The Thru-hike facts...
Where to begin? Or, should I begin? This page has lists of
facts and trivial tidbits relative to the thru-hike. There will be
no particular order. I'll just put in things as I think of 'em. I hope
you like it. I hope I like it.
Numbers (It's just right down there. Use your arrows or mouse)
Favorites and least favorites
Animals I seed
Numbers and other boring facts:
Start and finish dates: August 4, 1998 through January 5,
Miles: 2160.3 (Passed every white blaze that I know of)
Miles with my pack on: 2155.1 (Did not carry it up Katahdin)
Biggest mileage day: 28 miles into Damascus, VA
Shortest mileage day: 1.3 to Niday Shelter
Days off: 8 (3 very frivolously)
Total number of days: 155
Nights spent in shelters: 92
Tent nights: 18
B&B's, hostels, friend's homes: 30
Nights alone: 11
Actually, there would be too many to
list. I'll mention the ones that come to mind currently. In no particular
Mount Madison: The sustained
winds of 85-95 mph were one of the most amazing natural occurrences I've
Hiking with Mike "Kay K. Harvey" Henderson:
Mike joined me for about 3 weeks and it was wonderful to see him and let
him run my thru-hike. Hell, someone needed to run it.
December 26th: I left Mt. Collins Shelter
at 9:00 a.m. I crossed Clingman's Dome on what was a crisp, clear day.
The temperatures were in the mid 20's and there was no wind. The day was
incredible. I got to the summit of Thunderhead about 15 minutes before
sundown. Standing on the pile of rocks you need to stand on to see over
the Rhododendrons gave me some of the most awe-inspiring scenery I had
on the whole trip. To my left were the eastern Smokies. The hills were
dark, the sky a pale blue. To my right was something I'd never seen before.
Wonderful, white clouds covered everything below 4000'. The valleys were
filled with a sea of white clouds. Three or four peaks were tall enough
to stand above the clouds, making them look like islands. The sky above
the cloud-sea was clear and blue. Straight ahead of me the Sun was settling
behind a mountain top, leaving brilliant oranges and reds and pinks splashed
around. "Yes!" I said aloud while clinching my fists as if I had just created
the perfect sunset. I hadn't created it, but I certainly enjoyed it. I
was so motivated by the entire situation that I hiked for 2 and a half
hours after dark. For the first time in my hiking memory I didn't want
to stop hiking at the end of the day. A day in which I saw no other human.
Pokey Hontas: Pokey became a very good
hikerette. She was hilarious by mistake. Sweet because she can't help it.
The expression she made when we saw the Black Bear in PA was something
I'll never forget. Remembering some of the sound effects she made to convey
her excitement are making me smile as I type this.
Night hiking: I ended up doing what
I consider to be a lot of night hiking during the last 7 weeks. I thoroughly
enjoyed it as it opened up a whole new world of wilderness and beauty.
Breakfast at Shaw's: If you've had
it, no explanation is necessary. If you haven't, no explanation is good
Maine: I sit here and look at the screen
and wonder what I should put after "Maine:" Perhaps it is better left just
like that: Maine.
Thanksgiving: Out of a wonderful display
of generosity and kindness, myself and three other hikers were picked up
and driven 6 hours to the home of Stoat's sister. There we were given showers,
beds and Thanksgiving dinner as well as being treated like family members.
The entire two day excursion was, indeed, wonderful.
Summiting Springer Mountain with two
other southbounders: Two nights before I finished, I got to Wood's
Hole Shelter sometime around 7:30. There, in their sleeping bags, were
Windbraker and Q.P. I had followed them for five months, but had never
met them. They had never heard of me. We spent the next two frigid days
together and climbed Springer together. It was nice experiencing the finale
with someone who had just been through what I had been through. I felt
like I had known them for years.
Meteor Shower: I don't remember the
name of it, but it happened in the middle of November. Sundown and I stood
on the picnic table at The Priest Shelter and "Ooooo"ed and "Ahhhhh"ed
as 5 or 6 meteors a minute lit the sky overhead.
The Smokies' ice storm: As I hiked
from Davenport Gap to the ridge line of the Smokies (roughly 3 or 4 miles),
ice was bringing trees down all around me. Branches and limbs were falling
like rain. I had to hike looking up to make sure I wasn't going to be hit
by falling wood or ice. The footpath became an obstacle course of ice-covered
obstructions. It was beautifully frightening.
The Loons: Ahhhh, the Loons.
Favorite this or that of the hike...
Just some random things I liked, or
enjoyed along the way:
Official song of the hike:
"Got You Where I Want You" by The
Flys. This song really pumped me up.
Official word of the hike:
"Outstanding". No other word better
describes the experience.
Official phrase of the hike:
"Who was that guy?" or "Where are
Kincorra. Of course, The Place
is also very special. Even if it doesn't have heat.
I still like Bryant Ridge. Especially
after the relo brings the AT right to the steps. The
new Partnership Shelter is nice. I really liked the wood stove at the Blackburn
Center Shelter. Other than the fact that the water is 2 counties over,
the new Allentown Shelter in PA was nice. The new design in the south is
nice. I like the overhang area with pic-a-nic tables. (Though, there is
lots of air blowing through the floor on these shelters. Too much open-airspace
below the shelters)
I really liked North Woodstock,
NH. Everything was close together and most of the necessities were readily
available. Damascus, VA is still in a class all its own, though.
Holiday Inn Express in Hiawassee,
GA. A wee bit expensive, but the jacuzzi tub felt great and was strong
enough to do a load of laundry. I also liked the White Wolf in Stratton,
ME. How can you not like a motel with a resident transvestite. (Not that
there's anything wrong with that.)
The Red Onion in Rangeley, ME.
There was also a good pie to be had at the Mad Greek's in Elizabethton,
Best all-around meal:
Thanksgiving at Stoat's sister's
For balance in the universe, there
must also be the list of leasts...
Least Favorite Trailtowns:
Gorham, NH is too spread out. Kent,
CT is too Kent, CT. I didn't care for any of the 'trailtowns' in NY. Pearisburg,
VA is, well, scary.
Least Favorite hostel:
Horsefeathers Inn in Oquossoc,
ME. I realize this isn't a standard hostel, but...
Least Favorite Shelters:
Can you say "Tennessee Eastman"?
And, other than the Wildcat Shelter in NY, there isn't much in the Empire
State I liked.
The Village Restaurant in Kent,
CT was the worst overall dining experience I had on the Trail, if not ever.
No details. If you ever see me in this restaurant again, get your coat;
Hell's gonna be freezing.
Pine Grove Motel in beautiful Poughquag,
NY. We were actually charged more because we were hikers. If you ever see
me here again, I'll surely have a can of gas and some shop rags. The Rendezvous
still scares me. If those walls could talk.
The very first pond I came to (in
Maine) had a cow moose standing in it. We saw moose in almost every pond
through the Hundred Mile Wilderness. We even had a couple of face-off/stare
downs on the Trail. The bull that Pokey had the argument with was the most
impressive of the moose.
The Loons (which I capitalize out
of respect for these wonderful creatures) were incredible. I shant soon
forget the night we were open-air camping on a sand beach. We were treated
to one of nature's symphonies. The stage was Lake Nahmakanta. Lighting
was provided by the full Moon passing directly overhead. The Loons were
playing their vocal instruments with indescribable expertise, complete
with reverb and echoes. The perfect background music was played by the
Canada Geese that flew across the sky, silhouettes in the moonlight. Beethoven
himself would have been silent in awe. Nature's symphony, indeed.
Stoat saw a porcupine in MA and
I found a pile of quills. I saw a couple of flying squirrels, a snowshoe
hare, as well as 1,435,656 chipmunks. Pokey and I saw a 'huge' black
bear in PA. The most, hmmm, fulfilling for me was the bobcat I had a 30
second stare down with just north of Damascus. It was way cool and then
I saw less than 5 mice on the entire
hike. I saw no possi and only one raccoon. The raccoon scared the bejesus
out of me. I was hiking after dark, listening to my walkman. I heard something
running through the leaves next to me. I turned to look, shining my headlamp
in that direction. The light caused the eyes of the 'coon to glow. As I
was on a sunken roadbed, the 'coon's eyes were nearly the same level as
mine, making it look larger than it was. He was running, for some
reason, right at me. I couldn't tell how far away he was because his eyes
were all that I saw. When he finally emerged from the brush, onto the roadbed
about 4 feet from me, we both jumped. I asked "What are you doin'?" as
it ran down the road in front of me.
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