Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sugar Plum Fairies

I'm sitting in a chair built for someone under the age of 10. It puts me at the right height for my homemade closet door/ kayak stand table I've been working on (although my knees don't fit under it). I have the internet on this laptop and my cousin's high school senior portraits I'm editing on my barely functional laptop beside this one. December wind blows by the window on a dark cold Etzler Road. Brett Dennen's Ain't Gonna Lose you croons from these speakers, The Nutcracker hums under Photoshop, Ani Difranco's Grey pulses in my heart. I am currently some mix of the three.
Every silver lining's got a ... touch of grey. Life needs both, right? Silver. Grey. The mid-tones to a rare occurrence; black and white. I've been feeling kindred with a brisk /slow shuffled beat of urban grey landscapes where pedestrians' breath resembles car exhaust. A place with rosy cheeks, chapped lips, coffee, and scarves.
I'm wondering if it's part of my pendulum; if months of green, dirt, water pulsing is swinging me to the other side; fashion, people, pavement. There's a sign at Neel's Gap, the first hostel north of Georgia on the Appalachian Trail, that says "Wherever you are, be all there".
As beautiful and dear as Botetourt county will always be I am restless in a childhood bedroom with no definitive map for the next bit of my journey. I'm trying to conjure the strength and perspective to not settle in any area of my life. I'm trying to work hard enough to afford spreading my wings under a warm spring sun.
Christmas feels more grey than silver. I finished the Chronicles of Narnia in November. I've been thinking a lot about the last book, where the friends of Narnia walk through the stable, through a brightly lit door, only to find all this time they've been living in a pale reflection of the "true narnia". I'm working on that motion.
I have a vague memory of warm hearts, sparkling long nights, magic. Although it seems far away, it's worth fighting for, so slowly and surely I hope to make my way back.
I hope you have all those things through the holidays; warmth, a sense of belonging, tasty sweets, glittering hope and light in a dark time.
Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I'm in the Daleville VA area rambling with good friends and catching up with my family. Hopefully I'll get a job soon and nestle in for the winter. I'm planning to work, save money, then get back to Fontana Dam sometime in March or April and wrap up this AT traverse. I miss living outside but it's kind of nice to wake up in a queen size pillowtop bed, under a down comforter and quilt made by my great grandmother, roll over, and see the snow falling through the window on the Appalachians. Geronimo is happy with life now too. We both hike and ramble a lot but spend a significant amount of time being couch potatoes. I set out on the AT hoping to hike the whole thing by Thanksgiving, which is also my birthday this year. When I was in Georgia and realized that wasn't going to happen I had to reevaluate my journey and philosophy. This shifting of heart and mind was pretty hard for about a month. I am at peace, even in happy awe with how things are shaping up. Despite them constantly turning down unexpected avenues they've all been beautiful, shaping, with good stories, so for now I say - bring it. I may not have walked the whole AT before turning 24 BUT as it is I may get to live AT life more or less for 12 months instead of 5-6. AND I get to travel to Keyser WV to be with my extended family for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of all time. So during this holiday season I wish you the best of times, most unexpected times, and beautiful wild stories to last- a lifetime =)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


All went pretty well on my way down to Atkins. Luke was stellar company for the drive and great to catch up with. I unloaded me and Geronimo, Luke said glad it's you and not me, and we were off. It was freezing and snow flurrying when I walked under 81 but I figured it's November, Virginia, won't be a big deal. Snowed all night, I got 14 miles in btw 1-7 to the second shelter (the first one no longer exists). I actually crossed paths with about 3 SOBOs, I wanted to tell them they were crazy, but the look in our eyes said we both already knew that. I was feeling pretty good about the distance covered, stoked to experience the full gamut of weather on the AT, and very happy to pitch the tent under a roof. Tuesday I woke up to about 4 inches of snow and temps in the teens. It was windy and bitter cold so I thought... stay warm today, hike tomorrow. I spent the day getting fire wood, water, keeping the dog warm, trying to dry out my stuff. Actually those tasks are pretty tough in the wintry weather. The water was far away and hard to keep from freezing once retrieved. Every time I collected wood I'd get covered in snow, staying wet or damp most of the day. Drying out my stuff by the fire was involved because I wanted it close enough to get warm and dry but far enough not to catch fire. My gloves and shoe laces ended up getting a bit charred. I was banking on the next day being sunny and 40, snow will melt I thought, and I'll do a 19, then 14 ish to get to Bland, day dreaming crazy crushin days to get to Pearisburg. It never got to 30 degrees Tuesday. Wednesday I woke up antsy to get out of there, packed up despite the cold and snow, put my feet in sandwich Ziplocs then inside my shoes.... my best attempt at waterproofing. The sun peeked thru in the morning, as the day went on it got colder and cloudier. It took me till 2pm to get to Chestnut Knob shelter (only 9 miles). As I hiked on from Knob Maul the snow got deeper and deeper as I went up and down mountain ridges. By the time I was on the top of Chestnut Knob / brushy mountain the snow was up to my knees. The shelter was four sided, I had to muscle the door to open it against all the snow. I tuned into the radi o on my mp3 player. The forecast was another cold one and more snow the next day, probably that way for the next week. I decided this situation was no good right around the time I saw houses to the left of the ridge. Houses and I road I thought, the woods are beautiful, but I better get out of here while I still have feeling in my digits. I veered off the AT, skied/ slid down the mountain. The first man I crossed paths with was a local dairy farm owner on his way to hunt. "Are you lost" he asked from his drivers seat through the window. I explained my situation to him, which apparently he found wilder at every sentence. He kinda stared at me open mouthed, but eventually gave me a ride to Burkes Garden General Store. They invited me and Geronimo in, fed us grilled cheese and hot dogs and let us thaw out by their wood stove. The owner and his mother were the picture of warm genuine southern hospitality and exchanged smiles and stories with me. Fischa ended up driving 3 hours thru the mountain roads to pick me up and bring me... back to Dalevile... back to my parents; which is where I am now. First thought : jimminee Christmas that was beautiful. Second thought: winter thru hiking is not my cup of tea. So no more thru hike attempts in that kind of weather, I'm probably holed up around here working intermittently until warmer weather returns. I still want to hike, still feel like I won't move out west till this journey is complete... but life is unpredictable. Stay tuned =)

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's not logical.

There seems to be every logical reason for me not to hike. 10 forecast seems to be enough
Nov 17 Snow Shower / Wind 33°/19° 50 %
Nov 18 AM Snow Showers / Wind 25°/13° 30 %
Nov 19 Mostly Sunny 35°/21° 10 %
Nov 20 Mostly Cloudy 39°/19° 10 %
Nov 21 Rain / Snow Showers 36°/16° 30 %
Nov 22 Few Snow Showers 40°/19° 30 %
Nov 23 Partly Cloudy 38°/29° 20 %
Nov 24 Rain / Snow Showers 47°/24° 60 %
Nov 25 Mostly Sunny 46°/27° 20 %
Nov 26 Partly Cloudy 44°/26° 10 %

10 days... then it's Keyser WV for Thanksgiving, no matter what I do the next ten days. I ran Camelot yesterday; the stretch of trail between 220-Rte 11; my first steps of this thru hike. I feel weird even calling my journey a thru hike anymore, but.. for all intensive purposes you know what I mean. I crossed paths with Homer Witcher, a man who thru hiked with his wife and 2 young children years ago. We hugged. "I thought I was the only one crazy enough to be out here right now" he said. "Nah, I'm pretty crazy too" we laughed. We briefly talked about the trail "I've seen a bunch of southbounders out there, mostly guys. I can tell they're lonely. I think they'd quit at the drop of a dime if they could. You know I think sometimes it takes more courage to quit than to keep hiking" he said.
Yeah. So I surprisingly ran the whole stretch mp3 jammin out with Norah Jones, Damien Rice and other mellow beautiful songwriters. Those hills that caused me so much trouble during cross country and beyond seemed shorter, smaller, more forgiving. I thought about how they led me to Shenandoah, to Smart mountain, to Franconia Ridge, to Bemis Mountain, to Katahdin. By the time I turned to run back my mp3 picked upbeat songs... baby please don't go down to New Orleans well I love you so baby please don't go.
I don't want to hike in the cold. I don't want to hike in the dark. I don't want to hike alone. You work with what you are given. I want to hike. I want to walk the trail more than anything else right now, so I'll have to deal with the elements.
I can't explain this to you. I can't explain this to me.
Insight from my friends:
Birdbath-Don't think, just hike.

Hot Cheese-Everyone has a hardest part of their journey, something meant for only them; something they must confront and overcome, maybe this is mine. Maybe for some reason there are deep seeded parts of me that need to get through a season like this.

Bones-the thru-hiker is a master of adaptation, fierce as campfire embers,malleable as earth in a stream, cold but emotional, vulnerable,impervious to the elements...breathing air, allowing sunshine to reveal, darkness to obscure...a ghost, a wraith, a living, breathingbeing....

Low-I've hesitated to just come out and say "C'mon Bound, it's time to walk", but you know - at this point I feel like I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't. THE TRAIL IS THERE FOR YOU - WAITING. And you are so clearly ready to go.

So go. And don't just go saying "I'm hoping to do some more VA miles". Go saying "I'm walking to Dville", or "I'm walking through the Smokies". Walk with conviction and destination. Walk so that the trail knows you are there.

New Hampshire is gone sister. Peace. Maine... gone... New England... history. What you have now is a life on the horizon - Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Almost Heaven, North to Montana. There is a trail that is leading you right up to all of those places, and it's just outside your door. "I don't think I leave the East until I finish this". Your words, not mine.

When I was in Erwin - I looked myself in the mirror and said "Low - Man the Fuck Up". I got back on trail the next day - so proud that I was able to give myself the tough love I needed - and also that I called myself by my trail name for the first time out loud in private.

Bound - Man the Fuck Up. Do what we both know you're going to do - which is walk. Stop fighting the trail - the current. Let go. Let the river take you. Let the mountains lead you.


Hasty-Don't forget to look up.

So it's back to Atkins for me, against all logical reason. If I don't freeze and lose my digits to frostbite I'll update again prob around thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It should all be so simple, but you'd rather make it hard.

Wow. So I haven't been writing much because I don't know what's in my head anymore, much less how to explain it, especially to put it in writing.
I went to Emory with Geronimo via Heather a couple weeks ago. After an eventful election night at my old home Hasty dropped me under the sign in the Damascus town park and I walked north. It was a beautiful solitary 5 day 80 some mile walk. The woods are grey, mostly cloudy, cold wind whips through them. A few topaz colored leaves straggle on bare tree limbs. When the sun breaks through the clouds in rare moments it is epic. I heard it would rain 4+ days and my best childhood friend passionately wanted me to celebrate her 25th birthday with her. SO I took a ride from Atkins back to Daleville.
I've been tossing around ideas, feelings, desires, options, etc around in my head since being in Daleville. I know I want the trail. I know I'm weary of walking it in the current conditions. I may return to see if I can overcome that feeling and reconnect with my original desire to hike. If that doesn't go well I'll probably postpone things until spring shifts circumstances. I do not plan to leave this area (or cut my hair =) until the miles are walked. I'll keep ya posted as best I can. Thanks for your continued care and support. ~B

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wild at Heart

My estranged funk broke around Wednesday. The latter part of this week and weekend were filled with good friends, great times, and lots of smiles. I ran with my sister, went to church twice, hiked Alta Mons with 3 wild dogs, Kindergarten field trip to pumpkin patch/ corn maze/ orchard, shopped with Cindy and Carson, rocked out with my favorite flapper Carrie, trail magiced Mooch and Buffet after scooping them off the side of 220, helped Amy move outta Allendale, Indain Buffet, 8mm films / campfire at Tyler's, James River adventure with Doug, etc etc. Virginia is .... (no words for it). My hope is to return to walking the AT in SOVA the first part of the week. My lil camera is still out of commission, but Geronimo's itchin to see wild ponies... so we'll just see what manifests itself. BTW HAPPY NOVEMBER!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gamble everything for Love

Labor Day Weekend 07 in Grayson Highlands

I haven't done too much since being in Virginia other than cook and hang out with my family. It's strange and disorienting. I have hopes to hike s'more before Christmas but right now things are very fluid. I am beginning to feel a little better physically. My camera was sent off for 2-4 weeks to be assessed and hopefully repaired. "I guess you use this a lot" the Best Buy Geek Squad said... "yeah, I smiled sheepishly... I hike a lot... that's my adventure camera." "You got this in May," he continued "the serial number is worn off".
Geronimo has been the best to bum around with, always ready for trips, rest, or ridiculousness I have a strong feeling I won't return to the AT without him.

A song I first heard from a guy who's become one of my closest fellows on this AT adventure; a happy song

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Painfully Beautiful

Where are you? How are you doing? folks ask me. Generally I like to give people the report they want to hear; I'm happy. I love it here. Weather's great. Company amazing. Heart's alive.
The past few weeks since coming to Georgia have unraveled in an unforeseen manner. I unloaded tired in Gainsville GA from the bus and approached Springer thru Amacoloa. Spent the first night alone in the Springer Mtn Shelter. Awoke to rain, fog, cold, hiked 13ish miles anyway. Since then, honestly, things have been rough.
Anxious/ excited/ confident I went to GA looking to hike strong, fast, happy. By the third morning I was throwing up with a cold and jaded about a sketchy run in with an armed local. I hiked on.
There is an indescribable, ego, culture, occasional confinement that the AT conjures. Mostly it is strength; the desire and drive to try harder when all is lost, the passion to dig deeper when your body aches, the miles are long, nights are cold, smiles sparse, and the echoes of your absent friends whisper in your soul wakeful hours. There is strength in the hardship you know you've come thru, and a courage rising out of the mountains and heavens around you, urging you to move another step, journey on.
That being said, there comes a time, for me anyway, all the strength, grandeur, beauty of the trail is not enough. After many slow long days of being humbled between Springer and Fontana Dam I have retreated to Virginia for some rest and refocusing. I do not plan to "quit" the trail. I do not necessarily plan to continue in the "traditional" form (aka a straight line north Fontana-Daleville). I am not in a place right now to plan period.
I have decided I want to walk Southern Appalachia with my heart. The remaining quarter of the trail I have not traversed I have been saving for years, months, to experience, enjoy, in an all encompassing wholesome way.
I can't do that when I'm sick, so I hope to return to the TC (trail corridor) when I am not sick. I'm also hoping to walk many of those miles with friends who can do a week here and there and possibly Mr.Geronimo himself =)
How am I? Beat up and searching. Where am I? Somewhere safe and warm I want to be. How's the south? Painfully Beautiful.
Despite the nights being 20-30 degrees and days windy and sunny most of the leaves thru the mountains are still green, save an overall tawnyness of a draught-ridden summer (yellows and browns). The light is lovely; a rich, gold-pink saturation of the landscape. I spent a night last week on a bald mountain top Cherokees went to to talk their gods. There were meteor showers, face melting sunset and sunrise, wind, light, fierce frigid beauty.
I have not been totally alone. I have met many groups of men hiking together who know one another from church. I even had the opportunity to participate in campfire bible study one of my first nights in NC; an enriching, comfortable, inspiring experience (some of the first christian camaraderie I've had since moving out of Allendale in April).
So I decided after a day of river walking and mentally wrestling I would meet my Dad in a few days with the intention of putting myself back together before figuring out how the journey goes from here. The day I met him, to top it all off, my camera quit working. I felt like Artex was sinking in the swamp of sadness, NES style. Pretty much on the brink of complete breakdown my dad and I weaved our way back north thru Tennessee country roads.
So that's what's up. Thanks for your love, understanding and support. I'll let ya know what's next when I know, for now however... I'm reaching a peace of existence.

Two more thoughts:
On my shakedown hike in the Dolly Sods with Carrie & Big Al I stumbled upon this verse
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

A lonely sad uncomfortable night between the NOC and Fontana I stumbled upon this verse
"Thus says the Lord: 'The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built..." Jeremiah 31:2-4

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rivers Run Thru it

Shifting my entire mind, heart, journey these past days. I've made it to the Natahala Outdoor Center on the beautiful Natahala River in North Carolina. It has been hard times hiking, pill popping, crawling into my sleeping bag to escape the cold and dark. It is beautiful, it is hard, it is - a driving force to soul search and dig for strength. I'm rethinking my reasons for each step, I'm trying to shake the confines of "the appalchian trail culture" and make this walk, these views, these moments, MINE. So I might be doing some weird stuff the next couple months. Am I sick of the AT? never. I'm only sick of feeling sick and tired. Thanks for your continued love, support, and understanding. Know that all of you are never far from my thoughts, heart, and prayers, especially in these hard times. I love you. As always - I'll keep you posted =)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Southern Comfort

Still in Hiawassee, still sick physically but doing alright overall. In all my philosphy and rambling I forgot to tell you guys a few things. The men who run the Hiawassee Inn make me cinnamon toast and hot chocolate. My first evening in town I dined with 2 other hikers at a family steakhouse... the buffet was chicken pot pie, collard greens, mashed potates, rolls, cornbread, pinto beans, beets, fried chicken, salad, apple cobbler, cheesecake. The waitress was prompt on refilling our pink lemonade, iced tea, and DrPepper. I started looking around the room- wooden craft signs saying "the power of prayer" "god bless you" and other Jesus paraphanalia hung on the walls. Around 7pm the room of mostly senior citizens cleared out, I followed a strange murmer of music to the bathroom. The entire foyer was decorated with collector's plates, paintings, of Gone witht he Wind- even a life size cardboard replica of Scarlett O Hara. The music- an everyone's welcome evening gospel bluegrass session. =) I started noticing this town more after that. Nearly everyone tells me "God Bless you". It is written on the side of car mechanic garages and beauty salons. The baptist church is perhaps the biggest building in town, after Ingles and the hospital. It is sunny and brilliant with chilly nights. Even though I'm sick and in a hotel, it's nice to feel... southern again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You Gotsta What You Gotsta

Hard to believe I've been living AT life for 152 days now. Sometimes as I hike I do calculations.... how many days in a year... how long have I been doing ths... how many more miles to 220... how many days... how many miles each day. Um. I'm an artist- generally... I don't do math. Sigh. Just another thing life on the AT has made me adapt to.
I was pretty amped to get to Georgia. My summit of Katahdin proved to be nothing less than epic. Hot Cheese, Birdbath and I ended up hiking 21 miles that day, from 6am to 1am, I was on the summit of Baxter at 6pm, we descended the 5 miles back to Katahdin Stream Campground in complete darkness, in the rain, with only each other and our headlamps for comfort. It was exhausting, beautiful, it was other-wordly.
My travels after that turned to a whirlwind. Their friends got us to Millinocket, then the Bangor ME bus station. I switched between the stations on my bus seat armrest bob dylan, damien rice, will ferrell movie. The scenery melded from blazing foilage and rain to the metallic tungsten glow of Boston. We poured out of the bus into the subway station. Classical guitar amped twanged thru the tunnels... passengers buried their noses from stinky hikers... Hot Cheese and I laughed till we cried.
After a lovely visit and delicious Indian food I was flying Boston->Atlanta->Richmond. Ben and Dad picked me up and with a great sigh of relief and comfort there I was, back in my beautiful Virginia. Virginia was mostly the same. Still green, busy traffic around RIC, tasty Olive Garden.
The next week I tried to squeeze as much friend/ family catch up time into my trail chores of getting ready for the south. It was restful, ridiculous and busy all at the same time. I went out for drinks, played frisbee with the dogs, was reunited with Martin, worked demo day at ODT and ofter various madness.
Before I knew it I was kicking around downtown Roanoke with Sarah feeling a lot like Angie waiting for a Greyhound. After many hours and stops in Wytheville, Johnson City, and Atlanta I met Josh form the Hiker Hostel at the Gainsville bus station.
Despite some pouting I went to Amacolola State Park and hiked the 9ish miles on the approach trail to Springer Mtn summit... and then... there I was. Alone on the southern terminus a little more than a week after being on Special K.
It rained all the next day. I walked anyway, cruising the beautiful Georgian trail. I have walked every day until today. It was cloudy and windy until yesterday afternoon.
Georgia, like the rest of the trail, is not unfolding like I would've imagined. My left foot is bothering me and my medically attuned friends think I may be developing tendinitis. A lot of the hostels buddies have recommended I stay at are closed for the season until the spring rush of thru hikers. My third morning out I woke up feeling terrible, with a cold, and throwing up. After debating and wondering about my health and the foot, I thought... I'll be damned if I don't get out of Georgia... slowly but surely I will... if Low can hike with Lyme's Disease and Bones can puke all over the Presidential range I can hike Georgia right now. So- I did. A lot of days, miles, thoughts, feelings later I'm here in Hiawassee, the last town in Georgia, 9 trail miles from NC. I am taking a day off.
The sickness is probably just a cold but hiking all day and sleeping outside isn't helping so I'm holed up in a Motel for a second night. It's sunny and beautiful, but I'm wrapping my head around the fact that if I'm not well I will start to break down, and now, just as much as ever, I am committed to continuing this journey, on foot, to Daleville.
It's a hard part of the AT Journey; balancing between mental prowess and physical breakdown. I have dug deep the past few days to sift thru my last three weeks- what a whirlwind: Maine wilderness, snackpackers, Special K summits, cities, mass transit, friends, family, beautiful VA, hiking again- a flip that has been a little harder than I anticipated. Before I left Virginia I was sure to do a few things; love Geronimo, wash my sleeping bag and pack, fix up my MP3 player Carrie helped me out with, and watch the Neverending story. Those have proved to be strengthening in hard times.
I think a lot about my life, my heart, my physical place while the past 152 days. A few things dawned on me.
1. Reaching Daleville is not just a completion of this journey, it is likely my last hoorah in the Eastern Time zone for awhile. Now that I am back in the south that is more sad and bittersweet than I thought it would be while dreaming of Western Montana the past few months hiking in New England
2. Sometimes I consider this trip in terms of what my heart has gone through. While in Monson Maine Burass, Powder River and I watched Charlie's Angels. Kinda silly and a stray from the usual socially active. conscience movies I watch... but there was a line I've been thinking a lot about. Charlie or that other guy tell the girls a heart is a muscle... and just like the rest of their muscles if they want to be strong and smart and able to endure things they must exercise, and sometimes that hurts for awhile, and sometimes it doesn't seem to be worth it, but if they keep at the work out- it will get strong. Well- let's just say this heart of mine goes thru a lot. Aside from the male mumbo jumbo I realized rolling through dusk south on 81 over the New River, Wytheville, Emory, into Tennessee- this journey is a love story. Not about a girl and a boy, not about a woman and a man, not about two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl (although that's all there too) nope, this is a love story about me and Virginia. Virginia always being there, always waiting, always beautiful welcoming strengthening. Stirs my soul. I love Virginia.
So... after a day of rest I plan to walk on... though the weather be fowl and hakken Kraks crowl... because Atrayu from the NES wouldn't give up... and Virginia is just a little further north.

Oh yeah- and a thought on the ever present question EVERYONE asks me-
To wonder. To breathe. To move.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Midnight train to Georgia =)

Okay, so I'm not actually taking a train, and it won't be at midnight... but I am officially headed to Georgia Monday afternoon and should be hiking agin by Tuesday morning. SWEET. As always, I'll keep you posted. For now I've accomplished my tasks around VA and have been taking it easy in the Virginia fall breeze catching up with friends and family. God bless the southland =D

Sunday, September 28, 2008


After a lovely week in the wilderness I summited Baxter Peak on Katahdin Friday evening. I will post thoughts and pictures later, I'm still processing and traveling right now. I should be in the botetourt/roanoke area tuesday-friday before heading to Georgia for my final leg of the journey. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and love. Hope to see some of you soon!

Friday, September 19, 2008


The Appalachian Trail crosses ME 15 3.5 miles from Monson Maine. Monson is the first town southbounders come to, and the last for northbounders. Suffice to say many of my friends and hiking partners are feeling bittersweet about where we are and what this means for their journey and their life. I have the luxury of about 2 more months until my lifestyle must change; it cannot be ignored however that despite the fact I'll still be on the trail after Katahdin my life will be different. I am 114.5 miles from Katahdin's summit. I spent the morning watching the Early show, eating Ben and Jerry's, journaling on a dock, drinking Long Trail Harvest Ale, playing Burass (my new WV friend) in checkers. The snackpackers are off into the wilderness, our fellowship dispersed slightly. Monson is an extremely friendly town. I decided to take an unexpected zero when I found out there was a friday night inpromtu bluegrass jam session outside the general store. There are many other reasons I dug around for to justify a day of rest around town, but honestly, pickin around in the fall was about all it took. God bless bluegrass =)
Big thank you to the Reeds, Amtowers, Vangilders, Mom, and Outdoor Trails crew for sending mail to Monson. I was surprised when I went to retrieve shoes to leave with about 5 pieces of mail. All of your thoughts, prayers and encouragement are very touching. I don't say it enough, but thank you and I love you.
I plan to hike out of town tommorow morning; entering "the one hundred mile wilderness". That will lead me right to the foot of Katahdin I suppose. My tenative plan is to climb the mountain Saturday September 27. Plans after that get a little more complicated and open, but somehow I'll make my way south (not on foot) to either and Virginia, NOLA, Georgia. If any of you would be interested in taking me from Daleville VA to Springer mountain in GA the first weekish of October let me know.
The trail has mellowed out drastically from the rocky steep craggy mountains of New Hampshire and southern Maine. The past week has been rolling through pond sides, pine forests, and snowmobile trails with an occasional welcomed mountain in between. I hear, I hope, the wilderness is similar to that, with Special K rising about 4,000 in elevation at the end.
I am excited to have come so far. I am excited to spend time with such amazing people. I am SO excited to head back down south =) where perhaps more of my heart is than I realized.
Carrie is working on loading a small MP3 player with music to carry me through the lonely chillly southern part of my journey. Feelin good about that, feelin good about what's to come. As always, I'll keep you guys posted ;)
Now go enjoy the fall!
If the chill, sun, color, etc are anything where you are like they are here the only place to be is outside marinating in the awe some season =D

Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr.Seuss

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In shadows of mountains

Stratton Maine is less than 200 miles from Katahdin. It has been 50, 40, 30 degrees around me for the past 4ish days. It has rained at least two of those. I climb craggy mountains for above treeline views; walking through wind, hunkering in stone fortresses for some warmth on lunch breaks. I'm with good friends and press on; further up and further in. It seems ludicrous to continue north while wildlife disappears south and fall and I seem to be colliding head on. It is beautiful, mind contorting, and toe numbing. I don't know how I'm getting to Virginia after Katahdin, I don't know where I'll sleep tomorrow. If you'd like to say a prayer, pray that the moments I fall into are exactly as they should be, and that I can make it south wild, joyful, feeling alive.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I'm in Rangely Maine at a fellow hiker friend's house. Life is good overall but the terrain is tough. I'm keep on keepin on but at a much slower pace do to the sheer vertical nature of the landscape. I probably won't update much through Maine, trying to embrace this wild north woods ( with a little holding my breath for the southland/ northwest?) Love to you all
~Rebekah Ann

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Let it Fall

My favorite time in high school was Cross Country season. Coach Wertz' practiced introduced me to the Appalachian Trail and much of Botetourt County that I have since become enamoured with while traversing the landscape via foot. I think the best part, for me, was the transition and camaraderie. Somehow a group of 20 some teenagers started running in late August. It is a season of sticky thick heat, sweat, sun, swelling storms, and groaning through "base miles". It is a season of learning your teammates, encouraging each other to not look over their shoulder, to attack the next hill, to get over their summer fling, to hurry up and read the cliff notes from all the books they didn't read over the summer.
School starts, and suddenly you're workouts are after school instead of the morning. Suddenly you have academics on top of outdoor revelry. Every day at lunch you watch what you eat, so as not to puke it up during a ladder or running up Tinker Mountain.
Races start, the affair of frolicking through the woods becomes more serious and you are pounding tired, well tuned muscle through leaves and sun beams.
Somewhere in all of this, things change. One day, mid September you notice the trail has red and yellow leaves on it, leaves on Camelot and Tinker are bursting, and falling, with better views. Eight am race starts are cold, and you are huddled around your now best friends, holding pinkies, praying for the miles to come. There are tears, there are cramps, there is growth, there is love.
My lifelong best friends know what I'm talking about. It is hard to experience the full spectrum of summer revelry to fall splendor during college or a full time job. Unless you have the rare opportunity to be outside every day you may not be cognisant of what is going on around you.
I awoke this morning in a bed in a hayloft, upper story of a New Hampshire barn. The morning light flooding in the window I thought, why not stay, watch the day move over this town, I'll go to the woods later.
Leaves have been changing since New Hampshire. Last week, hitch hiking 100 some miles with Hasty gave me a glorious opportunity to spend time in the valleys, out of rocky summits or green tunnels. I saw patches, clumps of orange, yellow, red. As we made our way north back to my trail take off listening to Old Crow Medicine Show and other bluegrass jams, I thought I couldn't be happier.
Transition to fall is vivid on the Appalachian Trail. Although I'm now carrying heavier clothes and working with less daylight hours I'm excited to walk through and with my favorite season.
So today I've traipsed around town enjoying story time at the library, coffee and Edward Abbey from my bed, and phone catch up from a rocking chair. Tomorrow perhaps, tomorrow I will be wild again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The White Mountains --> Maine Attraction

I worked my butt off for a month to hike the Whites with one of my favorite adventure companions, Ryan Hasty. That's the main reason I've been so sparse updating this blog as well as taking very little time off in town away from the trail. Today I am in Gorham NH, trying to get my head around the 300 miles between where I sit now and Mt. Katahdin.
Photos have been posted of the past two states. I have been blessed and fortunate to travel with a beautiful fellowship of companions in Vermont and NH. Time at Anna's Vermont home was delicious, soulful, and restful. My new dear friend Low kept me smiling and laughing through hail storms, rain, mud, and many many miles of Vermont and NH up until the first shelter in the Whites. Bones has also risen to be a source of joy and relief. As it turns out the past two states and the weeks to traverse them have become a whirlwind of fellowship, miles, and wildness, so much so that I only realized a couple days ago, standing on top of the Wildcats North of Pinkham Notch, alone, for the first time in nearly a month, how far I had come. Hiking is a funny business when your mind becomes absolved in the greenery and rocks. I am nearly in Maine. I can't really tell you how that happened.
I've been thinking too much time in the woods is a lot like deep sea diving. They say once you're deep enough under water your world fades into an existence of blue, above, around, below, you no longer know which way is where. I listened to a lot of Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild, soundtrack before leaving VA. There's a song on that album that says "gonna rise up, find my direction magnetically, gonna rise up, turn mistakes into gold" I used to feel magnetized north. I don't know which way is what anymore; in a strange foreign place.
There are glimpses of this landscape that seem a strange mix of Montanan grandeur and Virginian greenery. Sometimes it is comforting; always surprising.
The White Mountains were in a word- epic. Traversing them with someone so near and dear to my heart was definitely a highlight of this trip. We had nearly perfect weather for the whole stretch- a feat unheard of in this area. Even the day we summited Mt Washington and hiked the Presidential range was sunny, warm, clear, with little to no wind. Although Hasty, Bones, and I pushed nearly 15 miles that day and didn't set up camp til 9pm, and although I had to sing myself through the last 3 miles of exposed ridge at sunset and with a headlamp not to cry from fatigue and frustration, it was in fact, one of the most glorious days on the trail yet.
It seems I'm always online with someone breathing over me to get off the computer, so , as always, I'll wrap up before I would like to. But first- a few shout outs.
Homer, Theresa, Taylor, Bennet Witcher: I think of you nearly every day. You have my utmost admiration and respect for having walked this path as a family.
Amtower Clan: Thank you so much for gifts of presence and support. I miss you and love you very much
Botetourt County School Employees (who are prob reading this bc of my Mom): Encourage your students to dream huge, beyond huge. Tell them youthful dream chasing gives you confidence and life to dream more, chase more.
Anyone who can give me a full time job with health benefits starting at the first of this year give me a shout =) Particularly one near Missoula Montana =D
Love and peace to you all.
May you find graceful wonder as you wander.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Glencliff NH

Three months after leaving from the Daleville Pizza Hut parking lot I find myself at a hostel in NH, at the base of Mt. Moosalauke, entrance to the White Mountains. Hasty helped me resupply / change out to fall/winter clothes, and we are about ready to shift into wild mountain climbing mode. Leaves are starting to change, it's in the 50's at night, and the sun is starting to shine again. So here's to being epic =) I'll upload pics... sometime... ? Thanks for the warm wishes and prayers (esp PenMar Family) Love and grace be with you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Live Free or Die!

So many stories to catch up on, but I just can't be still long enough. Taking my first zero day since New York City to wait out the rain, rest up, and collect myself a bit before the wildness of the White Mountains. Walked into Hanover NH yesterday, one of the happiest moments of my life. I've been filling my moments and adventures with some really solid fantastic people that make the wet dreary days and nights brighter and more epic. I will try to update blog and photos in Glencliff NH, right now my images are in VA being backed up by Cindy.
Shout outs:
Mark, It's so wild the time we spent together and it's been so long. I miss you, S bean, and stories of your family.
Doug, SOOOO happy you and Geronimo had a great time together! Thanks so much for keeping him.
Fischa, Thanks for keepin Moes with your boys, hope we can drink a PBR together for your birthday!
Everyone else: I love you and miss you and will write more soon, right now a Dartmouth student is P.O. ed and waiting for this computer.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I am in Vermont, have been about 4 days now. The rain, mud, cooler temperatures, and walking on a schedule frequently steer me towards frustration and fatigue. In reality however I am warm enough, dry enough, happy enough, and very blessed by grace and fortune. Currently I'm out of the rain sipping Dutch tea and dutch cookies with a new friend that bought me to town from the trail. In a few (short?) days I plan to be at my college friend Anna's Vermont house, and although she won't be there in person the opportunity to hang out with her mom and spend time in a place she loves so much is very exciting.I plan to keep pushing north, probably without a significant break until Glencliff New Hampshire. That is a tough mental battle, but the reward for the miles in between; Ryan and the Whites keep my dreams sweet and feet moving. Thank you for all the kind words, I'll write more later. Love!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Marsh achusetts

I am in Dalton Mass. The first day or so of walking the MA AT while water ran down like a river was sort of exciting. Hours of current watching, eddies, mini hydraulics. It was almost like paddling, but sans swimming and carrying a pack. Now however, nearly a week later of thunderstorms, mosquitoes, swamps, water, sloshing around, falling in the muck and mud, walking through lightning, my gear and clothes never drying- I am sick of it. I will likely stay in my first hotel room of the trip tonight- alone. Thank God. After being around 10-20 people most nights for the past week and unwanted male attention I want to spread out all my stuff, and sit alone, dry, bugless, quiet in a room. A couple miles south of town today I slid in the clay-mud walking down a mountain... I had to sniff real hard and deep not to cry... pulled myself back up... moped into town and found a vanilla chai latte. The library is a quiet drone of computer monitors and ac, sickly comforting. I will be in Vermont in a few days, and I hope the bugs and muck subsides. I dream of mountains, real trail, and loving comfort support by my side.
Geronimo is in Virginia at my parents house. After Maggie gets moved into her new WV place near the Dolly Sods he will probably stay with her until I can have him again. That will likely be before I go to Georgia, after the Smokies, or after I finish the trail. I'm not quite sure yet. He is fattening up and his feet are healed. I miss him terribly, but he's happier there than he would be here.
Love to you all =*

Monday, July 21, 2008


I know a lot of you have been squinting and replaying my photo slide shows. If you haven't figured this out yet... you can click on any of the albums. Once you click it, you should be sent to a website called picasa. There you can view the images larger, one by one, and as an album. Happy viewing!

I walked to New England

I have lived with a map of the AT in my bedroom for the past eight years. The lines are embedded in my mind, state boundaries, jagged trail, Atlantic Ocean, south, north. The miles I have walked and where I have been strangely enough are not constantly on my mind anymore. I dream and hope of things to come, above tree line gusts of wind in NH, fall leaves in Maine, cruising back south, the crisp October evenings below the mason dixon, wild ponies and no bugs. I was urged to check out a map this week. Along the NY/ CT border there are a lot of message boards with the standard AT strip map. I put a finger on Daleville and stretched my wing span to put a finger on Kent, CT. I couldn't reach. Marmot, a guy I was walking with reached up for me... wow I thought... The scope and reality for hiking the AT, what one goes through physically, geographically, mentally and spiritually are indescribable. I just started hiking fast this week. I used to average about 2 miles per hour. The past few days I've gotten up to about 3mph. It changes the pace and scenery, the way I experience a day. Right now the trail is a blur of dirt, rocks, woods, sweat, bugs, and charming men. Ever since getting off to go to the city each day is a very unique and distinct adventure. The full moon has all of us nature livers pretty squirrelly and one never knows from one moment to the next what might happen. Iccarus, Beershake, Mike and I spent one of my best nights on the trail watching the sun set from black mountain. The NYC skyline twinkled in the summer haze of heat and pollution as the moon rose over the Hudson River. We all shared water, blueberries and our dinners and fell asleep with a blanket of stars. A couple days later I found myself climbing up and down NY hills with Marmot to share a tasty pizza and calling it a day after 10 miles. Right now I'm hanging out with Walka Walka, Dingo, and Rocky at Young and Dumb's house in NY. Young and Dumb is a CT ridgerunner and 2007 thru hiker. He has graciously opened his car and home to us. Thanks Luke =) The Mikes told me "CT is a land of milk and honey" so far it's still reasonably difficult hiking but the swimming holes are phenomenal. So here's to New England, being alive, and being here now!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


As it turns out this trip and my life becomes wilder by the minute. I told Hasty the other day I've finally reached the point of throwing up my arms and hands and surrendering myself to the will of the universe. It feels good, but dizzying. After my first evening in Unionville with about 18 other hikers at the mayor's place I slackpacked 18 miles south to Uville and spent a second night. After talking to Angie, Butch, Dick, and Bill it seemed like the best thing for me to do was get on a train to NYC. Cap'n Jack Sparrow had missed his NJ Transit from Middletown while I slackpacked, so Friday he held my hand and showed me the ropes on our way to the city. "Is there any place I should avoid?" I asked him "Harlem" he answered with no hesitation. Upon reaching Penn Station and sifting through the subway system I emerged from underground to reggae/ latin music and not a single Caucasian person around. I studied the subway map harder... Harlem... I studied harder... W 126th St 5th Ave for the Spot Hostel.... Harlem. Sketchy I thought, and went back down to Central Park. I wandered around in the green island, transitioning from AT to NYC, and finally got brave realizing I HAD to find my bed for the night. Taxi ed for the first time. The whole trip was a madness of subways, street, central park, friends etc. Some highlights were my new friends and dorm mates from the NJ camp (gave me drinks and swiss rolls!), running into Bones and Mud Bug Sat morning in the hospital, Genevieve! an amazing photo arty bad ass that lives in Brooklyn because of her I ate Indian food and was able to stash my pack while I cruised the city, seeing Sex and the City in theatres!!!!!, Tiffany's, Alice in Wonderland Statue, A N G I E, late night Bryant Park picnic, etc etc. After a lot of wandering and little sleep I cabbed back to Penn Station to head to Middletown. I messed up the trains and found myself kickin it in Ridgewood New York for 3ish hours. I caught up on phone calls, ate more Indian food, resupplied groceries, and ate a doughnut! Eventually I made it back to my station, back to Butch, back to the mayors. I hadn't intended on taking so much time off the trail, and I'm quite a few days behind my friends, but it's nice to urban adventure and crash a little bit before getting back to the business of the trail. My burn is getting better, my hair is growing pretty quick, my legs and feet are nearly always stiff. Maine and the fall are coming... and I am forever lured North.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I'd like to be a part of it... in old... NYYYYY

Unionville NY has treated me to a shower, free ride, dinner, laundry, and lots of smiles at the MAYOR'S house. More good times to come I'm sure. So the deal is I've been in NJ a few days now. I've seen my first glacial lake, 1.5 bears, an amazingly hospitable night at Mohican Outdoor Center, some swamps and nasty bugs, really incredible views, great lake swimming, the highest point in NJ, and just may find myself in NYC in the next couple weeks. I'm looking forward to Pawling NY and amazing amazing Angie, I'll stay in NY state for awhile by this weekend. Geronimo is with lil pig Fisch and his boyfriend Jeb right now, seems to be having a good time. I finally been making/ sticking with buddies out here and it's really nice. Circumstance, Mooch, Buffet. I met a lot of few folks while hiking south and now a bunch of old buddies and new friends are all kickin it at the Mayor's, talking life, philosophy, the trail, real world, etc; always a welcomed respite. I may be in the market for a bug net very soon. My gear overall is doing well, but it's so muggy and humid around here. This morning as Circ and I hiked along the ridge to High Point State Park we swore an ocean breeze was driftitng in from NYC blowing the bugs away- very refreshing. I'll try to post more pics soon. I keep forgetting to mention a few more valuable trail lessons:
I've been peeing standing up since my first week on the trail.
I've lost 13 pounds.
When you hike alone you have no one to complain to.
Hanging your hammock in a shelter is not a bad idea.
Drink at least one beer nearly every chance you get.
Smile at strangers and friends often.
Being a southerner with a western flair is a glorious thing.
Hikers appreciate Opera and many other finer things in life; we are simple, but constantly seeking beauty.
When it rains the newts come out =D
I love Camp Alta Mons fiercer than words could ever tell.

Botetourt Commons folks: I think about my old life and your smiling faces and hope you're all doing incredibly well!
Alta Mons: You KNOW you are in my heart and prayers. I am sorry our lives in the woods keep us from talking more but I know soulfully we are together.
VA friends: Thanks so much for Geronimo shuffling, trail pep talks, stashing my stuff at your places, running errands for me, etc.
MT and western friends: I WANT TO SEE YOU AND THE WEST SO BAD =) We'll see how life goes after this adventure.
International and rambling nomadic buddies: I often day dream about where my travels and your travels are taking/ will take us. I am amazed at what this world puts before our feet, I hope sometime very soon to see you again with a warm embrace. (veg, you little stalker, you're gorgeous and I want to meet Anthony, and I still have my matching thigh scar from my river kisses and your bear attack... just so you know I'm not holding out pictures on you ;)

Muchos amour =*

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Jersey girl?

SOOOOO. Last two weeks- tough. Many thanks and love to you all for words of support, prayers, calls, travel, etc. I have many trail angels and feel pretty darn magical =) Geronimo and I hobbled into Port Clinton PA last Sunday greeted by cold beverages and food from a young PA couple and Bag of Tricks. After a refreshing night with a really good crowd of nearly 20 thru hikers, beer, Knob Creek, and trail stories Geronimo and I found ourselves driving North to Deleware Water Gap. We exausted our options to get him off the trail, then Ron my 2nd cousin called "Hey Rebekah I'm about 30 miles from DE WR gap, what do you think about Geronimo riding around in the big truck with me for a week?" So Geronimo found himself riding shot gun in a tiger striped tractor trailor, ac, bug free, bottled water, stealing hot dogs from dash boards, as I braved the nasty rocks south bound from DE WR Gap back to Port Clinton. After some Spring Ale, a sandwich and good conversation with some guys I met in SNP I headed south. 6 miles, 17 miles, 19.5 miles, 17 miles, 15 miles of rocks, climbs, decents, little water nasty gash on my leg, boiling water burn on my hands, stomach and thigh, then, PORT CLINTON. Spent July 4 night in the water gap and enter NJ very soon. Very glad to be out of PA. For this week Geronimo is with little pig Fischa and his boyfriend Jeb, I just hope he actually rests at the cabin. I am closer and closer to the other pig, miss Angie, and hope to be at Omega teen camp NY with her in less than 2 weeks! It is weird and a little lonely hiking solo without Mo, but I love him too much to put him through some of the hardships of this life. You guys can check out the pictures, some places this past week I literally had to rock climb with my pack. Descending Lehigh Gap at 2pm in my 19.5 mile day was the toughest thing I've done on this trip. Yesterday was my first- walk all day in the rain- experience, it was soggy, chilly, slippery. I wore my Chaco z2s the whole time, and I was glad to not be in shoes. It was kind of nice actually, a change from the daily scene and routine. I find myself wanting water from these mountaintops anyway possible; rain, rivers, springs. My final mile to Port Clinton was river on one side, tiger lillies on the other side of a greenway in the rainy mist. It was really beautiful and soothing. I'm taking a chill day today to catch up on internet, laundry, gorceries (things I haven't done in two weeks). I was elated to be dropped off at a movie theatre, and devastated to find Sex and the City is no longer in the theatres ='( tragedy. I'm trying to wrap my head around being Nobo solo and all the wildness to come. I believe things will get better, know I'm getting tougher, relize you all have a lot to do with my strength and will to continue. My library time is about expired, so more stories saved for later. I love you and miss you all, thanks for everything =*

Monday, June 30, 2008

Geronimo's a sad man

Hey everyone! I'm now in Deleware Water Gap physically but Port Clinton PA in trail miles. Geronimo and I have been having a really rough time since leaving Duncannon. I have since recovered from a cold. His feet however started cracking a bit south of town, we zeroed with Brian, took it easy, wore his boots, and put treatment on his feet, but it's been slow, sad, painful goings for him. PA is very long, no one should have to walk on rocks like these, and it's becoming apparent he won't be back to his usual self until he gets some time off of da trail. The past weekend has been esp crazy. I had a crazy run of trail magic in Port Clinton; beer, fresh fruit, river dips, free rides, taco bell, and good company all lifted the spirits.
The point of this post... I'm looking to see if anyone would be interested/ excited to love and live with Geronimo for awhile. I don't know if he goes south when I'll be able to get him again, it may not be until after I finish Maine between mid-sept mid-oct. I know it's summer and a lot of folks are traveling. Give me a call if you'd like to foster my best friend. 540 798 7069 He's a wonderful dog but is sensitive and needs to be in a place with soft seating and affection.
I personally and physically am doing well. It's emotionally draining, this whole PA thing, but better times lay... just around the river bend =)
Give me a ring if you're interested =)
I prob won't be able to call back right away, looks like Geronimo for this week will be a trucker with my cousin Ron while I hike.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Above the Mason Dixon

This afternoon I found myself sippin a Jolly Scot at the Doyle Hotel in Duncanon, PA. After thru hiker banter, the beer, mozerella chz stx, two bowls of water for Geronimo, Michelle picked me up to meet the kids and Brian. Caleb's letting me borrow his room and computer, WHAT a gentleman. So this week has been my longest, but maybe not hardest yet. Geronimo and I have averaged 16-17 mile days since leaving Harper's Ferry. His feet are cracking some and my knee is bothering me. We have crossed old confederate roads and buildings in Maryland, had an amazing dance/ music/ meal at Pen Mar thanks to a wonderful family who adopted us on Fathers Day, and walked across... well... a LOT of fields. Aside from fatigue and physical break in Mo and I are very well; more than 400 miles into this trip, less than 400 to Angie our love in NY =) That's walking inspiration =D
A lot of people ask what I do all day. Seriously, I eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, sleep, repeat. I think a lot in between, sometimes sing. I try to read a chapter of Old Testament at night and New Testament in the morning, I've read a lot of books in the bible in a month and a half. I'll be honest though, I have to force myself to do it, most of the time I'd rather just be asleep.
My friends from Pen-Mar put me on the spot asking what I've learned my month in the woods- I drew a blank. I've had many miles to think about it now, so here's my answer; trail philosophy if you will
~The unknown is really not so scary if you're willing to learn it (this goes for bears, snakes, relationships, summer camp programs, etc)
~I would like a partner
~"A quarter mile" is a standard distance people tell you when they don't know how far away something is, if that's their answer, it's usually much further
~Don't add alcohol to a lit stove
~Barrington Bunny was really onto something, and I have never understood that fully until a rainy gray gypsy moth 17 mile day in PA
~Gypsy moths are probably a sign of the apocalypse, I call them gypsy hell
~My family is incredible and we don't know each other nearly well enough
~Pines really do whisper, usually they say "....montana...."
~Anyone walking on the trail for more than two nights who tells you they are not a person of faith is lying to themselves. Reading a book associating "w"s to blue blazes, mileage to white markers in unfamiliar territory down some narrow corridor believes it will get them somewhere, trusts it is true, hopes in the foretold unseen, that my friends is faith. Call God what you will, but if you'll walk this, you have faith.
~As a soul seeking strength in spirit and nature I am much more water bound than earth
~Missing folks is an understood given, I wish I would hear each loved ones voice everyday, friends I wish I could hug and laugh with, but the more I think about it, and replay people/ events/ places in my head and heart, the more I realize you've all given me exactly what I need already, I just have to search and fight to keep it near me even though you are not
~Geronimo is the best dog in the universe
~Eucatastrophe- it's worth looking up, or just ask Shakedown
~I think my phone is messed up, please try to send me lovin anyway, on gloomy days I need that smile.

For now I'm getting some sleep. I'll try and upload pics on my ZERO DAY tomorrow =D OH BABY Thank GOD for family and rest. Peace be with you, send me love, know that I send it right back atcha.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Crossin State Lines!

Yesterday Shakedown and I made it to West BY GOD Virginia. The walkin was pretty good, but gypsy moths are everywhere. The past week has been pretty rocky trail and mentally it is tiring. Coming down the mtn today our first view of the Shenandoah River was uplifting. The smell of it, the sight of it, the coolness of its breeze, I about threw down my pack to wait on my kayak and get down to the heart of things... alas... not tooo much river for me for awhile =( But it was beautiful, and strengthening. So Harpers Ferry right now, the town is quaint. I almost feel like I'm backpacking through Europe here, steep historic streets, stone ruins, evening light, bikes and backpacks... wish I could tarry here. Next stop Pine Grove Furnace in PA =) Maybe just maybe I'll try the half gallon challenge!
Love and miss you all! Bound and Geronimo
ps- weight count -10 pounds since Dville

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I know I know I'm sorry, I'll post pics as soon as I can find a comp that will let me do it! =)

I'm alive; 134 miles, 2 pant sizes later

I made it to Waynesboro! I'm sorry to keep everyone in the dark so long, as it turns out it's pretty hard to update Internet blogs while you live in the woods and walk all day. But first things first, Geronimo and I have been gone from Daleville 14 days; we are happier, stronger, and a little wiser than when we left May 15.
Sheri asked me the other day "Do you love it?" I had to think about it. This trip, this trail, is something I have been dreaming about since high school. It's pretty surreal to wake up everyday in the woods with strangers/ new friends and plug out somewhere between 8-13 miles. My hip bothers me, I developed some blisters on the feet, my back has irritated scars from my pack, and I burnt my rainpants/leg/foodbag etc with my stove (more on that later). It's hard to get Geronimo enough fat, seeing as he is naturally very lean and we are bother burning so many calories. Many of you have been curious "when I was expecting" and I can tell you, 134 miles of backpacking later the "baby" is G O N E. So don't ask me anymore!
Everyday I sleep in a different place. It's glorious to move through a landscape at a pace that allows you to absorb your surroundings. The views are stunning. In Montabello I found out from the Dutch Haus caretakers that the stretch of trail from Daleville to Waynesboro gives conditions NOBO ers a run for their money with Apple Orchard Mountain, The Priest, and Three Ridges all being over 4,000 feet and Jennings Creek, The James River, and the Tye River all being around 1,000 feet or lower. Poor Ben was with me for about all of that, carrying who knows how much weight in Scott's pack, his first experience backpacking. Ben is a backpacking champ, don't let anyone tell you differently.
There are so many stories to catch ya'll up on and not enough time on my library slot so for now we'll keep it concise, and fill in details later.
Do I love it? I'm starting to go a little crazy because as I walked from John Wolfe Shelter (which is awesome btw) to Waynesboro I came up with something in my head. There are about 5 places I would want/ choose to be right now. They are, in no particular order: The Appalachian Trail, Camp Alta Mons, Missoula, MT , anywhere with Dacia dizzle, or in the arms of another half hearted fanatic. All of these places I've been before, I feel certain that I will be at all of the them again. Before I left for the AT this March I read Ecclesiastes, for everything there is a time under heaven. I broke it down and prayed over each " a time to blank, a time to blank" one per day. And that's the way it goes, you know? There is a time for everything. For me, for now, I am pulled, magnetically to the AT north to Maine. It is my time for that. Do I think of being other places, sure. Do I love it, yes. And right now, right here, is right where I need to be =)
Love to everyone. I miss you all!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Be Inspiring to People

When I was in Jr. High Youth Group we had a Sunday evening session about covenants. After discussing and explaining the meaning and importance of covenants/ promises our youth leader passed out a piece of stationary with a very cute seal on it. "I want you to make a covenant, as a seal of promise to yourself," she said, "and I will mail them to you 6 months, a year from now. I thought long and hard about what mine should be, wrote it down, handed it over, and quickly forgot about it.

Some time later I received a letter (which rarely happened via snail mail at that time in my life). The envelope had my handwriting, and I was pretty confused about the whole thing. I opened it, and pulled out the seal paper. "Be inspiring to people" was staring back at me. It changed my life.

I find a lot of value in other's life insight/ philosophy/ and musings. At the end of every summer at Camp Alta Mons Bob Giesy would read the summer staff this poem:

Bits and Pieces

Bits and pieces, bits and pieces. People. People important to you, People unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and move on. There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why you ever came into contact with them. There are people who leave you, and you breathe a sigh of remorse and wonder why they had to go and leave such a gaping hole. Children leave parents, friends leave friends. Acquaintances move on. People change homes. People grow apart. Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on. You think of the many people who have moved in and out of your hazy memory. You look at those present and wonder. I believe in god's master plan in lives. He moves people in and out of each other's lives, and each leaves his mark on the other. You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who have ever touched your life. You are more because of them, and would be less if they had not touched you. Pray that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder, and never question and never regrets. Bit's and pieces, bits and pieces.-Anonymous

I believe that I am made up of bits and pieces of people, experiences, thoughts, that have crossed my path. SO in an attempt to shed light on the perpetual "why would you want to walk over two thousand miles and live in the woods for months?" here are musing, quotes, near and dear to my being. I hope you find them inspiring.

Found when working on a school project for 11th grade history/English class.
“You can’t count a river while it moves by you. The best thing to do is take off all your clothes and go swimming in it, then when you feel the water all around you you’re part of the total river. Where it’s been, where it is, where it’s going, Plunge In!”

Henry David Thoreau

Explained to me by Dietz in 11th grade, hung on my walls since. "Montani Semper Liberi" West Virginia State Motto, translation "A mountaineer is always free"

Found when researching what to put on girls XC team shirts, 12th grade.
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there's some mistake. The only other sound's the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I
sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening

Was introduced to Service by my 12th grade/freshman in college love who was very active in scouting and the OA.
Have you suffered, starved and triumphed,groveled down, yet grasped at glory,Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?"Done things" just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?Have you seen God in His splendors,heard the text that nature renders?(You'll never hear it in the family pew).The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things --Then listen to the Wild -- it’s calling you.
They have cradled you in custom,they have primed you with their preaching,They have soaked you in convention through and through;They have put you in a showcase; you're a credit to their teaching --But can't you hear the Wild? -- it’s calling you.Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us; Let us journey to a lonely land I know.There’s a whisper on the night-wind,there’s a star agleam to guide us,And the Wild is calling, calling. . .let us go.

Robert Service"

Letter with High School Graduation gift.
"On the bottom of the box is a compass. This is so you will be able to find your way home. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you'll always have friends and family who will love you no matter what, and the compass will help you to find your friends and family should you ever lose them. Or if you're going hiking one day and you just really really need a compass, you can take it off of the bottom."

Found sophomore year of college in course text, reinforced by Dr.Scott. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul."

John Muir

Found online, reinforced by Hasty. Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

Edward Abbey, from a speech first gave to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana in 1978, and in Colorado which was published in High Country News in the 1970s or early 1980s under the title "Joy, Shipmates, Joy."

Found during college course work, read at my Environmental Studies Graduation Ceremony.
"Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you --- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Part of a letter I received on my 23 birthday. "I think you have that gift of being able to see into people's souls, and I always worried you might see the twenty-two year old Ralph in there and the things he was all about...... All the Ralphs are still alive and well: The 12-year-old Ralph who loved hearing that new song or buying a new record; the 15-year-old Ralph who loved sitting by a lake and listening to the water; the twenty-year old Ralph who discovered that so many unique and beautiful things exist out there beyond the camera lens and how much he wanted to capture them all so they would never be lost; the twenty-two year old Ralph that (well--he was the wild one); and on and on they go....... little pieces of the whole that build a whole life. The ups and downs, the loves and lost loves, the laughter and tears they all go together to make days that make weeks that make months that make years that are like bricks that build our lives.Keep building -- you never know what it might look like in the end, but I think it will be something beautiful." Ralph Bratton

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One Month

Sean Davis knows the countdown better than me. I was excited today about tommorow, just figuring I get paid and the normal good monthly stuff... then it dawned on me... I trade this world for the woods a month from today. I moved some furniture from the apt back to my parents this weeked. Today I got off work early and manged to remove most of my pictures from the walls of my home (if you've been in my home you know that's a lot! Angie was proud!)

So here it comes =D
About a year ago this time I was driving north on 581 through downtown Roanoke on the phone with Angie. I vividly remember a conversation with her explaining and deciding to "settle" into this life for awhile, commit, in order to save and plan for the trail. I've been in the apartment 16 months.

It's not that I'm sad to leave, just pensive. Life's brought many surprises to me in Raliegh Court and Daleville since entering this chapter of my story, and as we near the end, on the cusp of flipping to the next page I was thinking... how about a little recap:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Detour Ahead

I spent some time in Libby, Montana Fall 2005. The intent was to interview and understand what everyday life is like in a town that made national news for its environmental degradation. I found myself sitting in the living room of an elderly couple struggling to live with the affects of "asbestos related diseases". Les explained how he came to Libby. He was on his way to Canada, or Washington, I don't know, en route from the mid west to the coast I believe. His car broke down in Libby. The part he needed wasn't available for awhile, then it was winter and terrible weather, he fell in love, got a job at the mine, etc, etc. There I was in his living room, a life time later.

So I've been thinking about all the little bits that make a whole, and how surprising it all is. I spent a lot of mental and emotional energy senior year of college trying to figure out what to do with my life. My decision to leave Montana for Virginia was rooted in a fulfilling job at Alta Mons for the summer, and supported with dreams of reconnecting with old loves; friends, family that hadn't been part of my daily life for three years. I wanted to cheer for my little brother at Cross Country meets, eat dinner with Cindy, run with Carrie and Susanna.

What I anticipated would be 6 months, a year, has turned into two. I have transitioned from summer staff to board of directors at Alta Mons. I have been to Brazil and back. I have rented and paid bills on my own, without a college loan refund check. I have watched a heart-bound genuine community rise out of loneliness and isolation. I have pulled 40 hour weeks and helped countless people in the store.

Every time I take more of life in Raleigh Court apart in preparation for the trail I think about memories from these years. Shooting for the Fincastle Herald, paddling with camp buddies, moving couches with Susanna, painting by headlamp, screwing orange and yellow wire caps to my dining room fan outlet, Erwin TN, road trip to Kristin's wedding, eating chocolate with Mark.

So here we are, gettin ready to uproot again and journey off, back in the saddle, and I'm singing a little

Monday, March 31, 2008

Annual Bad Ass Mama Jama Bike Across Botetourt

Christmas Break 2005 Carrie Hatter and I decided to go for a bike ride. We were both at our parents' houses for the holiday so we hopped on two wheels and met up. The ride started small, cruising around Blacksburg, Etzler, Haymaker Town Roads. It was one of those freak perfect 60 degree Virginia winter days, so we rode on. Thirty- forty miles and hours of twisting rambling road later we finished rolled though Greenfield Recreation Center at sunset and knew something very special had been born.

Annual Bad Ass Mama Jama Bike across Botetourt

Christmas Break 2006 rolled around and we both had full time jobs; Carrie on the peds floor of UVA hospital, me the Assistant Manager of Outdoor Trails Daleville. The bike ride was pushed back some, it ended up being some random day in January, but once again we hopped on our bikes and headed out. That year we rambled around Old Breckenridge Mill Road, Springwood Road (right about the time James River High School dismissed), Lithia "Lithuania" Road and back Blacksburg towards home. It was about 10 miles further than the year before and created a serious ache between our legs.

2007- A year into "being adults" we found it very hard to sync our schedules to go on our day long adventure. With my thru hike looming and spring pouncing upon us we finally pulled it together in March.
The route: Rie's parents-Fincaslte. 220-Eagle Rock. ER to Buchanan via Rte 43.

PAUSE THERE. Somewhere on 43 we found inspiration to veer on a dirt road through mountains, vineyards, and "Farm Use" vehicles to the Blue Ridge Vineyard. A wine tasting, feast, bottle of Pinot Noir, and life stories with former high school teachers later, we re-mounted.

James River H.S. to Springwood put in. River, donkey, Hasty house, my fav fields, we had HAD IT. The sun was sinking, just in time for Big Al to pull up in the red truck and bring us on home for Ginny's amazing tortellini, spinach, and Adam's fighta girlfriend's chocolate cake.

Deemed- best BAMJBAB YET =)