COVID-19 knows no boundaries.

647E3EE4-24B7-450B-BE27-AA15B9F0EEA8_1_201_a

Home sequestration, March 27, 2020 — This past week has seemed like a year.

It feels like Mother Nature has put the entire country in time out.  We got sent home from school for bad behavior. We’re stuck in our rooms.  Justification: Failure to be good stewards of our lonely blue marble.  Maybe Mamma’s gettin’ even?

But like Biblical pestilence, famine, the sword, beasts, plague, and their friends, sometimes it feels like the four horsemen are thundering just over the horizon.  Other times we simply long for companionship.  The urge to invite family to dinner or gather with like-minded friends is overwhelming.

Then, there’s always wine.  And Zoom.  Because Amazon has run out of lamb’s blood.

Gather together.  Isn’t that what humans do in stressful times?  We are herd animals, like it or not. But, the herd is too big and the big dogs are making a cull.

For example:

AT Closed

The overcrowding up and down the AT and in the National Parks that I reported last week exploded over the weekend.  Rocky Mountain, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and The Great Smoky Mountains national parks are closed to the public for public health reasons.

Forest Order

On the east coast, the Chattahoochee, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are completely closed to visitors.  Too many people, people.

NPOvercrowding

This illustrates the overcrowding out west.

More parks are considering closing.

A Maryland State Park Service ranger told me that they were “Slammed!”  over the weekend.  Twenty-one million people live within two hours of most Maryland parks.  Seems like a big bunch of them showed up.

It’s boring sitting at home.  Or is it, if you can’t maintain a safe distance between yourself and the next person?  And oh, by the way, please take your trash with you when you leave.

Dear Darwin Award candidates.  It won’t be boring in the ICU, that is if you can get a ticket.

There is an inverse ratio equation that may apply here:  FOMO is inversely proportional the closer you get to the ICU.

(Thanks for the concept Tom Toles, Washington Post editorial cartoonist.)

D011AD43-DC8C-4B9A-924C-F01B01692AEF

With the closures, the trails resemble a reverse scene out of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.”

Absent were the humans.  The sound of their chatter.  The crunch of their boots.  The crinkle of their candy wrappers. The scraping of their potty trowels. The soft poof of their TP tulips making trash landings faded away. Only the chirping of chickadees and the buzz of the bees, harmonized with the rustling leaves and the beavers’ baseline to entertain the squirrels, the deer and the bears.

Please stay home.  This article explains why.  This is why.

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 1.04.42 PM

We had another conference call this week to reassess ridgerunners.

 

AT Closure

Each year our trail club hires six ridgerunners to patrol the 240 AT miles we maintain. The trail is, in effect, closed.  Accordingly, the club is supporting the land manager partners who still want ridgerunners.

IMG_3585

We’re now down to three ridgerunners – Shenandoah National Park, Northern Virginia and Maryland.  Shenandoah is delaying the start of all their seasonal employees until circumstances sort themselves out, April 30 at the earliest.

The nature of the COVID-19 virus will dictate profound changes to the normal ways ridgerunners function, not the least of which is maintaining social distance.

Until further notice, the ridgerunners will not enter shelters, tend privies or sleep in the back country.  Each has a discrete residence that they don’t share with anyone else.  Health insurance is provided this year as an extra precaution.

With the ridgerunner question settled, home sequestration isn’t the end of the world in my neighborhood.  If you can’t hike far away, you can hike near by.

F8AB7B38-03A2-4E6D-849D-A7DFDFC32DC6_1_201_a

The 40-mile long Rock Creek Trail is a leafy block-and-a-half away.

F90AA7F5-6F11-4F1D-ABF2-12F54FE6235A

The walks are agreeable in spite of the urban location.

0A0181A7-9B7E-48FF-B2E9-F5C97097A4B6

My neighborhood has plenty of pleasant walking.

F0B68BED-1BD1-4848-9BAB-E4CE87D03913

We are very situationally aware as a neighborhood.  This family always has a sense of humor – and Halloween decorations that can be amortized over additional use.

04E58FDB-A03F-464E-80D4-337A35D8788C_1_201_a

Campfire anyone?  Who’s afraid of a ferocious house cat?

Our house is a comfortable redoubt for a reason.  It was built for a man with ALS who loved the outdoors.  You wouldn’t know his name, but you do know his work.  He invented those bumpy tiles at crosswalks and along train platforms in his workshop in the basement of this house.

Thanks to Robert Kramer, this is a more than pleasant place if you have to hole up.

Oh! One more thing. The radio and TV are off.  Podcasts beat the hell out of newscasts. Old Time Radio podcasts are my favorites along with “Ben Franklin’s World,” “What you Missed in History Class” “Sawbones,” and “In Our Time” from the BBC.

Be safe.

Sisu

Hiking with Contagion

7EC3DDE7-D7DC-4ED0-967F-F18EAB846B6A_1_201_a

Everywhere, March 23, 2020 — On a cool spring morning, on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland, we were on a 12-mile hike that would put this state’s 42 miles in the books.  It would mean one state down and 13 to go for Bulldog on the AT.

In some ways nothing has changed.  Hikers still have to lift their feet one step at a time.  In other ways everything has changed.  In addition to an over abundance of pollen, the invisible threat of the COVID-19 virus ominously hangs in the air.

As governments closed restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and other gathering places, the media observed that at least the hiking trails were open.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Shenandoah National Park Photo

Image may contain: car, sky, tree and outdoor

Shenandoah National Park Photo

It didn’t take long for people to figure that out. They have been swarming the trails, especially the beauty spots such as trails with popular waterfalls and overlooks. The overcrowding defeats nature’s benefits.

IMG_5771

Bulldog needed the most popular section in Maryland to fill in her dance card.  This is the footbridge across I-70 near Boonsboro, MD.

CA6052DC-CA6D-402C-AC66-2869BF64D7B4_1_201_a

Social distancing from above.

In the course of the first eight miles, from Washington Monument State Park to the Pogo campground, we counted 50 hikers, 17 of which were backpackers.  From talking with them, noting more trash than usual and the type of trash, and from observing the size of backpacks and bear spray, we deduced the crowd was mostly novice.

053ADB17-E212-4155-ACDE-23CF1BDF4CC5_1_201_a

The miles after eight are less popular and we saw no one.

1D1C1489-3A83-4F2D-9D32-9E532E79AC87

Bulldog’s step count.

5BB33AB1-3FD5-4F47-B05B-9B3024EC2C5A_1_201_a

Stay tuned for the next state.  It’ll probably be West Virginia’s less than five miles.  After that, they’re pretty much out of day-hiking practicality.  Virginia’s 500+ miles are a prime example.  Remember this sucker is 2,200 miles long.

We did not wear masks while hiking.  We could easily stay six feet apart and well away from other hikers.  We did mask up to shuttle our cars to the start and end points.  I am in a vulnerable group relative to gray hair and having allergy-related asthma.

23211728-0F93-4E28-8674-3AE00AA2921A

“Zooming” with Sandi Marra, president of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Our hike was only the kickoff event for a relentless week.  As the CDC and state governors refined their guidance, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy needed to make decisions relative to hiker safety, the ridgerunner season, trail conditions, meetings and a lot more.

As of this writing, noon Monday, March 23, the following closures and restrictions have been announced: Rocky Mountain National Park is completely closed.  Shelters/campgrounds closed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Numerous hostels and trail centers have also closed.  Trail crew work trips are canceled including my beloved Hoodlums.

This just in:  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy will officially ask Americans to stay off the AT until further notice!  The overcrowding is unsafe.  Darwin Award candidates everywhere.

I’ve asked the park if I should do this or not.  Thursday I’m driving up to Shenandoah to prepare my AT section for spring, raking leaves out of the waterbars (drains), paint some blazes, and a couple of other small projects.  Will count cars in the parking lots on the way out.

Stay tuned and stay safe everyone.

Sisu

Witt’s Chainsaw Rides Again!

674FD479-3B12-4A64-B575-3B54601B9B63_1_201_a

That white glaze isn’t frosting.  It’s ice which atomizes when the teeth bite in.

Appalachian Trail, Northern Virginia, January 21, 2020 — The thermometer was slinking past 19 degrees this morning when we crunched gravel in the Keys Gap trailhead parking lot.  We were on a search and destroy mission to clear six blowdowns on the AT.

8C779691-6A3A-4D77-A6D0-A72E1EC5A83F

The frosty air pinched our noses as we rucked up the chainsaw and all its trimmings.  The first blowdown was quick on the march.  The white stuff is ice.

BEE09B30-F4AD-4C54-B1BB-4FD1D23BDC36

The chainsaw makes quick work of these guys.

7BE44550-831D-423E-AFBD-43567D83F7E2

All clear.  The next five were attacked in quick succession.

CAAA9CC5-A0EA-400A-8F2F-46BAA76156AB

One side down.

2CCCC99D-6C56-4653-B81E-C62879A959D4_1_201_a

Side two.  The round, or the middle chunk of log we removed, had to be cut in half.  It was too heavy to manhandle out of the way.

485484E1-FBE6-4812-AD00-2023A81F85EA_1_201_a

The formula is simple.  Convert gasoline to noise.  Noise is a catalyst that converts wood to sawdust.  Done.

Sisu

First Day Hike 2020

IMG_5203

Tina’s inevitable selfie marking our start at Gathland State Park, MD.

Appalachian Trail, MD, Gathland to Weverton, January 1, 2020 — Do this math.  It was the Gang of Four, minus one who had to work, plus three.  If Mary was one of them, how many oranges did Mary have left if she ate two?  Answer:  6.5 miles.  Makes as much sense as most word problems.

The confusion doesn’t matter because these intrepid hikers braved the morning frost to mark the New Year in search of burgers and beer at the end of the rainbow.

D972C1EC-E866-41B1-A72F-7F1ED4361DAB_1_201_a

Rest stop at the Ed Garvey Shelter

The trail between Gathland and Weverton Cliff is gentle and not very rocky by AT standards.  Tina, who was on the nine-mile Black Friday march, was delighted both by the relative absence of rocks and by the gentle terrain.

The hike follows a wooded ridgeline that is semi exposed to the predominate northwesterly winds.  At times the gusty breath of Mother Nature nibbled at exposed skin, but in return, the sun represented her comforting motherly hug.  Layers and hats were on, and off, and on again for most of the day.

We were a merry band on our march.  We wished “Happy New Year!” to everyone we met along the way.  While the trail wasn’t crowded, the number of families enjoying a First Day hike was impressive.

2017-02-14 23.23.58

Our second rest top was Weverton Cliff.

2017-02-14 23.23.44

Weverton Cliff offers sweeping vistas of the Potomac River all the way to Harpers Ferry.

2017-02-14 23.18.39

“Bulldog” is noted for finding and photographing natural art.

2017-02-14 23.17.57

Weverton has LTE.  Can you tell?

2017-02-14 23.39.43-1

Glam shot of “Bad Ass.”  She was once a television correspondent for a network you would recognize.  She still looks the part.

2017-02-14 20.46.14

It’s almost a military formation!  The front two are military veterans leading the way.  Note Sam’s “Air Force gloves.”

9F2FCD05-A4B3-4873-8254-68DE39D0017D

Railroad bridge closure notice at the trailhead.  We’ll soon know soon how much longer repairs are expected to take.

44F69A03-36D7-47D3-860E-CE3041A2D1A1_1_201_a

We took the long way to burgers and beer, stopping to admire the view at Jefferson Rock.

Total trash collected and packed out:  One gallon by volume.

All in all, the First Day was a good day.

Sisu

The AT’s Newest Sawyer

a344707c-6a76-4f66-8b0a-ce9e50ec5f96.jpeg

Appalachian Trail, The Rollercoaster, Virginia, December 28, 2019 —  Some folks who spend time preserving and protecting hiking trails are possessed by the demons of perfectionism.

Knowing something isn’t right is like an itch they can’t scratch.  They obsess about it until whatever ‘it’ is, is fixed.  In this case ‘it’ was blowdowns.

Pair uncleared blowdowns with a newly certified sawyer itching to practice, and a chainsaw gets to go for a hike along with a couple of enthusiastic swampers !

DSC00666

By way of introduction, our sawyer is Witt Wisebram who was last season’s ridgerunner in Northern Virginia and ultra distance runner.  The Atlanta native is now the winter caretaker at the Blackburn Trail Center.

866AE45F-16AA-41BA-AA45-0CCC6595BFAB

A “pie cut,” sometimes called a wedge cut, is used because the bind is on top and the log isn’t thick enough to use wedges.  It’s too close to the ground to attack from underneath.

The first few blowdowns were little more than a nuisance to hikers.  They are step-overs that can be ignored, at least the small ones can.  They are removed because they can cause erosion.  The greater challenge for the sawyer on this type of blowdown is to avoid sawing rocks and dirt.

14418FA1-E26F-49F2-984C-BEE47F591CC9

This tree trunk blocks the trail.  There’s no way around it.  It’s equally difficult to crawl over or under.  Because it’s a “leaner,” care is taken to read it in terms of bind, how the log will behave once the tension is released, including whether it might roll.

You also want to keep your feet out from under the top section of the trunk which will hit the ground with a heavy thud.

62E6BCD9-58EB-41BA-B68F-395D7D484B21

The pie cut missed but the angle cut worked anyway.  Experience gained.  Witt’s friend Jason congratulates!

2E788618-107F-445D-B2A9-37CCC3B88ACA

Clean up.

B8CCD5F6-9430-4AB5-BD64-FF4E268DC3F2

Finishing the job.

24E9335A-2CA4-4E9A-A1E3-F8E59FEA27A9

Funny how they seem to fall perpendicular to the treadway.

D6BA37E9-C4D4-4907-AF4F-82E917BFE277

Blowdowns come in all sizes.  Witt captured the white blaze for display at Blackburn.

5AA2DFFE-E093-44D0-BF8B-AEE48AD909A1

People have been painting rocks and leaving them along the trail as decorations.  Now it’s golf balls.

54FF6CA8-3E17-4BD4-8047-CE6A1C9F3EFF

This is how we found it.  Needless to say we packed it out.

6B5D5AB6-EEDB-47A7-A508-CCC76EC7AEED

This large branch buried itself more than a foot into the ground.  It was too big to move without being reduced to bite-size chunks.

E11AEFEC-DA06-4888-B3FF-4B6E180BB541

Mother nature saved the tenth and best blowdown for last.  The bigger ones are more fun to cut.

1EEEA5A2-62B1-4E4B-AD94-B8FD49587276

A log this large – in this case about three inches thicker than the length of the chainsaw bar – sometimes the round will bind and not drop to the ground.  An inverse keystone cut is used to ensure the cut out section falls to the ground.

5AFA2BDC-78A9-485A-A30F-D8DAFE6485FF

Note the end of the bar is not sticking out. That means the sawyer has to cut from both sides.

967168D7-C9E5-4441-B0C5-8B965435C083

We used wedges to keep the kerf open. It worked as planned.

656612D4-B836-4052-9615-F9729C5EE912

The trail is clear.

Stay tuned for the Gang of Four’s First Day Hike.

Sisu

 

 

 

 

Myron Avery Award

3DA27245-22CF-4BB9-95C6-6045A3F9B77B_1_105_c

Vienna, VA. November 20, 2019 — The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club’s annual awards banquet offered yours truly a wonderful surprise in the form of the club’s highest honor, the Myron Avery Volunteer of the Year Award.

73400121-83E1-4BD0-BE26-B6CFB669FDC1

PATC Myron Avery Award.

“Named in honor of the founder of the PATC, the Myron Avery Award recognizes a substantial achievement by a PATC member who most exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism through his or her contribution to PATC during the past year. This is the highest honor bestowed upon members of the club and is awarded to the PATC volunteer who most exemplifies Mr. Avery’s dedication and devotion to PATC’s mission. The contribution can be to any type or combination of club service activities, e.g., devoting many hours above and beyond the norm to service activities, including travel time, or making an exceptional contribution to a particular project.”*  Avery also founded the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Two people are principally responsible for creating the Appalachian Trail.  Benton MacKaye supplied the vision.  Myron Avery got it done.  Myron Avery

8D956D1E-CA3D-47CC-BC4B-F513086A7804

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the AT and our national parks.  About 250,000 volunteer hours annually are needed to keep the AT properly maintained and open.

Thousands of volunteers across 14 states, hundreds from the PATC alone, give what they can in time, money and sweat for a labor of love.  I’m proud to be counted among them.

Sisu

*www.patc.net

Road Scholar Closeout

fullsizeoutput_26d0

Last “Hike the Appalachian Trail in Four States” Road Scholar group for 2019.

Maryland and Virginia, October 26 – 27, 2019 — The Appalachian Trail year has a rhythm.  It’s base line begins to pulse the first week in April.  It’s then that our ridgerunners in Maryland and Shenandoah National Park take the field.

Then comes third week in April when the Hoodlums trail crew, like brass and strings, liberates its tools from cold storage to repair the minor chords of winter.

By Memorial Day, we’re in full swing with all the elements – ridgerunners, trail work, and leading hikes – in motion.

Halloween week is the coda that signals the off ramp from our three season journey.  The last ridgerunner on the entire trail completes their season then, and the Road Scholars close out their final hike with us.

After that, it’s not necessarily silent.  The Hoodlums might have a November encore, or not.  We might do some winter hikes, the Gang of Four continues to march, but it’s improvisational.  Everything else after that is meetings and budget-related stuff designed to make it all possible again next spring.

IMG_4477

Washington Monument State Park, MD, the starting line in Maryland.

The start of Road Scholar hike on Tuesday was crisp with a little knife edge to the wind.  Mary Thurman was all smiles.  At 5 p.m. her season would conclude.

fullsizeoutput_26ba

Fox Gap battlefield site where a docent explains civil war ammunition.

IMG_4488

Picking and eating wild grapes along the edge of the battlefield.

IMG_4491

Trick or treat?  The Maryland trail crew was working just ahead.  They left plastic Halloween bones to fool Mary.  Didn’t work, but everyone enjoyed a good laugh.

IMG_4493

Lunch at Rocky Run Shelter.

IMG_4495

We always inspect the shelter for trash and discarded gear.  Size 38 waist trousers anyone?  We deduced that the guy got soaked in the rain and didn’t want to carry heavy wet pants out, so we did it for him.  They’ll be washed and tossed into the hiker box at the Conservancy HQ in Harpers Ferry.  The synonym for ridgerunner is janitor.

fullsizeoutput_26ca

White Rock viewpoint.

fullsizeoutput_26cc

Season over.  Mary hightailed it to a mutual friend’s house in Virginia Beach.  Safe travels my friend.

fullsizeoutput_26ce

Lunch the following day at Sam Moore Shelter in Virginia.

fullsizeoutput_26cd

Mother Nature is signaling that it is time to turn the page.

fullsizeoutput_26bc

The AT in Washington Monument State Park, MD

Adios.

Sisu

 

Annual Trail Maintainers Workshop

IMG_4244

Some tools of the trade.

Shenandoah National Park, October 18 – 20, 2019 — If you want to learn how to dig holes in the dirt, who ya gonna call?  The Hoodlums, that’s who.

Each September the North District Hoodlums trail crew hosts a workshop for trail maintainers, beginners through experts.  Last weekend we did it again. For me it was number seven.

IMG_4242

The canopy is for the kitchen where Dave Nebut’s brothers prepare our scrumptious meals.

The format is simple.  The content gets adjusted periodically.  It goes like this.  The official start time is 0900 Saturday morning.  The safety talk is followed by work party assignments commensurate with each person’s experience level.

On Saturday we generally work until around four o’clock when we return to clean up.  Dinner is a six followed by a campfire.

Sunday is a repeat with coffee and breakfast at 7 a.m.  We close at noon for lunch and cleanup.

A few of us usually arrive early on Friday to help with set up, gathering of tools, hauling firewood, and the like.  The early birds also get the most level tent sites!

A full campground on a clear Friday night doesn’t always go the way you plan.  Some group partied until 3:30 a.m.  I was shocked the campground host didn’t intervene.  Moreover, the city slicker dogs just had to announce each bear that wondered through in hopes some ignorant knucklehead left out food.  Between bears and loud drunken laughter, nobody got much sleep.

IMG_4250

Saturday dawned like the shiny jewel of a day it was.  The park trail crew arrived to work with the advanced group.

IMG_4245

Phone addicts everywhere.  Mine gets NO Service in this spot, a blessing.

IMG_4269

Dave and I led some fine folks on an encore trip near the junction of the Thompson Hollow and Tuscarora Trails to finish the work we abandoned last month when one of our work party members suffered from heat exhaustion.  The day was warm, but not that warm.  It’s officially designated wilderness, so traditional tools only may be used.

IMG_4271

In total we removed seven blowdowns.

IMG_4267

Some of the blowdowns were high while others were low.

IMG_4262

Using a hatchet to chop away the rot.  On a log spanning a gap, gravity draws the wood downward causing compression (bind) at the top.  Once the cut gets deep enough, the resulting bind will slowly make it harder to saw.

IMG_4109

We use wedges to hold open the “kerf” so the sawing can continue.

We also built some drainage dips where waterbars were needed to prevent erosion.

The dirt was proof of a hard day’s work, so let’s get the party started.

Good news.  Just as darkness blanketed the park, our odds changed.  We learned that 30 percent chance of rain sometimes means you get wet.  Why good news?  The rain doused the campfires and the partying.  Silence reigned even as dark rain poured from the inky sky.  Everyone got a good night’s sleep.  Amen!

IMG_4252

Sunday was another beauty contest winner made extra special by the hot coffee.

IMG_4284

We split into three groups.  Rebecca Unruh, backcountry ranger and dear friend of the Hoodlums, gave a talk on environmental hazards from poison ivy to heat stroke.

IMG_4282

We also offered sessions on string trimmer use and maintenance, and on grade dip construction.

We called it at noon for a delicious lunch.

IMG_4286

A sign of happiness.

IMG_4288

Boots usually last 500 miles or about a year for me.  These are two-year-old miracle boots.  The rain last year was easy on the soles.  The rocks finally got the uppers.

IMG_4266

Straining for a selfie.

Until next year.

Sisu

 

 

A tale of two hikes on the Appalachian Trail

IMG_3790

Me, Mary and Joanne at Nutter’s Ice Cream, Sharpsburg, MD for a pre-hike treat.

Appalachian Trail, Maryland. June 27 – 28, 2019 — The Appalachian Trail is not all work.  Sometimes it’s a truckload of fun.  So it was this week with two different gravel-crunching adventures.

IMG_3791

Making a last gear check in the Penn-Mar Park parking lot.

My ridgerunner friend Mary decided to hike the 47-mile four-state challenge to celebrate her 45th birthday.

Her plan:  Ridgerunner colleague Joanne would support her by car.  Roughly speaking she would hike the first quarter alone.  I would join her for the second quarter, and  her colleague Witt, the current speed record holder at 9 hours and change, would trot the last half with her.

The adventure begins on the AT in PA at the Mason-Dixon line, then passes through MD and a corner of WV at Harpers Ferry.  It terminates where the trail breaks into Virginia territory.  To be official, the hikers have 24 hours to git ‘er done.  The average successful hiker uses close to the entire time.

fullsizeoutput_1f96

It doesn’t count without the predawn selfie.

IMG_3797

Crack of dawn start.

IMG_3802

She’s a blur at Pen-Mar Park.

IMG_3804

She’s off!

IMG_3807

Joanne met Mary at road crossings along the way.  Staying hydrated on a hot day was paramount.

IMG_3809

Blister repair at the I-70 footbridge.  “Dr.” Joanne officiating.

Unfortunately, this is the last known photo.  After handing off Mary to Witt at Washington Monument State Park, about 8 miles later they encountered unforecast thunder, lightning and hail.  The tenderizing effects of head-banging hail caused Mary to call the game at 32 miles.

%FzLXCuxRz+K9+U%WQBV%Q

Flash forward one day to the long-planned first hike of the season for the Gang of Four (minus one).  Our plan:  Annapolis Rock where Mary was on duty as ridgerunner/caretaker.

Green Briar Lake in the background.  Catherine with a Ninja pose and Tina photographing a camera-shy copperhead wedged in a crack in the rock.

KvKDSzi1R1KwW7FgjZ4m6w

Mary, none the worse for wear, warns hikers of the copperhead.

pD6kEM3WQtmcqQJvjQN83g

Best part of the day at Dan’s Tap House.  We missed you Alexis.

Sisu

 

Serendipity!

IMG_3763

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, June 5, 2019 — My friend Karma is hiking the AT again this year and I have been following her blog.  In the past some of her blogs from previous hikes have been cross posted here to share her adventures.

Her blazing speed this time around is impressive.  You can do that when it’s your second rodeo.  On a repeat performance the B.S. is reduced to noise and the anxieties are taken in stride.  You can actually enjoy the experience.  That she’s having a good time was obvious at lunch.

The truth is that she’s a week ahead of schedule, not because she’s faster but because she’s hiking smarter by spending less time in town.  It just so happens I was in Harpers Ferry upstairs at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy when a friend there told me Karma was downstairs, fresh off the trail, wringing wet with sweat.  Serendipity!

I bounded down the stairs into the hiker lounge and gave my friend a soppy hug.  After finding out that it was too early to check into the motel where she could have showered, we decided to go to lunch anyway.  After all, it is a hiker town and we’re hikers.

Our plan always had been to meet for lunch in Harpers Ferry where Karma planned to take a day off known as a zero for zero miles hiked.  Now as it is, I always buy lunch when a friend hikes in from Georgia.  It doesn’t happen that often, so it’s a bet that won’t break the piggy bank. When it does happen, it’s special.

My first question was “Why are you doing this a second time”?  The answer was simple and complicated.  In the end, her reason is universal. She likes being out there.

Karma first hiked the AT in 2013.  Her blog “Karma on the Trail” is the most entertaining AT blog I’ve ever read.  You can find it here:  https://thumperwalk.wordpress.com/

image2-3

Karma’s half way photos from this 2013 and 2019.

You go girl!

Sisu

IMG_3759