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!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mail Drops!

For anyone wanting to send us something along the trail here are a few of the next places we'll be stopping:

C/O Rockfish Gap Outfitters
1461 East Main St.
Waynesboro, VA 22980

 Please hold for AT thru hiker-ETA 5/27/11

And for anyone wanting to send us something to the unofficial HALFWAY MARK (!!!!!) in Harpers Ferry, the address is:
(USPS) PO Box 807
(FedEx/UPS)799 Washington St
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Please hold for AT thru hiker- ETA 6/6/11

Spring Showers

Oh yes, it is that time of mid-spring....RAIN. Well, I guess you can't thru hike the AT without knowing the feeling of waking up in the morning and putting on wet socks, shorts, shirts, pack, everything...days in row. That is how I have been trying to look at it at least. But let's start from the beginning...

We left off at the amazing Wood's Hole Hostel where it rained a bit the first day and then a bit more during our zero. The day we left, last Thursday, was wet in the afternoon, but we were luckily inside at a Chinese AYCE buffet in Pearisburg, VA on a quick resupply. The next day started off SUPER humid in the early hours, so we knew it would be a scorcher that day with T-storms very likely in the afternoon. We walked a gorgeous, lush ridgeline all day where we saw 2 snakes, a decently large turtle, and OUR FIRST BEARS! A momma and her 2 tiny little cubs. As we were walking we heard the cubs make a noise as we spooked them so we turned to look as they scampered up a tree. Momma bear hung back on the ground and checked us out until we left. They were a little far away to get pictures, but I think Jetpack tried to take some. T-clouds rolled in later in the day and we got stuck in some serious downpours...raining buckets style. I have learned that it is better to not bother with any rain gear except my pack cover, because I would rather be soaked with rain than soaked with sweat under a rain jacket...thus, I took the free shower in stride and continued on my way to "The Captains".

The Captains is a man's house on the other side of a creek from the train. He constructed a great zipline with a seat for hikers to ride over. We rode the zip over and camped out on his screen porch as a CRAZY t-storm blasted on through the night. The next morning we woke up, still raining, and went back down to the creek...serious flooding and swelling. I hopped on the zipline to cross back only to get stuck in the middle, with my butt underwater!!!! I screamed to Jetpack to reel me back in....a pretty hilarious site, I wish we had a cameraman. Hiked in rain off and on throughout the day with another downpour later in the afternoon.

Next day started with rain, but we waited it out and didn't get wet until an hour or so into our hike. Once it cleared, the trail opened up into one of the most beautiful pastures that we have seen so far: rolling hills, cows, hay bales, farm houses, mountains in the background, etc. Got to a shelter for our afternoon snack as it started to downpour yet again. Waited it out and stayed dry the rest of the day. Next day - McAfee Knob, the most photographed part of the trail aside from Katahdin. This place had the most incredible views of the valley with a really cool rock outcropping on which people take daring pictures. Unfortunately it started to rain a minute after I got out on the rock, so my part of the shoot got cut short, but we got some seriously sweet shots. Yesterday we finally got into Daleville, VA (mile 720ish) and stayed in a Howard Johnson Express Hotel, out first hotel stay since Hot Springs, NC - almost 4 weeks ago. Laundry and a shower has never been so necessary, not even after our 10 day stint from Damascus to Wood's Hole. If you are curious as to what a thru hiker who has been out in the rain for days on end smells like, consider this experiment:

Pick out a set of clothing to wear and jump in your pool or lake, shoes and all. Then go work out as long as you can, but make sure you work up a really good sweat. When you are done, take off your clothes and leave them in a pile in your basement or outside. Repeat this procedure the next day with the same clothes, maybe even for a third day. On the last day, leave your wet, sweaty clothes under your dog and let him/her sleep on them over night. Give them a smell in the morning and your lovely attire may smell like ours did. Awesome, right? Right.

So I know what you all want, pictures. I lost my camera cable in Hiawassee, GA about a week into the trip so I can't get them on here, oops. When Jetpack's mom comes to hike with us next Monday-Friday, we will be hitting up a Wal*Mart at the end of the trip and I will get a new cable. We are also going to have our computers to just hang out in a hotel room and upload EVERYTHING. So give us another week and a half and you will have all of our pictures! Hooray! So I guess that's all for now folks! Thanks for following and pray for a little bit less rain down here!

Happy Trails!


Daleville, VA

Ah well here we are in Daleville, VA mile 719.8! It's been a wet and rainy last week here on the trail so we came into town yesterday to get dry, do laundry and make an effort to get clean.  While I've decided that the actual hiking in the rain isn't so bad, it's putting on wet, smelly, cold clothes day after day and putting my feet into wet boots that gets to me.  But it's all part of the trail, and it is currently sunny outside, so I'm hoping the sun sticks around for a while!
 We had our first bear siting last week! We saw a mother and two cubs who we scared away, so we only got a quick glimpse of the cubs, but the mother stayed behind a tree for a while and watched us, so it was very excited to finally see a bear!
 In other news, mom is coming down to hike with us on Monday-we are very excited she's coming and can't wait for her to experience the trail with us for a few days!! After that we will be headed into Shenandoah National Park for about 100 miles, so lots of excitement coming up.
Once again time is short on this computer, but we will update again soon and add upcoming mail drop locations for anyone looking to send something.
  Happy trail and stay dry!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sweet Relaxation

Hey Y'All

We are finally zero-ing!!! We have been out since Damascus, 150 miles and 10 days ago! Our minds and bodies are SO in need of a break and man, have we found the perfect break for it. Check out the hostel's website at . We got here at about 11am and will not be leaving until sometime Thursday. We are staying in the bunkhouse and will be having community dinners with most of the produce grown in the organic gardens here with meats and other things produced locally. I just took a shower in the outdoor shower with some amazing Amish-made soap (after not showering for ten, yes ten days) and we get an authentic Southern breakfast in the morning. I am sitting in the study listening to folk music and will be once again browsing the book shelved filled with books on yoga, sustainable living, appalachian trail stuff, religions, nutrition, herbs and plans, and anything else any good library needs! So basically we are here for some much needed R&R.

Trail Stuff: Weather is still pretty excellent, we had some crazy rain, but once again, it started around 9pm and tapered off by 7am. YES! Virginia is GORGEOUS. We have walked through more pastures and meadows than I have ever even seen in my life. Encounters with cows are regular. We also walked through Grayson Highlands after leaving Damascus which is littered with wild ponies: bold, people-friendly mini-horses set up there to graze and keep the balds in tact. They also of course provide a whole lot of fun for bored hikers!!! Plenty more pictures in the albums listed above!

Otherwise, we are starting to see why VA is the 'green-tunnel'. Spring has set in and we get great cover from the sun from all of the leaves, but at the cost of views. We are totally OK with it though, because the forest is gorgeous, and when we get views, they are so incredible, the landscape here is very unique with vast farmlands and flat-topped, long-runing ridgelines covered in green.

We also stumbled upon some amazing trail magic a few days ago - the Hillbilly Feast, set out by 2 brothers who are section-hiking the trail. We sat in chairs with other hikers, by a dirt forest road in the middle of nowhere, and stuffed our faces with chili dogs, cole slaw, tater salad, chips, fresh fruit and veggies, homemade desserts, ice cream, and beer. A total win for these two haggard hikers!

I don't want to bore you with every play by play, but we are still having such a great time out here. I feel like an athlete with my fat burning away, replaced by muscle, and a seemingly nearly endless supply of energy in my muscles that keeps me firing up and over hills and mountains. I have also really fallen in love with some parts of the south. The pace of life here and the simplicity of the towns is really endearing. The people just as much so. Not to mention the food is so great - pancakes, ice cream, pies, diners, etc. I can totally see myself living somewhere in VA on a sustainable farm, much like the place I am sitting right now, listening to folk music, tappin my feet and drinking sweet tea. This experience has taught me how to appreciate the little things, as I've said many times on this blog, as well as to knock myself down physically and mentally, only to build myself back up to finish the day strong. We live simply, we persevere, and we grow every day. Every day we laugh, sweat, hike, run out of breath, eat, and eat, and eat, spend time appreciating the beauty of nature and the community around us. If you have ever wanted to try hiking this trail, or even just a section of it, do it. I have seen placed that I could never have imagined. The beauty of a view, the simple pleasure of a meadow, or the cozy, small mountain town charm of the south. The amount of personal time is incredible too. I have never been able to think about my life, what I have done and what I want to do, among everything else, as continuously and as deeply as I can out here.

Time is short on the internet here so I gotta run. We also have yoga here at the Hostel in an hour so I need to ready myself for that!!!

Happy Trails,


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mail Drops

Hey everyone,
 We made it to Virginia!
Quick update here as Eats has filled you in on a lot of what we've been up to over the last week or so.  Make sure to check out our friends Lady Pants  and Who Knows blogs listed on the right side of the page here.  I know many of you have been asking about mail drops and where you can send stuff to.  Our next mail drop will be at Woods Hole Hostel in Pearisburg, VA and we will be there by May 10th.  The address is:
 Kaitlin Allen & Dan Roach
C/O Woods Hole Hostel
3696 Sugar Run Rd
 Pearisburg, VA 24134
'Please hold for AT thru hiker-ETA 5/10/11

The next mail drop will be on May 15th,
Kaitlin Allen & Dan Roach
C/O  Outdoor Trails
Botetourt Commons
28 Kingston Drive
Daleville, VA 24083

'Please hold for AT thru hiker-ETA 5/15/11'

Quick shout out to Elaine from the Gloucester office who we've heard is following our every move. Thanks for the support, we're glad you're enjoying the blog!
 We're headed back to the trail shortly, will update next time we have computer access. Thanks for reading!
 Happy Hiking

3 States Down, One LONG One to Conquer

So before I begin the post I must apologize for our lack of blogging recently! It is very difficult for us to get to a computer sometimes. Frequently we enter town or a hostel that may only have one computer, usually slow and out of date, for about 30 hikers to use over the course of a day or a few hours, or we arrive in town on a day where the library is already closed! We hopefully will be able to blog a bit more in the coming weeks, but we never know!

Anyways, I'm not quite sure where we all left off, but as usual, every day out here is an adventure. I am writing from an excellent cafe in Damascus, VA - STATE NUMBER FOUR! 465 miles into the trail!

I had been having some trouble with my shin since before Erwin, and after a zero day at Kincora Hiking Hostel in Hampton, TN with lots of icing and rest, it magically healed itself! We left the hostel and hiked 17 miles to a shelter and then cranked out a 31-mile day to a campsite 1.7 miles out of Damascus!! By FAR our longest day yet. I definitely felt like such a beast rolling into camp after hiking so far. It's still amazing how your body can adjust to something like this, your pack feeling like a part of you, the miles flying by. We have really started to hit our stride , I like to think. I also arrived in town to a package from my wonderful mother that included my Kindle and a new iPod nano!!! With some music in my ears I'll be ready to fly!

So some other fun stuff- After leaving Erwin we got to finish hiking on the NC/TN border and stayed in TN until we reached VA the other day. Part of this included hiking over Roan Mt, our last peak over 6,000 ft until we reach Mt Washington in NH! After Roan Mt we reached some of the most beautiful stretches of the trail we have seen thus far - rolling balds up in the highlands where the grass grows at 5,000 feet and the trail carves its way through these lawns and meadows with views in every direction.

Off-trail has been just as excellent. Staying at Mountain Harbour B&B/Hostel in Roan Mt, TN we met Chili and Pepper, a 12 year old and his father, respectively, who thru hiked last year and are back out to repeat the first 500 miles of the trail to trail for the Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico-California-Oregon-Washington-Canada) which they plan to start next April. Very cool to talk to them and hike with them for a few days. We also had the most incredible breakfast there with EVERYTHING you can imagine on a breakfast spread. We are still hiking with Who Knows and Lady Pants and we continue to have plenty of silly adventures with them on and off the trail, pictures and videos to follow and elaborate on this! Damascus is a great little town and is supposed to be the hiker-friendliest town on the trail. So much good food here! We finally got salads made with greens and not iceberg lettuce! We have also learned to stay at the cheapest, shadiest places possible so that our meager budgets can be wisely spent on massive amounts of delicious food! Yesterday was our trail friend Bravo's birthday so we spent the night at a local bar/pizza place with a live country/bluegrass band and had quite the time! May be part of the late start back to the trail today! Although it's always hard to leave town at a reasonable time as there is always so much to be done!

Since the beginning of our trek (6 weeks ago Tuesday!!!), we have been INCREDIBLY lucky with weather. We get rain once in a while and it usually happens to be at night or early in the day. Otherwise, we get nice cool, misty days which are great for hiking or super sunny days.

So the days can be long (especially 31 miles over 12.5 hours) and the nights can be cold, sometimes things are really wet, but to wake up to the birds chirping every day, to watch sunsets 4 out of 7 nights a week, to experience small southern trail towns and to spend every day hiking together and with our new friends, this trip is unbeatable. Sometimes I get bored hiking mile after mile (but now I have an iPod!) and the climbs can be discouraging, but there is so much to this adventure that is just so unique, that makes me feel so lucky, so free, and so alive. Every day I have a moment where I realize that I am living a dream of mine and that I am just getting warmed up. 1,700 miles to go!

Peace, Love, and Happy Trails to All!