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.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

9th State, 1,357 Miles - 7/21

Ryan called Tuesday night (6/19).  He was in New Jersey.  He describes New Jersey as having a lot of rolling hills and small mountains in the southern section.  Over the past week he has seen more wildlife than anywhere yet on the trial.  He has seen 4 rattlesnakes, 5 bears, and the usually small mammals, turtles, snakes, and deer.  He promises pictures of all.  He said his bear count is at 16. This week he has seen much of the same weather we have been experiencing in Southern Ohio. It has been consistently in the mid 90’s with high humidity.  (As of this writing he has crossed over the New York State border and is camped at Greenwood Lake.  The temperature there today was 103.  At this point Ryan has crossed into his 9th state and has covered 1,357 miles of the AT.)   

The trail remained rocky through the last of Pennsylvania and all of  New Jersey. He has walked another pair of trial shoes off his feet.  He will be looking for new shoes as soon as he comes to a decent outfitter.  He said the soles of his hikers are smooth.  He is now in a full size larger shoe than when starting the trail.
 He describes the week as brutal. The mosquitoes and black flies have been relentless. Bug spray only seems to incite them.  In spite of the heat and bugs he has averaged well of 20 miles per day.  He had one stretch heading into Lehigh Gap where he covered 42 miles in 24 hours.   Much of this was night hiking. Much of this was hand over hand climbing.  Lehigh Gap has some of the more challenging rock scrambles south of the White Mountains. 
The biggest single challenge has been consuming enough water to avoid dehydration.  He’s been taking every opportunity to bathe in creeks and wherever he can find running water to stay cool and to rinse the salt that builds up with that amount of sweating. He described Tuesday night as a particularly challenging day and night.  The group he is hiking with often breaks up for a day or two and Ryan was catching back up with the group after a drop package pickup in town.   He hiked the day and late into the evening alone and got caught in an all night downpour complete with hail and lightning.  Bear activity in the area was extremely high and he was forced to camp off the trial, away from a shelter, and alone.  For the first time he decided to hang all of his food on a bear rope just in case. 
He caught back up to Kipper and Chimp on Wednesday around noon.  They are all hiking together again and all plan 2 off days this coming weekend in New York City.  Kipper has a sister that lives in NYC and a close friend of Ryan’s lives in Brooklyn.  They hope to be at Bear Mountain by Saturday and catch a train into the city until Monday.  They’ll take the same train back out to Bear Mountain and, as always, pick the trail up at the exact spot they left it.  Ryan has maintained his purist approach to the trail and has walked every mile since leaving Georgia.  He has done no blue blazing or walk-rounds.    
The past two weeks have been difficult with the heat and rocky trail.  Ryan said they are all pretty beat up.  He has a lot of blisters and a few days with dry clothes and feet will do them all good.  He’s hoping the weather will break a little cooler after the weekend. His spirits seem to be holding up better than his feet, but, he’s confident both will carry him to Maine. He will need to average 12.5 miles per day to make it to Baxter State Park by the end of September.  His response was “no sweat”.  He’s looking forward to New England and fall. 

I should have a new film disk and pictures posted by the weeked. 

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