Trail Video

Hi everyone, it’s been a little ever a month since I completed my thru-hike on the AT. I’ve just started combing through all of my videos and pictures and decided to make a video from all of the GoPro pictures I took. I’ll be posting links to more content later so stay tuned and as always, thanks for following along.

Click Here to watch video!

Days 137 – 142 (7/15/15 – 7/20/15)

Day 137, 7/15/15

Start: Greenwall Shelter
Finish: Rutland, VT
Miles Hiked: 25.2
Miles To Go: 488.3
Overall Miles Hiked: 1700.9

I had big miles on my mind for today, so I woke up at 5:30 and packed up in the rain. Within a few hours, the weather cleared up and it turned out to be a beautiful day. As I was coming down a steep slope, a rock ledge appeared on my left overlooking a small airport. There was a lawn chair on the ledge, so I sat and enjoyed a quick break. I was still wet from the rain and had to get moving to stay warm. The temperature dropped overnight and it was now in the 60s.

Enjoying the view of the Rutland airport

Enjoying the view of the Rutland airport

The big challenge for the day was Mt. Killington and it’s steep 2,500 ft. climb. I ate lunch at the base of the mountain and mentally prepared myself for a hard climb. When trying to pass the time and miles, I try to think of anything besides hiking. I think about family, work and funny things that have happened on the trail. I even do a lot of math. I’ll ask myself how many miles I have left to do and based on my current speed, try to figure out what time I’ll arrive at camp. I know it sounds crazy, but if I just think about hiking the day would never end. I was halfway into solving my 5th math problem when the trail finally flattened out; I had made it to the top of Mt. Killington. The actual summit is over 4,000 ft. and could be reached by taking a .2 mile side trail. I dropped my pack and headed up. The view was incredible. I could see for miles around in every direction. I could even see Mt. Washington, which is in the White Mountains in New Hampshire – I’ll be there soon!  

Mt. Killington

Mt. Killington

The skies were clear of the rain that soaked me this morning and even though I had 7 miles left to go, I enjoyed Mt. Killington for over 2 hours – I even ate lunch at the ski lodge another short side trail away. There were plenty of tourists on the top of the mountain as well. Most of them took a gondola ride up from the valley below for $20. My view cost me much more than that, but made it all the more worthwhile.

Mt. Killington Gondolas

Mt. Killington Gondolas

Having lunch at Mt. Killington Lodge

Having lunch at Mt. Killington Lodge

Around 4:00PM, I finally started hiking again. The rest of the day went by without incident and I checked into the Hiker Hostel at Yellow Deli. It is run by a 12 Tribes spiritual community and I was a little hesitant at first about staying there, but everyone was super nice. I would definitely recommend to any future hikers…just don’t drink the kool-aid!


Day 138, 7/16/15

Start: Rutland, VT
Finish: Wintturi Shelter
Miles Hiked: 19.9
Miles To Go: 468.4
Overall Miles Hiked: 1720.8

I got a quick ride back to the trail after eating my free breakfast made by the friendly Yellow Deli staff. After 10 minutes of hiking, I noticed a sharp pain in one of my feet and when I removed my boot I saw I had a thorn in my heel. I got the thorn out with no problem, but my next step was costly. I tripped over a root and went down hard. My knees took the brunt of the impact as did my ribcage, when it hit a rock sticking out of the ground. It could have been much worse, but this was by far the worst fall I’ve taken. My chest seemed okay, but my left knee was throbbing – I couldn’t walk one step. It swelled up immediately, so I took off my pack and sat back down on the same rock where I removed the thorn. It took about 30 minutes before I was able to put weight back on my knee – I had no choice but to keep walking. It hurt for the rest of the day, but I think it is going to be okay.

Small waterfall

Small waterfall

My bad luck didn’t end there. Unfortunately, after my first few steps I noticed one of my hiking poles broke during the fall. I mainly use my hiking poles on steep ups to help propel me up the mountain and also on the downs to help take some weight off my knees. Well, since steep ups and downs make up 90% of the trail, I was moving slow without them.

Broken pole

Broken pole

I limped into a shelter for lunch and was surprised to see Roker and Miles there, who I haven’t seen since we went to Six Flags. It was good to catch up with them and I hiked with them, Pork Chop, Lightning and Tic Toc the rest of the day.

Lightning, Pork Chop, Miles, Tic Toc, Roker & PoBoy

Lightning, Pork Chop, Miles, Tic Toc, Roker & PoBoy

Thundering Falls

Thundering Falls

We arrived at the shelter and setup our tents. I get to see my wife, mom and dad tomorrow and I can’t wait! I’m planning on hiking 17 miles tomorrow, just short of Hanover, NH and they will pick me up on the trail. Should be a fun 3 days!

Midnight update – I heard something moving outside my tent and woke up. It didn’t sound very big, but was close enough to my tent to actually hit one of my tent lines – That kinda freaked me out! There was no moon, so I couldn’t see what it was. I decided it wasn’t a bear, so I am going back to sleep.


Day 139, 7/17/15

Start: Wintturi Shelter
Finish: VT 14
Miles Hiked: 16.4
Miles To Go: 452
Overall Miles Hiked: 1737.2

There were no more animal encounters overnight, so I was able to sleep uninterrupted for the rest of the night. Sleeping on the ground in the woods isn’t the most comfortable, so I’m lucky if I get 7 hours of sleep most nights, but it is usually broken up into 1 to 2 hours increments. I think the months of little sleep are starting to get to me as my energy has plummeted recently. I’ve been taking 5 Hour Energy which helps, but I still can’t seem to hike more than a few miles without fighting the urge to take a nap.

Luckily, today I had a pep in my step because I would be reunited with my mom, dad and my wife, Leigh. They are picking me up from the trail at VT Hwy 14 around 3:00, I just had to make it there.

Raspberry Pickin'

Raspberry Pickin’

I thought about how great it was going to be seeing everyone once again and the miles faded away. Even my third bear sighting couldn’t slow me down; I saw the bear, the bear saw me and we both continued on unfazed. Just after 3:00, I made it to the road crossing where we agreed to meet. I was a little early so I tried to clean up as best I could. A few minutes later a red rental car pulled up, all I could see was the grinning face of Leigh inside. They couldn’t get over how “thin” I was and were concerned I wasn’t eating enough!

Left some trail magic at the intersection where I was picked up

Left some trail magic at the intersection where I was picked up

I filled them in on my last few weeks out here as we drove to the hotel a few miles away. I knew I smelled pretty bad, but they didn’t seem to mind. After checking in, we grabbed a quick bite in downtown Hanover, NH at Molly’s Tavern. It felt like I was back home for the first time in a long time, felt pretty damn happy!


Day 140, 7/18/15

Start: VT 14
Finish: VT 14
Miles Hiked: 0
Miles To Go: 452
Overall Miles Hiked: 1737.2

I slept until 7:00 and then went downstairs with Leigh for breakfast. We had two full days at our disposal, but I didn’t care what we did as I just wanted to be with my family again. Ultimately, we decided to visit Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, VT. We took a scenic drive through the back highways and talked the whole way. When we arrived at the factory, we were all shocked at how busy it was. People were lined up 100 deep to buy scoops of ice cream they could have gotten at the store down the street in considerably less time – Madness! The tour itself was underwhelming, but the drive was 100% worth it as we traded stories and laughed the whole way.

Poboy & Mom

Poboy & Mom

Tonight, dinner was at a nice steak and seafood restaurant. Leigh’s birthday was a couple of days ago, so at my request my dad arranged for a cake to be made and delivered to the restaurant. It was brought out after dinner as a surprise – Happy Birthday, Leigh! I love you!


Day 141, 7/19/15

Start: VT 14
Finish: Hanover, NH
Miles Hiked: 9.9
Miles To Go: 442.1
Overall Miles Hiked: 1747.1

Well I never thought today would come. Leigh took her first steps on the A.T.!

Leigh on AT

Leigh on AT

We woke up early and had my dad drop us off at the spot they had picked me up two days ago. We had about 10 miles to hike and with any luck would walk into Hanover, NH around noon, where the trail goes right through the center of town. Leigh was excited about sharing this experience with me; I was nervous she would hate it! In the end, it was great! She made the 1,000 ft. climb with no problems and was right behind me all the way into town. We met my mom and dad in town and then headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up.

White Blaze!

White Blaze!

The trail passes right by Dartmouth College

The trail passes right by Dartmouth College

Next, the 4 of us drove back to Killington where I was a few days ago and took a gondola ride up to the mountain top. We still had a quick side trail hike to the summit, but at least the gondola saved everyone from hiking up 3,000 ft.!

Gondola Ride

Gondola Ride

Gondola

Gondola

The summit was windy, but just as beautiful as it was the day I climbed up last week. What was even better was that I got to share this with my family. They couldn’t imagine me hiking all the way here from Georgia and seem to be pretty proud of ole PoBoy – I’m just happy to have an amazing family – Love you guys!

Windy at Mt. Killington

Windy on Mt. Killington

PoBoy and Leigh on Mt. Killington

PoBoy and Leigh on Mt. Killington

We finished the day at Thundering Falls and had dinner in the quaint town of Woodstock, VT before calling it a day.

Thundering Falls

Thundering Falls

Oh yeah, I crossed the VT/NH line today also! Only two more states!

VT/NH State Line

VT/NH State Line


Day 142, 7/20/15

Start: Hanover, NH
Finish: Hanover, NH
Miles Hiked: 0
Miles To Go: 442.1
Overall Miles Hiked: 1747.1

Leigh and my parents had to leave Hanover around 1:00PM, but before they did, we all had lunch with Rock Boat and Jeopardy. It was fun having these two worlds collide and everyone seemed to have a great time. I hadn’t seen Rock Boat or Jeopardy since I hiked ahead 7 days ago and it was great seeing them again. My parents were excited to meet some of the guys I’ve been hiking with and really enjoyed spending time with us. The time had come to say goodbye and I walked back to the car with Leigh and my parents. I hugged everyone and thanked them for taking the time to come visit. Hopefully, I’ll be home in about a month, I miss the hell out of them. I used the rest of the day to rest and resupply. The last leg of this adventure begins tomorrow morning!

Recap: My third month on the A.T.

Well, overall this last month has been okay. I got to spend time hiking with my dad, which was an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I had a great time with him in the woods and we shared many laughs. I also got to see my wife for the first time since leaving her on February 28th. I have really missed her and can’t wait to be done with this hike. It is no secret that I have recently been struggling with my decision to be out here. I’m hoping to catch Click, Pie, Blade and Cheese Beard soon. If I do, then I think I will be fine. If I don’t, then I’m not really sure. I have found it is easier hiking with others, but because of my time off trail, everyone I know is now ahead of me.

Over the last month, the trail really hasn’t hit us with something we haven’t already seen. Thousand foot climbs no longer worry me as I know I can handle them, since physically I’m in good shape. Now it is a mental battle and I’m doing my best, but it has been extremely hard. I’ve struggled lately, but I’m still here and still making miles. I’ll keep hiking as long as I can, hopefully that is all the way to Katahdin! Thanks for reading and your continued support!

-PoBoy

Day 6:

 Top of Blood Mountain

Top of Blood Mountain

Day 91:

Stony Man Cliffs

Stony Man Cliffs

Days 70 – 71 (5/9/15 – 5/10/15)

Day 70, 5/9/15

Start: VA Hwy 311
Finish: Lamberts Meadow Shelter
Miles Hiked: 10.4
Miles To Go: 1470.8
Overall Miles Hiked: 718.4

Crawdad and I woke up around 7:30 and headed down to the hotel lobby for their breakfast. This was the last “town” food I would be able to get for a while, so I hit the eggs, biscuits, sausage and waffles hard! Our bags were packed and we still had a few hours before the shuttle was coming to pick us up, so we just relaxed. It was very nice, but not long enough! These past two weeks have been amazing. When I told my mom and dad that I’d be hiking the A.T. this year, my dad looked at me immediately and said, “Two weeks, I can join you for two weeks.” Whenever I would see my dad before I left, we would talk about our future hike – when we would meet, where would we be, what gear we will need, what will we see? Our plans changed several times, but one thing remained strong – Dad’s promise to hike with me for two weeks.

Since the day I left on March 1st, I’ve been looking forward to these two weeks and the time I would be able to spend with my dad. Now that it’s over, I’m kinda sad. I’m big on family and I miss everyone back home a lot, more than I thought. Don’t get me wrong, I’m determined to see the face of Katahdin before the faces of most my family and friends, but I miss everyone back home. The good news is that I get to see my wife in two weeks, so now I have that to look forward to! I’ll be meeting her in D.C. for a quick getaway since the trail passes nearby. I get to speak with her every 4 to 5 days, which is more than I thought, but I miss being able to give her a hug and I really miss our high-five I love yous! (Inside joke.)

So, before I move on to how my hike went today, I’d like to say: Thanks for coming up here, dad. I love you and I had a great time. And to Leigh: I miss your face and can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks!

Now, on to business. The shuttle picked us up and brought Crawdad to the airport. We said our goodbyes and not long after, I was back on the trail. I hiked this section a few days ago, but didn’t count the mileage in my total.  With today being a weekend day, the trail up to McAfee Knob was packed. I was passing groups of day hikers left and right. They must have thought I was crazy! I hit McAfee Knob for the second time and stayed just  long enough to get another picture. After only a minute or so, I moved out. Someone asked, “Leaving so soon?” I replied, “Yes, ma’am, I have to get to Maine. Have a great day!” And with that, I was gone. I would have loved to see her face – I’ve found that many day hikers we meet on the A.T. have no idea they can follow the white blazes all the way to Maine.

PoBoy back at McAfee Knob

PoBoy back at McAfee Knob

View from McAfee Knob

View from McAfee Knob

After another few miles, I arrived at Tinker Cliffs where the trail follows an open cliff for half a mile – Awesome hike and even better views! Over the last week, I’ve had some of the best views since the Smokies and more importantly, I’ve had the best weather to enjoy them!

Tinker Cliffs, I walked a 1/2 mile along these edges

Tinker Cliffs, I walked a 1/2 mile along these edges

PoBoy at Tinker Cliffs

PoBoy at Tinker Cliffs

I pulled myself into camp and said hello to the one guy at the shelter. He said, “Thank God, I thought for a while I was going to have to sleep here alone!” I thought this was pretty funny, I thought it was even funnier when I told him I was going to sleep in my tent down by the stream…about 50 yards away. He said there was plenty of room in the shelter – I moved on. At dinner, I spoke with him a little more. He just got into hiking and is out in the woods for just for the weekend.  He seemed pretty worried about bears, I assured him that as long as he doesn’t use his food bag as a pillow, he would be just fine. After talking bears, camping and more bears, I excused myself and turned in early. For his sake, I hope someone else comes into camp!


Day 71, 5/10/15

Start: Lamberts Meadow Shelter
Finish: Daleville, VA
Miles Hiked: 9.4
Miles To Go: 1461.4
Overall Miles Hiked: 727.8

I woke up to the sound of laughter. I put my shoes on and walked up to the shelter. The guy scared of bears, now named Bear Bait, was talking to two other guys who came into the shelter late last night; they were all laughing. I asked what was going on, here is the story:

Bear Bait was just about to get into his tent when the two other hikers showed up. The three guys talked for a bit and then everyone turned in – Bear Bait in his tent just outside the shelter, the two other guys in the shelter. Around 1:00AM, Bear Bait wakes up and hears something moving around outside. He convinces himself it is a bear trying to get into his food bag that was hung up in a tree. He starts yelling, “Get! Get out of here bear!” Apparently, this happened 2 or 3 times throughout the night. In the morning, Bear Bait asked the other two guys if they saw or heard the bear. They said, “No, but we thought you were having a nightmare!” It turns out, one of the guys sleeping in the shelter was sleeping on a Tyvek groundsheet. Groundsheets are put on the shelter floor first and the sleeping bag is laid on top, which helps to keep your sleeping bag clean. Well, Tyvek can be really loud. Every time the guy moved, Bear Bait would hear the crinkling Tyvek and start yelling at his bear! This has got to be one of the funnier things I’ve heard so far! After a few more laughs, I was on my way.

Snake on the trail

Snake on the trail

Do I have to walk under that?

Do I have to walk under that?

Over the past few weeks, my feet have been absolutely killing me at the end of the day. I have heard that hikers’ feet can swell up to a full size larger than when they started and I think this has happened to me! On top of that, one of my boot buckles has snapped off and now on the downhills my foot slides forward, cramming in the toe box – not comfortable! I decided I just can’t hike much further in these boots, so I was going into Daleville, VA to try to get this matter resolved. The trail goes right through town and a quick 1/2 mile walk will bring you right to the outfitter there. My plan was to hit the outfitter up for new boots, eat a quick lunch, then get back on the trail. Unfortunately, the outfitter was closed on Sundays. I walked over to a BBQ joint and ate a pulled pork sandwich while I debated what to do. Daleville would be my last opportunity to shower and sleep in a bed for the next 10 days. I decided to get a cheap room for the night – It didn’t take much convincing!

A deer I spotted from the trail

A deer I spotted from the trail

I called my mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. We talked about hiking and said our I miss yous. I checked into my room, washed some clothes in the sink and got into bed…where I didn’t plan on leaving until tomorrow morning.

Virginia Trail

Virginia Trail

Days 66 – 69 (5/5/15 – 5/8/15)

Day 66, 5/5/15

Start: Trout Creek
Finish: VA Hwy 624
Miles Hiked: 8
Miles To Go: 1487.1
Overall Miles Hiked: 702.1

Crawdad and I were back on the trail for 10:00AM. We intended to sleep at Four Pines Hostel tonight so we arranged for our shuttle driver to bring Crawdad’s pack along with some of my heavier items to the hostel after he dropped us off. I carried all of our water, rain gear, food and some other items so Crawdad could hike light.

Crawdad and PoBoy back on the AT

Crawdad and PoBoy back on the AT

Today we would be climbing up to Dragon’s Tooth and hiking light would certainly help the effort! Without the burden of his pack, Crawdad traveled fast!

The duo on 5/5

The duo on 5/5

We were making good time until we came across a swarm of 643,283 black flies. They came out of nowhere and were flying in our ears, nose and open mouths. It was pretty miserable and there wasn’t a breeze to aid our struggle. The A.T. can get you in a lot of different ways and this was definitely a new one. The only time anything other than a sour frown was displayed on my face was when Crawdad would update me on his thoughts about flying pests.

Crawdad: These bugs…they are really bugging me!

PoBoy: Pun Intended?

Crawdad: What?

PoBoy: Bugging me…Pun intended?

Crawdad (shooing bugs from his face): What? The bugs are all over, they are driving me crazy. They are really bugging me!

PoBoy: Yeah, I got that. That’s what they do. Just keep walking.

We walked until finally we were atop the mountain standing before the stone monoliths that make up Dragon’s Tooth. I really wanted to climb on top of one and check out the view, so I dropped my pack and started going up. The first 20 ft. were easy, but it kept getting more narrow. Although I wanted to get all the way to the tip, I called it quits when I was standing on a ledge about 2 ft. wide. To my left, Crawdad was about 45 ft. below. To my right, I was staring down at the tops of trees. After snapping a few pictures, I carefully navigated my way down.

PoBoy at Dragons Tooth

PoBoy at Dragons Tooth

The bugs were still “bugging” us, so we continued on. The next 250 ft. were by far the steepest and most dangerous steps I have ever taken. One slip or one wrong turn and a hiker could easily be killed. I don’t even want to imagine how many hikes have ended here. Countless times I questioned whether we were actually on the trail. “No way they would make it this steep. This is crazy,” I said aloud. We were practically walking down a near vertical mountain side. Several times we had to sit on our butts and half slide, half fall down. I honestly hope to never see trail that steep again. After an hour, we finally made it to a more manageable section of trail and didn’t stop walking until we were off the mountain and on the highway leading to the Four Pines Hostel. We survived and high-fived each other. The view was amazing, but I’m honestly not sure if it was worth the risk of the climb.

PoBoy and Crawdad at Dragons Tooth

PoBoy and Crawdad at Dragons Tooth

The hostel is free, but hikers are expected to leave a donation. The owner, Joe, and his help, Ed, were extremely nice and truly love helping hikers. I would absolutely recommend Four Pines Hostel to any future hikers!

There was a possible norovirus victim inside the hostel, so most of us tented outside on the lawn. Norovirus is carried by mice and unfortunately common on the A.T. The best ways to avoid contacting the virus are by not sleeping in the shelters or using the privies, washing your hands frequently and turning down food and water offered by other hikers. I won’t get into the gross ailments associated with the norovirus, but rest assured, sleeping in the possible rain was well worth the assurance of not coming into contact with it.


Day 67, 5/6/15

Start: VA Hwy 624
Finish: VA Hwy 311
Miles Hiked: 5.9
Miles To Go: 1481.2
Overall Miles Hiked: 708

Today was a short day and a pretty easy hike. We were coming back to the hostel for another night and again traveled with one pack so Crawdad could hike a little easier. There were no more norovirus victims left, but that didn’t stop Crawdad from keeping a 50 ft. distance from the hostel – Take no chances! Me, well, I actually played cards and pool inside the hostel last night with two others and the guy getting over the virus. Probably a dumb idea – we will see!

Tenting at Four Pines Hostel

Tenting at Four Pines Hostel

We picked up a hitchhiker on the A.T. today – a presumed lost dog followed us all the way until we reached our goal for the day, which was the parking lot before a very popular trail to McAfee Knob. He had no collar, so 2 nice girls felt sorry for him and loaded him into their car so they could bring him to the local humane society. It was a busy highway so no one wanted to let the dog keep wandering around. The mom of one of the girls was an animal rescuer, so they were happy to help. Also in the parking lot was another hiker’s mom waiting to surprise her thruhiking son with fresh fruit and soda. She was also offering it to all of the other thruhikers who came out of the woods and I was happy to take some apples and oranges off her hands!

Crawdad hiking 5/6

Crawdad hiking 5/6

Tomorrow is the last day Crawdad and I will be hiking together. These two weeks have flown by and although the hiking has been difficult for him, he has done a great job and knocked out quite a few miles – stay tuned for the final tally tomorrow. I’ll miss hiking with him and I’m sure he will miss me and the A.T. as well. Something tells me though he may step foot on the A.T. again! Tomorrow is a tough, steep hike up to McAfee Knob. From what I’m told, it is worth every step.

Crossing a bridge

Crossing a bridge


Day 68, 5/7/15

Start: VA Hwy 311
Finish: VA Hwy 311
Miles Hiked: 0
Miles To Go: 1481.2
Overall Miles Hiked: 708

We actually hiked 8 miles today, but I am going to have to rehike this section in a few days, so I will count the mileage later. We got dropped off in the McAfee Knob parking lot early, around 7:30AM. It was a beautiful morning and once again Crawdad didn’t need to hike with his pack, so we hid it in the bushes near the parking lot. It was our last day of hiking together, so we walked slow and enjoyed our time. I have really enjoyed these last two weeks!

Arrow pointing the way

Arrow pointing the way

Within a few hours we reached McAfee Knob. The view was incredible! Unfortunately, the bugs were back, but it didn’t really matter at the moment. We took several pictures and then made the 4 mile hike back to the parking lot.

PoBoy at McAfee Knob

PoBoy at McAfee Knob

PoBoy and Crawdad at McAfee Knob

PoBoy and Crawdad at McAfee Knob

On the way down, we met a family from Roanoke. They were carrying a Superman action figure! They take Superman with them everywhere and pose him in pictures to make it look like he is flying! Too funny – I took a picture with Superman and moved on.

Superman!

Superman!

We made it back to the parking lot and called our shuttle for a ride into Roanoke. I think Crawdad had a great time, but I also know he is ready to be back home. We are taking a zero tomorrow and I will be back on the A.T. sometime Saturday.


Day 69, 5/8/15

Start: VA Hwy 311
Finish: VA Hwy 311
Miles Hiked: 0
Miles To Go: 1481.2
Overall Miles Hiked: 708

I am letting Crawdad take over this entry. Here is what he had to write:

Hey everyone, this is Crawdad, aka Duke. First, I want to thank my son, Nick, for taking great care of me these last two weeks on the A.T. He constantly ensured I was as comfortable as possible. He planned these two weeks to benefit me at the cost of his own miles. I appreciate everything he did.

Next, the numbers: 15 days off, 3 travel days, 8 days of hiking and 4 zero days equated to 66.4 miles on the trail. I can’t believe I did that. It was the most difficult, physically challenging adventure I ever attempted, but I have no regrets. Being with my son for two weeks is irreplaceable.

To future hikers: THERE IS NO FLAT LAND ON THE A.T.!! You are either going up or going down. It is hard! I still don’t know why my son or the other thruhikers do it. You’ll have to ask them.

With that said, I again want to express great gratitude to Nick for all the help and care he provided me. I had a great time and would encourage everyone to embrace adventurous opportunities when they present themselves.

I would like to thank my wife for being so understanding.

Finally, to Nick – Be safe, keep water and Happy Trails!

Love,

Dad

Days 62 – 65 (5/1/15 – 5/4/15)

Day 62, 5/1/15

Start: Pearisburg, VA
Finish: Somewhere in the VA woods
Miles Hiked: 14.2
Miles To Go: 1540.5
Overall Miles Hiked: 648.7

Crawdad was ready and excited about getting back on the trail, PoBoy wanted to sleep in. I lost! We arranged for a shuttle to bring us back to the trail and began packing up. Over the last 2 months, I’ve hiked with Billy Goat nearly everyday. It will be strange hiking without him, but I’m really glad we met and I wish him well. We said our goodbyes and Crawdad and I were on our way. My plan was to hike 7 miles to a shelter. It’s not many miles but would allow Crawdad to rest his knee. After 4 hours of hiking uphill about 1,700 ft., we arrived at the shelter. To my surprise, Crawdad did great! We only had to take a few breaks and his pace was perfect. He said he was feeling good and wanted to push on. I tried to talk him out of it, but the A.T. was calling. We walked on.

Crawdad navigating rocky trail

Crawdad navigating rocky trail

Mile after mile passed under our boots as we talked and walked. I’ve enjoyed spending time with my dad out here, when all you do is walk for hours a day, you have a lot of time to talk – It’s been great hiking with him!

Our plan was just to do another 5 miles, but we did 7 because the campsite we originally had planned on wasn’t there. We were on a very rocky ridge and there was no place to put a tent, so we had to keep moving. Finally, we found a spot big enough and flat enough with no rocks, so we made camp. I wanted to eat but had to make a phone call first. Luckily, I had a signal and called my buddy, Gary – He is getting married tomorrow! I was not able to attend because of my hike, but I wanted to wish him and his soon-to-be wife, Michelle, well. After catching up with Gary for a few minutes my attention turned to dinner. My hiker appetite is in full swing now as I am hungry just about all the time. My process for deciding what to eat out of my food bag is very simple – whatever weighs the most gets eaten! Tonight, was a pastalaya pack Gene & Nicole sent me. Very delicious! Which reminds me… I’d like to give a shout out to Gene & Nicole, Scott & David and Ellie for sending me care packages. The A.T. would be a lot harder on me if I didn’t have the support of awesome people like them. Thanks again!

At our campsite for the night

At our campsite for the night

I know Crawdad is tired because he turned in early and has been snoring loudly for the last 15 minutes. I hope he isn’t too sore in the morning – we have trail to travel!


Day 63, 5/2/15

Start: Somewhere in the VA woods
Finish: Bailey Gap Shelter
Miles Hiked: 9.6
Miles To Go: 1530.9
Overall Miles Hiked: 658.3

The temperature dropped down overnight into the low 40s – Crawdad was cold. I had given him some of my cold weather clothes to wear last night, but I guess it wasn’t enough. I definitely didn’t plan on temps this low at night in early May. The good news is that right off the bat we had a really steep climb that warmed us right up! Crawdad needed a break or two during the climb, but overall did great and soon enough we reached the top of Peters Mountain. To our left was West Virginia and to our right, Virginia. On the top of the mountain was the beginning/end of the Allegheny Trail, which runs 330 miles all the way through West Virginia and terminating at the Pennsylvania state line. Maybe I’ll hike that trail next year – NOT! After the A.T. I am retiring from long distance hiking.

Crawdad at a white blaze and stream

Crawdad at a white blaze and stream

On the way down the mountain we were passed by two hikers. We said hello and waved. They waved back but didn’t utter a sound. Crawdad and I thought this was really odd and wondered if they were mute, rude or had taken a vow of silence. We found out the answer at lunch. We both thought they were mute and when the 4 of us were all eating lunch at a nearby shelter, no attempts at conversation were made. Another hiker walked up and immediately started talking to the two non-talkers about how their hike had been going since he had last seen them a few days ago. No response. Instead, one of them took out a piece of paper which said, “We are taking a Ghandi today and aren’t speaking so we can hear the woods. You should try it as well.” When the other hiker finished reading the message on the paper aloud, he could only respond with a, “Oh, cool.” He was fighting back a smile. After the two “vow of silencers” left camp, I told Crawdad that I would also be taking a Ghandi – We both laughed. I don’t think I could go more than 20 minutes without speaking! Good for them, I hope they hear the woods and as long as they don’t hike with me, they should be able to.

Crawdad & PoBoy hiking

Crawdad & PoBoy 

Crawdad testing gravity

Crawdad testing gravity

After lunch, we just had another 4 miles to walk for the day, 3 of which would be the hardest miles Crawdad has done yet. Just before our big 3 mile uphill, a man stepped out of his car parked on the side of a nearby road and offered us Little Debbies and Capri Suns! As we drank and ate, the man said his dad was thruhiking and would be reaching the road shortly. While he waited, he wanted to give out some trail magic! Thanks, Dave! I’d like to say that the brownies and sugary drink were just what Crawdad needed and powered him up the mountain without so much as a sweat…but I can’t. Crawdad got his ass kicked. It was just over 1,000 ft. and it was steep. Needless to say, there were several breaks taken. After several attempts offering to carry some of his gear, he finally allowed me to lighten his load by a few pounds. I tried to tell him he was doing great and that I would be struggling too if I didn’t already have 650 miles under my belt. He appreciated the encouragement and said for the hundredth time, “I get it now…I didn’t then, but I get it now.” Earlier in the day we had been talking about how hard the A.T. is and how most people just don’t understand until they knock out a few miles. It is still hard for me to describe the trail. I continually say it is up and down all the time, no flat hiking. Crawdad said its just like walking up the levees back home…except 25x higher, loaded with rocks, roots, fallen trees and the trail you have to take is straight up and down. You have to do this for 10 hours a day, everyday, for 6 months! He likened the hikers left out here to machines – eat, walk, eat, sleep, repeat. To say he is impressed with us thruhikers is an understatement. I think he finally gets it!


Day 64, 5/3/15

Start: Bailey Gap Shelter
Finish: Sarver Hollow Shelter
Miles Hiked: 21
Miles To Go: 1509.9
Overall Miles Hiked: 679.3

The plan was to hike 3.8 miles to a road crossing and hope one of us had a cell signal so Crawdad could get into town and rest for a day or so. It was an extremely rocky ridge we were hiking and the going was slow. What’s worse was that neither one of us was getting anything close to a signal. Just as I was wondering how Crawdad was going to be able to make the 2,000 ft. descent 2 miles ahead, heading towards the trail was Dave, the guy with the trail magic yesterday. He was hiking southbound to meet his dad and wife and then they all would walk northbound together until they reached Dave’s car at the road up ahead. Dave gave me another brownie and went on his way.

Snake in a tree

Snake in a tree

The trail was getting harder and harder and Crawdad was really struggling. I thought if we could make it to the road then maybe we could wait and see if Dave and his family could get Crawdad off this mountain. About a half mile out, they caught up to us, so I decided to ask them if they could do us a huge favor and give Crawdad a ride. Without hesitation, Dave and his wife, Ashley, said yes. Thank God for people like them, we really needed the help today.

We all made it to their car and Crawdad loaded his things.  I was given another Capri Sun and slurped it down as Dave and his dad, PA Ridge Runner, hiked on. Ashley and the family dog, Riesling, would take Crawdad down the road so he could get a signal and call a shuttle for a ride into town. The plan if Crawdad could not get a signal would be for him to wait for me at the next road crossing 6 miles away. Ashley was heading there anyway to pick up Dave and say goodbye to PA Ridge Runner who would continue his thruhike. Just like that, I was alone. I hiked the 6 miles in record time because I was anxious to see what happened with Crawdad – I was praying he called a shuttle so he could get some much deserved and much needed rest. When I got to the road, I saw Ashley, Dave, PA Ridge Runner and Riesling, but no Crawdad. He was able to get a ride! To top off their amazingness, the group invited me to sit with them for lunch. It is really hard for me to turn down a Capri Sun, so I did, but not before thanking them again and again! I ate quickly so they could enjoy their last few minutes with PA Ridge Runner and moved on. One more time – Thank you so much!

The trail

The VA trail

After only a few hundred feet of hiking I was treated, or should I say mistreated, to another surprise. Standing next to a stream was a naked man and two clothed others, one holding a camera. I casually asked Birthday Suit if he was enjoying the weather. I think he said yes, but I was moving too fast to hear! When I stopped at the next shelter, Birthday Suit was the hot topic of discussion, we could only wonder what was going on back there!

I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to hike another 6.4 miles to the next shelter. As I was walking over a marshy area with a stream running through, I spotted a beaver building his dam – Too cool! I took a couple pictures and moved on.

Beaver building the dam

Beaver building the dam

Another few miles brought me beneath the Keffer Oak, the second largest oak tree along the A.T. It measures 18 ft. around and is over 300 years old. It’s amazing to see an oak that big and I could only imagine how many acorns it could produce. I sure would love to put my bow stand somewhere close!

PoBoy under Keffer Oak

PoBoy under Keffer Oak

The next mile was some of the steepest trail that I have hiked so far on the A.T. I must have stopped 10 times to catch my breath as my heart raced and sweat poured. After I finally reached the top, I walked the remaining miles in zombie mode and didn’t stop until I reached the shelter where I immediately ate and setup my tent. PoBoy is extra tired tonight!


Day 65, 5/4/15

Start: Sarver Hollow Shelter
Finish: Trout Creek
Miles Hiked: 14.8
Miles To Go: 1495.1
Overall Miles Hiked: 694.1

Sarver Hollow Shelter is .4 miles off the A.T. This morning, I needed to walk a side trail straight up to get back on the A.T. It woke me up fast, that’s for sure! There were a few sections of trail, each 100 yards or so, that you had to hike on the open face of the mountain. They were pretty steep and hard to walk on even with my poles. I took it very slow. One misstep and your hike could be over. There have been some sections of the trail that I have actually been surprised we are expected to hike because of how dangerous they are. But, surprised or not, when you see a white blaze in front of you, you follow it regardless of the terrain. Thruhikers are crazy!

Steep Trail

Steep Trail

Another few miles brought me to the Eastern Continental Divide. In simple terms, water on one side of the divide drains into the Atlantic while water on the other side will eventually reach the Gulf of Mexico. I pressed on a few more miles and stopped for lunch. While eating a protein bar, I looked at my guidebook and hatched an idea. If I could get to the next road, I may be able to get a shuttle back into Pearisburg and reconnect with Crawdad. In the morning, we could get back to that road and continue hiking together. I got out my phone, no signal. Oh well, I would just have to meet him at the next shelter tomorrow morning as we discussed.

Eastern Continental Divide

Eastern Continental Divide

On the top of the next mountain was a memorial dedicated to Audie Murphy who was America’s most decorated solider of WWII. His plane crashed near this spot in 1971.

Audie Murphy Monument

Audie Murphy Monument

I took a seat on a nearby bench and checked my phone again. I was in luck! I called a local shuttle driver and arranged a ride. I had 4 miles to go to reach the driver, all downhill, and hit the blacktop 61 minutes later. Although I was feeling good, I really shouldn’t hike this fast because that is how injuries develop – Slower is better! I met Crawdad about an hour later and we made our plan for the rest of the week. We have some good views coming up, so I want to make sure he is rested enough to see them. Fingers crossed again!

Crawdad & PoBoy in Pearisburg, VA

Crawdad & PoBoy in Pearisburg, VA

Days 59 – 61 (4/28/15 – 4/30/15)

Day 59, 4/28/15

Start: Virginia State Rd 611
Finish: Somewhere in the Virginia woods
Miles Hiked: 22.5
Miles To Go: 1567.7
Overall Miles Hiked: 621.5

Billy Goat and I got started around 9:00AM, which is early by our standards. We were planning on putting in big miles today – rain was forecasted for tomorrow and we were planning on getting into Pearisburg, VA before it hit. I hiked the first 3.5 miles in one hour. I was feeling great even though the temperature last night was in the mid 30’s. Usually I am slow to start when the temperature is that low, but there was no wind and that helped! After a quick break for breakfast (a protein bar and two starbursts) we hiked up a gradual 800 ft. hill and then continued hiking the along ridge lines for the next several miles. Hiking on ridge lines gives you good views from either side, but can be rocky so the hiking can be slow at times.

Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge

Around 1:00PM, Billy Goat had our first decision to make…Should we continue hiking or take a half mile detour to Trent’s Grocery and eat hamburgers? By this point, I am sure you guessed it – Hamburgers it is! For a gas station, the burgers were okay. After our 1 hour break and another half mile walk, we were back on the trail.  Unfortunately, the trail went up, steeply at times, for a few hundred feet. With full bellies, hiking was slow and I’m sad to say there may have been a curse word or two uttered from beneath our pickled and onioned breath. Eventually, I’ll learn not to eat a big meal just before an incline!

Tree canopy over the trail

Tree canopy over the trail

Great shot of the trail

Great shot of the trail

The trail finally leveled off and started going downhill. We soon were faced with our next decision of the day…Should we hike an extra .3 miles to Dismal Falls? Yes, we sure did and am very happy about this decision! The falls were beautiful and gave us an opportunity to catch some sun on the warm rocks and refresh our aching feet in the cool river. We didn’t want to leave, but there were miles left to hike. After eating a quick snack and relaxing for 30 minutes, we made the .3 miles back to the A.T. and resumed hiking. With the two stops (hamburgers and waterfall) we hiked an additional 1.6 miles that we didn’t have to and do not count towards total A.T. miles hiked. I’d love to know how many additional miles I’ve hiked so far and how many more I will hike in the future! When it comes to food and especially great views, the extra miles are well worth it in my opinion.

PoBoy at Dismal Falls

PoBoy at Dismal Falls

PoBoy taking a nap at Dismal Falls

PoBoy taking a nap at Dismal Falls

After Dismal Falls, we had 6 miles of some of the flattest trail yet. It still went up and down, but not to any degree that caused difficulty and before long, we arrived at Wapiti Shelter around 7:00PM. Decision time #3…should we call it a day at 17 miles or keep going? We had 18 miles before we reached Pearisburg and wanted to get that number lower. We still had about an hour of daylight left so we made the steep 1,300 ft. hike up and watched an amazing sunset. The plan was to watch the sunset then hike with our headlamps until we found a decent campsite. Well, at 9:15PM we were still hiking so we found some fairly level ground and pitched our tents. This was my first time night hiking and I enjoyed it! I definitely plan on doing it more, especially with a summer full moon. I’m not exactly sure where we are, but I think we only have 13 short miles to Pearisburg. Should be there right in time for lunch!

Hiking at sunset

Hiking at sunset

Sunset selfie!

Sunset selfie!

Another picture of the beautiful sunset

Another picture of the beautiful sunset


Day 60, 4/29/15

Start: Somewhere in the Virginia woods
Finish: Pearisburg, VA
Miles Hiked: 13
Miles To Go: 1554.7
Overall Miles Hiked: 634.5

We woke up early and were out of camp by 7:30. It was a nice hike today. Since we climbed up the mountain yesterday evening, we were walking ridge lines and had good views on both sides. The weather was much better than we anticipated and the hiking went fast.

On the ridge line looking back at where we camped the night before

On the ridge line looking back at where we camped the night before

Just before the descent into Pearisburg is a rock outcropping called Angels Rest. From atop Angels Rest, you can see the valley below with Pearisburg right in the middle. Billy Goat and I sat down and enjoyed the view.

Enjoying the view at Angels Rest

Angels Rest

Billy Goat at Angels Rest

Billy Goat at Angels Rest

Pearisburg from Angels Rest

Pearisburg from Angels Rest

We only had one hour of hiking left so I called Crawdad and asked him where we would be staying. He said the motel was right across from a big strip mall. From our view, we thought we could see the strip mall he was talking about. I zoomed in with my camera and sure enough we could make out the motel. I asked Crawdad to walk across the street into the strip mall parking lot. Within a minute or so, we could see a figure walking, so I told Crawdad to stop walking, the figure stopped. I said, “Start walking again”…the figure walked… “Go back the other way,” the figure obeyed – It was Crawdad! I took a picture of him from 2,000 ft. up!

Where's Crawdad? (Hint: He is next to a light post in center of pic!)

Where’s Crawdad? (Hint: He is next to a light post in the parking lot in center of pic!)

We met him at the motel and showered. Right across the street was  La Barranca Mexican Grill. The food was good and they had a pool table and jukebox. We stayed there the rest of the evening as other hikers trickled in.


Day 61, 4/30/15

Start: Pearisburg, VA
Finish: Pearisburg, VA
Miles Hiked: 0
Miles To Go: 1554.7
Overall Miles Hiked: 634.5

We took a zero today. I know Crawdad was itching to get back on the trail, but I needed some rest. I went over my plan on how Crawdad should resume hiking. He seemed to agree that low mileage was the way to go. I feel confident that he will be able to stay on the trail and make some good miles. Today is Billy Goat’s last day with me. He is heading home for Mother’s Day soon and is moving up 50 miles on the trail to see some great views before he leaves the A.T. I’ve really enjoyed hiking with him and hope to see him again. Maybe we can hike the John Muir trail in California together…just kidding! After the A.T. I don’t think either one of us will be doing any long distance hiking ever again! A bunch of hikers we know came in town today so we are all going back to La Barranca for more pool, the NFL draft and to send Bill Goat off in style. Adios, Buddy and Happy Trails!

Days 55 – 58 (4/24/15 – 4/27/15)

Day 55, 4/24/15

Start: Atkins, VA
Finish: Knot Maul Branch Shelter
Miles Hiked: 14.4
Miles To Go: 1632.1
Overall Miles Hiked: 557.1

I checked out of the hotel around 10:00AM and got back on the A.T. The weather was absolutely perfect today and the hiking was phenomenal. These last 2 days have been my favorite so far. After a few miles of hiking, I came to mile 547.3 and sat down on a log with a big smile on my face. I had just completed 25% of the A.T. I know I have a long way to go, but I never thought I would make it this far. After patting myself on the back, I got to work on the next 25%.

I've completed 25% of the trail!

I’ve completed 25% of the trail!

I came down from the mountain and hit a road. There was a car parked off to the side and as soon as I approached, the two occupants got out and offered me a coke! Their son, Hard Tac, had hiked in 2013 and they were just paying it forward to other hikers. The generosity of complete strangers out here never ceases to amaze me! I hiked along a series of streams for the next few miles and wished I had a fishing pole. I’ve heard that in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine there are several opportunities for hikers to do some fishing along the trail, as long as they have the proper license of course. I think I may have to look into that!

Hiking through a cow pasture

Hiking through a cow pasture

I made it to the shelter and debated on where to sleep. I could either pitch my tent or sleep in the shelter with several other smelly hikers. Usually the tent is a no brainer, but with rain forecasted tonight, I chose the shelter. It’s hard for me to sleep in a shelter because of all the moving around and snoring, but at least I would stay dry tonight.


Day 56, 4/25/15

Start: Knot Maul Branch Shelter
Finish: Virginia Hwy 623
Miles Hiked: 15.5
Miles To Go: 1616.6
Overall Miles Hiked: 572.6

It was an overall nasty day. Right off the bat, Billy Goat and I had a pretty tough 2,000 ft. climb up Chestnut Ridge in rainy and foggy weather. At the top of the ridge is Chestnut Knob Shelter. We ducked inside and ate a quick Ramen lunch. After 2 months, I am pretty sick of Ramen, but when the food bag is running low there is usually plenty of it left!

Although the hiking today was pretty tough, the time passed rather quickly. My mind was occupied with the fact that I would be hiking with my dad for the next 2 weeks. We had previously agreed to meet at the Big Walker Motel in Bland, VA, but today I had been in touch with the shuttle driver picking him up from the Roanoke airport and also arranged a ride for me and Billy Goat.

Waiting on Crawdad to arrive!

Waiting on Crawdad to arrive!

We met in the woods where the A.T. crosses Virginia Hwy 623. It was great seeing a familiar face! I hugged my dad and introduced him to Billy Goat. Over the course of a 30 minute ride to the motel, I filled him in on our last 2 months. He seemed fascinated by our stories and was extremely excited to get going in the morning. I also gave him the trail name I’d been thinking of…Crawdad! I figured it was perfect, he’s from New Orleans, would be so slow hiking the A.T. it would almost be a crawl, and obviously, he is my dad. I think he liked it, but I didn’t give him much of a choice! Crawdad, Billy Goat and I checked in to the motel and got ready for our hike tomorrow. With any luck, we will all be alive and well this time tomorrow!


Day 57, 4/26/15

Start: Virginia Hwy 623
Finish: Laurel Creek
Miles Hiked: 9.7
Miles To Go: 1606.9
Overall Miles Hiked: 582.3

Duke, I mean Crawdad, woke early with excitement. The weather was rainy again so we held off on our departure until it somewhat cleared. We finally hit the trail around 10:30AM. Before we left town, we bought a case of coke and some beer and left it at the trail crossing for any hikers coming through. It was nice to be on the other end of trail magic for a change. All day, hikers that passed us thanked us wholeheartedly for what we left behind! The three of us hit the trail. It is hard to describe the A.T. to my friends and family back home. It’s one thing to say, “It’s up and down all day,” but it’s another thing to actually see and hike it. Crawdad learned this quickly. Our 10 mile stretch of trail today was extremely easy for thruhikers who have made it this far, it was not for Crawdad. He said he had looked over this section in his book and it looked pretty flat and easy. On the A.T., flat does not exist. The first 2 miles had us going over 3 or 4 hills with about 100 ft. elevation gain each. Crawdad handled this pretty well. Next was a 1,700 ft. descent. We took it slow, but all descents wreak havoc on the knees and this one was no exception. We were all in a little pain by the time we hit the bottom. In the gap was Jenkins Shelter, where we stopped for lunch.

Crawdad's first white blaze

Crawdad’s first white blaze

Crawdad seemed to be holding together okay, but the real test was just ahead. After lunch was a 700 ft. uphill. My first few weeks on the trail I would have dreaded every step of it, but now, anything under 1,000 ft. isn’t too big of a deal. I have about 600 miles under my belt, Crawdad had 4.5 and rightfully so, it kicked his ass. Billy Goat and I walked behind him and took breaks when he needed it. We remembered how we felt at first and we are half his age. He was doing great but it was not easy on him by any means, especially with a full pack strapped to his back. Once we reached the top, the trail flattened out a bit and allowed Crawdad to speak again. As soon as he caught his breath, he praised every hiker still hiking for making it this far. Day 1 and the trail was already exponentially harder than he had thought.

Crawdad after the uphill

Crawdad after the uphill

We finally made it to camp and set up our tents among the dozen or so already pitched. Laurel Creek is right next to a road that we had been told to make sure we get to tomorrow morning. We were told several townspeople would shuttle hikers into town for a free breakfast bonanza! We were all very excited and willing to accept. Crawdad doesn’t have his hiker diet just yet, so he ate a few dried foods for dinner while Billy Goat, all the other hikers and myself gorged ourselves! Again, he praised us for the miles under our belt and said we were all crazy for doing this to ourselves everyday. Regarding the crazy, I can’t disagree!


Day 58, 4/27/15

Start: Laurel Creek
Finish: Virginia State Rd 611
Miles Hiked: 16.7
Miles To Go: 1590.2
Overall Miles Hiked: 599

Man it got cold last night. I feel bad for Crawdad because I know he got cold and it’s probably my fault. I told him to expect lows in the upper 40’s, not lower 30’s. All of the hikers took their time getting ready since we weren’t getting picked up until 9:00AM. Even though I was about to eat a free breakfast, I ate a quick snack. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night craving food. It looks like my hiker diet is kicking in big time! Just before   nine, the first car pulled up and took away 4 hikers. There were 16 still waiting and a few more on the way. Another minute later a van pulled up and took Crawdad, Bill Goat, me and 4 others to the church.  There was one big table downstairs with a dozen or so hungry hikers around it and two smaller tables upstairs seating about 8 each. Crawdad and I ate upstairs – we were offered coffee, orange juice, chocolate milk, yogurt, pudding, fruit cups, pancakes, eggs, grits, sausage, biscuits and gravy and a few different casseroles. On the way out they offered us bags of candy and hand knitted scarves. This church has been helping hikers for the past 14 years, so amazing! To all of you who have helped me and other hikers along the way, THANK YOU so very much! A little goes a long way for a thruhiker! After expressing thanks, thanks and more thanks, Billy Goat, Crawdad and I were dropped off back at the trailhead.

Hiker breakfast feast

Hiker breakfast feast

Before we got going for the day, I took my dad’s food bag, tent poles and some clothes and put them in my pack. It was probably around 15 pounds or so, I know the lighter pack would help his hike today so I was glad to do so. I would have taken even more if I could have fit it. To start the day, we had a 700 ft. climb. It was a little more gradual than the climb yesterday and Crawdad did great! His pace quickened a little and we were rewarded with a few great views of the valley below. A pain in his knee was becoming an issue on the downhills so we agreed it would be best if he went back into town to rest up while Billy Goat and I pressed on and made up some miles. We would meet back up with Crawdad in 2 days in Pearisburg, VA.

It was hard leaving my dad behind, but it was the best plan of action for everyone. For the next 10 miles, I thought about how to best handle Crawdad and my remaining time with him. I think I have a few good ideas and will tell him as soon as I see him again. Sparing the details, my plan would allow us to hike together, allow him some recovery time every few days and also allow me to hike solo and put in some big miles…Fingers crossed! Billy Goat and I found a nice area on the side of the trail for two tents, so we set up camp around 7:00PM and called it quits on a long day.