A 2,200 mile hike with my dog Nara.
Sep 20, 2013
I'm going to consider Shenandoah Park as the end of northern Virginia.
1,327.5 miles hiked, 858.4 miles to go.
Sep 15, 2013
My friends Willy and KJ and Nara's friend Tess came to visit us in Shenandoah. They picked me up from Skyland drive and we drove back north to Loft Mountain campground. It's a car camping site with relatively secluded tent sites, nice bathrooms, a campstore, and wayside (restaurant).
We skipped the wayside for dinner. They brought a cooler full of food (and cold beer), and we had a small cookout at our campsite. We stopped by the wayside in the morning though for blueberry pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, and gigantic blackberry ice cream cones.
It was a nice break from hiking solo. It means a lot when friends take time out of their schedule to come keep you company. The only downside of visits is that I do feel homesick the next day or two. I noticed this as well when my parents dropped me off in Harper's Ferry. Thankfully the feeling goes away as you acclimate to the solitude of the woods.
Grill Master Willy
The key to a dog's heart: red meat
Enjoying the simple things in life
Very happy dogs
KJ enjoying the view?
2 steaks, 2 sausages, grilled corn, rice, veggies, 2 ice cream sticks, a few beers, and smores! And Willy is down for the count.
Sep 12, 2013
This is my favorite shelter in Shenandoah park. The walls are made of stone, and there's a fireplace inside the shelter. Had the shelter to ourselves, and at night you get a cool view below of the city lights of Luray.
I stayed here last fall on a section hike with my brother. It was below freezing that night, and the fire inside helped me to fall asleep. Unfortunately, when the fire went out, I was awake the rest of the night until we rekindled a fire in the morning.
It was a tough experience at the time, but now when I think of that night, it makes me chuckle.
Cool, windy night here
Just the two of us, we can make it if we try
Sep 12, 2013
I'm out of Shenandoah park now. The weather was perfect, and it was nice to do some climbing again after the relatively flat trail in Jersey, Penn, and Maryland.
Skyland Drive is a 105 mile road that runs north to south through the park. The AT basically parallels Skyland drive, crossing it 28 times over 100 miles.
Some hikers complain that the trail is too close to the road, so that you're always earshot away from the Harley Davidsons cruising along. But I still enjoyed the hiking, and it always means you're close to waysides (restaurants in the park) or a campstore for a snack.
For most of the 100 miles you're hiking along a ridge line with very nice views of the valleys below. The trails are very well maintained and there's an abundance of wildlife.
Shenandoah is known for its dense bear population, but we only saw 3, and the sightings were the same: bear darting over the hills when we get close. There was one night Nara woke me up at 2 in the morning barking at something outside a shelter. I'm guessing it was a curious bear.
And more similar views
Crossed this road 28 times
Nice day hikers gave me a cold beer.
View from Blackrock Summit
Sep 08, 2013
The section between Harper's Ferry and Shenandoah Park is where I did most of my hiking prior to the thru-hike.
Hiking here brings back a lot of good memories from hiking with old friends to my first night sleeping in the woods by myself.
I can still remember spots where we rested, the agony on my friend's face after a long ascent, and the conversations around the campfire.
It's good to be back.
Sleeping in at Rod Hollow Shelter after hiking the "roller coaster" southbound
Too lazy to eat bfast at the picnic table
Snake skin: 5 ft black snake living in the rafters at Manassas Gap shelter
Sep 08, 2013
I came home wet, dirty, smelly, with sore feet, and an empty stomach, but returned back to the trail with renewed body and spirit.
If you plan on a thru-hike, make sure to recruit loving parents, a sympathetic spouse, or your good friends to support you.
Who's this young couple?
Me bumming around while my mom helps with gear repair
Ground cloth made by mom
Aug 30, 2013
Aug 30, 2013
Aug 29, 2013
Sometimes the data is easier to remember in graphical form. Starting today, I will be hiking Virginia, the longest state on the AT.
I'll likely be in Virginia for a month, and many thru-hikers experience what's known as the "Virginia Blues," where hikers begin to feel down due to solitude, monotony, boredom, and being in one State for so long.
You'll constantly question what you're doing and the purpose of your hike. There will be days where you'll find every excuse not to take another step, like "Hey, there's a nice, big rock, I think I'll sit down there for another 2 hours."
Let's hope Nara and I can push through without too many mental battles.
Aug 28, 2013
Back at home making updates to the website. I'm surprised at how much you can forget after almost 3 months in the woods.
Aug 28 Updates:
- downsized image files (people with slow internet connection should like this)
- update to homepage and FAQ sections
- small update to gear section
- fixed a couple back-end issues
Morpheus doing his thing
Aug 28, 2013
I'm currently at my parents' house in Northern Virginia.
They picked me up from Harper's Ferry for my planned break from the trail. Besides rest, the plan is to pack on more body weight. I weighed myself the other day, and was shocked to see that I was 145 pounds (started hike at 160 pounds). I think that's the lowest I've weighed since middle school! Kind of scary.
I plan to eat every 3 hours and get 10 hours of sleep for the next few nights.