"Not all those who wander are lost."
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
"Not all those who wander are lost."
Sunday, September 12, 2010
As my flight descended to the runway at the Indianapolis airport, I could pick out from my window familiar high school football fields, the Pepsi Coliseum, the intersection of 38th and Meridian and even the red roof and front lawn of home. The whole family met me at the arrival gate--Dad, Sally, Grace and Grant! Wasting no time, we piled into Dad's new Lincoln and drove straight to Judy's, a family favorite and the best place in town to get the Hoosier classic: a breaded tenderloin. (They don't even know what these are on the east coast!)
It's great to be home and even better to be able to say I've hiked the AT (*in past tense :) I can't begin to describe accurately what an experience like this has meant but its been one of the coolest things that I've ever been a part of. I've met countless wonderful and unique individuals; friends that will last a lifetime. I've seen beautiful parts of the country that I'd never considered visiting. I've found appreciation for some of everyday-life's smallest conveniences; fresh-brewed coffee, toilet paper, a text message from a friend 1000 miles away.
This was the view from the top of Katahdin--the final climb.
It's not the highest peak on the AT, but its the biggest elevation change we've seen and definitely one of the more rugged climbs on the trail. It was partly cloudy and 60 degrees on the ground (elev. 1200) that morning, dense fog and 50 mph sustained winds on top (elev. 5200). For the last mile leading up to the summit, we were walking the ridgeline, they call it "Tableland." With visibility at ~25 feet, the sign marking the summit just appears in front of you without warning. It's breathtaking. It's what you've been hiking towards for the last 6 months. One by one, a small crowd of hikers form at the top and we gather around it like its some sacred icon that marks the end of a religious pilgrimage. For many, it kind of is I guess. Pigpen and I took our pictures and drank a celebratory 16oz Budweiser, then decided to head back down so we could get the blood circulating again in our frozen fingers.
The fog faded as quickly as it had appeared, as we descended below treeline and out of the dream.
It was a pretty perfect ending to a pretty incredible trip.
More of a denouement than a climax, Katahdin was as breathtaking and satisfying as i could have hoped for.
I need to extend an especial thank you to my good friend and hiking buddy "Pigpen," and his family, for their generosity and accommodation in the last month or so of this hike. Couldn't have done it without you. Literally.
I also want to congratulate Malorie aka 'NotBad' on the completion of her thru-hike! She summited successfully on Saturday. Its a very impressive feat, something to be very proud of. I'm very proud of you :)
I can't begin to thank everyone who is reading this. You're interest alone has been a major driving force in finishing this thing off.
I'm not sure the best way to end this final entry, but i found this quote that surmises part of what i think I've learned & a lesson that i consider worth passing on:
"Long distance hiking is not a vacation, it’s too long for that. It’s not recreation, too much toil and pain involved. It is, we decide, a way of life, a very simplified Spartan way of living … life on the move … heavy packs, sweating brow; they make you appreciate warm sunshine, companionship, cool water. The best way to appreciate these things that are precious and important in life it is take them away." – CINDY ROSS, Journey on the Crest, 1997
w/ love, Jess
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I am still hiking with Klarity, and her and I plan to summit the last mountain together. Since my last blog post I have made it through not only Vermont but also New Hampshire!! In New Hampshire I defeated the White Mountains and had some great hut experiences!
(Here's a shot of me on top of Mt. Moosilauke...first big peak in the White Mountains!)
(This is a shot atop South Kinsman...serious hand over feet climbing!! The Whites were tough!)
(And here's the Big One Folks!! Mt. Washington!! The second highest peak on the Appalachian Trail!! The morning was windy and foggy and the afternoon cleared up beautifully!!)
After clearing through the Whites, Klarity and I took a small road trip with some friends who have cars out on the AT...we spent the evening with a shower and a hotel room and celebrated the end of the Whites. It was a hard week, but we did it and we are on route to make it to the big mama: Katahdin!!
After New Hampshire, and all the rest of the 13 states, is the last and final one: MAINE...we are excited to be here and am really excited to see new and old friends while bumping up ahead.
So only a little ways to go and I'm so excited!! If ANYONE wants to send chocolate, nuts, candy, cards, etc. to me before I get off trail, here's a great address to do it at!!
Hold for AT Thru-Hiker
Monson, ME PO 04464
ETA: Sept. 7, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
For the last week or so, I've been hiking with PigPen. We both have a strong desire to get to the finish line, plus we're both avid football fans, so we've made it our goal to summit by September 8th. This way, we'll be back at PigPen's house in New Hampshire to catch the NFL season opener between the Saints and the Vikings on the 9th and I'll be back to Indiana on the 10th.
Gotta run, becuase it costs me a dollar to use this computer for 30 minutes! Next update? The Victory Update!
Since hitting Vermont I have completely fallen in love with this state, and contemplating moving here next summer and into the fall...Don't worry Mom & Dad...it's just a thought!! Anyway, I have been hiking with a pretty cool crew the last week or so, and have been enjoying my time and taking it slow on what we call the "leisure tour". I hiked quickly to catch my friend Klarity in Manchester Center, VT & she and I have been having a great time since.
(This is a picture of Klarity and I on top of Bromley Mountain...beautiful mountain top with a huge ski lift & a shelter at the top of the mountain! We got to see the meteor shower from here and it was a clear & beautiful night)
The hike has been great since meeting up with her, and I have also been running into a lot of people that I had not seen in a while. After Bromley Mountain, we pushed on and spent the week in the woods swimming, watching beautiful sunsets and enjoying the 3 days of a meteor shower with clear skies atop the mountains. It had been a while since we got to enjoy the views because we have been below tree line for so long. Once we got to Vermont, the weather has been beautiful and the land has been amazing!!
(This is a picture on top of White Rocks Cliff, the sunset was beautiful, but so was the night sky...if you can see the moon, look a little to the right & that is Saturn....you can see everything from these mountains!!)
Along with the beautiful skies, the landscape has been so beautiful too!! The trees are huge & the cedar smells delicious, and yes I have enjoyed some REAL maple syrup.
(Here's a picture I took while enjoying some of these delicious blackberries...fresh blackberries and blueberries have been all over the trail all season!)
Another exciting day was when we were getting ready to hike down from Killington Peak, (the second highest peak in Vermont), and decided that we didn't really feel like hiking down. So, we did the first SKY BLAZE of the season, taking the Gondola down the mountain into the town of Killington.
(Here's a photo of Klarity and I at the bottom of our gondola ride...we got a hitch from here by a guy named Mad Dog...he hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000, and has the record for finishing the ENTIRE trail in only 5 WEEKS!!...needless to say, he was almost bed-ridding for 2 months afterward)
We are now in Woodstock, VT visiting a friend of a couple of the guys I am hiking with. She is the soul-owner of the local coffee shop so we have been enjoying her yummy coffee & this cute little touristy town. Like I said earlier, Vermont is beautiful, and I have been enjoying this state so much!!
We start New Hampshire in just a few days, which means we will hiking the intimidating WHITE MOUNTAINS....after that, it's just a few more weeks until we hit Baxter State Park and the beautiful Mount Katahdin. If anyone is curious, I plan to book a ticket from New York to Indianapolis on the 22nd of September. Well, with that being said I hope all is well with everyone and I miss and love you all!!
Monday, August 9, 2010
So what's new with me? Well, last week I was hiking and ran into some great rock climbers from Rhode Island...they invited me to climb and of course I took the offer!!
(This picture is of me starting my climb...it was a hard one but I had a great leader belaying me up the rockface!!)
After that I called up some friends and they were invited to some trail angel's house for ice cream, showers, laundry & they even gave them the car to come and pick me up!! After staying the night my buddy Ice's father picked 3 of us thru-hikers up to spend the weekend with his family in Old Lyme, Connecticut. We were there from Friday 'til Tuesday and had a great time with his friends and family.
(Silly picture of me, Griz & Ice at the Old Lyme firework show that his family brought us to while visiting.)
After getting back on the trail Tuesday, Brendan (one of Ice's friends from his home town), came out and hiked with me for the day. We started hiking and talking about a music festival in Ghent, NY that we could work and get in for free. After only a few hours of hiking we headed out of the woods to pick up Ice and Griz and head to Ghent, NY. We spent the weekend dancing and having a good time and meeting a lot of great people behind the scenes of the festival. It was an electronica and jamband festival and we all had a tiring, but great weekend.
(This is a picture of the band RAQ...they played a double set and rocked it for almost 3-4 hours!!)
So I'm leaving Bennington this afternoon and plan to head up to connect onto the Long Trail. (The Long Trail was the original part of the AT and we stay on this trail for most of Vermont.) Although there will still be white blazes, we will be Long Trailing it for a couple of weeks. I look forward to hooking up with old friends and perhaps meeting some new people as well.
Hope all is well at home & elsewhere and I miss you all!!
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Last I updated, Mary and Patty were out for the weekend. Had a wonderful time with them; its always good to see good people and to be able to show them what this nonsense is really all about. Spent a couple nights on trail and a couple of nights at the oh-so-generous Mayor's house. Sent Patty home with not 1 but 2 black eyes and Mary Rachel to Houston with 1 tiny blister. I love you guys, thanks for making the trip out!
Returned to NYC with Mary & Patty and hung out with friend-from-grade-school: John Reynolds, for a couple days. He introduced me to authentic Ramen noodles. :) Got to hang out with old roomate Andy for an afternoon; he showed me around town, took me to the restuarant he works at and bought me some expensive NYC cocktails.
Brian flew in for a long weekend and we walked around the city trying desperately not to look like tourists. I think we did allright :). Ate a lot of good food, drank a lot of good beer. Saw a free concert, saw some Picasso's at the MET, Lady Liberty, TimesSquare, the movie INCEPTION (if you see one movie this year, make sure its this one!). Thank you for a great weekend :)
Took the ChinaTown bus to Boston and stayed with Rebecca for a couple days. Walked the Freedom trail, saw Paul Revere's house, ate authentic Canoli, visited the Sam Adams and Harpoon breweries (back to back) and hit up the beach. Hung out with Clayton and Phillip in the meantime.
I love big cities, so much to see and do and eat and drink and it was so good to catch up with great friends (Thank you John, Tess, Andy, Rebecca, Clayton, & Phillip for your hospitality, generousity and tourguidesmanship?)
Back to work though: caught the PeterPan busline up the trail, got dropped off in Dalton, Mass. putting me ~600 miles and ~6 weeks from Mt. Katahdin. It's the final stretch! The weather in New England is beautiful as are the trail towns. The elevation is getting higher, and the climbs a little more impressive. This is what I've been hiking for 4 months for! Looking forward to a visit from Mom in a couple days and to reuniting with trail family soon.
Lastly, If you is interested in donating money to a great cause, I'm fundraising for the Cneter of Hope, an orphanage in Haiti. You can visit the site and donate directly at: http://www.firstgiving.com/athikeforhaiti
If you are unable to donate at this time, but know of someone who would be interested, feel free to pass the word on. Thanks for everyone who has already contributed!
Allright, gotta run, crossing into Vermont today!
PS: Here's to the Williamstown Public Library, for having a whopping 2-hr. internet time limit and being so accomodating. Best trail town library yet.
Monday, July 26, 2010
After getting off the trail for about a week, Mom and Dad came to visit, and then I took a trip to New York to see some friends and go to a music festival. I've had a great time thus far, and I'm glad to be back on the trail. It was so much fun seeing everyone, but I'm happy to be back.
Dad, me, Mom & Lucy saying our goodbyes after a great visit at the Delaware Water Gap. As sad as it was to see her go, they took Lucy with her to head home while I finish the trail. She did around 700 miles and did a great job!! I miss her and mom & dad sooo much. Thanks for everything!!
After I got back from New York, it was down to business. I have been hiking with a few different people along the way and meeting a lot of great friends. But after about a week back on the trail, Olive Oil came to pick a group of us up to head to the Jersey Shore for a night of Old Crow Medicine Show..(really great bluegrass band of our time that was playing close to the trail so we decided to hit it up!!)
Above is the crew I went with to see Old Crow ...Griz, me, Studmuffin, Olive Oil and Rabbit Foot. We took this picture after taking a walk along the Jersey Shore. Too cold to go swimming, but it was the first time I had seen the ocean in over 4 years! Good times with great friends.
It has been such a great overall experience thus far, and I am looking forward to New England and the rest of my hike. We only have a little over 700 miles to go, and each day I wake up I get a little sad thinking about leaving the woods and all the amazing people I have met along the way.
After crossing over the state line, I had a hard hike because New York is full of rocks and rock cliffs. Been doing a lot of climbing up the rocks and it has been quite hot. I am loving life and going to be crossing into Connecticut soon! After crossing the state line I bolted down the mountain to the Bellvale Creamery and had a hot fudge sundae and orange soda. It was a hot day and the ice cream was perfect. I met up with Rabbit Foot after that where we watched the sun set and slept on top of the ridge line.
Duchess and I will be meeting up again very soon, and I am excited to see Katherine (Duchess' mom, who is going to come out and hike for a little bit)...Also excited to see Tracie, (my sister), who is also going to come out hopefully around New Hampshire and tackle the White Mountains with me..which is supposedly some of the most beautiful hiking along the AT.
Well, I hope that is an update for all you readers and hopefully the next blog Duchess and I will be able to share more of our experiences together!! Miss and love you all.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Mary Rachel and Patty are out here on the trail right now. We stayed last night at "the Mayor's House" hostel in Unionville, NY---where you get dinner, breakfast, laundry, shower and a bed/floorspace and as many cokes as you can drink for a $10 donation. Plus the first beer is free and every beer after is 50 cents. Can't beat that.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
After the Phish show I continued hiking with some really great people and just been hiking our little hearts out. I hiked pretty slowly so that everyone behind me could catch up, and I had a great few days to myself and enjoyed the some quiet time.
(Here's a pic of the crew that I got halfway done with!!)
Pennsylvania has been alright to me, although I believe Duchess has been having a better time with everything....I can definately tell that the southern hospitality is no more, and that I am definately missing that. We DID get to the half way point, and I am happy to say we had a great 4th of July at the Lake and we got to "Yogi" some burgers and hot dogs from a very gracious family.
Sorry not much, but more to come....this computer is tooooo slow for much updating. Hope all is well!!! Love you all.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The trip to D.C. was great. I spent an extra day there and caught the USA-Algeria game at a bar that happened to have quite a few Algerian fans. What an exciting game! We've made it a point, since World Cup started to catch all the USA games, even if it meant hiking a few hours in the morning, catching a ride into town just for the game, and then getting back on trail.
It took us about 2.5 days to do the 42 miles through Maryland, and as soon as we crossed the Mason-Dixon line, into Pennsylvania, we would pass through a park selling $2.00 Hamburgers everyday around lunchtime. Gotta love the North.
We crossed the "true" halfway point (mile 1089.5) just before Pine Grove Furnace State Park, last Tuesday, where we were met by a past thru hiker (LowGear and friend Curt) with trail magic: Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches and Twinkies. Absolutely delicious, but the timing couldn't have been worse, as we were just yards away from the Pine Grove Furnace campstore which features the "Half Gallon Challenge." Open to all thru-hikers, if you can finish a half-gallon of ice cream in one sittng, then you are admitted into the club and recieve the coveted half-gallon club members spoon (pictured below). You better believe I finished, in an hour and 15 minutes. And I'll never do it again.
Arrived in Duncannon, Pennsylvania on July 1st, with the help of "DirtyGirl", a guy who thru hiked in '08. In lieu of hiking the 15 miles into Duncannon, we got a lift and detoured past a Khol's where i was able to replace my dear tennis shoes that had carried me almost 1000 miles cross country. We celebrated (again) at "The Doyle," a hotel built over 100 yrs ago by Anheuser-Busch; now, a must-stop thru-hiker spot where a 22 0z beer costs you 3 bucks.
Found a great vista to catch some fireworks on the night of the 4th. We could see 2 or 3 different towns setting off their displays in the distance.
It's nice to be in Pennsylvania, blueberry and blackberry bushes line the trail, the trees provide a full canopy of shade 99% of the time, there's hardly any elevation change. It is very rocky though---like walking in a creekbed, which isn't so kind to your feet. But you know what they say, "when life gives you rocks... make rock chairs" :
Missing everybody at home! Looking forward to seeing Mary Rachel, Patty and Brian in the next couple weeks(and a tour New York and Boston!) And NotBad, I'll see you soon!!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
We're half-way there, so we decided to celebrate.
Just got back yesterday from a 3 day trip to Washington DC. We had a wonderful time in the nations capital; made sure to visit the White House, the Washington monument, the WWII, Korea and Vietnam memorials, the Lincoln memorial (definitely my favorite), JFK, Jackie O., and the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington, Capital Hill, The National Gallery and the Museum of Natural History. Our country's entire history is on display in about a one-mile radius (and for free ) in DC. Definitely makes you feel proud.
More to come: my library computer time is almost expired..
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
We got to Waynesboro yesterday morning after a nice morning hike, and headed to Weasie's for some breakfast. Got nice and full and then we all headed to do our town errands. After that we met up with Boss who we hadn't seen for a week and got a hotel room with him.
This picture was taken at the shelter right outside of Daleville. It was Memorial Day Weekend and we celebrated with hobo dinners, wine and cheese. This is the crew that we have been hiking with for a few weeks now, and who are going aqua blazing with us next week. From Right; Olive Oil, Tarzan, Duchess, QuickStick, Ice, me (Not Bad), Boss and at the bottom is PigPen. It is a great group of people and we are all having a great time together.
So, have we told you guys about blue blazing yet? Okay well blue blazing is when you decide to take a side trial rather than taking the white blazes along the Appalachian Trail. Now this is bad news if you are a purist hiker, but who wants to do that when there are waterfalls, swimming holes and easier climbs on the blue blaze? This picture was shot along the Mau Har trail and it's me, Quickstick, Olive Oil and Duchess. It was a beautiful day and we had a great blue blaze adventure.
Well I think the next time we will be posting anything will be at our HALFWAY MARK!! We will be celebrating at Harper's Ferry but are hoping to take the train into Washington DC and explore our nation's capitol...how cool is that?? Only $18 bus ticket to see everything our nation is about....Just hoping someone can take Lucy for the day! More to come soon and I hope everyone is doing great and having a safe and fun summer!!
Miss & Love you all,
Friday, May 21, 2010
While Duchess is driving back to be with me and the rest of the crew on the trail, I'd figure I would update everyone while she has been away. When we went home to Indiana to get Duchess on her flight, we picked up another hiker; Lucy Diamond. Pictures are to come soon, but she is doing great and loving it out on the trail.
Trail Days happened last weekend, which is a three day festival for all past and present thru-hikers. We were greeted with water balloons and guns while walking down the streets of Damascus, VA during the parade, traded and got new gear from all the vendors and danced out hearts out around the drum circle every night...also, more pictures to come!!
Since Trail Days it has just been Boss, Lucy and I hiking to meet everyone up in Pearisburg, VA. We will be picking up Duchess along with Grace and Kristine....this will all be easier when they receive trail names as well. Although we have had some bad weather, the last few days have been beautiful and Virginia has been great to us thus far! Lucy is yet to ruin anything of mine with her wet paws, but only time will allow that to happen.
More updates to come when everyone is back on the trail!!
Not Bad & Lucy Diamond.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
We are a little over 300 miles and less than 200 from finishing 3 of our 14 states!! The next town/area we are shooting for is Roan Mountain. Last night we spent the evening at Uncle Johnnys' hostel in Erwin, TN where we resupplied, got some good Mexican food, and met up with some friends who had a been a day or so behind us. (And sorry Bman, no Erwin Burrito...couldn't find it.)
In just a few weeks Duchess will be jumping off the trail to head to Mexico with Bryan for a week and after that Spencer is going to be coming out & hopefully with Lucy! I am going to miss Duchess but will hike on without her and she will meet me at the right place! In other news, we recently found out that we can aqua blaze the Shenandoah Mountains (aqua blaze means we would canoe the 7 days out of the mountains)...and that is something we are now considering to do because it sounds like an amazing experience.
Anywho, we are heading out today and will be at Roan Mountain hopefully in 4 days (48ish miles)...if we don't update then, there will be a new post in Damascus, VA. Hope everyone at home is doing well and we look forward to reading more comments!!
not bad & duchess
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunset from the firetower in the Smokey Mountains.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Franklin, North Carolina to be exact. Yesterday we passed the 100 mile mark on the trail! Only 2079 to go...
Today also marks 2 weeks since we started and we are feeling very accliamated to life on the trail. After we left the hostel at Neels Gap, we hiked three days to Hiawassee, Georgia, slept in a real bed at a wonderful hostel called the Blueberry Patch and woke up to a hot breakfast: cheese biscuits, sawmill gravy, sausage, pancakes with blueberry syrup, orange juice and fresh brewed coffee. (I realize that i spend a lot of time going into detail about the meals at these hostels, but they are worth going into detail about after 3-4 days of dehydrated meals!)
We hit the trail that afternoon and made it to a shelter just after dark. Set up our hammocks in the dark, cooked and ate dinner in the dark (in the privy as a matter of fact so as not to wake up the folks sleeping in the shelter) and hung our bear bag in the dark. Woke up to rain and soaking wet gear a few hours later... (top of the to-do list: get better tarps, with more coverage, for our hammocks.) The forcast for the day was thunderstorms, so we ended up just hanging out at the shelter all day and letting our stuff dry. There were quite a few others with the same idea.
So we kept warm by creating a make shift tetherball court and tetherball tournament and we made a big potluck dinner that night out of stovetop, mashed potatoes and zuccini! AND there were a couple guys from Michigan who had a deck of cards, so of course there was Euchre.
Then the weather cleared up and we had a couple big mile days and here we are in Franklin, North Carolina.
Before I wrap up, I need to explain a phenomena out here on the AT called "Trail Magic." Trail Magic is any stroke of good luck or unexpected act of kindness experienced while hiking. It appears most often in the form of hot food at a trail head or fresh apples where the trail crosses a road, but can be anything. Here for example, the morning we hiked up and over 'Kelly Knob' it was very windy and spitting rain with 40 degree temps and when we came to the road at the bottom of the mountain, Nancy and Cheryl (and their husbands) had a big pot of chili and a cooler full of pepsi and were dishing it out for us before we even crossed the road. They also gave us a ride into town (10 miles up the road). Trail Magic.
There are so many people on or around the trail that will give the shirt off their back to a complete stranger, and ask nothing in return. There are a lot of good people in this world. Its a cool thing to remember after spending the last 5 years in a line of work that tells you the opposite.
Anyway, we're going to hang out here in Franklin today and eat a giant hamburger and maybe buy a tarp. We're only about a week and a half away from Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains! (where it apparently snows into April...)
Thanks for all of the comments! Love Jess & Mal
ps Go Butler!