Almost there… 99%

I can almost taste the completion of my AT hike. Summer is quickly ending and I have some more hiking trips to share to keep you all up to date.

Before hitting the Trail again, I had some family excursions. Mid July,  Stephanie and I went to central Maine for several days and stayed at the Appalachian Mountain Club Gorman Chairback Lodge. No tenting for us… A nice cabin, great food and different day hikes each day.

 

Ed came home to Cooperstown for a visit the end of July and we made a day trip up to Lake Placid and summited Mt. Algonquin. It was a beautiful day and a great warm-up for me to begin my Maine AT hike.

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Second highest peak in the Adirondacks

Tuesday, August 6, my Cooperstown hiking partner John R. (aka Star Gazer) and I took off for Stratton, Maine. Out goal was to hike from Stratton to Grafton Notch, NH: 80 miles of some of the toughest climbing on the entire AT. Lots of very steep uphills AND downhills. Hiking up and down sharply angled rock faces, hand over hand boulder climbing and tricky descents in rainy weather just begged for slipping, sliding and falling. I’m glad we had each other for help and encouragement.

Our first night was a restful stay at the Hiker Hut Hostel. Solar heated shower available in the woods, no electricity by a comfortable bed in a nice cabin.

Our first challenge was to summit Saddleback Mountain. Up and down was an all day endeavor. Beautiful Maine scenery along the way.

A walk in the woods the next morning brought us face to face with this guy:

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My first Moose! I’ve been waiting the past four seasons to finally see a moose on the AT and this was the day. He was right in front of us and was scouting us as much as we were scouting him.

What could be better than seeing a moose on trail? Well… That night we made it to a shelter just in time to save us from a fierce downpour. We stayed nice and dry the entire night. We also had to share the campsite with several young  french speaking women (ages 14-15) from a summer camp north of Montreal.  Along with their two camp leaders, they were hiking for ten days and nights in southern Maine. Their good spirits in spite of the rain as well as their french accents raised our spirits.

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The next morning we left in the rain but were happy to see the sun come out before noon. Crossed a stream and then made it up Crocker Mountain.

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That night we made it to The Cabin which is one of the “iconic” AT hostels. Our host were “Honey” and “Hopper” who provided home cooked dinner and an amazing breakfast the next morning.message_1565394563830

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Stories of the trail were shared over dinner with other fellow hikers. “Honey”, age 83 was the master of ceremonies.

The next morning …more of the same. Up and down those mountains. The views never disappointed us:

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Lunch time we came across a “work crew”. These are adult volunteers who spend several days at a time hiking up the trails with heavy equipment repairing shelters and grooming the trails themselves. It’s very tough work and all AT hikers appreciate their efforts.

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I’m glad I was able to help them out and do my share.

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John’s tent had a small leak during a rainstorm earlier in the hike. Fortunately, he had a big tarp that served as a makeshift back up the next night. Good work John!

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Only two more hiking days to go now. The views keep on getting better and the mountains get higher and tougher. We finally made it down Old Blue Mountain safely (barely), just before sunset.

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Our last day in southern Maine was up and down Baldpate Mountain. This had to be one of the best days of our hike. A perfect weather day, a challenging hike and great views as a reward:

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Made it home to Cooperstown the next day with a successful 79+ mile hike completed as planned.

No rest for the hiking addict.  Henry and I took a nice day trip up to Lake Placid to summit Whiteface Mountain. From the top you could see all the way to Lake Champlain and beyond:20190826_1110215035

One last bit of AT hiking before the end of summer. On Wednesday August 28 I drove to Wind Gap PA for a 15 mile day hike on the AT. I’ve been keeping close track during these past 5 years of all the “section hikes” that I have completed. This was one of the very last I needed to complete the entire Trail. In fact, having completed this rocky PA hike, I now have only 17 miles to go for the entire 2191 miles trek. My math tells me that I have now hiked 99% of the Trail.

AT hikers typically label Pennsylvania “Rocksylvania”. This is why:20190829_07135920190829_07301920190829_07105520190829_092154

I’ll be taking a brief break from the AT in September. Back to work!

But mid October, the Bauer clan and AT friends will travel to Hanover NH for a two day, 17 mile hike to mark the completion of this adventure. Final Blog and thoughts then. Thanks for following.

White Cloud

sometimes aka The Lung Ranger

 

 

298 Miles

 

We left the Laughing Heart Hostel the next morning for some uphill climbs to higher elevations (and better views). Rainy, foggy with limited views on a noon climb to Big Bald:

 

 

Now one week into my hike with Jan, we felt we deserved a break and found just what we needed: A stay a hiker hostel Cantarosso Farm and Apiary. This was a great place to relax for the afternoon and spend a comfortable night in a cabin with shower, hot water and a chance to wash our clothes. I bought a small cache of local honey to take with me, which was a great addition to peanut butter spread on my lunch wraps.

 

Nice views skirting the NC/TN border high up along the hills for the next day or so:

We tented most nights and frankly I slept better on my air mattress in my Big Agnes tent than in a hostel bunk bed. Having said that, a gastronomic highlight awaited us at Mountain Harbour B&B. How can you beat a food truck on site ( smoked ribs ) followed by one of the best breakfast buffets the next morning. Good thing we were also doing some hard hiking to burn off all those calories:

Hikers also need to cool off in the local stream:20190523_131732

We were aiming for 15 mile days for the rest of the hike and we were successful at reaching our goal for Damascus VA:

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Chip met us in Damascus to celebrate the end of our hike. Jan and Chip headed back to West Virginia and I had a 10 hour rental car ride back to Cooperstown the next morning.

This completes one of the major sections remaining for my AT Adventure.

298 Trail Miles hiked on this section.

Next near final section will be an 80 mile  hike in the mountains of Southern Maine this August with my hiking buddy John R.

As my hike nears completion, I have been thinking more and more about how the experience has effected me in many ways. I look forward to sharing those thoughts with you soon!

AT Season 4: May 2019

Hard to believe that I first started my AT Adventure 3 years ago in May 2016 !I initially thought I would hike the complete 2190+ miles in one six month block of time but as my blog posts of the past 3 years have told all of you, this has morphed into a much longer trek. Someone who completes the entire AT hike in one season is called a thru hiker. I am now best described in hiker lingo as a “lasher” : “long ass section hiker”. Year 2016, I section hiked about 800+miles, year 2017 I hiked 500+ miles, year 2018 I hiked 500+ miles. This season I have to hike four separate sections of the AT ( about 400+miles) and then can call myself, in AT lingo a 2000 miler, which means I have completed the entire trail.My goal right now is for a 4 week May hike to include a 70 mile section from Springer Mountain GA to Dick’s Gap GA (69 miles), then to shuttle up to Davenport Gap NC to hike through Tennessee up to Damascus VA ( 240 miles).So here we go!Stephanie dropped me off in Albany, I took a non-stop flight to Atlanta, hopped on public transport MARTA train to REI store 30 miles north, then was shuttled up with a two hour car ride to the trail head. Started my hike by 1 PM!I was hiking solo this first stretch and took it slow with about 10 mile days. It takes a while to get back your ” hiker legs”. Most 2019 AT thru hikers have already begun their hike: usually in March or April. This is called the “big bubble”. I started at the end of the bubble and had smaller groups of novice hikers just beginning their 2019 thru hike as I left Springer Mountain. It was kind of fun being the “seasoned hiker” and being able to offer advice here and there.Hiking the AT is basically always walking up mountains or down mountains. No different in GA. Hard going, but worth it as long as you enjoy the scenery and the people you meet.Springer Mountain trailhead.My trusty Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 tent has held up nicely the past 3 years.It’s Spring. Wildflowers everywhere.After hiking about 30 + miles (3 days) I reached Neal’s Gap. This is the first major road crossing after starting the AT hike and there is a great outfitter store and hiker hostel right there. It’s said about 33% of new AT hikers decide right there and then that this was not what they bargained for and leave the trail. Look closely at the tree at Neal’s GAP Hostel and you can see scores of hiker boots thrown up on the branches. These were gifts from the hikers leaving the trail.Reached my goal of Dick’s Gap after the first 5 days.Passed by the Georgia version of the Cooperstown money Tree.Off to Davenport Gap!

My hiking partners Jan and Chip, dating back to our first meeting in the NH White Mountains back in 2016, picked me up at Dick’s Gap and we drove two hours north to Davenport Gap TN.

I’ll be hiking with Jan for the next stretch. She’ll be pushing me to do those “extra miles” each day.

The first two days were tough hiking in the rain. Fortunately, the second night we had a break late afternoon which gave us a chance to set up tents in dry weather.

Next morning we submitted Max Patch, a beautiful Bald (large meadow) on top of the mountain. Fog cleared up briefly, just enough for a good view.

After 3 days in the woods, we landed at Laughing Heart Hostel in Hot Springs TN. Time for a shower and clean laundry.

We’re off tomorrow for more ups and downs.

Miss my family, friends and hospital life but am truly greatful for the amazing opportunity to be out on the trail.

Will continue to keep you posted…

Signing off as White Cloud, aka The Lung Ranger

Smoky Mountains and more…

After three seasons of AT hiking, my life has gotten into somewhat of a “routine”. Hike some in the Spring, a bit during the Summer and now finish up with a nice Fall AT hike. I was lucky to sign up my longtime hiking buddy Tom B. as well as his daughter Kate (aka Bright Side) for a two-week hike starting Sept 18 at the northern border of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We had two weeks to start hiking southbound and our goal was to cross the Georgia border.

It’s a long 12 hour drive from Cooperstown to Davenport Gap NC. We reached Standing Bear Farm hostel around 7 PM and early the next morning started our hike up our first Smoky Mountain peak. We were met but an ominous sign at the trailhead but fortunately our trek through the park was a few days after the hurricane and we actually had great weather for almost the entire two weeks:

We always had lots of energy early in the morning:

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After three days and nights we were finally getting our trail legs. We kept looking for bear but this was the closest we every came to one:

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At this point, also needed to go into town for a resupply. Gatlinburg TN certainly offered us this. Bellies full, we hiked the next day to the peak of Clingman’s Dome. This is the highest peak on the entire AT. It’s also a popular tourist destination accessible by car. On a clear day you can walk to the top of the lookout for great views.

Hiked another three days and night to reach the southernmost entrance to the Smokies at Fontana Dam. Nice rhythm of hiking up and down a few peaks each day. Always making sure to eat some of the necessary food groups each day! One of the great aspects of hiking is that you can eat anything and as much as you want and still be guaranteed to lose weight. ( just don’t try this at home )

One of the ways you know you are “on trail” is by passing these remarkable “indian trail markers”. Trees that were bent while thy were sapling to grow into distinctive shapes to tell us hikers and forest wanderers that they are on an established trail.

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We hiked another week through the National Forests south of the Smokies through North Carolina. Kate went home briefly to pick up our new hiking companion Bruce who rounded up our new foursome nicely and led our pack through the woods.

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Kept hiking south… soon our guidebook said “pass by the iconic twisted oak tree at Bly Gap and just south of here is the NC:Georgia border. Sure enough…

We made it ! Hiked another few miles to Dick’s Creek Gap with Kate and Bruce waiting for us at the truck. Fourteen hour drive and now back home in Cooperstown. We were all proud of our successful 174 mile adventure.

Getting close to becoming an official “AT 2000 miler”. That means completing the entire 2180 miles of the AT. Still need to complete 69 miles in Georgia, 240 miles in Tennessee and about 60 miles up in southern Maine. These are my 2019 hiking goals. Plan for a few weeks in May, a hike in Maine in August and final completion in the fall. Looking for partners… come join me on the AT in 2019.

Best wishes for all to have a nice winter where ever you may be. Happy Trails.

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Southern Maine 2018… Mahoosuc Notch

I last left the AT in Damascus VA late May. Spring and summer have been passing by quickly in Cooperstown. Working at the hospital three days a week in Pulmonary Clinic. Hard to call it “work”:

 

Had a great vacation with Stephanie visiting Kate and Steve in Boulder CO in July:

Celebrated with our son Bob (with his brothers Ed, Henry and Ben) and his new bride Michelle at their Cape Cod Wedding:
With all this excitement, the pull of the Trail persisted. In order to complete the entire 2181 miles, I still have a 100 mile stretch to hike in southern Maine as well as the final 350+ miles to hike down South in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Hiking weather should be perfect this time of year in Maine… So I’m off after the wedding…
My plan was to start in Gorham NH, just south of the Maine border and head north as far as I could go in 1-2 weeks. Hoped to do 10+ miles a day. What I didn’t remember was that southern Maine is the toughest hiking on the entire trail. VERY STEEP ups and downs. Not getting any younger as well.
The hiking is beautiful. Maine woods are lush and green: Can you actually see the trail here?20180808_104242

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It quickly became apparent that 5-7 miles a day was more realistic.
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After passing the NH-Maine border, the hills get higher and the hiking harder. Views are awesome.20180809_122302
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A few days later I approached the Mahoosuc Notch around 2 in the afternoon. It’s common lore on the trail that this is the “hardest mile” of the entire trail. The Notch is a one mile long gorge between two steep cliffs on each side. The bottom of the gorge is strewn with huge bus size boulders that you have to climb under, over and in between to cover ground. I was hiking alone and the going was slow. It took about 2 1/2 hours to make one mile. These pics may give you some idea of the terrain, although without me in the view, its hard to get perspective on size. These boulders are each 20-30 feet high!20180810_16120620180810_15242920180810_145847
Hiked another 2 days and started to run out of food. I thought is would take three days to hike up to and through the Notch, but it was approaching day 6! Running out of food.
The next morning I hiked up “Mahoosuc Arm” which is one of the steepest ascents on the AT.  Over 1500 ft elevation climb in less than one mile. It seems like you are hiking straight up, and you almost are. Didn’t break any speed records but my theory to hike slow and steady. Here are some other nice view of the peaks:

 

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 Finally made it to Grafton Notch parking area on Saturday afternoon. Only one Kind Bar left in my pack. A nice couple from Montreal gave me some cherries from their pack to keep my going.  I was still hungry and broke my hiking record for not having a shower for over 6 days. Time to go into town for a break. As is common, there was no cell service so I had to hitch hike back to Gorham for a night in a motel room with a welcome hot shower.
Rain forecast for the next several days with some possibility of flooding. It’s time to come home. Typing this blog post the day after returning to Cooperstown. A short but great hike. Seventy five percent of the time you’re admiring the beauty around you and are feeling so greatful to be out in the woods. Twenty percent of the time you are huffing and puffing and really working hard. At those moments, you’re just struggling to get through it. Five percent of the time… when you are climbing on your hands and knees up those steep boulders or holding onto a tree limb to prevent yourself from falling, I say to myself “What the heck am I doing here?”.
It’s nice sleeping in my soft bed now. I know when I’ve fully recovered from my most recent outing when I stop dreaming every night about hiking and more hiking. Usually takes about a week.
Next planned expedition is down to Georgia for some AT hiking next month.
Until then… thanks for viewing the AT blog.

 

Damascus

Had a great time at Bob’s graduation at Duke in Durham, NC.

Still about 100 miles of hiking planned to reach my goal to Damascus. After a four hour return drive, I started back where I left off. Within a few hours of hiking, I was face to face with wildlife in the middle of the trail. I was going South and he was going North. A game of chicken… He won and I walked around him.

It seemed like it rained at least part of the day, every day for the remainder of the hike. There’s an expression on the trail that goes “No pain, no rain, no gain, no Maine”.

Although it was getting hotter, hiking elevations were also getting higher keeping temps in the 70-80 degree range.

Glade Mountain hike in the rain was actually very pleasant.

Within a few days I reached one of the highlights of the hike at the Grayson Highlands. At elevations of greater than 5000 ft there are several “Balds” on the southern VA mountain tops. These are several acre expanses if grassland and rocks on the mountain tops. Groups of wild ponies roam and live along the trail.

Hiking through Elk Garden was a treat.

Made a push of 5 days of longer hiking (about 15 mile days) at the end. After 5 weeks I seemed to be finally in “hiker shape”. That usually means that although your legs might be aching at the end of the day, when you wake up in the morning, they feel fine and you’re ready to go.

As you may know, I’m currently hiking south. I reached my goal of Damascus VA yesterday. This is the southernmost town on the AT in Virginia. I started this section hike with John in Buena Vista (mile 806) and ended at Damascus (mile 470). Mile 0 is Springer Mountain in Georgia,which will be the”final” destination for the completion of the hike. Still quite a ways, but almost in sight. Another AT truism, that certainly can be taken to many other aspects of our lives is: ” It’s not the destination… It’s the journey”. Hope to continue the journey for a few weeks this Fall. Until then, best wishes to all of you. Thanks for your support. Have a great summer!

Hiking in and out of Spring

After John left the Trail, I took an hour shuttle ride down to Newport VA, mile 675 from the southern terminus at Springer GA. Started hiking solo. Hiked 120 miles these past 11 days. Ten+ miles a day is a modest pace for an old guy. Somedays I’ll hike 15, others only 6-7,usually depending on the weather. Young “kids” typically hike 20+ miles a day.

Homer shuttled me down to mile 675. He is a well known local AT celebrity who is now 72 years old. When he was 60, he and his wife and their 10 and 11 year old children all competed a one season through hike on the AT.

One of the best parts of hiking these past two weeks has been the daily sight of coming in and out of Spring scenery. Typically, each day you climb up and down at least two “mountains”. The “gaps” or lower elevations are about 1000-2000 ft. Mountain peaks are currently 3500-4400 ft. As I climb, trees are just budding up high. In the gaps, everything is in full bloom. I’m also hiking South and days are passing by. I suspect in a few days mountain peaks will be in full bloom as well.

My hiking friend Jan joined me for four days on trail. One of those days we were hiking through several miles of trail where there had been a “controlled burn” just the day before. All the ground cover was black. None of the trees themselves were damaged at all. Rangers assured us that this was good for forest ecology.

By the end of the day, we left the burn area and camped at Dismal Falls”.

Every four days or so I’ve been sleeping at a hiker hostel. These are inexpensive (typically $20 a night) bunk beds where you can also get a hot shower and clean your clothes. Each hostel has its own “vibe”.

Some offer message chairs:

This one had more of a “party feel”:

This place was a great hostel with yoga/meditation flavor:

My night yesterday at the Bear Garden Hiker Hostel was hosted by Bob and Bertie. He is a retired high school science teacher and she’s a retired ICU nurse from Michigan. They decided to open a new hostel on the AT this year as part of their mission committment:

Here’s some more picture highlights of the past two weeks:

Hiked a few days with Rhino. A great guy from Stuttgart Germany. He hiked most of the AT last season and plans to complete his hike this year:

Typing this blog post from Durham NC. Just came off trail, rented a car and drove three hours to spend the weekend with Bob and family. Bob is graduating from Duke University Physician Assistant Program this weekend! Congrats Bob, we’re all very proud of you.

Nice to get a little hiking break for a couple of days. I do feel like I’m finally getting into hiker “shape “. It definitely takes a good 3-4 weeks. I miss family and friends from home and work. Days go by quickly though and soon I’ll be back in Cooperstown.

Thanks for following along.

AT 2018 : Season 3 !

I finished my second AT season last October 2017 with an 80 mile hike in Northern PA. A long Cooperstown winter is finally winding down and the hiking bug has returned. My Season 3 goal is to complete as much of the AT from Buena Vista VA, heading south to Georgia as I can. I’ve figured about 800+ miles and this journey should be ended.

Tried to stay in shape this winter by going to the gym several days a week. It’s still tough actually walking up your first hill with a 30+ pound pack. John Rowley and I left Cooperstown early on April 20 and arrived late afternoon at the Buena Vista tailhead parking area. Short two mile hike to our first night camping at Brown Mountain Creek shelter.

everyone is smiling before we take our first steps. “This is easy!”

My sturdy Cooper Spur 2 tent is still holding out after two years.

Lot’s of rain lately so no problem finding drinking water in these small streams.

First full day of hiking was a fairly easy 9.5 walk in the woods to Punch Bowl shelter. We arrived by 1:30 PM and decided to call it a day. We’re breaking in our hiking legs:

You can decide if you want to sleep in the shelter or in your tent. With the sunny weather,we tented. First night was COLD… Around 30 degrees.

Checking out my new sleeping pad. VERY COMFORTABLE !

View up to sky from the sleeping pad.

Picking up the mileage for a 12.7 with lots of uphill climbing the next morning:

Early Spring here. A few weeks ahead of Cooperstown. Lower elevations it’s very green on the ground.

Getting up higher with some nice views.

Two foot lizard attacked John.

Crossing the Saint James River

Woke up sunrise the next morning. We had a 12 mile uphill climb to Thunder Ridge Overlook with a shuttle to take us into Glasgow for a dry night at Stanimal’s Hiker Hostel. Big rainstorm coming in.

Rain has started. We’re glad to have a dry bed tonight.

So far, a great start. John will be with me for a week then he’s headed back home. I’ve got the month of May to keep heading to Georgia.

AT Part II : Northern PA

Last time I left you all was mid August when I returned from my southern Maine AT hike. The end of the summer went by quickly. To keep in shape we did some nice family hiking up to Star Field in Cooperstown NY. This is one of our favorite local family outings… a pleasant 3 mile hike up and down with a view of Lake Otsego from up high. Michelle (Bob’s fiancée and Mattie the dog) are joining some of the Bauer crew.

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Shortly after Labor Day weekend I had a Cooperstown reunion with three of by oldest and best doctor friends. We go back over three decades  to Rochester NY where we trained together to be lung doctors. We’ve been pretty good at getting together almost every year: Mike-Tony-Gary-Dave

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This is our classic picture pose

Had to put in some tough days at work before my final fall hike:

20170905_095725[1].jpgMy last official AT section hike was a one week solo adventure in Northern PA. It was starting to get a bit chilly in October, but once I could complete this last 80 mile section, I will have done every last bit ( minus a small stretch of southern Maine) of the AT from southern Virginia up to Mount Katahdin, Maine.

Stephanie dropped me off in Port Clinton PA, the heart of coal country.

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Most of PA hiking is ridge walking along the crests of the mountains. At elevations of about 2000 feet, I would really call them high hills. Although not as spectacular at the sight up in NH and Maine, there are still some awesome views:

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PA is most know for its continuous rock filled trails. The AT in PA is nick named “Rocksillvania” by hikers. Not too much difficult ups and downs, but lots of stress on you feet as you manage walking over rocks and rocks. Some are small and some are big:

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BIG BOULDERS here

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small rocks here

This was the only stretch of the AT where I was actually attacked by wildlife. Well, not really wildlife… but I was bitten (unprovoked) by a pit bull. It was accompanying his owners on trail (was not on a leash) and started to bark as I approached. The owners said “He doesn’t like hikers that are using hiking poles”. Well, OK.. I quickly went back about 30 feet, put down my poles and started walking away. Next thing, he had two front teeth in my foot. I survived, wiped away the blood and took this picture to document my war wound.

 

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As the years go by, the dog bite may morph into a bear bite as my memory fades.

Some more views during the next few days:

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Taking your shoes off at the end of the day is always a great feeling

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High School science class looking hawk watching from a PA peak. Lots of hawks in this area.

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More rocks climbing up Lehigh Gap.

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View of Lehigh River from up top. That’s another rocky trail.

Last day of hiking was the most memorable. Around noontime, hiking from the opposite direction was Greybeard. He is/was a legend on the trail this season and I didn’t know he was in my neck of the woods. He is 82 years old and is competing a one season thru hike in 2017. If successful ( and I know he was at the time of this typing) he will be the OLDEST individual ever to have hiked the entire 2189 miles in one season. A true inspiration for us all.

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As I type his last blog post of 2017 I am already day dreaming about 2018 hiking.

When I first starting this adventure in May 2017, I thought I might finish the entire hike in one season. That changed into a two year trek this season and it looks like 2018 will make it a three year challenge. I’ve got about 500+ miles to go in Georgia, North Carolina and  Tennessee. Mixed feeling about actually ending this hike. Hard work most of the time but every day something different to see and usually new interesting people to meet. I’m thankful to have support of family and friends. I know good health is something not to be taken for granted as I get older. Hiking the AT has made me realize more and more that it’s always good to have goals. Try to complete old ones you may have on your list but also think of new ones. They don’t have to be profound goals. My new goal of winter 2018 is to learn how to swim. I’ve been off to the local gym pool several times a week so far and seem to be getting the breathing down a bit easier!

Best wishes for a great New Year in 2018.

More posts coming next April !

 

 

AT Part II: Southern Maine

Better late than never! It’s been about four MONTHS since my last post and YES, I did keep on hiking. I’ve had two somewhat brief hikes since I last signed off and I would like to update you all on my life on the AT.

As planned, my 2016 AT hiking buddy Bill AKA “Adventure” joined my in Cooperstown just after Hall of Fame Weekend and we drove together up to Gorham NH and spent the first night getting ready for our hike at the White Mountain Hostel. We took a 150 mile “shuttle” (cab ride) the next morning to Monson Maine where our real hike began…

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It was good to finally get our packs on an start, what we knew would be a tough section of the AT. The woods, rivers and lakes of Maine are some of the prettiest of the entire trail.

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First night out, and it seemed my tent still was looking good. (It did leak a bit a few nights later in a hard downpour !). In addition, so far this is the closest I’ve been to a moose in Maine:

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Bill hiked with me for the next few days, up and down some of the southern Maine peaks:

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Eating these made hiking easier going up the hills


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Fields of lichens

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Early in the Spring this is a raging torrent. Not so tough now.

Bill left the AT at Caratunk a small town where the Kenebec River flows. From this point, I was hiking solo for the next several days. The water is too deep to ford, so the only way across is via canoe for a short ride across:

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One of the highlights of this part of the trail for me was discovering Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camp. An old rustic lodge where I spent the night right by the river:

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Within a day or two I had reached the spot on the AT that was exactly 2000 miles from the southern most starting point in Georgia.

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Maine has some of the largest fish I have ever seen and caught: (look closely)

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This brook trout was a fighter

As I hiked on, the hills (now real mountains) were getting higher and tougher. It was slower going than I planned, so I make the decision to call it a “half completed” section that I would come back to next August to finish. I’m looking for a hardy soul to hike this really tough section with me in 2018. Any taker’s? About 80 miles or so which should take about 7-10 days.

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View from the floor of my shelter early evening

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It’s now mid August 2017 and Stephanie will meet me back in Gorham to take us both back to Cooperstown. I need to work for a month with plans to tackle northern PA to complete an 80 mile section in October. Look at those amazing mountains in the background: summer 2018.