It always seems impossible, until it’s done. -Nelson Mandela
Will write more later – but for today I’m DONE!
There’s been trials and tribulations
You know I’ve had my share
But I’ve climbed mountains, I’ve crossed a river
And I’m almost there!
– Tiana (Princess and the Frog)
Hugh dropped me off in the morning and I had a 1500 foot climb up the mountain. Toward the top, the trail opened up to a very large pathway.
At the very top of the mountain there was a memorial for Audie Murphy. He was the most decorated veteran in World War II. And the things people left for him were just amazing-dog tags, metals, poems and bracelets.
Toward the end of my hike I came upon a blue blaze that took me to Dragon’s Tooth. This is a very large rock. I’m not sure if you can see, but in the picture below there is a man’s head, who had climbed to the top leaning off to the right.
Tomorrow I will finish my journey… Until then.
A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. – Colin Powell
The shingles have not stopped me, but they have slowed me down some. I have found that they do not bother me near as much when I am hiking. Maybe it’s because my side is not touching anything when I walk. I’m not sure, but I do now when I’m hiking the pain is lessened.
Another thing that has slowed me down is the trees that have fallen across the trail. There were six trees across the trail on day 131 and three on 132. Sometimes it’s easy to go around them or climb over them. Other times it’s a challenge if the trail is way overgrown on both sides and the tree branches are hard to get through.
On and off all day long today I got sprinkled on. So it was another day of put on the raincoat take off the raincoat. I think it was one other thing that slowed me down today. I also switched from short sleeve to longsleeve and then back again more than once today.
The down leaves hide the trail sometimes. And sometimes hide rocks on the trail. With a mile and a half to go I took a fall today. I have to say it was rather a spectacular one where I even did a roll once I hit the ground. I will say with all the leaves on the ground the landing was softer than usual.
When it rains, it pours. – Morton Salt
About six days ago I started having trouble sleeping because my side hurt. I thought I had pulled a muscle, or dislodged a rib. Right under my shoulder blade I was having a ton of pain that would keep me up, or wake me up at night. It was sore during the day too, but it didn’t seem to bother me as much when I was walking. Yesterday I broke out in a rash and realized I had shingles. The fun on the Appalachian Trail never stops!
If you have never had shingles I can only describe the pain as if someone had used you as a punching bag. You are simply uncomfortable and hurt. The strange thing is I feel much better when I’m hiking. I think there is so much more to worry about – the rocks, going uphill, freezing your butt off, that you don’t worry about the shingles.
Shingles are a virus and they just have to run their course. So I’m going to let them and keep on walking. With that as the plan Hugh dropped me off and I hiked up a mountain only do find… Snow!
The snow had clung to the leaves and the branches of all the trees which made it very interesting when the sun came out and started melting the snow. Clumps of ice fell from the trees and of course they had to land on my head. I felt like someone was out there tossing ice cubes at me.
We pulled in and learned that we needed a new engine. This last week of the trail has been full of surprises. Many of them bad.
The Ford dealership has ordered a new engine and it should be here Thursday morning. It will take two days for them to put the new engine into the RV. So we are without a home until Friday evening. That is if everything goes perfectly. It might be the next Monday.
So we will continue to stay in motels and use the rental car to take me back-and-forth to the trail. It looks like both the mechanic and I will be done on Friday if everything goes according to plan.
I keep thinking of the saying… Men plan, God laughs.
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” –Forrest Gump
Hugh dropped me off at the trail and I started cruising. And I do mean cruising! What a fantastic day. The sun was out, the hills were rolling and I was on cruise control.
I walked on waiting to hear what was going on. First he had to find a tow to get the RV to the Ford dealership. Knowing that whatever was wrong would not be fixed quick enough to pick me up – he then went and rented a car.
With the two dogs in the backseat, Hugh picked me up in the rental car at the designated spot and we drove back to where that RV was at Ford. On the way back the service writer called and said we might need a new engine. But they could not work on it until Monday.
Last night we spent the night in the RV while it was parked at the Ford dealership. Woke up this morning and decided to get a hotel. We also stopped by the rental car place and rented the car for a week.
I have around 115 miles left. Starting tomorrow Hugh will be using the rental car to drop me off and pick me up. We will return to the hotel each night. At least for the next three, then we might move to another one up the road if RV is not fixed.
They will start breaking the engine down on Monday-they do not work weekends. Hugh will know more on Monday. I will be walking.
The first day started off at 33°. With a crisp wind blowing I felt for sure that the actual temperature is lower. I headed up into the mountains. But first I had to traverse a big meadow.
By traverse I mean I had to be sure I didn’t step in the cow pies. Cows I have come to learn can be very noisy. When you’re zooming by cows on the highway in your car they look so peaceful. But when you’re hiking next to them they are loud animals!
I lost the trail a couple of times that day. I had to backtrack and find it. Neither time did I go very far. I am always on the lookout for the White Blazes. If I do not see them I check my map on my phone and it shows me whether or not I’m on or off the trail.
I can’t do the autumn colors justice with my iPhone. The scenery is magnificent.
“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
I almost quit yesterday. But they say never quit on a bad day so I went to bed got up this morning and I’m really enjoying the hike!
Over and over I think about what my dad always used to say… You can fight a bear for a day. I’m hoping that I have nine days of fight left in me… and that I do not meet any more bears.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West
Miles hiked 43!
One day perfect weather – the next day drizzle and spitting wet. I made good time both days. The terrain was not too hard.
When I saw the first of the ponies I was passing a group of five ladies hiking. Each lady had a dog. The dogs went crazy and started chasing the ponies. I could’ve screamed!. They scattered to the ponies far and wide.
The women finally got their dogs under control, but I decided to outpace them and put on the speed. I was glad I did because I came upon another small herd. Even though they’re wild, they see so many people hiking they are not scared.
On Monday I did not take many pictures because of the drizzle. Right before I ended my hike at Katahdin I dropped my phone and cracked the glass. When I got it repaired they told me it was no longer waterproofed. So I was afraid to pull out my phone in the rain and drizzle.
Miles hiked 20.5
Today was a great hiking day! The weather could not have been more perfect. And the trail was kinder to me today. For the last three days when I’ve got to the RV I’ve actually taken an Advil because my feet were sore.
Not from the walking, it was from the rocks under the leaves. With all the fallen leaves it’s impossible to know what you’re putting your foot on. So for the last three days I’ve come down on rocks and roots and just kept going – there’s no other option.
Today it seemed like the trails smoothed out. Not near as many roots and rocks and my feet felt so much better.
For a tiny bit, the trail followed this rock wall. Not as elegant as some, but still an awful lot of hard work went into it.
I came across this old shelter. It’s no longer a shelter that is kept up. The guide book tells you to keep going and there’s a better one a few miles down. It was interesting to me because it was so small. I bet at the most it could hold four people.
One other thing that I’ve been meaning to mention, that I always forget, is the green grass that peppers the trail every now and then in perfect rows beside the trail. I think the grass grows like this because of all the hiker poles that aerate the ground.
This fellow did not want to share the trail today. I came very close to stepping on him, but stopped when he reared up. It is a Blacksnake that’s non-poisonous, but their bites can hurt. They help keep the mice population down on the trail.
I crossed into Virginia and went through the town of Damascus. Service is incredibly spotty and where we’re going it’s going to get even worse so this might be the last blog for a while.
“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”—Robert H. Schuller
It’s getting colder here. It makes me start my hike around 9 o’clock nowadays. It warms up pretty quick, but that first hour – it gets you moving.
You think smaller climbs would be what a hiker would want. Not me! Especially since they are shorter up in distance the architect of this portion of the trail thought they could be steeper.
I did come across this marker for a hermit that lived in these hills. I’m not sure if you can read it or not but below his name, Nick Grindstaff, it says – “Lived alone… Suffered alone… And died alone.”
I’m glad I have Hugh to go home to every day!