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.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pennsylvania - 7/3

spork Noun /spôrk/
sporks - plural
  • A spoon-shaped eating utensil with short tines at the tip
  • An Ohio based Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker known to carry an eating utensile behind his ear

Ryan called again before leaving Harper’s Ferry.  They got into Harpers late Wednesday and spent the night with friends of one of his hiking companions.  They got cleaned up and got to sleep in a real bed.  He said all 4 of them slept until 11:30 Thursday.  They then took Thursday off in Harpers and did some sightseeing and resupply.  They were back on the trail Friday morning.

Ryan asked that I send a specific shout out and thanks to Chimp’s friend’s parents, Fred and Melanie, for the hospitality and willingness to take a bunch of stinky hikers in.  He said it put more pep in his step than he’s had in a while. Ryan lost his ankle brace and Melanie drove up and hung one on a tree for him to find.  He said this experience has really given him a new perspective on how good and kind people can be.  He felt it would forever change the way in which he interacts with others.    
THANKS !! Spork
They’re currently back on the trail and camped last night just inside the Pennsylvania border.  Since Wednesday they have been in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Ryan was pretty talkative on Thursday and we discussed a lot about the trail and Harper’s Ferry.  He said Harper’s was the most interesting towns they had gone through to date. The town still had cobblestone and brick paved roads with old original architecture.  He said it was definitely a place he would visit again.  The area was rich in Civil War history.  Over the past week he passed through several battlefield areas both in parks and in the wilderness.  Several times they came upon foundations, dug trenches and rock walls where you could see the gun placements and trench layout.   He did some research in Harper’s about the areas.  He spoke fluently on the battles and history of the area. He said it was amazing how many Civil War battlefields were just out in open wilderness as opposed to protected park areas. The house he stayed in on Wednesday dated back to the Battle of Antietam. 
The bear activity is much higher in this area than the Smokies. He’s seen about a dozen bears, seen one fall out of a tree, and sees bear droppings on the trail daily.  One of the other hikers experienced a false charge from a mother protecting her cubs.  He said that for every bear he has seen he has heard several more.  He explained the sound of a bear running in the woods to be unmistakable.  You never know if they are running toward or away from you.    If they are just lumbering around they appear clumsy and almost clownish.  On a dead run they exhibit speed and a lot of noise. 
The bears are drawn in to the valleys by the berries.  Ryan said they eat black berries, blueberries, raspberries, and wine berries daily all along the trial.  Unfortunately, bears are after the same treat. Early last week he met and hiked with an older couple who were trail and wilderness experts.  Their names were Free Thinker and Firehawk.  He was excited about the time he spent with them because they taught the group a lot about wild edibles and plants in the forest.  When you spend that much time in the woods you get to the point where you notice every plant, nut, mushroom, and berry.  It was great to meet someone who could identify and apply names to the flora.  Ryan said they were some of the coolest people he has met. 
At this point on the trial minds are turning toward New England and the change in scenery and trail. There is a lot of hiking to be done through Pennsylvania and New York.  Pennsylvania is reported to be full of rock scrambles and rocky trails.  It is a part of the trail where a lot of injuries occurs from falls to sprained ankles.
He said they spend a ridiculous amount of time fantasizing about food.  The cravings are endless and very specific.  They rarely go 20 minutes without food coming up. His current favorite meal and resupply items are flour tortillas, real Bacon Bits, String Cheese, and peanut M&M’s.  He said they’ve had great success over the past week with Trial Magic and Yogi’ing (Yogi Bear).  That’s where you stop at a picnic area and look hungry and tired in hopes that a picnicking family will send some fried chicken your way.  He said it’s amazing how well it works.   One of their best hook-ups was a Mennonite family that invited them over for an incredible meal and discussions of beard length.  Ryan said the elder asked him how long he’d been growing his beard.  He seemed disappointed to hear that Ryan’s was only 3 months old.  He’d been growing his for 20 years and it wasn’t much longer than Ryan’s.
Ryan said it’s amazing how well know the AT is in this area and how people go out of their way to help or offers food and water.  A few days ago the trail crossed an interstate highway and they noticed as they walked along the overpass that cars were honking their horns.  They stopped and noticed that the people in the cars were all waving and giving thumbs up.  They spent 30 minutes on the bridge waving back and feeling like Rock Stars.
Ryan is doing well physically, although his ankle still bothers him at times.  He’s lost a total of 12 lbs since Georgia.  He said his calves look like wire ropes.    They’ve heard of several hikers getting Lyme disease and keeping an eye out for ticks is a constant battle.  Ryan has asked that I forward his other dose of Lyme disease antibiotic just in case. 
We’re getting a drop box together for next week.  One luxury item he has asked for is a can of Skyline.  They are hoping to get up on a mountain somewhere to get a view of some fireworks on the fourth.  As I’ve said before we only hear from Ryan when he hits civilization.  Almost all of the time between contacts is in the woods.  He said that thruhikers are down to a very few at this point and they often go days without seeing another hiker or a paved road.  In his words it bears, birds, and pooping in the woods.

Hope to have some new pictures posted mid week.
 He sounds great!

1 comment:

  1. we love those utensils. I've really enjoyed reading these posts and it's always good to hear he's happy and healthy. as for realizing there are good people in this world full of endless kindness, they're just a rarer bread. Blessings, Strength and Peace to his continued journey.-Sarah Lewis