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.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Blasting through Shenandoah - 6/23

Ryan called in last evening.  He was at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park.  He was giddy with cheeseburger and ice cream poisoning.  Big Meadows has a snack bar and they invaded it with gusto.  He had 3 cheeseburgers, 2 orders of fries and 32 oz of ice cream.  The ice cream was a training exercise for the Harpers Ferry ½-gallon ice cream challenge.  He has covered 75 miles in 3 days and is putting together some high mileage days.  He is hiking with Kipper and two other hikers I have yet to identify.

As of last night, he has hiked 914 miles.

They are all less than enamored with Shenandoah other than the ability to move through it quickly, too many ranger and civilization, which does not seem to jive with adding three more bears to his total bear count.  He’s up to 5. Shenandoah require hikers to stay at designated campsites.  Ryan has been avoiding trial shelters and finds the regulation forces mileage based upon location rather than hiking comfort.  He has decided to bypass Front Royal altogether.  He is calling to have his packages forwarded to Harpers Ferry.  He hopes to be in Harpers Ferry in 4-5 days.  Harpers Ferry represents the psychological halfway point on the trail.  It is actually about 80 miles short.  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is located in Harpers Ferry.  A visit to the headquarters and a picture for their wall is a tradition trial stop.  He will take a down day there. 
He said they were all lying in a grass field absorbing their food.  The three other hikers were convinced they had Lyme disease.  They had all removed ticks over the past few days, one in a very compromising rear location.  It was a joking discussion but ticks and Lyme disease are a true concern on the AT.  Ryan is fortunate in that his Doctor loaded him up with antibiotics and directions as to when and how to administer them.  They finally concluded that their malaise was probably 75 miles in 3 days and 32 oz of ice cream on top of multiple cheeseburgers.

Ryan seems to be taking on a new perspective with regard to safety and illness.  Listening to him talk, I think he realizes what could potentially end his trip.  He no longer views his will or physical ability to be the limiting factor.  He is concerned over getting hurt or sick ending what he knows he can accomplish.  There is a change in the way he is approaching the trial.  His confidence seems to have reached a new level.  He seems to be transitioning from an adventure to a mission.
He said that his ankle still bothers him off and on but he expected that would be the case for the balance of the trip.  Pain and discomfort is constant, the ankle just refocuses attention from other parts of his body.  He is pleased with the new tent and the weight reduction.  He said you would be amazed just how much difference a few pounds make.  At Waynesboro he had his pack down to 36 lbs with a fresh food resupply.    He carried almost 50 lbs for the first month.  He was down in the mid forties at 500 miles.  I suppose it takes a while to figure that all out but it seems like a hard lesson learned and apparently, one that take some time.  
He sounds strong, confident and happy.  He sounds like someone forging memories that will last a lifetime.  I hope he is proud of his accomplishment thus far. 

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