Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thoughts from Mom

Mom got to talk to Dad for a little while today, and was so thrilled to hear his voice.  He shared some good stories and comments with her, and here she is sharing them with you.

First of all he said, "can you believe this weather?"  the storms have been so bad with thunder and lightning.  He woke up on Saturday to lightning and thunder all around him and he thought, "well are you going or not?" and off he went in the wild weather.  That night he got to a shelter and stayed there with 13 other people...they are not big shelters, but they all squeezed in to escape the rain.  Sunday he walked in the pouring down rain all day and camped with Hawkers and Whitewater that evening.  They gave him some tips on setting up his stuff, but he was still worried about how they would pack it all up in the rain without it being soaked through.  Luckily it stopped raining in the AM, and this is where one of his possible trail name "The Tent Whisperer" came from.  When he realized the rain had stopped, he walked to their tents and whispered, "are you awake?  Are you awake?"  haha. 

He camped in a tent two nights in a row in the rain.  He walked 9 miles on Monday, 3/28.  He got to a campsite full of boyscouts on Tuesday night (3/29), and decided to call the hostel to see if they had room.  His phone service wasn't working, so he borrowed a phone from one of the scouts and the hostel needed to call back to confirm room.  He didn't know the number, so he just said "forget it", and camped with the boy scouts, who kept him up half the night.

Tonight he's at the place where the guy goes through your pack to help lighten your load.  He sent home 8lbs of gear, including his soap and shaving gear...looks like we'll see a beard afterall.  The first casualty of the trip were his walking sticks, they broke (what?), so he bought new ones, because he said he couldn't do it without them.

The other trail name being tossed around is "George of the Jungle".  This is the nickname given to him by a guy writing a journal on his trail experience, which he is calling "Gorillas in the Mist". 

Overall he is very happy, even in the pouring rain, and has met some great people along the way so far.  Its everything he thought it would be and more.  its supposed to rain the next three days, and then they'll get a break to dry out.

Pictures from the Trail

Dad sent me these photos tonight.  Sadly, he's been writing everyday, with pics and all, but AT&T has horrible service, so none of the e-mails actually came through.  However, we got to talk to him on the phone today and mom and I will do a little dictation of the stories he told her for you to enjoy.  One thing that I wanted to share now is the fact that he got rid of 8lbs of his gear to help make it easier to carry and most of that was toiletries, so him having a beard at the end seems very probable!

Whitewater and Hawkers - campmates along the way
Dinner provided by a Church Group 3/30/11

Bear Bag Cables (gotta keep that food away from the bears)

3/30/11 - Mountains Crossing

Some of the 604 steps on the approach trail!

Journal Entry #6

Sunday, March 27:
Did about 8 miles today and stopped along the trail and camped near Sassafras Mtn.  Weather was very overcast and damp.  My cell isn't holding up as I hoped so I'll save further updates until I can connect. Check the where am I on the blog since I can send updates each day from my SPOT.  All is good

Journal Entry #5

Saturday, March 26:
Had a great dinner last night with many day hikers from Atlanta.  3 guys from Suannee hiked up with the intension of going up to Springer in the morning but poor weather for today caused them to change plans and hike back down.  A couple, Bob and Sherry were here for their anniversary (bunk beds go figure)and a retired Delta pilot, Bill hikes up here frequently for the exercise.  From first hand experience... IT'S GOOD EXERCISE!  After relaxing here a couple of hours the final leg up to Springer didn't seem as daunting but I'm glad I stayed.

Today I hiked out in the pouring rain and did about 6.2 miles and am now at Stover Creek Shelter on the AT with Matt & Cameron from Conn. and Dee from Tampa.  It was raining so hard I missed the plaque at the start and had to hike back to register and take photos.  What I've learned:

Pack covers do not protect packs from rain
Rocks & roots really are slippery in the rain
Hiking poles are essential -especially for us older folks (thanks Jim & Jen)
I obviously have no hips because no matter how tight I make the hip belt the pack still slips down.

Even in the rain hiking is fun.
Matt wants to play a game of Monopoly so may have to join in.
The adventure continues tomorrow.

Roger (Still no trail name but a hiker came up behind me today and said your "leaning to the right") maybe too political

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Message from Jill

Today at 9am, my dad started his 2,200 mile journey on the Appalachian Trail. He will hike from Georgia to Maine, it will take him roughly 6 months. This has been a dream of his for over 20 years! He is an inspiration! Follow your dreams!

Journal Entry #5 - 1st from the Trail

We're off!!!  Arrived at the visitors center about 8:30 AM and started up the Approach Trail about 9:00.  Decided to spend the night at the Len Foote Hike Inn and finish the Approach Trail in the morning.  The day was beautiful and perfect for hiking.  The Inn is a bunkhouse kind of place that provides showers & food.  Looking forward to a good nights rest.

Journal Entry #4

Today the adventure begins.  We’re off to the AT Approach Trail to sign in first thing in the morning. It’s been a whirlwind month of March so far.  So many things have happened but I still had time to do some walking and gear review, so the pack is ready. There’s a fellow about 100 miles ahead of me who’s been blogging and I’ve been getting some good advice from his writings.
Yesterday I received a bunch of cards from my daughter Marylou’s first grade class. 

 They were wonderful and full of cautions about bears, bobcats, eating good food and how heavy the pack is.  The pictures they drew were priceless.  My Grandson Logan(3) also told me to lookout for snakes and don’t touch them with my hands.
The weather for my first day is predicted to be beautiful, but the rain comes in over the weekend, so I’ll have a chance early on to try out my rain gear.
My Granddaughters Claire and Anna are camping this weekend in Richmond, so we’ll have some stories to share when I meet them.
My next update will be from the Trail!
 Roger (Trail Name TBD) 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Note From Dad

Hi Liz (my dad is the only person that calls me this!):

Today we drove to the AT Approach trail and spent some time with a fellow from Fredricksburg, VA who's starting the trail today.  He has three children and he and his wife just found out they're expecting a fourth.  They now have 3 boys and are hoping for a girl.  He left his job recently and his wife told him this is his best shot at doing it.  Sort of like a six month business trip out of town.

I weighed my full pack at the visitors center  and it was 41 pounds.

I'll be trimming a few more things, but likely won't eliminate much more than a couple of pounds.It was raining pretty hard today but there were still several hikers showing up to start.

March 25th is still looking good for me to head out.  Jill & Mom picked up some long maps of the trail for you and all your siblings to track progress.  I've scheduled a stop over in Franklin, NC for April 3rd, so that will hopefully be my first major stop and resupply point.

I'll be sending you updates!

Love you,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Journal Entry #3

"Just Do It!" - Nike

Lots of folks have been asking questions about the hike, what I’ll eat, where I’ll sleep…etc.  Here is some information. 

As far as training, I've done a lot of walking and have recently been walking with my full pack which is somewhere around 40 pounds full. 

I've been using the equipment here at home and in fact had the tent set up in the living room while it was empty awaiting new furniture in early February.  I'd put the tent up and take it down over and over until I felt I could do it somewhat quickly when I arrive on the trail.

I've overnighted in Asheville with Scott and he also was very helpful in trimming my gear and setting me up with hiking shoes and such.

I had a complete physical and my doctor gave me a green light.  He wants me to come in right after the hike to do a work up.  He told me not to worry about what I eat on the trail.  I won't have a heart attack.  Fortunately I don't take any medication so that simplifies things.

I have a lot of equipment, clothing, food and etc.  Everything I need is currently in the pack including my cold weather gear.  Hopefully sometime in late May I'll be able to send some stuff home to hike a little lighter over the summer and then get it back as I enter Vermont where it will begin to get cold again.

In addition to the pack I have the following:

O degree Sleeping bag - will trade that in for a 30 degree bag in late May
Sleeping bag liner
Sleeping pad (Self inflating)
2 man tent / fly / ground cloth and stakes
Stove / Fuel / cooking pot and cup & spork
Water Purifier pump
2 liter Hydration pack for water
2 hiking poles
IPhone 4 which is my Camera, Video, GPS, Internet, email, compass, trail log and emergency light
and a Spot GPS for emergencies. 

Clothes: (All clothes are light weight and wicking)

Rain / Sun hat
Stocking hat
Glove liners
Outer jacket
Rain Jacket
Fleece shirt
Long sleeve shirt
Short Sleeve shirt
Long underwear
Rain Pants
Pants w/zippered legs so they can be converted to shorts
Sock liners

The usual hygiene stuff like soap, toothbrush, bandages, ibuprofen, vitamins, insect repellent.....

Food stuff sack and rope for hanging (To keep bears and other animals away)

Some food I have is:

Freeze dried meals
Oatmeal / Grits
Granola bars
Noodles of all kinds
Trail Mix
Beef jerky
Assorted packs of instant mashed potatoes and other vegetables.

I have a foot locker full of dry stuff that Jane will send me in the mail to pick up along the way or have in the car when she can actually meet me.  When I get off the trail for "0" days I'll be able to get some real food.  Many folks have offered to meet me along the way and bring some goodies too.

Now all I have to do is do it.
Thanks so much for all your notes. 

Roger (Trail name TBD)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Journal Entry #2

"Work as if it all depends on you but pray as if it all depends on God."  Anonymous
Time is marching on and we’re less than a month from takeoff.
This past Sunday Jane gave me a great sendoff party with lots of friends and family.  Much encouragement was given as well as a physiological observation…”you are out of your mind”.  Lots of wonderful trial food was supplied, so if nothing else, I won’t starve out there.

My Daughter Beth has asked me to put down a few thoughts as to why I’m doing this.   The truthful answer is just because it’s something I’ve always dreamed and thought about since we lived in the Roanoke area near the AT in the mid 80’s.  The dreams were likely a bit stronger when I was working and flying around the world on a crazy schedule and the thoughts of spending a quiet day in the woods sounded so good, but that feeling has not changed much since we’ve retired.
Food has been assembled and gear has been paired down to what I think is a good place to start.  Likely still too much stuff, but the trail will tell me that in a hurry.
I think I’ve read most everything there is to read and talked to everyone I know that has any experience along these lines, so now it’s time to do some final tweaks to get ready and just take the next few weeks to continue to get in shape for the walk. 
I’ve been hiking with a full pack here in Richmond, although the terrain is not too challenging and good restaurants and other creature comforts are around every corner.
The real challenge will begin as I attack that first hill and then the next and then the next…..and the story of my hike truly begins to unfold and I can add a bit to the long history and story of the Appalachian Trail.
Thanks so much for all your thoughts and prayers
Roger (Trail name TBD)