and you still lose weight.
You make close friends incredibly quickly.
It's very peaceful.
The views.
No true schedule.
The people you get to meet.
The oddities that you get see/be part of.
Overall, this is a fun thing, but there are a lot of hardships that you have face.
Current mile: 1293.4 with 895 miles left.
We are in the town of Delaware water gap, PA.
Various pictures.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Do not read this title.

A simple update.
Mile 1257.5
Walnutport PA.
We will be night hiking tonight to avoid the heat of the day.
We went to town today and grabbed a bite to eat a McD's, where we both ate a bundle meal a piece.
That's 2 big macs, two 1/4 lb. burgers, 10 chicken nuggets, and 2 fries (some 2100 calories).... for each of us.
Then we went to K-mart to buy water, as the next water source is 12 miles away.
The trail has only gotten more fun as we have gone on, and we have gotten well into the groove of things.
Sorry for such a short post, but this is hard with my phone. We're sitting here by the trail letting our shoes dry out, as we let things cool off.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


72 days.
7 states.
1094.6 miles walked.
15.2 miles a day average.
1/2 of the way
That is old information.
Daniel and I are past that already.
Our adventures are going well, our moral is holding strong, and we are suffering from T-rex syndrome, a case that most all of us hiker trash suffer from where you gain massive, strong legs, and lose your arms to disuse.
The skies have stopped their neglect on us, and the rain has returned. Throughout most of Virginia, we had very little rain, and many of the water sources started to dry up.
Although, this also means that the rain has returned and we have to walk through it.
You know you live a primitive life when, you go to a camp ground to access more modern amenities than what you had before.
Daniel and I have been hiking with two friends; Hawkeye, his dog Lucy, and Boyd. We decided that we would try to rent a cabin at the Deer run camp grounds in PA.
We come to the front desk and ask about any available cabins.
"Yes, we have two open." answered the lady.
"A primitive cabin, and a Luxury cabin. The primitive doesn't have a bathroom, and the luxury does."
Upon asking, we found that the Luxury does not cost any more than the primitive.
An analogy that Boyd gave summarized those options rather well:
"Would you like to walk to the top of the mountain, or just take the ski lift?" 
The hardest challenge that we face this time of the year is chafing.
Chafing all day, chafing without relief, chafing that cannot be explained, only experienced. Chafing on your arm pits, chafing around the areas that nobody talks about, chafing on your feet...
Thankfully the weather has cooled down due to the rain, but this problem will be prolonged until the later summer months.
Current mile: 1112.
Various pictures of our trip into DC.
~The Arkansas twins - Link and Folklore.

Monday, May 11, 2015

... Is that Roy?

"Waynesboro is a little bit close Mom.." I pleaded in vain.
"Waynesboro is right before Shenandoah, and you'll need to resupply there anyway." She answered back.
"But we'll be there before the package gets there."
Regardless of my pleas, she sent the package to Waynesboro, a mere four days journey north of Buena Vista, VA where we were, leaving Daniel and I to drag our heels for a day or two on our way to Waynesboro, or spend a lot of money in town waiting on the package to get there.
Naturally, Daniel and I had a hard time doing this, and decided that we would do only one extra-short day, and then could just go normal pace the rest of the way into Waynesboro.
This did not please Mom, as Daniel and I arrived in Waynesboro on Tuesday, and not Wednesday like she wanted.
Daniel and I resupplied, and ate in record time, and was just about to go about getting a ride to the Shenandoah entrance, and I call mom to let her know what our plans were.
But then she sounded rather concerned about the phone and tablet not having enough battery life to last all of Shenandoah, and told us not to rely on the Waysides having outlets for us to use, so she suggested that we go to the library and charge the devices, and post a blog.
So rather begrudgingly, we yielded to her rather commanding suggestion, and in the end it made it much easier to get back to the trail, as a one of the Kroger employees gave us a ride out of town.
However, we didn't have enough time to do the 7 miles to the first hut in Shenandoah, thus forcing us to camp just outside of the park, because you have to stay at or in one of the hut/campgrounds in Shenandoah
The following morning,  when I turned on the phone and called mom, she wanted to know where we were...
Exactly where we were...
"Okay, which cell tower are you at, the one with the tractor seats?"
"No... We're at the first cell tower...what tractor seat?"
"What mile are you at?"
"Around 820 something."
"When did you start this morning, have you had any road crossings, how many steps into Shenandoah have you taken, are you wearing clean underwear?"
There was no time to hike during this text conversation, and quite honestly, I almost turned the phone off just so we could get a move on.
The day went on like almost any other, it drizzled rain on us, it got sunny again, and as always it was humid.
And then...
"Why, Hello guys!"
I stopped, and looked up.
Before us, was a tall "gentleman" wearing a Texas flag shirt, and walking up to us with a smile the size of Texas.
My brain could not make any clear idea of how Roy could be standing in front of me.
"I must be dreaming..." Was my original thought, and then it became quite real, Roy was indeed standing in front of me.
"No way..." Was Daniel's first reaction.
I only wish I could have seen the looks on our faces when we saw him.
Then all the pieces started falling together, Roy is a pilot, Mom delayed us in town, our precise location was demanded of us, you think we would have caught on at some point.
We greeted him heartily, this was the first familiar face (apart from our friends on trail) that we had seen in two months.
Roy was kind enough to drive us to the first wayside in the Shenandoah's, two stinking, sweaty, and shocked hikers to eat...
You think he would know better.
The Blackberry milk shakes at the Shenandoah waysides was one of our goals on the trail, and they did not disappoint us. Along with the shakes, the burgers were also good- the pretzel bun was a nice touch.
But the best of friends must part, fair or foul the weather, and as we  had to finish our day of hiking, and we said our goodbyes.
About an hour after seeing Roy, we saw the first bear on trail as it ambled away.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

30 miles, and The Dragon's Tooth.

Several things happened that should not have happened together.
One: Daniel and I hiked 30 miles in one day.
Two: We night hiked.
Three: We went over Dragons Tooth. (located between Catawba and Roanoke, VA)
If you were to take any one of those, you wouldn't have done anything extraordinary, however, if you were to do all three of those, then you would have done something stupid. (Like we did.)
Our plan that day, was to go a simple 13 miles to a shelter and avoid the rain that night, and with such an easy day to go by, we took our time going to the shelter.
When we reached it, we found a rather unnerving character there, and we had 7 hours of daylight left, so we decided that we would press on and maybe go all the way to Four Pines hostel 17 miles on.
Between us and there was two tough climbs, Bush mountain, and Dragons Tooth.
We beat the never ending Bush mountain without stopping, powered on by a sugar rush of Skittles.
When we reached the almost nonexistent top, we found a bench, on this bench someone had wrote "Voted best bench ever! - Seat and Stool magazine."
(To be read in a story telling font, for best results, an Irish accent is suggested.)
We reached mile 26 right as things were getting dark.
Before us, was the legendary Dragons Tooth, a dark fog surrounded us as we ascended the rocky, damp, treacherous climb, the eery mood shattered by an up beat song playing on the tablet, we were on our first night hike, and we were ready.  (End of story telling font)
Dragons Tooth is one of the hardest descents on the Appalachian trail (northbound), with a series of super steep rock faces with rebar set into the stone to allow safe passage.
Daniel and I did it at night, when it was wet, and when it was foggy out.
We might have been going 1/3 miles per hour while going down.
We crashed at Four pines at 10:15 that night, quite thankful that everyone was awake.
We barely even had dinner that night, a package of tuna is all that we had before bed.
Daniel and I are at Waynesboro, VA. Just before the Shenandoah National park, 861 miles are behind us.
~Link (Sam)
Pictures are: Daniel outside the Priest shelter.
The Dinosaur in Glasgow, VA.
And "Drifter" eating his cheese.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Our adventures through Damascus

This was way back at the start of Virginia, right after we crossed the TN/VA state line. (mile 460)

We were in a hurry the morning we made it in to Damascus, we ran out of food the night before, and were talked out of doing the last 10 miles of what would have been a 32 mile day by our friend Tribute.

Our main goal for the day was breakfast at Cavilers cafe, everything else was secondary, and we would only be delayed by our picture at the TN/VA border.
We rolled in to town at 10:00 am, and made a bee line for Cavilers.
The restaurant was in the old cafe style, with a bars and booths, and old vintage advertisements hanging from the wall. Daniel and I had ordered when Tribute and Headlights came and sat with us, so we felt a little bad when our food came first and they watched us eat, but they were in high spirits and just let us watch them eat a few minutes later.
After breakfast the only natural course of action was to get a milk shake, and we were right at the breakfast/lunch turnover time that ordering one wasn't inconvenient.

We stayed at "The Place" a hostel run by the Methodist Church of Damascus, we met the two night limit there, because we zeroed in town.
It was an old early 1900's building with plain wooden bunks to set up on.

Damascus its self was a really neat sort of town, with no less than four different bicycle shops and two outfitters, it needed the Transcontinental bicycle trail, and the Appalachian trail going through it.
Damascus is well know for the AT. Trail days event, an AT reunion/talent show/parade.

Most of the first day went without much excitement, we did laundry, resupplied, and went to the all you can eat buffet (and then got a milk shake!).

The next morning Daniel and I ate breakfast with Tribute and Headlights again, and then we went to church with Tribute later that morning.
As Daniel and I walked up the steps to the Church, a man greets us and asked me " Are you guys twins?"
"Yes." I answered
During this, Daniel had opened up the flyer he had handed us, the subject this week "The terrible Twins: Bitterness and Grudging"
At this point I'm thanking God that we already have trail names, as Daniel jokes that they're already warning people about us, and discriminating against us before we even come in.
We sat down with Tribute, who had been sitting alone, and people kept coming to Daniel and I asking us questions about the trail, where we started, and where we where from, Tribute told us later that no one had even told him hello before we had walked up.

After the Service, as Daniel and I were leaving, a man and his family came to us and asked if we would like to go out to lunch with them, and like any other thru-hiker, we said "Okay!".
They took us to Abington for Chinese, and then Starbucks, and then their house...
We could hardly believe their kindness.
(Thanks again Mike!)

When we got back to town, another fellow thru-hiker, Penguin, invited us to dinner later that evening because her sister had sent some money with her (Penguin's) husband to do some " Trail magic" for some of the other hikers.
After going by every other restaurant in town, we finally found one that wasn't closed on the far side of town, Pizza plus, which turned out great because they had an all you can eat buffet, and was right next to Food city.

I can't say much about the "Town wide WiFi" as it was not town wide, and it was rather poor.

And much to my surprise, you could not rent a unicycle in a town with four different bike shops, are there that few of unicycle-ers that we can be so discriminated against?

After we left town, about ten miles out, we came upon a sign that warned that a bridge had been washed out 1/4 mile ahead and that we were to follow the Virginia Creeper trail 1/2 mile until we crossed the AT again.
So Daniel and I discussed our options, and decided that that would be too logical, and continued down the AT, after what we thought was 1/4 of a mile, we came upon a stream with all the Rhododendron washed over the trail.
We climbed over them and crossed the stream with little difficulty, and said to our self's "That was easy!"...
Then we come to the river...
The river with the bridge washed out...

I sat down and started taking my shoes off, as the river was not deep and had several points where you could cross most of the way across.
Daniel didn't bother taking his shoes off, and started down the most promising path, but only got halfway before coming back.
Then as he started down the next one, when the unfortunate hiker made a faux pas...

One moment there was a splash, the next, an angry, dripping, and wet hiker was tearing through his pack to pull his sleeping bag out before it got wet*.

"Are you all right?" I ask mildly concerned.
"...Yes, my sleeping bag isn't wet."
Afterwards we laughed about it quite a bit, however, we were quite thankful that no one saw the event.

*Down losses its insulating ability when wet.

Pictures are: Daniel and I at the TN/VA state line, Tribute, a former thru-hiker and some kid that we talked to. And Headlights.

~Sam (Link)

Monday, April 27, 2015

An update.

Daniel and I are at mile 729 in Troutville, VA, with about 1460 miles to go!

We just changed out our winter sleeping bags out for our summer ones, and also sent home various other winter gear.
Overall we cut out about 1 1/2 lbs. from our packs each.

After we sorted through our mail drop, Daniel and I had lunch at 3 li'l pigs restaurant, mainly because they give a free banana pudding dessert to thru-hikers.

After our resupply, We decided that we would camp at the park here in Troutville, for one, because it's free, and two, the fire dept. across the street let's thru-hikers use their shower and laundry facilities also for free!

I'm working on some other stories for the blog right now, so this'll just be a short one.

If you want to know more about what we do out here, just leave a comment below!

~ Link (Sam)

Pictures are: The Homeplace restaurant, and Daniel sitting out side of the restaurant.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Two blogs gone to waste.

Sorry, Guys but when I tried  uploading two of the blogs that I had, my tablet went stupid and ate them both.

We've past the 1/4 point, and gone over 600 miles in these 43 days.
We're in Pearisburg, VA right now, and all the trees are in bloom.
It's quite a beautiful place, southern Virginia, Daniel and I both are wondering when Virginia is supposed to be boring.

The hostel that we're staying at is a very neat sort of cabin, with VERY strict rules about alcohol and drugs.
If one person is drinking a beer, EVERYONE is kicked out and the place locked up for 3 days.

A part from that, it is a great place for $10 a person.

Between us and 3 other thru-hikers we had Italian sausages, strawberries, beef fajitas, and Ice cream, and that was only part of it.

We've been having a great time out here, and we wish you guys all the best!

~Sam (Link)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hiker update!

I was promised an "I will try to update" several days ago. That didn't happen!
This is the Motherly Parental Unit letting the blog followers know that we had a check in- "We are still alive and having fun!" call on Skype over the weekend.
Daniel and Sam continue to find favor along the trail. They are beyond Damascus, and in a region where there is little to no cell phone coverage for the coming week, and even less opportunity for wi-fi to do blog updates. Sam is still journaling and working on updates, so once they do have favorable conditions, we may be in for more than one update.
I found a photo of the hikers on one of their previous hikes. Sam has threatened to block my access to update this blog if I post it here. In a few days, I will be adding photos from the full photo card to the picture site- and a few choice ones here.
The web address for the pictures is in this link: Gravel Journey Extra Pictures
Thank you for reading!

Friday, April 3, 2015


Hey everyone! This is Sam!
As it turns out, you can still find true adventures in this world today.
Halfway through the Smokies, we realized that we had missed a page in our guide book when we resupplied.
This left us with a choice, ration our food or, resupply in Gatlinburg TN.
Halfway through a day of starving our selves, we decided that the better plan would be to resupply.
So we caught a ride with a very kind lady trail named 'Mouse', she was section hiking part of the AT before doing the PCT later this year.
We had no idea of what Gatlinburg was before we got
Major culture shock, the middle of spring break, the sidewalks were PACKED with people.
My theory is that a traveling circus final wagon broke down on the spot that you can now find Gatlinburg TN. The elephants died away, but the Carnies have remained.
During our time there we were offered Moonshine twice (we turned it down).
Leaving there was our first time hitch hiking, it was kind of embarrassing to hold my thumb out for the first time, but I had a great case of beginners luck, and the first car pulled over.
Her first question was 'Are you guys murderers?'
'All right! Hop in!'
Thus was our trip to and from Gatlinburg.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The best laid plans...

Of hikers and moms may often go awry! (I'm sure the phrase is something like that.) (This is the Mom. Again.)

The new tablet screen did reach Daniel and Sam in a more or less timely manner. That is the good news. The not so good news... while I (The Motherly Parental Unit) ordered a repair kit that came with tools- it came with specialty tools. Common tools usually available to most people are needed to actually complete the installation of the new screen. No access to these on the Trail. Sam boxed up the whole works and has sent it packing to here.
Last night we did get a new tablet ordered... and are hoping it does not play Trail Tag with the guys. They should be back to posting in a week or so.

Meanwhile... they continue hiking northward! They have been snowed on, rained on, and had their boots freeze overnight. They report that town days tend to be expensive. I am told they are taking plenty of pictures. (Actual conversation went more along these lines: (me) "Are you taking plenty of pictures?" (Sam) "Yes, Mom. We are taking pictures.")
I am leaving the details of the adventure to such a time as Sam (or Daniel!) can tell the stories in their inimitable style.
They have covered more than 275 miles of the trail thus far. Sam asks that not spell out exactly where they will be at any given time on the blog- or where they intend to be on any given day.
(Feel free to ask me in person- they don't mind sharing with folks we DO know.)
Once again, Thank you for reading Gravel Journey. Keep Daniel and Sam in your prayers!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hot Springs, North Carolina!

The Parental Units waited futilely for a call all day Saturday and Sunday. Unable to stand the tension a moment longer- Sunday evening a call was placed to Elmer's Sunnybank Inn , the hostel where the boys were supposed to show up.
 To our immense relief, they were happily enjoying the hospitality of the music room at Elmer's! No wi-fi, no cell phone service in the town... so no call home. True to our word, we tracked them down. They are staying in the very same room the first Thru hiker of the AT, (ever!) Earl Shaffer stayed in on both of his visit's to Sunnybank Inn.
They received their first care package from home; and according to Fed-Ex the screen to the tablet has been delivered. In reality, the Fed-Ex delivery isn't likely until tomorrow... it was not there, despite its tracking number claim.
The words in blue in this post are clickable links that will give you more information on the subjects. Hopefully, Sam will be back to writing these updates himself. We ALL miss his way with words.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fresh out of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This update brought to you once again by the Motherly Parental Unit. Sam called, but the service was "terrible poor". They have crossed out of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and will be arriving even sooner than expected to the place their first "care package" was sent.
Bad on Amazon Prime- the replacement screen for Sam's tablet was not sent "two day" shipping. It will arrive a few days after the boys depart- so will have to be shipped on to their next, yet to be determined, stop along the trail. I am preparing their next box of goodies to go out! (Our box from home was sent in such a timely manner it IS awaiting them at their next stop- Hot Springs, NC!)
If you are a Wooden Spoon employee, There is a picture postcard from Samuel and Dan (in the office?)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hiker Update!

This is Daniel and Sam's  Motherly Parental Unit with a quick update. The guys have suffered an equipment breakdown- a cracked screen on the tablet. So they cannot update the blog themselves just yet. We are trying to get a new screen to Sam ASAP- but I need a bit more information from him.
The hikers called from Clingman's Dome this morning. They did NOT take this picture, I borrowed it from a Google search:
They are just over 200 miles into their hike. They hope to reach Elmer's Sunnybank Inn, in Hot Springs, North Carolina by the 30th. I certainly hope to have their replacement tablet screen to them by then!
I have had a number of folks ask how to comment. First, sign into a Google account, such as Gmail or Blogger. Then click on the comment button below the post, and you should be able to leave comments. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Here we go!

Well, this is it!
I can hardly believe that this is really happening.

First of all, I would like to say thank you to all our friends at one of our primary outfitters over at Lewis and Clark for all their advice and all the great gear they offer with said advice, and to everyone at The Wooden Spoon for all their encouragement!

Day 1
Mom and Dad drove us to the parking lot at the top of Springer Mountain, and walked with us to the official start of the A.T. and after a we made our Good bye, Daniel and I started down the trail.
And it is a beautiful trail, the weather was mostly cloudy and a little bit wet, and the clouds surrounded the hills around us.

So far we've met four other thru-hikers that started today, a friendly guy from Missouri named Taylor, two other guys, and a lady.

We only hiked ten miles today, but we figured that we should take things easy these first few days especially, and so we wouldn't have to set up camp in the rain. (Plus there was this weird tree that we ate under!)

Day two
We got a very early start today at around six this morning and got hiking when things were still dark.
It rained lightly the night before and we had to deal with a damp tent, but for the most part we stayed dry.
As we were stopes to fill our water pouches, a man asked if we could filter some water for him, and we happily helped him out as it turned out he was a German man here in the US as an exchange student.
Him and his friend are on spring break.

Today we had our first taste of "trail magic" when a couple of guys were having a little cook out for all us hikers.
It was here that we met Ramblin' Rose, a rather kind lady that we've been hiking with most of the day.

It's now day three and quite frankly I don't at all feel like writing anything. (but I am anyway.)
This was our first time on the Appalachian rollercoaster, where you go from a high to low and back again in a roundtable of emotion.
It can be influenced in a multitude of ways, you can hike in the rain for a mile and a half, feel awful, then you reach the outfitter at Neels gap!
You breath a sigh of relief, get out of the rain, pick up a few post cards, wait out the rain, and you're on your way!
Then you fall back in to the mode of hiking, stop and set up camp on the least wet place you can find, start cooking dinner...and then you see your hands(again)...and you realize that they've been dirty for three days straight and you want them clean.
But you can't get them totally clean with hand sanitizer.
You reach a low.
Then you smell dinner, and it smells amazing, and then the wind blows in such a way that your tent dries out at last!
You're at a high.
Then dinner gets knocked over....

Over all though, I can't complain about the weather, it hasn't rained as much as they were calling for, and we made it to Hiawassee before it rained today (Day five).

And as promised a shout out to everyone back at work!
Hi Sue, Becky, Lauren, Jodi, Jenna, Mom, Jane, Stacy, Miriam, Shelby, Brook, Diane, Kelsie, Luke, Sharla,Misti, Janae, Brenda, And Brenda, Martha, Barbara, Tiffany, Shana, Chad, Cam, Rochelle, Stephanie, Sarah, Carlene , and Serena

Wish us luck! And God be with you!
Happy PI day of the Century!

Pictures: Us in our first camp site, Daniel leaning against a weird tree, A friendly cat at Neels gap, Me on Blood Mountain, and Daniel Taking a picture on blood mountain.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Story

Hey everyone! This is Otter (Sam), and this is the story leading up to our adventure on the Appalachian Trail.

Ever since Daniel first read about the Appalachian Trail in a Backpacker Magazine in 2010 he's had a desire to hike it, and ever since then he's been taking the necessary steps to set out on such a large endeavor.

For over two years now, he's been studying the Appalachian Trail and the various forms of gear needed for the trail.
In addition we've both been working and saving as much as we can for this event.

As it is, we've only been on three backpacking trips, once in 2012, and each of the consecutive years following.
That of course, is only a small amount of back country experience, but each time it encouraged us that the AT could be done.

Daniel's plan has change several times, ever since he established march 9th as the start date.
The most major plan change happened in August of last year, when I decided to go with him.

I was undecided about going on the trail for several years, with people always encouraging me to go with him.
And yet I was still unsure, I still had my doubts about costs, time, and what I could be doing while he was gone.
Then it occurred to me, that I would regret not going on such an epic adventure!
This sort of opportunity doesn't come around every day!

And so I've been elected as The Keeper of the journal, and minister of propaganda (I.e. public relations officer.) It's my job to keep mom happy with weekly pictures and the like.

I'll be back in a week or so with more!