Day 75

Sat 23rd June

It was a good choice not to walk yesterday especially with all that rain
I woke at 6 am as Tree hugger was up and was having an early cooked breakfast then he was going to slack pack the next 2 sections
I should meet him later today going the other way.
At 7 I got up and went downstairs. Scot thought I said 7 but 7.30 also worked.
I sat on a stool in the kitchen and chatted to Lost & Found and Onion as they finished their breakfast. I poured myself a coffee and chilled.
Scot was running Tree hugger to town then he would cook me breakfast (included in the room rate)
I ate the same as yesterday. Fried eggs and toast. Scot makes his own jams and I loved the BlackBerry lime and pineapple bloody good. I polished off my breakfast drained another cup of coffee followed by a large orange juice.

I was now trail ready. I went back upstairs and grabbed my pack. before returning to the kitchen, where I put fresh water into my bladder.
Okay all packed, Scot suggested that I weigh my pack
My pack weighed in at 46lb that’s far too heavy for most hikers, but it’s always been that weight. It’s mainly food and so it should get lighter.
But tomorrow I must tackle the. “Roller coaster” Yes that is its name several miles of straight ups and straight downs. I am so looking forward to that.
I thanked my hosts, had a group photo then I was off.

I walked along the road heading back to the tail and was amazed that several cars stopped to ask if I needed a lift to town even though I hadn’t had my thumb out. I thanked them but said I was re-joining the trail.

As soon as I was on the AT it began to climb   and was still very wet from all that rain. There was a river running along the trail and occasionally spilling out across the trail as it tumbled down hill. I desperately tried to keep my feet dry, so I was constantly crossing back and forth to avoid the deep parts. I arrived at a fast-flowing creek, but there were enough large rocks for me to keep my feet dry.

I spent a few hours climbing then as the trail evened out it became all soupy again so more fun to manoeuvre around it and painfully slow.
As I was descending into another forest I met a familiar face it was Tree hugger.
Dam I said I was hoping to meet him much later in the day
He must be really flying as he only had 7 miles to do to get back to the hostel.
He told me the condition of the trail ahead and then he was gone.
That’s the advantage of slack packing over me carrying .my stuff.

Oh well. I still thought that I was doing well and should be able to reach at least 18 miles.
I debated with myself whether to stop for lunch at 12 or 1pm.
I decided to reach the next shelter then I could get water at the same time.
Again, it was so humid that I was completely soaked and could wring out my shorts and top. maybe I will change at the shelter
The shelter sign then appeared so I stopped. as I was thinking another hiker was coming up from the shelter.
How far is it I asked?
50 yards. he replied.
So, I needed down the Blue Blazed trail. When I reached it there were 8 people there? I said excuse me and grabbed and signed the book.
Are you all Japanese I asked?
No, we are Koreans. I chatted for a while took pictures of them with their own cameras before they left me in peace to eat. I sat down at the table and ate my snacks in my wet soggy clothes.
Maybe it’s the salt? But as I sat munching several bees began to dive bomb me and then there were more on my poles.
This wasn’t fun, so I hurriedly packed up and set off.
I passed several more Koreans going South then. several other day hikers.
Soon I emerged onto a bright open meadow. Sat on a bench were a couple. any nice views they asked ..No sorry only mud. I continued and crossed over railway tracks then under the freeway.
I then found the trail again and continued. I crossed several bridges before starting one of many climbs.
I looked at my watch. It had just gone 3.30…. I will walk to 6 I decided that should give me miles.
I pushed on passing the next shelter, I paused to check my map and see she. water was 3 miles. Yes perfect, although I could hear the rush of water nearby. It was a very wide creek that rushed over many rocks. But that made it much easier to cross. I managed it without getting wet hurrah.
The next part of the trail was very soupy, and I struggled to avoid the mud. . I then came to the junction and the next. shelter but I wanted those extra miles so pushed on.
I was slipping and sliding through more mud when I came across a group of scouts they were just put for the night. a little further on I came to an ice chest. but it was empty apart from. Water. I grabbed a gallon and glugged some down then filled up my bottles just as it started to rain.

It was for cash heavy rain and storms at 3 it was an hour late!
I quickly walked on and luckily found a tent space. I quickly got out my poles and set up.my fly. put down the footprint then assembled my tent. It was down now a huge downpour and I hurriedly got my stuff inside. I stripped off my wet things and chilled. I was just about to cook. when the rain stopped, and the sun came out and then it was hot. Bloody typical ….
I got out and sat on a rock then began to cook. . I was annoyed that I had stopped too early.
but it was nice to have an early night. I finished cooking and hung my food. then had an early night
I will try to get up early tomorrow. as I will start the “Roller coaster” a series of large climbs and decent. for 17 miles I am so looking forward to it ha ha
Start 971
Finish 987
Miles 16

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Day 74

I had to be up for breakfast but not until 8.30 so I dozed.

I had managed lock my banking, so this was my main priority. Scot was making breakfast. and outside the rain continued to fall. Most peep had decided to take a zero.it seemed such a good idea
Scot is there room for one more night. Yes, snail but we will need to bump you up to the house
cool so now I can relax and concentrate on the bank issues. The problem is there is no cell service. so, I tried my UK sim, still no service.
I made myself busy until I could shift my gear over to the house, which I couldn’t do until 12 ish. Outside the rain continued to pour and pour.
I’m sure the trail must be a boggy mess … such fun.
At last it was time for me to move my stuff.

I grabbed my pack and walked over with Onion and Tree hugger. after settling in we all decided to go into town. Dog-whisper joined us.
We asked Scot to recommend a place, so he dropped us off at the Blue Frog.
It was a smart looking restaurant there was an English chef who helping, and he was having a quick beer, his London accent giving him away.
I had a burger. rare with bacon and avocado and salsa fries. Both were delicious.

.

Whilst in the restaurant I was able to ring my bank. the lady said she had changed my security to allow me to reset my online banking

After we finished up. we decided to see a movie and chose the Incredibles 2.
Not as good as the first , but still a fun entertaining film
After the film we mooched around town I visited the outfitters as I really fancied a chair , one that’s  lightweight so I do not have to sit in the Dirt
They  had similar   although I though expensive !
Maybe when I get to Harper’s Ferry!!.

Okay we all needed some groceries so headed t the store. I topped up my supplies and  brought  a frozen meal for tea which I enjoyed later with a few beers

Then it was bed .

Miles zero

Day 67 Heading to Wainsboro

Friday
I quickly packed up as the Brewery do a hiker breakfast for 5bucks.
I wandered over looking for where I had to go until  I spotted other hikers so knew I was at the right place.
I dropped my pack  wiyth  the other packs  and went inside . I paid my 5$ and received coffee, a large bowl of oatmeal followed by a plate with scrambled egg, sausage, 2 biscuits (scones) and fried potatoes, both bowl and plate were soon empty
I was then given a free t-shirt, which i though was very  clever marketing  as  hikers going south and north would soon be wearing them giving the brewet  some great advertising .
I grabbed another coffe and was relaxing , when  Bob   and  then Zippy appeared
I chatted to  several other hikers  befgore  realising that i had  miscalculated my days.
Wainsboro is where my new pack is  and so if  hike the next bit I wouldn’t be able to get my pack until Monday. that wastes me a weekend in Wainsboro and i didnt want to do  that . I was in a dilema

AS  i  sat  pondering what to do a bunch  of  hikers piled into a pick up  for  the  trip  back to the trailhead
Bugger . Okay hitch it is ,I walked back to the road and put out my trusty thumb.
Must be lucky as got a ride quickly . anywhere near Wainsboro post office please.
The journey took 30 mins ..My driver Ron offered to wait and take me to the hostel after.
As i  walked into the post office  i had my fingers crossed that it was here otherwise  this  will be another wasted day
The post office was fait empty so I was served quickly and given a large box great .
Thank god  for  that  , as this was my  pack whoop .I thanked the lady and got ack to the car.
As we drove through the town, Ron pointed out restaurants and the outfitters most of which went straight out my other ear.
We then pulled into the hostel ,  The owner   xxxanimal  showwd  me arround and gave me choices  of  rooms .
I grabbed a bunk and then began to empty my pack and put my gear into my shiny new one. I then put my old pack  into the new box. taped it up and headed back to the post office. It was rather expensive  to send home, but it’s on its way !!
As I was leaving I bumped into some freinds .
We are going for the Chinese Buffet Snail you want to come? Bumble Bee said
Yes why not
The restaurant was a few blocks away . Wow  what  an amazing place there were rows and rows of food and Coy carp swimming inside.
My first plate was spring rolls and other deep fried favourites.
Plate two was lots of different chicken dishes and noodles.
well after my 5th visit I was  stuffed, but I could still manage pudding…. Rude not too.
Afterlunch my friends  wanted to visit the outfitters , so I came along for the ride.
The outfitters had a great section of kit. I grabbed gas, a plastic cup and some energy drink mix.
Once back at the hostel  I updated some videos and cleared down my phone .
I  then decided to go shopping there was Dollar  General  a few blocks away I brought some bits , before  heading to walmart to finish off and buy beer and fruit.
Once back I decanted my food., Typically  i have brought far too much oh well I will eat it.
Once my chores were done  I sat out in the sun, ate an orange and drank a large lemonade  I was now  relaxed and ready for beer.As it began to get dark i came inside . most people were ordering pizza but I was a little tired of pizza so cooked up something from my horde of food. an spent the rest of the evening watching Adam Sandlar in a film on Netflix.

Then it was zzzz

Miles zero

Day 68

Saturday 16th June

I was woken by the sound of other hikers getting up and leaving. I lay awake trying to decide what to do. should I chill or hike out.
Eventually I got up poured myself some coffee then began to pack. well at least I would be ready.
Adam the owner was busy buzzing about when I asked him. if he had a pc or laptop that I could use. He pointed to a row of tablets that I haven’t noticed.
brilliant I said  and went and grabbed the USB sticks and cables from.my pack.
I backed my phone up to the tablet then copied that to the sticks It took 2 to hold all of  the data.
I was really pleased as I had been trying to do this for ages.
I was just finishing off when Zippy arrived as she had sent packages to this hostel.
We chatted while she waited for Adam to return.
When Adam returned he  asked “Who is waiting to go back to the trail?”
“Me” I said
“5 minutes”, he replied
I threw the rest of my stuff into my pack, retrieved my water bladder from the fridge and I was ready. Batty and Vauwk were also going back.
It was a short drive back to the trail head and another lovely day although it was late 10.30. the sun was beaming down as I hoisted up my pack. As I set off up the trail, immediately everything began to hurt as my body realised we were hiking again.!
Today I was entering the Shenandoah Mountains which are supposed to be stunning. After a short hike I came to the registration booth, there is no charge, but you need to fill in a permit and carry a copy.
Once done I posted a copy into the box and set off.
The morning was mainly up but it was nice to see so many clean smelling people coming the other way. I pushed on for several hours, before the trail began to head steeply down. I passed several day hikers as I began my decent.
The bottom opened into a meadow where I needed to cross the road. As I got closer I noticed several other hikers standing by a car. Whoop trail magic. I was offered a cold beer, peach and strawberries
Thank you so much. the early beer was just perfect. I stood and chatted for several minutes before moving on.

As I had just come down it was time to climb back up. It was getting warmer and the first part had no shade. Bloody hell I muttered as the trail became steep. but at last it evened out as I crested the top. Up here were several communication masts. I would have stopped and checked mail, but I wanted to push as it would be a short day. after this climb the trail meandered down a d through several meadows. I crossed several car parks and met the ranger. He didn’t ask for permit a he was busy with some farmers.

I pushed on and one until I came across xxx xxx sitting having lunch . he was sat by the shelter sign, but it was .3 so a round trip of .6 too far.
I said I have 30 mins to go before I stop which should correspond to a spring and water.

I pushed on through the forest until I exited into a bare patch then I heard the crackle of electric as standing high above me stood a pylon. I started at the dramatic view before me before moving on.

At the spring I filled up both bottles as the next water was far. It was now 2pm I had no chance of making it to the next shelter. I then decided to have my lunch I almost devoured my apple, but I wanted to save that for dinner.
okay its 2.30, 12 miles to the next shelter @ 2 miles hour that will be 8 and that’s if the trail is flat. I laughed to myself.
Okay I will walk to 5PM and then look to camp, happy with this decision I pushed on until I ran me to Peach, Mousetrap and Guinness. They were slack packing so we’re heading south. I don’t agree with slack-packing, so I will say nothing.

Hi guys. I was hoping that I would run into you guys much later in the day.
Snail make sure you have plenty of water. They advised
Yes, I’m full I replied.
What are your plans Guinness asked?
Well I wanted to get to the second shelter. But I started late. it’s almost 3pm now so maybe 14 ish.
Okay Snail see you up the trail

I must admit the trail was very good, occasionally I exited into burning sun but mainly I was hiking in shade.

Once again, I exited onto a road.  on the other side was a viewing area so I wandered over. just over the wall a dozen or so butterflies were busy flitting around. I stood and watched them so several minutes when a large pickup stopped, and a couple got out.

What are you watching? Came a voice
Theses butterflies.  I think they are Monarchs? Are you kiwis I asked.?
Indeed, they were. and in the USA on holiday. we chatted for a while then another car pulled up.
I chatted to this couple too he had competed the AT so on cue asked if I needed a cold drink.

I’d love one. he handed me a sprite and a bottle of flavoured water that tasted better than the Sprite. I soon emptied both before giving back the empties.

I thanked them then headed back to the trail, and 2 lots of trail magic today.

I had a grin on my face as I plodded on. The time was getting later but the miles seemed slow today. as I pushed on I noticed that the blueberries are beginning to appear. won’t be long.

5pm came and went okay I will hike on until 6 pm. It was still a lovely evening, but I didn’t want to hike late.
At last a flat spot. that will do nicely.

I put up my food bag then cooked tea. at 7.40 I got into my tent. I watched many other people come by.

Then it got noisy I looked out of my tent and there were 3 deer. I filled for a while

now zzzx

Miles 16.4 walked

Day 39 zero in Damascus

friday 18th May

I slept so well on the sofa waking at 8.30 and dozing. Tank was in the armchair and whitey was on the other sofa. Beth was making coffee so I grabbed a cup.
Dan began to make breakfast, scrambled egg, hash and bacon  we  all dug  in  and  wow  so  tasty.
Once I had eaten I wandered down to the post office.
Sadly no sign of my bounce box , but new shoes whoop and another box which I then bounced to my friend in Texas.
I walked back to the house and tried to find the post office number. Beth lent me her phone to try and contact them .but after being on hold for ages I gave up I will retry tomorrow.
Every one else had walked down to the festival but as it was nice i quite  I began to edit some video  and  then uploaded,once  down i too headed off to  the festival.

I walked  through   mingling  with  the hundreds  of  other hikers . I  entered several competitions, looked at the kit, tents, hammocks. Osprey  the pack manufactures  should be  here but I couldn’t see them  as i wanted some  help  and  advice on my  pack  or  if  i could swap it out .
I kept meeting my hiker family which was great but now I was hungry so went and grabbed lunch and a soft drink as an Alcohol is banned from the town!!
Hundreds of  hikers and No beer     Great  idea

Whilst I ate lunch I listened to several bands that were playing.. As I sat there a hiker I met several days ago joined me and then so did Dan.
The other hiker was saying that Osprey and Big Agnes and several other venders were set up by the campsite.
I made my way back to the house , found my pack and began to empty every thing out.
I was going to walk to tent city when Beth offered to drive me.
Beth  drove  me  up to tent city    it was awash  with  hikers and  the smell of  food, Again there several competitions going  on and  there were  hordes of  hikers  surrounding  them.
I wandered through the vender part and found Osprey. I haggled on a pack for a while and got a 20% discount on a pack but I had to buy it  from town. But whilst  here I managed to get  my Hip belt replaced .
I wandered around looking at the other stalls  before getting a ride back to town. I found the outfitter , but unfortunately the store didn’t have either of the bags that I wanted . Oh well at least I  have a new hip belt.

I wandered back to the house and was pleased to see big Red had arrived. I gave him big hug then put my now dry tent away before joining the guys on the porch for a beer I am just about to sit  when Magic and Tentless arrive and it’s like a party .
We spent the whole evening sat  on the porch chatting and drinking beer untill the Pizza that we ordered earlier arrives . Its bloody  good pizza and we are soon all stuffed  but  can still manage more beer

But Omg it’s midnight

Start 469
Finish 469
mileage  ZERO
Remaining 1723 Miles

Day 11

zero in Franklin

I slept so well waking at 10 am.

I walked to the outfitter to print off my Smokies permit then grabbed some gas (butane) then I noticed the time. Omg the Post office. I raced back to my room. grabbed the boxes. taped them, wrote on the address then headed to the P.O,
Of course there was a huge queue, as I waited another postal lady asked “Picking Up”
I chatted to  her about my missing packages , handed over my receipt ,before  returning  back to the queue.  I soon reached the counter and  paid for my boxes.

The other Post lasy then called me over , She explained to me  that i had actually sent one of my packages  to Franklin , Massachutes  not Carolina. and my other parcel I had sent to the Noc… How  the hell did i manage  to do  that !!

She said  that  she  would  try and get my parcel back and send to Damascus, fingers crossed.
On the  back at the motel I called in at the garage , brought  a 6 pack, ice cream, lemonade, and a ham sub.
I sat in the sun  ouside my room  and chilled before I caught the sight of Jess.
Hey Jess.  Jess came  over , we chatted a while before  she went and dropped her pack  into her room  and  then she too wnt in search of beer.
I waded through my sub, then  began to devour my tub of ice cream washed down with beer.
Jess shortlry appeared with beer , and so we spent the afternoon talking about the trail and people and drinking our beer.
Kyle, another hiker then joined in the sun  as we  chatted  drinking and relaxing

Jess was staying umtil Monday, hiking out Tuesday to avoid the Rain!! I am heading out Monday early (maybe)
Jess and I decided to grab dinner then  check out the lazy hiker. we stopped at the Autobar and we both had BBQ chicken salad that was very tasty before wandering to the Lazy Hiker.

There were several  band’s playing, with a great vibe. so more ale was consumed .
It was great catching up with new and old faces

News Flash… Big Mike (White rice) is in town omg legend.
I enjoyed a few fees but as I am out tomorrow morning, I  didnt want to  stay out  too late    so bid Jess goodnight   and  headed back to my room zzzz

Start 105.7
Finish 105.7
Mileage  ZERO

Day 4

Day 4
I slept fairy well waking at 7 am as I emerged from my tent  i  could make out more tents   through the fog.
I headed for the bathroom ( the big tree), after I retrieved  my food bag from the tree, I  put on my stove to make tea.
I packed up and dropped my tent,  drank my tea and ate a power bar.
I was ready, It was almost 8am  ,I  hoisted my pack and set off  through the Fog.
There were 3 tents remaining as i headed out.
I hadn’t gone far when I needed to stop as there was something in my shoe.
Then I had to stop again as I was cooking in my fleece. Okay snail let’s try again.
I gingerly made my way  along  the trail, although the trail headed  down it was littered with rocks.
I was going to film more but I was  too tired . Maybe too much sun yesterday or too many miles?
The trail  eventually  changed to what I like, enabling me to push. I popped a jolly rancher into my mouth i love these boiled sweets as they are quite quenching. T
The trail this morning was as a bit of a roller coaster.but  i was making good progress  and  soon arrived at  Woody Gap and there were trash cans . I dumped my rubbish and a few other items  to lighten my load as Blood mountain is coming up and i am dreading the climb.

As I crossed through the parking lot i  could see  the team of 4 hikers who i had been leap frogging. I waved and continued on.
The trail started gentle but then quickly  began to get steep  and so my normal puffing and panting  began , as I climbed.
This place seemed really popular as many day hikers were coming the other way.
As the trail climbed higher, i had to keep pausing to sip water and to catch my breath. Finally I was at the summit and the trail began to decent. I passed John who was resting but  he would  soon catch  me. We hiked together for a while until we came to water.
I topped up and was on my way as the team of four appeared. The trail from here was nice, a lovely sandy surface I followed the 4 for a while until the trail began to climb once more
The next hour was up and down, fast and slow, ping went my watch informing me that I had been hiking for 3 hours so decided to stop for lunch. I was still carrying far too much food …Why! Well I was going to hike slower so would require more food.
I ate tortillas with tuna I don’t really flour tortilla , but its food. I rested for a while before setting  off  towards the dreaded Blood Mountain. There were a couple of large ups and downs then it was the climb. I set off up on my slow stomp chugging  slowly up.
Many hikers were coming down as it’s a big tourist spot, as they passed by  tseveral said  “your almost there” and every single one was a bloody liar ha ha
At last the Blood mountain shelter appeared which confussed me , had I done it !!
Yes indeed I had and it wasn’t as bad as people had said.  It was now  downhill to Neels gap.
But the first desent was down over large slabs of granite. I so glad it wasn’t raining as this would be suicide and it wasnt  easy in the dry . Slow was safe, eventually it evened out and I began to stride but then it turned into  a quarry. It was more for goats than hikers it was bloody awful. And still  it was busy with tourists, other hikers and dogs.
I  joined up withthree other hikers as we began to stride down the mountain  to Neels gap.
Atwe began to decend i could at last see it . I crossed the road  and stared at a tree that was  full of boots !! It appeasr to be a custom. I made my way to the shop fingers crossed that there may be room in the bunk house
Dam  No it was full, so i would be  camping outside.

Then big Mike (whiterice)  appeared and offered me his bunk.
Cheers Mike , I grabbed a cherry coke and made my way to the Bunk house.
Mikes  original spot was a top bunk, that will do nicely . I organised my stuff, dumped some gear that I didn’t need . then took a shower . Oh the hot  water felt so good.. Whilst in the shower I  washed my socks pants and top, then hung them outside to dry.
I did a small re-supply (pricey) and a berry soda that was realy tasty.
I checked my maps and sorted through my  gear once more , as  i sat  outside  i chatted to  other hikers , before  ordering  a pizza.
It was so tasty but I couldn’t eat it all so gave it to other hikers.
I sat outside chatting for a while before the bugs forced me inside .

Start 18.9
Finish 31.1
Miles 12.2

Preparation

Well December has been and gone   and I am filled with anticipation and a little doubt
I am still shooting for late March early April,  that’s if I can go at all ,as I am still waiting for some personal stuff to be sorted.

My Pack sits in the spare room, its packed and ready to go,
It weighs in around 25lb I have never been a light hiker, but I am a warm and happy hiker. I always need to hike for a week to see how my gear behaves before giving my pack a shake down and bouncing gear ahead

Replacement gear

To be honest nothing is wrong with the gear that I hiked the PCT with, except my clothes as I dumped them all in Canada
But if I can get some shinny gear at a good price I will,
So, I wrote and pestered several gear suppliers and have been pleased with my haul so far , 40% off a camera, solar panel and new tent. I  now have a new Fly creek HV UL 3
I loved  the UL 3   when i hiked the PCT  so  i  am  excited  about  the HV

I have also swapped my faithful Exped Sim mat for a down mat , again there was nothing wrong with my Sim mat, except when I first went hiking I was a bit green and did not really know what I wanted, so it’s a little large. It’s a great mat, it  has never let me down on the Pct, but it’s just a little too bulky.
I think I drove the people mad at Exped as I wanted to try out all the current mats before I brought a new one . The problem is Exped seem quite picky who they sell too, and so I couldn’t find any local shops that stocked their products., the nearest being in Cambridge yes, its  a bit far from Oxford so I arranged to visit a relative, “killing 2 birds with 1 stone so to say “

The shop was called “Open Air”.  And wow, what a great shop, they hold a good range of hiking and outdoors gear and they knew their stuff   and so they  are not just

“Box shifters”

So, I would certainly recommend  a visit      https://www.openair.co.uk

Open Air  11, 12 & 15 Green Street, Cambridge, CB2 3JU

I like  how they left me to play with all the Mats at my leisure,until I  needed help . I was really interested in the SynMat UL7   or maybe the Syn Mat HL matt but instead just loved the Exped Down Mat UL Winter, it’s may be over kill for my hike, but it ticks all my boxes,

Exped

 

 

Its Light   
It packs small  
Its smaller that my current pad 
easy to inflate 
Easy to pack 

The UL 7 came a close 2nd but it was still a tad noisy.(for me)

What I also like about Exped is there inflation system the “Snozzel Bag”
It comes with this pad and when not being used doubles as a lightweight stuff sack, another tick

So, a fruitful journey to Cambridge, this pad wasn’t cheap, but I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for,

Snozzel Bag

Once home I inflated it several times with the “snozzel Bag” as there is a knack and I like to think I have mastered it and now can inflate my pad with about two puffs with the snozzel.
I like this method as 1, no moisture enters you pad, 2, Easy & quick to inflate (great when you arrive hot sweaty and exhausted   at camp, Bonus!

Pocket Rocket,

Pocket Rocket2
again nothing wrong with my pocket rocket, but the Pocket Rocket all packs down even smaller and will now fit into my pot.

 

Solar Panel

Solar expedition

Sadly, I lent my last one to  my Son and it was never seen again. So, I have gone for the Solar Monkey Expedition, Unlike the adventure it does not have an internal battery.  It  charges your devices live.  I’m keen to  try  this  out

The Appalachian Trail

After Hiking the PCT  in 2014  the  first  thing  that  I needed to  do  was to  get  home see my dog, closely followed by seeing my  kids , Once  I  had ticked those two boxes  it was time  to  get a job , earn some money and make my  bank account happy again,

Luckily, I found a job and was working again……………

But I missed the trail, the wide-open spaces and its beauty, but it wasn’t long till those fun times became distant memories, as I settled back into my nine to five and began to see my waistline expand.

The  Appalachian Trail  was always going to be my second hike, but sadly it comes down to money………….
The older you get, the harder it is to walk away from a job, and you worry about how the bills are going to get paid,

I worked hard  in my new job but  occasionally  my  mind would daydream  and  I  would  be  on the trail again . Maybe this company would give me a sabbatical?  That way I would have a job to come back to …
The months quickly passed turning into years,
I want to do another hike, but how,

My  last  hike was  supported by two of my children living in my house and  paying my bills,  Now it is  just me and my dog and who is going to look after him ?

I sighed deeply and watched more months pass by

October 2017

I  didn’t have a good day at  work and so  was  not in a good mood as I pulled my car  into my driveway, although a smile returned  as soon as I  opened  the door  to be  greeted  with  50 lb of excitable  Dog,
I quickly changed  and then Taylor and I headed out across the fields  with several tennis balls

Once home and armed with a cup of tea I began to look at the AT’s website.

How much will it cost?  , airfares , insurance and  Kit, well I  have the kit  several  items  could be replaced  but  the rest  is  fine . The AT  is  similar  to  the PCT  you  can do it on a shoe string  or you can spend thousands.  I want to be somewhere in the middle ..

Okay  let’s say  $5,000  ( £3,813)   Rounded up to 4K  plus airfares and insurance  Okay  that  will be  my  budget , (its a starting point)

I  don’t know  why  but  planning a hike makes  me  so  happy  I  have a budget  okay  I  haven’t any money  but I  have a budget in principal ,

 

I  don’t know  if  I will have the money  by  March 2018 or if I will be  able  to go
 But  that  is my target

I  then  went to get my  gear  from  the attic bringing down two large plastic  crates .
It was like Christmas as I sorted through my gear reminiscing on my fellow hikers and silly days.

It  all looked  good, I  only really need to replace some of my  clothes and  trail runners  everything else  should be good  to  go.

Oh my  pack  where’s my pack , I  came  back  from the US  with two backs my  osprey aether 70  and  my Exos 48, I tried both  but  preferred  the big and bulky  Aether, mainly because  it felt better on my back and  that I could load  from both ends .

It was like meeting an old long lost friend, but at arm’s length as this pack stunk,
Okay google what’s the best way to clean a pack!!!

10 minutes later I have stripped my back down, torso belt and shoulder straps removed, followed by the top pack and rain cover.

The torso and shoulder straps went in the washing machine, but for the pack it was bath time.

OH MY GOD  the colour  of the water, yes  it  really did  need a good  bath , after several rinses  I left  it  to  dry and  went  back  to see what  other  kit  may be  good .

I began a list of nice to haves

Personnel Location Beacon (PLB)
Camera
Solar Panel
New Tent
Trail runners
Pocket Rocket II

PLB

I did  not have a beacon or  other device  on the PCT, mainly because I ran out of cash
Some people use spots , but I just  wanted a PLB, Its  personal  choice, I’ve found in the past that  with bad cell coverage  the spots are  useless, leading  to  panic at  home  and false searches ,
But when they do work you are able to  send  messages with them. The PLB   once triggered I just  sends a signal  and so  you have no way of knowing  if  they  are  coming  to find  you
But as the saying goes HYOH,

Camera

I used an Olympus Tough 830 on the PCT, that far exceeded my expectations, but a shiny new one would be nice,

Solar panel

I used a solar monkey adventure on the PCT and it too performed brilliantly and was envied  by  many of my hiker friends , Sadly a son borrowed it and it was never seen again  so  I  need a replacement  I  want to  try  the Solar monkey expedition  its lighter and  unlike the adventurer  its water proof

Tent

I used a three man  Big Agnes fly creek Ul  and  this  is  the tent  I will use again, I’d  like a new  one .I  may see what  REI  can  offer when I get  there!!!

Trail Runners

I used   several  pairs   of  trail runners  but stuck with Solomon’s  XA Pro 3D’ s and  again that’s what I plan to  use . In fact  I  saw  some advertised  at  half  price  and  so  I  have brought three pairs , 2  which I  will keep in my  bounce box  till needed .

 

Stove
I loved my Pocket Rocket and plan to take it again. But MSR  have now released a new model  the Pocket Rocket II  so if  I  can get one  at a discounted price then that’s what I will bring. It is based on the micro   and is small so it will actually fit in my pot or cup,

Day 124 Amazing

16th Aug
My alarm was bleeping I snoozed it
And then lay dozing staring at the roof of my tent ..it didn’t look wet  :-). Finally I moved opened   the flap it was foggy but my tent was dry brilliant. I fired up my stove and while the water came to the boil I packed up . hoisted my psck.onto my back mmm it’s getting lighter or im just getting used to it lol
I set off through the dark murky forest I knew there was a lot of climbing to-day and some climbs were going to be huge.i pushed on though the forest there were many tress down along the path but all had been cut.maybe a huge wind had passed through like a bowling balls knocking them over . even though it was foggy it was fairly warm in the forest and I was feeling good .tomorrow I’d be having a beer in white pass whoop and wearing clean clothes.
I pushed on coming out of the forest into a clearing I’m sure on s good day you could see for miles I just saw FOG.i wondered if it would lift and maybe I may catch a peek of mount Adams.  I was climbing but the trail was very overgrown and boggy It makes walking hard work I then dropped into more forest snd stopped by a stream to fill up.if its ice-cold ill drink it overwise on to the next. It was freezing and very tasty so I topped up my bottles .the trail meandered through the forset but it was still gloomy as the sun wasnt penetrating
Then I was back to overgrown trail. .just wants a big mower to come down easy I thought .it hard work pushing your way through or sometimes fighting your way though.
I was busy winging to myself then I noticed a large rocky outcrop in front of me the fog was beginning to clear and I guessed this was going to be the first part of  today’s big climb I started up then decided the next nice spot ill take breakfast .I stopped on a grassy bank surrounded by huckleberry bushes I picked half a cup load then added my breakfast cereal bloody delicious I could eat them all day ..oh hang on I do  .I packed up and moved on  climbing climbing then OMG  the views were amazing .actually bloody amazing wow i stared for a few  minutes then moved on up higher round a few corners then Omg at last mount Adams wow and at the same time Ferrell Williams came on the radio singing Im Happy so I had to sing and do the happy dance on top of my mountain
I really felt so good I had to shout im so HAPPY and love the PCT
I continued to climb and the views became even more spectacular this was now looking good Washington after 5 days of rain and fog .I then I  began to cross meadow after meadow full of flowers and the sound of bees .I pushed on then met a  family hiking for the weekend  .then several other day hikers all who smell clean lol..I thought I was making good time today  and was looking forward to lunch .well that’s not really true lunches on the PCT are dull it the break that I look forward too.
I was climbing again and in the distance I could still see Adams the whole valley and in front another outcrop with clouds swirling around  the top. I will stop there for lunch i decided..I made it to the saddle and really its an OMG OMG OMG Moment
I arrived at the saddle and the view was unbelievable a large row of mountains  at the rear with water falls (The cascades)
The views were just incredible. I sat and had my lunch  just staring at them I then took some video before sitting back down
As I sat staring at the view many hikers came by .I chatted to a few and a family who were on a long weekend hike the daughters were interested in  my hike and dad also wanted to do it someday
I moved on still amazed at what I was seeing .Above me to my right  the mountain was like the giants causeway in Ireland made up.of hexagons again this amazed me.i moved on crossing several large glaciers.  in places  I had to jump across deep chasms  several feet wide what the water had gouged out
I was now heading for another saddle and again it was another triple OMG MOMENT!!!..Washington this is bloody amazing I don’t think that I have taken so many photos in one day. Click click click omg click omg
I dropped down into the valley jumping ice melts then continued on the trail. In the valley there were many tents and there were many people it seemed s very popular and busy spot
Guess there must be other trails in.
I began climbing again I checked my Gps yep this is the big one   .but every climb I came across another stunning mountain range .I believed my last climb was going to be old snowy
But stunning mountain views kept appearing. Snow im now in snow a long long traverse but I’ve done snow so set off  once again I was just blown away by what my eyes were seeing
Time was getting on  but I thought I still had plenty  I crossed two more snow fields .it seemed like I was on top of the world .In the distance I noticed several hiker moving across a long cliff guess that’s the way I have to go.aa thry walked s huge boulder rolled down and across the trail bloody hell.i moved on meeting them half way  .now what I should have done was camped at the top but I decided to press on ……in hindsight this was very foolish snd bloody scary.
I PASSED the other hikers asking how far to camp ? they said two hours but I thought id find s flat spot before then I gingerly crossed the snow then I had shale which I hate .as I have to go really slow then I was on a scree   thst was badly washed out and the drop was very very scary . actually you couldn’t see the drop for the mist and fog but it was there..At last I was on solid ground !! This was known as the knife-edge and they were not kidding it was a sheer drop either side. It was now very misty or foggy and the wind had got up .well I have to say it scared the shit out off me !! And it went on and on.I have had a long day im tired im being blown about there is a sheer drop both sides .and still I was climbing and doing switchbacks. I just want to get down and put up.my tent test at last we are going down ..no no no im going up again I was on this edge for just over two hours at last im coming down and as I began to descend the sun came out the mist cleared and the views became amazing again I saw a clump of trees and headed for them hoping that there may be a camping spot s flat spot a bit of   earth. Hurrah
I got my stove out first and as the water heated I threw up.my tent and then collapsed into it
But wow every one the view from my tent is fantastic