August 3 - 9 Journal Entries

8/3 - Day 146

12.4 mi Ten Mile Campsite - 1431.3 cum

Micah had a rough morning today. FireBall dropped us off at around 10:30 and before an hour had passed on our hike, Micah and I came to the first electric fence of the day. I used my hiking stick to pull up the lower wire that was about 2 feet off the ground and Micah passed through safely.

I began to climb the stile to get myself over and just as I reached the top, I heard a loud yelp from Micah. I looked down to see him jumping into the air as he'd obviously gone back and touched the wire. Unfortunately, his jump was in the worst direction possible and he fell against the electric fence broadside! This time he let out a huge yowl and fell the rest of the way through the fence in a wild somersault. He ended up on the side that we'd begun with his pack hanging upside down from his ribcage. He looked absolutely pitiful standing there with his tail tucked up under his legs and that pack danglying from his belly. He was still yowling as he stood there, making this big "O" shape with his mouth and looking off down the road. I had to yell his name several times for him to finally look into my eyes (I was still up on top of the stile).

Once I got his attention, I spoke to him soothingly until he finally stopped crying. I descended the stile, went over to him, removed his pack, and then walked him to a shady spot beneath a tree where we could both calm down.

I waited a full half hour before we tried it again. This time I took his pack off and tossed it over first. Then I made a sling out of my bandana to pull the wire up so Micah could pass through. I held my walking stick parallel to the wire but just a little bit lower so that if Micah touched anything, it would be my hiking stick first. He needed a lot of coaxing this time around, but I'm so proud of him for trying it again. Once he was through, I praised him profusely and immediately put my stick against the fence in such a way that Micah wouldn't try to come back through.

We had two more fences to deal with before the day was over. I think I was more nervous about them than Micah. Some of the wires were so low that Micah had to step over them. I usually step on them to make them as low as possible, but Micah could still very easily brush a paw against them. I think that in the future I'm also going to lay my sleeping pad over them so that he can't brush them with his paw accidentally.

I met Dingle and HatTrick today. They are a young, newlywed couple from Northern Virginia. Three weeks after their wedding, they were on the AT (now that's one heck of a honeymoon). HatTrick was able to get a leave, but Dingle had to quit his job to do the hike. They were both computer systems type professionals. Dingle's dad had been slackpacking them for over an entire week and they'd made some good mileage as a result. Today was the last day their dad would be able to do it though.

Dingle and HatTrick knew me before I even introduced myself, which is always kinda weird. They'd been using my web page to help plan their hike before they left and now HatTrick's dad was following my journals. I also met Lost Soul at the Wiley Shelter. He had been another web-surfing thru-hiker and had known me through the web as well.

Micah and I got caught in a pretty fierce afternoon thunder and lightning storm with some very heavy rain. Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be a little cooler as a result.

8/4 - Day 147

20.0 mi to Cornwall Bridge, CT - 1451.3 cum

I'm too tired to write--long day, got caught in the rain, have blisters, enough said.

8/5 - Day 148

15.5 mi to Falls Village, Ct - 1466.8 cum

I'm worn out. After yesterday's death march, my legs just have nothing in them. Micah seems pretty wiped out too. FireBall's going to be picking me up tonight in Falls Village and I can't wait.

I met some more new thru-hikers on the trail: Phoebe and Hackamatack, and TrailMouse and Technicolor. It seems like everybody's catching up to me now, but I don't care--only 700 more miles to go and I'm going to make it!

8/8 - Day 151

14.4 mi to Sages Ravine - 1481.2 cum

I was a little late in getting back to the trail from Fireball's house in Bristol, CT. I really enjoyed my 2 days off at his home and his mom really made me feel welcome. It's wonderful when you can take two days off in a row. The first day is never restful. You're always running around doing laundry, cleaning gear, making phone calls, writing postcards, ... It's the second day that's the key to coming back to the trail well rested!

I've switched to my Thermarest 3/4 length inflatable mattress. I don't know whether my RidgeRest was just compressed after all this time on the trail or whether I'm just getting more achy. Whatever it is, I'm tossing and turning all night long to try and get comfortable now. I know the Thermarest weighs almost a pound more, but sleep is just too important out here to mess around with.

I saw 180 several times today. We gave him a ride from the Falls Village P.O. back to the trail and then he and I would continue to leapfrom one another as we stopped for breaks throughout the day. At one of his breaks he pulled out a stack of paper to show me - it was my journal! His wife had printed it out and sent it to him. It looked like a pretty darn heavy stack of reading. I know I wouldn't be willing to carry that much extra weight!

180 is always very quick to talk about his wife. You can tell right away that he's still absolutely head-over-heels in love with her after 20+ years of marriage. He said he'd known her since she was 5 and he always refers to her as his best friend. It's so nice to see couples that still feel so strongly about each other after years of marriage. I think that Puget Pounder and his wife Julie are the same way.

This section was particularly enjoyable. The trail conditions were great and I felt like I was walking on a nice cushiony carpet most of the day. I originally planned to do only 12 today since I didn't start hiking until 12:30, but I just felt really good today and decided to press on to Sages Ravine since I'd heard so much about what a beautiful place it was.

I met a lot of hikers today - section hikers, day hikers, south bounders, and even a runner. At the Bond Lean-to I met HamHock and Far From Pukin'. Far From's name is a takeoff on the Volkswagon Pharphignugen (sp?) slogan. He wears a cut up t-shirt with the characteristic VW stick figure on the front, but this little stick-man is holding two huge mugs of beer. Underneath the figure is the word Pharfrompukin (sp?) in big block letters. I also met Grizzly at the top of Bear Mountain, the first 2,000-footer since PA.

8/9 - Day 152

14.1 to US7/Sheffield, MA - 1495.3 cum

I met Purple Haze this morning as I passed by the Bear Rock Falls campsite. I love her story. Her brother and some of his friends had decided to hike the AT together. Well, Purple Haze went along with her brother to visit one of these friends and happened to flip through a book called "Appalachian Adventure" that was sitting out on the coffee table. She was captivated and there and then she decided to hike the trail.

The other four guys that she would be hiking with didn't expect her to last a week. Purple Haze calls her former self "Miss Makeup". She used to dye her hair black, wear purple lipstick, purple nail polish, and she has a pierced chin ornamented with a little silver ball. Not your typical idea of an "outdoors woman". And to top it all, she'd never backpacked or camped before!

Well, here she is - 1500 miles later and still going strong as a solo female thru-hiker. The other four men who didn't thin she'd last a week all dropped out - most of them by Hot Springs.

Purple Haze has a patch on her backpack that makes me smile every time I think about it. It just says "Girls Kick Ass!"

Micah impressed the heck out of me once again. There was a new bridge under construction on a pending relocation. The bridge looked completed, but it was five feet off the ground and had no steps yet! Somebody had propped some ladders up against it, the kind with round aluminum rungs. Well, I figured this was going to be the first time I was going to have to lift him. I took my pack off, took Micah's pack off, squatted down next to Micah and just as I reached for him to pick him up he sprung up the ladder in two bounds! I was amazed! Micah meanwhile was up on top of the bridge all smiles and tail wagging. You could tell he was awful proud of himself.