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, August 9, 2011

Vermont 8/9

Based on his GPS ping, Ryan entered Vermont this morning.  His hike has taken him 1,588 miles with 592 to go.    Ryan called Saturday and again on Sunday.  His Saturday call was upbeat and filled with trail details like a mouse getting into his food bag and more talk about the changes in weather and scenery he has seen through Massachusetts.  He talked about how great the people have been in New England. The weather has been consistently in the 70’s. He’s been averaging well over 20 miles per days for quite some time and felt that it was time to pull back a bit. This is the part of the trail he’s been wanting to see since Georgia. He describes the trail here as smooth and pine needle covered.  There are ponds, lakes and streams everywhere. He was starting to see a lot of ferns and interesting new undergrowth. He describes the woods here as having an almost Jurassic feel.  They will be hiking Mount Greylock in the coming days and he was looking forward to that.   

The only real negative he’s mentioned about this area is the size and veracity of the mosquitoes.   To quote the Spork: “Holy shit, they’re like rats with wings”. He’s asked that we help find some non Deet mosquito spray.  He’s not had much luck finding any.  His quest for honey buns has been equally nonproductive. 
Ryan started the trail at 162 lbs.  He weighed himself yesterday and weighed in at 137 lbs. His beard continues to grow at a 2/1 pace over the other hikers he is with.  He must be getting adequate protein or the beard is robbing his body of nutrients, or, the additional weight and wind resistance of the beard is burning extra calories.  He doesn’t appreciate the beard jokes nearly as much as we like telling them. 
He’s been hiking fairly steadily over the last month with Kipper, Chimp, Caboose, and Kwai.  Achilles who’s been part of this group is about two days behind and should catch up in the coming week.  He has talked about who they are and where they come from but I’ve not quite tied the names to the stories yet.  Their plan was to spend the night at a Hostel in Dalton, Mass. They heard of the place from other hikers.  The owner of the Hostel caters to through hikers and provides rides to and from the trailhead. As a former through hiker he refuses to accept a dime from any of the hikers.  Again, Ryan really praises the generosity and kindness of the people of this area to hikers. 
The call on Sunday was less pleasant.  Ryan and two other hikers had the unfortunate experience of running into a group of less than friendly locals in Dalton.  He also had the unpleasant experience of losing his money, wallet and identification.  The wallet issue has created many issues over the past two days.  It is simply impossible to replace a driver’s license if lost out of state.  The phone calls have been endless and futile. As it stands right now his Checking Card is being replaced and we’re setting up a mail drop to get it and what forms of identification we can find.  There was some discussion of coming back to Ohio for a couple of days to get his driver’s license but without photo ID he cannot get on a plane, train, or bus.  Renting a car is also impossible. 
I am sure Ryan will be more than willing to regale you with the details sometime this Winter.  But for now, it’s being taken care of and Ryan has made the decision to push on and finish the trip to Maine.  He felt that leaving the trail at this time would really put him in jeopardy of not finishing.  It is all part of the experience and not discussing it would only be telling part of the story.  He had the wind knocked out of his sails for a day or so but he’s back on track.  Again, trail magic has come to the rescue.  The gesture came as a simple act of kindness from a complete stranger, exactly what he was talking about on Saturday.  He lost track of the positive on Sunday but had regained it by Monday evening with an added note of caution.   People are generally good but the world also has a sprinkling of evil.  It adds contrast and keeps us from becoming complacent. Everything is working out.  A small post office in Vermont has agreed to let him accept a package without photo ID.  It should be to him by this Friday. 

He is fine and stomping through the woods somewhere in Southern Vermont. Hopefully, he will send home some pictures on Friday.      

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