Monday, June 30, 2008


I got through Week One feeling as though the prescribed reps and sets were just about all I could manage. But I was able to do them and even exceed the minimum on those last "max possible" sets. So, on to Week 2.

I was scared to try, since I felt I'd just squeaked by in Week One. I took an extra rest day. Then when I looked at the Week 2 Program today, I found that today had fewer reps than my biggest day last week. 12, 12, 9, 7, all separated by 60 seconds, then max possible, recommended at least 10, and I made 14. However, I rested 2 minutes before trying the max set. This is permitted. Recommended rest intervals are qualified with "longer if needed."

Tomorrow is a rest day, then Day 2 is 16, 13, 11, 11, then max, all separated by 90 seconds or "more if needed."

We visited our son last week, and he was sore from having done 100 pushups the day before. Not all at once; he'd just decided he was going to do 100 during the course of the day. I could probably do that: 10 at a time, an hour apart for 10 sets. But that's not the program; I hesitate to mess with the program.

Strong Woman on the way, here.

Saturday, June 28, 2008



I've decided to behave as thought I might do a triathlon in September.

I have no restriction on swimming. I have permission to bike 10 miles easy, as long as it doesn't hurt.

So I laid out my transition area and did a 20-minute swim followed by a 10-mile bike. All slow and easy, total time an hour and 6 minutes.

I feel encouraged. Maybe a little too much so.... doing some math on my fingers, if I could increase my bike ride by 5 miles per week, it would take 8 weeks to get to 50 miles and then I'd still have 3 weeks to taper. Hmmm.


We shall see. I'm not going to count on it. You better not either. But we shall see.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Photo by Aaron Schwartsbard at

The physical therapist has cleared me to start biking 10 miles, easy pedaling, quick cadence. No gear-mashing, hills OK if I can keep my cadence easy.

She also said, when I asked her, that the International Distance at SavageMan might be possible, especially since I was past the International distances on bike and run when I stopped with the injury.

She's using a therapy modality called ASTYM, "Agressive Soft Tissue Mobilization." She scrapes the hard edge of a hard plastic plate over my skin, and as it "bumps" over areas of fibrosis and scar tissue lumps, it breaks them up. Then stretching (I do specifically-prescribed stretches 4 times a day) helps to re-organize the damaged tissue fibers into smooth straight alignment as they heal. It's supposed to work faster and better than other therapy modalities on chronic injuries.

It also hurts. Youch. Not excruciating, but I'd say a 7 on a scale of 10.

Pushups today: 15, 13, 10, 10, then max, at least 15, which was all I was able to squeeze out. Total of 63! I found this challenging but was able to make it. So I guess on Sunday I'll be on to Week Two, since I hit no major stumbling blocks in Week One.

Sarah had a doctor's appointment today. She weighed 7 lbs. 15 oz. at birth; today, at 5 weeks 3 days, she weighs 11 lbs. 9 oz. Doc said, "I guess we don't have to worry about her getting enough to eat." She's had nothing but Mommy's milk since birth.

I've got a sore mouth. Yesterday, for no apparent reason, I walked right smack into a glass door instead of opening it. Smacked my mouth good, chipping a crown and knocking it a little out of line, said crown having been placed after I ran into a pole at age 10 and broke my tooth off. There's no live tooth there now.... had a root canal after the break, and a silver peg was installed to which to attach the crown. Anyway, the surrounding tissue is really sore now. I'm eating on the other side of my mouth, which is difficult, since it's a front tooth. Since there's no live tooth, I'm waiting to see if the soreness dissipates over some time. Hope I don't need dental work, since our insurance doesn't cover it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Photo by Ellinor Hamilton, 2004

Our minds are too busy. Our lives are too busy. We too-easily and too-often lose sight of what is central. This is the case with me, anyway; and, from what I see and hear, with a lot of other people as well.

I've had a line from somewhere circling in my consciousness: "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers." I couldn't place its origin, so this morning I Googled it. It's Wordsworth:


The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Yes, that's it. This is what I've been trying to say. This is what I've been trying to think. This is why I want to put a few eartly goods necessary for survival (and a few for comfort) into a pack on my back and walk from Georgia to Maine.

I fully plan to do this. I've wanted to for over 40 years, since I was 15. Things sometimes do, and sometimes don't, work out the way we've planned. I expect to fulfill my dream, but if life intervenes and throws in insurmountable obstacles, I hope I'll have the strength and focus to find somewhere deep within myself the same detachment from things, expectations, and striving.

Proteus: Greek sea god capable of taking many shapes.
Triton: Another sea god, often depicted as trumpeting on a shell.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Whew! The program today, Day 2 of Week 1, called for:

12, 12, 10, 10, separated by a one-minute rest after each set, then as many as possible, aiming for at least 10.

I thought I might repeat Day 1: 10, 10, 8, 6, then max. I'm still a little sore from Day 1.

What the heck, though, try it and see.

I not only got through all of Day 2's reps, I did 15 for my final set. Total of 59 pushups. Day 1, two days ago, I did 43.

Wow. I'm surprising myself.


Or is my blog suddenly in super-triple-size-extra-bold font?

Does it look normal to you?

Maybe my husband did something to the computer without telling me....

Update: There, I fixed it. Thanks for the input -- just wanted to make sure everyone else was seeing it, too, before I made it micro-mini :-)

Monday, June 23, 2008


Holy freakin' smoke!!

Look what someone threw away in the Dumpster at our campground!! It's gotta be at least a 4-person tent.

I've been planning to make a larger rainfly with vestibule for my current tent. Look at that rainfly, in back over the picnic table!

Look at all that fabric (stuff sacks, etc!) Look at all that no-see-um netting (ultralight see-thru stuff sacks, bug bivy, etc.!!) Zippers! Even some shock-cord pole that I can use for my rainfly/vestibule (although not all the poling for the whole tent seemed to have been thrown away... wonder why they kept that???)

OK, I may be injured, and off the trail for now; and I may be broke, and wondering how I can afford a lot of the stuff I want.... but this find looks like a message from God that my hike can go on.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Day One of Week One of the 100-Pushup Challenge!

(That's not me, and it's not my body...thanks to Warrior Fitness World)

You do your 3-times-weekly workouts in 5 sets, or "Levels," of reps, each level separated by a rest period of one minute (a little longer if needed.) You take a day off between workout days.

Here's the schedule for this week, based on my initial test, in which I did 15 full-body pushups nonstop. (I was surprised at that. I haven't done pushups in months, and thought I might manage 8 or so.)

Day One:
  • Level 1: 10
  • Level 2: 10
  • Level 3: 8
  • Level 4: 6
  • Level 5: Max possible, at least 7 (I managed 9.)

Day Two:

  • Level 1: 12
  • Level 2: 12
  • Level 3: 10
  • Level 4: 10
  • Level 5: Max, at least 10

Day Three:

  • Level 1: 15
  • Level 2: 13
  • Level 3: 10
  • Level 4: 10
  • Level 5: Max, at least 15

Eeks. That's a lot of pushups. But I got through the first day, even exceeding the minimum-max for the last set (although I rested 2 minutes after the first 4 levels, which I probably will keep on doing.)

Total pushups today: 43. Yo!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


When life deals you blowdowns, make firewood.
Lemons.... make lemonade.
Scraps.... make quilts.

So I'm no longer training for SavageMan because if I don't get this Achilles issue cleared up, I won't be hiking the Appalachian Trail next year. Actually I'd be out of SavageMan anyway even if I kept training, because I don't think my tendons would let me finish training.

This gives me a couple hours a day of time I didn't have before. Time is money.

So I'm working more at the campground. I'm now on Pool Maintenance. This is easy, peaceful work, running a water-vacuum over the bottom of the pool sucking up leaves etc.; putting clear drops in a test tube of clear water and watching it turn a pretty pink or yellow to indicate the chemical balance; and sweeping up leaves and grass.

What I do now, here at Candy Hill:

Clean bath-houses, laundry room, game room, club lounge, trolley (for ferrying groups around town, a fun thing), and anything else that needs cleaning; tend front gate and welcome guests during busy check-in periods; care for the managers' 2-yr-old son; clean and maintain the pool and its deck; and do grounds and yard work.
In a nutshell, my job is to make this the cleanest, neatest campgound you'll ever stay at. And friendliest, if you stop and talk to me :-) This is a great place to work. Training for a humdinger triathlon? They plan my schedule around my training (or let me schedule myself.) Need the race weekend off? You go, girlfriend. Want more hours? Hey, we'd love someone on regular pool maintenance.

With the pool added to my responsibilities, I have one more skill on my resume, and I can save for a down sleeping bag, SmartWool socks and hiking apparel, even a little down pillow (I saw one in the outfitter's, $40 and sooooo cushy and it compresses to nothing in a backpack.)
My buggered-up tendons have killed SavageMan for me but have made other things possible.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Hey, I found this on Jeff's blog: Six-week training program to 100 consecutive pushups!!!

I did my initial test today, with 15 successful good-form full-body pushups. At 55+, that puts me at Level 3 of 5 for starting. (Results were age-ranked but not differentiated by gender.)

This is something I can do instead of SavageMan training, and it will serve me well in hauling a backpack, when my feet get back to backpackability, as well as in just about everything else I do.

Fun! How many 56-year-old women can do 100 pushups??? Who else is in?

Thursday, June 19, 2008


This is a wonderful hike, and it's my hope that anyone who Google's it for info will find this post and learn helpful stuff.

Stats: 10 miles, southbound along the Roller Coaster section of the AT in Northern Virginia. That's it for my stats.... I don't have elevation changes in numbers, but this hiker reports over 5,000 feet of climbing, one way. My subjective take is an effort of 8 out of 10.

In case you're wondering how far to wherever..... here are signs at the Bear's Den Hostel, which, by the way, offers thru-hikers a very sweet deal of bunk, shower, pizza, ice cream (B&J), and other perks (laundry, internet) for $25. You can also buy a few short-term supplies there, as well as AT souvenirs (patches etc.) You can get water you don't have to disinfect or filter, and you can just rest and hang out until you're ready to move on.

A kind day-hiker offered to take my picture before I started out from Bear's Den Rocks.

I set out on this 20-mile round-trip to test out my backpack after its surgery, which reduced it from its original 6# (which I'd modified down to 4.5) finally to 3.2 pounds. It worked for me!

The footing on this stretch is a combination of easy, smooth path and rocky, treacherous, White-Mountainesque boulder fields:

Many creek-crossings, all of them fairly easy with rock walk/hops across. Be a little careful though.... some of the rocks "rockle."

Long green tunnel.... is it any wonder I love this Trail???

This is the way: walk ye therein.

In general the AT is well-marked with those familiar white blazes. If you can't see the next one from where you are, look behind you to see if you see any going the other direction, and if not, go another couple minutes or so, and if you still don't see any, go back to the last one you saw and re-navigate.

I offer this because there is a spot on this Bear's Den to Rod Hollow hike where I lost the trail, and you could, too, if you are southbound, if you aren't paying attention. Me, I can get lost rolling over in bed, and it was a pretty easy feat for me to lose the trail here.

Maybe 7 miles south from Bear's Den towards Rod Hollow Shelter (sorry I can't be more specific) you come to this beautiful bridge:

After two more looong uphills and downhills, be on the lookout for these two closely-spaced creek-crossings:

Followed immediately by a blazed left turn. After this, the blazes.... well, they need to be more frequent. I followed what seemed to be an old logging road or something, thinking this wasn't typical AT trail, and where were the white blazes, but there seemed nowhere else the trail could have gone. I backtracked and soon saw a northbound blaze and thought, I was right after all, and turned around again on the logging road. No blazes. I followed it till I came to a "Private Property No Trespassing" sign. Hmmm... Back down the hill. Look carefully. AHAAAAA! Here's a sign (backwards to me. I missed it going out b/c it's NOT white-blazed, it wasn't what I was looking for):

Seems so obvious, but it wasn't what I was looking for, and it was way above my head, and I just plain missed it. Just so you know, on my return trip I counted strides and it's 160 of "my" strides past the blazed left turn after the two creek crossings. I'm small, so it may be fewer than 160 of yours. Be on the lookout. You will turn right off of what seems to be that logging road.

A few more loooong ascents and descents, and you realize you've lost track of how many (there are 10 in 13.5 miles) and finally you come to a sign warning northbounders what they're getting into, followed a half-mile or so later by this sign, finally!!!

The AT Thru-Hiker's Companion detailed the capacity of the Rod Hollow Shelter, but not whether there were tentsites. I asked a few people along the way, and they said they'd stayed there and there were. I prefer to tent rather than sleep in shelters.... I don't like fellow sleepers snoring, and then there are the mice, and the hardness of wood flooring compared to ground.

Ahhh! There ARE tentsites!! Four of them. My 3 X 8 foot tent was too long, so I pitched it diagonally, staking it just outside the platform. Sorry, no picture :-(

The Rod Hollow Shelter.

Critter-baffle in the shelter. Although bears don't do big-time business in this area, there are still mice in the shelter and 'coons, skunks, and 'possums in the woods. Best to hang your food bag and defy any mouse to scamper from the roof past the little can down the cord to your food.

The water source at Rod Hollow. Turns out there's another one, a couple hundred feet to the left, labeled "Trail Shower" -- it looks cleaner, plus it's higher above the spring, better for filling a Platypus or Camelbak bladder (which I use for an in-camp waterbag/dispenser.)

There were half a dozen hikers in various stages of thru- and section-hiking, including another woman solo-hiker, rather unusual. Most of the women you see are with at least one man.

Let's see, who was there? Old Buzzard; Long Portage; Shamrock; Strange Habit (the girl, who, if she stays inside the shelter, pitches her tent in there for critter protection and privacy;) Sam (no trail name); Tim (had a trail name but I didn't catch it.)

Strange Habit and the young guys Sam and Long Portage stayed up late, 9 p.m.; Trail hikers are early to bed and early to rise.

A few more trail impressions:

Some kind of fungus/lichen/? I've never seen before.

Another one. I found both of these on stops I thought were ill-fated (one while I was trying to re-find the trail, another one for hot-spots/blisters.) No cloud without a silver lining.

Saving the best for last:
Is it any wonder I love this trail?

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Photo by Dan Hickock at

I guess I was feeling lukewarm about the training anyway....
SavageMan is down the drain for me. I've buggered up my already-buggered-up Achilles tendons.

They've been bothering me again ever since I got over about 6 miles in run-training. Then this Tuesday and Wednesday, I went AT hiking, 10 miles each way over loooong ascents and descents (called the "Roller Coaster" section) with a 30-pound pack on my back and.... well, the last few miles of my return trip, I was leaning on my hiking poles like crutches. Honest, my right AT (that's Achilles Tendon this time, not Appalachian Trail) felt so bad I was afraid it was rupturing, but the only way for me to get off the trail was to hike off it.

I knew then I was out. That if I had a prayer of hiking 2100 miles next year, I had to get this treated.

The foot/ankle doc today confirmed what I already knew. Do nothing that aggravates the injury. Like running. Or hard biking. Or hiking. Or anything that includes hills.

One thing I know as a runner is generally to question a doctor's order to "stop running" unless you have a fracture. Except this time, there was no question. I can't run on it. SavageMan is 3 months away, and as she put it, "We can probably clear it up by then, but I don't see how you can do your training."

I don't either.
I'm allowed to walk if it doesn't hurt (with arch supports and heel pads), and bike easy with no resistance. That's not the training I need for the most savage bike course in road triathlon in the world.

Maybe there's a relay team that needs a slow swimmer. Or maybe I'll go as a course volunteer.

Much as I have wanted to do SavageMan and become a True Savage, I'm reasonable enough to know that it's not right for this year after all.
I will do anything I have to do to reach Mt. Katahdin in Maine next September. Even sacrifice SavageMan.

For this year, anyway.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Gee, I've gotten popular all of a sudden.

Jeff and Flo have both tagged me, but with the same tag, so I only have to answer once :-)

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Hmm, well. Let me think. When was 10 years ago? 1998? Oh, wow. I guess that was when I was raising money for TNT and tapering for the actual marathon, the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, AK. I was in my second year back to serious running after a 4-year hiatus (nursing school sucked the life out of me.) I was enjoying running again and trying to give it a purpose by raising money for the Leukemia Society. Plus, I wanted to go to Alaska.

2.What is your best and worst run/race experience?

Best: I would say my second marathon, Marine Corps Marathon in 1987. I'd had a miserable first marathon (same one, the year before) and thought that couldn't be what marathoning was like or people wouldn't do it. However, I didn't expect to be able to get off work and hadn't trained for a marathon. I was running about 10 miles a week. Steve and I found out maybe 3 weeks before the marathon we'd be able to go, and we registered (you could register last-minute in those days.) I planned to run half, since I hadn't trained. But at the half I thought, well, one more mile, and then one more, and then one more, and finished in 4:29:xx, nearly an hour and a half faster than my previous one, with no training. I was exuberant!!!

Worst: In terms of how it felt? Well. That would have to be the Hatfield McCoy Marathon in July 2006. I hurt like hell all over, especially my feet. (The race scenario was fun.) Or else the marathon part of Ironman Florida, November 2006. Or the Vermont City Marathon, May 2007. Or the Austin Marathon, February 2008. Any of those 4 would vie for top spot. In combination, they resulted in my decision not to run marathons anymore.

3. Why do you run?

That depends on how things are going. When I'm in a groove and excited about races, I run because I'm driven. When I'm in a rut and wishing I hadn't registered, I run because I have to. Right now I'm in a rut. But I have a friend who likes to run with me and she's salvaging it for me.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?

Best: Every runner is an experiment of one. Worst: Run high-mileage weeks and a 26-mile training run to train for a marathon.

5.Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people know.

Although I'm adamantly pro-life and anti-abortion, I think abortion must be kept legal for the safety of women and the integrity of the medical profession.

OK, I tag (any of these who are already tagged, consider it a double-tag like me):

Nancy, Loping LouBob, Vickie, Shawn, Skatemom.

Here's how to play: Visit 5 blogs and leave invitations to play, referring others back to your blog for more details. On your own blog, list the five questions and your own answers to them. Also, let the person who has tagged you know when you're done.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


And that's what we're doing.

Our campground lost 13 large locust trees during a sudden, violent thunderstorm yesterday afternoon.

Miraculously, not a single RV, car, or truck was hit, and no one was injured. The seven trees that came down on campsites came down on unoccupied ones.

One tree just brushed the backs of two RV's, leaving leaves but not a scratch.

Two of the trees brought down power lines, snapping an electric pole and throwing its transformer to the ground.

An Asplundh truck came and cut the branches away from the downed lines within a couple hours, but about half the campground was without power until repairs were made around midnight.
I wish I'd been there to watch and photograph the removal of the old pole and setting of a new one.

Besides the power lines and trees, all we lost were some picnic tables. And thankfully, none of the ones Steve has recently rebuilt.

About a dozen Black Angus cattle, who live in the pasture directly behind our camper, huddled together during the storm, facing away from the wind, and continued unconcernedly cropping and munching grass while hailstones bounced off their heads and backs. Dang, wish I had a picture of that...

Steve was away and missed the show. I was home in our rig, feeling the wind rock the camper like a boat, watching trees come down outside, and pondering where I'd be safest: inside, since trees and hailstones were dropping outside; or outside, since a camper, trailer, or vehicle is the worst place to be if a tornado is imminent, as I thought it might be. I'm not afraid of storms, in fact I'm somewhat of an enthusiast, and I wasn't frightened -- considering my options was a practical, academic issue. I just kept watching out the window towards the wind and if I'd seen a funnel cloud coming, I'd have abandoned ship, but there was none. I'm pretty sure what we had was a microburst.

So today, cleanup started. It took four of us, with two chainsaws, an axe, and a lawn tractor attached alternately to a chain and a brush trailer, 6 hours to clear 2 campsites, and 5 are left.

Since no one got hurt, and no RV's or vehicles were damaged, I'm enjoying this whole experience. I'm looking forward to cleaning up some more tomorrow.

We're going to have a lot of campfire wood.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


In the middle of a record-breaking mid-Atlantic heat wave, with a heat index of 103* today at Eagleman 70.3 in Cambridge, MD, Nancy made the wise decision not to attempt the run, after being ill on the bike ride.

Very good call, Nancy! You did very well in your "unofficial Aqua Velo," and acted wisely in calling it a day under those conditions.

Still, it had to be disappointing.... the training for a half-Ironman is no small thing.

But you did everything right.


I should have taken before and after pics, but I didn't think of that till now.

Anyhow, my 6# Eddie Bauer backpack from Wal-Mart (4-5 years ago before I heard of lightweight backpacking) now weighs 3.2 pounds. I removed the sleeping-bag-compartment divider, the metal frame stay, the fiberglass frame stays, the plastic framesheet (THREE types of framework on this internal-frame pack, must be designed for a 75-pound load!!!) and the thick padding between the pack and me. This I replaced with the front of my wicking tech-fabric Austin Marathon shirt (which I never liked to start with, and which stained when anything touched it) made into a sleeve into which to insert a removeable pad, which may be my folded Therma-Rest sleeping pad (which will then do triple duty: sleeping pad, backpack pad, and sit-upon) or a piece of closed-cell foam pad (same triple duty -- I use it under my Therma-Rest since my hips need more padding), or a piece of compressed polyester padding (single duty, backpack padding only, but washable when it gets crudded up with sweat.)

That last sentence has got to rival the AT itself in length.

I've also done away with the backpack lid -- a topper made of a zipper-pack that cinches the pack closed. It adds weight and storage space, which I will use if I have, but which I don't need if I don't have. Just encourages me to take more stuff.

I reloaded the pack with all my gear plus 10 packs of Ramen and some other typical food, and I can't explain it but now my stuff doesn't nearly fill the pack. Maybe it's my new way of loading without a bunch of stuff-sacs. At any rate, I may be shopping for a smaller pack. Unless I can trim this one down some more.

It's getting to be a challenge.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

BACK FROM BACKPACKING (you gotta read this story and see these pictures)

MMMmmmm, it was wonderful! I would have been happy to go another day. Or two. Or 150.

Eight miles yesterday, overnight in my tent in the rain (stayed dry this time) eight miles back today. It was hot, hiking. I sweated like crazy. It felt great. Mountain laurel is in bloom.

Yesterday I got tired early, and my backpack didn't feel good. Felt like I'd been hiking for hours (and in fact I had) when I passed a landmark that my guide book said was 3 miles from my starting point. 3 miles???? In 3 hours???? I've got 5 miles (5 hours?) to go??? GACKKK!!!

The good news was that I'd hiked all the way to the next state already.

Almost as soon as I hit the trail, I met up with a man named Ray who was hiking from Front Royal, VA to Maine. We hiked together some; now and then one or the other of us would take a break or go ahead, but we kept catching up to each other. Shortly after that 3-mile place, we met up again and stayed together after that. We talked a lot about grown kids, grandkids, books, and of all things, hiking, and the miles went faster.

View from an outcropping:

Is it any wonder I love this Trail?

There were actually quite a few thru-hikers (northbound having started in Georgia.) I needn't have worried about being alone (the reason I took Journey, so I wouldn't have to camp alone overnight.) Here are, left to right, Ronja, a Swiss Mountain Dog who thru-hiked with her owner Rhino from Georgia to Maine a couple years ago and is doing it a second time; Ronja's German owner, Rhino; Bad Idea (I love that Trail Name) petting Journey; Byron, who doesn't use a Trail Name. All of us, including Ray, ate lunch together beside a stream.

Ronja takes full advantage of the rest stop. She's an experienced hiker and knows the ropes.

I noticed that Journey, a gen-u-wyne mongrel pound-hound, looks almost identical to Ronja, a gen-u-wyne Swiss Mountain Dog. Several people I met asked if "Journey" is Journey's real name or her Trail Name.

During the night it poured rain a couple times. After my last rainy campout, I'd sealed my tent seams and sprayed it with Scotchgard Outdoor spray, and I stayed dry as a bone. Journey, my pack/gear, and I barely fit inside but we figured it out. Journey slept between my feet.

For my return trip, I redistributed the stuff in my pack, doing away with firmly-compressed cylinders of sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and groundcloth, just piling all loosely into the pack (except the pad, which I folded instead of rolling) and letting them vie for space until they had filled in all the voids. The tent went on the outside, since it was wet. Everything fit a lot better and my pack felt lighter and rode immeasurably better.

Here's just a pretty stretch of trail on the way home:

It rained a little, off and on. I tried something new this trip: an umbrella, instead of rain jacket. I loved it!

And back into Virginia, which meant 3 miles left to go.

I went a lot faster than on the way out, not that speed is an issue, it just shows how much more comfortable I was after repacking. On the other hand, it turned out to be an issue after all, because I'd been hearing distant thunder, and after another mile or so it was getting closer. The rain started just as I reached my car. By the time I had Journey and my pack in, the storm was in full force and I decided not to drive in it, and waited it out in the parking lot. Wow!! Serious driving rain, trees whipping back and forth, lightning striking all around -- I could see the strikes nearby. I was glad I wasn't still out on the Trail and thought about hikers I'd seen just recenly that I knew were getting clobbered.

Finally it let up and I drove out to the highway. Uh-oh:

And this is only one of them. They were everywhere. I was wise to wait it out, or I'd have been on this road when they came down.

Oh, no, traffic at a standstill:

One impatient driver trying to go around the tie-up:

Fire fighters clearing the mess:

Gee whillikers, I hope the hikers that got caught out there are OK.

Traffic inched along getting nowhere for about 20 minutes. Then a woman with an umbrella came towards the line of cars with a report: Trees and power lines down over the next mile, time estimate 2-3 hours to clear. Luckily I was near a side road and turned off. I didn't know where it went but guessed I could figure out the general direction and end up back out on the highway and/or back in Winchester.

A couple hundred yards in on the side road, I came upon this. Holy smoke. Can you see there's a friggin' TRUCK in there???

It was in an otherwise-deserted parking lot, and I pulled in and looked inside.... no one in there. Thank goodness:

Just ironically.... this is the facility in whose parking lot this occurred:

The local TV news comes out of Washington, D.C. Although they had no reports of storm damage in the Berryville, VA area, there was a confirmed tornado touchdown east of D.C. where *jeanne* lives. I called her but wasn't able to get an answer. I left voicemails on her home and cell phones. *jeanne*, are you OK???

I don't think it was a tornado that we had here, because the trees that were down were all lying the same direction, and there was no swath of destruction. I've seen tornado damage before; I think this was straight-line wind in a ferocious thunderstorm, maybe a microburst.

So I'm back, after a glorious backpacking trip followed by excitement (I don't want anyone go get hurt, and I feel really bad for the owner of the truck), but..... a good storm is one of the things I really like, right up there with a good hike.)

Things I learned on this trip:

  • It's better to wait out a nasty storm.

  • My stuff fits in my backpack more nicely when it's not all compressed into a bunch of hard, cylindrical lumps.

  • I use an amazing amount of water in camp.

  • It's hard to look out for a dog while hiking.... looking after oneself is quite enough.

  • Check more scrupulously for ticks: I pulled on off my scalp after a shower AND shampoo this evening... and I'd worn a hat the whole time hiking.

  • Although there are many AT hikers, a very small percent are women. I met one. She was section-hiking, started in Georgia 5 years ago; lives in San Diego, comes east once a year, picks up where she left off, and hikes another section. She seemed my age or maybe 5 years older.

  • I love an umbrella for hiking and camping in the rain.

  • I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. But we knew that already, didn't we?