Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Journal Entry #57

Tuesday, May 24 - Day 61 - Mile 627.2 (no change - "0" day in Pearisburg).

Having a quiet day. Took a walk to McDonalds for breakfast with Hopeful, Cog and Buffalo Bobby, stopped by Walmart for some supplies, repacked our stuff and  a good thunderstorm is now passing thru. If this clears up we'll spend some time at the library and then walk a bit further for a Chinese buffet. The weather on the East Coast doesn't sound to promising for the next few days, but walking in the rain is not new to us.

This hostel has been great. Only a few hikers and a really nice facility.  I'll put a photo of Cog repairing his pack on the blog. This photo  could have been taken at Wiiiamsburg, VA.

It's now 6:00 PM and heavy rain has returned but not before we were able to use computers at the library and get a good dinner. Hopeful just put on a big pot of coffee and we'll just relax until bedtime.

Good day to be at a hostel.

Trolley Stop

Cog repairs his pack

Hopeful & Cog - ready for coffee at 6:00 PM

Journal Entry #56

Monday, May 23 - Day 60 - Mile 627.2 - Pearisburg, VA

Had what was likely the best dinner we'll have on the trail last evening at the Palisades Restaurant.

Overnight rain pounded down until morning when the sun came out. At about 7:15 the triangle was rung for coffee and we all hung out on the porch at Woods Hole Hostel talking an sipping coffee or tea. At 8:00 the triangle rang again for breakfast which was wonderful and filling. At 9:00 AM we were off to the trail. We had some beautiful views today.

Our goal for today was Pearisburg, VA.

Were now at the Holy Family Hostel in Pearisburg, the first Catholic Hostel we've come across. The setting is beautiful and very peaceful.  Pearisburg is traditionally where hikers send home their winter gear, so we should be in for some warmer weather.

Once again we were fortunate to get a ride from the trail to the hostel, which would have been a very long and hot walk.

Here tonight are Hopeful and his hiking partner Cog. I told Hopeful's story a couple of days ago.
We'll make a decision in the morning on taking a "0" or not.

The best to all,
Trolley Stop

View from Pearis Mountain

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Journal Entry #55

Sunday, May 22 - Day 59 - Mile 616.8 - Sugar Run Gap - Woods Hole Hostel.

Another restful night tenting. Woke up to the tent soaked with a heavy dew. (It's now drying out on the lawn here at the hostel)

We had an interesting hike today. The first half was a repeat of the past two days...easy ups & downs. The second half reminded us how tough the trail can be. It was a 3 hour steep climb that took everything I had to finish today.

We're now at another great hostel, but tonight they're not cooking dinner. We we wondering what to do when Maglav and JB came to the hostel and invited Buffalo Bobby and me to join them tonight for dinner in town. Maglav's Daughter is picking us up. Another piece of trail magic out of the blue.

Tomorrow we will make Pearisburg, VA where we're thinking of taking a "0" on Tuesday.

Another great day,
Trolley Stop

Coffee in Woods Hole Hostel

Woods Hole Hostel Living Room
Woods Hole Hostel
Buffalo Bobby enjoying the porch
Fred T Four debunks hanging food bags to keep bears away

Maglav, Trolley Stop, JB, and Buffalo Bobby - fine dining!

JB, Maglav, & Candice at Dinner

Journal entry #54

Saturday, May 21 - Day 58 - Mile 602.9 - VA 606 - Trent's Market

Just for the record...we each had two of the best milkshakes in town. If they had a coffee flavor for breakfast I would have had my third today but they didn't.

The day started out warm and beautiful. Left Bland just after breakfast and had a delightful hike through sun dappled woods. Buffalo Bobby and I solved many of the worlds problems early on (as we usually do) and then walked in silence for hours just listening to nature.

About 6 miles from our destination we were once again treated to trail magic. This time it was a family from Ohio. The husband hiked the trail and wanted to give back a bit of the trail magic he had experienced. This was their second day and they provided hot dogs, ice cold sodas, potato salad, fruit, chips and all kinds of snacks. They even hung bags of treats up the trail and filled the stream at the trailhead with sodas for hikers who may miss them later in the day. When we arrived Rocky and Laugh Track were there and later we were joined by Maglav and JB a fellow and his future Son-in-Law who we had met earlier in the day. What a wonderful treat. No matter how many times this happens it's always a welcome surprise. You can't imagine how good a cold soda tastes on a hot afternoon. (Many photos were taken).

Also today we met Cold Kettle. He started the trail two days before me and we had never crossed paths. He's retired but had designed IT systems for the Tennessee prison system. We had a delightful conversation with him during a pack break. He's been losing so much weight that his doctor suggested he try to eat more and hike shorter distances due to a diabetic condition he has. So that's what he's doing. Between trail magic, gown visits and plenty of snacks in between I think Buffalo Bobby and I aren't in too much danger of losing more weight. The trick will be to stop eating like this after we're finished.

When we arrived at our destination, which is a combination snack shop and campground, we met Hopeful who had another interesting story. He had hiked the trail in 2003 and Buffalo Bobby knew him then. He had a wonderful time on that trip but felt he needed to get back on the trail to give back too. He did some section hiking with Circuit Rider and Sherlock who I mentioned meeting earlier, but really wanted to hike the whole trail again to give encouragement to other hikers. He said be wouldn't dare ask his wife to go again, but silently asked for the opportunity if she brought it up. He said last fall, while having a cup of coffee with his wife, she brought it up and suggested he hike the trail again before they were too old to consider it. Well, long story short. He's thru hiking this year for the sole purpose of encouraging others. what a wonderful guy. (No...I have no intension of doing this a second time...but do look forward to providing some trail magic down the road).

Our tent site tonight is great, right beside a river in a grassy field. We were able to take a shower and wash our clothes here as well. This is likely the cleanest we've Been since Trail Days.

This was what I would consider a perfect day on the trail.

Love, peace, joy and hope,

Trolley Stop


Friday, May 20, 2011

Journal Entry #53

Friday, May 20 - Day 57 - Mile 584.3 - Bland VA

Restful night and on the trail early for a 12 mile walk to the road to Bland by 11:30.

This morning was finally sunny and warm. The hike was by far the easiest to date. Gradual ups & downs and plenty of level stretches. When we got to the road to Bland we tried unsuccessfully to hitch the 3 1/2 miles into town. (word on the trail was that locals won't pick up hikers) We decided to just continue hiking even though it would be nice to dry out in town for a while. I had a small blister working from wet socks so I decided to attend to that before we started back. Low and behold a hiker from NJ who had just finished a 4 day hike stopped to give us a ride into town. He and his buddy said they had hoped to find some hikers to help. Not only did they pick us up, but they we're going to the same place we were to have the best milkshake on the trail. More trail magic.

There's a hotel just across the street from the restaurant so we're spending the night, drying out our tents and hand washing our clothes. The nearest launder-mat is in the next town. Bland is a very small town.

Tomorrow we've arranged for a shuttle to take us back to the trail head after breakfast. Things continue to go amazingly well for us. Likely in no small part due to all the prayers coming from every direction.

We couldn't be having a better time.

Lots of love,

Trolley Stop

Journal Entry #52

Thursday, May 19 - Day 56 - Mile 572.6 - Jenkins Shelter

Turned out we had about 30 hikers in and around the shelter last night. They were coming in even after dark. One hiker slept right on the ground behind the shelter. It's amazing how many are out here, though we rarely see any hikers going our way on the trail as we hike.

This is the end of my 8th week so my trail legs must be about as good as they're going to get.

Today was the 5th day in a row of cold, wet, fog and muddy trails. Everyone hopes for a sunny day soon to dry out. Despite the weather we're making good progress. Not many views since the fog is so thick.

Today we hiked 19 miles which mostly seemed to be up. The terrain was very rocky & slippery. Toward the end of the hike I ran out of water and took a side trail that was marked. Unfortunately the trail went down steeply for at least 3/4 miles then through a farm fence and finally down a muddy embankment. By the time I got back up I had killed about 45 minutes and was beat. While he was waiting for me Buffalo Bobby noted someone had scratched on the sign that it was a bad choice. (The actual language was much more colorful) Of course just a couple of miles down the trail there was plenty of water flowing right over the trail. Won't make that mistake again.

We're tenting tonight since the shelter is full. We have plenty of good company including thru hikers and section hikers. It's always fun to hear stories about trail names and why they're out here. Goldie made a big fire tonight for us all.

The privy at this shelter is one for the book. It's just an exposed toilet on a raised platform. No walls. Either the budget was very tight or the thinking was that there couldn't possibly be any shred of modesty left for hikers who got this far. (I'm a little concerned since this is my home State).

Tomorrow we hope to visit Bland, VA to get What is reported to be the best milkshake on the trail. We can use some cleaning up too. My new hiking shorts have taken quite a beating with the falls this week.

The best to all,

Trolley Stop

the crowd at Jenkins shelter

Goldie's fire

Journal Entry #51

Wednesday, May 18 - Day 55 - Mile - 553.6 - Knot Maul Branch Shelter.

Had a chance yesterday to connect with most of my Sisters & Brothers as well as others via phone from the hotel. Sounds like things are going well with all at the moment.

Today we had a good breakfast at the hotel before being picked up at 6:30 to return to the trail. If we keep eating like this were likely going to start gaining weight!

Predictions of rain were incorrect so we at least had a dry day but quite chilly. Heavy rain last night made the trail a quagmire which made footing very tricky. I managed to have a fall free day for the first time in 4 days. Sunday, Monday and yesterday I had a fall on each day bringing my total for the hike to 8.

We stopped today at the Knot Maul Shelter. At the moment we're the only two here but we know more are on the way. Pigeon (from Germany) and Trek (of 17 pound pack fame) stopped by for a visit and a hiker new to us, Old Blue, will spend the night as will Trucker. Old Blue is from Florida and his wife is following him with a camper to resupply, avoid hitch-hiking and such.

There's a cold chill in the air so we're all taking a rest in our sleeping bag. The weather in May has been very cold. It's likely warmer up north.

It's now 6:30PM, the shelter is full and tents are set up in every available spot. The Damascus crowd is catching up with us. So much for quiet shelters. As soon as the weather clears up we'll be back to tenting.

Peace to all,

Trolley Stop

view from inside knot maul shelter

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Journal Entry #50

Tuesday, May 17 - Day 54 - Mile 539.7- Atkins VA

Had a good nights sleep at the Partnership Shelter. Today started out cold and rainy and didn't improve much so we're taking a NERO and stopped at a Comfort Inn this afternoon. Only covered 11.6 miles before lunch. (That would have been a good days hike a few weeks ago...we seem to have our trail legs now).

Before we came here we had another great lunch and Circuit Rider and Sherlock stopped by to say hello before continuing their hike this afternoon.

Special Delivery and Trucker also joined us for lunch.

We get picked up at 6:30 in the morning for a shuttle to breakfast and the trail head in Atkins.

Hope all is well with all,

Trolley Stop

Journal Entry #49

Monday, May 16 - Day 53 - Mile 528.1 - Partnership Shelter

23 miles today. A new record!

The day started off wet, but improved quickly and it turned out to be a perfect hiking day.

We had a great breakfast with Circuit Rider, Sherlock and Gary the trail angel who gave us a ride to and from the hostel. We had some wonderful conversion and then set off for the trail head with more prayers promised. Hope we run into Circuit Rider & Sherlock again up the trail.

We hiked today from 8:22 AM to 6:15 PM. Buffalo Bobby has already turned in.

The Partnership shelter is near enough to a pizza place that you can order delivery. When we arrived we met Rocky and Laugh Track who had plenty of left over pizza that they shared with us. Super nice!!!

This Is a new shelter that actually has a shower and a second level and is within walking distance to a visitors center the has full services during the day.

We're making great progress in VA.

Lots of love,

Trolley Stop

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Journal Entry #48

Sunday, May 15 - Day 52 - Mile 505.1 - VA 603, Fox Creek

Onward into Virginia!!!

Had a terrific time with family, friends and fellow hikers at Trail Days but now it's time to continue the journey. (funny...no one seemed to want to join us...except Anna)

Another milestone...500 miles. Only 41 miles to the 25% point.

This morning Jane drove Buffalo Bobby and me up to Elk Garden and dropped us off in a light rain and fog to continue our journey.

As has been our good fortune the rain stopped in a couple of hours and ultimately the sun came out. As we crossed 603 there was a guy offering rides to the local church hostel. We took him up on it, so once again we're in a hostel and had a good meal at a local restaurant.

Were hoping for a good rest tonight and a really strong hiking day tomorrow. Were still a bit sluggish from all the time off and good food in Damascus.

The woods today were beautiful and ever changing. Early on with the rain I managed to have my 6th fall into the mud. No harm done, but my clothes are a mess. Likely no one will notice.

Tonight we met Circuit Rider and Sherlock two hikers Buffalo Bobby ran into on his two previous hikes. Circuit Rider is a Baptist Pastor and Sherlock (Lay Minister) has his degree in Divinity and is on his way to becoming a Pastor in the future. They met about 8 years ago and have been hiking the trail ministering to the hikers and helping out at hostels since. Two terrific guys.

Well it's Sunday night and the "work week" begins tomorrow so I'd best get some sleep.

Love, Peace, Joy & Happiness to all,

Trolley Stop

Journal Entry #47

Saturday, May 14 - Day 51 - Mile 488.2 - Elk Garden (no change / "0" day)

Started the day with a big breakfast then on to Damascus to meet family and friends for Trail Days. We had a fun day just hanging out and checking out the new gear and events of the day. The kids enjoyed the playground, Ice cream and other food. Bailey, Claire, Logan & Jen all went on the high bounce ride and had a great time.

Buffalo Bobby joined us for a good part of the day. It was fun to have him meet some of the clan.

We met Hot Drinks, Silver Hiker and Purple Haze who are all just a bit behind us. We've been wondering where they were. I think I forgot to mention that Guardian started back on the trail at Hot Springs last Sunday, May 8th. He's going to continue until the really warm weather hits and then continue his section hike next year.

Heard from Drew Murphy this morning by phone but we never connected here today. Didn't have any AT&T service to follow up in town. (Drew, if your reading this, things couldn't be going any better. So far, despite the crazy weather, the hiking has been great. I'll give you a call when I can)

One of the big highlights of the day was meeting our new Grandson Edward. He's perfect and I'm sure Beth will put a photo if him on the blog. I didn't get to hike with him, but he did make to his first Trail Days at only 22 days old.

Scott & Marylou brought me a shirt which was printed with "Trolley Stop - AT Thru Hiker". Now that I have the shirt it's official.

Jane brought so much food I don't think I'll be hungry for hours!

Thanks everyone for traveling so far and making this such a special day.

Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,

Trolley Stop

tent city at the hostel in Damascus

Buffalo Bobby chatting with Don Crabtree

Trolley Stop and Carolyn Crabtree

Trolley Stop and his wife, Jane

Trolley Stop and his grandson, Logan

Trolley Stop and his daughter, Beth (the Blogger)

Grandpa Trolley Stop and Grandma Jane with 4 out of their 13 grandkids

Trolley Stop and his son, Jimmy

Trolley Stop and his daughters, Beth and Marylou (the baby)

Trolley Stop with 5 of his grandkids

Trolley Stop with everyone!

relaxing after all that excitement

Journal Entry # 46

Trolley Stop - May 13, 2010

Roger - March 23, 2010

Friday, May 13 - Day 50 - Mile 488.2 - Elk Gardens

Today we finished our hike back to Damascus and met Family and friends for Trail Days. Tomorrow, May 14th we'll "0" here then hike on Sunday morning from Elk Gardens where we were dropped off on Thursday.

Buffalo Bobby was able to return to the Hostel we were in earlier in the week.  We'll get together tomorrow for the fun and then get back on the trail Sunday morning after breakfast.

I was surprised by my Son, Jim, Daughter-in-law Jen and Granddaughters Claire & Anna. We had fun catching up a bit and they will stay for tomorrows festivities.

Our Daughter Beth, new Grandson Edward and Grandson Logan as well as my Daughter Marylou, Son-in-Law Scott and Granddaughter Bailey will also be here.  The Crabtree's, Don & Carolyn will round out the crowd coming to spur me on.   

Trolley Stop

Journal Entry #45

Thursday, May 12 - Day 49 - Mile 488.2 - Elk Garden

Today we were driven about 24 miles north of Damascus so we can walk back today and tomorrow for Trail Days.

The day is perfect. We walked from Elk Gardens - Mile 488.2 back to Saunders Shelter at mile 473.8 a 14.4 mile day. Tomorrow we'll finish with 9.4 miles back to Damascus to celebrate Trail Days with friends and family. We were ready to stop after 7 1/2 hours of hiking today. I didn't get much sleep last night with all the celebrating going on around the hostel.

There's a lot of activity on the trail with visiting past thru hikers coming and going into town. Its amazing how far some have traveled to hike a section of the trail and spend this weekend in Damascus for Trail Days.

Trolley Stop

Hiking back to Damascus

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Journal Entry #44

Wednesday, May 11 - Day 48 - Mile 464.7 (no change - "0" day)

Last evening a big rain storm hit with lots of lightning & thunder. Heavy rain continued through the night, but once again our good fortune continued since we were warm and dry in a hostel.

Today's a good day to sort gear and check out alternative lighter weight solutions. Need to get my pack weight down. Shouldn't drop winter gear until Pearisburg, VA so this is going to be a challenge.

Another good breakfast and a laid back day. 2nd "0".

This afternoon the Baptist is putting on a cookout so once again we'll be eating well.

Anxious to get back on the trail.

Trolley Stop

hiker hostel

hungry hikers waiting to eat!

Journal Entry #43

Tuesday, May 10 - Day 47 - Mile 464.7 - Damascus, VA

Crossed over the North Carolina / Virginia boarder early this morning and made it into Damascus. We're bunking at the Baptist Church hostel right in town tonight and tomorrow night and the will hopefully get a ride 20 or 25 miles north and hike back to Damascus on Thursday and Friday.

I'm currently hanging out at the laundry after having had a wonderful breakfast of coffee, pancakes, sausage, OJ and a banana. I held off finishing up with ice cream as Buffalo Bobby did.

The day is beautiful and hikers are flowing into town. It's amazing how many we know. By Friday this town will be hopping.

Thought we'd have phone service now that we're in VA and in a large town, but alas AT&T continues to disappoint us.

Tonight we all went to a local restaurant and had plenty to eat and lots of interesting trail talk. Met a new hiker named Lieutenant Dan who looks just like the character in Forest Gump. We had a huge table of happy campers both young and old.

F. Prince joined other denominations in town to pray for the hikers. He is going to join us for breakfast in the morning.

All around...lots of fun here.


Trolley Stop

Trail days!!

Pizza, burgers, and beer (not on a log!)

Lieutenant Dan

Lone Star still not full

father figure

Journal Entry #42

Monday, May 9 - Day 46 - Mile 459.1- Campsite

Left camp about 7:45 and hit the next shelter about a half hour later. We chatted with some southbound section hikers there then moved on.

Later this morning we met F. Prince who we helped by giving him some Excedren for his back pain yesterday. Evidently it worked as he said we saved his life.

We met F. Prince at the next shelter during lunch and learned a bit more about him. He's 71 and a Jesuit who served in Micronesia for most of his career. He currently lives in New Orleans and was granted permission to section hike the trail. He started March 9th and will finish tomorrow in Damascus for this year.

He wound up camping with Buffalo Bobby and me tonight and I had a nice conversation with him. He's lost 50 lbs in the last two months. Buffalo Bobby asked if he knew any good Catholic jokes and he came up with a good one. It may be just a coincidence but thunder roared in the background.

Once again we camped at the side of the trail in a really nice spot just short of the NC / VA border. We'll hit the trail early and move on to Damascus.

Love to all,

Trolley Stop

Journal Entry #41

Sunday, May 8 - Day 45 - Mile 444.1 - Campsite

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY! To all the mothers reading this blog...I hope today is as special as you are.

Another great day. Broke camp about 8:00AM and had a good hike up Iron Mountain. Staying at another campsite tonight.

Once again we had some trail magic as we crossed a road near the end of our day. Ice cold sodas & cookies. Our good fortune holds out.

Right now it's about 6:15, the sun came out and we're ready to hit the sleeping bag.

Only about 20 miles from Damascus. Hoping for better AT&T phone service and Internet in VA. Georgia and North Carolina was almost non existent.

Trolley Stop

Journal Entry #40

Saturday, May 7 - Day 44 - Mile 429.9 - Spring/Campsite

Was able to call Jane tonight and learned that our Uncle Bill (94) died yesterday. I understand my cousin Alice, who has taken care of him since the fall, asked if he'd like ice cream with his dinner and he said "No, I'll be having it in heaven". I fully expect to see him on the trail since everyone out here says the thoughts of ice cream on the trail is like heaven.

Had a wonderful time at Bob Peoples Hostel last evening. One of the highlights of the trip so far. Definitely a must stop for anyone hiking north or south.

Quite a few hikers, young and old, are hiking hurt. Sprained ankles, shin splints, pulled tendons, knee problems, serious bug bites, etc. It's amazing the courage some of these folks have. For most, leaving the trail is just not an option. There are even several hiking using crutches. One fellow was thrown by a horse two weeks before starting his hike and broke his leg...that didn't stop him!

Started out early this morning and hiked past Laurel Fork Falls. A beautiful spot. Much of the mornings hike was along water.

At about lunch time we came out on Watauga Lake just in time to benefit from trail magic. A family who had a Daughter that hiked the AT two years ago has set up to provide grilled chicken, cheese potatoes, baked beans, cookies, beer & water, etc. Vegemite was already there when Buffalo Bobby & I showed up. We had a lot of wonderful conversation with the family and left with renewed energy to finish our days hike. Couldn't have been better. Thanks to all who go out of their way to help and surprise thru hikers! It's hard to imagine how good real food tastes after eating trail food for a few days. Top that off with people happy to provide it and our day is made.

The rest of the hike today was pretty strenuous (as usual). At about 5:30 we just pitched our tents beside the trail, had dinner and crawled into our sleeping bags. Hope we don't get rain tonight as predicted.

We should be in Virginia early in the week. We'll likely take some time in Damascus and then hike beyond before Friday afternoon to avoid some of the crowds leaving Sunday from Damascus. Unless we do that, we understand shelters and camp sites will be very crowded.

North Carolina / Tennessee through all they could at us an we survived! Very pleased with everything so far. Quite an adventure for a guy from New York City.

Trolley Stop


horsing around

laurel falls

at laurel falls

crossing watauga dam

watauga dam overflow

trail magic!