Friday, September 17, 2010

Waynesboro, VA (Take 3)

Posting pictures turns out to be An Issue, so no photos this time, sadly. (Fail — or success, I guess — for library tech security; and definite fail for Nikon in-camera JPEGization UI.)

However! Jo is posting stuff too, so go read that.

Jo adds...: I took a bath, and I still have dirt on me!

(Me too. I may buy a scrubby thing for my feet when we go to get groceries for resupply.)

Waynesboro, VA (Map, replies)

Here's our route from Front Royal to Waynesboro — all in Virginia:

(on EveryTrail)

Hooray for comments!

Some of the people who we meet are thru-hikers, and some are section-hiking, and some are just out for a few days. (There are of course the Day Hikers. As someone wrote in a shelter log: "God bless y'all, but you're different.") Aboo, and Stump, and Django, and Turtle Hawk and Silver (trail names are funny) are all sobo thru-hikers, but are also all going faster than us so we probably won't run into them too much. (The first three are around our age; the last couple are a mid-50s husband and wife from Georgia who freeze-dried their own meals and were glad to be in on a Just So Stories reading.) Moon Pie was a nobo thru hiker, finishing up a couple sections in VA that he missed. People frequently mention names that they've been following in the trail registers for weeks — or half the trail — which sort of develop celebrity (or stalkee) status. Jo expects we'll eventually develop a "hiker family" — people hiking about the same pace — but if people who've zipped by us end up getting sucked into towns, or taking zeroes, we may cross paths with them again.

Shenandoah has been very kind: one of my favorite things about it is that there are old-orchard apple trees sprinkled around, so every now and then you can get a little supplemental fresh fruit. But, in terms of food, there are also Waysides: basically gas station + convenience store events, just a ways off the trail, where one can get a real (fast-food) meal and do an intermediate resupply. (We also decided, after ten days, to have real beds and showers in a lodge — not to mention dinner and breakfast — which was deliriously refreshing: we both sort of lay in bed glowing after our showers.) In terms of terrain, it's been fairly gentle, too; having done the roller coaster first (which was all up and down), it's easy to see how coming north it would be a dreadful shock after SNP.

The first three nights we stealthed; I think we've tent-camped twice since then, and the rest in shelters (excepting a night at Big Meadows lodge). Shelters are great for the convenience of not having to pitch and re-pack the tent (especially if, as has happened twice, it sprinkles a bit), and usually come with a spring and a bear hang (a pole with a big trident to lob your food up onto, as opposed to stringing it up in a tree), and are a mixed bag for company. Some nights it's been great: lots of stories from other hikers about favorite hostels and characters and the like. (I've recorded a couple hiker conversations, which I intend to process and post sometime; that might not happen on the trail.) In one shelter (Rock Springs) I ended up spending the night with a boy scout troop — which turned out to be uneventful, just amusing (hopefully yours was friendly too, Phil!) — and some we've had to ourselves. But we've also ended up having some unrelished company.

In the tents-and-shelter vein, we've also run into some hammock users. Not having to look for a flat and rock-free site is tempting, as is less weight; and (hi to my mom who recently got a hammock!) some of the hammock users have recommended putting a sleeping bag around the outside of the hammock for insulation, or cutting a foam pad to be oblong (since a ThermaRest zips out from under one), since otherwise air cooling underneath seems to be an issue.

Shelters are a fun inter-hiker opportunity in other ways, too. We've found and left a few books (though not as many as hoped for; and sometimes in parts!), and I got crayons in Front Royal, which we've been using on the trail registers and a few of which we've been leaving in each shelter for future amusement.

Waynesboro, VA

We've made it to Waynesboro, VA — our second town stop, and our first mail drop (horrah for fun stuff and food!). We'll see if this library computer will let me upload photos.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Front Royal, VA

Jo and I have, after roughly fifty miles over five days, arrived at Front Royal, VA — our first resupply (and a day ahead of Jo's conservative getting-back-into-gear schedule).

(Technical notes: I saw that the geocoding of the images wasn't working last post; and no luck this time either. The RAW to JPEG converter I downloaded for Windows may be messing up the images' timestamps; or I may be doing something else wrong. The library in Front Royal blocks downloading applications, so no improvement for this post. Comments on better means of presentation implementable on the trail are quite welcome! Perhaps separate map and photos would do just as well for now.)

Jo and I do get along after all, which is good! We are both, in fact, Ps (Meyers-Briggs), so we spend plenty of time saying discussing options and then both saying 'sure, either sounds good'. I hike faster on hills, but neither of us is on a deadline, so it just means taking breaks to even things out. (And when Jo woke early and got an hour and a half head start on me, it took me the day to catch up — with a few helpful notes about destinations and water along the way.)

We've run into a few southbounders (AT hikers headed south; sobos), and a few nobos, and plenty of (very clean-looking) day hikers. We ended up sharing a camping area with three other sobos one night, which is unusual; but fun to have occasional company.

Our next leg will carry us into Shenandoah National Park — reportedly very scenic, and very hiker-friendly; things like stores and trash cans and potable water all over the place. (In this last leg, aside from the usual requirement of treating all our water, we've seen a lot of very low creeks and a couple shelters with dry springs.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Roller Coaster

We're stopping through Bears Den Hostel, which is temptingly luxurious — as, actually, a number of shelters and hostels have been already. However, we're still in press-onward mode, so no showers-and-pizza-and-ice-cream-and---. It's very castle-like, though and fun to see.

Outside (however), we've been hiking through lots of pretty scenery (slow internet and a note saying not to upload photos here, though), including young forests, and overlooks, and cool windy weather. We're just starting the "roller coaster" - a notorious section of the AT featuring lots of ups and downs.

Jo adds: Yay Virginia!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Jo's train got in (she exists!), and we're heading out!

Jo adds: Woohoo!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Harpers Ferry, WV

I arrived in Harpers Ferry, WV yesterday (September 1st). The train Jo was to take from Minnesota was delayed, so she didn't make her connection in Chicago; Amtrak put her up in a hotel there, and we depart tomorrow. I'm planning to do day hikes around Harpers Ferry today.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The condensed weight-assessment list:

Total                                  40lb 15.1oz  18.6Kg  Decimal percent 
   Water                               7lb 12.0oz   3.0Kg   0.19*   
      2L Water (reservoir)             4lb 6.5oz    2.0Kg   0.11*   
      1L Water (bottle)                2lb 3.3oz    1.0Kg   0.05*   
   Cooking                             1lb 11.5oz   0.8Kg   0.04*   
      Denatured alcohol (~16oz)        14.6oz       414g    0.02    
   Tech                                6lb 6.9oz    2.9Kg   0.16*   
      Power & Charging                 15.8oz       447g    0.02    
      GPS                              6.7oz        190g    0.01    
      Camera                           3lb 6.6oz    1.0Kg   0.08*   
         55-200mm + caps               13.1oz       370g    0.02    
         Nikon D40x Body, straps, cap  1lb 5.7oz    0.0Kg   0.03    
         18-55mm + caps                8.1oz        230g    0.01    
      Audio                            6.6oz        188g    0.01    
      Data Storage                     10.3oz       292g    0.02    
   Health & Hygene; Tools              1lb 14.7oz   0.9Kg   0.05*   
   Food                                7lb 9.9oz    3.5Kg   0.19*   
      Dehydrated Dinners               1lb 7.8oz    0.0Kg   0.04    
         BP Beans & Chile for 2        7.4oz        210g    0.01    
      Trail mix (8oz bag)              11.3oz       320g    0.02    
      Trail mix (partial 16oz bag)     1lb 2.9oz    0.0Kg   0.03    
      6x Granola bars                  10.2oz       288g    0.02    
      Peanut butter + container        8.4oz        238g    0.01    
      6x Bagels                        1lb 7.5oz    0.0Kg   0.04    
   Storage & Shelter                   7lb 12.9oz   3.5Kg   0.19*   
      Sleeping Bag                     3lb 7.7oz    1.0Kg   0.09*   
         Bag                           3lb 5.4oz    1.0Kg   0.08*   
      Sleeping pad                     15.2oz       430g    0.02    
         Thermarest NeoAir (regular)   14.6oz       415g    0.02    
      Tent (Sierra Designs LightYear)  3lb 6.1oz    1.5Kg   0.08*   
         Main                          2lb 3.7oz    1.0Kg   0.05*   
            Rain fly                   1lb 0.4oz    465g    0.03    
            Enclosure                  1lb 2.0oz    0.0Kg   0.03    
         Poles                         8.7oz        247g    0.01    
   Clothing                            3lb 4.2oz    1.5Kg   0.08*   
      Tee shirt (CG)                   6.7oz        190g    0.01    
      Raincoat (eVent)                 13.1oz       370g    0.02    
      Socks                            1lb 0.0oz    454g    0.02    
   Pack                                4lb 7.0oz    2.0Kg   0.11*   
      REI Ridgeline 65                 4lb 3.7oz    1.0Kg   0.10*

See also the full list and the Python to generate it.

Rausch Gap, AT Preview

Last weekend my mother and I went for a weekend (one-night, two-day) backpacking trip to Rausch Gap, doing a loop of approximately ten miles (with some detours). We partially intersected the Appalachian Trail, and visited one of the AT shelters. (For the map below, the hiking is in the upper left — the rest is driving.)