The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is approximately 2,181 miles long. The path is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships,and managed by the National Park Service and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in wilderness, although some portions do traverse towns and roads, and cross rivers. The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Call

Received a call from Ryan Memorial Day morning.  He was just getting ready to cross over I-77 right around Bastian, VA.  He called at 10:30 and had already covered 9 miles.  He said with the heat he’s been trying to get out of camp at sunrise and cover as much trail as possible before it warms up.  He reported that he hiked 21 miles the day before and was planning to cover 23 miles on Memorial Day.  He also reported that he had rolled his ankle again on the 27th and ended up stopping early at a shelter to give his ankle a rest.  This is the third time he has rolled his ankle.   We talked about this for a while and Ryan tells me it is a common thing on the trail.  He said every shelter has a person nursing a black and blue ankle.   He said that although Virginia has had less altitude the trail is very rocky. Hiking downhill on rocky ground is difficult with a pack because you don’t have a good view of foot placement.  His plan is to hike 18 miles today and get into Woods Hole Hostel where he can ice his ankle and try to stay off it for a while.   
Ryan continues to rave about the beauty of Southern Virginia.  He’s hikes the past few days alone.  He lost Habitat and Kipper after his ankle layover.  Everyone has plans to meet up at the Woods Hole Hostel.  Lemon, Fish and Beer Burger should be there as well. As much as he enjoys company Ryan also enjoys hiking alone and at his own pace.  He felt that you just can’t get the entire AT experience unless you spend time alone in the woods.  One issue he has had since entering Virginia is drinking water.  He‘s run out a few times.  Most of the trail runs along the mountain ridges and stream and spring are rare.  Earlier on in the Smokies he was consuming about 4 liters a day and rarely carried that much because water access was good.  With the added heat, he’s pushing 6-8 liters and has to carry more when it is found since there is not guarantee of access. 
He’s run into several cases of Trail Magic this past week.  Trail magic is simply unexpected or timely acts of random kindness or good fortune along the trail.  Trail magic generally occurs when least expected or often most needed.  He’s run into a couple of instances of a cookout along the trial for hikers.  He also camped with a group of day hikers that packed in meat and vegetables for kabobs for all of the thru hikers.
In talking to Ryan something occurred to me when he talked about days of hiking without seeing a house or a road or other hikers.  He calls when he is at a location where he can get phone service.  Days go by without this being the case.  Most blog entries are based on town stops and the ability to connect.  Most of the solitude and wilderness is between the entries.  This can only be seen in the pictures.  On his last picture SD card, I found a movie clip that was accidentally started on his camera.  The camera was hung from it’s strap and moved around quite a bit.  It captured the crossing of a high mountain bald in  driving rainstorm.  You can hear the wind howl. You can hear the rain pelt his pack and thunder in the distance.  You can hear the effort in his breathing.  You can almost feel his footsteps. You see a bouncing panorama of a muddy trail, ominous clouds and distant mountain horizons.   It brought an audible “damn” from me.  This gave me a better perspective of the challenge he faces than anything I have seen so far. He seemed very far way.    
He was in good spirits.   We’ve set up a mail drop for Daleville, VA.  It’s about 6 days out. 


  1. Chuck, the last paragraph gave me goosebumps. It's amazing that he is doing all of this and you put everything into words so well. Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures!

  2. I agree with Tina you tell the stories as if you were there, makes me teary, knowing my daughter is out there also! but thanks so much if not for this blog I would worry to death about her(i do anyway) looking forward to the next set of pictures:)

  3. Chuck, what you say about Ryan is exactly the reason that he remains one of my oldest friends. As soon as he said this was something that he wanted to do, I knew it was something he would do, and do well. I saw him as he passed through NYC, and I have to say, he looked vibrant and happy. (And that beard!) Unfortunately, we did not have time for me to hear as many stories as I would have liked, which led me here. And I am extremely glad that you, and him, have put his experience into words. Thank you!

  4. Be sure to pass his blog around to some of his old friends. I'm pretty sure I know who Maego is. I only know of a couple of CNE'ers that ended up in that part of the world. I'd like to see if I'm right about who. If you want to contact me the best way without me posting my email is to go to and come in that way by sending an email through my website.