Denise is settling in.
Month: March 2016
The Pancake that Ate Luray…
Shenandoah National Park, VA, March 23 – 24, 2016 — Pancakes! I woke up hungry for pancakes. What’s wrong with that? I mean what do the real lumbersexuals of Washington eat – not the fake hipster ones, but the gals and guys who actually get out there and get after it?
What could pancakes possibly suggest? How about a work trip to the park. The hikers are coming and there are blowdowns to obliterate.
I called my district trail manager to find out what needed to be done. Then I emailed David Sylvester, my ever ready chainsaw companion, and we set the time and place. There’s more than enough fun to go around.
Sorry. I ate the pancake before it could eat Luray. No. There were no heroics – and apologies to Norman Greenbaum’s eggplant.
So, after carb loading, I test fired my saw, packed the car and stuffed my hammock in the side pocket of my pack and jumped on I-66 headed west.
First stop, Rileyville, Va. to pick up David. Believe me. It’s one of those towns that if you blink, you miss it. Not even a stop light. Next stop, the Luray Seven-Eleven to snag a sandwich for lunch; then on to the park’s Thornton Gap entrance where we were told work awaited.
We understood that there was a big blowdown about a mile up Pass Mountain. Pass Mountain is a pleasant jaunt, maybe the easiest mountain in the park’s entire repertoire. Well, as luck would have it, we marched and marched and marched. No down tree.
After searching for an hour we stopped at Pass Mountain Hut for lunch. Lugging 40 lbs. of chainsaw, safety gear, tools plus fuel and oil up and over mountains with a guy less than half your age is WORK!
I’m always fascinated by the trash we find along hiking trails. Who would leave a pair of serviceable army-style boots in the middle of nowhere? As always we found TP, aka Charmin flowers, everywhere. Women who don’t know better pee, then dry themselves and drop the paper. We get to police it up. Use a pee rag ladies, please – or pack out your paper.
Both days were gorgeous with temps into the mid-70s. Still, snow persisted in some northern shadows. Nevertheless, the bugs were abundant. That’s a bit unusual for this time of year. Obviously, the woodpeckers have been after them. They defaced a brilliant blaze I painted last year.
Next stop was Gravel Spring where a “giant” complex blowdown awaited bucking. Damn! Someone got there first. Probably a park crew. But, we did find another just a bit to the north. It took David longer to get his safety gear on than it did to demolish the obstruction.
Last we inspected a large obstruction the ranger at the Thorton Gap gate told us about. We decided to clear it in the morning. The day ended at Indian Run as many trips do.
A healthy daffodil crop surrounds the hut. We built a small fire and sipped a brew as a brilliant pearl of a moon peaked its nose over the horizon and tracked across the night sky. Excellent medicine. Doctors should prescribe it more often.
Our last project was mopping up this sucker at the junction of the Dickey Ridge and Snead Farm trails. These are popular trails that lead to an old apple farm where the foundation of an impressive house remains and the apple barn has been preserved for history.
First job is to attack the small stuff, then amputate the big guy on the end. Remove debris and the trail is ready for prime time once again.
Observation. Real lumbersexuals always wear red Kevlar pants!
Two days well spent. It’s spring break. Met a bunch of nice families out hiking.
Denise is forging ahead like a troop in spite of teething pains common to early hiking.
Pennsylvania Rocks MILES 1,147-1,294 Duncannon, PA to Deleware River Bridge and the Pennsylvania/New Jersey State Line The second half of Pennsylvania, north of Duncannon (Mile 1,147) and specifica…
Source: PENNSYLVANIA ROCKS
This is a valuable read. The Long and Winding Road
So I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection lately, particularly about the meanings ascribed to brownness and ladyness and intersectionality and hiking, and what I see as the tension among those things and between those things and the space I’ve carved out for myself on this blog. It’s complicated – like most things worth understanding are […]
Hiawassee, GA, March 17, 2016 — It was time to say farewell to my intrepid friend Denise and head home for a Hoodlums trail crew work weekend, since snowed out, but that’s another story.
I really didn’t want to go. In fact, the bug bit me. I really, really wanted to hike all the way home. A cool thousand miles would be a great way to celebrate spring and work off my winter weight gain. Unfortunately, my volunteer career comes with responsibilities requiring my presence in places other than the southern Appalachians.
I’ll be up front. I think Denise is going to make it. At the very least she has better odds than most. She’s stubborn, positive, and has the self discipline of the soldier that she once was. Her competence in the woods counts for a lot.
For most people Georgia’s 80 miles are a bitch, plain and simple. Although the treadway itself is mostly smooth dirt, the hills are steep and a good test of will and fitness. The first day out, Denise’s challenge was compounded by a nasty upper respiratory infection (URI).
Being sick in the woods isn’t fun. She suffered, yet she persevered without complaint – good sign!
Along the way we met a ton of people. At one point she asked me if there was anyone I didn’t know. Here we are with Erwin, Tennessee’s “Miss Janet” Hensley, one of the iconic trail personalities and genuinely good folks on the trail. She’s referenced in memoirs going back to the turn of the century. It’s fair to say those stickers help keep her van in one piece.
The weather this season has been unusually warm leading to a slightly greater number of hikers making it out of Georgia. In other years adverse weather tends to wash out a lot of inexperienced people.
The warmth this year has led some hikers into believing spring has sprung. They have sent their weighty cold weather gear home. Not Denise. She knows that she’ll be hiking over 5,000 ft. (and at one point 6,000) for the next 400 miles. Not until you’ve seen the wild ponies at Virginia’s Grayson Highlands state park just south of Parisburg is it safe to shed most of your cold weather gear.
Denise started ahead of the big bubble. By March 15 last year I was counting around 150 hikers per day. They fill the shelter/camping areas beyond capacity in spite of the heroic improvements made by the Conservancy, the Georgia Club, National Forest Service and the Appalachian Long Distance Hiking Association. Knowing the area helped us find good flat spots away from the tent cities.
We hit one day of intermittent rain last week. Our training hike in the cold rain last spring paid off. The orange rain cover is to give the hunters a visible aiming point.
I’ve always loved the way life renews itself and finds a way to survive and recover. That tree is a survivor.
People still need to learn how to Leave No Trace in the woods. It’s gross, and a lot worse than this in many places.
Taken three years apart.
Meanwhile, our intrepid hiker has invaded North Carolina. One state down. Thirteen to go. She’s fine. I’m the one wringing his hands. I’ll continue to cross post her blogs as her hike unfolds.
Getting in my head…
So the last two days I hiked alone. Sisu had to go back home and it was time for me to get some more miles done. He reluctantly dropped me off at the gap. Reluctantly I say because he didn’t want to have to get back in his car. But he left me with the […]
50 miles in…
Denise is doing fine. She is stubborn and intrepid enough to have overcome a brutal chest cold. That’s a hard way to start.
MILES 1023-1094.5, approximately Harpers Ferry, WV to the Halfway Point, PA Today, I walked past the Halfway Point of the Appalachian Trail, a number that has grown marginally larger over the years, the trail having shifted due to new land acquisitions or flood, erosion, etc. Miraculously, I hiked the first half of the trail with the […]
Neels Gap, GA, March 12, 2015 — Double speak lives. Winter is summer! The daily highs have been in the 70s. Even the gnats are out – bastards.
Don’t get used to this hikers. Winter will find you. Promise.
The second and third days in Georgia are difficult for many people. The climbs are steep and frequent, although relatively short. They take their toll. On average one-third drop out at Neels Gap, the 30-mile mark.
The weather seems to be dampening the attrition rate some, in spite of the infamous Blood Mountain. Today it’s pouring buckets. Wondering what difference that’s going to make…
This year’s early crowd is very social. Folks gather round the picnic tables at the shelters. Note the electric devices. Not sure they enhance the experience, but then again, I’m a traditionalist.
Not everyone camps at shelters. Lance Creek borders an area south of Blood Mountain, a section where bears are extra active and bear canisters are required for food storage if you camp overnight. Most don’t schlepp bear cans so they camp here.
Special surprise trail magic. Ran into Clare Arentzen at Neels Gap. She was our ridgerunner in Pennsylvania last season. Clare is a very special person who starts her thru hike next week. Go Clare!!!