Friday, September 30, 2005

The South....The DEEP South.

We are in Pearisburg, VA. The colder weather has FINALLY come. Not sure how long this will last for but as of now it is perfect hiking weather. During yesterdays hike in to Pearisburg we hiked through a terribly cold rainstorm which lasted for almost 3 hours. Not very fun especially when the rough terrain makes it hard to move quickly. However, by noon the clouds had blown past and the sun was out. The totally calm and cool atmosphere made for AMAZING visibility. We were treated to some of the best views we've seen all trip.

Yesterday we did 32 miles in to Pearisburg....making it our biggest day ever. We rolled up to a church hostel around 9 pm after devouring some Subway. The church hostel was a cool old barn which has been converted to accommodate hikers. (the hiker smell is probably not unlike the smell of the animals which once inhabited the barn, so we felt right at home)

There has been a recent surge in trail magic on the trail. We have found sodas in streams and roadside coolers several times in the last couple of days.

We expect to be out of VA and in to TENN in about 8-10 days. Hard to believe!

Things are great. I'm about to head to the P.O. to pick up a batch of moms famous toffee squares! Can NOT wait. bye

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mike and I are alive and well. We are staying w/ 'Crosby' a student at Southern Virginia University. He let us crash at his place and drove us to subway for lunch today. We are hiking consistent 20 mile days now. The views in VA have been incredible and the terrain is nice.

UpDate on Super T and Don King

Blake's dad reporting: We had a quick phone call from Blake last night. He and Mike were in the Glaskow/Big Island, VA area. They are 770 miles from Springer, Mtn and have done 1403 miles since Katahdin on 3June. They anticipate catching up with Gills and Samoa sometime in the next 36 hours. That's all I have.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Mike and I are in the town of Waynesboro, VA. We had to stop in to get food and a few items at the outfitter. We both had the 'all you can eat' pancake lunch at a local diner. Mike put down 6 massive cakes and I did 5. I followed it up w/ a milkshake.

The hiking has been great. The terrain so far in VA has been rolling. The climbs are usually no longer then 15-20 minutes and they have been graded nicely. Lots of great views and plenty of wildlife. We both saw a bear the other day and have seen 30+ deer, most of which are fearless of humans.

We're hoping for this warm weather to break! Its mid september and temps are still reaching 90. Weather calls for a cold front to be coming in so that should be nice.

Will the sox hold on to their playoff spot??? Hope so!

Irish 2-0 w/ a win AT Michigan!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

In the Shenandoah

(Photo courtesy of Samoa & Gills)JHP with Bill Sugrue in Luray, VA

Mike and I are staying at the house of a JMU professor who we met way back in New Hampshire. She told us if we made it this far we were welcome to stay w/ her. Well we did, and so we called and her husband David picked us up yesterday afternoon. We have been relaxing and watching movies and I bought a new pair of trail running shoes.

The Shenandoahs have been beautiful and it is nice to be back in the high country again. The views have been outstanding and we are crossing paths with lots of section hikers and weekend warriors. There are even 'waysides' where travelers on Skyline Drive can stop for gas, food, etc... AT hikers take full advantage of these stops and Mike and I even got to watch a bit of pro football on Sunday.

Thanks to my dad's high school era friend Bill Sugrue. He and my dad did some backpacking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the early 1960's. Bill, who lives in Alexandria, VA, was nice enough to drive out and meet us on the trail. He took us out for a great lunch and drove us around Luray, VA while we ran some errands. Thanks!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Once more unto the woods dear friends

Mike and I are in Fort Royal, VA.

We are making good time in Virginia and the people we've met have been very friendly. We stayed in town last night and caught a movie. Afterwards we spent almost 2 hours looking for a place to stay. We stumbled on 'the apartment 2g gourmet restaurant' It was an old apartment turned in to a place to eat. Very nice and way out of our league (their guests had nice clean clothes and didn't smell) They were beginning to close down and Mike managed to talk his way in the door. The next thing I know we are eating a full meal and relaxing at a back table! Thanks guys, the food was amazing! We slept on the floor of the restaurant, right above the staircase. It was great!

Thanks to Brandon at Weasel Creek Outfitters. We spent about 4 hours here relaxing and shooting the breeze. We got to look at some of the new gear out on the market and I bought a new sleeping bag and new trekking poles. I would def. recommend this outfitter to future thru hikers, this guy really knows his stuff!

Finally, much love and thanks to my Uncle Mike and my Aunt Susan. They took me in for a few days in D.C. and made a valiant effort to fatten me up. (For example, in one sitting I ate: 2 cheeseburgers, 1 hotdog, 2 plates of baked beans, 2 pieces of ice cream cake, 1 bowl of ice cream) Tiffany met me there and we had a great time exploring D.C. and enjoying the roller coasters and the water park at Kings Dominion. I have to say though, two of my favorite parts of the weekend involved driving. First, I got to drive my uncle’s 51 Chevy pickup. I did OK, no stalls or traffic violations but I couldn't touch my Uncle Mike’s ability w/ this beast. He drove it like a pro and heads were turning at every corner. The second driving highlight was the trip back to Harpers Ferry. Picture me and Uncle Mike in a fast red convertible tearing through the Virginia down.....just beautiful. Thanks guys, I had an amazing time and you made me feel right at home. Nice to have family so far from home.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A long layoff ends, as we head back to the trail

Our brief Labor Day vacation has come to a close, and now it's time to get back to walking south. Blake was able to get a ride back to Harpers Ferry yesterday from his Uncle, while I was left to wait for the trains to start running again after their day off yesterday. My train departs from Union Station in DC at 3:55pm, landing in Harpers Ferry around 5:15pm. From there I'll hike into the nite until I catch up to the rest of the JHP. I had a great time this weekend, a hug thank you to Kate O'Donnell for opening her sweet DC pad to Blake and myself. Another thank you to Kate for bringing me home for the weekend, my family and friends were all shocked that I was home and happy that I was able to get back home once more before I get to Springer.

On another cool note, I was able to make email contact with a thru hiker we met last summer on our section hike, Pop Tart. He was excited to hear from us and impressed that we were really doing our own thru hike. He said, rather modestly, that he feels some what respocible for our hike because of the influence he had on us during our seciton hike.

Another honorable mention goes to Andrew Skurka, whom I was also able to make contact with via email. He was he young man from Duke that hiked the AT in 2002, we followed his hike online on his website and saw the evolution of this young man into Backpacker Magazines Man of the Year after completing his Sea-2-Sea hike. He completed this 7,000+ mile trek in under a year. He sent his well wishes as we embark on the secong half of our trip.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

An Ode to our dear pal Sully...

On the 31st of August in the year two thousand and five we came across a creature of pure positive spirit and a thirst for adventure. He crossed our path around 1 o'clock, he was heading north on the trail and when we met it was an instant conection between him, myself, and Blake. At that moment we gave the norhtbound traveler a trail name, Sully, and he began to follow us on our journey south. After about a half an hour we relized that our new friend Sully was traveling alone, and that he had now become our responcibility. Let me say now that our friend Sully was a young hound, a beagle. We saw he had a collar and figured we would call his owner when we came to the next shelter, which was about 3 miles away. Sully was a great hiking partner, he stayed right with us, and hiking with a veracity that we had never seen. Every once and a while Sully would find a scent and follow it off into the woods, but like clock work he would return to us after a few minutes of self exploration. When we made it to the shelter we provided Sully with a dish of water while we called his owner. We told his owner that we would bring him to the next road crossing about three and a half more miles south of our position. He was shocked that his young pup had hiked so far from home and was nervous that his dog Sammy (Sully's true name) would be able to make it the rest of the way. We asured him that Sully was a strong hiker and would have no trouble with the next portion of the trail. From there we moved on. Sully moved with the same energy that he had during the first few steps he took with us. We flew throught the three plus miles and made it to the road in just over an hour, his owner was waiting there for us when we arrived. He was proud that his beagle had logged the miles he did. It was sad to see Sully go, even though we knew that our time with him would be short. Blake and myself had become attached to the vigerous young adventurer, and would never forget the time we spent with him.

New Photos (and a reminder)

Blake's Dad reporting on 1Sept05: Blake and Mike are off the AT thru the Labor Day Weekend. New pictures have been posted by the two of them. For those of you who are following their progress every few days, here's a helpful reminder when looking at the pictures.

Once at the picture page, select a particular group to view. Once the small collection show up, click on the first one. To view all the other pictures in the group without having to use the arrows, KEEP THE CURSOR ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE PICTURE. Click it and you advance to the next picture. It's a whole lot faster.