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Thursday, June 20, 2013

1000 Miles!

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more...

Yes, we have walked 1000 miles.  

Our thru hiker family. 

We are now in Harpers Ferry, the unofficial halfway point on the trail, at mile  1018. Only 1168 miles to go!

Our last section included a 100 mile section through the Shenandoah National Park where rumor has it there are bears to be seen everywhere. Apparently that was true for everyone else. We didn't see a single bear. 

We had wanted to go canoeing for a couple of days on the Shenandoah River, but because of all the rain the river was flooded. Maybe another trip next year. We have had more than our fair share of rain on this trip. We heard today, that this has been the rainiest season on the AT since 2003. 

The SNP was an interesting experience. There is a saying that the SNP is like a vacation on the AT. The terrain and grade of the trail was much more moderate than we have had thus far. Plus, there are several waysides and camp stores on or close to the trail, and we were able to enjoy burgers, sodas, milkshakes and other junk food on an almost daily basis. 

We were serenaded at a shelter in the Shenandoah National Park by a section hiker named Bo, who played the mandolin for us. 

Beautiful mushroom. 

Playing games outside of Bear's Den Hostel. Our hiker family is now known as "Front Royale with Cheese."   Non AT hikers will think we're all crazy, so don't ask. 

We took a train into Washington, where we played tourist for the day. 

Goofing off at the Capitol with our hiker family. 

One of our hiker family members left to go back home today, as her section was done. Houdini, we miss you already.

We finally left Virginia, our fourth state,  and entered West Virginia ( for a very brief 2.5 miles). Next up Maryland and then Pennsylvania. 

See you down the trail!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Vampire gnats and other fun stuff

The last couple of weeks we have been slowly eaten alive by mosquitos, as expected, and these minuscule gnats, no bigger than a dot, (we call them vampire gnats) which land on one, mysteriously dissolve the skin without notice, then leave a small pool of blood behind as evidence of their visit. Shortly thereafter, furious scratching ensues in an attempt to alleviate the nagging itchiness. Every hiker we've met recently looks like they have chicken pox. Apparently, they enjoy deet, since liberal application hasn't slowed down the little blood-sucking jaws with wings. 

We've had several days of hot, muggy weather, and took the opportunity to enjoy swimming when we came across the James River. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see me standing on the outside trestle of the bridge before I jumped in (about 20 feet high).  We later found out there is a $125 fine for doing so, as another hiker was fined - not for jumping, but for climbing the trestle. Oops. 

A few days ago, we stopped in for resupply to the Dutch Haus in Montebello, VA. Our stop happened to coincide with their trail days celebrAtion and we were treated to a cookout by the townspeople when we got in. We had a great stay and felt very welcome. 

After 800 miles, our gear is beginning to wear down. Our shirts are full of holes, and inner soles worn down to nothing. Replacing the inner soles has helped a lot with foot and knee issues we were experiencing.  Keith's pack had to be replaced because the straps were almost completely pulled away at the seams from the pack. REI has a great warranty policy and sent out a new pack right away, along with replacement boots for me, which were falling apart at the inner seams.  

We are about to enter Shenandoah National Park and plan to hike a few days forward to Elkton and then get shuttled back to Waynesboro to do a two day canoe trip down the river and back to Elkton where we'll resume our trek. Next stop Harpers Ferry and the unofficial half way point!