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!!!!