New Video Link

Dropbox blocked my link because the file is too large and is generating too much traffic.  That’s what they said.  I have no idea why I pay them $99 per year.  I thought it was a “file sharing” site.  Hummmmm…. Guess not.

Dropbox does have competition.  Love it.  Here’s the link to SugarSync.  Let’s see how long it lasts. 

https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D3624411_94596663_68586

These guys will allow you to download your own copy or simply play it. 

Very sorry for the inconvenience.

Sisu’s Long Walk – The Movie

 

 Image-1(1)

Kensington, MD, August 27, 2014. — Okay.  I admit that I know the rules.  People just don’t watch videos longer than two to three minutes.

So… mine is a tiny bit longer – by a multiple of five. Even at that, I have around 3,000 unused still pics and 30 minutes worth of video clips leftover on the cutting room floor.  Those who have hiked the AT will recognize just how much I left out. 

I don’t claim that longer is better.  I just couldn’t figure out what else to cut.

If I ever hike the AT again, I’d do it much differently.  Among many changes, I’d schlep a big boy camera and not depend on my phone.  I will give Apple some credit tho.  The iPhones (4s and 5s) I carried did a decent job considering their limitations.

My next challenge is to chop this thing down to something under three minutes for use when I speak.  I’ll save that task for another day. 

Click on the video link to watch.  It’s 15 minutes long, so it may take some time to upload.  It might work best to click on the link and walk away for a few minutes until the transfer is complete.

 

 

 

Return to mundane life

IMG_1414

Kensington, MD, August 15, 2014 — I saddled up my car in my cousin Deb’s Grantham, NH driveway, ready for the journey home.  The leaves are hinting their fall colors and it was time to leave.  

On this phase of the journey, the pathway would mostly be on I-95 which exists as a remarkably dissimilar parallel universe to the the sylvan setting we’ve come to know as the Appalachian Trail. 

The drive home was relaxing and noneventful to my delight. I arrived around midafternoon on a delightful late summer day featuring low humidity.  I pitied the traditional Washingtonians who’ve made their lemming-like August escape. This place can be delightful with a huge chunk of the local population out of town.

The mood wasn’t right to do much after arriving, so I unloaded the car and junked my gear in a pile to be sorted another time.  The stuff that smelled like ripe gym socks stayed quarantined in the garage. Like the rocks, nothing was going to go anywhere.

The cats were happy.  They expressed their glee in the usual ways, rubbing and purring up a storm.  Then I fired up the grill, savored non-dehydrated BBQ and melted into my chair to watch “Project Runway” with my wife and daughter.  Sophie, my favorite cat assumed her usual position on my knee. 

This morning I got a haircut.  Afterwards I could not resist grazing at my favorite donut shop next door.  I adore their glazed donuts.  Let’s not make that a habit, I reminded myself. Reintegration is nearly complete.

The heart of today’s plan was to clean up my gear, wash my clothes, sleeping bag and down jackets, and remove the funk from my rain gear.  Since my trail crew is working tomorrow I needed to prepare my contribution to our post work pot luck dinner.  The theme this month is Caribbean.  Here’s hoping my finely chopped mixed greens with pineapple, mango and watermelon, drizzled in balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing will complement everyone’s jerk chicken.

Late this afternoon, the laundry remained a work in progress, so I decided to skip tenting tonight (Friday) and instead will drive up early tomorrow morning.  I will camp Saturday night.  I hate to miss spending Friday with some of the more intrepid crew members, but I really don’t feel like practicing my deep woods sleeping skills just now.  That can wait until next month.  Monday I return to the gym to get ready for cross-country ski season.

After Katahdin, I needed to clean up two short trail sections I’d skipped.  I was too ill to join Swayed when he hiked the Wildcats, a taxing 21 mile chunk from Pinkham Notch, NH to Rt. 2.  With pending big rain as the motivation and aided by fresh and healthy knees, I knocked it off in 14 hours nonstop.  A day earlier I ripped through a seven mile stretch, centered outside Andover, ME and Moody Mountain, in what turned out to be a no-challenge jaunt.  The yellow blazes have been erased from the record.

Wednesday morning I met with a rep from the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) about the perception of their brand in the minds of thru and long distance hikers.  They are well aware and nondefensive.  Best, since this was my second conversation on this subject, my impression is that they are willing to listen and repair as much of the damage as possible. I’m hoping to be a productive part of that process, after all that’s what most of my communications career was all about.

Once the weekend’s work is done, I’ll begin sorting out my trip report for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), final equipment review, lessons learned and the video.  Then there’s the honey do list … here’s a hint.  It’s long.

 IMG_1416IMG_1396 IMG_1400 IMG_1403 IMG_1404 IMG_1405 IMG_1407 IMG_1410 IMG_1418

Better than Disney World

Kennebunkport, ME, Friday August &, 2014 — Reintegration back into non-hiking society began in earnest this morning with a visit to a local coffee shop called Morning in Paris. Can’t get much further from the back woods than that.

Later we jumped on my friend Ed’s Vespas and scooted to the beach to watch some friends surf. His daughter Katie is home from her job with the United Nations, so naturally we posed for our “life is a beach” pic.

The adrenaline drained from my system during the shuttle from Millinocket yesterday. I was too exhausted to join a party in progress at a local Irish pub. Instead, I sat on the front deck sipping wine and let the sound of the crashing waves massage my cares away.

I can tell that I’m still suffering from adrenaline withdrawal because I’m dragging a bit. It feels a lot like the aftermath of a long business trip.

I can’t get too far in front of my ski tips. I have two short sections of trail I skipped over, about 27 hours total hiking time. I’ll get the first six hours on Sunday and the remainder Monday and Tuesday.

Tuesday or Wednesday I hope to meet with some Appalachian Mountain Club officials to offer them some requested feedback centered on their brand image with thru hikers. These are the Appalachian Money Club folks.

Then it’s off to my cousin’s to retrieve the gear I Ieft there. After that it’s home to join my trail crew working next Saturday in Shenandoah National Park.

Thanks to everyone for your kind kudos since Katahdin, especially HOBO whose congratulatory text reached me on Katahdin’s summit. His timing was perfect.

IMG_1360.JPG
Note the genuine Paris bistro chairs.

IMG_1372.JPG
After you hike the AT, life truly is a beach!!!

Made for TV movie

Baxter Peak, Mt. Katahdin, ME, AT NOBO mile 2,185.3, Wednesday August 6, 2014 — Today was like a made for TV movie with perfect scenery, a thickened plot and surprise casting.

Imagine two thru hikers hiking in successive years. Each has walked all the miles except the climb to Katahdin.

Better yet, each one has vicariously hiked with the other through their respective blogs month by month, day by day; mile by mile.

What are the chances that they would find each other and summit together? Well it happened.

Tie Dye wrote a fascinating blog during her 2013 hike. Along the way, we struck up a conversation. In fact, she was responsible for shaping the tone of my own hike. I blogged about it in a post entitled “Conversion on the road to Damascus.” Who knew she was working at the AT Lodge in Millinocket.

Conversely, Tie has been following my blog and has encouraged my progress. I bumped into her when I popped into the Lodge to wait out the rain.

Today was her day off and we summited together. How cool is that?!!! Two hikes, two years and one goal.

We piled into the van, a bunch of hikers headed to the top of a mountain, bound together in common purpose.

The trail can be divided into thirds. The initial portion resembles most of the trail in Maine – roots, rocks and mud. It even has bog bridges. At treeline, boulders resembling Mahoosic Notch add challenge with less difficulty. The end is a tableland walk with a surprise ending. The final exam has a bit of everything.

The dark leaden sky blocked dawn’s early light as the forecast’s twenty percent chance of rain threatened. About 45 minutes in, the sky dropped its load. With those odds, maybe I should head for Las Vegas.

As we scrambled through the boulders, the clouds parted like the Red Sea and we could see forever. It was indeed a perfect day.

Thanks to family, friends, followers for coming along for the ride. Special thanks to Tie for sharing this special day. Without Fitness Together, this would have been a struggle. Please stay tuned for follow-ups , the anthology video and to see what comes next.

IMG_1266.JPG

IMG_1269.JPG

IMG_1271.JPG

IMG_1274-2.JPG

IMG_1281.JPG

IMG_1286.JPG

IMG_1299.JPG

IMG_1300.JPG

IMG_1306.JPG

IMG_1307.JPG

IMG_1323.JPG

IMG_1331.JPG

IMG_1335.JPG

IMG_1334.JPG

IMG_1338.JPG

IMG_1344.JPG

Go for launch

Millinocket, ME, AT Lodge, AT NOBO mile 2,180.1, Tuesday August 5, 2014 — Lies, damn lies and statistics? Wrong! It’s really lies, damn lies and weather forecasts.

Where have all the T-storms gone? Not here. No time passing.

Today dawned cloud free and has remained so all day. I feel like an idiot to have missed another opportunity to put the cherry on top of this most excellent adventure.

The forecast for tomorrow is now for clear weather. Therefore I’ve decided that we attack at dawn come hell or high water. It’s Katahdin or bust ’cause I am about to bust just sitting around here twiddling my thumbs. The hostel is a nice place, that’s not the issue.

Of course I am psyched. Let’s rock and roll kiddies. It’s time.

Now for other news. Sadly Millinocket is another small town drifting toward oblivion. It’s paper mills have closed taking its middle class down in the process. Deferred maintenance and for sale signs characteristically define Main Street in what has become a hiker town trend.

It is sad that the theories of Adam Smith and Darwin are evident one more time. In Smith’s case, the prosperity always seems to accrue to someone else or elsewhere. At least the hiking community brings in a few bucks.

Some of the businesses look like the owners left in a hurry. Names remain on marquees. It looks like they might be open, except they aren’t. Potemkin would be proud.

This town supports its troops. Communities like this have been sending their sons, and now their daughters, to defend our nation’s interests on muddy fields for centuries as monuments to their service attest. It’s ironic that no one seems to have defended them in the hour of their need.

20140805-155336-57216429.jpg

20140805-155427-57267530.jpg

20140805-155613-57373017.jpg

20140805-155732-57452187.jpg

20140805-160420-57860540.jpg
Outside. The desperation is evident.

20140805-160539-57939723.jpg
Inside. Working harder didn’t solve the problem.

20140805-160720-58040716.jpg

20140805-160941-58181425.jpg

20140805-161034-58234154.jpg

20140805-161151-58311676.jpg

20140805-161338-58418843.jpg

20140805-161438-58478329.jpg

20140805-162121-58881338.jpg

20140805-162249-58969809.jpg

Rain delay

AT Lodge, Millinocket, ME, AT NOBO mile 2,180.1, Monday August 4, 2014 — Up to this point, every day, every mile, every rock, every root, every mud hole has been a preliminary heat. Now we’ve made the finals.

With toes on the starting line, the assent of Mt. Katahdin has been delayed by a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms tomorrow. A similar percentage applies for Wednesday.

I opted to regroup at the AT Lodge in Millinocket and climb on Thursday when the weather is expected to clear. It’s sad to come this far and not get a clear view on top, so I’m waiting.

I reached the camp store at Abol Bridge just as it opened. Hot, fresh coffee! Oh boy. Then it happened.

There it was – a moose just inside Baxter State Park! It was munching its way through a swamp to my right. Rain or no rain, I whipped out my camera and fired away. Mr. Moose, or maybe it was Bullwinkle, posed like a pro. Thanks bro!!!

The remainder of the ten-mile walk to Katahdin Stream Campground was a soggy jaunt in drenching rain. Can you believe it? The sky cleared just as I arrived, just 30 minutes past the deadline for starting a summit attempt. If I hadn’t stopped for coffee, I could have summited today. Oh well, 5.2 miles to go…

20140804-214429-78269375.jpg

20140804-214632-78392538.jpg
The store and it’s setting reminded me of Alaska.

20140804-215122-78682093.jpg

20140804-215214-78734233.jpg

20140804-215251-78771903.jpg
The white tail was a bonus.

20140804-215345-78825141.jpg

20140804-215446-78886517.jpg

20140804-215528-78928177.jpg

20140804-215619-78979650.jpg

Eyes on the prize!

Hurd Brook Lean-to, ME, AT NOBO mile 2,166.7, Sunday August 3, 2014 — Finally! A clear view of Katahdin. Not the best , mind you, but at least the camera saw it clearly and unmistakably.

Katahdin rises like a ginormous humpbacked whale breaching a flat ocean surface. It’s simply overwhelms everything around it. Simply put, it’s impressive.

I actually was so l busy picking blueberries, which are ripening on the rainbow ledges where hikers get their first up-close and personal view of the mountain, that I almost missed it. I looked up just at the right time. The sight took my breath away. Photos do not do it justice.

Earlier this morning a longer distance view was very hazy with Katahdin barely visible to the camera. I’m disappointed in my photo ops so far.

Tomorrow it’s breakfast at the Abol Bridge camp store, then on to The Birches where thru hikers stage for their assents. The weather remains a mystery given how long it’s been since I saw a forecast.

One caveat. The mountain is closed by the park rangers if weather conditions endanger hikers or possible rescuers. If that’s the case, I may have to hang in Millinocket until it clears. I’m hoping for a clean first attempt.

20140804-211608-76568458.jpg

20140804-211723-76643453.jpg

20140804-211857-76737108.jpg

20140804-212234-76954696.jpg

20140804-212412-77052299.jpg

Ouch!

Potaywadjo Spring Lean-to, ME, AT NOBO mile 2137.0, Friday August 1, 2014 — With only 48 miles remaining, I’ve done it again. I have a deeply bruised left foot that hurts like hell. It’s the same wet sock mess I got myself into in Massachusetts.

When I switched out some socks recently, I managed to grab a pair of medium weight Smart Wool socks instead of the heavy ones. I wore them today. Somehow my left foot got wet and the socks bunched up under my toes just like the lighter weight polypropylene pair did in Mass.

I’ll assess the damage in the morning when my feet are dry and repair what I can. We have rain forecast for the next three days which does not help.

Fortunately, with the food drop I picked up at JoMary Rd. today, I have enough supplies to do the 100-mile wilderness twice over. Therefore I have the flexibility to zero in a shelter if need be. Note to Swayed, my food bag now weighs nearly as much as yours did, but not quite.

Otherwise, the walking today was good. The trail was relatively fast with the exceptions of several muddy and rocky stretches. I managed 19.5 miles in 12 hours which is good in Maine.

No views today. Only green tunnel. I did capture a photo of a grouse. I am now tied with Karma in the category of grouse photos – one a piece. No moose sightings yet and time is running out. Still, another great day on the AT.

20140804-201906-73146823.jpg

20140804-202947-73787379.jpg

20140804-203119-73879342.jpg

20140804-203317-73997126.jpg
Rich Maine mud.

20140804-203516-74116072.jpg
These pants got much dirtier over time.

20140804-203739-74259834.jpg

Lo and behold

Logan Brook Lean-to, ME, AT NOBO mile 2,113.9, Thursday July 31, 2014 — Let’s start at the end. A late afternoon thunderstorm was just passing, the clouds parted and behold — the holy of holies, the end all and be all, the ultimate objective, Katahdin. Mind you it was itself shrouded in clouds, but it was unmistakable nonetheless.

There it was, plopped on the far horizon like a great mound of blueberry ice cream snuggled in a cloud of cotton candy draped like a baby blanket over its shoulders. Where’s the cherry on top? That’s where I’ll be in a few short days I smiled before planting my right pole in a thru hiker pirouette to soldier on under the dripping sky.

The end is actually in sight with just 71.4 miles remaining in this little party. My emotions are mixed. On the one hand it’s time to turn out the lights on this little fiesta. On the other, following the white blazes is pretty uncomplicated employment. It’s hard to give up life at two miles per hour and return to interstate speed.

Today was another good day. The trail was in excellent shape. At the river ford, just after the 2,100 mile mark, I met a senior trail overseer from the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) who advised me that the trail ahead of me was fast. Most of it was her responsibility. She told me the story of taking 11 years to build 1,100 stone steps down the north side of White Cap Mountain, the day’s big climb. On my way down, I realized that steps help make today’s 17 miles a relative snap.

The thunderstorm caught me below treeline. Fortunately it didn’t drop much rain, just enough to freshen the mud and slicken up the roots. I thought I’d lose out on the first view of Katahdin, but luck was a lady this afternoon.

All the young hikers are talking big miles tomorrow. The trail flattens and everyone is anxious to speed up their finish. Such competition is the coin of the realm for young men.

My resupply is supposed to be delivered sometime tomorrow, tho I don’t know what time. So as for my planned speed, I’m making sure I get fed.

That’s all I have to worry about at the moment. No deadlines. No hurry.

20140804-201101-72661948.jpg
Hint.

20140804-201157-72717303.jpg

20140804-201319-72799409.jpg
The big K is one huge chunk of rock.

20140804-201415-72855795.jpg

20140804-201632-72992435.jpg