AT Summary of Posts

Post 1:On 10 March, I hope to be on top of Springer Mountain with my two kids.   That gives me three more weeks to finalize details to make sure we don’t (have to) quit at the first road crossing.

 Post 2:  Feb 18The stress of this adventure is mounting, mainly due to gear selectiion.  There is also the problem of finding replacement gear for the kids while on the trail.   Still not sure how that will work.

Over the years, my kids have grown up in Shenandoah National Park.  We even spent one year going to the park every month to “see the changes through the seasons”.  That was incredibly enjoyable and memorable.img_6484

We were snowed out on more than one visit, having to suffice with gate-closure-snow-ball fights.img_8448

This adventure will be the kids first time back-packing.  Megan wants to walk the miles.   The other two are tagging along because they think this will be better than school.

Here we are testing out gear and finding our passion for walking in the rain.

Megan has always had a love for the outdoors.  That love was cultivated by Ancestral Knowledge counselor Nick G.  (He now leads his own program)
There is some discrepancy amongst us as to how this idea got started.  I blame the OkeeDokee Brothers album Through the Woods.img_2855

Post 3:  Feb 20Hello, Scamper here. Today I laid out all my gear triple checking I have everything I need. So much stuff to carry, and yet so little to live on. I am sleeping outside tonight, testing my gear even more. Making sure everything works is a very annoying process.

So I was planning on having my dad help with the process of cutting and trying the string for my hammock, but I ended up doing to on my own. I asked for his help and he said go watch a video and then he started thinking it through. Confused on what I was supposed to be doing I decided to to take initiative. I tied a cow hitch around a chair to represent a tree. Then thinking it through, I tied a few more knots down the string and repeated it with the other half. I now have a fully functional hammock, hooray.


Post 4:  March 2  Maybe it won’t work out, but seeing if it does will be the best adventure ever.

Post 5: 18 March

First day great hiking.  Covered just over 8.9 miles.  It rained our first night Around 1 am.  Rain continued till noon the second day.  We went slow and got over sassafras man.  Stayed in cooper gap.  Trail magic was wonderful.  Upon arriving at cooper gap “oboe hobo” has sodas oranges water and snickers.   Oh so lovely.  Luke and Megan arrived 20 min before me to Coopers gap.  They did not know they could partake in the magic.   Later three guys from northern GA univeasily started cooking hot dogs for hikers.  Once again it took Megan and Luke many tries to gather enough courage to ask for hot dog.

Thanks trail angels.  Thanks.20170317_140728

Post 6: third day on trail    Woke up freezing.  More trail magic occurred.  The gentleman, “courtesy” drove us to walasiyi Inn to fix gear issues and a warm place to sleep with 12 of my closest friends.  Luke has a new pack and Megan a new sleeping bag.  Red barron cost 9 doliars he r but they cook it for you.   We are showered.  We are feed.  It is 32 degreen.   We are happy.20170319_101236

Post 7:  Day 4  Hiked from 9 am to 6 pm and only went 11 miles.  I collapsed upon arriving at Low gap shelter.  Kids gathered water and set up tent.  They cooked their own dinners.  A German couple gave them M&Ms.  “World champ”  saved us a nice flat spot for tent.  “World Champ” came to us to hike the trail.  He has a seven month visa which was,only procured because Barcelona won a football match while he was being interrogated  at customs.  He sat on a poison ivy covered log,  so kids felt obligated to teach him what the vines look like in winter before there are leaves.  The night was clear for star gazing.  Not much wildlife around,though the gnats are out.


Post 8:  day 5

Very tired after yesterday’s long hike.  Said only a short hike day.  We are the last group to leave low gap-about 60 people were there last night.

The hike was stat ok my high on the ridge line, easy ups and downs.   Trail was very rocky leading to conversation about geology.  Just shy of 8 miles I tried to collect water from a muddy trickling stream.  The kids went ahead 100 ft to shelter.  I slipped and tumbled down becoming  muddy bruised and minor scratches.  Luke came back and carried my pack to shelter.  We took a break and then decided to proceed down mtn.  It’s amazing how wonderful to sounds of civilization can be.  We heard cars.  We then saw the road.  Then a half mile later we were at road hitchhiking.  A GRANDMA picked us up and fed us and let us stay for night.  She let us shower and wash clothes.  She took is to store to buy food.  Amazingly enough it started raining and hail around 9 pm.  So glad to be warm and dry.  20170320_123334

Post 9:  Zero day or 5 steps on trail

GRANDMA took us to trail in morning.20170322_083917

After she left we realized we had more gear issues we has to solve.  So we took five steps on trail turned around and then tried to get ride into Helen,Ga.  We got a ride [ story can not be put in blog] to town.  No one sold the item we needed.  So found a hotel, cheaper than hostel, and called Dad to mail us what w e need.

Post 10:

We almost made it out of Georgia.   After 17.5 miles in two days, some member of the crew wanted to get of trail.  So, Dan came and back to Virginia we went.

In a few hours, three of us will head to Front Royal to return to hiking.  We will try to hike through to Pa.   Then after a short break, we will return to Georgia for the last 8 miles and continue into N.C.


Post 11:

All plans are destroyed when you meet the enemy.  We are in North Carolinia.  We left D.C. Tues.  Drove.   We arrived in Franklin after lunch.  SPENT 2 HOURS at outfitter store called, Outdoor76.  Why 2 HOURS.  That is their process for fitting shoes.    We then hit trail for a low mileage day, one.  We met “Pack”.  He told us about a hostel 14 miles further on trail.  Woke up Thursday and hiked till mile 117 on Appalachian Trail.  We walked from 9 till 2:30 pm.  Short day going up hills and the next resting spot was only 3 miles away but all uphill.  We had our first night capping alone.  Luke woke up in the middle of the night screaming.  We had a horrendous night trying to stay dry –  one incredible lightening show.  Not sure how we had the gumption to break camp.  Walked in rain grumplely.  Rain stopped.   Daw glimpses of sunshine.  Cold and blustery.  Now we are warm and dry staying at hostel and “Pack” is here too.  Mile 124.  Head out tomorrow for BOX if everyone has recovered from falling injuries we had today- trail is muddy

Shoe fitting guy.
After math of recent fire.


Post 12:  Rumi or AT motto

Come, come, whoever you are,

wanderer, fire worshiper, lover of leaving.

This is not a caravan of despair.

It does not matter that you have broken your vow

a thousand times, still come,

and yet again come.

Post 13:  4 April  Thwarted

Megan is hurt and for a couple of days we are resting.  Word to the wise, it takes 100 hours to heal injuries to on vascular tissues.  Hopefully, that will be all it will take.

She fell two feet from a wet log unto her side.   The knee is hurting, mostly on downhills, which she had to do to get off the mountain.   The next stretch of the Trail is 7 miles of downhill traversing.

The decision to leave the trail was wise, but it created turmoil.  The goal is Maine.  The goal is to have Mount Katahdin be the finally.  We still have the time to accomplish that goal, though there is no longer much wiggle room without increasing the mileage per day.

Post 14:

DSC05770The last meal at Riverwalk Grill in Blueridge, GA.  Great burgers.  We promised to go back when we finish the Trail.20170324_092923“World Champ” – a father left behind his three kids and wife in Germany.   Hopefully, our paths will cross again.  He saw me struggling up hills and offered to carry gear.  Sang “Let it Go” in German; we taught him the song in English.  Sure enough the words are different and the meaning changes.

20170401_081642“Pack”  –   He should be renamed to “Inspiring”.  A fellow soldier and then worked for VA for 20 years.  Thank you for your kindness.

20170320_132030Over mountains we go.  We were out of water.  Kids friended “Winkle” (the lady in purple shirt) while walking down to this parking lot.   She sectioned hiked the A.T.  Without help we would have had to walked over and down another mountain before reaching a spring.   Cookies and Doritos never tasted so good.  “Winkle” told us to go see “Tinder”.

20170324_133212“Tinder” at the Top of Georgia Hostel.  Will have to spend more time with her another day.

20170323_085801As only a father and firefighter would do – rescue a family.   We were hitch hiking out of Helen, Ga.  No one would stop.  We waited an hour.  This fire chief drove past us once, with me pleading to him.   Twenty minutes later, he let us get in with the warning that if he got a call we would have to get out.  No call came but also shift relief was delayed for 20 minutes to take care of us.   THANK YOU.


Post 15:  20170401_131039Free Grub for thru-hikers in Franklin, N.C

20170401_130645Trail Days in Franklin, NC

IMG_20170317_123758Starting point

DSC05782While climbing trees makes the Trail fun, it can lead to departure.

DSC05773Road to Springer Mtn. I was so nervous that I threw-up.

IMG_20170317_123834The beginning view, Springer Mtn.

IMG_20170317_120520parking lot sign

IMG_20170317_120516Nervous, we walked the mile to Springer and back to parking lot without packs. We are “slackers”

Post16:  20170323_101514Trail maintenance.20170323_101515Without their hard work,  no Trail would exist.  They are volunteers.20170323_101532Susan, in the red ball cap, is the oldest woman triple crowner.  She has thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, The Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail.20170323_102708One of many views worth a pause.  That tall mountain is called “Blood Mountain” – Cherokee blood spilled.

20170323_130158Just a pretty moss covered rock.20170330_112444Trail or stream bed, you decide.

Post17:  12 mile Day

20170408_09195320170409_143508Doesn’t he look like a real thru-hiker.20170409_130201Megan and Luke trying to find the trail.20170409_122810I need to be on the look out for these rock overhangs, Shelter from a storm.20170408_182337Our first encounter with bear cables.   Luke was very happy that he did not have to spend his usual 1/2 hour it takes him to hang his bear bag.20170408_181909Mom does not get a tent.  This is her palace.

20170408_152745I kept on asking Luke to “back up”, the ledge is real.   Mountain view after Woody Gap.

Post 18:

What do you do for Spring Break on the Trail?   We get sick and come home.

At the end of our 19 mile hike, we went to the grocery store to buy dinner, then headed to hotel for night.  Megan and Luke purchased sliced mixed fruit and sliced watermelon, and Kraft microwave mac and cheese, and a frozen apple pie.   All was consumed at hotel.  Two hours later – well it was not a really looking or smelling site.   We changed hotels rooms three times.   That was Sunday.   They are finally themselves and wanting to play- today, Friday.

We will head back out once everyone is healed and gain the lost weight back.  There are no pictures associated with this…

Post 20: 20170419_08430720170418_14493620170418_17155220170418_17155220170418_17155220170418_19453920170418_19460420170408_114519IMG_20170409_075329_683

Post 21: 20170419_07430620170419_08115320170418_14345120170418_12594020170418_134656

Post 22:

Megan has the skills for collecting the water you want to drink – no bugs, sticks or leaves.  She has the knack.   I love her for it because she is willing to collect the water that I drink.  She can not always control the turbidity of water.   We have had to drink some rather opaque water.  Ah, but the water from some of the mountains springs is so cold and delightful.waterclarity.jpg

Filtering water on the trail and how to filter is a much debated topic.  I have chosen to chemically treat my water.   It takes four hours for efficacy.  Megan and Luke treat their water with Sawyer Squeeze.   Sawyer filter may be faster but I am  not sure of the marketing veracity.  It appears to a debated and studied topic.

Tufts University came out with a study that Sawyer is refuting.  Pure water for the World has a paper out that states their summary.

Results of CamelBak filter study that also talks about the Sawyer filters.

CDC just wants you to bring the water to a roiling  boil for minimum of one minute.   That can be hard to do when living in the woods.

Post 23: 19 April

We stayed warm and dry in the Jim C. and Molly Denton Shelter.   It has a solar heated shower (a black rain barrel in stilts), outhouse (it didn’t smell – uses wood chips and bugs to get waste in soil), and separate covered food area.  Pure Luxury.  It was our first time being able to stay in a shelter.   Every night, we have camped with 60 -70 of our closest friends, therefore by the time we are ready to sleep the shelters are full.  We returned to the trail in an area ahead of the “bubble” ( the main mass of north bound thru-hikers).   We shared the shelter with two other thru-hikers.   This was a intentional choice on my part to show the kids what hiking the trail could be like if 2,000 others weren’t around trying to get to Katahdin.   The trail in this section was covered in new growth poison ivy.   That was our biggest treat.   Northward we go, slowly, till the “bubble” reaches us.  Then we will head south to cover the areas missed – the Smokies and the Grayson Highlands.




Post 24: Knocked down but not out

Megan is hurt and we will be off the trail for the next 3-6 weeks while she heals at home.

Post 25:   We never returned to the trail.



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