Mile 1800 – New Hampshire and the Whites

The July 22 check-in at mile 1800 which put them at at the White Mountains.  Lovely park.  Lauren met up with a friend, Professor Elliot Fisher and stay there before heading off into the Whites.

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We had the chance to visit the White Mountains National Forest back when we went to visit Kim when she lived in Maine.  We drove down and it was an amazing, beautiful drive.  We drove up Mt Washington, the highest peak in the Park to the weather observatory.   Ironically, without any planning on my part, I’m reading a book called “Following Atticus” by Tom Ryan.  It’s book about his hiking of the White Mountains with Atticus, his dog.  It’s been a great read so far and I would recommend it.

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A bit more about the White Mountains:

“The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. They are part of the northern Appalachian Mountains and the most rugged mountains in New England. The range is heavily visited due to its proximity to Boston and, to a lesser extent, New York City and Montreal.

Most of the area is public land, including the White Mountain National Forest and a number of state parks. Its most famous mountain is 6,288-foot (1,917 m) Mount Washington, which is the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. and for 76 years held the record for fastest surface wind gust in the world (231 miles per hour (372 km/h) in 1934). Mount Washington is part of a line of summits, the Presidential Range, that are named after U.S. presidents and other prominent Americans.

The White Mountains also include the Franconia Range, Sandwich Range, Carter-Moriah Range and Kinsman Range in New Hampshire, and the Mahoosuc Range straddling the border between it and Maine. In all, there are 48 peaks within New Hampshire as well as one (Old Speck Mountain) in Maine over 4,000 feet (1,200 m), known as the Four-thousand footers.

The Whites are known for a system of alpine huts for hikers operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club. The Appalachian Trail crosses the area from southwest to northeast” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Mountains_(New_Hampshire))

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About Mount Washington:

“Mount Washington, called Agiocochook by some Native American tribes, is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288.2 ft (1,916.6 m) and the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River.

The mountain is notorious for its erratic weather. On the afternoon of April 12, 1934, the Mount Washington Observatory recorded a windspeed of 231 miles per hour (372 km/h) at the summit, the world record for most of the 20th century, and still a record for measured wind speeds not involved with a tropical cyclone.[4][a]

The mountain is located in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, in the township of Sargent’s Purchase, Coös County, New Hampshire. While nearly the whole mountain is in the White Mountain National Forest, an area of 60.3 acres (24.4 ha) surrounding and including the summit is occupied by Mount Washington State Park.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway ascends the western slope of the mountain, and the Mount Washington Auto Road climbs to the summit from the east. The mountain is popular with hikers (the Appalachian Trail crosses the summit). Other common activities include glider flying, and annual cycle and running races such as the Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and Road Race.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Washington_(New_Hampshire)

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There have been some challenges with the summer storms bringing high winds at a tropical storm level, lightening, and inches of rain.  The terrain is getting rockier, steeper, and more challenging.  Cell connection is dropping due to lack of towers and the dips in the hike where there is no coverage until they reach the peak.  There are longer breaks from civilization.

Until the next check in.

~ Linda

 

 

Bennington, VT and everything in between

Lauren has reached Bennington, Vermont.  Jeff and SG were not able to meet her as planned due to all of our “normal” house sitters being unavailable to watch the Zoo!  Super sadness on SG’s part as well as Aunt Lauren.  Only 4 more weeks before we depart MD with Huck and Finn to meet her in Maine! She was able to go and pick up her food box and maps.  =)

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Some information about Bennington:

Bennington is a town in Bennington County, Vermont, in the United States. It is one of two shire towns (county seats) of the county, the other being Manchester.[4][5] The population is 15,431, as of 2014 US Census estimates.[6] Bennington is the most populous town in southern Vermont, the third-largest town in Vermont (after Essex and Colchester) and the sixth-largest municipality in the state including the cities of Burlington, Rutland, and South Burlington in the count.

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The town is home to the Bennington Battle Monument, which is the tallest human-made structure in the state of Vermont. The town has ready access to natural resources and waterpower, and a long history of manufacturing, primarily within wood processing. The town is also recognized nationally for its pottery, iron, and textiles. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bennington,_Vermont  )

A little backtracking.  Lauren’s been so good about posting on FB, that I have not felt the urgency to blog.  This being said, I love researching the areas she’s been.

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When reading about Bennington, I was sad to find out this information about the climate:

“Bennington experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) with cold, snowy winters and warm to hot, humid summers. Snowfall can vary greatly from year to year. The town can experience snowfall as early as October and as late as April, and the surrounding high country can receive snow as late as May. Nor’easters often dump heavy snow and wind on the town during the winter, and accumulations of one foot of snow or greater are not uncommon when these storms move through the area…..July is typically the wettest month.” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bennington,_Vermont).   Lauren is reaching VT in July so she may be headed into some more wet hiking.  =(

On to happier times:

Her last post on June 22 was this about her time in New York City:

“Kyle’s uncle Bear met us with the boat underneath the Bear Mt Bridge where we quickly chucked our packs onto the boat and jumped aboard from the rocks as we weren’t supposed to dock there. We then took the boat 35 miles down the Hudson River to New York City. Not many people get to enter the city this way and it provided a unique perspective of the city. We got to travel under the George Washington Bridge down to Manhattan, the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty.

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The original plan was to turn around at that point and head back to the trail but the city was calling our names. We got a wet slip in Brooklyn and ended up spending 2 more days exploring NYC. The first night we stayed in the financial district in lower Manhattan where we went to Wall St. and saw the bull. Kyle thought is was necessary to grab it’s balls.

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From there it was a short walk to The World Trade Center and Memorial.

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The next day we moved hotels to Time Square and I got to walk from lower Manhattan to Central Park. All in all I did about 12 miles that day. As I was making my way through the park a giant storm rolled through leaving me fairly wet and seeking shelter. Fortunately I had my poncho with me and refused to let the rain keep me from seeing the rest of the park. I even got to experience the subway as I was too tired to walk back down the park to the hotel.

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The following day I woke in Time Square and fell asleep on top of a mountain a few more miles north on the Appalachian Trail. What an adventure, I owe Kyle and is uncle a huge thanks for an experience of a lifetime!”

Two days before this, June 20, Lauren shares her experience with New York:

“I have had a real love hate experience with New York. It is quite beautiful, the best scenery so far but the terrain has been wearing me out. We have been rock climbing and scrambling over a ton of rock. Multiple times I have had to throw my trekking poles up and over these ledges so I can use both hands and feet to pull myself up.

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I loved the Bear Mountain area, it was so beautiful. The trees were spaced out with a grassy undergrowth and the granite slabs created an intriguing checked pattern. The vistas were finally worth walking out to and on a clear night sometimes you can get a glimpse of NYC. I particularly enjoyed the trail side zoo at the bottom of the mountain and gave a fair amount of thought to walking off with some of the picnickers food.

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We got off trail at mile 1404 and walked the 3.5 miles to the town of Fort Montgomery/ Highland Falls for a resupply and shower. We are planning on meeting Kyle’s great uncle here and taking his boat down the Hudson River to NYC. This should be an epic adventure.

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Lauren continues to embrace the journey.  As she moves on from Bennington, VT, the cell  service will continue to get worse, the terrain rougher, and the end of the trail closer.   We will hear less from her.

As I type this, I’m sitting in the SeaTac airport waiting for a connecting flight.  I’m going home from the CTMH Convention where the theme was “Who Tells Your Story” and resilience.  I’m blessed to have a chance to help Lauren tell her story and inspired by her resilience in her journey.

Until the next update,

~ Linda =)

 

 

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Trail Magic

One of the things that really makes a hiker’s day is Trail Magic!  It’s a little something special and unexpected which gives a ray of hope.   Lauren received one back at the 501 Shelter.

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“A huge thank you to Joe Frambach and Tori Frambach for surprising me with trail magic at the 501 shelter! Unfortunately I misses seeing them by an hour but they left a ton of food at the shelter for me. When I arrived at the 501 and the caretaker said there was trail magic left there specifically for me I didn’t believe him. All he could remember is they were friends of mine from the PCT and I couldn’t think of anyone I knew from Pennsylvania. Joe and Tori who live in San Francisco happened to be visiting PA and contacted Travis to find out where they could surprise me with trail magic.
What a special treat! Joe and Tori are amazing. I loved the fresh fruit, particularly the watermelon.”

I have to say this is a very impressive shelter the 501 Shelter is!  Look at the number of hikers that can be accommodated! This Shelter was before we reached them.

Until next time,

~ Linda

Halfway, Allentown Shelter, and more

Wow….I’m retyping this post because I did something to delete the entire post just before I was ready to post.  =(  This one will be shorter I’m afraid.

Since we left Lauren in MD on June 1, Lauren has crossed the Mason Dixon Line (MD/PA line):

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And crossed the official half way mark of the trail.

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She continues to hike with Kyle.   SG and I made a run up about 3 hours from our house to meet the at the Allentown Shelter when Lauren determined we could hike in to meet them and spend the night. While I’m a Glamper, I agreed to this because I know SG would love to camp and 2 miles is not a big deal with a day pack.  Jeff and I dug out the sleeping bags:

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There was a Cabela’s on the way so I knew we could stop and get some basics – like straps to tie down the sleeping bags to the packs (ours are day packs and our sleeping bags are not ones designed for hiking) and a few other things.  SG and I left.  We had a small delay outside of Baltimore due to a truck accident.  Does anyone else find it eerie that Google Maps can tell you how long your traffic delay will be in real time?  We hope no one was seriously hurt.

The largest Cabela’s is in Port Clinton, PA.  We picked up pillows, a sleeping mat for me, and straps.  We also got gas and TP (another vital need for hikers).

We made it to the trail head where I got the packs set up

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SG was so excited when we set off!

The hike was a little shy of 2 miles.  When we got to the Shelter, Aunt Lauren and Kyle were working on dinner.  SG and I set up camp while they did this.  Dinner was fantastic.  SG was fascinated by all the things that went into adventure and I’m so glad we did this.

SG helped put the food bags up in the trees to keep the bears away.  We hung all the packs up and left the zippers open on all the compartments so the mice don’t chew their way into the pack.  There was a rattlesnake that apparently likes to live at the privy so you took a stick with you there to make noise to warn it away!  SG would have been content to stay and hunt for it so she could see it!

We shared the camp site with 6 other hikers, so a total of 9 of us.   There is an easy camaraderie among the hikers.  Sharing of information and friendliness.

There was some light rain that came early in the morning.  Luckily, it let up as we were getting up. After packing  up and eating breakfast, we headed out stopping at an “unreliable” spring to see if it was there and it was.  Lauren and Kyle took the opportunity to stock up on water.  They carry filtration systems to help ensure their safety.

After this, I turned my keys over to Lauren and encouraged them to take off as I do not hike at their pace.  They needed to reach the truck anyway and get their day packs ready to go so they could slack pack this next section, which is known to be fairly rocky and limited in water supplies.  I would take their packs to the next cross over at Little Gap.  This was my last view of them for about an hour.

I enjoyed my hike out, taking pictures of the different things that caught my eye.

Once I met up with them, they were working on their packs.  SG was entertaining everyone with a “pick a card” magic trick.   SG has a little bit of hero worship going on with her Aunt Lauren!

 

Off they went went into the woods and we headed over to Little Gap.

We drove down the windy mountain road to the valley highway.  We drove through Lehigh valley, along the ridge line where they were hiking.

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We stopped off at the Blue Mountain Summit and discovered it was also a ski resort.  Very pretty up here.  They will hike past it over the ridge, above.  The workers shared they’ll get hikers through for a meal.   It was great to use a restroom and wash our hands and faces.  =)

SG and I left for the trail head.  It’s literally left out of the ski resort and almost an immediate right to the “parking lot”.  SG and I scouted around for a bit, looking for a good, safe place to stash the packs.  With pictures and texts we let them know where we left things.

We headed home back to go bowling with some friends.  Lauren sent me a text letting me know they found the packs and were off again.  They have almost hiked across the state of PA in 10 days.  When we drove out, we were very close to Allentown and I would have loved to have the day to stop and visit.  Allentown is the 3rd largest city in PA with lots of great history.  Allentown has been involved in both the Revolution and Civil Wars.  It has some amazing history and while it’s not a “known” history spot, it’s one you should definitely put on your stops if you love history.  Check out Wiki on this.

Until the next check in

~ Linda

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harper’s Ferry to AT Trailhead at I70

Wow!  What a whirlwind experience to join “Dust Buster” and “AT AT Walker” on this quick turn.  Very educational and respect for Lauren has grown leaps and bounds over this.  Kyle is a great guy and we are so glad he and Lauren seem to be hiking at the same speed.

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Let’s talk about speed for a moment.  Lauren checked into Spring and received the number 1378 on March 30.  Kyle checked in on the same day receiving the number 1381.  When checking in with the Appalachian Trail Conservatory in Harper’s Ferry, Lauren is now 470 and Kyle 471!  This means they have hiked past 908 and 910 hikers respectively!

Today, after a huge, hot breakfast, SG joined Lauren and Kyle for a 3.2 mile hike.  It was suppose to be 2.7 but because I ended up in the wrong parking lot a half mile longer.   SG desperately wants a trail name so I told her that we’d call her “Three Miler” right now.  =)   In this section they traveled from WV to VA to MD.  Very exciting for SG to travel through 3 states and for Lauren and Kyle to move beyond VA.  With big tears, we sent off Lauren and Kyle on to their hike with the plan to meet them later around 5:30, 20 miles later.  This gave Lauren and Kyle a chance to “slack pack”, carrying only what they needed for the day.  Hopefully, this will help Lauren’s back/sores out.

SG and I checked out a few things in the area, enough to know we want to return to raft on the Shenandoah River, do some zip-lining, and spend more time in Harper’s Ferry going through the stores and buildings as the history is incredible.  They dress historically in the shops.  It’s also crazy to see Lewis and Clark mentioned here.  They are huge in Montana history.   After driving across the United States, we have a greater appreciation for their role in history.

 

We reached the AT Trail Head at I70 around 11:30.  SG was so excited to “get on the trail” we headed out.  We were hiking south to meet Lauren and Kyle.  This time, my pace is much slower than there.  I want to look and take pictures plus I’m not remotely in the shape that they are!  I got several great pictures of different plants, flowers, and lots of great pictures of SG climbing.  SG was very excited that I would stop and let her play in the forest.  It’s such a natural playground for a kid.

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We found homes of critters and watched some chipmunks play/forage.   We checked out trees that had been uprooted and looked at how bugs and animals were using them as homes.  Many downed trees offered SG many places to climb and play.  We found stone walls.  When SG’s feet started to hurt, 2 miles in, we turned around and took more time to look at different things we waited for Lauren and Kyle to reach us.

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While waiting, we had a chance to meet Dick, a gentleman who’s home aligns with the trail.  It cuts through to the overpass between his property and his neighbor’s.  Dick has been there for years.  He used to have a log where hikers could sign in with their trail names and tell a little bit of themselves.  Dick no longer keeps this log due to ongoing damage to the case that it was kept in.  However, he has years of signatures/history.  I suggested he publish this or share it with the Conservatory because of the history in those pages.  They are trail angels, leaving fresh produce out from their garden for hikers.  I asked Dick about the stone walls we found.  He explained how the whole area was farm land and those were the walls that acted as fences.  Those walls have been there for years and years.

Soon, Lauren reached us and Kyle shortly after.  We hiked the remaining .3 back to the parking lot.  One of the cool things was crossing the overpass of I70.   Lauren and Kyle repacked their bags and got ready to set off.  Tears and hugs followed.  We hope Lauren’s new pack will resolve her getting sores.  We look forward to catching up with them on the trail after SG gets done with school.  We are so blessed to have the chance to meet up with them, spend time, and support their journey.

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Until next time #embracethejourney

~ Linda

Harper’s Ferry – the unofficial halfway point

It’s May 31 and I’m getting to report first hand!  SG and I met Lauren and Kyle today here.  It was great to see her again and to meet Kyle.  SG is beyond excited to see her Aunt Lauren.  Harper’s Ferry is the unofficial half way point being around 950+ miles into the AT. The “true” halfway point is around 1090 some miles.

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We arrived about 11:30 and got checked into the Clarion where the staff was been more than great in helping us out here.   We picked up Lauren and Kyle in Harper’s Ferry.  We returned to the hotel to drop off bags, sort out laundry (was glad we got two rooms as they were unpacking and the trail smell rolled into the rooms.   20170531_133223

 

After a shower, Lauren, SG, and I made a run to REI to get Lauren a new backpack.  The reason why?  Her current backpack was leaving sores all over her lower body.   I’m only showing you the one that I can as this is a G rated blog.  Even with open sores and 30 pounds on her back, Lauren has pushed through.  My admiration for her grit has jumped several notches.  Kyle stayed back and handled the laundry end of things.

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After about an hour at REI with SG and I taking a walk over to Barnes and Noble for a few books, Lauren has found a bag that will work.  It was necessary to compromise on weight, going from a bag that was two pounds to one that is about 3.25 pounds.  Trade off?  Aluminum structure and a lumbar band that will not leave her raw.  REI staff were great in helping her out and taking the return of the old pack pack. The REI in Rockville MD is impressive and two stories.

We tripped back during rush hour traffic which made a 40 minute drive 1 hour and 35 minutes.  Great time for us to catch up.  Lauren and SG headed off to the pool while Kyle and I made a WalMart run.

I am definitely impressed with “Hiker Hunger” after watching Lauren polish off a flatbread pizza, chicken sandwich, and half of a really good watermelon!  Tomorrow brings a new day and SG will hike with Lauren and Kyle for about 2.7 miles.  I’ll pick her up and we’ll drive to where we are meeting them after they do a day of slack packing.

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On a side note, Harper’s Ferry is a beautiful, quaint town that is worth a day trip to come and spend the time wandering around.  The town reminds me of a village with the historical buildings which have been preserved.  You can wander through the different shops, catch the Amtrack back to DC, or sit outside in one of the eateries and enjoy the ambiance.  Easy access to the AT. Tomorrow when I drop the three of them off, I plan to stop and take a few pictures to share in an upcoming blog.   We enjoyed a beautiful sunset tonight.

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Until the next update,

~ Linda

Rain Rain Go Away @ Mile 862

Rain Rain Go Away

Lauren has touched bases with me to let me know she needed to take a zero day because of all the rain.  It’s been raining here for the past several days since Travis left last week.  It’s hard to embrace the rain after so many days.  Rain is cold.  Rain is dreary.  Rain makes the trail muddy, slippery, and challenging.  Lauren does have company on the trail as Kyle is hiking with her.  Rain will continue through the end of the weekend before they get a break.   I was thinking I might need to find her some new shoes for better footing.

The plan is to get to Luray, VA by Saturday. There, Tonya S,  a fellow business friend of mine with Close To My Heart (CTMH) will be stepping in as a trail angel, in some manner, to help her and Kyle out.  We are waiting to finalize plans.

In the meantime, Lauren has shared some amazing pictures with us, since she and Travis parted ways.  Here are some of her pictures of their time together:

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You can check out Travis’ summary of his time on the trail with Lauren here.  I have the best brother-in-law.  I believe this to be their parting picture as Lauren went back to the trail and Travis to civilization.

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Travis went home in style. I must say, tad envious of his trip down to North Carolina with the top down and the wind in his hair!

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Lauren’s update from this morning: “This last section was only 3 days but I did my best to take more photos per my husband’s request. I can barely tell the difference between all this green so I am sure it must all look the same to you but I have been told it’s important to keep taking pictures of it.   Apparently I only get good weather when people come to hike with me because the day Travis left it started to rain again. However, in the moments in between I did get to see serval new little creatures. Miles 806 – 862. ”

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“Shenandoah National Park includes a 101-mile portion of the Appalachian Trail. The trail traces the ridge of the Blue Ridge mountains, often following the same route as Skyline Drive. The trail crosses Skyline Drive numerous times in the park. ” (http://www.visitskylinedrive.org/What-To-See/Top-10/Appalachian-Trail.aspx ). They will be leaving the Shenandoah National Park when they reach Luray, VA.  Luray sits in the Shenandoah Valley.  The Shenandoah National Park is amazing as Lauren’s pictures show. Even with the rain.

Here are some great creatures and plants that Lauren has been able to see as she’s hiking.  I believe that the black snake is a rat snake since they are indigenous to our area and protected.

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That’s all for now!  Until next time

~ Linda