Thursday, March 28, 2013

Harpers Ferry to Radford, VA

The trail from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to Radford, Virginia gave us loads of new experiences and challenges.

We visited The Appalachian Trail Conference in Harpers Ferry. Staff took our photo for their through hiker book. We bought maps and books and got to know the staff a little.

I stopped at several trail shelters along the way. Each shelter has its own character. The one below had to be the nicest one that I have passed. It even had its own solar shower

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club has several cabins that it rents to hikers. I walked down to this one thinking that no one was there. As I was looking around the door started creaking and a man stepped out. He was half of a couple that were members of the club and were spending a few days in the cabin. They were gracious enough to show me around. 

While on the porch looking around, I found a Monster Maul a tool like the one that I used years ago to split firewood. The cabin was dedicated to a member who has passed on but must have been well liked.

We also visited our first hiker hostel on the trail. It was an awesome place that was hosted by a couple that had hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2011. It was owned by the Appalachian Trail Conference and managed by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club,

I hiked one day in Shenandoah National Park before Winter Storm Vector came through and dumped several inches of snow in the area. The National Park service shut down Skyline Drive due to ice and snow thus making it impossible to reach trailheads by car. Sean Sumner, who is a Peace Corps friend of ours who lived in a nearby town in Panama when we were volunteers, invited us to spend a few days at his home in Radford, Virginia. We had a great time visiting Sean and seeing this part of Virginia. We should be heading back to Shenandoah National Park tomorrow to continue hiking.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Doesn't seem to matter where we are or what the conditions are, we still manage to sightsee. We love to experience and see new things. As Danny hikes, depending on the length of the hike of the day, I will rive around to different places or drive to the pick-up point and sit in the car. Often I will talk with the people who come into the parking area but more than likely I sit and read or do some needlework.

I call this my "Stitching studio"
 here I am starting to work on my latest project, Father Frost, an internet group class.

But mostly I sightsee. This is an area that is filled with Civil War sites, but not so many NPS that will give me stamps in my Passport. Seems like every battle was fight on a field ... had they never heard of using cover while fighting?

We stayed 3 nights at a AT hostel right on the trail, The Bears Den.

This was a wonderful old stone mansion, built by a doctor and his opera singer wife.
 everywhere has a map of the AT
 It is now run by the Potomac AT group. Here we met people both on the AT and traveling through. The managers had done the trail themselves in 2011. We had full access to the kitchen and living spaces. Fun times.

... from the very simplest  
... to the biggest, most elaborate we saw all forms of housing
... the unusual yes the tree is growing through the bed of the truck

... so what is a pink blaze? thought that we were following the white ones ...

I might not hike the distances that Danny does, but I am seeing the majesty and beauty as well a the whimsy of this land.
 imagine when the trees are covered with green leaves

 major estates behind the trees

 meeting Danny at the pick up point

 some parts are quite civilized

 the vistas are phenomenal

 and yes, the temps are definitely this low

 the biggest pair of binoculars ever

 a welcoming sight...

with a place to rest

Oh yes, and Spot has arrived and it is twins!
 Now I have one (Right side) when I go out by myself geocaching.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day, after day, after day ...

... and so it goes, drive in, hike/geocache, drive out, tour or ???, drive in, hike sometimes, drive out, eat, watch the weather channel, sleep .... What can I say, the same routine, yet no day is ever like any other. They promise rain, deliver nothing; they promise sunshine, get occasional rain/sleet; they promise gusts, deliver full winds at the gust speeds; and the pace continues, one step ahead of the other. There is a book out there called 5 Million Steps,  by Lon Chenowith and I truly believe that it is at least 5 million steps long, this AT.

Over the last week or so, we have been in three, (yes 3) states, albeit some rather short, and now are into the 4th one. Pennsylvania was our start and here we encountered many wonderful, helpful people, many who relished retelling their own stories of the AT. Although Danny hikes miles, I drive MILES as shown by a photo of our driving atlas where I diligently marked the roads.  very lower SE corner of Pennsylvania
Some I can't mark because they simply are too small and often country lanes, not roads. I am seeing more of the country, and what beautiful countryside I am finding, than I ever thought I would see in a very short time.

From Pennsylvania we headed into Maryland by way of Pen-Mar State Park. Here we climb The Stairway to Heaven, which gave a truly magnificent view of the valley and a heart-thumping realization of just how far one had climbed.   ===> 

Maryland is considered the shortest of all the segments that crosses a state.
This is the Appalachian Trail in Maryland 
This is my driving in Maryland 

While in Maryland, I have also been adding stamps to my National Parks Explorer pages as this is an area ripe with parks/battlefields/monuments and all close to each other.   out in the middle of nowhere, a statue of Gen E Lee. Guess he had some headquarters here.
a canon in the middle of someone's yard  
If you are a Civil War buff, it is an area rich in Civil War/1812 battles, and a good place to learn some history. When you go into an office all are manned by a volunteer who is passionate about his chosen arena - the Civil War. You have to be quite polite and listen but after awhile it does get carried away and I look for a natural breaking point or ask a question about the display or anything to allow for a graceful retreat. Even the state parks where Danny ends up and leaves from often have interesting monuments.

Climb a hill and find the first monument built in memory of George Washington at Washington Monument State Park. Dedicated onJuly 4th, 1827 

The only War Correspondents memorial in memory of all those brave war correspondents that gave their lives so that the general population would know the happenings is found in Gathland State Park.  Now there is another, but it is in Washington DC and it is a tree.

Francis Scott Keys is buried in the Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, MD.

 This has to be the first in the nation - established in 1815

the old in with the new  sometimes we even see a house that has been built around a cabin with the cabin wall visible on one side of the house

Even a mausoleum that is being rejuvenated 

West Virginia brought us to Harpers Ferry, an emotionally important trail centre for through-hikers. Haven't quite figured all that out yet (we havet been on the trail long enough I guess) but we did use the AT Conversancy as a meeting/pickup point. Here we had our photo taken for their book of thru-hikers and bought a bunch of trail maps.  We are #5 this year.  All profits go into maintaining and developing the trail, most work being done by a vast army of volunteers. Someone even donated a quilt which hangs in the hikers lounge.  Pretty impressive appliqué.

Between Harpers Ferry and Virginia, there was trail, and just that. We commuted back and forth from Maryland, about 35 miles and then moved on into Virginia.

our first glimpse  of the Shenandoah River and Valley

 1000 miles from Springer Mountain

 spectacular, mind-bpggling views

 and the ever-present datum.

In each of the shelters that Danny visits along the trail, there is usually a trail book where the hikers write their observations, musings, ponderings and zen moments. He leaves a little something of himself when he writes in them and signs it "Idigo" his Ngöbe name. He has adopted this name as his trail name and yes, his hair still sticks straight up and is cornsilk white and fine (the translation of Idigo).  

Along the way, hikers in all shapes and mindsets were met. Through-hikers, day hikers, segment hikers, and weekend hikers:

Along the way I have been doing some geocaching which gets me out hiking. Sometimes they are easy ones, sometimes a little harder, but always fun and always filled with exercise: walking the AT, climbing hills, climbing rock piles, trying to find the satellite for the gps in the forest.

 in every state we pass through I am leaving a Texas State Parks path tag keyring.

For days now there has not been any snow yet the temperatures are remaining in the low 40's. I can see where the description of the green tunnel would come from. For now, the trees are leaf-less and one can see through the limbs to the surrounding valleys and mountains making for a fantastic visual journey, but come summer, all you would see is the trees and green and no long distance vistas. That is supposed to change tonight. We should, operative word here, have snow again on the ground in the morning.

Someday it will warm up, I guarantee it, but for now...
  this is a favorite of mine