Friday, July 06, 2012


We're in New Hampshire now. We've done mountain hiking, kayaking, and I've done a lot of biking and running. There's a bike ride coming up next Saturday, the Prouty Ride, that I'd love to do but we'll have moved on. There are distance options of 20, 50, 100, and 200 miles. It's right outside our door. I can ride out the driveway and be on the course. It's killing me not to be here for it. I would have wanted the 50, and planned all week that since we're not going to be here, I'd go out today and ride the 50-mile course.

Steve & I were watching the 4th of July parade Wednesday when 2 cyclists rode up on road bikes, stopping right in front of where we were to watch the parade also. They were wearing jerseys from previous years of the Prouty. I thought about asking these folks if there might be going to pre-ride the course on Friday, but then thought, no, they're old, 70's probably, if they're riding it at all this year they're no doubt only doing the 20.

Today I went out and started the 50-mile route. After about 5 miles I saw 2 cyclists way up ahead, and within 5 minutes I'd caught them. It was the older couple from the parade. They were doing "part of" the course today, about 12 miles. I asked them if they were riding next weekend, and..... he's doing the century, she's doing the 50. Surprise, Ellie! Don't judge a book by its cover. I rode with them and talked with them. He's 70 and she looks older but is probably in her late 60's, I'm guessing. They offered me a rest stop at their home and gave me a glass of ice water.

As we rode together, she mentioned that she's a little apprehensive about doing 50 miles since she's just getting back to biking. Oh, have you had an injury? Slight chuckle, yes.... less than a year ago she wrecked her bike during a race, in Sweden for petesake, and broke 6 ribs and punctured a lung. (They said the Swedish Emergency Medical Services and hospital were fantastic.) Then when she recovered from that, they discovered she had a very rare, very aggressive skin cancer, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, which has a higher mortality rate than even melanoma. She had surgery and radiation treatments. So, she's now getting back to biking less than a year after the wreck and the cancer, surgery, and radiation. She got behind on the climbs today but said although she was slow and it was hard, she felt well, which is a new improvement. Her husband was ecstatic. She's definitely planning on the 50-miler next week.

Oh, she started biking  years ago because she was in renal failure and thought it would better her chances if she became more fit overall. She got her husband to bike with her and they've both been at it ever since. This is his 20th consecutive year of riding the Prouty Century. She's been told by both her oncologists the Swedish trauma specialists that her overall fitness is to thank for her quick recovery, especially at her age.

I want to be just like her. I want to be just like them. I want to ride a century when I'm 70, and if I ever break ribs and puncture a lung in a bike wreck and then fight a potentially fatal disease, I want to be back on my bike riding 50 miles in less than a year.

The odd thing is, as we shared experiences,  that she said she wants to be just like me. Because of the things I do... biking, triathlons, hiking the AT. Even though I've never had to recover from anything worse than tendonitis and sprains. She called me a "phenomenal athlete."

I'm humbled. I told her about Holly continuing to train for a marathon while undergoing chemotherapy for melanoma, and then founding the Cancer to 5K program.

I'm not going to complain about the small stuff anymore.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Calling Savannah!

I think either my email or yours is not working! I don't think you're getting my emails, or else I'm not getting yours. You could call Judy Shoemake, I'm sure your dad has their number, and give her your new phone number so she can pass it on to me (obviously, I don't want to put my phone # on my public blog!) I do want to get in touch!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


The fact is.... I excitedly tell just about anyone who will listen about SavageMan. Well, not just any person on the street, but while I was hiking I told several hikers about it and that I was training for it during my "zero" days. The last night I was on the Trail, when I had been disillusioned and unhappy with it for about a hundred and fifty miles, I told a young man I was thinking of ending my hike. In addition to missing my husband, I wasn't going to make it to Maine in time to be home for SavageMan, and I really, really wanted to do SavageMan.

He was from Germany, here on a vacation visa to thru-hike the AT, and here I was saying I wanted to stop because of a triathlon. "Wow," he said. "That must be some triathlon. My dad does Ironmans. I'll have to tell him about this one."

What if I had been talking to him about Jesus?

I told hikers about SavageMan. I didn't tell any about Jesus. In the Berkshires of Massachusetts, I became a regular at the bike shop where I bought the tire after my Greylock-descent blowout. Got a tune-up and some repairs there. I told the owner about SavageMan on the day I bought the tire. Wrote down the URL for him to look it up himself and hopefully tell others. When I piked up my bike after the tune-up I told two separate customers. I was posting on the FB page of the Berkshire Bicycling Association, looking for ride companions and good hilly routes, and told them I was training for SavageMan. I talked it up with the guy I did the "double Greylock" with. (Actually, he told me about a great fundraising ride that he does, as well. He also mentioned his church. I didn't.)

It's like I am all about SavageMan and hope I can turn others on so they will want to see for themselves.

What if I demonstrated that kind of excitement about Jesus? What if I actually felt it?

No one tries to shut me up when I talk about SavageMan. They ask questions. They whistle in amazement when I tell them about the climbs, especially the 31% pitch of the Westernport Wall and how, if you make it up the hill without falling or putting a foot down, you get a brick laid in the road with your name engraved on it.

How about having your name written in the Book of Life?

If you talk about a triathlon, people might not want to do one themselves, but they are curious about what you are saying. They ask if you swim and bike, or what, and how far. They want to know how it works. Some want to know if it's to raise money for something (it is...melanoma. I don't raise money, but maybe someone I preach to will.)  People who already understand triathlon, who are bikers or runners or triathletes, want to know about the race course and course support and the organization.

But if you start talking about the Lord, people don't want to hear it. They write you off as a nut. They say, "Have a nice day."

But there may be the one that does want to hear.

Help me, Lord.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I guess I left everyone dangling after I stopped hiking.

First things first: I have not once wished I were still out there. I did comment to Steve that I miss sleeping outdoors right in the midst of the night sounds, but other than that, I have not for a second regretted my decision to stop being alone and spend the summer with him.

Ed back home (church pastor) said from the pulpit that he had a strong feeling that someone was going to come to know the Lord as a result of my hike. And maybe they already did. And if not, then maybe someone I meet biking or running or camping or in the grocery store or a parking lot or, who knows.

We moved from the campground in PA up to one in the Berkshire Mts. of Massachusetts. We drove around there a lot, and up into Vermont, just to see, and went down to Tanglewood in Lenox, MA, where, back in 1940, my mother, then 19, was a cellist in the summer orchestra under student conductor Leonard Bernstein. She has a "snapshot" of him which she took herself, just a summer photo of a classmate, young guy sitting with his back against a large tree trunk, studying a score of orchestra music spread out on the grass before him, maybe 25 or so years old. Priceless. Leonard Bernstein as a music student!!! Found a picture on the wall of all the musicians there in 1940, huge wide group picture, and found a girl who was probably my mother, as well as a young man who was no doubt Bernstein.

One day I was out running, and took a dirt road I hadn't before, just because it was shady and marked "Dead End" and I wanted to see where it went (pretty much nowhere.) Couple miles later, here comes a car, pretty much with the same agenda. Lady driver, about the age of one or another of my children. She mentioned God. We talked. Something I'm concerned about came up. She prayed. Right there, out loud. And since then, I've been praying more. She said she'd never taken that road either and had no reason to again. Chance meeting? Call it that if you want.

So in the Berkshires I ran some and biked a lot. Up and down Mt. Greylock, the highest mountain in MA. Our campground was almost at the foot of the south route up. I went up that (1.5 hours for 9 mile ride), and down the north road (20 minutes, about 7.5 miles) then across MA Rte. 2 and down Rte. 7 and home, about 38 miles. Ran over something and had a blowout on the way down at 35mph. Yikes!!! Steered over to the side, braked and stopped without wiping out. The guy at the bike shop where I bought a new tire said I did well to have handled that at that speed. I was pleased.

Another day I went up the south side again, down the south side, then turned around and went back up the north side and back down the south side home. Had a buddy that day, a guy from the Berkshire Cycling Association FB page.  Our abilities were well-matched and we had a great time. Rode through a thunderstorm on the way back down.....  freezing cold!!! Took a long hot shower followed by warm clothes and wool socks to restore the ci

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


4 miles

I woke up early, 5am, to the sound of rain absolutely hammering on the tarp over my hammock. I was nice and dry but..... oh, man, I do not want to hike in this rain. It's wet and it's going to be slippery and it's cold. I lay dozing for about an hour until the rain eased up a little, then put up my umbrella and went to get my food out of the bear box. All the NJ shelters have bear boxes. Incredibly, NJ has the highest bear population of any of the 14 states on the trail, at one per square mile.

Euro and the two who had come in late were still asleep. I made coffee and mixed a protein shake and ate a breakfast bar. I heard a sigh that told me one of the newcomers was a girl. Euro woke up and told me he'd stayed with them the night before in Delaware Water Gap, so they had also hiked 25 miles yesterday. More power to 'em, these are young kids. I won't be doing any 25-mile days. But a couple nights ago I did some math and realized I'd need to pull steady 18-milers to get to Maine. It's not going to happen.

Euro packed up and moved north. I would be hiking alone again. I could never keep up with him anyway. It was raining again. I wondered if Knitting Bull could give me a bad-weather bail today. If not..... I'd stay in the shelter and wait it out. I did not have what it took to hike alone all day in pouring rain. It's one thing with friends, and I did a lot of it between Georgia and Maryland. But I don't want to be alone now.

I had phone signal and Knitting Bull said she'd be happy to come get me.  I figured the 4 miles to PA 206 would take me a little more than 2 hours. It was raining less, but the trees were dripping so much it might as well have been pouring. I was cold. I was wearing my tights, but they were wet; my rain jacket keeps me dry but isn't very warm. I hiked on covered with goose bumps. I thought about this trip and my feelings. Hiking alone.... no fun. Heat wave, little water..... no fun. Cold rain.... no fun. I have not been really happy since the first week. I have been struggling, physically and mentally. It's hard to admit I'm not into it, but I feel I really don't want to be here.

When I had signal again I called Steve and told him I'm ready to stop. My voice broke. I was crying. I don't want to stop but I don't want to keep going. I'm ready to stop. As soon as I really decided, I felt better, as if maybe this isn't really so bad after all, but I realized it was a mood boost from having decided on something that would make me happier.... being with my husband.

The trail down to the gap to the road was treacherous, small round stones that rolled and could land you on your backside, but I didn't land on mine. I've gotten a lot more sure-footed, that's one thing Pennsylvania did for me. I reached the gap and the road, and there was Knitting Bull. She had a fleece jacket for me, and dry wool socks, and fleece-lined slippers, and hot coffee. What a good friend.... could I have met her only 2 days ago?  I was shocked to find she'd actually driven over 50 miles to get me. I had no idea it was that far.

At her house, I put my wet clothes in the dryer and she and Tony fed me a lunch that was more like Thanksgiving dinner: rotisserie chicken and steamed beans and carrots. I probably ate half the chicken. Steve came and we visited some more. Knitting Bull found a rainproof pack cover she doesn't use that fit my pack and asked me to take it. Steve and I got into the truck and drove back to his campground. And I felt as if I could go to bed for the night at 2pm.

June 3, More New Jersey

15 miles
Sun --> clouds --> rain

While I was eating at my picnic table last night, a couple came past and set up 2 large tents at the site past mine. After I went to bed, in came half a dozen teenagers: the Drum and Bugle Corps, who had been practicing all day and luckily were ready for bed themselves. They talked and laughed some but overall were nice and quiet. The moon was full; I could see it between my tarp and hammock. I guess it would be full; I started my hike exactly 4 weeks ago. None of it is what I expected. It doesn't begin to resemble the block party moving north from Georgia 3 years ago. The celebration, the camaraderie, the "we're all in this together" is missing; it's still somewhere in Virginia and I am out here largely on my own.

But... Knitting Bull met me at the lodge, eager to do a short hike. We were to meet her husband at a crossing 3 miles along, then she'd ride with him to the next crossing, where they'd hike in to meet me and hike back out to their car. Fun!! People! Pals!

Knitting Bull and I hiked well together. She actually pushed me to go a little faster, and I realized I've been going too slowly and carefully like some old woman. I can do better than that! Very soon we met her husband and they went on in their car and I started the next 4 miles. I was moving much faster than I have until now and made the 4 miles in under 2 hours, even though I stopped to take pictures and play with a dog.


Wild Iris

They weren't at the crossing yet. I waited. Was this the right road? Yes, it had to be. Then, there they came.... on foot. Looking whupped. Turns out, the road was closed from a washout and they'd road-hiked uphill for 2 miles to reach me. They were ready for a rest, so we sat on some rocks and ate lunch. Knitting Bull had brought me a bottle of cold tea and it was glorious. Delicious! I drank it in about 4 swallows. I think I don't drink enough while hiking. I take half a dozen swallows every half hour to stay more or less hydrated without having to pee all the time. The tea made me feel like one of those neglected dogs on Animal Planet when someone finally gives them water. I need to drink more.

The stone-protector rubber toes on my shoes are coming unglued. Knitting Bull and I had been talking earlier about using Shoe Goo or silicone caulk to seal them back on. So we're eating lunch on the rocks, and I look down, and there is something someone dropped, a tube of rubber/plastic/vinyl cement. Sitting right there. This is what I call true Trail Magic. It's happened before. One other time, in Tennessee, I needed a tent guyline. I looked down and found one, right there. Amazing.
Knitting Bull and Tony (sorry it's blurred.... my camera does that sometimes, don't know what's wrong with it)

Knitting Bull and me

I was about halfway to the shelter I was aiming for, 7+ miles down, 7+ to go. There was a climb that made me wonder if I'd slid back to Pennsylvania, but it was up, and it was short, and it was actually sort of fun. I heard thunder. Knitting Bull had told me to call her if the weather got bad, and she'd come get me. It started to rain. I put up my umbrella. The rain stopped but the trail was wet, my shoes were wet, the brush against my legs was wet. So what's new?

A turn down a dirt road brought me to the Brant Road Shelter. The road went past the shelter. I didn't know where it went, but it seemed this shelter was lonely and isolated but at the same time easily accessible from off the Trail. There were  no other hikers there. I did not like this. I felt vulnerable, for the first time since I've started. I didn't want to stay in this shelter. Anyone could come in looking for who-knows-what. I looked around for a hammock site out of view from the road and the shelter. It took a long time to find one that was suitable. I finally got it rigged and went back to the shelter to eat, and found.... I could see my hammock from the shelter. Darn. Well, it was raining again; maybe predators don't like to come out in the rain.

I heard a voice and jumped out of my skin. A young fellow -- a hiker, not an outsider. He'd hiked 25 miles from Delaware Water Gap (which took me 2 days.) He's from Germany. He's here just to hike the Appalachian Trail. His trail name is Euro. We talked for quite a while. He's nice.

After I went up to my hammock, I heard voices and laughter and greetings. More hikers had come in. I was not alone anymore.


9.3 miles -- 202 total!
Sunny, partly cloudy; cool & breezy

Back to Delaware Water Gap with my lighter pack. In fact, it was so much lighter that after a couple hundred yards I took it off and checked to be sure I'd brought my food. It felt that different.

While I was "home" I got an email from a friend I hadn't met yet, "Knitting Bull," who lives near DWG and offered to day-hike with me and do anything she could to help me. I'm planning 9 days without Steve this trip, so I need a food drop. She agreed gladly, so she met us at DWG and I gave her a bag of 5 days' worth of food, to bring me at a designated road crossing on Wednesday (today is Saturday.) This is great. THANK YOU, KNITTING BULL!!

The hike out of the Gap was long but not nearly as steep as hikes out of gaps in PA. The vicious rocks disappeared almost immediately. A few stones but mostly easy walking, even uphill, even downhill! Astonishing. I met up with a man about my age who was avoiding cleaning his garage by going out for a dayhike. It is always so good to hike with someone, to have someone to talk to, someone to share the time. I keep thinking how different this hike is from my GA-MD trek 3 years ago, at the peak of thru-hiker season, with throngs of hiking partners and easy-to-find friends. I am alone so much now. Most thru-hikers are still in Virginia, and those who have come this far quickly pass me; that's how they got this far already.

We hiked together to Sunfish Pond, a landmark I'd been looking forward to reaching. We ate lunch sitting on rocks; I brushed off yet another tick. A man and boy were fishing on another rock. It was quiet and peaceful.

My companion headed back and I continued north. I found blueberries! Lots of them! Bushes full of them! I spent about 5 minutes picking and eating. Delicious! Bushes full of berries are something to look forward to.

My feet feel better. I got cheap knee-hi nylons to wear as sock liners, and they feel good. Happy feet.

I met a young couple southbound with a lot of gear. They were headed out just overnight, "My first overnight!" she exclaimed excitedly. "That's great!" I said. "Where are you headed?" They answered, "The shelter." Hmmm.... what shelter? I was a good 6 miles from the Gap and there was no shelter. "Kirkridge," they said. Gadzooks. That's 14 miles away. It's 1:30p.m. They say they started an hour ago. So they've probably come a couple miles. There's no way in the world they're going to get to the Kirkridge Shelter by tonight. The last 7 miles are straight uphill out of Delaware Water Gap. They've got an awakening coming. But I encouraged them, said to look for my entry in the shelter register there, where I said I was leaving to reassess, but guess what, hikers, I'm back! We all went on our ways and I hope they have the sense to spend the night in the Gap rather than try to reach the shelter.

As for my own camping place, I was headed for the Mohican Outdoor Center, which has cabins and tentsites, free to thru-hikers, which I still consider myself. When I got there, the young man at the desk asked if I'm a member. Um.... I'm a member of ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy.) He asked, "Are you a member of AMC?" Egads, the Appalachian Money, er Mountain Club! This is their joint? I didn't know that! They charge an arm and a leg for huts up in the White Mountains of NH, where rich vacationers in clean new outdoorsy clothes can dayhike from hut to hut and enjoy a rustic lodge with a wooden floor and long wooden tables and eat big meals prepared by the hut "croo" (crew) and then retire to wooden bunks with mattresses and drift to sleep happily reminiscing about their lovely wilderness experience. Thru-hikers may stay if they work, although there are usually only places for two or three. They get to eat after the paying dayhikers are finished, and they do not get bunks, they sleep on the floor or the tables.

Anyway, this was an AMC joint, and they did me the favor of exacting only the "members' " price, $9 rather than $11, when I had thought it would be free. I was miffed. They had to "see if they had a site," many were reserved. They found one. Then another man asked me, since I'd mentioned hanging a hammock, to please hang it within the confines of my own campsite, not on just any trees in the area. Excuse me, sir, I've hiked a few miles and I know the ropes. Sheesh.

But, all in all.... it was a nice campsite. I had my own picnic table and my own "bear box," a metal box with a trick latch that bears can't open. There was a nice, clean, airy privy that didn't even smell, and if I wanted a flush toilet and running water, I only had to walk to the lodge (where paying customers were dining politely after their appetite-whetting day in the great outdoors.) I sat in a cushioned chair in front of a fireplace (not burning) and read and charged my phone.  Then I went back to my site, got my sleeping bag out of my hammock, and wrapped it around me while I read at the picnic table. It was quite chilly. When I went to bed I was wearing my hiking shirt and skirt, tights, socks, pullover sweater, and wool balaclava (one-piece head and neck wear.) I played hymns on my Irish whistle. Sleep came easily.

Friday, June 01, 2012


Granddaughter Abbie, 9, with her bronze Special Olympics medal today after the 100m racewalk. Look at that sweat!


I never imagined a fungus this beautiful. I'm going to get as big a print of it as I can. Please don't anyone copy or forward this without asking me first!

The "Knife Edge." White blaze just to right of center on top edge of a rock. This rock-crossing really scared me.   

Moth on White Blaze


I've been with Steve the last few days, taking a rest and doing a little biking and running. I'm going to be doing more of that, even if it means doing less hiking, even if it means..... I don't get to Katahdin.

The reasons are:
  • I really, really want to do the SavageMan Triathlon (link for info) back home in mid-September. So, I need to make sure I can bike and run the distances (swimming, well, I'll just sort of relax through that part.) There's never been a 60-yr-old female competing before. I've done this race before but not at age 60. Even so, I still hold the course record as the oldest female ever. 
  • I'm losing weight too fast. I'm down 10 pounds after 200 miles. Ten pounds every 200 miles would be.... 50 pounds???? I'll settle for 25-30. New Jersey and New York are not as hard as PA, but NH and ME are rough. I need to back off on the hiking in order to be able to continue to hike.
  • I miss my husband a lot.
Taking more days off the Trail for biking and running will keep me more rested, more fit, and better nourished. It will complicate the logistics for Steve and me.... he can't keep running me back and forth to the Trail when one or the other of us gets farther away. I may have to skip parts, and section-hike.

I was extremely discouraged the last few days I hiked. My pack was too heavy, there wasn't enough water, I felt sick, I was lonesome, I wanted my husband. Now that I've been with him a few days, rested up and rehydrated and eaten more, and gone biking and running, I feel I can go out there and hike again. I weeded out some things from my pack:
  • rain pants (used once, don't like)
  •  headnet for bugs (used once, don't like)
  •  surplus ropes and straps (useless to carry things that "might come in handy")
  •  switched to lighter rope and less of it for hanging my food bag
  •  carrying less writing paper
  •  switched from individual-serving Spam (4oz. each) to beef jerky for lunches 
 It all added up to several pounds. My base weight (everything except food and water) is now 17 pounds. Add 5 days of food and we're up to 23; a liter of water at a time = 25. (I had carried 3-4 liters on those hot, scarce-water days.)

Out again tomorrow!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


OK, taking a vote here.

Is my blog readable? Too wordy? Too detailed? Would you like it better if it weren't so descriptive?

I said I wasn't going to write so much, and I don't.... in my daily notes. But once I start putting it here, every thought I have just runs out my fingertips. If I don't put the thought down, I'm afraid it will be gone forever.

Are my posts so long as to be cumbersome to read? I know one person who will say yes, but he is a man of few words. :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


You can't see it, but the mile marker says "Mile 0" -- the State Line!!!

Last night, after an EIGHTEEN-mile day, I crossed the state line out of Pennsyl-freaking-vania into New Jersey! I don't think the rocks magically disappear at the state line, but they should at least abate. They say New Jersey is really very pleasant.

For two days I had been dreading the climb over Wolf Rocks. It was part of why I stayed in Wind Gap, not wanting to tackle the rocks at the end of a long hot exhausting day with not enough water. I'd been told it was treacherous, especially if they were wet. They were coming up 8 miles out and I was heading for the next shelter, another mile farther, total of only 9. I figured that with the rocks and the heat, it would take me 6 hours to get to the rocks and one more to the shelter. Seven hours was enough to shoot for, the way I'd been feeling.

I bought another quart of Gatorade and stuck it in an outside pocket before leaving town, and filled my water reservoir with 3 liters. So I was carrying 8 pounds of fluids for myself, and I'd bought another gallon jug to leave for other hikers (Trail Magic), who might be desperate in the afternoon when they got to the road crossing. I was pretty much staggering under it, even after leaving off the extra jug at the crossing. There was a mile-long uphill walk out of town and then a steep climb to start off, carrying 8 extra pounds, probably about 35 pounds total.

I started something new: every hour, I took off my pack and rested 5 minutes. I couldn't believe how much this helped. A couple times I even got out my whistle and played a couple tunes. I'd feel tired and sick and start to get an anxiety attack, but when I played "Amazing Grace" I'd feel better. "Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." The day was quite warm but not as hot as yesterday, with a nice breeze on the hilltops.

A little more than 3 hours in, I came to some daunting rocks. What are these? No one told me about these!! I gotta do these before Wolf Rocks??? I need to save my energy! These weren't terrible, just had to be careful and keep strategizing where to step next. I slipped once but only got a sore butt. I started wondering... is it possible these are the Wolf Rocks? Naw, I've got another 2 hours before I hit them. Could it be? Naw. Is it possible? Naw. Wolf Rocks are hard. When I got down off the descent, I looked at my guide. Well, if I come to a road, Fox Gap, within the next hour, I'll know that was Wolf Rocks, but I don't think it was. I don't dare hope. I don't want to get disappointed.

A Southbounder came along and I asked him: "Those rocks I just came over.... do you know if that was Wolf Rocks?" "Sure was," he said. "They're right ahead for me!" Are you serious? That was it? Two hours early? These rest breaks, the Gatorade, and plenty of water do wonders! I assured him the Rocks were actually quite doable, and we both went on our ways.

 I was at the shelter after only 5 hours. I was 8 miles from where I was supposed to meet Steve tomorrow in Delaware Water Gap. I was not quitting at 1p.m. with only 8 miles to go, mostly downhill, to get out of Rocksylvania. I called Steve to meet me in DWG at 6:30.

My feet were hurting and I was tired but the last 3 miles were made more pleasant with a companion. I met up with this hiker, Phil, who, coincidentally, had been given a ride from Wind Gap back to the Trail by Steve when he bought my water. So Phil and I hiked together talking about all kinds of things into DWG. He helped get my mind off my burning, blistering feet.
Phil at a creek

Me crossing the creek

The farthest I've walked before this (on this hike, anyway) is 15 miles. I kept telling myself, I've run 24 marathons and done 2 Ironman's, surely I can hike 18 miles.

We crossed the Delaware River on a freeway bridge with a pedestrian walkway. Semi trucks whizzed past, making the bridge bounce and drowning our words to each other. It was pretty hair-raising and about half a

mile long. 

Delaware River

But we got to the other side and we were in New Jersey!!!! Pennsylvania is over!!! I drained the last of my gallon of fluids just as we reached the end of the bridge. Been rationing for a couple hours again and was feeling pretty dry.

The sky to the west was black. I got a text message from my friend back home that the weather map showed a solid line of red bearing down on the area and that I'd better hunker down. Steve got there just before the rain started pelting. He's got this way of timing things just right.

Today I rested. My feet are blistered, my butt is sore from the fall on the rocks, I pulled yet another tick off myself (total of 3 that were attached, plus several that weren't) and Pennsylvania in general beat me up. On the way to Steve's campground in the truck last night, I kept getting cramps and shooting pains in my feet, ankles and legs. I was shivering. I was hungry but also felt sick. I was a mess. I took Anaprox DS (prescription strength Aleve) and it didn't make a dent. I took a narcotic pain reliever my doc had given me just in case, and it worked. The pain stopped and I slept 10 hours.

I have reached New Jersey!!! I'm going to recuperate for a few days and do some bike riding. It will feel so fast and free, and no 30# backpack. Yum.


Back up to May 27.

Steve dropped me off where he'd picked me up, and gave a ride to a hiker who needed to go to town -- "Chucky the Fish." Maybe I'll meet up with him and find out how he came by that trail name.

My hike started with a long, rocky climb, true bouldering. At least I was going up, not down. Up is much easier. That first mile took an hour.

Easy walking over deforested ridges after that (barren from zinc smelting, under restoration.) But I started feeling sick. I took a Pepcid which didn't help at all. All morning I kept up with my water but couldn't eat, except for the occasional ripe blueberry (already?)
Ripening  rarely and randomly, one at a time
Pretty, but "tick city"

 Then I started running low on water with 12 miles to go, and got dehydrated trying to ration it. I was looking for pools of water from last night's rain, but, nothing. I can filter water out of a puddle, if needed, with my Platypus Gravity Works filter. I prayed for water. It started raining. So, am I supposed to lick it off the leaves, or what? I actually did lick some off my umbrella.

No water here....

I was leapfrogging with a fellow named John. We came to the bottom of a descent and yay, there was a good-sized mud puddle! I can use that! I got out my filtering stuff and John walked on across the road, then yelled back, "Someone left water over here, in jugs!" Hallelujah!! Trail Magic! I ran for the jugs singing the Doxology.


Between feeling sick, having gotten behind on hydrating, the long climb at the outset, a shorter but no less taxing one after the water jugs, and a horrendously hot day, I was done in by 10 miles. There were 6 left to the next shelter but there was no way. I stopped at a sign directing to a spring, and there was John sitting on a log in a nice campsite. "You don't want to go down to the spring," he said. "It took me 45 minutes to go down and back." OK.... guess I'll keep rationing. Then John's friend Clark came along. Neither of the guys were sure they were staying, but Clark needed to top off his water, and offered me what he had left before he went to refill. More Trail Magic! It gave me plenty for the rest of the afternoon and the next morning.


The more I sat, the less I wanted to hike on. I found a place to hang my hammock and called it a day. John said, "Good call. You don't look good. That's why I didn't think you should go down to the spring." I made some chicken-rice soup and sipped it. It was actually good and made me feel better.

John and Clark both set up tents, just about in time to get out of a thunderstorm. I was high and dry in my hammock with its rainfly (a light tarp pitched over it.) It rained on and off during the night. I stayed dry but my gear was all damp.


Morning sun on the fire ring in our campsite -- John, you'll remember when I took this one. Clark was still in tent behind leaves on right.

May 28
Another scorcher, hotter than yesterday. But I woke up feeling shaky but better and ate breakfast. I'd used most of the water Clark had given me but knew there was a spring a couple miles farther on. When I got there, John was waiting for me and we debated whether to go to the spring, which was supposed to be 0.3 miles down the mountainside, but someone had written on the sign, "0.6mi downhill." I decided to be the brave one today. Well. I should have taken my hiking poles down there. Rock scrambles. Scrapes. Bruises. A good spring, though, gushing. Climbed back up with water for myself and John. 45-minute round trip.

It was really hot and I drank a lot of water. The next source was at the next shelter, 4 miles. I was low again when I got there.  John was there, along with Matt, a Ridge Runner, an employee of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who just hikes from point to point and back again all the time checking trail conditions, shelters, picking up trash, talking with hikers, etc. A patrol person. The next chance for water was the next shelter, 14 miles. Gadzooks. I could get water here but I couldn't carry enough to last 14 miles. I called Steve. Turned out he was about 5 miles away, had hiked in from the road looking for me, not found me, figured I must be past there, and was ready to go home after several hours of hiking in the heat. I told him I was low on water but it would take me probably 3 hours to get to him. Of course he couldn't wait that long in the truck. He left me a gallon of water hidden behind a tree at the road. I was so grateful for that but really disappointed to miss him!! I drank about half of it when I got there. I'd gotten 2 liters at the shelter but had already gone through most of it. I was feeling sick again.

Then my phone blinked down to its own last drop of juice. Steve texted me let him know when I'd be at Delaware Water Gap (NJ at last!!) but I couldn't if I had no phone. So I walked into the little town of Wind Gap, about a mile from the Trail, looking for a place to charge my phone, and probably spend the night, since by the time I got my phone charged it would be too late to keep hiking.

Amazing things happen on the Trail. The right thing or person comes along at just the right time. If it's something you need, like water or a tent stake or a piece of rope or whatever, it's called Trail Magic. If it's a person, that's a Trail Angel. Steve is a Trail Angel who left me Trail Magic with the water! So, as I was walking into town, a man on a bike stopped and asked if I needed a place to spend the night. I told him about my phone. He told me about a bar, "The Beer Stein," where I could charge my phone and camp in the grassy, fenced backyard for no fee. Talk about running into the right person!!

So I did that. I plugged in my phone, sat at the bar and ordered a Sprite and fries, which I was able to nibble but my stomach was still off. I put a horrendous amount of salt on them but couldn't even taste it, a sign I'm low on sodium. I had sweated so much. My heart rate had soared into the 140's on the last climb and was still in the 120's. I was overheated and overtired. Another only-10-miles day. Eleven, counting the trip to the spring. Well, 12, counting the walk into town. I felt sick and weak. But I talked to some great people at the bar. A woman about my age asked how far I was hiking, and when I said "to Maine," she said, "Are you kidding? Why don't you just go out to the street and stand in the traffic? That would be quicker!" She and the others had a lot of questions. It was 6:30pm and 87* outside but in the air conditioning I was getting chilled, and I still felt shivery and sick. I figured out how to hang my hammock kitty-corner from the chain-link fence. I should send a picture to the hammock company.

I got Gatorade at the carry-out across the street and downed a quart in nothing flat. Felt better then and ate the rest of my fries. The night was warm, noisy because of the street, but comfortable, no storms.


Sunday, May 27, 2012


Yesterday I had the day off with Steve. I restocked, restored, got in a bike ride and run (I'm not losing the fantasy of doing SavageMan in September), and tried to catch up. But I can't catch up on my journal. I can't both hike and write about it.... so I'll hike and mostly take pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words, anyway.

Thursday, May 24 -- Steve surprised me by hiking in to a shelter where I stopped to get water. How did he know?? How did he do that?? It still amazes me.

Friday, May 25 -- I added 2 more categories of rocks. Skull-fracture rocks, and get-freaking-killed rocks. Honestly, I was frightened. It was foggy and the rocks were wet and they were slanted and they were slippery and it was very treacherous and I was scared. But I am still here.And I am still going.

Leaving now to go back out. Steve will post my pictures.

Please keep checking in!


The after-dark bear bag went up the first try. Dang, I'm getting good at this.

Shorter day after yesterday's 15 miles. Eckville Shelter is a converted garage next to the caretaker's house. It is not typical for shelters to have caretakers. For the most part, they're just little shacks in the woods, often a quarter-mile off the Trail, then another quarter-mile to the water source. Accommodations are often shared with mice and spiders. Mostly I sleep in my hammock, which I planned to do today as well. I asked the caretaker where I could set one up. He gave me a look and said, "Across the road's tent sites. I don't want it looking like a campground here." Ummm...... "I don't see where...." He said, "Didn't you read the map?" (Big map on a sign at the turnoff to his yard.) "Yes, but I guess only for this side of the road." So I went back to the map and then across the road. Beautiful grassy tent sites appeared but no trees until the woods began, quite a distance away. I went back and checked out the shelter more closely. Wow! Carpeted bunks! A "bathhouse" with a flush toilet and solar-heated shower! Water out of a spigot! OK, I'm in.

A list of "Frequently Asked Questions" was posted on the door, presumably so we wouldn't have to ask. "Where can I pitch a tent?" was listed twice. Another sign asked hikers to sweep when leaving but it didn't look like anyone ever does. I swept the place out and got 4 dustpans full of dirt off the cement floor. Then in the bathhouse I found spray cleaner, and cleaned the table in the shelter, which had soup and sticky stuff all over it. So far I was the only one there.

There had been thunder all morning, and when it started raining, hikers started pouring in. We ended up with 6 of us and a real good time. As usual, I was the only woman. Where are the girls in this adventure? Still down south, I guess.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Last night was so beautiful. So quiet, no wind, a quiet mist rising from the ground to soften the forest. I sat under my tarp-and-hammock and played my Irish penny-whistle (kind of like a little recorder or Indian flute.) I played hymns, then sang. The song that came to me which I sang several times was "In Moments Like These."
In moments like these I sing out a song
I sing out a love song to Jesus
In moments like these I lift up my hands
I lift up my hands to the Lord

Singing, I love You, Lord
Singing, I love You, Lord
Singing, I love You, Lord
I love You.

The guy with the blisters in unable to hike. He's staying in his tent there at the shelter for a couple days, while his 2 buddies move on.

Steep, steep descent into the town of Port Clinton today. It hurt my knees, quads, and feet. I was sure there was a cold Pepsi with my name on it in town. Got one out of a machine at a motorcycle shop, real Pepsi, none of that diet stuff out here. I sucked it down in less than 5 minutes, while talking with a lovely lady who was washing bikes. She's hiked in all kids of places and was great to talk to.She let me use their rest room and get water from the water cooler. Thanks, Maria! You're a Trail Angel!

Then a long climb back up out of town. Up was easier than down, actually. I love switchbacks!

Rocks, rocks, rocks today. And more rocks. There'll be rocks for a few hundred yards, then they magically disappear and you're walking on smooth, soft, flat dirt for a while, then the rocks start again. Ankle-sprain rocks.

I intended 12 miles but the anticipated camping area didn't look promising. Another 3 miles gave me my longest day yet, 15 miles, and brought me to Windsor Furnace Shelter. Fun young folks here: Antsy (a girl), Cliffhanger, and Smiley. I got here later than usual and now I'm going to go try to rig a bear bag in the dark.


Thank you, Steve, for posting that great map!

So after the long weekend, I'm back on the Trail. Steve dropped me off where he'd picked me up last Thursday, and I got going about 1: 30, got to the shelter a little after 4:30.

 Easy walking, 6 miles, with just a few ankle-sprain rock gardens, no leg-break boulder fields. I did not see a single other hiker the whole time. Entirely alone in the woods.

Felt a little klutzy, like I'd forgotten how to hike. My guidebook said the water source for the shelter was a spring on the way to it. I crossed one, a shallow ooze over some rocks, managed to coax 3 liters into my water bag, then couldn't get my filter to run. So I just carried the bag to the shelter, discovering a little farther on the "real" water source, an abundant tumbling creek.

At the shelter I got my filter flowing again. Then my hammock lines were all tied in knots and it took half an hour to get set up. I just feel like a rookie.

Six nice fellows at the shelter. Too-Late and Gatsby, an uncle and nephew doing the Trail together; Snag, my age, who, like me, has always wanted to do this and hears his biological clock ticking; and 3 young guys doing just PA. One has horrendous blisters, the size of quarters and blood-filled, two on the back of each heel. I've never seen anything like it. He doesn't have sandals and is walking around the camp in his socks.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Some kind of little fungus growing on oak leaves in a puddle.
Lady's Slipper. I see one every couple days.
Not only do you trip but you have to have a short leg. Note white blaze in middle.

This is what it would look like to fall off a cliff.

This guy didn't make it. Or maybe his pack's too heavy.  I found it exactly like this.

If it was all like this it would be easy.

Wild phlox. Everywhere.

 I've divided the rocks into two categories: ankle-sprain rocks, and leg-break rocks.
Leg-break rocks

Ankle-sprain rocks

"Rocky" going down leg-break rocks.