Friday, August 27, 2010

Squeezing in a hike...

There are few things that make Cute Husband smile as much as hiking!  August is a challenging month for me to take leave from work, but the trail was calling and we set out for Buena Vista, VA to crash at a hotel and get in a short overnight.  We were lucky enough to convince Homer Witcher to come shuttle us and were beyond pleased that his wife Therese came for the ride too!

Speaking of old friends, one of the first things we saw when we got on the trail was this from Queen Becky:  I prefer her privy art, but it was nice to see that she had landed her also. 
As we hiked North, we carefully navigated around squid and enjoyed a rain free day...

...with loads of butterflies and their children enjoying the flowers and milkweed.  This creature becomes Cute Husband's favorite butterfly, the Monarch.
I'm thinking these guys may be Variegated Fritillary- but I'm always happy to be corrected.
And to learn more about flutterbyes...

 A super cool suspension bridge that we crossed as a group of day players were out enjoying the day.  One of the guys asked where we were hiking to and where we were spending the night.   It always makes us a little uncomfortable telling non-hikers where we plan to spend the night with only a camp knife and a petzl light as protection. 

Hiking North we came across the most beautiful hollow with a charming stream.
Bigger sigh.
We made it to our destination, Cow Camp Gap Shelter with plenty of daylight to set up the traveling LoveNest and filter water.   The 1/2 mile hike off the AT to get to the shelter was a bit of a bummer, but we enjoyed a quiet spot away from 2 Northbounders and 2 section hikers. 
Cute Husband makes fire and then coffee in the morning.
Plus, it was the perfect spot to stage our celebration!  700 trail miles marked this hike!  It is still difficult for us to wrap our heads around the fact that we have walked over 700 miles on the Appalachian Trail....

Gorgeous day to walk up to the Balds. It is sometimes super swell to get out the woods for a piece and enjoy open views.

Finding the swing was also super bonus.   

Mowed grass makes for happy hiker feet.

Cute Husband. The best view of the day :)

Virginia is calling again... mid September with the Witchers!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wounded warriors climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Nice Washington Post article and photos here. Impressive and heart-warming!  

Monday, August 2, 2010

43 Miles, 3 Days, NY!

The challenge:
43 miles in New York State
Temperatures in the high 90s.
Good chance of rain.
And, it all started with a double rainbow which Cute Husband spotted after a fueling dinner at Barnstormers near Bear Mountain.

The hiking started at the Dover Oak with a ride from our pal, Shamrock and his dog, Spring.

And, it was hot, hot, hot for our longest day of the hike...17 miles ... on less than hiker legs.

Hot (very hot) Cute Husband.

A shady spot on a cool bridge with an angle in NY
Some local children made pictures of nature found on the trail in this display near a trail head.
Dark-eyed Junco, our personal favorite.
The best part about this hike was how many southbound thru hikers we encountered.  This was some sweet trailmagic left by Ozigal.   We had met some thru hikers at lunch who had enjoyed a morning beer or two from this very cooler.

We landed at dark at the RPH Shelter, exhausted, but happy after a 17 mile day.  Our friend, Ross thru hiked 10+ years ago and remembered this shelter with the rusty water pump. 
Nothing had changed. 
We ended up filtering from the creek rather than drink the iron fortified water at the shelter.

But the shelter was quite comfy with bunks and a large porch to chill and enjoy breakfast.  We met a thru hiker, De ja vu, who was trying to complete a thru hike after an injury took him off trail a couple of years ago.

Only 743.7 miles to Mt. Katahdin!

Day 2 was our short day - 10 miles.  Which consisted of 5 miles of hiking in the rain. 
We met a gentleman, who we assumed was a thru hiker, until we asked him how he was and he responded - Great!  When do you get the chance to walk in the rain for 8 hours?  He was excited to complete a 10 mile hike that day, as he had put on a back pack for the first time 2 days prior and had never hiked more than 5 miles in a day.   We would have spent more time with him, and perhaps given him a trail name ... such as Cute Hubby's suggestion... Rain Man...but it was a torrential downpour with no cover in sight.

The rain let up in time to reach a camping area and set up the traveling LoveNest.  We wondered why no other hikers seemed to be using this site. 
Perhaps it was because tire marks criss crossed the field - making one think about the potential of getting run over in a tent?
Note our close proxmity to the picnic table.
Yum!   Food from a bag!
I kissed my guy goodnight and we headed under tent cover as a next round of rain fell upon us.  As darkness fell, we heard cars pull up and people walking around our tent.  When we emerged, they informed us that they had reserved the entire field and there would be several tents and cooking and lots of noise right where we had pitched the tent. 
They were kind enough to offer us a corner and they made good on their promise to make lots of noise.  Things quieted down at around 10ish and we woke to this lovely group singing a hymn. 

We couldn't stick around for breakfast, we needed to lace up and get out before the temps climbed up into the upper 90s.

We run across the most touching things on the trail... this was a memorial to Rick, whose best friend asked  hikers to pray for him. 
This is Stickwalker and Belle. 
Belle was just back on the trail after recovering from Lyme's Disease.   We also met Sweet Tea, a woman from TN who was still recovering from blisters after walking through PA.  We met Hedghog and El Flaco.  I tried to encourage them... "wow!  you are almost there... less than 800 miles!"  El Flaco said... "yeah, 800 miles what could possibly happen" 
Hmmm.. good point. 

We also met Miles who gave us the best news of the day.   Apparently, there was an unmapped gas station with food and ... air conditioning! right off the trail about 4 miles South.  We had a whole new spring in our step as we sweated out 90+degrees and dreamed of Gatorade and sandwiches rather than a hot mashed potato dish we had thought of cooking.
What a treat! 
 I ate so much, I could barely get my legs to work up the next hill as my entire body went into digestion mode.

We carefully and gently came down Anthony's steep nose and landed at the base of Bear Mountain Bridge.
Crossing the Hudson!
Anthony's Nose in the background.
Smelly, seriously fun great stuff!  
It was good to cross the bridge late in the afternoon to avoid full on heat stroke... but we were bummed to learn that the zoo closed at 4PM. 
We headed through the human zoo that is the Bear Mountain park on a Saturday and limped to the car.   It was overwhelming to leave the woods and enter another universe of bbq pits, vendors, huge people in skimpy bathing suits....
We headed to where we had spotted the double rainbow... a Holiday Inn parking lot in hopes of finding a shower before dinner. 
Success!  and back for a last meal at Barnstormers!
We crashed and decided to check out the zoo the next morning, since we blue blazed the night before.
And, we were so glad not to have passed it up.  The zoo is outfitted with animals (mostly rehab critters) found in the area with tons of educational plaques.  It was a perfect morning to spend without the packs on our backs. 
So, how did we feel after our 43 mile challenge?
Next hike... back to Virginia, Cute Hubby?