Saturday, August 30, 2014

Emigrant Wilderness

Backpacking again, this time with Sydney and Harvey.

Monday is a holiday and I needed to get in the wilderness, so a 3 day backpacking trip was planned. Naturally all three kids got sick leading up to the weekend, with Pete getting sick last (so he stayed home). But the three of us are healthy and decided on the Gianelli Cabin as our trailhead entry point. This relatively flat hike has lots of lakes and is very popular. During our 5.2 mile hike in we saw LOTS of people, and at Y Meadows Reservoir at least 10 groups were camping. We chose to stick our feet in the water because it was so cold. After that we saw the dam and headed up till we hit the summit just East of the lake.

Wind is making it cold but we have a fire and warm food so we are still having fun.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ming Garden Buffet

We don't eat the typical things a thru hiker eats. Things like Pop Tarts, candy bars, ice cream by the pint, and Mountain Dew. So it should not surprise me when we eat at a highly recommended restaurant we will be disappointed. The kids said they will never eat at a Chinese Buffet again. Not all the food was bad, the pears were good, and the stir fry green beans (the first time) were good too. But overall a disappointment.

The bright spot was when Mystery Man and Pack Man came in. They were at The Priest Shelter with us last night. They hitched a ride to town, but before they got the ride a funny thing happened. As they are waiting by the road a car stops, they run up thinking they are getting a ride. The guy rolls down his window and points, saying "I saw a bear in the trees". He then drives off leaving them behind.

Mau-Har Trail Shortcut

This is my guidebook for today noting the section we skipped by using the Mar-Har Trail. At one point this was the main AT because we saw faded white blazes. You can also see my 600 mile notation at mile 841 from Springer.

We did about 590 total trail miles this summer.

Hours of Waiting

This is how we spent our time waiting for Harvey to see a doctor. It was so boring but the kids were mostly good about it. Sydney asked for paper and an envelope to send a letter to one of her friends. When we are waiting like this she tries to make good use of the time. In the picture she is the only one smiling.

Waynesboro, VA

8/5 Last day on the trail
Started at The Priest Shelter
Ended at Reed Gap
11.4 miles

Harvey has been complaining about a sore ear and it was not getting better so I decided to get off the trail and end our AT Summer vacation one day sooner. We are just shy of 600 miles, and we really wanted 600, but yesterday Harvey was laughing and heard a pop in his ear and had a hard time sleeping. I really wanted to get his ear looked at, so at the first major road I decided we would try get a ride to town. This is how our day went.

The tradition at The Priest Shelter is to confess in the journal. Many people have a confession that is funny, but some actually put in real things (and some things are just creepy). Sydney put her own confession in the journal and I also got a picture of the confession from Mystery Man.

Once hiking we made good time and came to some great views. Overall today was a bit slower because of the steep and rocky downhill. The last thing I wanted was someone to fall. However, Pete tripped and super-manned down a step, hit the 2nd step on his side and flipped over onto the 3rd step for a spectacular crash. Being 7 he yelled for a hug and then was fine, with only a scratched knee. I packed band aids, but hugs seem to work just as well.

Today we cut the trail for the first time ever (using the Mau-Har Trail). In the name of safety I decided to take the shortcut. It saved us 4 miles and was not that difficult. The hardest part of the Mau-Har trail was not stopping at all the awesome swimming spots along the creek.

We were aiming for Reed Gap because it was next to the Blue Ridge Parkway and had a parking lot. I figured we could hitchhike if needed. A couple offered us a ride but we could not fit our gear and all the gear they had into the car. I had the kids sit next to the road and wait while I talked to the couple, maybe someone would drive by and see them and ask if we needed help.

A Park Ranger drove past and kept going, but then turned around and asked the kids if they needed help! We love the park service. The kids asked for a ride as I quickly walked over to explain the situation (and also ask for a ride). He called to see if a Trail Angel could come get us, but not finding one offered us a ride to town. His son struggles with ear issues so he was sympathetic to our problem.

Mary-j made a car reservation for us at Hertz, but it was for tomorrow. We went to Hertz anyway. He dropped us at the door, what great service. We got the car and went to see a doctor.

After a 3 hour wait we saw the doctor and Harvey does have an ear infection. He has 10 more days of medicine, but we will have access to a fridge so he can have the liquid and not pills. Harvey does not like swallowing the pills.

Next we ate at Ming Garden and then drove to my Aunt and Uncles in Maryland. The kids and I were very sad as we drove north along the highway. Looking to our right we saw the mountains in the distance and knew the AT (and the many friends we made) was up on the ridges and down in the valleys. Pete asked if we could start at Reeds Gap next year and head north. Harvey wants to start at Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, and Sydney thinks we should start at Springer Mtn in Georgia.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Priest Shelter

Started at US 60
Ended at The Priest Shelter
20.9 miles

Battery really low so the summary is:

Kids continue to tell make believe stories. Today they talked about going to restaurants and what they would order. It was funny when I had to say "stop arguing over make believe donuts".

The trail was very flat with very few rocks. We made very fast time. Lots of open areas and at one spot we saw tractors mowing to keep trees from growing up.

We love Hammer Nutrition products. Today we fueled primarily with Hammer and I noticed at the end of the day we all had more energy than when we are not fueling with Hammer. I think Sydney notices the difference because she wants Hammer at our breaks.

Met Pac Man and Mystery Man on the last mile to the shelter. The 6 of us are the only ones in the shelter.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

US 60; roadside camping

Started at Big Rocky Row
Ended at US 60
17 miles

Battery low so summary for today is:

Swam in a creek for a bit. Lots of flat walking and few rocks, made for fast hiking.

Kids on day 3 of a make believe adventure about a castle that Obla lives in and the trips to Hawaii and Grand Cayman that they take. Sometimes by plane, sometimes boat. They go out to eat and use credit cards to pay. Ice cream and candy are favorite fantasy foods. They play a game to see how many flavors of ice cream they can name. They also have make believe phones and talk about the games they have on them (Sombrero Man is a favorite).

S'mores the dog was with us all day. When we got to US 60 we found some picnic tables and while we were sitting a truck pulled up and the guy starts calling him. He said a lot of people dump dogs and he got the dog into his truck and put a collar on him. He said we could camp on a grassy spot across the road from the picnic tables, it belonged to a friend of his.

Passed another gravestone on the trail, this time for a 4 year old that wondered off and went 7 miles in the woods before he died.

Friday, August 2, 2013


This is S'mores, he is white and brown. The kids said he looked like a gram-cracker and that is how he got his name. Never barks and stayed with us for about 5 miles (he may still be with us, I'm not sure). When we had food breaks he kept a respectable distance but then looked for anything we may have left.

Big Rocky Row Tent Site

This is our spot for the night, awesome and really a blessing after our big uphill climb.

James River Footbridge

Today we crossed the James River Footbridge. It is the longest foot traffic only bridge on the AT. It is a very nice bridge. Before we made it to the bridge we saw Kansas City and Seabiscit crossing. The kids were really excited to see them and took off running. We spent a few minutes with them in the parking lot next to the bridge. Ken dropped off two boxes and an Amazon order for me. Great guy, helps hikers for the fun of it and would only take $5 from me (and I offered him &10).

Big Rocky Row

Started at Marble Spring
Ended at Big Rocky Row (tenting)
12.5 miles

No alarm clock today so we slept till 7:30. We still had to meet Ken (who had our drop boxes), but I told him 12:30 so we had plenty of time and the trail was downhill. Harvey was so tired yesterday he fell asleep before dinner was ready, so I thought the extra rest in the morning was needed.

The trail was a gradual downhill with very few rocky sections so we made good time. About an hour from the road we met two Southbound hikers who said Ken was going to read his book and wait, so we could take our time. Ken had shuttled them to the trailhead by the James River bridge.

We walked along Matt's Creek for a mile and the kids really wanted to swim. I had to say no so we wouldn't keep Ken waiting, but the creek looked so inviting! We met Ken at the bridge and he gave me my boxes, then he gave Kansas City and Seabiscit a ride to town. I paid him and unpacked while he took the guys to town, and he was back before I even had the second box empty. It was awesome to open the box and see a carton of soy milk and granola cereal. We ate that on the spot, and since Ken was taking our garbage I didn't worry about the trash.

Once we were packed two woman walked past and recommended a swim spot up the trail. See the picture of the boys. It was great and we swam a long time. Then it was a long, steady, uphill climb to our camp spot. The extra food made my pack feel really heavy. We got some great views along the way and could just see the foot bridge very small in the valley below.

Along the way we picked up a new friend we called S'mores. He had no collar but wasn't totally wild. He didn't approach, but kept close and hasn't barked the entire day. After dinner I saw him looking for scraps in the spot we ate.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Marble Spring tent camping

Started at Bryant Ridge Shelter
Ended at Marble Spring (tenting)
17.2 miles

Out of shelter late because kids socializing instead of pumping water. They love talking with the other hikers but it can delay us.

Harvey didn't want his oatmeal so I knew he was not feeling good. He was slow and tired all day so I took his pack for the last 4 miles.

Picture of Sydney is at Black Rock.

The aircraft radar picture is on top of Apple Orchard Mountain. Sadly no apples to be found.

Stopped at Thunder Hill Shelter for a hot lunch, Harvey slept an hour before we left. Had to move quick to make up the time. Passed by Kansas City and Seabiscut while at the shelter, Benadryl made it to the shelter but had to stay because his tent pole is broken. Passed Blue Line on an uphill and never saw him again.

Breezy weather kept us cool.

Passed a group of flowers that had about 30 butterflies. We see many butterflies along the trail, but this spot was really cool.

We are over 500 trail miles!! Hard to believe it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bryant Ridge Shelter (sleeps 20!)

Started at Wilson Creek Shelter
Ended at Bryant Ridge Shelter
20.6 miles

Conserving battery still so the quick recap is:

Boys rolled a lot last night and I didn't get a good night sleep. Had good breakfast but slept in so left shelter late.

Benadryl hiked with us during the morning. Passed giant wall made from huge rock blocks, looked like castle. Blackberries on side of trail.

Hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway for most of the day. They had garbage cans at the overlooks and I was excited to throw our garbage away; 4 people generate a lot of waste.

Swam in Jennings Creek.

Hiked with Seabiscuit (like the horse) after swimming. He was with us for 3 miles, really helped keep us moving.

Tonights shelter is awesome, sleeps 20, 3 levels, covered picnic table.