Thursday, September 1, 2011


Hello everyone!
 It has been one week since Eats and I summited Katahdin!  We climbed the mountain on a foggy, windy, cold day, but we had a great time and finished our hike with some of our friends who we have known since the beginning of the trail.  It was an exciting and thrilling day but also sad as it was somewhat of a reality check that we were in fact coming to the end of our hike. Here are a few summit photos from Thursday:

Both our families were in Baxter to celebrate the end of our journey.  They had planned to hike Katahdin with us, but due to the weather they decided not to which was a good decision because it was a slippery and steep climb.  Both the night before we summited and the next evening we had a big celebration with all the thru-hikers who were at the base of Katahdin.  Here we are with some of our friends the day after we summited:
Brazil Nut, Eats, Jetpack, Twigg, Prescott, & Tigger in front

Well I couldn't just stop hiking abruptly, and my sister Courtney wanted to do some hiking while we were in Baxter, so the next day I decided to summit again with her and my trail friend Brazil Nut.  The weather was much better, and although we did not have views from the top, we had beautiful views most of the way up and again going down.
Courtney and I on Katahdin the next day

Jetpack, Courtney, and Brazil Nut and descending the Hunt
So my family and Eats stayed in Baxter State Park for a few extra days which was a great way to start re-entry into the real world.  We stayed in a cabin at beautiful Kidney Pond near Katahdin, and enjoyed our time canoeing, kayaking, going on short hikes, swimming, star gazing at night and eating lots of food.   It was the perfect way to end our hike.
We last blogged in Monson, Maine at the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness.  I enjoyed the wilderness- it was as beautiful as the rest of Maine had been.  Despite a few nights of pouring rain, the terrain was surprisingly good and I met up with Eats a few days in and we hiked the last four days together.  One of my favorite spots in the Wilderness was a place called Rainbow ledges, about 20 miles from Katahdin.  We got there in the evening, and as we were hiking up we found a HUGE volume of blueberries around the trail and spent an hour just picking and eating them.  But at the top of Rainbow ledges was my favorite view we had approaching Katahdin.  Here are Eats and I enjoying the it:

So now I have been home for four days, and it hasn't really hit yet that the trail is over.  For the first few days it just felt like I was zeroing at a hostel and giving my body a break.  I know that soon it will sink in, as I start to miss people, and the trail and the peaceful simplicity of the woods.
 Thank you to everyone who read our blog and supported us along the way, it was the most incredible journey!!
  Happy Trails, 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Last Stop!

Well well, as we have seen from Jetpack's post, we are in Monson! Well, I am, Jetpack just left here this morning. After playing some serious catch-up, I strolled in last night to surprise Jetpack at the hostel in Monson. It was so great to see each other and catch up, swapping trail stories, etc. After hiking so much in the last couple of weeks I totally needed a zero day today, but JP zeroed yesterday so she pushed out just a short day and we will meet up Saturday night at a planned shelter. Sunday morning we will hike Whitecap Mountain and if it is a clear day, get our first view of Katahdin!!! (75 miles out).

My experience of Maine hasn't been quite the same as Jetpack's, having to catch up and hike all day, every day has left me very little time to enjoy the ponds and scenery, not to mention that every day that I hike, it happens to be rainy, and when I get the chance to be off the trail, it is nice out. I haven't had a view since Saddleback Mountain a few days ago and missed some of the supposed best views on the trail. OH WELL! Today was a great zero day in Monson with some of our older friends from the Trail - Vinca and Poncho Verde, Kenyan, as well as Sweet Pea and Sage. We had a great night in the pub with all-you-can-eat tacos.

So I have some reflections regarding the coming end of the trip. I have noticed that whenever I catch a glimpse of a full AT map (they are in all of the trail towns, everywhere), I get really sad/nostalgic. I remember looking at those maps and seeing how far we have come and then how much we have left. I now look at them and see memories throughout the trail. I see the South and think about the beginning of the trip, the newness of it and the hiking with our good friends Lady Pants, Who Knows, and many others. I look at Virginia and think of the beauty, fun, and great weather, etc. etc. I have enjoyed so much of this trip, but I think at this point I am ready to not hike every day, that is the only qualm I hold with this trip. I am ready to just relax and exert a little bit less every day! I will, however, miss so so much about the trail including the people, the towns, the spontaneity, the relative low mental stress of the lifestyle, etc. So this will be a bitter-sweet end, but I have also learned so much. Mainly, that if I ever do any kind of long-distance hike again I will not give it a timeline and let it take as long as it needs to. I have found so much stress in trying to reach a deadline, one of the very things that I intended to leave behind. I know that I missed out on a lot of things, views, experiences with people, swims in ponds, afternoon naps outside, etc. because I was trying to get somewhere by a certain time. I almost feel like I could give it a go again next year on a full, solo, thru-hike...but that's a long way away and my body needs to do a lot of healing before then.

So I am now half-heartedly looking forward to the '100-mile wilderness' because of its rough terrain in the beginning of it, but with the promise of the end to the adventure, the accomplishment of an enormous feat, and now some time to slow down and enjoy Maine a little bit. So stay tuned, as always, because in a little over a week, I will be back home in Boxford with my computer uploading the rest of my pictures and attaching titles to all of them so you can see what I have seen and actually know what you are looking at! Can't wait to see many of you when I get home. Thanks for reading and supporting us and stay tuned for Katahdin pictures and some follow up posts!

Happy Trails,


Monson, ME

Apologies for not blogging for so long, there has been a serious lack of internet access.  So much has happened I don't even know where to begin, but I should probably start  by saying that I am in MONSON, yes Monson, Maine.  Monson is at the southern entrance to the 100 mile wilderness- I am only 114.4 miles from Katahdin, and that is so hard to believe.  Honestly, where did time go? I remember back in MA saying to Eats, "I know the rest of the trail is going to go by so fast and I don't want it to, I want time to slow down."  I knew full well that it wouldn't, but I still can't believe that I am this close to the end.
   That being said, the last few weeks have been AMAZING, some of my favorite moments on the trail and Maine has been by far my favorite state.  But going back a bit, I really enjoyed New Hampshire as well.  As many of you know, Eats and I had to separate back in Hanover, NH, so I was on my own, which I surprisingly enjoyed.  Through the Whites I had a mixture of weather- about half the time I couldn't see  more than five feet in front of me, but the rest of the time when I did have views they were phenomenal. Here I am on top of Moosilauke in the beginning of the Whites:

 I love the Whites but they are less fun as a thru hiker because while the huts offer work for stay to thru hikers, it was a competitive rush each day for each of us to get to the huts at the right time. I only did work for stay once, at Lake of the Clouds hut in the middle of a crazy wind storm and rain with twelve other thru hikers.  It was an adventure and I'm glad I did it but once was enough- I prefer the peace and solitude of my tent.
  There is a wonderful new hostel in Gorham, NH where I stayed before I headed into Maine.  It was a wonderful stay with great company, there were about twenty other hikers.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people there are on the trail,  I have met a whole new group of people who I've been hiking with.
  The most exciting thing recently has been Maine-it has been absolutely amazing, such a beautiful place.  I wanted to put a quote in here from my guide book for the trail.  When describing Maine, the author writes, "Hikers in Maine encounter approximately 281 miles of lakes, bogs, moose, loons, hand-over-hand climbs, and a 100 mile wilderness that is neither 100 miles nor truly a wilderness.  It is a mystical, magical place to begin or end your A.T journey."  I loved this when I read it because I think the author could not have been more accurate with his description.  Maine has been absolutely beautiful.  The southern portion was difficult with steep climbs and descents, but spectacular views from rocky mountain tops.  The forest in between the high peaks is bright green with moss covered rocks and ground and an abundance of spruce forests.  There are numerous bogs with moose and in the last few days each pond we've come to has had a pair of loons which I get to listen to each night, I love the sound of their calls.  In the last few days we have come to more beautiful ponds and lakes with perfect swimming than I could have imagined.  I think I have swam in every steam, lake and pond the trail goes near- they're irresistible with their crystal clear water.
  As you can tell from my blabbering I am thoroughly enjoying this part of the trail.  I've been hiking with a woman names Brazil Nut who I've been having a blast with.  A few days ago we crossed the 2,000 mile mark which was really exciting.  That also really put things in perspective-2,000 miles sounds like a lot to me!

  Lately many people I meet along the trail ask what I'm going to be doing when I get back and what I think re-entry into 'the real world' will be like.  Now that I am 7 days away from being on top of Katahdin I am being forced to think about it. I know what I am going to be doing after the trail, I've had plans since we started,  but how this re-entry thing will go I'm not sure, I just know I'm not ready yet.  Thru-hiking is hard, it is so hard, there has not been a day on the trail where I said to myself, "this is easy."  Both mentally and physically it is a challenge but in some ways it is much easier and so much simpler than being in the 'real world'.  Most NOBO's (north bounders) at this point are racing to the finish-they are all ready to be done, but I'm begging time to slow down.  I just want a few more weeks to spend in the beautiful, peaceful mountains with the wonderful people I've met along the trail.  Of course there are things I am looking forward to having back- running water to rinse my toothbrush with, food to cook, where cooking doesn't mean just adding boiling water to dried food, and drinking water straight from the faucet without having to filter it.  But overall, I'm not ready  for it to be over.  I have 114 miles until Katahdin and I plan to enjoy each mile of it to the fullest.  So here's to 114 miles of happiness and to being on top of Katahdin next Thursday!!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Maine? Already?

Well folks, here I am, in Maine. Yes Maine, state 14 of 14, but not without some troubles. After much deliberation, soul searching, and talking to others, I decided that it is much more important for me to finish with Jetpack. To have the memory of summiting my favorite mountain with the person with whom I have been planning this trip for 4 years as well as hiked 1,700 miles of the trail. In order to make this a reality, I took a shuttle from Franconia Notch to Gorham, NH and essentially passed a large portion of the Whites. It was definitely a tough decision, but I have already hiked a large part of that section, my favorite section, and can easily go back up and finish it in the fall. I did get to hike the southern part of the Whites that I have never seen including the Kinsman ridge area and Mount Moosilauke. Both offered me the amazing types of views that made me fall in love with hiking and that I have missed so much over the past 1,000 or so miles.

-View from Mt. Moosilauke summit heading north on the AT

- View from South Kinsman Mountain looking south towards Moosilauke

So since I arrived in Gorham, I have been playing catchup and putting in some pretty big miles. NOT EASY. Northern NH and southern Maine are MUCH MUCH harder than I had expected. Every day was filled with rolling mountains where when you reach a summit, you start to head down, and when you reach the bottom, you head right back up again, sometimes 2,000 or more feet. I usually don't mind this type of challenge too much, but when you throw in large, seemingly unending stretches where the 'trail' is nothing more than a straight up/down wall of rock slab where you choices are to either walk straight up/down the middle of it and risk sliding or face planting, or to work your way along the sides holding onto trees, roots, whatever you can grab. All of this becomes much more enjoyable when you do it in the rain...not. So for the last week or so I have been trying to put in as many miles as possible, constantly being discouraged by my now usual 1-1.5 mile per hour pace as opposed to my usual 2.5-3 mph. Ouch. I also have slipped and fallen more times in the last week than I have in the last 4.5 months. Ouch again. In Maine's defense however. It is gorgeous, the mountain summits afford fantastic views to the surrounding ranges, lakes, ponds, etc.

And speaking of lakes, I am currently writing this post from the wonderful DiBenedetto family's house on Mooselookmeguntic Lake. I can't tell you how great it has been to stay here, reading and overlooking the lake, going for a boat ride, listening to loons as I fall asleep, and socialing with such great people. Another example of the extreme generosity found on the trail. It is going to be hard to get back on today. BUT, I only have about 200 miles left and should be catching Jetpack within the next few days. So hopefully you will soon be getting a post from the reunited duo of Jetpack and Eats.

Now, I cannot end this post without talking about the traumatizing hike through Mahoosuc Notch. Oh man. This is known as the hardest or most fun mile of the trail. I can totally see it being fun - if you weren't wearing a 30+ pound pack, if you weren't by yourself and hoping you don't hurt yourself because your phone is dead and no one is around, and if you weren't doing it stuck in the rain. I wish that I had pictures to share with you dear readers, but again, it was raining so I left my camera buried in my pack. So Mahoosuc Notch is a mile long stretch between peaks that is a valley of enormous boulders which you are expected to climb around, over, under, and any other way you can think of. So there I was, soaking wet, hauling myself and my pack up and over boulders, then having to shuffle down the wet rock, or slide on my butt, then jumping down, trying not to smash my face on the boulders in front of me or above me, taking off my pack and dragging it behind me through tiny caves underneath more boulders, etc, etc. So again, sounds sort of fun without the weight and the rain, but it just felt more dangerous than anything. But it is behind me and I am stronger for it! Perhaps I will go back to the notch one day and redeem myself on a nice dry day with a teeny tiny pack filled with only water and snacks. Maybe.

So I hope to write you all again, faithful readers, from the town of Monson, Maine, our last town before we ender the '100-mile wilderness', the last 100 miles of the AT that lead into Baxter State Park without coming closer than 30 miles of a town. Hopefully I will also be with Jetpack while writing said post. So stay tuned, we are almost there!!!!!!

Happy Trails,


- Self explanitory.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ah, Sweet New Hampshire

- Some fun trail magic outside of a house on my way into Hanover, NH.

I made it! After hiking through 12 states, I am finally in NH. Vermont was cool and all, but it was a bit of a let down when I think of the mountains and the views that I know are coming up this state. I thought that maybe VT would have been similar. Oh well...It didn't take long after I left Hanover, NH to see the sudden changes around me. I could take deep breaths of sweet spruce and pine while stepping up using roots as stairs or tip-toeing up slabs of granite and other rock. It felt like home, and it still does. The last 2.5 days of hiking since Hanover have been so happy for me due to the little changes in my surroundings such as those aforementioned. Yesterday I climbed Smarts Mt and Mt Cube which both afforded some pretty fantastic views. I can't remember the last time I got at least TWO good views in one day. Today I am taking a half day at the hiker hostel in Glencliff, NH at mile 1,782. I still cant believe I have hiked that many miles (more than 2x what the average American walks in a whole year: 730 miles). It has taken a few days since getting back on the trail to 'get my legs back', but I am just about there and feeling better each day on the trail. Only 399 miles left to go and starting the White Mountains tomorrow - my favorite part of the trail so far as well as Jetpack's and my home turf. Ah yes, and I lost my cell phone in Hanover so I won't be doing any rapid blogging until a replacement comes from my mom on Saturday. And that's hoping that I can blog from that phone, we will see! Stay tuned and happy trails!


-View of Smarts Mt from the south summit of Mt Cube yesterday evening.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Welcome Back" Said the Trail

So as some of you may know, I stopped hiking a week ago Tuesday due to an infection on my ankle that became quite serious. Unfortunately, Jetpack and I had to split up last Thursday because I didn't know if I would be able to get back on or not. Well, here I am, back in VT after quite the welcome. I enjoyed a lovely ride up with my mom and lunch at the Inn at Long Trail, only to be welcomed afterwards with high humidity, limited water sources, one of the steeper climbs I can remember, and then extreme downpours. Typical. I am writing this from my air mattress in a run-roof shelter however, where I am thoroughly enjoying the rain from here and couldn't be happier to be back!

Happy Trails,
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mail Drops

Hey everyone, just a quick post for our next mail drop locations. Thank you to Gram and Peter for the mail magic in Hanover it is greatly appreciated!
 Our next one will be at Pinkham Notch, NH, they only accept UPS mail there. This address is:

Kaitlin Allen/Dan Roach
AMC Visitor Center
c/o Front Desk
NH 16
Gorham, NH 03581
Please hold for AT thru hiker, ETA 7/30

Kaitlin Allen/Dan Roach
C/O White Birches Camping Park
218 US 2
Shelburne, NH 03581
 Please hold for AT thru hiker, ETA 8/1

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We're in Vermont!

Well believe it or not, we're in Vermont! We hiked into Bennington at mile 1,603.3 yesterday and met my dad who stayed with us in town. Time is absolutely flying by, it really seems like we were just leaving Virginia. I'm ready for it to slow down again.  The last stretch has been nice. I was pleasantly surprised by New Jersey and New York.  Both states offered some great views and great hiking. Before the trail, I barely knew New Jersey even had trees let alone anything green in their state.   I couldn't have been more wrong and the state proved to be beautiful.  This was one of my favorite spots, a mile long board walk through the marsh like area.

Connecticut was steeper than I had expected, but the trail went through a beautiful part of the state.  We were psyched to be reaching Massachusetts last week and couldn't have been greeted by a more beautiful part of the state.  The first thing we came to in MA was Sage's Ravine, a beautiful spruce forest and ravine with waterfalls and pools that beckoned us for a swim.  It was a great start to MA and the next morning as we climbed  our first mountain we came upon this view:

We hit Mount Greylock a few days ago, the highest point in MA at nearly 3,500 feet. It was so nice to be back in higher elevation, Virginia was the last time we were over 3,000 feet.  We were greeted by spruce forests and wonderful views at the top.  This is the memorial tower on top from which we had great views:

Two days ago we finally reached Vermont.  We have been talking about the last three states for what seems like weeks now because we've been so excited for them.  Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are known for their beautiful forests, abundant lakes and streams and huge mountains with outstanding views.  I'm hoping time will somehow slow down for the next few weeks because it has suddenly been going by very fast and I really want to be able to enjoy what I feel will be the best part of the trail.
  We are currently sharing the AT with the Long Trail for the next 100 miles in Vermont. Near Killington, VT the AT turns east and the Long Trail continues north to Canada.
  So we're going to enjoy a little more time here in Bennington, then it's back to the trail this afternoon.
Thanks for reading and happy hiking!

Sweet Home New England

Well hello again followers! Here we are in the lovely town of Bennington, VT at mile 1,603.3 with only 577.7 left to go! Jetpack's Dad Keith has come to visit us so we have our computers again. We also got some AWESOME food in this town to replenish ourselves! A great little stop off of the trail!

So where we last left off we were about to cross the Hudson...

After the Hudson, the trail in NY got much easier, as well as brought us a much cushier lifestyle. As Gram Cracker correctly refers to NY as the 'deli state', we crossed road after road with delis within 0.5 mile of the trail! I'm pretty sure we didn't miss a single one! Plentiful sandwiched, homemade salads, cold drinks, coffee, snacks, and packing in bagels and cream cheese with us - what a glorious stretch of local gastronomy! So simple, yet so satisfying! To top it off, blackberries have been coming into ripeness and you can bet your friends Eats and Jetpack have been taking FULL advantage of those delicious little things!

So enough about food, well for a second anyway. We finished up New York with gorgeous weather and very enjoyable terrain. Crossing into CT was pretty surreal since I went to the University of Connecticut and because we were finally in New England!!! The first night we camped just 3.5 miles outside the town of Kent and strolled into town the next morning with the intention of just getting some breakfast and picking up one of our mail drops. Well if you haven't been to Kent, CT, it is a cute little town with some fantastic food options that we got sucked into. We ended up doing laundry and bumming around all day, picking at home made goodies my mom sent in our mail drop, and eating at just about every place in town. I was also pleasantly surprised with a lovely mail magic package from our long lost trail friend Lady Pants....some dehydrated beets (for those of you who don't know, I LOVE and miss beets) as well as some dehydrated strawberries - amazing. Well this day also brought some rain which washed away our motivation. At about 5pm we realized that we had been sucked into town, but with nowhere to stay under $120 per night....oops. We tried to look pathetic so that someone would let us camp at their house, but to no avail. Feeling defeated we knew the best solution for morale was to - yes, get more food. We headed to the local Pizza joint with our new friend Tin Man. We asked the owner of the shop if he knew anywhere in town that we could get away with camping. He told us we could use his clearing behind the shop if we were desperate, but that it was in rough shape. Apparently he doesn't know how us Thru Hikers roll. After an awesome meal, we set up shop by their dumpsters and stayed the night. We arose the next day, had, yes, more breakfast - I'm telling you the food in this town (J.P. Gifford's namely) is so so good! - and then finally got back onto the trail.

About 15 miles into our day (July 4!) we ran into a couple of families out for a hike with their children. They mentioned how much stuff we were carrying and we said that we were headed to Maine. They asked where we had started and of course we replied "Georgia". Upon hearing that we had come so far, the 4 adults and about 10 children responded with "OOhhhs" and "Ahhhs" and a round of applause for us. After a Q&A session we were on our way with quite the morale boost. CT was just as beautiful as I had imagined and the terrain a little bit harder - just some steep climbs and whatnot, but we see it as training for what lies ahead. Before crossing into the homestate, we crossed this lovely gem of a waterfall:

Later in the evening we crossed into Massachusetts, our home state!!! We took some time to bathe in the gorgeous Sage's Ravine where the water was cold but the scenery was amazing:

The next morning we woke up early to meet my Dad and came across some really awesome views of the early morning clouds beneath us with the mountains rising above them. I don't want to totally litter this post with pictures so make sure to check out the albums linked up at the top bar! So we met my dad a little ways into the day and hike 11 miles with him to a nice shelter. He even got some Trail Magic with us! Some nice cold drinks on a hot, hot day! The next morning the 3 of us hiked into Beartown State Park for a nice swim in the pond before we met my brothers. Of course we had a silly night of brews, grilling, and games. It was great to have the Roach men come out with us since they don't get into the wilderness much. I think everyone really enjoyed it, especially my dad since he got to go up into backcountry with us into the great outdoors!

The following night we stayed at an awesome cabin on Upper Goose Pond and met some really great hikers and got to hang out with some we had already known. The atmosphere was great and reminded us of the beginning days of the trail at hostels where you catch up with hikers you know and swap stories with ones you hadn't yet known. A great time! Again, make sure to check out the pictures! The next day we stopped by the 'Cookie Lady's' house who bakes cookies for passing thru hikers! Then Courtney, my little brother's girlfriend who lives in Pittsfield, picked us up for a great stay at her house complete with homemade cookies, rides around town, laundry, showers, a trip out to dinner, and our favorite downtime activity (besides eating) - watching a movie!!! She was an EXCELLENT hostess and dropped us at the trail the next morning. Thank you again Farrell family!!!!

That day we summitted Mt Graylock, the highest point in MA. The following day brought us into Vermont!! It is still so surreal to think that we are finally this far up, in a state adjacent to Canada, when we started walking in Georgia. Our first full day in VT seemed just right - we got a hitch into Bennington from Don, a local man who was finishing up fishing for the day. We made a quick detour to his house to drop off his trout. When he ran in, he offered us beers, so we of course took him up on the offer. He hopped back in the car with a Long Trail Ale for each of us (including himself). We cruised through the mountains and farms of VT with the windows down, listening to music from the 60s sipping cold brews and talking about the trail. He dropped us at our motel where we met Keith. And here we are, enjoying a great break from the trail, quality time with Keith, and some really awesome local food. Another restful stop - if resupplying, seeing the town, blogging, uploading pictures, etc is restful. Well at least my legs are a bit rested!

Well stay tuned as we will be able to blog again in Hanover, NH - probably mid next week (CRAZY!). I will try to keep up the short posts from the trail, but service has been spotty. I hope everyone following is enjoying summer, we are having a ball as usual. It is so hard to believe we are getting close to finishing, but there are still plenty of adventures to be had, so stay tuned!

Happy Trails!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Woah, wait. We're Where?

Ok sorry again for not posting in a while, combination of bad service when I have the time to blog and the usual craziness when I don't. We are currently in Pittsfield,MA staying at the Farrell residence. (Thank you!) But yes, CT is over and we are actually planning to cross into VT on Tuesday! That night we will have our computers again with Jetpack's dad so we will five a full rundown with pictures then. Stay tuned!
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Mail drops

Hello everyone!
 We wanted to quickly post our next few mail drop locations since we haven't done that in a while.
The first one is Killington, VT. They only accept Fed Ex or UPS, so do not send through US post office.

Kaitlin Allen & Dan Roach
C/O Inn at Long Trail
709 Route 4
Killington VT 5751

 Please hold for AT thru hikers ETA- July 15th

 Kaitlin Allen/ Dan Roach
C/O Hanover Outdoors
17 1/2 Lebanon St
Hanover, NH 03755

 Please hold for AT thru hikers- ETA July 19th

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From the lake to the Pond

We left Anton's on the Lake this morning with a quick pit stop at Bellvale Creamery en route to the trail. In their register we saw our friends Ringleader's and Monkey's entries from last summer. Hiking today was a bit rough, fun climbing like in the Whites, but tiring after all of the flatter sections of recent. We saw a pond in our book and thought we would check it out as a potential camp site since we wouldn't make it to our original destination at our pace. What a nice surprise! I went for a dip and we cooked dinner on the rocks. Can't wait to see the sun rise over the pond in the morning! Tomorrow is day 100, we cross the Hudson River, hit 1,400 miles, hike through the Bear Mt Zoo, will have views of NYC, and will hike the lowest point on the AT...stay tuned!

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Let's Back Up A Bit

Hello Again Faithful Followers!

We are currently off of the Trail in Greenwood Lake, NY at mile 1363.6 after having crossed the state line from NJ yesterday afternoon. We are at a fantastic cafe, The Village Buzz, that has a computer right next to our table which actually has high-speed internet....definitely not in the South anymore! So now that we have a computer, we can back up a bit and review some of our off-trail excitements that the state of Pennsylvania brought to us!

It all started back when we arrived in Boiling Springs, PA. I was out at a tavern for dinner with our friend Blue Eyes when I met Roccko and Maggie, an engaged couple, alumni of Dickenson College, who were in town for the weekend for Alumni Weekend as well as to look at local farms for wedding ideas. Maggie's brother had hiked half of the AT a couple of years back before starting medical school, so she knew trail trash when she saw it and asked us if we were hiking. We hit it off with them and got talking about the trail, their barn wedding since I got to go to an AWESOME one (Nikki and Louis!), etc. They sneakily picked up our bar tab as trail magic, THANK YOU AGAIN!!!, and invited us back to Dickenson where the alumni had rented on-campus apartments for the alumni weekend. We hopped in the car and spend our Saturday night at Dickenson College partying it up with their alumni...way too much fun!

The next day we made it back to Boiling Springs, myself a little later, and hung outside of the gas station with some other hikers eating chips, rehydrating, etc. Jetpack had gone ahead on the trail with a friend while I hung back with Tippy Toes, Vinca and Poncho Verde. I hiked out with those 3 and Poncho and I fell behind stuffing our faces with mulberries. When we cought up to the two girls, Vinca was holding a tiny kitten. The girls had come upon 3 kittens on the side of the road that had clearly been abandoned and were emaciated. Thunder clounds were rolling in so we picked up the kittens, put them in our rain coats, and brought them about 10 miles to the next shelter through downpours, thunder, and lightning. Jatpack, along with everyone else at the shelter, was quite surprised when we rolled in with our kittens! The next day we split them up and I carried my favorite, Bob, into town.
Now let me tell you about Bob. He was clearly the runt, or at least weaker than the other 2, and was the sweetest little kitten - he didn't bite or meow incessantly like the other 2, and the best part, he rode on the back of my neck while I hiked.
From WV, MD, and PA
Bob and I had become good friends. I decided to take him to the vet for a check up since he was clearly in rough shape. They said he was 3oz and about 3 weeks old, clearly emaciated and dehydrated. We took him back to the town of Duncannon where everyone else was staying. Our fellow hikers had found a home for the other 2 kittens, but I had decided to keep Bob and carrying him another couple of days until we met up with my Mom. That night in our tent at about 1:15am, I woke up and went to move Bob over so I could adjust myself...he was very limp. I panicked and started to lose my cool, fearing the worst. Trying not to wake Jetpack, I took him outside and tried to give him water and feed him with my syringe that they gave me at the vet...he wouldn't eat and just kept meowing. He got worse quickly and could barely hold his head up. I knew what was going to happen so I brought him into the tent, wrapped him in one of my bandanas, laid back down and stayed with him until he was at of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. The next day we burried Bob in a beautiful little patch next to the trail. Now I apologize for possibly ruining your day with such a sad story, but remember the story of Bob and spay and neuter your pets because this poor kitten was the result of neglect.

Feeling pretty miserable we carried on and went to bed early at a shelter so that we could get up early, restart, and hike 31 miles...until we heard our names called from outside of our tent. It was our dear friend Swift inviting us to a party at a 'modern house with showers, laundry, etc' that was at the bottom of the ridge. Apparently the directions that Swift had received to the party were to 'take a right at the privy and follow the deer-path down to the road, and take a right until we get to number whatever.' It was about 8:45, we were half-asleep, but we decided that we couldn't pass up that offer...we packed up and headed down with Swift in the dark with our headlamps on. We arrived and everything there was as promised...a shower, laundry, internet, great music, a bed to sleep in, and even home-cooked curried veggies with quinoa! This guy Rick, a contractor and member of a bluegrass band hosted a hiker party for all of us at the shelter!

We hiked out the next day, carried on the day after and then finally met my mom and brothers for my birthday weekend!!!!

We spent the weekend in a gorgeous MARRIOT HOTEL in Quakertown, PA as well as at my uncle and aunt's house in Coopersburg. They are avid followers of our adventure and we arrived to a chalkboard sign outside welcoming us (thanks Uncle Dave!). We had an amazing weekend with my 2 younger brothers, mom, and the Pauls (Auntie Jen, Uncle Dave, Jon, Steph, and boys, and Steven). For my birthday, my mom got us tickets to Dorney Park, an amusement park in Allentown where we spent the day with Andy and Chris screaming our heads off on roller coasters!! We hopped back on the trail late the next day.

4 days later we arrived in Delaware Water Gap, PA, just a mile or so from the PA/NJ state line. Auntie Jen and Uncle Dave drove up to bring us our food drop and took us to the fabulous WalMart and a laundry run and surprised us with some fresh fruit (THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!) It was so great to see them again (twice in one week!) and they also got to go into the hostel and meet some thru hikers!

Phew! Lots of stuff but there it is! A great time so far, an awesome zero in DWG and we have already crossed into New York! Only about 100 miles until NEW ENGLAND!!!!! Stay tuned!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Welcome to New Jersey

And what a welcome it was. This morning we left the hostel early and crossed the Delaware River into NJ. It was a pretty hike but very foggy and cloudy today after all of the rain yesterday. We are still battling some rocks but they should be ending soon...our feet will be so happy then. Later in the day we got hit with 2 thunderstorms with heavy downpours. So here is the answer to the question we get way too often, "what do you do when it rains?"
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

So Long's been.....

So I now have my phone with me so I will be trying to do quick blog posts from here more frequently. We are now at mile 1285.3 in Delaware Water Gap, PA. We are zeroing at the Church of the Mountain's hostel. One of the church's main outreaches is the hiker
hostel where they have finished a portion of their basement and will be hosting a potluck/BBQ. A great way to end a rough stretch of terrain. The rocks have been brutal for the last 100 miles but we have a had a lot of off-trail adventures. Stay tuned. Here is one of the FEW views we have had in the last week or so.
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sweet motivation

  So here we are part way through Rocksylvania and we haven't even hit the rocks yet.  I keep waiting and have been told from various people different places that the famous massive amounts of rocks in PA start.  I know it is soon so I think I am mentally prepared.  Lately while we're hiking we've been discussing various aspects of the trail and parts that we have enjoyed most.  I loved the south, especially the Hump mountains in TN, and various parts of Virginia, but lately I've been getting an itch to be in New England.  And by New England I mean Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  Connecticut and Massachusetts will be exciting too, but there is nothing like the final three states on the trail.  The woods are different there and the mountains are very different from the rest of the trail.  Those of you who know Vermont or who have hiked in the Whites in NH probably know what I'm taking about.  I'm excited for the spruce forests, cold mountain streams, Maine lakes and to be hiking above tree line for days in a row.  Our plan is to be to Delaware Water Gap Wednesday evening and be into New Jersey on Thursday morning.  When we get to New England I want to slow down and be able to take as much time as we want to get through the last three states.  Knowing what we have to look forward to there will be my motivation through the next few states!

View of the Presidentials from the Carter range
 We're headed back to the trail later this afternoon after a really fun last few days. A huge thank you to Elizabeth, Eats mom for everything she has one for us the last few days! It has been a blast!
Thats it for now, next time you hear from us we should be in NJ or maybe even NY!!

PA Already???

Ok so here we are in PA, state number 7! But I guess we have sort of been flying through states recently, so here is how it all went down...

Before anything, when we got into Waynesboro with Teri, we were super surprised when we went to pick up our packages at the outfitter: Pete from Florida, one of our blog followers, sent us some mail magic!!! We had a package from someone we have never met, filled with delicious candy bars and Kashi bars (YUMMM). Thank you so much Peter!!!! I don't have much to say about the following week in Shenandoah besides two things Jetpack didn't mention...
1. We got killer trail magic with Papa Muskrat (a section hiker) and his wife Mama Mink. They made us an incredible dinner, let us stay on their campsite, and then made us breakfast in their RV in the morning. We got to share this with our new friends Puddle Duck and Coyote.

2. Also, Shenandoah has a lot of I got one of my favorite pictures so far: (make sure to check out the little cub against the tree!)

After we left Shenandoah we stayed at the Bears Den Hostel, a gorgeous stone house with a great hiker special where your stay includes a full Tombstone pizza and a pint of Ben&Jerry's!!! A great night of course! We met some really great people there including Swift, Mothership, and Lost and Found, all of whom we have been hiking with off and on since then. We then made our way to a campsite right outside of Harper's Ferry where we were given a whole bunch of Starbucks Via instant coffee packets by some section hikers (a total win!! I LOVE these!), but not before stopping a pizza joint for a celebratory beer and dinner after crossing the 1,000 mile mark that day! I guess I got overly excited (and hungry) because I ate so much that when we made it to the campsite, I had to make myself throw up. Sorry for the imagery but it was actually pretty funny. Eats beat at his own game! The next day though, brought us in to Harper's Ferry WV, the 'unofficial halfway point' of the AT, home of the ATC headquarters, and....OUT OF VIRGINIA! We took the all-important 'half-way' picture on the porch of the ATC HQ and placed it in the 2011 binder to join the ranks of all thru hikers, past, present, and future who have made it to that point. We were lucky enough to get there while our dear friends Vinca and Poncho Verde were still there and will forever in history be next to them in the book!

The town of Harper's Ferry is a really great, historical town with plenty of awesome places to eat as well as an outfitter where I was able to replace my clunky boots with some awesome trail runners (I am so much happier, and faster, now!) Immediately after crossing the bridge out of HF, we crossed the border into Maryland!! (WV is only 8 miles on the AT). We got through Maryland pretty quickly, but not without back-to-back 97 degree days with intensely high humidity. NOT FUN. I did however, manage to hitch into town for a Chinese buffet with a few other hikers while Jetpack took a nap in the shade at Pen Mar park. After I returned we once again crossed state lines, heading into PA!!!

The next day (another 97 degrees) we got some more awesome reader participation! Tracy, part of a long-running family friendship, picked us up to take us somewhere to eat, to resupply at WalMart, and then back to her house. We had SUCH a great afternoon hanging out in their beautiful (air conditioned) home. Here we got to do laundry, eat ice cream cones, eat an incredibly amazing salad, and hang out with the whole family. It was such a nice time to get to spend with them and we wished we had been able to stay, but we had a big day the next day!!! Thanks again Lombardozzi family!!!!

So this big day...the HALFWAY POINT!!! We finally made it to the real halfway point, mile 1090.5

We then ran into another rattlesnake, Jetpack's first and my's getting old now! Haha actually they are really cool now to see, but still a tiny bit scary. We then rolled in to Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the home of the infamous half-gallon challenge. We both succeeded in eating entire half-gallons of ice cream....not pretty. We didn't get sick, but it is nothing I will ever do again. As our dear friend Swift put it, "I have insulted my body".

Since then, the hiking in PA has been pretty easy for the most part, with lots of ridgeline walking. I am definitely really getting hit with the 'green tunnel' feeling. There has been such a long stretch where the views are far apart and are rarely breathtaking, something I am not used to at all having grown up hiking in the Whites. The AT gods however, were determined to make sure that this trip doesn't ever get boring. Stay tuned for the off-trail adventures that have really made this a one-of-a-kind journey for us. Should be up sometime tomorrow. Until then...

Happy Trails,


Friday, June 17, 2011

Taking a break

  Happy birthday to Eats! We are off the trail for a few days to visit with Eats' family and celebrate his birthday!  His mom and brothers came to pick us up from the trail yesterday and took us to his Aunt Jennifer and Uncle Dave's house.  We had a wonderful time there both tonight and last night, eating great food and enjoying wonderful company.  Thanks to them for their wonderful hospitality and all the great food they had!
  Today, to celebrate Eats birthday we spent the day at Dorney Park- an amusement and water park near his aunt and uncles house.  Flying around on roller coasters and going on thrill rides was a great change of pace from the trail and an awesome way to spend the day.
  This past week has been a bit of a rough one for us.  A lot has happened both good and bad, but it has resulted in us making very slow progress, so we have some catching up to do over the next week or so.
  Earlier in the week I had the unfortunate experience of being sick on the trail.  I think I had food poisoning, because it luckily only lasted a little over 24 hours, but it was rough while it lasted.  I can't think of many things on the trail that could be worse than being really sick in the middle of the woods.  I was really weak and tired so we didn't manage to hike very far that day.  The day before, Eats and some of our trail friends Vinca, Poncho and Tippy Toes found three abandoned kittens by the side of the road while hiking.  Since they couldn't leave them there they hiked them in ten miles to the shelter that night and we took them into town with us the next day.  They quickly found homes but Eats had become very attached to the one he had been carrying (Bob) and had decided to keep him and since his mom was coming to visit in a few days she could bring him home.  I will let Eats tell you the story of Bob because he was his kitten and was the one who carried him and fed him, but Bob did not make it through the next night.  It was completely unexpected and so sad because we had taken him to the vet and he seemed to be doing alright.  So we buried Bob the next morning along the trail, and for anyone who has had to bury an animal, you know what a terrible experience it is and it was extremely draining and emotionally tiring for us.  So we will think of Bob as we continue to hike north and wish he was with us!

Eats ready to hike with Bob

Half way!!!!!

Last week we reached the official halfway point at mile 1090.5!! When we got there, there was a couple who were out hiking for the day and asked us how we felt about being at the halfway point.  Were we excited or was it completely unbelievable that after ALL time on the trail we were ONLY half way??? We weren't really sure how to respond because in our minds we had already passed the half way point since Harpers Ferry is looked at being half way by many people.  I decided I was excited, because it meant that I still had 1090.5 miles of experiences to look forward to, and if the next half is anything like the first part has been, I can't wait for every mile!
Jetpack at the half way marker

Three miles after the half way mark the trail passes through Pine Grove Furnace state park.  This is home to the half gallon challenge where hikers get to try and eat a half gallon of ice cream.  With our overwhelming love for food, Eats and I have been talking about this literally for years since we first learned about it.  We were totally pumped for the challenge and had our top flavors picked out before we got there.  There were only a few flavors to choose from when we arrived, and we both went with Chocolate swirl- vanilla ice cream with a chocolate fudge swirl.  Before doing this, a half gallon looked like a lot of ice cream to me, but not out of the question.  Let me just say that a half gallon in one sitting is absolutely disgusting! We both did it, but there were a few serious points when I thought I wasn't going to be able to finish it, I almost quit more than once-it was just totally disgusting and I wouldn't recommend doing it at home.  But we sat around for a few hours after to let it digest and watch other hikers eat theirs and we still managed to hike 28 miles that day! 
Thanks for reading and happy trails!
After finishing the half gallon challenge!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Harpers Ferry, unofficial halfway point!!

Hello everyone! Were made it! We're in Harpers Ferry, WV mile 1,015. We crossed the 1,000 mile mark on Saturday which was extremely exciting and felt like quite an accomplishment! We got into town yesterday morning and went to the ATC headquarters and got our halfway point picture taken.  Each Thru hiker gets a number when they get to the headquarters and we were hikers number 308 & 309 for the year. We spent some time at the trail headquarters which is full of information, history, pictures and facts about the trail.

  Last week was a long and hot week in Shenandoah.  The temperatures soared into the upper 90's which made hiking quite a task.  We didn't love the park as much as we were hoping to-the views were few and far between, shelters were spaced so that we had to do really long or really short days with few places to camp in between but for the most part the terrain was much nicer than we'd had in a while, so that made it easier.  We did have some great wild life encounters as well- Eats saw another rattle snake, we saw a tiny fawn the other day as well as lots of other deer and my bear count is up to 12!
  The official halfway point will come later this week on Thursday or Friday and we are looking forward to the Half gallon challenge to celebrate, where hikers take on the challenge of eating a half gallon of ice cream (and I believe the time frame is in less than an hour).  So we're stoked for that and to be finally counting DOWN the miles to Katahdin!
Happy Trails and thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Some Rough Terrain

PICTURES ARE UPLOADED! For my pictures, click the link above our blog title that says "PICTURES!" All pictures relating to this post are on there too!

So the last stretch, from Pearisburg to Waynesboro as hands down been the roughest stretch of terrain so far. We have been pulling decently big days, 17-23 miles usually, over rocky ridges and with almost daily climbs of 3-5 miles over a couple thousand feet. We have also had some pretty high humidity and threats of thunderstorms every afternoon. I guess it's that time of year!

After leaving Daleville we only did about 5 miles in to our shelter since we left so late. The next day we did 23 miles to a campsite next to a creek where we had a nice fire, but didn't get to swim because it was a little too chilly in the evening. The following day brought a LONG climb, probably our longest yet where we climbed about 10 miles out of 17 for the day only to get mediocre views. We camped that night at Punchbowl Shelter which was swarming with flies. Not my favorite day on the trail, BUT we continue on! The flies have been horrendous ever since then, bug spray is about to come out! The next 2 days brought steep, long, long climbs in sweltering heat and humidity in the late afternoons, again, not a super fun stretch, but I feel like such a beast at the end of these 22 and 24 mile days! My legs have become pretty rock solid and the body is holding up pretty well these days! Oh and I almost forgot...May 22, after a really rough day, Jetpack had run ahead as I got talking to an older couple of day hikers. Going to finish the last 3 miles of a 24 mile day, I came upon a blown down tree in the trail. As usual, I went up and around the tree and on my way back onto the trail, I heard an explosion of the noise I have been hoping to not hear...rattling. I looked down and about 2 feet in front of me was a timber rattlesnake about 4 feet long and as thick as my calf staring at me and rattling

Clearly I survived, but it really scared me and made me question my safety out here on the trail, especially knowing how our dear friend Gram Cracker saw 3 in one day last summer. But again, we carry on! I made it to camp with Jetpack only to wake up at 10:30pm to the most intense storm we have had so far: buckets of rain pelting the tent, uninterrupted lighting strikes, and thunder booming up and down the mountains as if we were being bombed, along with the loud cracks overhead. It felt like being on a movie set and sounded like the mountain was exploding. The only thing we could do was roll over and go back to sleep! The next day we finally got to meet up with Teri!!! Between her bringing goodies from Ingaldsby Farm and my mom baking a coffee cake, we had quite a binge-eating party at the car!! I was also pleasantly surprised with all sorts of love from home (thank you everyone!!!!!!) Basically, you will be hearing about us staying in a few more motels and on a few LESS lawns. A big thanks again. We had a couple of wonderful days hiking with Teri and then came in to Waynesboro last night. She treated us to a stay in a hotel as well as a Chinese Buffet (always a big win!) and dinner from the Outback! yummmmmmmm!

We are feeling rested and clean and are ready to head into the Shenandoah National Park, our last big stretch of Virginia! This park is 100 miles or so and upon exiting, we will be staying at Bear's Den Hostel, after which we will do 20 miles into HARPER'S FERRY, WEST VIRGINIA!!!! That is the unofficial halfway point since it is just over the 1000-mile mark and home of the ATC Headquarters. You will be hearing from us there as we will probably zero there, it's supposed to be a great town. Then we will only have about 80 miles to the halfway point!! I KNOW RIGHT!? It seems like we have been out here for so long and we aren't even halfway yet! Very exciting. Stay tuned for more fun and adventure!!!

Happy Trails!


Oh Virginia

        With only a little more than one hundred miles left in Virginia we’re getting close to Harpers Ferry! In the beginning I loved Virginia-it was really green and beautiful, but the one thing I’ve found is that Virginia is not flat! Whoever said that, I don’t know what trail you were hiking, but the AT is not flat. In fact, the last 200 or so miles seem to have been the hardest so far on the trail. From after Pearisburg until close to Waynesboro, VA has been one HUGE climb followed by another huge descent and often fewer switch backs than we’re used to.  That aside, Virginia has been beautiful and we’ve entered into a warm spell which I’m enjoying!

            Early last week we got to enjoy McAfee’s Knob, one of the most photographed spots on the trail.  We got there only minutes before a severe thunderstorm rolled in, so we did not get to enjoy the views for as long as we would have liked, but we did manage to snap some cool pictures!
 The views from McAfee were amazing!

We started Virginia by going through Damascus and then onto Mt Rogers-Virginia’s highest peak.  The area surrounding Mt. Rogers is know for having wild ponies which we ran into and spent a long time hanging out with them.  They were quite friendly and fun to spend time with.

Some exciting things for us-we both have new shoes! Mine were getting completely worn down-I could feel every leaf and branch I stepped on, so I now have new insoles and new shoes and soon to be happier feet.  We also got new (smaller!) hip belts for our packs.  Since we’ve both shed some inches around our waists the hip belts on our packs were too big and it was getting really uncomfortable, so new hip belts just arrived-can’t wait to try it out!

            Mom and Ella came to hike with us Monday and spent a few days with us on the trail. It was great to have someone hiking with us but unfortunately they met us at a brutal part of the trail and they had some difficult hiking to do.  Here is a picture of mom and Ella descending Three ridges mountain.

            We will be headed into The Shenandoah National Park soon and sliding into West Virginia before too long! 
Happy Trails!