Family First – Time Off the Trail

For the next 9 to 10 days I will be off the trail. My niece Natalie is getting married and Hugh and I want to be there. The wedding is in Colorado.

Also my granddaughter is the flower girl at the wedding! It’s hard to say just who I am looking forward to coming down the aisle more, Violet for Natalie. 

We will be leaving RV in Kansas City along with the dogs, before heading to Colorado. I will pick up some new trail runners shoes and we will get some stuff done that needs done. 

I would like to thank everyone who comments on the blog. It is hugely rewarding to the blogger when people comment. There is nothing worse than publishing a blog and hearing nothing from Everyone. Although I do do this as a journal for myself to remember what happened – knowing other people are enjoying it is very uplifting.

Happy trails everyone!

Day 52 – The Garden State

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” – Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

Miles hiked today 24.2. 

We did not get to park beside the trail, so got off to a 6 AM start. It was a chilly morning so I threw on an over shirt knowing that I shouldn’t do it. Sure enough within 10 minutes of hiking the shirt was off and I was caring it.

My first stop of the morning was Culver Fire Tower. It was like a little hobo village.

There must’ve been 12 thru hikers camped around the tower. One even hung his hammock on the tower. They were all just barely stirring so I very quietly climb the tower.

Then I went onto Sunrise Mountain. It was an easy sloping Trail not a hard climb. At the top there was a shelter of sorts open on all sides that made out of stone and wood very cool.

I do so like to see the clouds touching the mountains in the distance.

As I hiked down the trail I came across this rock wall. I love these! It makes me wonder how long they’ve been there, who put them up, was it a boundary. I want to know its story.

Last night I was talking to a friend, when I mentioned white blaze she didn’t understand what I was talking about. So maybe I need to explain the Appalachian Trail markers. The Appalachian Trail is marked with “white blazes.” Starting in Georgia and going all the way to Maine the Appalachian Trail is marked with these 3″ x 6″ white blazes.

They are painted mainly on trees, but can also be found on rocks, bridges, if you’re going through town mailboxes, sidewalks, and any other surface that will lend it self to a white paint mark.

If there are two blazes painted together it means there’s a turn.

I haven’t shown a picture of a shelter in quite a while. Mainly because the shelters are about 3/10 of a mile off the trail and I see no reason to take the detour. But this one was sitting right next to the trail. Boy am I glad I have an RV now!

The views continued throughout the day and then I came along some trail maintenance that just made me stand in awe of the volunteers that make this trail walkable. Someone had moved this huge stones into this marshy area to allow hikers to pass without getting their feet wet – kudos to the volunteers.

Then I came upon an observation deck that had beautiful views of New Jersey and a war memorial built in 1930.

As I went through the forest of New Jersey time after time again I came across the rock walls from long ago. They fascinate me.

Then it was into pastures for a while. The way this trail weaves in and out of cities farmland and mountains it’s really quite something.

Then it was back into the forest. The trail leave it in and out of trees there was absolutely no straight lines.

Then I hit the New Jersey marshes. Almost the entire way through I was able to walk on boards and they’re done an excellent job of raising the trail so you don’t have to wade through the marsh.

The clouds moved in and it got really dark and by the time I got to the road where Hugh was going to pick me up , it had started raining. If I could’ve literally been six minutes faster I would not have gotten wet.


Day 51 – Surprise Encounter

Sometimes the most shocking surprises are also the most beautiful surprises. – Lori Wilhite

Miles hike today 18. 

My day started late! 7 AM! It was not so much becau se I was tired it was because it was cold outside. It was so warm and snuggly in the RV, that it was hard to take that first step out the door. When I started hiking at 7 AM it was 55°.

The views started right away as I walked along the​ ridge of the mountain. New Jersey spread before me like a painting—oh so pretty.

My next stop was at Fairview Lake overview. It’s a very picturesque lake in the middle of the woods and home to a couple of Boy Scout camps.

Then I came upon Catfish Fire Tower. I had to climb the tower of course and take a look! I do so love a good 360° Panorama. The views were absolutely stunning.

Then it was down off the ridge to beaver pond outlet. It was covered with Lily Pads with flowers blooming. And the frogs! They were croaking away in a symphony that that mother nature herself wrote.

(An aside – I use voice text to type while I hike. If I don’t write part of it during the day I feel like I missed some really great parts of the hike and then I finish it at night. It’s one reason my tenses are so screwed up.)

So I was writing/talking the part about the frogs, when I saw in my peripheral vision someone was on the trail. I looked up to say hello and 15 feet in front of me on the trail  was the largest black bear I’ve ever seen. I stopped in my tracks and said “Hey bear.” I think I’ve watched too many episodes of history channels Alone. They always say “hey bear” and it just came out naturally. The bear turned around and ambled off. I tried to get a picture, but to be honest it was a second thought and my heart was racing.

I will tell you that they are absolutely gorgeous creatures. The power that they show even as they walk is intimidating.

It was 9 o’clock so I thought it was OK to turn on my music. Frank Sinatra went back on to keep the Bears away.

I passed by another pond. I have to tell you the Lilly pad’s just fascinate me with their lone flower that closes up at night. It makes me want to put a pond in the backyard.

The rest of the day was walking along the ridge of the mountains. At one Vistapoint I met Tucan. He hiked most of the trail last year but still has two states to go. We had a nice chat about cameras and photography as we sat and enjoyed a view that was pure heaven.

The clouds are making everything just that much more dramatic.

It’s very hard to describe how cool the trail is. There are points were you have to climb, others that you have to scramble, and some you get to walk along the most beautiful path in the world.

I am fortunate I get to hike it.

Day 50 – The Lady is a Tramp

She’d never bother with people she hates. That’s why the lady is a tramp.-Frank Sinatra

Miles hiked today 26.3

I’m excited today because I leave Pennsylvania. Most of the morning was the typical Pennsylvania morning with rocks then I stopped to look at a couple of views…

and then a miracle happened and I was on a country road – a flat non-Rocky country road that went on for miles.

The country road really allowed me to stretch out my legs and put some miles in.

The country road morphed into a trail that many day hikers use so the number of people on the trail picked up considerably. All were very nice..

Unbelievable but the Rhododendrums were still in bloom here in northern Pennsylvania. What a gorgeous flower. The bushes line to the trails and I it it was just beautiful.

Then I got to see the Delaware river – I was headed down there. But first I got to stop at Lake Lenape. It was covered with Lily Pads that were in bloom. I’m running out of adjectives here, but can I just say it was sublime.

I walk to the small town of Delaware water gap and then crossed the Delaware river into New Jersey. I’m not sure why that Crossing the Delaware was emotional for me. Although it is not as historic as Washington’s Crossing it was epic for me.

Soon after crossing into New Jersey I entered into the Delaware water gap national recreation area. I met Hugh for lunch at a parking area and we decided it was a bad place to try to spend the night. There’s no camping in the Recreation area. 

We moved our meeting place 9 miles up the trail I hiked on. There were some absolutely wonderful rock cairns that I loved in two places in the Recreation area.

I reached sunfish pond and it started raining. It rained for about 30 minutes, just enough to drench me.

 I walked around sunfish pond and it was gorgeous. Then it was on to meet Hugh at the Mohican outdoor center. 

The views on the way to meet Hugh were absolutely stunning. Over and over I saw Beauty that I would never have put hand-in-hand with the state of New Jersey.

The clouds were amazing and the views even better. I put Frank Sinatra on my music and walked to a happy beat.

This tramp is liking New Jersey!

Day 49 – Pennsylvania Rocks

Rock is a four letter word. – Janet Ridgway 

Miles hike today 20.3

I left the RV at 5:38 AM this morning I was awake before, but I was waiting for it to stop raining. It rained all night long. So I had a very wet trail this morning.

The first thing on the agenda was to climb like normal but this was a climb! Poles were put away and it was a rock scramble up – lots of fun. I was drenched in sweat within 15 minutes. The picture below is straight up.

The higher I climbed the foggier it became because I was climbing into the clouds. There is something mystical about the forest when the fog rolls in.

When I reach the top it was time to hike across the ridgeline. Within minutes my feet were soaking wet and my shorts too. The rain from the night before had drenched everything leaving water droplets everywhere.

This section was supposed to be really bad with rocks.  I don’t know if it was exaggerated or if I’m just getting used to the rocks but the first 12 miles it seemed like a normal Pennsylvania day.

During my hike this morning for about 25 yards of the trail I followed this bunny. He would run ahead and then turn around and look at me and run ahead for a minute I felt like Alice in Wonderland.

I also came across this little guy. I’d liked his color that’s why I took his picture.

I looked at my map and saw there was a possible place for Hugh to meet me for lunch!. So I text him and he said he could do it. It was lovely seeing my guy if even for a short amount of time and getting a nice chicken sandwich to boot.

The last 8 miles were all rock. It got old…fast. There were some nice views, but the rocks were unending. I have one more day in Pennsylvania and hopefully, only one more day of rocks this bad.

Physically I’m doing pretty good. My hands are no longer hurts. My knee gets a little stiff at the end of the day where I landed on it. But overall I’m hanging in there.

Tomorrow I will be in New Jersey. I’m getting Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen loaded up – ready for my hike into New Jersey.

Day 48 – The Knife’s Edge

“Let’s be careful out there” -Sgt. Esterhaus, “Hill Street Blues”

Miles hiked today 13.7

I started walking this morning at 5:38 AM. Today was going to be a short day, but rain was threatening so I was in a hurry.

The views started almost immediately in the first hour. They were gorgeous but my mind was focused on The Knife Edge. With rain approaching I did not want to be on wet big rocks. They get very slick.

By 7 o’clock I’d hit The Knife’s Edge and I have to say it was very cool. These rocks are at the very tip of the mountain and you get to sit on them and look at stunning views.

This picture does not do it justice.

But I could see weather moving in so I moved on.

The first 8 miles of this walk were all big rocks. It was a nice change from the ankle busting smaller rocks. I got to hop from rock to rock which I really enjoy while having forward progress.

Then I arrived at Bake Oven Knob and the weather started obstructing the views. But in its own way it is very beautiful.

I was done with Bake Oven Knob by 8 o’clock but still had some boulders to get over. I finished with the big rocks around 9 AM, that was the time it started sprinkling.  I felt very fortunate. Until….

I tripped over this tiny rock – on flat ground! I went down… Down hard! Threw out my hand, which landed on a pointed rock and my knee took the rest of it. I now have a lovely bruise on the palm of my hand and my knee is a little bit swollen. Nothing that stops me from walking, as a matter of fact I got up and walked five more miles.

The rest of the morning was uneventful. It’s sprinkled off  and on for the next two hours. I will say the forest are resplendent in the rain.

And oh my gosh the ferns. Pennsylvania must have more ferns then anywhere. I bet I had 3 miles of ferns that I walk through. Just breathtaking.

When I came down off the mountain I had a bridge to cross-they are always fun to walk across.

And there’s no better place to take a picture of the river than on the bridge.

Hugh has plans for us  this afternoon, so I’m off to enjoy another part of Pennsylvania.

Day 47- Wrong Way Ridgway

If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.-Terry Goodkind

Miles hiked today 20.9. Not counting all the times I went the wrong way!

I started off this morning at 5:50 AM. I slept late since it was a nice cool night. Left the RV and then started my climb to Pulpit Rock. I meet Hugh in gaps so my morning usually always starts with the climb. I was looking forward to having breakfast at Pulpit Rock. It’s an overlook that many locals go to and I was going to get to it early enough that I knew no one would be there.

It was a beautiful spot. The mist hanging over the the valley made it very picturesque. I had breakfast and then kept hiking… The wrong way.

Evidently there are two ways into Pulpit Rock that meet up at the pulpit.I took one in and the other out, so I made a circle. Unfortunately, my mistake took me downhill, way downhill. When I realized what I had done, truthfully, I wanted to cry, but I said suck it up and turned around and climbed to the Pulpit once more.

What ticks me off is I had a couple of warnings. When I first started going downhill my gut thought there’s not supposed to be a downhill now, but as it was downhill I continued on because you never turn down  a downhill. The second warning was my map on my phone. It was showing me how I wasn’t where I thought I should be. Why I thought this one time that it would be wrong I don’t know. But I even close down my phone and re-opened the app thinking I knew more than the map.

So if in nothing else is learned from this I’ve learned to trust my gut and the map is RIGHT. I deserved the extra mile walk.

Then it was on toward The Pinnacle-which was the next vista on the trail. Right before the pinnacle I came upon this and it made me smile. I told you – Pennsylvania has a lot of rocks.

The Pinnacle’s vistas are probably my favorite Pennsylvania vistas. It was a long cliff that just gave you view after view after view. So beautiful. I’m so lucky to get to see all this!

After I came back from The Pinnacle side trail I started down the Appalachian Trail again-the wrong way-but only for about 25 feet. I do learn!. Turned around kept on walking.

After The Piinnacle I followed a country road for such a long way.  It was a perfect for walking! There were hardly any rocks whatsoever. I was loving Pennsylvania about now. I was so into walking the road that I missed my turn – AGAIN! I kept walking down on that road and it wasn’t until I saw a rattlesnake, that I couldn’t get past, that I pulled out my phone (to take a picture) and realized I was not on the trail. So turned around and walked back up hill (of course it was up a hill) until I found my mistake. I’m usually smarter than this.

And then HELL started…

Then came rocks, oh my goodness rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks. And every shape and size. Large boulders, mini boulders, large rocks, small rocks, pebbles.  You name it they put it on the trail. It was an neverending. There was no relief. Oh and by the way I figured out on this particular day, my shoes ARE too small.

There was a section with the large boulders that had trees literally knocked down over them and I could not find the trail. I had to rely totally on my map to figure out where I was going. It was a mess.  The blow downs totally obscured the trail. And, I do have to mention this section of the trail is not well marked.

The rocks continued for the rest of the day. My pace slowed. And then with about 3 miles left the gnats descended. I was plagued by gnats for the last 3 miles.

I was never more happy to see Hugh and RV! He had the hot water turned on and a cold Pepsi waiting.
Life just got a lot better!

Day 46 – Summer Solstice Surprise

One can never have enough socks,” Albus Dumbledore

Miles hiked 20.2.

Started my hike at 5:45 AM. Today is the summer solstice. This is traditionally known as hike naked day on the Appalachian Trail. I would not be participating.

Let’s talk rocks.

You have four major types of rocks that concern me. First your boulders where you jump from one huge rock to the next rock-that’s called fun in my book. I enjoy bouldering.

The next kind is a rock field. It’s like when the mountain gave away and just dumped a whole bunch of rocks in front of you and there’s no ground to see. These fields you have to move slowly through because many of the rocks are loose and your ankle can go at any time.

Then you have strewn rocks on the trail. These can be packed tightly together or spread  loosely about. You weave in and out all day long placing your foot where it will do the least amount of damage. There is no way, I repeat no way to avoid all the rocks. Sometimes you just go with the lesser of the evils.

Then there’s this baby! This little sucker buried in the ground with a pointy end sticking up is the downfall of many hikers, especially this one. Sometimes you don’t see the point and you come down on it-ouch! Sometimes the brain does not register how tall it is and you trip on these time after time, until your toes feel like raw hamburger.

Then the sun comes into play! It shines through the trees and throws lights on to some rocks. It makes it harder to see where to place your foot. The shadows just throw you off.

OK enough about rocks let’s get onto the beauty of the Appalachian Trail. This is Auburn Lookout it was one of the very few vistas today but it was gorgeous. By this time I had met up with the hiker called Prima and he was kind enough to take my picture.

This is Prima. I have met him before and we had a nice four hours together. He kept a quick pace and made my day go by faster.

As Prima and I were hiking along this little woodchuck was on the trail. We followed him for about 10 feet and then I asked Prima if I can get ahead of him so I could get a picture. I hurried closer to the woodchuck and he turned around I clicked his picture and then he came after me. I jumped off trail and then he went after Prima.

Soon after we parted ways with the woodchuck we came across an even scarier animal… A NAKED HIKER!

I could not believe my eyes. I said you have more guts than I do to the naked hiker, then ask if I could take his picture. He said sure and started to turn and I said no no no you are fine just how you are. I ask his name, but I cannot remember it.

Then I hiked into the town of Port Clinton. I just skirted it so I did not see much of the town.

The trail did take me under this lovely underpass. The places we go!

Finally I arrived to where Hugh had parked. I learned there was something else I could do with my favorite beverage. The cold cans feel I was so good on my feet. My darn tough socks are making my feet break out in a rash. Must be allergic to the wool in them. So Hugh and I went to Cabela’s and bought me new socks!

Ready for tomorrow!

Day 45 – Sore Feet, Nothing New

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.-Navy Seal

Miles hiked today 21.

Started today at 6:40 AM. Hugh drop me off and I immediately started to climb. The trail was over grown in many sections and I felt like I used my trekking poles more for clearing the way and helping me along for the first hour..

The trail was also wet this morning after that big storm we had yesterday. I was so lucky I was already done for the day by the time that baby hit! The storm cleared the humidity out of the air and the morning was beautifully cool and wonderful for walking.

This morning offered a little bit of everything in the way of terrain. I had some boulders to climb over, some rocky parts, and a country road that I got to walk down for a while.

And along the way I had some great vistas.

I had lunch at this one.

There was a sea of ferns on the ridge it went on forever.

I saw my first human at noon today. It had been a very solitary morning with just me and the rocks. I saw a second guy setting up a tent away from the trail about an hour later and that was it for humans. It was just me and the rocks.

The saga of the shoes continues. I don’t think they are too small.  I think it was a toenail that was a little ingrown. I wore the new shoes all today and they did pretty good. My feet are still sore because of all the rocks. I’m trying not to complain because I know the rocks get worse and I want to save the complaining until later. (Grin)

The skies were beautiful today. Plus there was a gentle breeze almost all day long that made hiking a joy. But it also brought out the birds. I don’t know what kind they were and I think there were different kinds, but the birds were soaring on the thermals.

Over and over they would dip and soar. It was like they were having fun.

At the end of my hike I came across this marker. It commemorates a look out post of the French and Indian war-pretty cool!

Finally when my day was done Hugh was waiting for me at the trail head. We walked to the camper and my feet have been up since I walked in the door!

Tired but happy.