The Halfway on the AT – Not the Winter Trip We Expected

January 19, 2020 § Leave a comment

You may recall from my previous post, that there was a plan and except for a little damage to Andy’s wife’s Infinity and a little bit of rain, everything was so far going to plan. We all arrived safely, ate huge breakfasts at The Elkhorn in Bendersville, and we pared everything down to all the food, beer and booze we needed to enjoy all ourselves for the weekend. We set out from our parked vehicles, and we headed South on the AT, which at the start was nothing more than getting out of the parking lot, and walking along the road until the trail turned right and started climbing past some local hunting cabins. The grade was a pretty easy grade, and there really wasn’t anything in this day that was expecting to be any real challenge.

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The Halfway on the AT – Getting There

January 16, 2020 § Leave a comment

This is a very misleading title, because I am no where near halfway covered in AT mileage. Let’s be clear. I have only done the following:

  • NJ 72
  • NY 81
  • CT 51
  • Most of Vermont 100+
  • 16 miles in PA
  • 10 miles in MD
  • 20-30 miles in VA

That is it. I haven’t even walked a quarter of the AT, even if I note that I have done Jersey twice! So, when I title this “The Halfway” it is simply because our band of knuckleheads got together again for a weekend of fun in the woods, and we targeted Michaux State Forest, and more specifically Pine Grove Furnace which is where the AT Museum is located, and also the official halfway marker on the AT.

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Christmas AT Backpacking Trip – MA to NY via CT – It is A Wrap

January 14, 2020 § Leave a comment

The sixth time I felt my bladder had to be emptied, was around 5:10 in the am. I had slept on and off, however 5 times I had to get up at night, and one of those times, I needed to go around my tarp and move the rocks to tighten up the tautness in the tarp. I even extended the tent poles a little more to give me a wee bit more clearance. Anyway, here it was 5:10 in the am, and I knew I needed to get up. The question I presented to myself was this: “Why not simply get up, eat, and get going? Why pull into the destination shelter near the end of light? Why not simply, get there early? I contemplated these thoughts within the warm confines of my bag for another ten minutes, and then decided to follow through and this time, rather than simply dressing to pee, I dressed for the day.

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Christmas AT Backpacking Trip – Ma to NY via CT – A Change of Plans

January 5, 2020 § Leave a comment

You may recall from an earlier post, the preparation and the plans I made for this grand winter adventure. As is usual I fall into a capabilities trap. I reason (wrongly) that if I can cover 6 miles in Hartshorne Woods in 90 minutes, then surely I can cover 21.6 miles in 7.5 hours of daylight. The math says 18 miles in 4.5 hours, which leaves 3 hours to spare for the final 3.6 and some stopping here and there, and that is where my fatal flaw lies. An unburdened jaunt through Hartshorne, is not the same as a burdened, though lightly burdened I was, jaunt through the Taconic Mountain range through which most of the Connecticut AT traverses. You just can’t do it. Let me re-phrase. A 60 year old in decent shape such as myself coot still can’t do that. Hell, the same flaw led us to a 21 mile hike in June along the AT where we still didn’t cover our goal, and we had a much longer day for that.

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Christmas AT Backpacking Trip – MA to NY via CT Day 1

January 5, 2020 § 2 Comments

I stayed in the city Christmas Eve with Susan, filling our belly’s with Tenho ramen, and getting to bed long before midnight. My plan was to arrive at Grand Central with plenty of time to find my platform, and possibly find an open food establishment. Susan packed me a nice breakfast of granola, yogurt, and some Clementines, but with a long hike ahead, I thought some coffee, and a pastry of some sort would supplement well.

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Christmas AT Backpacking Trip – The Preparation

January 4, 2020 § 2 Comments

After returning from a three day weekend backpacking trip in Pennsylvania Furnace State Park, also known as Michaux State Forest where the Appalachian Trail halfway point between Springer Mountain Georgia, and Mt Katahdin Maine lies, I had all my gear still out and ready to put away when I thought “What if I took some time before the end of the year and tried to knock out the AT in Connecticut?” Though not the shortest sections of the trail in any state, it is pretty low. Maybe even number 2 to West Virginia, but maybe even number 3 to Maryland. I knew that the total length in CT was just over 50 miles, and I was already familiar with the Southern terminus; I just didn’t know much about the Northern end.

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Eagle Cap – Dan

November 28, 2018 § Leave a comment

Dan was offered a spot in this years adventure, but children. Well, child. Well, daughter getting married. That was a priority that we couldn’t work around, but like Mike Smith, we were able to get Dan to meet us in Joseph Thursday night, and spend car-camping time with us until we went into the woods Saturday morning. It should be noted here, and we were all very thankful, that Dan brought his Coleman camp stove, as well as a frying pan, and bacon, and eggs, and cheese, and wraps and a coffee pot and coffee, and he took care of us each morning. We mixed his breakfast with our breakfast on Friday, but we all pretty much sucked up to Dan for one of his bacon, egg and cheese wraps on Saturday. There was no better excellent way to start the day.

I first met Dan by way of Walt, when I finally accepted one of Walt’s many attempts to get me on one of his trips. By the time I had accepted,  Walt was backpacking, and since I like backpacking, you would think I would have jumped on his bandwagon the first time he went into the Grand Canyon. I did not. Missing the first you might surmise that when he chose to enter it again, I would join him that time. I did not. It wasn’t until Walt said “Look, this is the last time I am going into that hole, and the last time I am going to invite you, so please come.” And so I did. Dan was a member of that crew along with Herb, and Scotty. We hiked in at Hermit’s Rest and out along the Bright Angel, and spent 3 lovely evenings on the Tonto Plateau. By the hike out, Dan had developed, not to plan, a pretty severe blister on his foot, requiring Dr. Everetts to intervene and repair Dan as best he could. To alleviate Dan’s climb out we all volunteered to carry some part of Dan’s gear to lighted his load. The reader may recall this trip was the inspiration for getting my own adventures together, which Eagle Cap is the fourth edition.

The following year I joined the same crew for a walk across the Zion Wilderness. Dan, was on this trip as well, and physically he fared a lot better than the previous year’s trip into the Canyon. In fact other than extreme heat, cold and wind, everyone handled Zion quite well and that was the last time I saw Dan until 3 weeks ago.

As I recall, Dan was working for Motorolla in Tampa, Fl when Walt was assigned to a project there, and Dan was his go-to Systems Engineer. This was back in the Cell Tower explosion of the late 90’s after Walt had transferred back to Motorolla when Iridium failed to catch on at its initial price point. Walt was installing city wi-fi and cellular, and Tampa was the current project. Let’s say the two of them hit it off nicely when Walt suggested they discuss some issues over a few beers instead of stale office air.

These two maintained their friendship beyond the Motorolla links and found themselves together on at least one of Walt’s week long canoe adventures. More than likely it was their John Day River adventure in Oregon. Dan, of Bend Oregon, would have found that a convenient trip to participate in. When Walt moved from the canoe to the trail and started multi-day trips into the wilderness, Dan was right there along for the adventure. I am sure that if Dan could have made it happen, he would have loved to accompany Walt when Walt went to the Himalayas, but for most of us mere mortals, getting three consecutive weeks off is a challenge beyond our capabilities. Even for a trip of a lifetime.

It was a great pleasure to have Dan meet up with us this year. If not for his daughter’s wedding, we could have enjoyed his company for the full 10 days, but as it was we got to share some time together. Let this be notice to you Dan, that you need to set 10 days aside in September 2020 for our trip into the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado. I look forward to seeing you again.

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Eagle Cap – Mike Smith

September 28, 2018 § Leave a comment

I am not sure of the date, but it must have been while I was still an under grad at Penn State. The trimester was coming to an end, finals were almost over, and my friend Chris was already spending the summer in Northern Virginia at Larry‘s house. We talked on the phone about me coming to visit before I went home myself, and how I would get there when Chris mentioned that Melanie, Larry’s girlfriend at the time had a brother at Penn State, Mike Smith, who had a care, and I could hitch a ride with Mike. I remember calling Mike that evening, and a low low low voice answered the phone and we went on to make plans to travel. Mike was an engineering major, Nuclear I believe which could only mean one thing. Two socially awkward human beings would be in that car going home.

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Eagle Cap – Walt

September 28, 2018 § Leave a comment

Walt, as you may recall from this earlier profile on him, is my brother-in-law. I am fortunate that a man as busy as he is, can find, or make the time to be off the grid for an entire week. In a business where 24×7 problems can be escalated very easily to the director level, or at the vary least need to be socialized with the director, it’s hard to imagine that a) anyone else would want to step into that for a week, and b) the adrenaline rush of having to make those kinds of decisions all the time, can be hard thing to step aside from. To have a silent phone for an entire week. I would imagine there is a certain level of ghost alerts where a muscle twitch feels like a phone alert.

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Eagle Cap – Larry

September 26, 2018 § Leave a comment

Larry and I have been backpacking for close to 30 years now. It is kind of a fog, the dates. It somewhat depends on what year my first Mill Trip was, because although I had met Larry a few times prior to that, it wasn’t until I started coming to The Mill that our friendship began to develop. I am going to say my first Mill trip was probably January 1987, and I must have attended a couple before I heard about the Winter backpacking weekends. Like I said, that was a long time ago, and many trips later, as well as many Mill trips later Larry is one of my go-to friends. As Walt would call him, a pall bearer, though I plan on cremation, but pall bearer it is.

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