Sunday, May 31, 2009


I'm guessing some of my readers know who David Horton is :-)

In case you don't, he's a well-known ultra-marathon runner who's written books about ultra-running.

This was on the AT section in Grayson Highlands National Park, VA.

He signed my hiking pole, too: David Horton "The Runner" 5/20
Very cool!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ellie Update

I talked to her today. She spent a long night in the pouring rain, luckely in a shelter. They're hiking 15-20 miles a day and doin fine. I've changed the map and will add some more pics soon.


A view from the top.

Ellie & Sally

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


May 5

But only some. It cleared up for a while in the morning for a beautiful 6 mile hike into Erwin, TN. I'm staying at Uncle Johnny's Hostel drying out. Uncle Johnny's buddy, CD gave me a penny - he said it's penny #97. of the 500+ hikers to use the hostel this year, he has given these to the hikers he believes are going to make it to Maine. He says he watches attitudes and I've "got it".
More hiking tomorrow. AND more rain. There are flood watches for the area. Oh, goody.


May 4

It rained for a while in the morning and then let up. I hiked slowly, savoring the smells, incredibly green greens, and flowers, flowers, flowers. I came to the Trail aware of 3 colors of trilliums: red, white, and painted. Well, I have seen every color but blue and orange. Yellow, pink, mauve, variegated, speckled, freckled. Awesome, thrilling. But then the rain started again, hard. BUT...Bird and I found ramps, gathered some, and sauteed them in olive oil for dinner. Yum!!


May 3

Sheesh. I mean, it's POURING. My group of hiking pals set up at a campsite rather than struggle on to a shelter that would probably be full. I got seriously cold helping to build a makeshift shelter. Hands white, heavy shivering. Had to get out of wet clothes and into sleeping bag with a hot water bottle.
The "shelter" was cool - sort of a teepee of sticks covered with leafy branches. Just enough to crouch under while cooking.
Had a great time hiking/talking with Bird, who's 24 - like being with a daughter or young friend. But not really like hiking with a THAT would be really great.


May 2

But better than yesterday's burning sun, post-rain humidity, and endless climb. Today a lot of the walking was along an old dirt road. But at one point, in cold rain, wind, and fog, I chose a designated Bad Weather Route over the Exposed Ridgetop Trail. I saw smiling, tail-wagging tadpoles in two little puddle ponds. So cute!
Sleeping inside Flint Mountain Shelter tonight, the ground is wet, as is my tent. Shelter is full, 4 girls and 4 guys, more tenting outside.
Miles down: 304.1
Miles to go: 1874.2

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ellie update

(Steve) Since May 1st she has hiked another 228 miles and is doing fine (499 miles so far). I'm sure she has sent Avery some more of her journal which she will post. She hiked into Virginia last week and spent the weekend in Damascus at an AT hikers get-together. Ellie is mailing me a camera card and when she does I will post some pictures. I talk to her daily, but with infrequent stops, and the mail system, her blog updates will be about 2 weeks behind.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


May 1

291.4 miles - 1886.9 to go.
Long, long, long, long climb today. Nearly 1400 ft elevation over 5 miles. Started out rainy but then sunny and sweaty-hot. When a hike-mate comes staggering and tripping into camp, flushed and glassy-eyed, mumbling "Where's water?" it's not a good sign. We all gave him some and he started looking better. I was whipped myself, felt exhausted, shaky and feverish, drank a lot of water and hit the sack at 8:00.
Little Laurel Shelter, water source a nearly dry spring.



A campsite, not a shelter, 5 miles out of Hot Springs, NC. lots of my friends tenting here. The water source is a stagnant pond with a big dead turtle floating in it. Boil before using!!
But...a crackling campfire, good friends, spring peepers, barred owls, whipporwills, and a distant train. It doesn't get much better than this.

Monday, May 11, 2009


(Steve) Avery added some of Ellie's journal. I spoke to her today (Monday) and she's fine. They hiked 18 miles today. Another supply pick-up tomorrow and back on the trail.
I added some pictures I received today and added them to the blog.


April 27

And in the early evening I was able to get signal to call him. Otherwise, the day is too long for anything but a list of events.
miles traveled: 12.7
total so far: 240.7
miles to go: 1.937.6

Sally left early, and I was alone. Happy, though. Spring got greener and greener as I descended out of Great Smoky Mtn. Natn'l Park, which is now behind me. Hiked 10 miles to Standing Bear Hostel. Went with the shuttle bus to get beer and ice cream. Got a few supplies to last till Hot Springs, NC (3 days)
Sally stayed at Standing Bear. I'm short on money and hiked out. staying at a small campsite with Matt and Young Scott. My tent is about 3 feet from the brook and I'll hear it all night. a barred owl is hooting, the boys built a wonderful campfire.


Cosby Knob shelter & My spot inside.
April 26

Boy, is this beautiful. Green, green. White trillium blooming on the hill below; wild blackberry canes leafing out.
Hiking-wise, the day was sort of routine, if that's possible. Some up, some down, long but not extreme. Mountains, trees, flowers.
A spruce or fir tree had seeded itself in a hole in an oak tree and had grown to about 3 feet high.
In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, tent camping is not permitted unless the shelter is full, and then you must tent within the shelter-yard perimeter. This means your daily mileage is determined by how many shelters you're willing to pass before stopping. They're typically 7-12 miles apart, so hikers have to keep moving right along. This policy is partyl to minimize bear activity and offer protection to hikers, and partly to minimize environmental impact, restricting heavy use to specified areas.
Day/overnight hikers and section hikers must have reservations to use the shelters. three spots are reserved for the thru-hikers. Whether more than three thru-hikers can sleep in the shelter depends on how many campers with reservations there are. If the shelter is full and a "transient" hiker with a reservation shows up, a thru-hiker has to move out and set up a tent, no matter what the hour or weather.
Hasn't happened to me or any of my new friends yet, though.


April 25

And how beautiful it has been. Warm, sunny. filled with birdsong and wildflowers. Gorgeous Smoky Mountain views for miles and miles. It looks like the ocean- but the waves are mountains. all around, an endless sea of mountains.
I met an 86 year old man, "Cimarron" hiking out after injuring his knee. He was attempting a thru-hike and got about 215 miles.
Hiked partly with friends and partly alone. Both were good. Calamity Kate liked my idea for my future photography business: Name it "My Father's World" and the categories "Rocks and Trees" "Skies and Seas" "The Morning Light" "The Lily White", all phrases from the hymn.
"Bird" a wildlife management grad, showed me how to distinguish firs from spruces from hemlocks.
And when I was alone, I gazed at the trees, alive and dead, and the flowers and rocks and the path and said "Lord, this is magnificent. It's no wonder you wanted me to see this.
Hokey as it sounds, I sang "The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music". And I meant every word.

Mild thunderstorms rolled in just after I reached the shelter: Peck's Corner Shelter. Sally AKA "Arriba" is here, and Calamity Kate and her partner Jen AKA "Skipper" , N-Da-Wind, Bird, Young Scott, Sailor J, Scarecrow, Steve (a section hiker), Kismet, others whose names I don't know. The shelter is full. Three tents outside, and Scarecrow's hammock. Somebody started it with "Goodnight, Yard Sale..." I answered "Goodnight, Jim-Bob" and others joined in, "Goodnight, John-boy, goodnight Mary Ellen," And then we all started humming The waltons' theme music. Life is good.

miles done: 215.1
miles to go: 1,963.2
marathons done: 8.1
marathons to go: 75.2


April 22-24

Three people now on the Trail have called to my attention that I talk all the time. I have always known I talk a lot. I just plain think out loud.
I have never been told it's annoying. I've never been told others can't get a word in.
Now I've been told. so I'm learning to keep quiet unless I have something to say. Fifty-seven years old and I never knew this. Looking back I can see clues I should have picked up on but I guess I was talking to fast to notice them.
So now I know. Every thought I have clutters up the space around me like a non-categorized yard sale.
Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord, keep the door of my lips.


April 21

miles today: 11
miles so far: 175
miles to go: 2003.3

Tomorrow....tomorrow we get a new FIRST digit.

Yesterday Sally and I took a zero day - guess I told you that. I didn't sleep well in the motel. got up around midnight and took a chill pill even though I wasn't anxious. Still woke up a lot. Up for the day around 6:30. so not much sleep and none of it good.
Into the Smoky Mtns. finally! It's so beautiful. cold, though. 20's tonight. There were snow flurries today. I watched snowflakes fall and melt on the trillium and trout lilies.
I am so tired today. It's always hard the day after a resupply....full/heavy food bag. I got some stuff out of the "hiker box" at the motel, too...nice pair of pink Crocs. Anyway, today my pack was back up to 30#. But my own body weight is down SEVEN as of this morning. I ate more today.
I am very tired. I'm going to bed.
We're in a luxurious shelter, old stone building with a fireplace. Big tarp across the open side of the shelter. Double decker sleep space sleeps 12. It's divided up with 1/2" x 2" slats so you don't migrate into another person's space or try to squeeze in extra people.
Some day I'll catch up on all the stories. Not tonight.
Sleeping at Mollie's Ridge Shelter. It has an indoor fireplace, and Firebug built a fire. It looks cozy and takes the chill off somewhat.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Still plugging along

(Steve) Ellie just left Erwin, TN and is doing great. Sally is two days behind nursing a sore toe. She's hiking with a group of through hikers who meet each night and plan the next days hike, mileage and where they will meet the next evening. They all hike their own pace, but have the same destination. Sounds like a good plan. All Katadin bound.

Friday, May 01, 2009

(Steve) Picture taken recently at the GA/NC boarder.
I think she looks good.
BTW, I've added a few pictures to some older posts.