Tag Archives: hiking

Iceland Preview (I got a GoPro!)

I’m a few days back from Iceland and truly, there are more words than could fit in this blog post to describe the experience. If you’re contemplating a trip to Iceland…DO IT…and do it now.

If you need more convincing, then I suggest you take a look at the short preview video I made of our 10 day trip. And by “we” I am referencing my dad. We took a 10 day road trip around the Ring Road leaving in late May and returning this past Monday. I’m working on a longer video of our entire trip, but I hope this can hold you all over for now.

Iceland 2016 Preview

Enjoy!13317001_10210036990220809_5232643010655938814_o

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On the Trail in 2014

Just a couple of quick, but very important things to mention to everyone. I meant to do this weeks ago, but just remembered while I was at my computer!

A friend from college, RayLynn, is thru-hiking the AT this year and so I wanted to give you all a heads up since I know some of you enjoy following several hikers along their journeys! Her trail name is Bluebird and she just went through Harpers Ferry! I’m very excited to see a fellow Emersonian out on the trail, so please send encouraging words her way as she enters the northern half of the AT soon. Check out her Facebook page and blog!

Remember our good friend, Phys Ed, from the trail last year? We stayed at his house in Gettysburg, which was also the last time we saw him. Due to health reasons, he had to get off just past the New Jersey/New York border, which we were so bummed to find out. But, the good news is that he’s back out on the AT to finish his hike all the way to Katahdin, picking up where he left off in New York. We are planning on either hiking with Phys Ed for a couple of days or pick him up for a night off the trail at our place. Regardless, there will be plenty of trail magic involved. Enjoy the journey, Phys Ed, we can’t wait to see you soon!

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One Year Trailiversary

One year ago on this date, we set out on the craziest, most awesome, and challenging adventure we’ve had yet in our young lives. It was tough. It was long. It was wet. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail was an all-encompassing journey over mountains, through valleys, above the clouds, and under many a welcoming roof. We laughed a lot and cried but a little. We ate terribly and learned to hike over 20 miles a day. We fought through thunderstorms, mosquitos, raging streams, steep climbs, even steeper descents, rain, rain, and more rain. We challenged our bodies, mostly our legs, and our mental and emotional limits. We pushed those limits more than once. Some days, fatigue overrode enthusiasm, defeat reigned above enjoyment, but we came out the other end of trail on top of the most beautiful mountain, champions of ourselves and a trail that is now home.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the trail lately, so today I opened up my journal and read my first entry.

Amicalola Fall State Park to Springer Mountain Shelter

9 miles (.2 on the AT)

3/14/13

We survived our first day. We only did .2 of the AT and the first part was on the Approach Trail. The 600 or so steps up to the falls were tough, but they didn’t take too long. That was the toughest part of the day. The rest wasn’t bad at all I don’t think. We did well and it only took us 5 hours, 20 minutes to hike to the shelter. My knees hurt and also my legs in general. My arches hurt some too, but the inserts help. I feel a blister coming on on my left foot, but I will do my best to prevent it. I’m tired but I think that’s good. Overall, I feel good and don’t regret our decision to thru-hike. I’ve already met a lot of nice thru-hikers from all over: New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Florida. Looking forward to the warmer weather tomorrow and in the days to come.

Our first white blaze.

Our first white blaze.

Well, geeze Lindsey, I sure hope you wouldn’t regret your decision to thru-hike after only one day! It was a short entry compared to entries later on, but I remember our first day like it was yesterday. I remember the mild temperature, the pure excitement of everyone, and meeting Pumpkin Head and Sunshine on that first day, who both finished the trail as well. We met some characters along the way and had a windy, chilly night atop Springer Mountain. Seeing that first white blaze was when our journey truly felt real. It was no longer a dream, it was the beginning of our journey, one year in the making. I did get a blister on my left foot on the third day heading into Neels Gap and those inserts were awful later on…and the Keens too. Never again. The steps were a cake walk compared to other climbs we did later on, but on your very first day with a full pack, it’s not as easy as one might think.

Reflecting on what we experienced along the AT, I can truly see myself as a different person. I’m way more confident and find myself more at ease in meeting new people than I ever was before we thru-hiked. I know first hand that I’m more capable physically and mentally than I thought I was a year ago. 5 months of hiking will prove that to anyone. I do my best to never forget how amazing a hot shower feels or how easy it is to access to clean water and hot food. When I have to walk to my car in the rain for 30 seconds and I accidentally step into a huge puddle, I don’t get upset. I’ve got about 10 pairs of dry shoes and more socks than I count waiting to change into. Before we left on our hike our dear friend, Mamaw B, gave us a piece of advice that I still carry with me to this day. She told us not to let the things that we could not change on the trail, like the rain or trail conditions, affect us negatively. We can’t change it, so just learn to embrace it and keep on hiking. Just as everyone thought spring was around the corner here in Maine, we were hit with more snow, ice, and cold weather. While I look forward to spring, I’m going to embrace the cold and snow rather than curse it. We’re going skiing next weekend and there’s still time to enjoy some snowshoeing. I’m still able to run outside, I just have to throw on a few more layers. We have heat and plenty of blankets in our apartment to stay warm. Before we know it, everyone will be complaining about the heat. Instead, I’ll remember Mamaw’s advice and run down the street and jump in the ocean instead and sleep outside when our apartment is sweltering hot.

With Mamaw B in Gatlinburg.

With Mamaw B in Gatlinburg.

Another step from where I found myself a year ago is that I know now how I want to live my life. The last time we saw fellow thru-hiker, White Out was in the 100 Mile Wilderness just past White Cap. It was a rainy, windy day and we stopped to eat a snack before deciding to move on to the next shelter in the pouring rain. White-Out said the most powerful statement I heard on our entire hike, and it was stuck with me ever since. He said that he learned that thru-hiking wasn’t about trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, but how you want to live your life. That is exactly how I feel today, one year from the start. I’m still figuring things out, and aren’t we all throughout our entire lives? But, I have a clearer vision of how I want to live my life than I ever have before. I know that I never want to give up the traveler’s spirit. I know that I want to be my own boss. I want to seek out greater and greater challenges. I want to learn more patience and acceptance. I always want to be a learner, but also a teacher to others. I want to give more than I receive. What I want to do with my life isn’t simple and I don’t think it ever will be for me. But, how I want to live is easier to define. To travel, to write, to photograph and most importantly, to document. Not knowing what my life would be like in a month, 6 months, or a year used to be stressful. Now I see my future as open as it has ever been and it truly is exciting. Will I be hiking again in a year? Will I be traveling across Europe? Or will I be in Portland training for my first triathlon? I don’t know. The trail taught me to be okay with that.

I have many answers yet unknown in my life, but I do know that the trail has morphed my very being and has ever-changed the adventure that is my future.

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Sharing A Thru-Hike

After some last minute preparation on the day of, we were able to pull off our presentation at the Alamo Theatre last night in Bucksport. We tried to keep things concise, but that’s pretty hard to do when you have an entire thru-hike to talk about! We had a good time sharing our stories of the trail and it was first time we had done so “formally,” so I was a bit nervous. I don’t normally talk that much in front of a crowd and because of that fact, I did lose my voice some this morning.

We had over 80 people there last night! Miles and I hoped for a good turn-out, but we never expected there to be so many people who wanted to hear about our hike. THANK YOU to everyone who came out! Some of whom came from Massachusetts and Portland! We were able to meet some of blog followers, talk to friends we’ve known for years, and even got to see FOUR other thru-hikers that we hiked with this year! Tin Cup, HOBO, Knight Rider, and Prometheus came from all over the state of Maine and we’re so glad that they came.

Some of you asked if we could film the presentation, which we did. Unfortunately, we talked for more than the 80 minutes that the memory cards on the camera allowed for, so the entire presentation was not recorded. I hope to upload that to YouTube within the next couple of days to share with everyone what we did get on video. Maybe we’ll do the rest of it at our apartment if anyone is interested in seeing the rest.

To hold you over, I wanted to share a short video I edited about our thru-hike that I showed in the beginning of our presentation last night. A glimpse into our lives as thru-hikers.

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Day 109: Zero Day in Dalton, MA

July 1, 2013

Ah, zero days. How we love them.

We slept in this morning, at least to our standards, and woke up to the smell of blueberry muffins fresh out of the oven. Joe’s mom, Debbie, made some amazing muffins for us. We chowed down on them along with some much needed fruit and orange juice. After a little more rest, we did a resupply at the grocery store and then went to see Man of Steel at the Berkshire Mall cinema. It was so nice to sit in a cool, dark movie theater for a couple of hours eating popcorn and well, not thinking about hiking. Instead, we watched men in tight suits kill each other and destroy cities! It was just what we needed on a rainy zero day.

It looks like there’s more rain in the forecast. EVERY SINGLE DAY. If it actually rains, we won’t know until that day, but I can’t believe how much rain we’ve had on our hike. Apparently, June was one of the rainiest months on record in Maine at least. I always had a superstition about the number 13. My suspicions are confirmed after our thru-hike so far because of all of the crazy weather patterns that we’ve experienced.

We went to dinner with Joe and one of his sisters to Olde Forge Restaurant and had some amazing wings and great beer. We have had such a relaxing time here in Dalton with Joe and his family. They have been more than accommodating, so it will be difficult for us to leave tomorrow morning.

I’m exhausted and about to pass out. I find that when we take a day off and get out of our normal routine, I’m really tired during the day. Really, I could sleep all day. Obviously, my body is tired from all of the hiking that we do and it’s always a sign to me that a zero day is much needed. Today was one of our most relaxing zero days of the hike so far.

We will set out to finish up hiking in Massachusetts by the 3rd and enter into Vermont. Northern New England, here we come!

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Day 108: Upper Goose Pond Cabin to Dalton, MA

June 30, 2013

Today’s mileage: 20.6

Total mileage: 1565.8

 

We woke up bright and early this morning for some pancakes made by the caretaker, Nancy, at the cabin. I downed six pancakes like it was nothing and we packed up and headed out by 7:30. I would highly recommend the Upper Goose Pond Cabin to any thru-hiker. It’s a beautiful spot to stay for the night.

Not long after starting our hike today, we crossed over I-90, more commonly known to us as the Mass. Turnpike. As I mentioned in one of my earliest posts before we began our hike, I had driven under the AT footbridge several times on my way to visit my best friend Sarah in New York and when Miles and I went to Dave Matthews Band concerts in Saratoga Springs. Even before I knew what thru-hiking was, I would drive under the “Appalachian Trail” sign on the bridge and look out to the mountains beyond, wondering what it was like up there away from the highway. It may sound strange, but passing under that bridge is always a memory that stands out in my mind. I suppose I was destined to thru-hike and find out exactly what lie beyond those hills. Crossing the highway was a big deal for us; a place that we had crossed  so many times, never knowing that one day, we would be walking over the footbridge on our way home to Maine after hiking over 1,500 miles. It’s a moment I’ll always remember every time I drive under that bridge in the future.

The terrain was easy for us and we cruised through the day into Dalton. My ankle was sore throughout the day, not enough that I needed to stop hiking or that it slowed me down, but the soreness was worse at the end of the day. I wrapped it this morning, which helped somewhat. I’m thankful for a zero day tomorrow to rest my ankle. It’s not bad at all compared to other sprains I experienced in middle school and high school, but sore nonetheless. We leap-frogged throughout the day with two section hikers who are hiking the New England section of the AT. We stopped in Becket at the Cookie’s Lady house for a short break this afternoon. She brought us out cookies to enjoy in her yard and we filled up on water. It was nice break in our day and there’s nothing like homemade cookies, no matter if you’re thru-hiking or not.

We were really excited to get into Dalton this evening for a few reasons. Rain is in the forecast, surprise…NOT! We were looking forward to getting out of the rain for a couple of nights, resting our feet and my ankle, and taking our first zero day in two weeks. Our last zero was on my birthday on the 16th, so we were definitely in need of a day off. We stopped at Tom Levardi’s and hung out with thru-hikers there and even saw Cleveland, who we haven’t seen since Damascus! It’s so cool to see people that you haven’t seen in so long, in this case, over 1,000 miles. Joe, Miles’ soccer teammate from UMass, picked us up there and we headed back to his house where we’ll be zeroing tomorrow. Joe and his parents have been so accommodating in just the few hours that we’ve been there. We’ve been served beer in chilled glasses, had an amazing steak dinner, and had our laundry done. We enjoyed great conversation throughout the night and watched the Confederations Cup final between Brazil and Spain. And now, it’s time to sleep. I am so looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning. This is not something that happens very often.

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Day 107: Mt. Wilcox South Shelters to Upper Goose Pond Cabin

June 29, 2013

Today’s mileage: 15.8
Total mileage: 1545.2

Not only was it a beautiful day, but it was a great day for us mentally. There was a breeze blowing throughout the day, keeping us cool and the mosquitoes at bay. It was a refreshing change from the humid and buggy days of the past week.

As we headed into the Shaker Campsite for a break, I rolled my left ankle quite badly. I think I was daydreaming too much about Katahdin and my ankle just gave out on me. I have a long history of ankle sprains dating back to my soccer and basketball days. I’ve sprained both ankles so many times, that the cartilage must have broken down so much that I can recover from sprains fairly quickly. I’m not really sure on the science behind that, but I take it as a good thing in the short-term, but probably bad in the long-term when I’m old and grey and have arthritis in my ankles. Anyways, My ankle hurt really bad at first and I thought that I might not be able to hike anymore today. But, I just kept walking, kept it moving during our break, and took some Advil. And most importantly, I didn’t take my shoe off. I didn’t notice any major difference in my hiking for the rest of the day, just some soreness. It’s still a little sore now, but I can only hope it doesn’t slow me down tomorrow. That’s the price I pay for wearing a softer soled shoe. I’m going to wrap it up tomorrow while we hike. I knew I kept that Ace bandage for a reason.

After a short day, we arrived at the cabin around 4:15. Remember, shorter days are part of the new plan for us. There will still be some 20 milers mixed in there, but 15-ish mile days will become more normal for us. We were greeted at the trailhead to the cabin by a handwritten sign warning anyone who had been sick in the past few days to avoid the cabin. Was the norovirus back again??? Thankfully, we were informed by the present caretaker, Nancy, that it is not. It was just a precautionary measure by the last caretaker regarding the norovirus in the south.

After claiming our bunks, we quickly headed down to the dock to soak our feet in the pond. The water was surprisingly warm and I was almost tempted to jump in. The breeze kept me cool however, so I opted to stay dry. It was so peaceful this evening. The sun was out, the grasshoppers were chirping, and the pond water remained calm, not a boat or bird disturbing its peace.

There are quite a few people here tonight, but only two other thru-hikers besides Miles and I. Roadrunner, who is the only thru-hiker we saw for almost three days, is here, and Tempo, who we met in New Jersey. We’ve hardly seen any thru-hikers lately. It’s hard to tell if not as many people are signing the log books, if we are actually ahead of most people, or if they’ve gotten off the trail for good. We just found out that one of our friends out here got Lyme Disease and had to go to the hospital in Great Barrington. It sounds like she caught it early enough and will be back on the trail in a couple of days. It’s a scary reminder of how easy it is to get Lyme Disease out here. We can only keep checking for ticks daily and hope that we don’t miss any. And I want to make a special shout-out to Phys. Ed, who unfortunately had to make the decision to get off the trail. Phys. Ed was kind enough to let us stay with him in Gettysburg and he is by far one of our favorite people that we’ve met on the trail. Thanks for everything Phys. Ed and we hope to see you soon! We miss you!

I’m sitting in the cabin by the fire, enjoying our short time here. Earlier on the porch, I watched a mother bird fly back and forth to her nest feeding her babies who chirped and chirped as she brought them food. A hummingbird flew by and weekend hikers trooped through after a dip in the pond. I sure do enjoy these early nights into camp.

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Day 106: Glen Brook Shelter to Mt. Wilcox South Shelters

June 28, 2013

Today’s mileage: 19.6
Total mileage: 1529.4

So much for waking up early this morning and hitting the trail by 7:00! Thunderstorms and pouring rain kept us up for most of the night, so we slept in this morning to get a little more rest. I’m not really a fan of sleeping on mountains during thunderstorms.

The mosquitoes were out in full force this morning, just waiting for us to come out of our tent. I had all of my skin covered except my hands while we packed up and they still managed to bite through my socks and clothes! I left as soon as I could, to descend down the slippery rocks into the valley. I fell twice and had to take It slow to be sure of my footing. I started off the day feeling down again. My lack of sleep, falling, mosquito attacks, and knowing that it would rain at some point today, made me feel almost as bad as I had felt a couple of days ago. I looked out at the beautiful view from Mt. Bushnell and found my negative thoughts outweighing my enjoyment of nature. How did I let this happen? I needed a turnaround and I needed it soon.

Our hike through the Housatonic River Valley was painful. The mosquito population through the wet and shaded woods was out of control. The DEET had been sweat off and we fended off hoards of mosquitoes. We took a short break at the site of Shay’s Rebellion. I didn’t even realize that the small monument was on the trail, so it was cool to take a break at that spot. After reapplying DEET, we headed north once more and into the most concentrated area of mosquitoes we have ever encountered. It was absolutely ridiculous. My patience was lost and I wanted to throw my poles in the air and collapse. If I stopped moving though, they would only attack more. When we did stop for a moment to reapply DEET for the third time today, hundreds swarmed us and our sweaty packs. I couldn’t believe the sheer amount of them in one small area. Miles said he didn’t even remember them being this bad in the Amazon! We heard from a local that the mosquitoes were really bad this year, but not as bad as a few years ago. That made us feel a little bit better. But only a little bit.

On our climb up June and East Mountains, Miles stopped to filter water. I kept moving because of the bugs and we planned to meet up at the top of East. As I reached the top, it began to rain. I climbed up onto the massive granite overlook and looked out to the valley and the four mountains we had climbed yesterday. The giant clouds swept through on either side above me. The wind rid me of the mosquito plague as the cool raindrops dotted my DEET and dirt-covered body. I didn’t care that I was wet. I didn’t care that my pack was wet. I lay down on the cool granite and stared up at the sky. I let the rain cool me off both physically and mentally. I needed this moment. A moment of peace and a few deep breaths. When I sat up and looked out at the spectacular scene in front of me, I knew I couldn’t give up. It was one of the most beautiful scenes of our entire hike. Mt. Everett and its majesty, the glowing valley below, and the dark clouds parting on either side past me. It was a sign. I had to keep going.

And for the last seven miles of our hike today, the bugs tapered off and were even non-existent at times. We passed Benedict Pond as the sun sat low in the sky. Another memorable scene from the day. We are the only thru-hikers at the shelter tonight. Another couple is here, but we are tenting of course. Loud thunderstorms are overhead, so I’m blogging under my sleeping bag with my ear plugs in. I’ll do anything to avoid a storm! More than anything, I want a good night’s sleep. I most certainly need it.

Some of you have asked for mail drop addresses, so I will post those below. There won’t be many more after these, but I’ll post those as we move farther north. The ones I’m not sure of will be in Maine. If you do send us a package, please let us know they you have sent it, otherwise we won’t be stopping at that post office. Also, not required, but something to consider is sending the package in a flat-rate box. That way, if we can’t pick up the package for some reason, it can be forwarded to another post office free of charge.

Here is how to label the package:

Lindsey Gordon and Miles Bisher
C/O General Delivery
Name of Town, State zip code

Please hold for AT hiker
ETA: Month Day, Year

And here are the towns:

Cheshire, MA 01225
ETA July 2

Manchester Center, VT 05255
ETA July 7

Hanover, NH 03755
ETA July 13

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Day 105: Undermountain Road to Glen Brook Shelter

June 27, 2013

Today’s mileage: 13.5
Total mileage: 1509.8

Our night off at Kristin and Eric is by far the most important night off the trail for us on our entire hike. As you may have read from my previous posts over the last few days, we were really struggling mentally. But, after a good night’s sleep, I felt like a new person and not the person I’ve been the past few days. We said goodbye to the cats and loaded up the car to head back to the trail. The bugs were in full swing when we arrived in Salisbury. We expected nothing less and loaded up on the DEET. We said goodbye to Kristin, our amazing Connecticut trail angel, and headed on up the trail. Again, we cannot thank you and Eric enough! We will always credit your hospitality and generosity as a major turning point in our hike.

There were lots of climbs today, but we were ready for them. We didn’t want flat, viewless hiking anymore. We wanted steep climbs again with the promise of spectacular views at the summit. We missed sitting atop mountains and eating our Little Debbie’s and Gummi Bears. We yearned for the cool mountain breeze to wash over our bodies once more. And today, we got all of that. We climbed Bear Mountain in Connecticut and ate lunch there, the highest point in the state. The breeze kept the bugs away. We’ll welcome that any day of the week. Not long after the steep descent down the mountain, we crossed the border into Massachusetts! Almost immediately, there seemed to be a difference in the hiking. Our next two climbs up Mt. Race and Mt. Everett reminded me of hiking in Maine in a more vast wilderness. I fell twice today because of the slippery rocks after the few minutes of rainfall today. And did I mention that we hit the 1500 mile marker? And as of a few days ago, we are also two-thirds of the way through our hike. How could we stop now?!

We are tenting as usual away from the bugs and away from the YMCA group nearby. I’m trying a new thing where I actually wake up early and start hiking earlier. I’ve identified one of my stresses lately as getting into camp late and going to bed late. I want to get out of that cycle, but we’ll see how it goes since I’m terrible at getting up early.

I also want to take the time in my post to acknowledge and share our gratitude with everyone who left us encouraging words on our recent posts. I always try to write honestly and openly with all of you, but never could I have imagined the outpouring of support that we would receive from so many of you after writing about our difficult days. Yesterday afternoon, we sat down and read through all of the comments from the past few days. Hearing from so many of you (and from some we hadn’t heard from before!) really has made a difference in our attitude and our will to move forward. I had never thought of blogging as a two-way street in terms of what my readers could give back to me. I always imagined that the blogger gives the information and the readers receive that information. Now I see and have proof that you, my readers, also have the power to inspire and to provide advice. All of your words and thoughts were so true and made us believe in ourselves again. We had hit a mental wall and I just wanted to let all of you know that we took your words to heart and they truly helped us continue our hike. Your positive energy has affected us tremendously and you have become a major part of our hike. I always look forward to hearing from all of you, but especially during the last couple of days. Thank you for supporting us through the roughest part of our hike thus far. I truly cannot say that enough.

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Dirigo Bound Q&A

It’s question and answer time everyone! You asked, and now I will answer your most pressing questions as best I can.

Is the entire AT government owned or does it go through private property? Does it cross over fences or is it all continuous trail? -Aunt Kathy

Great question, Aunt Kathy! More than 99% of the trail is federal or state-owned. The rest runs through private property by right-of-way. The trail is managed jointly by the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It is considered a National Scenic Trail and is maintained by several trail clubs that take care of small sections of the trail. It runs through eight national forests, national recreation areas, two national parks, state parks, and right-of-ways, which are land easements through private property. In these small areas of the trail, there is no camping allowed since the only intended purpose of the easement is for hiking.

We use stiles to cross over fences. There were a lot of these in Virginia as we crossed through farmland. The stiles are either ladders or steps that go up and over the fence. The trail goes directly through several towns and we also cross many interstates either by underpass or overpass. While there are some remote sections of the trail, often times, we aren’t too far from a road or town.

Aside from food, what items of trail magic do you like best? Soda, fruit, candy, or what? -Jack

We love all trail magic! But, some of our favorites are ice cold drinks for one. There’s nothing like a cold Gatorade, water, or soda after a hot day of hiking. On the other end of that, hot dogs and hamburgers are a favorite and we love eating fresh vegetables. We certainly don’t get enough of that while hiking. Miles says he loves a good, cold beer! He also mentioned doughnuts and juice as favorites.

What are your trail names and how did you pick them? -Gerry

I was actually just thinking about this the other day. I think I’ve only mentioned our trail names once before, so I’m glad that you ask, Gerry.

My trail name is Flash Gordon, or Flash, for short. Miles’ is Miles To Go. My trail name was actually a nickname I had in sports growing up that I got from my softball coach when I was eight years old. His daughter was named Lindsay (not to be confused with Lindsey), so to make it less confusing, he gave me that nickname since my last name is Gordon. And it has stuck ever since. About two weeks into our hike, I didn’t have a trail name yet. I mentioned that name to a few people and they loved it. I wanted to be given a new trail name, but I was also tired of not having one yet, so the hikers staying with us at the shelter that night dubbed me, Flash Gordon.

Miles’ name comes from the last stanza of a Robert Frost poem. “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. Miles to go before I sleep.” A few people had mentioned that line to Miles when he introduced himself, so he decided to use Miles To Go as his trail name since it was very fitting for a thru-hike and the fact that he enjoys reading and writing poetry. He took this as his trail name after Wild Willy repeated the line at Blue Mountain Shelter in Georgia.

How have you been a avoiding the Poison Ivy?!?! -Jason and Wendi

Miles actually just got a rash from poison ivy this week! He’s not sure where he got it though. I have avoided it so far. I worry most about it when I have to go off into the woods to use the bathroom. I try to be extra cautious then!

What gear are you really glad that you brought along? What have you decided you can do without? And is there anything you picked up along the way that you wish you had from the very beginning? -Kristin

I’ll mention a few items that have been very useful and work great. First, we love our tent. It’s the L.L. Bean Microlight FS-2. It’s super easy to set-up, has a door on each side with an alcove for each of us, and it has kept us dry on many rainy nights. And it’s affordable and cheaper than a lot of the top notch tents we looked at. We also love our REI Revelcloud jackets. They compact very well, but have kept us warm on many cold days and nights. Can’t beat the price of these either over the $200 Patagonia coats! We also can’t do without our 4 liter Platypus water bag. We fill up that,
plus a 2 liter bag at night, allowing us to only make one trip to the water source. Sometimes the water sources can be a long way down a steep hill, so you really don’t want to make more than one trip after a long day of hiking. Lastly, the Sawyer squeeze filter has been awesome. We love it and the fact that you can drink filtered water right away, with no added chemical taste. Also, a very affordable piece of gear.

We really haven’t gotten rid of much gear since we started. I did a lot of research before we left and I felt pretty good about the gear that I chose. Besides a few unnecessary first aid items that I sent home, I’ve used every piece of gear and almost all, I use everyday. I have added a few things however. When it was really cold in the beginning, I added an extra base layer to wear while hiking and an extra pair of gloves. That way, I had a dry pair for camp. I sent those items home in Hot Springs after it warmed up. I’m glad that I picked up a book as well. I always read to leave the books at home. If you’re someone who’s on the edge about this one, I’d say, bring the book. There is time to read and it’s a great way to relax.

Does one part you guys have done already remind you of the Hunt Trail or any Katahdin trail in terms of steepness or rocks/boulders? -Glenn

We haven’t hiked the Hunt Trail before, but we haven’t hiked many parts that remind us of Katahdin trails. Not yet at least. The final ascent up Albert Mountain in North Carolina sort of reminded us some hiking we’ve done in Maine. Maine is considered one of the most difficult states of the AT, so I guess we’ll have to wait until NH and Maine for the more Katahdin-like part of the trail.

How is your main gear holding up: pack, tent, sleeping bag)? -mmaki1014

Our main gear is holding up very well after the halfway point! There a few wear and tear spots on our packs on the hip belt pocket and a couple of straps, but nothing that affects the performance of the pack. Tent is holding up very well. We really love the tent as I mentioned earlier. And our sleeping bags are still working great. There was some feather leaking in mine in the beginning, but not lately. It’s still keeping me toasty warm!

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