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, June 21, 2011

Waynesboro, VA - 6/20

Ryan called Sunday. He had just got into Waynesboro, VA.  He and Kipper were planning a stay at the Waynesboro YMCA.  He was in great spirits and very talkative.  Apparently quite a few thru hikers had converged on Waynesboro at the same. He hung up several times to talk to other hikers he’d not seen for a few weeks.  Waynesboro will be a resupply point for what he called a launch through Shenandoah National Park.  The park is around 100 miles long and they are going to try to make good time through the park.  He said he hiked 25 miles yesterday with a considerable climb over the Priest, a summit in Nelson County that climbs to 4,026 feet. He ran into Lemon, Fish and Beerburger in town and had a report that Habitat was on her way in that evening. 
Ryan commented that they have been extremely lucky with rain and that the Priest summit was the first real hard rain they had seen since leaving Tennessee. It was almost a novelty to hike in the downpour.  Ryan likened it to playing in the puddles as a kid.  He has become so accustomed to mild discomfort that being wet, getting wet, and slogging in the rain neither affects their progress or state of mind. He called it a nice change of pace.  The blackberries are in full fruit and he compared the trail to walking down a grocery aisle. They have enjoyed free blackberries for the last 3 days.
He has had a great week as far as trial magic is concerned.  He got a ride from the trail head into Waynesboro from a 2004 thruhiker that has started his own ultra lightweight hiking gear company. The name of the company is Alpin Lite Gear (  He gave Ryan one of his ultralite tents for a trail trial and asked that Ryan provide reports as to how the tent performs and holds up. The tent uses the hiker’s trial poles for support. Ryan said it was almost 2 lbs lighter than his current tent.  Weight reduction is an effort Ryan continues to pursue. The tent came at a nice time. He will be mailing his old tent home from Waynesboro.
He said that the caliber of hikers on the trail at this point was extremely high.  Most of the asses had fallen off.  The arrogant, cocky and over or under equipped had long since gone home. He spoke of the many and varied personalities he had met and how he enjoyed hearing their stories and perspectives.  He has kept a record of ever hiker he has met with notes to remind him of who they were.  He was amazed at the brotherhood that was developing amongst the thruhikers as they proceed up the trail in rough groups associated only by geography and a common goal.  Many days you will go all day without seeing anyone and then they will bunch up and come together almost by happenstance at camp sites or town stops.  Everyone takes a down day or two a week.  This tends to separate them on the trial but over time they all seem to cross paths again.   
The end of Shenandoah represents roughly the ½ point on the trial.  Ryan talked of a discussion amongst several hikers this week about the idea that you really don’t get your true trail feel until somewhere in the 400-500 mile range.  It was the consensus of this group that it happened more in the 700-800 mile range.  Either way, he felt good that others were hitting their stride at a similar point as he.   Ryan says this every time we talk.  He was really starting to get it dialed in.  He’s approaching midpoint on the trail.  He’s hiked well over 800 miles.  I think he’s dialed in.  He is certainly a legitimate long distance hiker.     
We’re putting together a mail drop for Front Royal Virginia.  He’s asked for the normal mix of food, toilet paper, and books.  He claims to have some writing to share as well. 

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