Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mile 722.6 - Kent, CT

Today, we got trail magic. This time, though, it wasn't from a stranger, but from our family!

My sister QuickQuestion, brother-in-law Yankee, nephew Bones and niece Curly Locks picked us (including Fire Marshall - we have reunited!) up from the trail in Kent and took us home to shower, launder and eat home-cooked goods. It has been glorious!

The first thing Bones said ... You smell like onions! I really felt for them because they endured an hour-long car ride with us before our showers. To say we were ripe (6 days without) is an understatement.

My sister is definitely a hostess with the mostest. She had endless cherry cokes, fresh fruit, ziti, meatballs, desserts to take on the trail ... We are ever so grateful!!

We turned their house upside down, spreading gear about and taking care of town chores. And I have to add, when they picked us up today, they were at the wrong trailhead. Because I sent them to the wrong one!! Call it a blond moment!

So tomorrow, we are back on the trail. And not only will we finish CT and enter NY, but we will be finished with 33% of the trail tomorrow!

Will update our CT stats in a few days! Fort Montgomery, here we come!

Location:Head of Meadow Rd,Newtown,United States

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mile 693.3 and another state done!

We have entered CT! Which means we knocked another state off the list!

Massachusetts was pretty good to us, especially for a state that never ranked high on our list. But the wilderness of Mass is something to talk about. Quite flat with a few notable climbs thrown in there from time to time. One day, we walked right by a blueberry farm and the lady who owns it gives 3 cookies to every thru hiker! We also picked blueberries!

We thought the trail in Mass was really well maintained and the shelters were also very nice! I always heard thru hikers talk about Upper Goose Pond Cabin and now I know why! It was free to stay there, but there are caretakers and they made us guacamole at dinner and blueberry pancakes for breakfast (with the blueberries we picked)!

Actually, we stayed in 2 other free places. One was in Cheshire, Mass. Our Catholic friends will be amused to know we slept on the floor of a Catholic church parish hall! It was a nice escape from the heat!!

The other free place was in Dalton, Mass. You walk right through the town and Deal was picking up his new backpack from a trail angel's house. When we arrived at noon, the pack had not. So we went to lunch and it was there when we got back. But after we got all situated, the sky opened up and downpoured! The temptation was too much to just stay in town at the trail angel's house ... Fire Marshall, on the other hand, kept going. So we have been separated from him most of the way through Mass.

Of course, we did get caught in a torrential thunderstorm the next day, so I suppose we were due for it ...

Here's our summary of Massachusetts:
90.4 miles
5 days
3 nights in a tent
1 night in a shelter
2 nights in a hostel
1 shower
2 dig-a-hole poops in the woods for Deal
1 iPod day of hiking
120 Northbounders passed
2 bunnies (while we were on roads)
2 snakes
12 orange newts (which I found out are actually called red-spotted newts, or effs, and are the only salamander native to North America!)
1 snail

On Sunday, we have greatness to look forward to! My sister is picking us up to clean and feed us for the night!! We can't wait for the break and for family love!!

Rumor is, the team of hikers will be reunited, as I think I enticed Fire Marshall with mention of home cooking and he may wait for us to catch up and come to my sister's with us!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy birthday Mama K/Short-on-Coffee

My mom turned 66 today!!

However, she has the energy of a 46-year-old! Maybe it's from all the coffee she drinks ...

I wanted to give her a shout out because she is always a very thoughtful and loving person, but she is especially important to us while we are on the trail. She is handling all our mail drops, which is not the most fun job. She has to keep track of where we are and we are always making last-minute requests until the 11th hour of sending. All the people at the post office know her and know what we are doing. She is doing a great job with it all and we can't thank her enough!

Happy birthday mom! We love you!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three states down! 11 to go!

Greetings from Mt. Greylock at 3,491 feet, the highest point in Massachusetts, and mile 602.5.

We are done with Vermont and entered Mass yesterday! The rest of VT was fine ... It was certainly hot and we did duck into another town for a night because we were just parched and many of the water sources were dry.

The mud everyone complained about in VT was nothing in our eyes. If it doesn't swallow you whole, it's not bad. Maybe the heat has dried it all out, or we are just jaded by Maine's June mud.

The bugs (horse/deer flies) on the other hand, hold some fierce competition to Maine. There was a 25-mile section in the past few days where we thought they may actually kill us. On a daily basis, we do have 1-2 flying around our head while hiking. But, this time, it was no less than 5 and up to 25 at any given time! And they were biting no less. Such jerks. It'd be one thing if they helped carry our packs ...

The only other hiccup in VT was that Deal's pack strap broke on Thursday. I know, I know, unbelievable, right? Gregory (the pack company) is sending a new one that we will pick up in a day or 2, but Fire Marshall & Deal did a temporary fix.

Anyways, here's our summary of Vermont:
149.8 miles
9 days
3 nights in a tent
3 nights in a shelter

2 nights in a hostel

2 showers
3 hitchhikes
115 NOBOs (Northbounders) passed
25 Soy Joy bars distributed
1 river crossing (knee deep)
1 fall (Steadee)
5 dig-a-hole poop in the woods for Deal/2 for Steadee
7 doses of trail magic
1 iPod day for Steadee and 2 for Deal
2 silver AT markers
1 snake
1 turkey
1 possum
Lots of toads, but one the size of my hand
Tons of orange newts (in one 10-mile section)

Strange items found in VT's woods: old stove, unidentified metal equipment in an old stone foundation, metal bucket, plastic bucket, old rusted jeep, old farming equipment, white plastic chair, mining equipment

As for special requests for care packages, since cold drinks are not an option, we are open to anything! Home-baked goods are always good ... In fact, we are picking up rum cake tomorrow that SILAdventure and DocDoc sent.

But we just like any sweets. Gummy or sour candies, dried fruit, yogurt balls, candy bars (we consume at least one everyday), drink mixes (like Gatorade or iced tea). And, Deal is not allergic to nuts, but can't digest them.

The other (better) option would be for y'all to show up randomly on the trail with cold drinks!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mail Drop Update

Remember that whole list I put together for mail drops? Please disregard. Well, for now. Right now, we are resupplying more so in towns and not relying on the post office. We do LOVE packages and note from y'all, but right now we are just moving too quick to keep the dates updated.

We know we will be stopping at the post office in Fort Montgomery, NY, as originally planned (and hopefully meeting up with my old friend Shadow!!). Our estimated arrival is between Aug. 2-4. Again, you would address letters/packages like this:
Patrice or Justin La Vigne
General Delivery
Fort Montgomery, New York
Please hold for SOBO Thru Hiker - ETA Aug. 2

Thank you again for following us!!

Location:Lye Brook Rd,Manchester Center,United States

Mile 537.7 - Days 40-45 - Vermont

Hello from Manchester Center, VT! We hiked 10 miles today to get here and are spending the night at the Green Mountain House. We already ate lunch in town and resupplied, and now we showered and are relaxing at this awesome hostel for the night!!

First, I must address a few concerns. Yes, it is hot. We have heard about the country-wide heat wave. But we are hiking on. We appreciate all of your concerns and be assured, we are taking care!

Second of all, I apologize when I use acronyms ... It's just easier, especially when I'm typing on my iPhone. I will try to explain more often. For example, a NOBO is a northbounder, a person who has hiked from Georgia to wherever we see them. So far, we have seen close to 250 NOBOs! It's hard to keep count anymore, since we see so many people everyday and don't stop to talk to everyone. But we see about 10-20 NOBOs each day and they all tell us there is still a large "bubble" of NOBOs behind them!

Anyways, our first 6 days in Vermont have been terrific! This has to do with many factors, including a very user-friendly terrain and lots of TRAIL MAGIC!

We are still rolling with Fire Marshall. And he still beats us to camp every night (no matter how hard we try to keep up) and gets the fire going!

The first few days in VT, we walked through rolling farmlands. A very different landscape than we had been seeing in ME and NH. Farmlands also mean wild raspberries!!! What a treat they have been. Another bonus is that we passed through mini towns and got lunch from a deli one day, a farm stand another and a restaurant another!!

The Vermont forest has just been gorgeous, with tall pine trees that seem to reach the sky. The ups and downs feel much easier on our knees and feet. I love VT for their switchback trails, instead of making us go straight up and down. Plus, this state even has FLAT sections!! There has been blowdown (see picture below for visual) and some road walking, which we don't like. But if it means going by a store, we'll take it! Overall, we are pulling bigger mileage days ... Our biggest so far has been 21.5!

We did have one night and day of rain/thunder (whoever is sending the non-rain weather vibes, keep 'em coming!) And of course, it was the day we went over Killington. Everyone had been saying that's VT's best view, but we saw nothing and cruised over the mountain as quickly as possible.

The AT meets up with the Long Trail for 100 miles in VT. The Long Trail is just as I remember it ... Muddy and pretty much a stream. I hear the trail further south is even muddier, but I am interested to see how it compares to Maine.

As for trail magic, we came upon cookies outside a house we passed on day 40, cherry cokes and gatorades in a cooler in the woods on day 40 and cookies on day 44. We did miss out on some trail magic drinks on day 43, but I'm okay with that. It was raining that day and we weren't looking for cold drinks. Plus, later that night, someone came to the shelter and took our garbage! That's trail magic right there!

Now, the best trail magic happened on day 42. We hiked 8 miles to get to McGrath's Pub (right off the trail) for lunch. Second Nature and Grateful mentioned they might want to meet up with us since it was a Sunday and we were still close to their house. I called them from the pub and they were already on their way! So that afternoon, they hiked the 7ish miles to our shelter. But before they left down the trail to go back home, they presented the three of us with cokes and oranges!! I can't really convey what this means to a thru hiker! Best trail angels ever!

We have less than 60 miles left in VT ... The states are just flying by it seems! Tomorrow, when we hit mile 545.2, we will be 25% done!! Yippee skippee!!

Location:Main St,,United States

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Two states down!!

What an awesome ZERO day. We can't thank our host and hostess Second Nature and Grateful enough. They were awesome and took very good care of us!

Checking another state off the list feels so good. 160 miles, 13 days! Like I said, NH was very good to us and we enjoyed it immensely. The Appalachian Mountain Club and the Dartmouth Outing Club could take some lessons from the Maine AT Club on blowdowns and white blazes, but at least NH was 1% bog and didn't have any crazy detours.

Here's my summary of NH:

7 nights in a tent

2 nights in a shelter

2 nights in a hostel
2 nights in a hut
105 NOBOs passed (and supposedly, we still haven't hit the BUBBLE!! We even ran into people whose blog I was reading before we left! That was pretty cool!)
6 falls for Steadee, 4 falls for Deal
3 showers
2 dig-a-hole poops for Deal, 1 for Steadee

2 grouse
1 partridge

Trail Magic: leftover dinner, granola bars from weekenders, cooler in the woods with chips & cookies, tuna sandwich, banana, chips & peanuts from the owners of The Cabin in Andover, ME, whiskey from weekenders, gatorade in a parking area, sodas for sale from a house off the trail
Weird things you find in NH wilderness: broken TV, large sleeping bag, fleece jacket, sock, metal fork, broken glass, unidentified metal objects

So yes, we thoroughly enjoyed our zero day. Fire Marshall completed the McDonalds Dollar Menu Challenge (10 items ... took him all of 15 minutes to eat)! Deal soaked his aches and pains in the hot tub ...

So, until next time ... we have 149.8 miles in Vermont up next!!