Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shenandoah National Park

The Shenandoah Mountains are truly one of the more beautiful places I've ever hiked. The trees are now in full -force bloomage. So many awesome colors and varietys now that it really brings a sense of life to the forest that seemed to be missing in the early stages of this hike. I guess I never really completely grasped that fact that I was starting in the winter, when everything is burrowed away and everything seems drab, cold, very still. It almost feels like when Dorothy landed in Oz and everything was in color for the first time. Even if now, I am hiking inside the 'green tunnel' for hours and hours on end, there is life about. Bugs like a son of a bitch. Mosquitoes, flies, and worst of all TICKS. I hate ticks soooo much. I'm pulling like 5 per day off lately... Still, not comparable to my time in Alaska. 
Now the animals are out as well. To date, I've seen around 10 snakes, 8 bears, dozens of white-tail deer, a coyote, a skunk and all sorts of squirrels and chipmunks. Lots of birds as well, I wish I knew more about the different breeds, but so many of all shapes and colors.
I'm almost out of Virginia, I'll briefly pass through West Virginia, and a spend a short amount of time in Maryland before spending a more significant amount in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is supposed to be a shit-ton of rocks. I'm super thankful for growing up on the river and spending endless amounts of time rock-hopping along it's banks. The skill should come in quite handy! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

900 miles....

Yeah. So I am 900 miles into my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail now. Currently hiking through the Shenandoah National Park and en-route to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  I recently attended trail days back in Damascus and had a blast catching up with people I've met along the way and meeting lots of new friends as well. 
The last month has been one epic amount of trail magic! It started when I began hiking with an awesome lady named Prom Queen. Her parents, Mike and Carolyn, live a mile off the trail and took me in like a family member, feeding us obscene amounts of amazing food. They let 8 hikers take over their household for 3 days,  then slack-packed us, then paid for an amazing meal, then slacked us some more. I will always hold Whiskey Ridge and the fun times we had there deep in my heart. Allowing me to play their high-end instruments and jamming out  and singing songs was truly a high-point for me on this trip. Thanks a million times over Mike, Carolyn, and Kayla for the great times, food, conversations, and rides to and from Roanoke and the open hearts! 

I then received trail magic from PromQueens other family in Daleville, by late night rides, pizza, moonshine, beer, and showers, and awesome funny conversations.

After a crazy night partying in Roanoke for Cinco De Mayo, a PCT alumni named Kindergarten Cop took me and a handful of others in for 2 more days of amazing magic. I am now craving the ribs, pork shoulder and ice cream he showered us with! The ability for these awesome folks to take us dirty hikers into their home, barley knowing us, but having faith in the trail community and showing us so much compassion is truly amazing. Every one of you are now a part of my trail family!! The laughs, the funny, the sometimes serious and deep conversations, the relationships established, they are something I truly will never forget!! 

And then.... I arrived in Waynesboro VA, close to where 2 friends I worked with in Alaska live. They took me in as well, allowed me to make their home my home and treated me like a brother from out of town! I definatley has a great time in Staunton and had a great time getting a sort of vacation from the trail. So, Bradley, Elder, Todd, thanks for showing this guy a good time! I can't wait to come back and see you cats...

I'd also like to thank Cricket, an Appalachian Trail alum who thru-hiked in 2009. She responded to my Facebook requests looking for a ride back to trail days!! She shuttled me the 4 hours each way to make it a round trip! Awesome lady, awesome attitude, and I love expanding my trail family one more, one ride at a time!!! 

I can't express the amount of gratitude I have and how thankful I to lead a life that keeps putting you amazing people in my path! Life is good and I have you all to thank for that.

Also, thanks to my parents, Keith and Toyka for sending me rad care packages with candy and treats and beers and shoes and love. My brother Casey for sending me my extra shit whenever I ask him too, and to all of you that comment, or like my pics on Instagram and Facebook. It wouldn't be as special an adventure without you...