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My name is Lori. In August, 2014, I plan to hike the Camino de Santiago trail. Feel free to join me on my adventure by following me on this blog.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I have found such a cute town! Boiling springs, PN.

As soon as I walked in, it was so picturesque. Immediately, a friendly local stopped me and chatted me up for about 15 min. He strongly recommended I come work in one of the nearby hospitals.

I never mentioned in my blog, but a couple days after the bear crawled on my tent, and I was contemplating going home, I got a call letting me know that my work leave of absence was discontinued and I had been replaced. No warning or choice given. Just like that I was unemployed.
I immediately got working on getting private health insurance and got everything taken care of. Since then, I have wondered what I want to do for work when I am done with the trail. I really miss Chris, so I don't see myself going far from him.
Boiling springs will definitely go on my list to check out someday.
The nice man we first met in town recommended that we go to cafe 101 for breakfast. That's what we did. As soon as we got there, some more locals just finishing our breakfast started talking to us and asking about our hike. When we went in to order our breakfast, and started getting out our wallets, the woman behind the counter said to put our money away, someone else has already paid for our (my and Voltron's) meals. We went back out to thank the man, he shook our hands and wished us well on our trek to Maine. It is amazing how giving and loving some people are!
We are staying at a resort called the Allenberry resort and play house. Usually rooms here go for $154/night. They have a thru hiker deal for $40. It's a great deal, so we didn't want to miss it. Unfortunately, we kind of feel like the dancers in "dirty dancing", as we were kind of treated like 2nd class citizens. We weren't able to check in until 3 o'clock (regular guests can check in anytime), and once we did, we found that there wasn't an evening show. If we had been able to check in earlier, I probably would have bought a ticket for their matinee play. Oh well. Campus and guests here really do remind me of "Dirty Dancing". It's kind of funny. It's nice, but I sure am glad I got to try it out for a cheap deal. I would not be impressed if I was paying full price.

In my last post, I failed to mention the trail angels we met last week.
First of all, it was a 6 day section between re-supply. That makes for a heavy pack, and I tried to go as light as I could, but I knew I was going to be hungrier. Turns out we were able to have pizza delivered to one of the parks we passed through. We also had a trail angel bring us fresh fruit and orange juice. The next morning, the same trail angel (a friend of another hiker) brought us more fruit and juice for breakfast. As the trail passed through another park on another days lunchtime, King Krawler, a past thru hiker was serving hikers lunch. For me, he had a yummy blackbean burger, soda, chips, and chocolate. Basically the hikers 4 food groups.

That evening, we hiked past the shelter where there was a locked PATC cabin that our guidebook said we could camp by. When we got there, we had gone over 18 miles and were pretty tired as the days heat was in the 90's. We got there to find a couple who had just arrived and had rented the cabin for the weekend. Jerry and Jean had every right to ask us to move on, but they were nice enough to let us put our tents pretty much in their front yard. They also visited with us, and gave us a container of fresh cherries to eat with our dinner. Jean offered to make s'mores with us, but I was even too tired to make s'mores. They were very nice, and we got to see them again the next day during our ice cream challenge coma.
Since we decided to take a zero day in Pine Grove, we were able to attend a free lunch put on for hikers from the volunteers at the AT museum. After lunch we had a meet and greet and Q&A session with hikers and the community. It turned out to be such a great experience, making me even more proud to be part of the AT community. One hiker, Sipsy, whom I have agreed to let adopt me, told a very heartfelt story. He became tearful as he described a cold wet day when other hikers pulled together to help him when he was in trouble.

I can't write enough about how great this community is!

Foot update: the rest has done me well. My feet are looking better. I will continue to put dressings on the problem areas until it is completely healed. Hopefully, they will get me through the rocky areas we have to come.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Today is a zero day. I had planned on only staying one night at the Ironmasters Mansion Hostel. I woke up set on hiking out, then I walked about ten feet. I have been very lucky to not have a blister problem on the trail...until two days ago. Whether it is the high temps we have had lately, my longer than usual hours on trail the last week, or maybe my shoes and insoles wearing out, my feet are suddenly in bad shape. I was sitting on the edge of my bunk telling Mr. Breeze that I would like to do 15 miles, but if it hurts really bad, I could stop at 10. He took one look at my feet and said, "you have no business walking today. I can't even tell which one is your little toe!"
He was right. My poor feet look hideous. (insert baby crying noise here). I have a deep red sore area on the soft part of the bottom of my foot, and my heels are blistering. Hopefully, after not hiking today, and taking it easy the next couple days, I will be able to heal up. Two other hikers have donated some blister dressings and I ordered more from REI.
On the plus side, I am staying at a very cool hostel.

The Ironmasters Mansion was owned by ironmaster, Michael Ege who was the sole owner of the furnace and more than 30,000 acres by 1803. It is now taken care of by Steph, who is the hostel hostess.
The mansion also has some other interesting history. Though not yet proven fact, it is thought that this was part of the underground railroad during the slavery period. There is a hidden access through the floor beneath the stairs. There is a ladder that goes down under the mansion and tunnels through it. I was able to go in and take a look for myself. It was very interesting.

Pine Grove Furnace state park, where the hostel is, is also home to the half way, half gallon challenge. We have hiked half of the AT at this point, and our challenge is to eat a half gallon of ice cream. I did not succeed in this challenge. Miles seemed not to have a problem with it.

There are several challenges along the AT, none of which I have completed. Isn't the AT challenging enough?
At one point in southern VA, the trail goes near a store called Trent's grocery. The challenge is to drink 24 beers, and hike 24 miles, in 24 hours. I went to Trent's grocery, drank zero beers, and then camped behind the store.
Another challenge is the 4-state challenge. You hike from VA, through WV, through MD, and into PA within 24 hours. It is over 40 miles. I did the 4-state challenge by taking 4 days to do it. I do things my way! And I like to stay in hostels, gosh darn it!

Tomorrow, the plan is to hike out, probably looking like a drunk monkey. I will take it easy for the next two days and stay in boiling springs where I have pushed ahead some permethrin to sprays clothes.
Happy half way to me and all my hiking buddies!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The last couple weeks have been great! Sorry for such a long pause between posts.
I hiked through the Shenandoah National park this last week, and had an amazing time. Virginia makes up 536.8 miles of the trail. The SNP has to be the best part of it! I finally found the "easy" portion of the trail here. It is well maintained and generally has more gentle ascents and descents. One of the hikers I know actually hiked the entire park in 3 days (it's about 103 miles). I, on the other hand, enjoyed the park so much that I spent 9 days there.

Chris joined me on a long weekend and hiked a couple short days with me. He was with me on the 900 mile mark, and it made it that much better.

I saw so much wildlife in the park, but unfortunately, Chris didn't get to see much. He really wanted to see a bear. Seems like when I'm alone is when I see the most. Hunting is not allowed in the SNP, so the animals have learned to be less afraid of humans. I felt like Snow White, the way I could get close and talk to the deer.

I also saw 7 bears in the park. One of them didn't seem to want to get off the trail and I got a pretty good video of him.
Chris and I also enjoyed going to the nearby Luray Caverns.

It was a great side trip! Mostly, it was great to spend time with Chris.

After Chris left, my usual hiking crew got a bit ahead of me, but another opportunity presented itself. I had met a hiker named "Squatch" a couple times on the trail. He is doing a documentary on the AT. He skips ahead and does sections southbound so he can run into as many hikers as possible. He asked if I would do a southbound section with him for 6 days. I decided to go with him and help out with the documentary (and by help, I mean do absolutely nothing but have a snack while he works), so I jumped ahead to Harpers ferry and hiked back south to where I was before. It was great, because I was able to run into hikers a week ahead of me as well as those a week behind. I had some fun reunions.

Me and "All Balls" started the same day. He is also the friend who hiked the SNP in 3 days. Crazy cat!

Our first night Southbound, we stayed at the Blackburn AT center. It's a hostel by donation, and they provided a huge spaghetti dinner for us. Rather than sleeping in the bunkhouse, they allowed us to sleep on the screened in porch. The weather was perfect for it. The benches were a little concave in the middle, making it a perfect little hiker nest.

We got serenaded by some neighbors who came over with their guitars and lovely voices. A few nights later, we stayed at the Terrapin Station hostel. There were comfy beds there, but it was definitely what I consider a guys hostel, run by a guy. It didn't help that I was the only girl there, but that seems to be the trend lately as we get further down the trail.

Mike, in the tye-dye shirt, is the owner of the hostel which is in the basement of his home. He's a deadhead, a true trail angel-trail maintainer, and tree hugger extraordinaire.

We finished our southbound section today in the rain.

I always love the way the forest looks immediately after a rain.
I was listening to my iPod today while walking in a little fog. One particular song reminded me of my friend, Dani, who went to heaven 10 years ago. I said a little prayer for her as I walked thinking about how much she would have enjoyed this hike. As an unexpected tear ran down my cheek, somehow I felt her walking with me for a while. I dedicate my 1000 mile mark to you, Danielle. You would have made a great hiking partner!

Tonight, I am back at the Teahorse hostel in Harpers Ferry. I'm the only girl again, but in this case, that means I get a room to myself. Bonus!
It's great to be here! I have finished Virginia. In the next few days, I will hike through West Virginia, Maryland, and be in Pennsylvania.

Harpers Ferry is the traditional half way point (though by mileage, it isn't quite half way yet). Hikers sign in, get their picture taken, and it goes in a book for AT records. I am thru hiker #545 for this year. Statistically, only 50% of hikers who make it this far will make it to the end.
I met an angel named Jon this week. He is a friend of Squatch, and a fan of his films. (you can find his films by searching Squatch films. His AT documentary from last year was top notch!)
Jon gave us not one, not two, but three rides this week! He was a great story teller, and it was quickly obvious that he is a genuinely nice guy. Here is Jon and Squatch...I never knew "Squatches" we're so scared of hiking in the rain!

A lot of people have asked lately about my weight loss, but I keep forgetting to mention it in the blog.
I hike an average of 15 miles a day with about a 35 lb pack on my back, depending on how much food and water I am carrying. This burns an enormous amount of calories. Whenever I stop hiking, I eat. We take breaks during the day to snack. Basically, we eat as much as we can, whenever we can, so we can have the energy stores we need to keep hiking. I think Chris was a little surprised at how much I could eat when he was visiting. Haha! When in town, hikers are like squirrels trying to store as much food as possible before leaving for the woods again.
One of the great things about the SNP, is that there are waysides (a term for restaurant) along the way. Just a couple tenths of a mile off trail, and we can order blackberry cobbler with blackberry ice cream, and not gain weight!

Mmmmm !
I have lost about 25 lbs to date, and gained some muscle in my legs and arms.
Basically, we eat everything in site, and exercise 8-12 hours a day. Not the easiest way to loose weight, but it has been an adventure.

Miles hiked: 1017.3
Miles to go: 1166.9

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What a great week of hiking it has been! We have passed the 800 mile mark, and it feels good. Since I took some time off in Damascus for trail days, it seems that I have entered a different bubble of hikers. I have met some new great friends and been reunited with others. Upon McAfee knob, I was reunited with Incline, who I first met at the Aquone cabin hostel. Last time I saw him, he was speeding past in the Smokeys. He is very fast, but had to take some time off to be with family. Later that day, I was reunited with Longstride and Silvergirl. It was so great to see them and camp with them again!

I made a new friend, called 4-Trees. He is a retired GM executive, and knows a lot about my favorite topic-travel. He invited me one night to go with him to a friends home. They did not live far from the trail, and we're anxious to give shelter to some hikers. It was great. I got a private room and shower, and not only did they prepare dinner, but they had a vegetarian plate made up for me once I got out of the shower. It was Memorial day weekend, and they had other family and friends at the home as well. I felt as welcome as if I were at grandmas house.

Their home is a beautiful cabin that they built themselves from a "log home kit" It was very cute! Bev and Bey live in the home. The picture also shows their son, Keith and his wife, who drove us back to the trail the next morning after making a yummy breakfast. What amazing hospitality!

I also came across my dear Snail and Turtle. They have had a tough time lately as Snail has been battling stomach illnesses, and even been in the hospital. I almost cried when I saw them, I was so happy. They had skipped ahead a little to catch up and just happened to be dropped off at a road me Voltron, and 4-trees were taking a break. They both looked very well, but I could tell that Snail was still feeling weak. The next morning, we found Turtle with a new turtle friend.

After I took this picture, I got ahead of them, and it turns out that it would be the last time I would see them on trail. I hiked to a shelter beyond where they went, and that night they decided it was their last. They sent a message for us with Hopalong. The next day, I would have liked to get off trail to spend some time with them, but they were already on their way to the airport. I will sure miss them, and they will always be dear to me. Hopefully we will reunite someday in another place.

We had some long climbs this week. We also came through some interesting terrain. Brown mountain is an interesting place. It is a historical location where freed slaves had a settlement. They lived in stone buildings and did farming. How difficult it would be to farm in this area. There is still some evidence of a stone wall, and we saw some areas that could have previously been part of a stone structure

I didn't see any mysterious lights, but I know I had the best nights sleep along the creek on Brown Mountain. I found this little bit of interesting info on the interwebs:

The Brown Mountain Lights
It has baffled pioneers and scientists alike. The old-timers would shake their heads and say that there was a spell on Brown Mountain. The old hunters told stories of how their dogs would come whimpering back whenever they got to a certain spot on the mountain. The Brown Mountain lights are balls of fire that pop up over Brown Mountain. Fall is considered the best time to see the lights and Wiseman's View is one of the favorite spots to come and watch for these mysterious lights. As you look towards Brown Mountain a light will pop up on the horizon. It will shine steadily for a few seconds. Then it will rise into the air and waver and then wink out.

The phenomenon first gained national attention in 1913 when the U.S. Geological Survey became interested in the mystery and sent scientists to study what the cause of them might be.
Over the years there have been many scientific theories, but the mystery still remains unsolved. One legend has it that the light is the soul of an Indian maiden searching for her brave warrior killed in a bloody battle. Another legend was made famous by Scott Wiseman in his song about the Brown Mountain Light.

Today, I made it to the Dutch Haus B&B. Earl and Lois Arnold run the house with the help of their niece, Hannah. It's a beautiful, comfortable home. I met up with my ol' pal, Sparky here. It's always great to see him! He stayed last night and is still a couple days hiking in front of me. He left the house this evening when his brothers got here. Steve and David have met Sparky several times along the trail, helping with slackpacking, and just enjoying each others company. I have had the pleasure of meeting up with them several times as well, so it was great to see them too! They have been awesome trail angels!

I plan to stay a second night here. I will slackpack tomorrow and come back here after hiking. I feel a little twinge in my back today, maybe I slept funny last night. Carrying less on my back isn't a bad idea for a day, and I will still be on my planned schedule.
Hannah, from the B&B is going to hike with me.

I got word last night that Chris comes to visit in 6 days, and I am so excited!
People talk a lot about the "Virginia blues". I think Virginia has been beautiful, but I have to admit, I have gone through a bit of the blues. I think it has more to deal with the fact that I have been hiking for over two months now. I miss my family, my dog, and my Chris! The hiker family reunions this week, and the adopted family holiday cookout really helped my blues just when I needed it. Chris coming to visit is now just what the Dr. ordered.

Miles hiked: 826.5
Miles to go: 1357.7