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, August 14, 2011

Moose Poop and Hummingbirds in Vermud 8/14

Ryan called Saturday morning to say that he was not going to make it into Wallingford on Saturday.  He would be there by Monday morning to get his packages.  He also asked that we move his warm clothes and sleeping bag shipment up from Hartford to Killington.  Over the past few days they have only been able to manage 13-15 miles per day.  They are getting to 4,000+ feet mountains again and progress is slowed due to the climbs and mud.  Night time temperatures are staying consistently in the 50’s with days running in the low 70’s. 

The woods continue to thicken and pines are becoming the predominant growth.  Sunlight making it to the forest floor is rare. Even without rain the trail tends to be wet and muddy. Hikers refer to Vermont as Vermud.  He said he has fallen more in the past 75 miles than he has the entire duration of the trail.  Every hiker you pass has a muddy rear end and pack where they have slipped and fallen.  The trick is to go immediately on your rear end and back to keep from getting hurt.  Lower elevations were needle covered but the slopes are exposed slick roots, rocks and mud.  No one has escaped busting their rear end.
For the first time they are seeing signs of Moose.  The trail is littered with droppings.  He referred to it as deer poop on steroids. Everyone is keeping their cameras ready to get a picture.  He said the woods here are also filled with hummingbirds.  They are constantly buzzing around and hovering briefly as if to look you over.   At first they thought the mosquitoes had grown to ridiculous proportions.
They camped Saturday night just outside Manchester Center.  They should have a couple of relatively short days getting into Wallingford.  Even without ID he was able to replace some of his worn gear at an Outfitter in Manchester Center.  His sleeping pad sprung a leak for the third time.  His water bottle developed a leak and his gaiter’s strap broke.  Here is the advantage of purchasing good outdoor gear. They have replaced every item without question.   
This next week will be a good warm up for the White Mountain to come.  They will be at elevation for most of the rest of the trip into Maine.  The White through New Hampshire will be the highlight of this section of the trail but wild swings in temperatures and weather are possible.  Ryan should have everything he needs to hike in the conditions. 
He will be calling from Wallingford Monday morning to let us know they made it in and hopefully send a SD card home. 
He openly admitted that the past week was fairly stressful, something he was avoiding, but he was settling down and once he gets his packages he’ll be fine.  He continues to hike with Kipper and the same group he’s been with for the past month.  They plan on staying together through the balance of the trip.  Many sections of the trail ahead are difficult and remote. Having other hikers to rely on is the safe bet.
In spite of the past week he is still upbeat, committed, and strong.  
Ryan specifically asked that I thank several people for the donations they have made this week.  He appreciates the assistance. Every dollar helps.   

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