Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Journal Entry # 154

Monday,  August 29 - Day 158 - Mile  1836.0 - North Conway, NH (No Change - another ZERO due to hurricane & trail closing)

Another day off the trail. An unprecedented 2nd ZERO in a row. It seems so much longer than just 36 hours since we stopped hiking.

Had a great breakfast and got a message from Brother of the Wind that he was in town as well.  I gave him a call and found he was on his way to the same restaurant for breakfast. So we met and agreed to have dinner together to plan our strategy for getting back on the trail and hiking the Presidentials.
Bobby and I hitched to Wal-Mart to get some supplies and walked back to town, had some ice cream and rested a while.

The weather is so beautiful it's a bit frustrating not to be able to hike. All the major roads out of North Conway are impassable due to washouts so we may be stuck another day. Hopefully we'll know more tonight.

In the meantime we're making tentative plans for the next couple of weeks which should have us making progress in Maine.

This afternoon I took a stroll around town, visited their 1874 restored train depot and generally had a fine time walking in the bright sunshine. North Conway is a really nice town.
9:00 PM

Good dinner with Buffalo Bobby & Brother of the Wind.  Even better, as a result of a hitch Brother of the Wind got into North Conway, we have a work around not being able to get back to Crawford Notch because of washed out roads.

The fellow who picked up Brother of the Wind Saturday offered to take him back to the trail and will take Bobby & me as well in the morning. We'll hike the Presidentials south from Gorham and when finished we'll shuttle back to Gorham and continue to the end of NH and into Maine.  Brother of the Wind did all the coordination.

We all meet in the morning for our trip north with Chris...a whole new level of trail magic.
Once more it all has come together.  Whew!

Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
Trolley Stop

North Conway - Muscovite inspired train depot from 1874.  Restored in 1974

Monday, August 29, 2011

Journal Entry # 153

Sunday, August 28 - Day 157 - Mile 1836.0 - North Conway, NH (No Change - ZERO due to hurricane & trail closing)

Great nights sleep. Up somewhat late at 7:00 AM. Raining pretty hard, but we have laundry to do and would Like breakfast. So we put on our rain gear and headed out with good directions from the motel manager.
We started the laundry and walked to breakfast. (Thanks Jane for putting a belt on my rain pants. I can actually keep them up).

We had a wonderful breakfast at the Stairway Cafe, finished the laundry and headed back to the motel for more weather updates and gear sorting.

There was an annoncement in the local paper that Bobby found about a Pastor, Rev. M. G. Martell Spagnolo,  at Conway Village Congregational "Brown Church" who's going to sing Broadway tunes this afternoon. If the hurricane doesn't cause a cancelation we'll go.  He's performed for George H. W. Bush and the Pope. I hope it's still on. It will bring a little bit of "home" to my trail experience.

Report updates later:

7:00 PM:

The storm is about over and was not an issue for our getting around town.

Buffalo Bobby & I took a taxi to the concert tonight which was about 5 miles away. We arrived just in time to enjoy a pot luck dinner and deserts as well as meet some of the others also there for the concert.

I spoke with the Pastor a bit just before he started. He's a very personable fellow who's obviously loved by his congregation. He was just installed as Pastor of this 125 year old church this afternoon.  He was a Catholic priest and has an interesting story that's out on the internet.

He has a fantastic voice and was accompanied by a very accomplished pianist/singer who did a couple of duets with him. He sang songs from a wide range of shows including Camelot, Phantom of the Opera, Pippin, etc. I could have listened to him all night. He not only sang but brought a lot of humor in with introductions to his tunes (kind of like Uncle Joe).

After the show Genet & Bernie,  members of the congregation, drove us back into town to our motel.  (Others offered us rides as well) Everyone was so welcoming.  I certainly stood out in my "best" hiking clothes among the well dressed crowd there tonight.

Other good news:  Guardian called us tonight, which was a call we were happy to get, and let us know he arrived home safely Thursday night. He was able to hike off the mountain, catch a bus to Boston and a plane home the same day.  He thinks he may have a broken bone in his foot which evidently has been an issue he's hiked with for a few weeks.  Hopefully a checkup will confirm what the issue is. Hiking in pain is not something anyone should do. This is supposed to be fun (most of the time).

We have another idle day in store for tomorrow since the trails are still closed.  I guess we'll just play tourist and enjoy the town of North Conway.

We haven't taken 2 days off in a row. I'll have to take a long walk tomorrow so I don't lose my trail legs. It will be good to get back to hiking on Tuesday.

Never would have expected a wonderful day like this today as we hiked off the mountain yesterday with visions of a "monster" storm hitting.

That's about all from here until tomorrow.

Love, peace, joy & hope,
Trolley Stop

Brown Church - site of the Broadway Tunes Concert
Our Port in the storm

Brown Church of North Conway, NH

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Journal Entry # 152

Saturday, August 27 - Day 156 - Mile 1836.0 - Crawford Notch, NH

Up early ( as usual ) at the Galehead Hut. Had a great breakfast of oatmeal and French toast to kick start our day. We met some folks that had stayed the day before with us at the Greenleaf Hut. Most of the talk was about the pending storm and the unprecedented closing of all the Huts and trails until Tuesday.

Buffalo Bobby and I had a long day ahead of us as we had to get to Crawford Notch before the rain came in. This was a hike of 14.7 miles over some tough terrain.

Right out of the Hut we had a very steep rock climb that lasted just over an hour. The report from the Hut Manager was that the trail would get easier after that climb down to the next Hut about 7.5 miles away and then the trail followed an old railroad bed into Crawford Notch. This was a gross understatement. Our hike all the way to the next Hut was up and down rock scrambles at the rate if about 1 mile an hour. Buffalo Bobby was hoping to get a bowl of soup at the Hut for lunch, but the Croo was gone to resupply and just a crowd of  day hikers were hanging around eating what leftovers there were.

After a short break at the Hut we started our trek to the Crawford Notch over the alleged abandoned railroad bed. I've walked on abandoned railroad beds and they're flat, wide and a pleasure to walk on. If what we took down to Crawford Notch was an old railroad bed I'll eat my tent including poles. The path was strewn with rocks, roots, bogs and decaying bog boards, steep inclines and dramatic downs.  I was very concerned about getting out of the woods in the time frame I wanted. Although this section of trail was not what it was reported to be we were able to make better time then on the first half of the hike and get out of the woods late afternoon.  (When am I going to learn not to listen to hikers about trail distances or conditions).

The trailhead at Crawford Notch is in the middle of nowhere and of course no cell service to call a hotel or shuttle. Hitching was our only option. I stuck my thumb out aggressively, as Guardian taught us, and the second vehicle stopped. It was driven by Sean who had his Daughter and dogs in the truck so we threw our packs and selves into the open bed.  Shawn and his daughter were riding home after doing some hiking. He gave us each a cold Long Trail beer and took us to a very nice motel in Conroy,NH.

Once again we had good fortune when it was needed and a great place to hang out until the trail opens again on Tuesday.

Well fed and pretty tired from a full day we'll get some sleep without any need to get up in the morning!
Hope everyone rides out the storm OK.

Peace, Love, Joy & Hope,
Trolley Stop

Journal Entry # 151

Friday, August 26 - Day 155 - Mile 1821.3 - Galehead Hut

Week 22 begins today.

After a restful night at the hut we awoke to a nice breakfast but outside we were still socked on with dense fog.

After breakfast, as we were getting ready to head out, Guardian broke the news about suspending his hike and going home. Both me and Buffalo Bobby were very surprised and tried to make him change his mind but he was serious.  We'll both miss him very much but I think me especially since he was always protecting my back and giving sound advice not to mention keeping us on the trail. Now I'm going to have to learn to pay much more attention and stop daydreaming so much.  Guardian we miss you!  See you when we get back home.

So...just Buffalo Bobby and I headed out in the fog for our 1.1 mile hike up to the AT.  It was a miserable morning and conditions back on the mountain top were a repeat of yesterday. Eventually we got off the ridge into protection below tree line and were able to warm up a bit. Then we started the climb up Mt. Garfield and the sun finally came out and warmed us up enough that we were able to take off our raincoats and hike in our shirt sleeves. Today was another mile an hour hike up and down, what my Grandsons would call, "poopy head terrain".  The clear weather meant we had some nice views for a change.

Since we didn't have Guardian to show us the error of our ways, sure enough both Buffalo Bobby and I missed a key intersection and hiked the wrong trail for a while. I won't go into details but suffice it to say we were very frustrated with our error and knew it never would have happened if Guardian was with us.
So...we got to Galehead Hut just as it was getting dark. Dinner was long over but the "Croo" heated up leftovers for us and served us soup, salad, bread & Butter, chicken & vegetables as well as drinks, cookies and brownies.  Boy, did that taste good. We had hoped to get to the next shelter which is another 3.3 miles but this worked out much better since we were well fed and updated on the storm heading here on Sunday.

For the first time ever all the Huts and their headquarters in Crawford Notch will be evacuated and closed at 6:00 PM tomorrow, Saturday, and  all trails will be closed including the AT. (Not sure how you close a trail)
So, as was our original plan and on the advice of the Hut Manager we'll hike 14 miles to Crawford Notch and get a shuttle to shelter from the storm.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day and we were told the trail to Crawford Notch is relatively easy.  (We are a bit skeptical given what we've gone over these last 5 days, but that seems like the best option).

We will take all precautions and lay low until it's safe to hike again.  Unfortunately this likely means even more mud on the trails.

One last thing.  I understand some folks aren't getting SPOT updates, but Beth assured me that the blog has gotten updates.  (didn't get around to putting it out tonight).

More news on the storm saga and our situation tomorrow.
Goodnight all,
Trolley Stop

View from Mt. Garfield

Peaks of Mt. Garfield

Journal Entry 150

Thursday, August 25 - Day 154 - Mile 1814.7 - Mt. Lafayette / Greenleaf Hut (5,260')

6:00 AM:  Today begins my 6th month on the trail.   We're going over some big mountains today including Little Haystack, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Garfield. I know it's going to be slow going and we may have to stop short of our 10 mile goal.  We have a late start as well since we're at a hotel in Lincoln and will need to take a cab to the Trailhead.  More news later.

3:00 PM: Bad storms rolling in so we decided the better part of valor was to make it to Greenleaf Hut and spend the night.

Our hike was very strenuous with an over 3,800' climb out of Lincoln.  We hiked for over 6 hours but only have 6.4 miles to show for our effort. We had a mile hike to the trail this morning because the actual trailhead was in a spot where cars couldn't stop and then we had a 1.1 mile, very steep, hike to the hut on a blue blazed trail. In the morning we have to hike back up the blue blaze trail 1.1 miles to reconnect with the AT.
That's 3.2 uncounted miles but we're glad to be here out of the storm.

Some of the trail required me to take off my pack and throw it up before me so I could scramble up a steep climb after it.  Guardian thought he may need to review my blog for language but I assured him I wouldn't repeat my feelings for the trail planners today.

The walk across the top was similar to our experience over Mt. Moosilauke except we added rain/sleet to the howling wind and fog. The views must have been wonderful buy we didn't get to see them.

The huts are like really nice shelters. They are enclosed and have plenty of bunks, but no showers, heat or trash recepticals. All trash has to be packed out. There's also no electricity except for lights in the dining room.  All this for only $96 dollars per person.  We will get dinner and breakfast.

Tomorrow is supposed be be a nice day as is Saturday but then the hurricane may impact our weather again so we hope to get some good hiking in before more bad weather.

Once again we're safe and sound. This hut was in the right place at the right time.

Peace, love, joy & hope,
Trolley Stop

Greenleaf Hut - Dinner being prepared

Greenleaf Hut - Setting up for dinner

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Journal Entry # 149

Wednesday, August 24 - Day 153 - Mile 1808.3 - Lincoln, NH

Right after we left camp this morning we broke the 1,800 mile mark. I also broke the record for my toughest climb today. We went over Mt. Kinsman South & North...a distance of only 8.5 miles, but it took us most of the day to hike it.  The rocks here in NH make Pennsylvania look like a training ground.  (Maybe that's just what it was).

We had a nice break and lunch at the Lonesome Lake Hut which is the first hut in NH.

We hitched into Lincoln after our hike and resupplied. We were going to stay at a hostel but all they had left was room to sleep on the floor. We opted for a Comfort Inn and are enjoying the quiet.

A fellow named Paul picked us up almost immediately and drove us right to the front door of the hotel.  We did a lot of walking around town to resupply and met many familiar faces from the trail. No wonder the hostel was full. I even met one girl, Squeaks, who I hadn't seen since the Smokies in April and Milkman who I haven't seen since the NOC in North Carolina.

More big climbs on tap for tomorrow. We'll decide how far we go based on the weather and how we feel as we arrive at potential stopping points.

Another day comes to an end with us all doing great.
Trolley Stop

Journal Entry # 148

Tuesday, August 23 - Day 152 - Mile 1799.5 - Eliza Brook Shelter

Back on the trail with a full pack today and rugged steep trails. We only did 7.5 miles in 6 hours going over Mt. Wolf.  NH mud is unbelievable. We spent most of our day avoiding it or in it. We thought it was bad in Vermont but NH has taken mud to a new dimension.  I hope the final 100 miles of NH is not the same. If it is we'll be here longer than we thought.

It turned cold last night and this morning we needed our down jackets until we started our hike.  The day is sunny and clear, so great to be outside.

Miss Janet took us back to the trailhead, but of course breakfast came first.

Tonight there are 30 college students from the University of New Hampshire camping in the shelter area. They're taking a course in backpacking.  Guardian ask how heavy their packs are and they didn't know. He inquired further about the importance of knowing that since the course focused specifically on backpacking but the students didn't think that was relevant.  Guardian thought we should be very afraid about the education they're getting.

Lots of activity here tonight with hikers showing up and no camp sites left. We also have the trail maintainer staying here tonight with her dog. The shelter is brand new and she's here to install hanging pegs.

It's only 6:30 PM and we're all in our sleeping bags warming up.  It's really getting nippy out here.  The change in the weather has been very dramatic. Three days ago we couldn't hike without being soaked from sweat and now we need warm clothes.  Feels like those early days in Georgia & North Carolina.

Another beautiful day on the trail. (Except for the mud)
Love, peace, joy & hope,
Trolley Stop

Trolley Stop and Brother of the Wind doing their blog updates

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Photos from Jerry and Jans visit with the L.E.G.

My (this is Beth) Uncle Jerry and Aunt Jan spent time with the L.E.G. this past weekend.  They had a wonderful visit and you can view their photos by clicking the link below.  Enjoy!

Jerry, Jan, and the L.E.G.

Journal Entry # 147

Monday, August 22 - Day 151 - Mile 1792.2 - NH 112 - Kinsman Notch - North Woodstock, NH

Very heavy rain overnight. Didn't think we had a prayer of hiking over Mt. Moosilauke today but low & behold the day cleared up and off we went.

Miss Janet drove us to the trailhead  but first stopped so we could all have a good breakfast to power us up the Mountain.

The climb up the north face of Mt. Moosilauke was the biggest challenge so far. The "trail" was all vertical rock with a waterfall coming down from all the rain.  It took us 7 hours today to do 9.5 miles.  When we reached the top there was a 60 mile an hour wind, 53 degrees and dense fog.  It began to clear a bit before we made our decent and we had some spectacular views. It was good to get off the top and warm up.

Buffalo Bobby received a package today from a friend, Peter Block, who sent the L.E.G. a huge supply of Goos, coffee, etc., that will get the three of us to Katahdin.  What a wonderful surprise. Thanks Peter!
With just about a month to go we continue to get support from every quarter.

Miss Janet is cooking us all dinner tonight at the hostel. It's a beautiful night so it should be lots of fun to be outside.

Tomorrow we'll be back to hiking with our full packs again, so another adjustment.

Trolley Stop

Dinner at the Hostel

Miss Janet cooks dinner

Journal Entry # 146

Sunday, August 21 - Day 150 - Mile 1782.5 - Glencliff, NH

Great night with Jerry & Jan.  Dinner was delicious and we had breakfast to look forward to before our hike  The lodge was just what you would think of in the north woods. Built in the late 30's of huge logs,  it's situated in the woods overlooking Mt. Moosilauke.

The day started with a forecast of violent weather in the afternoon so we were glad we had a short hike today to the hostel.

Jerry delivered our stuff to the hostel before breakfast so we were set for the day to slack pack once more.
Breakfast at the lodge was great with plenty of coffee, juice, oatmeal, eggs, sausage and muffins.  Then we took the leftover bananas and cookies from Jan for our morning break.

I thought I had lost my head bandana but Jerry stopped at the ice cream shop we visited last afternoon to check if I left it there and sure enough Jan found it.  It was good to see my old friend!

Our hike was beautiful and the trail fairly easy. We met Double Check as Jerry & Jan dropped us off at the trailhead. We enjoyed hiking with him and learning a bit about him.

We arrived at the hostel about 2:00 PM and were greeted by Miss Janet who offered to shuttle us and slack pack us. Hopefully that will work out.  We're having dinner with her tonight.

About 3:00 the storm hit with a vengeance.  A group of hikers came in to the shelter about 4:30 soaking wet. They were caught on Mt. Moosilauke slack packing today.

Once again we were save, sound and dry at the hostel.

It's now about 5:30 and the sun is out again.  More rain is expected so We'll wait to see what tomorrow brings before we commit to the slack pack.

Once more, a perfect day on the Appalachian Trail for the L.E.G.

Love, peace, joy & hope,
Trolley Stop

Jerry and Jan

The L.E.G. with Mt. Moosilauke in the background

This is how Uncle Jerry stays in shape, kids.

The Lodge

Double Check on the trail

Dinner with Miss Janet (Trolley Stop, Guardian, Double Check, and Brother of the Wind)

Journal Entry # 145

Saturday, August 20 - Day 149 - Mile 1772.8 - NH 25A - Wentworth, NH

Jerry & Jan left home very, very early and met us right on schedule this morning to pick up our gear to let us slack pack.  They arrived with hot breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds, orange juice and fruit to jump start our day.

The hike was terrific without our full packs and breakfast gave me lots of energy to attack the trail.  Although the climbs and downhills  were steep we were able to handle them with relative ease.  We took a nice bite (17 miles) out of the trail in NH today.

Jerry & Jan pulled up to the trailhead this afternoon just as we were coming out of the woods. Perfect timing. Jan mentioned there was an ice cream shop on the way back to the lodge and Buffalo Bobby treated us to enormous ice creams.

At the lodge we all shared a bunk room with a deck that overlooks Mt Moosilauke which Jan and Jerry climbed today and we'll climb early next week.

After we showered and changed. Jerry & Jan prepared a wonderful dinner on the deck which included sausage, hamburgers, steak tips, fresh salad, fruit salad and desert. They brought all of this from home including a grill.  Everything tasted so good.   It was fun to spend the evening eating, chatting and relaxing. I don't believe life on the trail can get better than this.

Tomorrow, after breakfast here at the lodge we'll get another chance to slack pack to a hostel in Glencliff.  Jerry & Jan will drop all our gear, not needed for slake packing, off at the hostel on their way home.

What a great weekend!  Thanks Jerry  & Jan for all your work.  You gave us a wonderful gift, not only slake packing but yourselves.

Lots of love,
Trolley Stop

Journal Entry # 144

Friday, August 19 - Day 148 - Mile 1755.9 - Trapper John Shelter

Up very early and on the trail by 6:15. This was a wonderful day to hike. Sun all day but thunder rolling in the distance most of the day.

We arrived at the shelter at about 3:30, set up our tents, went for water and began cooking dinner just as a good thunderstorm finally  came through. As we finished dinner the sun came out again.  The rain cooled things down quite a bit.

After a week of great food in Bristol I didn't think I'd be hungry again, but by the time we hit camp I was famished despite snacking all day. Fortunately I had a bag of brownies, no bake peanut butter bars, cookies, etc. that Jane had put together for me which helped until dinner was ready.

Our hike today involved a lot of climbing with the steepest and longest climb saved for last. We did get the first good view in NH on this last climb which always makes the effort more rewarding. We were all pretty tired when we arrived at the shelter.

While we were eating dinner Guardian was inquiring about our plans for the next couple of days. He obviously missed the discussion about Jerry & Jan slake packing us over the weekend.  After  he heard the plan I don't think I've seen him this excited about hiking since Jon Barb slacked us a second day in Connecticut.

The magic continues!
Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
Trolley Stop

Smarts Mountain Fire Tower

Trolley Stop

Buffalo Bobby

Journal Entry # 143

Thursday, August 18 - Day 147 - Mile 1740.7 - Velvet Rocks Shelter

Today we left Bristol and returned to the trail eager to cross the State line into NH.  The time in Vermont has gone by very quickly.

Jane & Marion drove us back to the trailhead early this morning and we were off hiking by 8:45.

The hike was pleasant. Lots of sunshine and good trail. Eventually we came out of the woods and had a long road walk through Norwich, VT then walked the bridge over the Connecticut River where we crossed over into New Hampshire and Dartmouth.  Dartmouth is a nice town. We stopped for a soda on Main Street and continued on the trail through town, past the College and St Denis Catholic Church and ultimately returned to the woods after walking past the soccer fields.

We arrived at the shelter about 3:00 and began our search for water. After going down many dead end trails we met a jogger who knew where the water was. We hiked and hiked and after about a mile of unmarked trail we came to a less than perfect source of water. It was a large culvert on end that collected water. A couple of frogs were swimming in the water trapped by the steep sides. We pumped our water and rescued the two frogs and began our journey back to camp. All & all we spent over an hour getting water.

Dinner is over now and the day is cooling down quickly.  Should be a good night for sleeping.
We miss all the comforts and fun of Bristol but are getting back into the swing of things. Boy...the packs are heavy!

Thanks again to all for a wonderful week.
Trolley Stop

Velvet Rock Shelter.  First Shelter in NH heading North

photos from Bristol

Here are some pics that Jane sent.  These are of the LEG during their stay in Bristol, Vermont.

Trolley Stop after he stuffed himself all week!

Polls at the ready.

Gearing up!

Thier starting point

Trolley Stop

Buffalo Bobby

The L.E.G. off to the White Mountains of New Hampshire!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

journal entry #142

Wednesday, August 17 - Day 146 - Mile 1729.4 (no change - ZERO in Bristol

The sun is shinning and the temperature 70 degrees. A beautiful day.

We headed to the airport to get Lee to her flight this morning and had a very pleasant ride through the countryside both ways.

After having lunch and running a few errands we stopped to pick up some wild salmon for dinner at Ed's tonight.

Then it was back home to begin reassembling our packs for our hike out tomorrow morning. After almost a week off, a full pack may take some getting used to.  But wait!  Jerry & Jan are making arrangements to meet us in NH for a couple of days of slake packing.  Is this a great Country or what?

Guardian was pressed into service tonight to prepare the salmon and did a professional job. Everyone else pitched in and made wonderful contributions to the meal. Thanks  Ed for hosting us all twice this week!  Once again the evening was filled with laughter.  Sorry to see this great time come to a close.  What a wonderful vacation from our vacation.

Tomorrow, fully fed, refreshed and hydrated,  we leave Vermont behind and take on the challenges of New Hampshire. It's exciting to be beginning a new, and the next to last, State.

Love, peace, joy & hope,
Trolley Stop

Guardian and Lee at the airport

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Journal Entry # 141

Tuesday, August 16 - Day 145 - Mile 1729.4 - VT 14 - West Hartford, VT

Rained all night and was still raining heavily as we got ready for our slake pack today. Jane and Lee drove us to Woodstock and then spent time in the area until we finished this afternoon.  The heavy rain moved out late this morning and the sun actually came out as we finished our hike.

The hike itself was very wet. Mud was everywhere and parts of the trail were more like fast moving streams. We stayed wet most of the day and our boots were soaked as a result of deep mud and raging streams from a day and a half of rain.  Buffalo Bobby took a tumble on a very wet and slick bridge...no injury but a close call.

Jane and Lee were right on time to pick us up at the trailhead in New Haven, VT. They had water and huge muffins for us as well as a flannel shirt for each of us because they thought we would be cold. Wow!
Lee's dinner at Grandmas tonight was delicious. After dinner Buffalo Bobby treated us to ice cream.
Another great day!

Trolley Stop

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Journal Entry # 140

Monday, August 15 - Day 144 - Mile 1716.8 (no change) ZERO in Bristol.

The rain finally came today.  Perfect since we're taking a ZERO. Really nice to sleep in a bit.
Jane made a wonderful breakfast casserole and Guardian made biscotti at Marion's so once again we're well fed.

Now it's off to resupply.

9:30 PM:  Rain continued all day so after resupplying we decided to forgo a trip into Burlington and go back to Bristol to rest a bit. This was good because Ed & Karen prepared a feast fit for kings at Ed's home which included pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw and  blueberry pie with ice cream and maple crumble...everything homemade. Endless wine and coffee completed the menu.  As always the evening was full of fun and wonderful people. Rocky Dale Gardens are beautiful even in the pouring rain...maybe especially so.

These last few days, hosted by Fred & Marion, Sue & Frank and Ed & Karen, have been fabulous to say the least.  We've never had three ZERO's in one week. This really reenergized us.

In the morning it's back on the trail for one more day of slake packing out of Bristol.  Tomorrow evening Lee will make dinner for the L.E.G. here at Grandma's house.

Jerry & Jan haven't given up on us either. There's still a possibility of connecting in New Hampshire where, if all works out, we'll be Thursday evening.

If asked by the ATC I may have to report the extraordinary support I've received all the way up the trail from family, old friends and some new friends which have made a big difference just at the right time. Because of our uncertain schedule we have missed visiting with several folks who offered their homes or support along the way. Thanks go out to all of you too.

Thanks also to everyone for all your prayers.  I know our good fortune is not by accident.

Trolley Stop

Ed, Amy, and Karen

Jane and Grandma Burke

Sue and Frank

Fred and Marian

Monday, August 15, 2011

Journal Entry # 139

Sunday, August 14 - Day 143 - Mile 1716.8 - VT 12 - Woodstock

With rain in the forecast, Frank picked us up before 6:00 AM and drove us to the trailhead in Killington where Marion had picked us up on Friday. We were off and hiking by 7:10.

 The trail and the weather, despite predictions, turned out to be perfect. We had sunshine and cool temperatures all day.  The trail was just the opposite from our last hike up Killington Peak. It's quite amazing how it could be so different. Instead of endless rocks & roots we had a pretty smooth path most of the day. We did do a lot of climbing but with a slake pack even that was relatively easy.

We hiked just over 20 miles in less then 10 hours. A very good day.

As we came out of the woods we were immediately met by Susan, Jane & Lee who had water and snacks which we enjoyed as Susan drove us back to Bristol.

This evening we were hosted by Fred & Marion and treated to a wonderful dinner and desserts.  Lots of fun conversation and laughs around the table. Grandma Burke was with us which made it even more special.
Tired but very happy we ended our day.

Tomorrow we head into Burlington to resupply and look around a bit.

Trolley Stop

Grandma Burke (Jane's mom) and Trolley Stop

Lee & Guardian

Journal Entry # 138

Saturday, August 13 - Day 142 - Mile 1696.4 (no change) ZERO in Bristol, VT

Won't be updating the satellite map until we're back on the trail next week and on our own again.
Great to spend time catching up with Jane today. So much has happened on the home front. We had a very pleasant day relaxing and walking around Bristol.

Sue and Frank are taking great care of Buffalo Bobby. Bobby had the opportunity to fly with Frank over some  AT sections we just finished and which we'll be hiking tomorrow.

Guardian & Lee took in some of the local sites and had a chance to spend some time together.

The day ended with a wonderful barbecue hosted by Sue & Frank.  We've had an unbelievable amount of food in just the last 36 hours.  There's no question we'll be well fueled for our journey into New Hampshire late next week.

 Lots more family & friends joined us at Sue & Franks   to make it a very festive occasion. (Fred & Marion, Ed and his friend Karen, Jen and her boys and John).

Tomorrow Frank is driving us back, very early, to the trailhead for a 20 mile slack pack.  Whew...who's going to take care of Sue & Frank?

Jane & Lee prepared sandwiches & snacks for the three of us to take with us tomorrow.  Is this beginning to sound like were being a bit spoiled? I believe so.

Had a chance to speak with my Sister Eileen and catch up with her a bit too today. She has been one of our greatest supporters and followers. My thank you list continues to grow beyond anything I could have anticipated at the start of this journey.

One sad note is that Jane's Mom lost one of her closest friends today.  They are both in our prayers.

Peace, Love, Joy & Hope,
Trolley Stop

Frank does a masterful job at the grill.

Journal Entry # 137

Friday, August 12 - Day 141 - Mile 1696.4 - Killington, VT

Woke up early to a cold morning and we began our hike down to route 100 about 6:30.

The trail down was much less difficult then our trip up yesterday and we arrived down right on time to meet Marion for our ride to Bristol.

Marion had a cooler full of drinks and sandwiches as well as pastries and cookies. Since we were headed for lunch we only attacked the drinks and pastries and had the sandwiches on the ride home after lunch.  Great food! Thanks Marion.

Buffalo Bobby is staying with Sue & Frank while Guardian and his wife Lee, who flew in from North Carolina today, are here at Grandma Burkes home for our stay in Bristol.

This evening we spent at Marion & Fred's and had a good time catching up and enjoying more food.
Tomorrow the plan is to just relax and I'll get a chance to spend some time with Jane. It's supposed to be a beautiful day so I'm sure we'll spend most of our time outside.

We then hope to slake pack on Sunday. Need to find a good drop off point.

Great to be in Bristol.
Trolley Stop

Journal Entry # 136

Thursday, August 11 - Day 140 - Mile - 1686.8 - Cooper Lodge (Passed a sign today that indicated we had 500 miles to go)

Wow!  What a wild day.  We were up early and on the trail before 6:30 with dreams of a real breakfast about 3 miles up the trail. At the main road to the the restaurant a   father, Jim, who is supporting his Son came out of the woods the same time we did and had his car at the trail head. He offered us a ride which we gladly took and also said he'd drive us back to the trail head when we were done. We couldn't believe our luck.

When we arrived at the Restaurant the waitress ask us if we were the three men waiting for a ride?  We said no and proceeded to have a wonderful breakfast. Unknown to us, since I've had no phone service, my Wife and Sister-in-Law were driving down to allow us to slake pack over Killington.  We only missed them by a few minutes at the Restaurant.

Events heated up a bit as they tried to catch us on the trail, which is a much longer and humorous story (in retrospect) that may be in a future book. Long story short we didn't slake pack which turned out to be a good thing since we didn't arrive at the top of Killington until 5:00 PM. We wouldn't have been able to hike another 5 hours down without night hiking.  It all worked out. Thanks for the valiant effort on Jane & Marion's part.

The hike was all uphill over mud, rocks and massive amounts of roots. The first climb off the road was straight up a steep rock scramble.  The good news was that today was another picture postcard perfect day.
Tonight, at the top of Killington, it's cold!  Were in our sleeping bags with all our clothes on. There's a spectacular sunset out our glassless windows.  Perfect end to the day.

Tomorrow Aunt Marion will pick us up after we hike Down and take us back to civilization for a few days which we've all been looking forward to for quite a while.

Lots more happened today, as usual, but I can't keep my eyes open any longer.

Love to all,
Trolley Stop

Coopers Lodge on top of Killington.

Journal Entry # 135

Wednesday, August 10 - Day 139 - Mile 1673.0 - Minerva Hinchey Shelter

The Scouts were no problem last night. They were all very courteous.

Rained overnight so slippery rocks, etc. today. The good news is the rain predicted for today never came and the day was mostly beautiful. The rocks & mud are relentless so our progress was very slow. Slower still by missing a small sign indicating the AT made a sharp turn. This caused us to waste about 30 minutes going down and then climbing back up a blue blazed trail. Oh well!

The woods were very pretty all day. We climbed Vermont's Bear Mountain, the third Bear Mountain in as many weeks.

Tomorrow we have a breakfast opportunity at the Whistle Stop restaurant just a few miles up the trail. We'll be well fueled for hiking up Killington Peak later on the day.  This is the highest point on the AT in Vermont - 4,245'. We'll be starting at 800' so this will be a good climb.

Tonight we're all three tenting at this shelter site.  Spent some time chatting with hikers around a nice warm fire one fellow started. It's turned a bit chilly which is amazing for early August  Should be good for sleeping. Speaking of which...

Trolley Stop

The L.E.G. at a scenic overlook in VT

Journal Entry # 134

Tuesday, August 9 - Day 138 - Mile 1658.1 - Lost Pond Shelter

Leisurely morning. Up at 6:00 had coffee and cookies while we waited for our taxi back to the trail at 7:30.  By 7:50 we were hiking.

Today we did 14.7 miles in the most wonderful hiking weather. For once we weren't soaked from sweat or rain.  Our route took us over Bromley Mountain, right past the ski lift, and the over Styles Peak, Peru Peak and Bakers Peak before we made it to the shelter.  We did experience more than the usual amount mud and some sunken bog boards which caused some wet boots but all & all a wonderful hike.

When we arrived at the shelter we found it full of Boy Scouts from all over the Country.  They are from New York, Detroit, Seattle, Cleveland, etc..  Tents are all over the place and several have taken over the shelter and are sleeping.

I called hello to the Scoutmaster but he said "shhh...everyone's sleeping".   This was at 4:30 PM.  They had hiked 8 miles and needed their rest.

Well now It's 7:00 PM, we're in our sleeping bags, but the Scouts are up making a fire right in front of us and beginning their evening festivities refreshed from their afternoon nap. It may be a long night!  Oh well, it's been months since I've spent a night with Scouts.  In fact the last time was during my first week on the trail. Guardian always asks why we don't sing camp fire songs and tell stories around the fire.  Maybe he'll get his wish tonight.

It's supposed to rain tonight so perhaps the festivities will end early. I'm actually enjoying the smell of the campfire and with ear plugs in now I can't hear too much.

I'll let you know tomorrow how this works out.

Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
Trolley Stop

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Journal Entry # 133

Monday, August 8 - Day 137 - Mile 1643.3 - Manchester Center (NERO)

Great rest at a nice shelter last night.

Today we only had a 10.7 mile hike to the road to Manchester. The hike started in a fine mist with some dense fog in places but before 11:00. AM the sun peeked through.

The hike itself was fairly easy. Not too many steep ups & downs.  Rocks, roots and mud did prevail.

Upon arriving at the road to Manchester we began to hitch into town and almost immediately a fellow stopped with room for one so Buffalo Bobby took that ride and no sooner had he taken off than a BMW driven by a true trail angel, Bill, stopped, gave us cold drinks and drove us into town.  We were at our destination before noon. Thanks Bill!

We're staying at Sutton's Place which is a beautiful private home with all the comforts of home. Our host, Frank, took very good care of us.

After getting cleaned up we walked into town to do laundry, have lunch, visit the outfitter (who was able to get my poles mostly fixed) and resupply.

Right now I'm in a terrific book store enjoying some quiet time and browsing before heading back to join the rest for dinner.  It's nice spending some time just reading.

Tomorrow we start the last leg of our journey to Killington, VT where we'll be picked up for some R&R and slake packing out of Bristol. Can't wait!

Tonight it's pizza and then to bed.

Trolley Stop

Home for the night in Manchester, VT

Journal Entry # 132

Sunday, August 7 - Day 136 - Mile 1632.6 - Stratton Pond Shelter

Today marks the midpoint of summer.

Today we hiked from Kid Gore Shelter in the rain over Stratton Mountain. This was the most rain I've had to walk in since early in the hike. Lots of mud and slick rocks & roots today.

Late in the day the sun finally came out as we reached the top of the mountain and headed for tonight's shelter. This is one of the nicer shelters with a pond for swimming.

They actually charge $5 to stay here so many hikers pass it by.  The $5 allows you to stay free at some future shelters.

Looking forward to our NERO tomorrow to get cleaned up.

Trolley Stop

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Journal Entry # 131

Saturday, August 6 - Day 135 - Mile 1617.6 - Kid Gore Shelter

Great night tenting. Good sleep and ready for our long hike today.

Trail conditions:  rocky with many roots and chance of mud at any turn. I don't believe there was one level spot on the trail all day. We made it into camp just as the rains came. Guardian & I chose the shelter and Buffalo Bobby set up his tent. The shelter is full with more hikers reportedly on their way. The weather prediction is for rain into tomorrow morning. Hope not...don't like slippery rocks.

Other than the late rain the day was great for hiking.

Looking forward to stopping in Manchester for an afternoon on Monday. There's supposed to be an REI.  Once again my hiking poles need major work. I guess I'm too hard on them.  Want to be sure to get them fixed before we hit New Hampshire.

Time once again to get some sleep and pray the rain lets up by morning.

Peace, Love, Joy & Hope,
Trolley Stop

Journal Entry # 130

Friday, August 5 - Day 134 - Mile 1598.9 - Congdon Shelter - Vermont

Start of my 19th week on the AT.
Great NERO in North Adams. Had a blueberry pancake breakfast and took a cab back to the trailhead.
We immediately started a long hike up out of North Adams that culminated in a steep rock scramble. Eventually it leveled out and the end of Massachusetts was in sight.

We've made it onto Vermont!  About 11:00 AM we crossed over the border and took some photos and then started to climb some more. The climbs in Vermont were long but gentle compared to what we've been experiencing.

After our nice break yesterday afternoon today's hike seemed to take a long time. Could be because we didn't get to the trail until after 8:30 this morning.

The shelter here tonight is quite old so we're tenting.  Lots of other hikers are showing up and we had fun chatting or catching up. We're still meeting south bounders but their numbers seem to be dwindling.

 It's very pleasant right now as we prepare to go to sleep. There's a nice breeze and it's cooling down rapidly. It feels good to get back in the tent after a week of shelters, hostels and hotels.

Tomorrow is going to be the longest day we have planned for the Vermont section of the trail - 18.7 miles - then it will be back to lower mileage days until we hit New Hampshire.

Another great day on the AT!

Trolley Stop

Guardian Hits Vermont!

Journal Entry # 129

Thursday, August 4 - Day 133 -.Mile 1584.8 - North Adams, MA - NERO (North Adams Hotel)

Rain overnight but beautiful sunrise this morning. It was very cool so thoughts of winter gear are popping into our heads.  (Still too early).

The climb from the shelter to the top of Mt. Greylock this morning was fairly easy since we made most of the elevation gain yesterday out of Dalton.

At the lodge at the top of Mt. Graylock we had a terrific breakfast and then started the decent into North Adams. Unfortunately there was a dense fog so we didn't get to see what must be spectacular views from the summit of Mt. Greylock. In fact we couldn't even see the blazes for the AT so we wandered around the top a bit before we found our way down. The down was about 6 miles, but much of the trail was actually up or level until the last mile or so. Then it was very steep into North Adams.

We hitched into town. It only took a few minutes before a fellow whose Son had attempted the trail a couple of years ago picked us up and drove us right to the hotel.

We have a nice room with access to laundry facilities here and groceries & restaurants nearby.

Hopefully tonight we can plan our next week or so to make it to Rutland and do some slake packing further into the Vermont portion of the trail.

It's now after 7:00 PM. We've had dinner, resupplied and have finished our pints of Ben & Jerry's.   We also have made tentative plans for hiking all of Vermont.  We'll take it day by day.

Tomorrow morning we cross the border into Vermont.  Need to rest up for this momentous occasion.  Three States to go.

Another fine day on the Appalachian Trail for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Love, peace, joy & hope,
Trolley Stop

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Journal Entry #128

Wednesday, August 3 - Day 132 - Mile 1575.2 - Mark Noepel Shelter

Up early and out of the hostel by 7:00 and stopped for a quick breakfast before hitting the trail.

Again the trail was pretty rugged ending with a 2,000' climb to the shelter.  Good couple of days - 36 miles.
We were able to stop in Cheshire, where Guardian picked up a mail package, and have ice cream. We had a pleasant time relaxing in the shade and chatting with a south bound hiker.

 It was a beautiful day for hiking.

Tonight were quite high up on a mountain and the temperature is falling. I needed to put on my down jacket to take away the chill. Hard to believe this is early August. A light rain has just started to fall. Time for some sleep.

Trolley Stop

Journal Entry # 127

Tuesday, August 2 - Day 131 - Mile 1561.3- Dalton, MA

Wow!  21 miles today!  This was Guardian's longest hike. We decided to change our plan and hike all the way into Dalton.  We learned of a hostel in Dalton that's working out. We'll get cleaned up, clothes washed, a ride to a diner for dinner and a grocery to resupply.

Our hike today was over very rough trail that was full of relatively small ups and downs but gave us a good workout. 11 hours of hiking is close to our limit.

About mid hike we had a wonderful stop at a blueberry farm. The owners had vast fields of blueberries, hard boiled eggs, lemonade and ice cream. Very nice break mid hike. Buffalo Bobby was the only one who actually picked blueberries.

It's well past our bedtime (10:30 PM), the hostel is full and our sleeping arrangements here are rather spartan but we'll make it through the night OK.

Tomorrow we move another step closer to finishing MA.  Should be a good day since we'll have both breakfast & lunch opportunities near the trail.

Love, Peace, Joy & Hope
Trolley Stop

PS:  Our hiker didn't finish the 12 egg omelet challenge but made a valiant try.

The Hikers at the hostel have dinner at the diner.

Hiker takes on the 12 egg omlette challenge.  Prize is a t-shirt.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Journal Entry # 126

Monday, August 1 - Day 130 - Mile 1540.7 - Upper Goose Pond Cabin

Good night in the last shelter. It cooled off nicely for sleeping and Guardian and I had the place to ourselves.

We had a great hike today. Nice weather even though thunderstorms were predicted.  We spent most of our day in deep woods - not too many views but the woods were very beautiful for the most part. We passed a couple of lakes and finished our hike here at Upper Goose Pond.  This area used to be owned by a private club going back to the 1800s, but was donated to the State in the 80s. We have access to the pond to swim, nice bunks, open porch to have dinner and relax, and the promise of an AYCE pancake breakfast prepared by the volunteer caretaker in the morning.

Lots of good conversation on the porch tonight.

Violent storms are predicted for tonight with hail, etc., but right now it couldn't be nicer out here.  We'll see what happens.  At any rate it's nice to have a roof over our heads should the weather change.

Tomorrow we have an 18 mile hike to the next shelter. We then hope to hike a few miles to Dalton the next day and take another NERO to clean up and resupply.

All continues to go well.
Trolley Stop

View from Upper Goose Pond cabin

Upper Goose Pond cabin