This is a little blog section of my website where both me and my mum posted entries during my 2007 Appalachian Trail hike. It contained the latest report of where I was, what my state of mind was etc.
Rough AT Mileage: Fin.
No. of States broken speed limit in: 26
View my photo gallery

Monday August 13th
Well I've been home over a week now, but have really been too lazy to update my blog thingy.
I had a lot of fun on my drive to L.A. and BlizzCon was truly fun. It's always nice to see so many gamers in one place and everyone being so friendly. I drove through a few more southern states since from when I last updated, and then I cut across up through Oklahoma, which was really beautiful rolling hills. By the time I was travelling into Texas the landscape was totally different to what I'd been used to. I'd also travelled far enough to allow myself to get off the interstate system and check out more highways.
New Mexico, Colorado and Utah were my favourite states, with Utah taking the crown. I went through as many National Parks as I could, and each of them was amazing, like the old western movies with the tall red rocks in monument valley. It was something I'd always wanted to see and I'm glad I saw them. Last night out I couldn't find anywhere to stay as all the hotels were booked up, so I had to drive back unto Utah from Arizona, so I didn't get to bed until 2am. The last day I got up really early, so I didn't get much sleep, and just drove down the interstate through Las Vegas all the way into Anaheim in Los Angeles. I handed my car in pretty much right away, because even just driving a little bit through L.A. was enough to put me off.
In total I drove well over 4,000 miles and averaged around 648 a day.
I might update this little entry again, spice it up
The route I took
Posted by: The Packhorse

Sunday July 29th
Well here I am in LA! Louisiana, that is.
Like I suggested I might, I'm currently driving from Maine to California. Been heading out since Thursday and it's going pretty good but kinda lonely. I set off from Bangor, Maine with another hiker, and it was a lot of fun. I'd only met him a few days before but we got on really really well and joked around on the trip down. I drove him to his grandma's apartment in Philadelphia, which took around 11 hours. We stopped for coffee a few times and had a "hogey" in Rhode Island. All in all that day I drove through 8 states: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania! I saw the Empire State Building while I drove over the Hudson River at night (With pretty crazy drivers). And it's true what they say about New Jersey, that place stinks! All factories spewing smoke onto the interstate.
Next day I drove myself through the rest of PA and through Delaware, West Virginia, and Virginia. I went into Shenandoah National Park but it rained really hard. Yesterday I finished off VA and went through Tennessee via a small detour into Kentucky and started heading south. I was going to keep going, but around 9pm a deer ran out in front of me and I missed it by around 3 feet and shook me up a little. If I'd been in the passing lane then it would have been messy. Today I finished off heading south, and started on the long trip west. I managed to go through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and here into Louisiana.
I don't know what it is, but the town I'm in tonight, Monroe, smells funny. Not smokey like Jersey, but organic and... bad. The Mississipi River was awesome, though not as wide as I thought it'd be. The temperature has been crazy hot, but it's rained on me in every single state so far. Oh well, time to go to sleep, tomorrow I need to head west through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas!
Posted by: The Packhorse

Wednesday July 25th
Me on Mount Katahdin
Done.
Posted by: The Packhorse

Tuesday July 24th
Me in Maine
Almost done.
Posted by: The Packhorse

Thursday July 19th
Writing this entry from Shaw's Lodging in Monson, Maine, but probably won't be able to post it until after I've finished Katahdin, which is looking to be around the 18th or 19th
Managed to get a shuttle here from Bangor, where I dropped my car off. I didn't have enough time to finish the rest of Maine, what with me getting sick leaving Gorham and the awesome time I spent in Andover, but I'm looking forward to the Wilderness. The only cellphone operator I can pick up, Unicell, doesn't allow Internet use, so I'll be without for the next 10 days or so. Already got my supplies, but haven't packed yet as I'm too comfortable wearing my town clothes before I send the box to Millinocket. As soon as I put my town clothes on I ended up wiping pizza fingers on them, bad hiker habit!
About 5 days into the Wilderness I'm hoping to stay at the only hostel there, and for that you need to hike down a logging road and blow a horn so someone can take a boat out to pick you up, but I bet the shower is totally worth it. Only one really tough mountain and that's Whitecap, otherwise the Hundred Mile Wilderness is kinda flat and then a huge mountain, Katahdin at the end. Haven't decided on whether I'll actually climb to the top of Katahdin, if the weather is bad and I'm running late I may skip it, but otherwise I'm gonna be there hugging the terminus sign.
I haven't quite figured out what I'm gonna do when I finish on Katahdin, but I need to have made my way to Anaheim, California by the 2nd of August for BlizzCon. If I finish on the 29th like I think I will, then this will give me one day to get to Bangor Airport and then 4 days or so to do pretty much what I like. One idea is to fly to somewhere in Colorado and then maybe rent another car to drive myself to Anaheim, passing through New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada to visit the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Death Valley (though with my luck in US National Parks this year Death Valley will most likely be under 12 feet of snow). Who knows what I'll do, but I have 116 miles to figure it out!
Posted by: The Packhorse

Wednesday July 17th
To sum up last week it could all come down to: Wet feet.
The day I left Gorham it rained, it rained hard. It rained so hard that it washed away bridges and roads, 9 inches in an hour. And where was I when this storm was happening? I was on Cascade Mountain above tree level waving around my metal hiking poles and cursing the sky. I was soaked for around 2 hours and found a piece of ground I could pitch my tent on, even through the trail was flooded I managed to find the only spot with no water to cook dinner. So I went to bed very very cold and very very hungry. For two days after that I felt really weak and only walked 4-6 miles a day. The good news is that this gave R-man and Gojo, Many Names and Biscuits room to catch me up!
It was great seeing those guys, two of them I hadn't seen since the Shenandoah's. Sunday we all got into Andover, Maine, and stayed at the Andover Guest House. It was amazing, the owner is a huge music fan as well as his (8!!!) kids, so R-man got on the drums and Many Names on the guitar. Other hikers came over from a nearby hostel and everyone just chilled. Was one of the best places to stay I've had, it was perfect in every way, so was the next night when we hiked back to it. Andover is one really really small town, so everything was in walking distance and all the locals are friendly.
Today I went to Arcadia National Park in a rental car for the day, but the weather sucked so bad it made it kinda pointless. On the 20th I'll be heading into the Hundred Mile Wilderness, the final stretch before the trail ends on Mount Katahdin, gonna be fun!
Posted by: The Packhorse

Tuesday July 10th
Wow, the weather finally turned nice today! All the days I had the car the weather was awful and I couldn't see the mountains. I could have drived up Mount Washington and had awesome views if the weather was like today! There's been thunderstorms for the entire week and last night was pretty bad. I walked to the Walmart here in Gorham in the rain, taking like 45 mins and then I ran into Ghost, a hiker I met back in Tennessee! I knew he worked in Gorham, but he wasn't in the store when I checked on him, but he was out shopping in a huge Walmart and we still ran into each other, which was really neat!
I had a lot of fun with the car, but I handed it back in yesterday, and then had to travel the 30+ miles back to Gorham. I managed it in three hours with three different rides. As soon as I got here the skies opened, so I was lucky. Today when I've done laundry I'm gonna head back out onto the trail and walk the few miles into Maine. After that I have around 2-3 weeks left, depending on how fast I go. Maine is very remote, so you can't walk too slow otherwise you'll run out of food before resupplying! I drove through Maine the other day, and I know that mobile phone coverage is scarce, so I won't be able to check my e-mails unless I'm in a town. The first stop will be Andover.
Posted by: The Packhorse

Satursday July 7th
Wow, turns out it's hard to get the Internet in New England! This morning I picked up the parcel I shipped ahead to myself, so I have my laptop until Monday morning when I'll bounce it one more time. I've been panicking that it'd have been lost, because for some reason when I shipped it from Boston I was convinced I'd put the wrong state on the address, but I hadn't.
So I'm actually in Augusta, Maine right now. How I got here is kinda complicated, but it basically boils down to the fact that they'll rent a car to anyone in the US if they have a credit card. I had a nice time in Boston visting Lilabeth. It was really hot, and we had a little walk around the city and sweat was running down me. We then met one of her friends and all three of us went to a restaurant. The next day I was dropped off at the subway, and had my own adventure in Boston, exploring by myself and I went on a walking history tour, neato!
I got to Rutland, Vermont fine and stayed in a free hostel run by the 12 Tribes. I finally finally managed to get in touch with Hellbender and the Iron Chefs. They were a few days behind, so the next morning I started walking south and climbed Mount Killington. Killington was tough, straight onto the trail it was straight up for 1000 feet. To summit you need to take a near vertical trail, which was a beautiful but exhausting way to end my first day on the trail. I ran into everyone the next night and gave them all a suprise, I don't think they believed I was actually back on the trail. I found out their schedule and we made our seperate ways to Rutland as I had no intention of doing Killington again!
After that it was some fairly nice two days in Vermon. When I camped on top of Killington the temperature dropped to near freezing, but it was starting to get sunny again. The guys were all doing a 20 mile day, but even though I tried and tried, I just couldn't do it. I walked until about 6pm and there was rain pouring down, so I just put up my tent. By the time I'd gotten it pitched (like 2 minutes) it was already soaked inside, so I crawled inside and felt kinda damp and miserable and listened to the Indepence Day fireworks from Woodstock. The next morning it was still really damp, and let me tell you, there is nothing quite like putting on damp wet clothes - that stink. I made my way over the border into Hanover by way of Quechee Gorge and met the guys at a motel. Broadway's girlfriend, Nina, had come to pay him a suprise visit, so yesterday we had wheels! We spent most of the day in Hanover doing chores and that was when I decided to rent a car.
The group was going to disband, the Iron Chefs needed to start doing big miles, Chips needed to wait until the 9th for a friend to meet him in Hanover and Hellbender and Patrick didn't really have a schedule; so everyone was going their seperate ways. I knew I couldn't keep up with the Chef's, even though they're going to finish pretty much the same day as me. Hellbender was going to go too slow, but it would have been nice to walk with her for the next two weeks before skipping ahead to finish with the Chef's, but the more I thought about it, it seemed like trying to organise that for a place like Maine would be hard, Maine is too remote. The only decision I could make was to rent a car and get myself to Gorham, New Hampshire, which is right on the border with Maine and walk from there at a pretty nice pace. It all happened within about the space of an hour, which is the way my plans usually happen. Some of the best decisions I've made on this trail have been ones that I thought about for 3 seconds before I did it. So I rented a car to drive me about 5 hours away, but since I've never ever rented a car before, and that I'd be forced to skip the White Mountains I decided to rent it for roughly two days, so that today I went exploring. I've driven pretty much over the entire state of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire without much of a plan, just heading where I felt like, which is how I ended here in Augusta. I mainly stuck to places near the AT, but then I decided to find a motel near a big city so I headed off up the interstate. It's been really really fun driving, I need to go on long drives back in Europe! I have until tomorrow afternoon with the car, and part of the insurance I bought gives me a million dollar coverage in case of an accident. I don't know quite how I can manage to cause a million dollars worth of damage, but a part of me is thinking that I should at least try.
Posted by: The Packhorse

Thursday June 28th
I'm at the airport waiting to board my flight to Boston in an hour and I'm borrrrrred! Plus I've had a trapped nerve in my back all week and it's driving me nuts. Only slept a little last night and nodded off now and then on the drive down here, so I hope I get to go to sleep on the plane today, though I can't usually sleep on planes. I'd hate to be exhausted when I land in Boston. I'm still trying to work out where the other hikers will be. As far as I can tell they entered Vermont on Monday, so them arriving in Rutland around Saturday is a good guess... maybe. I hope that I'm ahead of them, so I can walk southbound until I meet them.
Posted by: The Packhorse

Wednesday June 27th
Well in an hour or so I'll be heading to the airport! I'm going to be flying to Boston to spend the night with a hiker I met in 2002, Lilabeth, and the next day I'm going to get the coach to Rutland, Vermont to continue my hike. I'm hoping the people I was hiking with will be around there, but I'm taking a near complete stab in the dark
I will have roughly 30 days of trail left to do if I do around 16-18 miles a day. But the terrain is the hardest on the entire AT! I'll start off in the Green Mountains of Vermont and progress to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and then there is Maine, the hardest state on the trail, and one which definately broke my spirit and sanity 5 years ago. I'll try my best to keep this blog updated, but there won't be a great many towns I'll pass through and Maine is very very unpopulated, so we'll see.
After I finish the AT I have around 2 days or so to somehow make my way to California to attend BlizzCon before heading home. Quite how I'm going to get from Mount Katahdin to California I have no idea. The AT is great, but the fact it finishes on top of a mountain in a state park in a empty state can cause problems.
I did a little bit of walking in my month off, and went to the gym twice. I went yesterday morning and really worked the running machine and cross-trainer, and then 3 minutes later felt like I'd not done a thing. So I guess I haven't completely lost my hiker stamina. I would have liked to have gone for more walks, but the rain has been so bad while I've been home! Right now the city is flooded and roads are closed, so I have to travel a lot further to get a coach to London. The weather where I'm heading looks nice and hot, too hot in truth, but not quite as hot as it was when I was there last time in a terrible heatwave.
I'm not changing any of my equipment since last time with one exception: I'm leaving my iPod and taking a simple walkman. 8 hour battery life isn't worth it for the woods, and one of my favourite things was listening to radio stations all the way up. So goodbye to 300 albums and audiobooks, and hello once again to my single solitary Metallica mixtape destined to repeat. Let's do this!
Posted by: The Packhorse

Tuesday June 19th
Well I downloaded a program that took my photos and automatically made a thumbnail gallery for me, so you can view all of my AT 2007 photos. I wish I'd done it weeks ago, because it's nice to be able to share all my pictures so people can see just where I was and what I was up to! I might try and add comments to a few because some of them really don't make sense without context.
I can link a few of my favourite galleries: The day we had to hike down from Overmountain Shelter. Mount Rogers. The night me Hellbender and Renaissance Man slept in the Crushed Shelter. The infamous Yard of Sandwich Challenge. The very beautiful Shenandoah National Park. A tick that you have to pull off yourself. The Hiker Parade. The bonfire and drum circle at Trail Days.
And to finish it off you can see what condition my feet were in that made me want to get off the trail.

And it's only a few days left until I head back out! I've been calling Hellbender seeing where her and the Iron Chefs will be in around 9 days, because I'm hoping to meet back up with them for Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. And those three states are the most challenging on the AT, oh goodie!! I'm both nervous and excited about heading back out. My foot is feeling fine now, I'm glad I took the month off to rest it, though I wish I'd kept my legs in good shape instead of sitting around too much! I played a lot of World of Warcraft, and it was great to be with my guild again. I got my character an epic flying mount, and finished most of the quests I had, so I'm not feeling like I'm leaving things unfinished which I did last time!
I'm looking forward to seeing the friends I made on the trail. It's a shame that Fish dropped off the trail, but after him jumping into the fire at the Trail Days, you can see why he couldn't walk. I'm nervous about getting back on and not being in good enough shape to handle the White Mountains in New Hampshire, we'll see!
I should also talk about my last two days or so on the trail, and just how I got home, because I totally failed to do so. After Trail Days and we all drove back up to Harper's Ferry we did like 7 miles out to the first shelter, where everyone had agreed to rendevouz. Fish didn't make it. The next day I did my biggest on the trail, which was around 23-24 miles with my new backpack. It felt great. I'm not saying my old backpack caused all my problems, but it didn't help. It was too big for one thing and it had never been properly fitted. I only realise now, but it was hanging too low, and the belt was putting some resistance on the top of my legs whenever I was taking a stride, which is probably how I tore the muscle in 2002.
So we did over 20 miles and the terrain was kinda rocky too, but I put my head down and did it and made myself proud. It will seem ridiculous, but ever since I got the watch at Waynesboro it was helping a lot. I could time myself, and calculate distance. And it's a lot more reassuring when you have an accurate passage of time! The next day we did another 20 mile day, but did it in the most casual way possible. We stopped for hours and hours at PenMar Park and goofed off. A school group came, and the teacher asked us to do a small presentation for the kids, which we did. We then goofed off some more, and then Renaissance Man turned up in the car! So we goofed off a lot more. And then he drove our backpacks 8 miles up the trail and we all jogged to the road. On the way we stopped to give a talk to yet another school group. We all then went out to dinner and got a hotel room.

It was that next morning when I decided I needed to go home. I just got up and told the guys. Renaissance Man drove me to Harrisburg, which is the capital of Pennsylvania. I bought a new shirt at the train station because, well, I stank. I got the train to Philadelphia which was really nice. The train went through Amish country, and you could see them ploughing their fields and waving. I got another train to the airport and then was told they had no more flights. Bummer! I spent the rest of the day on stand-by, but late at night I was told the last flight just went and I couldn't get a seat. I was really crushed at that point. I was feeling so self conscious that day as I was still kinda stinky, and being in an airport just sucks. I stayed at a hotel in the airport (with laundry, yay!) and they had the Internet, so I managed to book a ride with Air Canada. The next day was kinda awesome. I was just wandering around the airport and looking at things, and still being in hiker mode I was kinda wanting to strike up conversations with people, so I got talking to the guy at the USO, which is an organistion that provides recreation for people in the US Armed Forces. He gave me some water, which was really kind. And then he invited me into the lounge! I never knew what to expect, but it turns out the USO has lounges in airport for the servicemen. They have comfy chairs, widescreen TV, a library, Internet, free food, drinks. The guy gave me a hot dog and a drink and put lots of snacks into my bag to take on the plane. It was perfect, it really was. I guess I was looking dishevelled and in need of some kindness, I definately got it.
The flight home was very nice. The plane was brand new, and all the seats had power outlets and USB connectors to charge iPods. I had lots of room, so it was nice to stretch out my aching legs. There was a bit of a wait when I got a bus up to Sheffield, and then I caught a taxi home and walked in unannounced on my parents having dinner. And then I went to sleep.
Posted by: The Packhorse

Thursday June 14th
Me in the Shenandoah National Park
Okay, I think I've chosen a few good pictures, I'm gonna start linking them now. They're gonna be kinda big because I've not shrunk them yet, so apologies to anyone with a slow connection!
Springer Mountain Me in the rain Breakfast at Miss Janet's
Trudging in the snow! Sat in my tent
Posted by: The Packhorse

Wednesday June 13th
Well, I took over 500 pictures and it's taking me a long long time to upload them all. I'll pick some good ones tomorrow and upload them and finish the rest another time. I'm gonna start working out the details of when I'm heading back this week, so I'm think around July 1st, but it all depends on where my hiker friends are gonna be!
Posted by: The Packhorse

Sunday June 3rd
Well here I am back home in England, and I'll be here for another month. I think I managed to fracture my right foot, because I had pain in it for the last week I was on the trail. I even managed to do over 23 miles in one day with it! My leg was finally starting to feel much better too, which is a shame. So I'm going to rest here through June and head back out to the Trail to hike New Hampshire and Maine.
I'm going to update with some pictures over this week!
Posted by: The Packhorse

Tuesday May 22nd
Not far from the Pennsylvania border now and the true half way point where the hikers will do the gallon (icecream) challenge. One of the hikers called Fish managed to fall into the camp fire the other night, and had to go to hospital with his burn injuries. Daniel enjoyed the Hiker Festival and was recognised by Flying Pork Chop, a hiker he met in 2002. Daniel purchased a new backpack whilst he was there. He seems in good spirit and is managing to put in the mileage so he's keeping on going for a while.
Posted by: Vicki

Sunday May 20th
Daniel drove back from Damascus to Harpers Ferry after spending time at the Hiker Festival. Tomorrow, Monday he will be walking approximately ten miles and will be in Maryland. I wasn't sure if he had made his mind up to finish at the half way point and make his way home, but he must have decided to continue a little bit further.Hope he doesn't do too much damage to that muscle injury. Weather over there is getting pretty hot and so the walking won't be easy.
Posted by: Vicki

May 18th
So here I am in Damascus, Virginia! Wait, wasn't I here a month ago? Yesterday me and (Princess) Hellbender were right up on the border with West Virgnia and Maryland in the town of Harper's Ferry. and Renaissance had hired a car and we all drove right back down to the start of Virginia to attend the hiker festival Trail Days. One of the other people who came in the car was at the shelter that got crushed by the tree when it happened. He says he has never run so fast in his life. It was actually quite strange to drive in a few hours what it took us over a month to walk, really puts things into perspective.
Well the Shenandoah's were really really nice. I had about a couple of pages of stuff I wanted to write about, but I've kinda gone blank. The Shennies are really nice gentle ridges with only a few 500 foot climbs now and then. We left Waynesboro and Broadway, Shaggy and Fish all did the Yard of Sandwich Challenge. It involved going to an all you can eat buffet for lunch, and then hiking seven miles with three footlong subs from Subway in their packs and racing to see who could eat it first (Fish won with 27:40). They even had a themesong. We had a really gentle next day, we stopped to throw rocks at signposts for a while, and then just sat and talked. We still managed to do 15 miles, but it came with about 5 hours of sitting around.
Hellbender's friend Emma came out to hike with her for a while, so me and those two did lower miles, it was nice. We got to eat at a few waysides during the day, because the trail is never far from Skyline Drive, and roads mean tourists and tourists mean food. On one day a family invited us to have whatever they didn't eat from their dinner, so I had steak! The Shenandoah's are probably one of the only places you can be stood on the AT and have a tourist come up and have no idea about the trail. I spent a lot of time walking on Skyline, mainly because the road had waaaay better views than the actual trail. The insects were crazy though, never have they been out so bad this trip. It was so hot and I was sweating gallons and the insects were just such a pain. I had to pull my bandana down over my ears, and I could hear the flies bouncing off!
Emma went home just before the end of the Shenandoah's, and me and Hellbender met up in Front Royal to get a hotel room. I even treated myself to watching Spider-Man 3. From there we've done an easy 4 days because we only had to get to Harper's Ferry yesterday for the ride down. We got there in the afternoon, and because it was the site of a battle in the Civil War there were lots of school party's. I bought myself a Confederate cap and we just hung out for 8 hours.
Lately I've been covered in lots of small injuries. Every hiker has them. The random cuts and bites and bruises you pick up during the day. A hiker without any injuries or aches must be doing something wrong. But for the last two nights I've had a throbbing in the area where I tore my muscle five years ago. I kept me awake for two nights now and it's really painful. It's something that is making me think that after Trail Days I'll come home. I've done half of the trail, and I've experienced what I've come to experience. I don't want to risk it again like I did last time when I tore the muscle and ended up with years of problems. So, we'll see what happens come Monday morning. But for today I'm just going to enjoy the festival.
Posted by: The Packhorse

May 12th
Daniel spent last night at Big Meadows, in Shenandoah National Park. Today he is walking about 17 miles to Thornton Gap and Sunday 25miles to Front Royal. Once at Front Royal he'll be approximately 50 miles from the half-way point, Harpers Ferry. Approximate mileage on outset today from Big Meadows is 900 miles. He's really enjoying the scenery here in the Shenandoah's.
Posted by: Vicki

May 10th
Daniel has managed to get a good reception on his mobile phone from Shenandoah National Park, North West Virginia. He's been staying in shelters in this beautiful scenery. The wild life seem tame, young deer do not run away. Today when he called he was sat on a hill watching eagles fly and he sent me a photo by e-mail. It's a shame his leg does not seem to improve, he thought it might, the more he excercised but it has not worked. He seems to have got over his chill and glad to be back on the trail.
Posted by: Vicki

May 5th
Well my ankle is much better than it was, but I've been feeling a little ill. I guess it's from the mixture of all the rain and all the heat we've been having. One day it is 90 degrees, and then it thunderstorms on me and I'm soaked. I got really wet a few days ago in Buena Vista. I was at the library across town when it started raining really really hard, but I was wearing shorts, sandals, and a very very thin hiking t-shirt. I had to walk for about 20 minutes in really cold rain, and I think it made me a little ill.
I've been thinking lately about how different parts of the trail seem to me 5 years after my first hike. Sometimes I can really remember parts of the trail very well, and other times I don't remember a thing. Sometimes the feel of the trail changes, or the friendliness of a town. I don't remember Waynesboro being so traffic busy when I was here last, and I also seem to remember it being a lot more affluant. I was walking down the main street and lots of things were closed down, I don't remember that from last time. I also went into a Chinese buffet here which wasn't as good as I remember it to be. There was also a woman eating there who was really really big. It's probably the first time I've seen someone and thought to myself that they were really going to die soon they were so overweight. And the woman was quite awful too, she was making racist comments and refused to leave a tip because they brought her diet cola instead of regular.
And yesterday I met my friend Jonah walking the street. He gave me a pamphlet about how everyone needs to meet in Boulder, Colorado at Passover in 2010 and offer themselves to god, he was pretty awesome.
I also walked all the way to Walmart yesterday, which took a while. I was trying to get a memory card reader to upload pictures from my camera, but I also managed to buy a replacement watch! I lost my old watch in Georgia, so I've never know what time it is. This is the third incarnation of this watch, and I'm considering buying about 100 of them to put in storage to use throughout my life.
One last story while I've been thinking about Georgia. It was my first hitchhike and I was trying to get to Hiawassee and two guys picked me up. We had to stop at one of the guys dad's place to drop something off, and then we swtiched cards to let one guy out. And the other guy was so excited to be giving a ride to an AT hiker he called his daughter in Florida. Well anyway, as we were driving along a road outside of the town the pointed out a grizzled old mountain man who lives there. He once had a heart attack but refused to allow an ambulance to take him to the hospital because he doesn't trust the government, so the had to get the FedEx guy to take him because they'd done business before and he trusted him to drive him there. There are some really funny people out here
Posted by: The Packhorse

May 3rd
So here I am in Waynesboro in the Shenandoah Valley! I arrived here a few days earlier than I expected simply because I've injured my foot and am going to rest it a while. I was asking for a bus from Buena Vista to here, but someone was heading this way and gave me a ride. I was going to camp outside the YMCA, but it's raining too hard right now so I've got a motel for the night.
A few guys should be arriving on the 5th after doing the "death march" to get here for Cinco de Mayo. They're going to need the tequila after so many miles!
I'll probably leave here on the morning of the 7th hoping my ankle will be better by then, and then it's a really nice walk through the Shenandoah National Park, and after that it'll be Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, the psychological half-way point of the trail.
I've not had much time when I've been at a computer before, so I've missed out on lots of stories to share so I'll share a few.
Back at Atkins we were hiking in the rain and got followed by a dog to the motel. The dog had previously followed another hiker, Plod, about 9 miles. The dog seemed to adopt us and slept outside the motel door in the rain. We nicknamed her Elliot and fed her, and despite my best efforts to get Fish to adopt her we eventually gave her to the first person who asked for her.
Coming out of Pearisburg it was a really really hot day. Really really hot. So we stopped in a shelter for a while to get water and talk, and then me Renaissance Man and Hellbender pushed on to another shelter. We saw a deer which just stood there for a few minutes looking at us, and Renaissance Man's dog Gojo stood there whining, but he was really well behaved. We ended up getting to the shelter around 10:30pm, so we did a few hours in the dark. I was really lagging behind and felt kinda bad because I'm so slow compared to everyone else. I ended up cutting through the woods where the trail looped back on itself and crashed back onto the trail. We got to the shelter and it was crushed by a tree. About 6 days before a huuuuge tree had fallen on the shelter (while hikers were there), and broke a lot of the support beams. We slept there anyway.
The next day I decided to give Hellbender and Renaissance Man an opportunity to hike with just the two of them, so I got to a forest service road and just started walking. It took me around 5 hours but I finally got to a highway, and then I just walked along it for another 2 hours before someone gave me a ride in Blacksbsburg, where the Virgnia Tech shootings took place. I saw a CNN news van, but otherwise the town (and it's a really nice town) was returning to normal.
After that I spent two days near Catawba. I climbed the Dragon's Tooth right to the top and we also had a lot of fun on Macaffee's Knob, they're both really great rocks to climb. We then went to a Mexican place in Daleville and I seperated from everyone while they do the death and misery marches.
Posted by: The Packhorse


May 1st
Daniel stayed in Buchanon overnight Monday and made it to Glasgow today. The temperature is around 90 degrees and too hot really for walking long distance. Having to take in lots of water. Some hikers are doing the Death March, this is approximately 135 miles in 5 days; others are doing the Misery March which takes a bit longer. Wish them luck in that heat. Daniel had a lift yesterday with someone who had visited our neck of the woods and done some walking in our Peak District. Mileage to date approximately 766 miles.
Posted by: Vicki

April 30th
Daniel had to buy new hiking boots today. Had a hole in his other for past 2 weeks. The trail will start to follow the Blue Ridge Parkway - He may even see his Aunt & Uncle who are on their way back home to Canada from Florida. The weather is warming up and Daniel has decided to post some of his wintery items back home. He had now better watch out for copperhead snakes, mink and those nasty little Deer flies.
Approximate mileage at Daleville 710 miles
Posted by: Vicki

April 29th
Daniel phoned me from his cell as he sat on McAfee Knob, Central Virginia. Every hiker should have a photo taken here! It sounded windy and the reception was too good. Mileage on AT 693.5 miles. He's booked in to econolodge, Daleville tonight Tel 001 540 992 3000
Posted by: Vicki

April 24th
Well here I am in Pearisburg Virginia! It's about 20 miles from where the Virginia Tech shootings happened, so all the flags here are at half mast. Especially as one of the victims, Jarrett Lane, was from here.
Had a couple of interesting days. Not been walking much on the trail, but I've been walking on forest service roads and along highways which run in parralel with the trail. I've been playing a game where I'm not hitchhiking, but I can't refuse a lift if someone offers me one. The downside to that is that when I was in bland having a drink outside the store before I set out someone pulled over and offered me a ride. That morning I'd walked 4 hours down the wrong road, so it turned out okay in the end. I then walked 6 miles on the trail, and then set off down another highway. It was fun, I walked past a state prison, and 40 bikers went past me on motorbikes. Took about 3 hours before a guy stopped and offered a ride. The sun was hot and the sweat was in my eyes so bad that I was walking with my eyes closed!
So why am I doing this instead of hiking along the trail? Well, my leg is pretty bad. It's always been very slow and powerless while I've been out here, but lately it's been getting worse and worse. It's quite ironic, because I feel fitter than I've ever felt in years, and I'm losing weight and I'm feeling very healthy. It's just the climbs. I can't get over any climbs for some reason. My legs just lock and I get tired and I become very weak. I was hoping that resting it now and then would help, or that it was psychological. But it just seems to be nothing I can do about it. I'm just going to have to try and do the best I can, and have as much fun as I can in my limited hike.
But because I'm doing a lot of off-trail walking I've heard that a few of the other hikers have been badmouthing me. But since they've barely covered a quarter of the trail, and are uninjured, I feel they can't criticise. And a few thru-hikers have gone home with injuries. Freighttrain had to get off to have a hernia operated on. An elder hiker had a heart attack. And many other hikers have had to leave the trail with sprained ankles.
So as I'm reaching the point of the trail where injuries are becoming a problem with others I don't feel too bad to be having such difficulty, and it's now a sense of pride I'm having that I'm making my own way. It's not the official route, but it's my own private adventure, and I can't predict what I will see or who I will meet. And after doing a thru-hike five years ago, I gotta say, it's actually a lot more enjoyable.
Posted by: The Packhorse

April 22nd
Just missed a call from Daniel. Tried to phone him back but he had turned off his cell phone. He had sent me a picture taken on his cell phone of his very sore feet. He was in Bland, possibly stayed at the Big Walker Motel. I tried to reach him there before he set off, but there was no answer. His short message left on our answer phone said he would make Pearisburg in a couple of days, however, he sounded pretty fed up. Possibly a combination of the cold wet weather, his sore feet and the leg problem which has bugged him from the start.
Posted by: Vicki

April 19th
Heard from Daniel on Tuesday 17th from his cell phone. He had managed to get it working again. We hardly had time to talk as the weather bad, snow and wind. He had obviously decided to start back on the trail even though the weather was not good. We lost contact pretty quick and I'm hoping that he gets in touch again soon
Posted by: Vicki

April 19th
Wow, I've only been on the trail a month, it seems so much longer! I managed to leave Damascus in a daring dawn breakout, and have had some pretty nice days. There was snow on the ground, but it wasn't too bad the first day. The next day when I started climbing up to White Top - Virgnia's second highest peak - the snow was deeper and there were drifts when I would sink down. It was tiring work but I felt really good and strong. As soon as I started to climb Mount Rogers - the highest peak in Virginia - my legs stopped working again and I had to take it really slowly. But the area was breathtaking and the feral ponies were cool, so it was nice taking it slow. The only bad thing was the snow was turning into slush and my feet got very cold and very wet.
Yesterday I decided to hitch when I got to a road, so me and Hellbender went to Troutdale and her dad picked us up, so I spent the night at her parents house in Abingdon again, which is just down the Insterstate from where the shootings have happened. Today I'm gonna go grocery shopping and buy another ankle support because the last one worked really good. And we'll buy some beer and leave it at a shelter for some of the hikers passing through, should be back on the trail by noon and then it's onwards!
Posted by: The Packhorse

April 15th
Well, it seems that it is impossible to leave Damascus. I have been sucked into the vortex from which no hiker can leave. I should have left days ago, but everyone has been so worried about the bad weather everyone is kinda just milling around here. As I type this there is snow falling here, and this is a few thousand feet lower than the Grayson Highlands, which is what lies ahead in the next 20 miles.
Yesterday I went for a bike ride along the Virginia Creeper Trail, which was a very enjoyable experience, and one I recommend to anyone if they are ever in this area. After that a hiker called Hellbender took us to her parents house near here, and we ended up with 25 hikers in their home eating chicken and cake. It was lots of fun!
But I'm still bummed about the trail. I feel like the past two weeks I've barely gone anywhere! I'm starting to get very irritable here in Damascus, and I'm pretty much at breaking point, I just gotta get out of this small town! I'm feel trapped and just need to get moving. So that's why I'm heading out tomorrow, I'm wanting to see if the new ankle supports are going to help me at all, hopefully they will.
Posted by: The Packhorse

April 13th
Well it's Friday the 13th and I have a very sore foot I've no idea what I've done to it, but I'm limping pretty bad, so I'm taking a zero-day here in Damascus, Virginia.
The weather was really bad over Roan, and we ended up with some bad snow drifts. Freighttrain tried to make it over Hump Mountain, but it was impassable, so 14 of us hiked down a forest road and got rescued. I spent 4 days in Elizabethton waiting out the snow. No idea when I injured my foot, but it's hurting really really bad.
There is going to be bad weather tomorrow night, and it's going to snow again. And that's when I'll be trying to get over Mount. Rogers, which is like the second highest peak in Virginia. Should be really tough again.
Because of the bad luck with weather and my foot, and then my cellphone being cancelled, it's left me pretty bummed. Not sure if I want to continue the trail, the 4 days in the motel left me kinda out of sync and I had a hard time getting back into the trail rhythm. We'll see how I feel after the snow over the weekend, we'll see how my foot goes on. I'm not going to keep pressing on with an injury like I did last time, because I know what problems you can have for years afterwards.
Posted by: The Packhorse

April 8th
Whoops when I put in the entry on 12th I accidentially overwrote the one on the 8th so I'm putting it back in again. Daniel along with 13 other hikers had to get down from the mountain ridge due to extreme weather conditions. Freezing temperatures, snow storms and 70 pmh winds. Daniel is staying in the American Court in Elizabethton until the weather improves..
Posted by: Vicki

April 4th
Well here I am still at Miss Janet's House in Erwin, and I've been having a great time! I've been doing slack-packs for the last three days, and only doing like 10 miles during the day. Two days ago I went hiking with Miss Janet's dog Fabian. I've never hiked with a dog before, but he was great. He kept me on the trail, and kept pushing me to go faster and faster. There were no beds on the first two nights here so I slept on the floor, but I got one last night, and I've claimed one for today.
I think I'm heading out tomorrow, but not sure what time. I think it'll take me around 3 days to get to Kinkora. I'm worried about going over Roan Mountain, because even though my legs are feeling better, it is quite a large climb. Today I could feel my legs getting tight and tighter, and I was sure I was about to pull a muscle.
After that it is about 2 days to the border of Virginia. I've been walking along the Tennesee-North Carolina border since last week, but Virginia will take around 40 days to get through.
Posted by: The Packhorse


April 1st
Well here I am at Miss Janet's House in Erwin! It's great to be back here after 5 years! I've managed to find a few pictures of me in the collections hung on the wall. Also saw some familiar faces in the pictures, it was great. Miss Janet recognised me, and could even remember how I got my trail name.
The last few days from Hot Springs have been interesting. There was a really tough section coming out of Hot Springs, and it climbed right up from down by the river, never thought my legs would make it. That night a group of five thru-hikers came up. There were seven of us there, but the shelter was so rat infested we all camped near it. Hellbender had brought up some pastry and dried milk, and she made us a vanilla pie. So we all sat around a campfire listening to a classic rock radio station and passing a pie between the seven of us.
The next day none of us ate breakfast, because 5 miles along the trail it crossed a road, and 200 yards up the road a couple were letting people into their home and cooked breakfast. I had Belgian waffles, grilled pork and potatoe salad, fruit salad, and then a piece of fruit cake and vanilla ice cream! I then had to walk for five miles uphill!
That five miles was very very tough. I didn't think I could make it, especially on the full stomach. And I ran out of water and there was no streams or anything on the way up, so I was getting very thirsty. Hills are still giving me a problem, I just have no power in my legs.
Today when I woke up I realised if I did 15 miles I could get to a back road and hope that someone would give me a lift to Erwin. Johnny Hands said it would be a hard hitch, but I got a ride in about an hour, and was taken right into Miss Janet's driveway! When I was walking today I did a thousand foot climb, and it just wore me out, I didn't think I could do it, and then a very long ridge walk, which was sheer drops either side, but I couldn't see a thing in the rain and fog. We squeezed 7 hikers into a 5-man shelter last night When I went over Big Butt it was a 700 foot climb, but I felt like a new person. I was up and over it, and passing by other people. I just gritted my teeth and went for it, I felt very proud.
So that's how I got to Erwin a day or so early. I'm gonna slack-pack around here, which means leaving most of the junk in my backpack here at Miss Janet's, and doing big miles with a small pack. There are lots of roads to Erwin, so I'll be able to choose which bits I do. But it really is great to be here again.
Posted by: The Packhorse

March 29th
I'm still here in Hot Springs, North Carolina. I took a zero-day to get my legs a bit better. I'm having a little bit of difficulty going over hills. My legs feel a lot stronger than they did when I started. And if you put me back on Springer Mountain then I'd probably be able to do double the distance that I was doing. Everything is good except my right leg where I tore my muscle. It just feels like there is no power there whatsoever! It's making going up hills a very difficult thing. I'll be doing a big climb in a few days, and one of them has me nervous that my leg won't make it. Once I get up there I'll be a few days from the next town, so we'll just have to see how it goes. If my leg isn't getting stronger by the time I reach Damascus in about 10 days then I might have to pull off, which is a shame, because that marks the beginning of Virginia, and there was a lot of area around there I wanted to see. The only things I'm wanting to see between Hot Springs and Damascus are two fantastic hiker hostels. Miss Janet's in Erwin, and Kinkora. Really great places run by great people
After Damascus I'll be in Virginia for a long time, which is where I want to be. I'd like to see a few areas of there, the only problem is that Virginia has so much trail in it! It'd have been better to do a driving tour and start hiking from the Shenandoah's.
Anyway, I'm leaving town tomorrow after spending a few days sleeping in shelters. If you want to imagine sleeping in a shelter, than go find a garden shed, knock one wall down, empty a sack of mice inside and go to sleep on the floor.
I did a great thing by skipping. I'm enjoying it much more up here, and the trail is less crowded. I spent two days where I saw just one other hiker, and it was just us two in shelters at night, listening to coyotes howl. Hopefully I'll have the Internet again in 5 days or so when I reach Erwin.
Posted by: The Packhorse

March 28th
Well, I managed to skip ahead around the Smokey's, and I'm doing pretty good! I jumped ahead from Franklin to a place called Davenport Gap. I've spent the past three days walking from there, and now I'm in a town in North Carolina called Hot Springs. There are wild flowers and stuff, and it's much easier on my legs. I'll talk more about my legs when I update tomorrow, because they're shutting right now!
Posted by: The Packhorse

March 24th
I'm still sick, but I'm about to leave the hotel. My throat feels closed and my nose is all stuffy. I'm gonna get a ride to the trailhead where I left off, and keep going for the day. I only plan to do about 8 miles, but it has 4 very tough climbs, and I'll camp just before the highest mountain I'll have climbed so far.
I'll pass from Georgia to North Carolina, which is something to celebrate.
I should get to Franklin on my 3rd night, so I might get the internet the following morning, we'll see. I'm very tired, and the mountains are getting higher from here, so I hope the rest did my legs some good, because it did nothing for my cold!
Posted by: The Packhorse

March 23rd
Well I'm staying in a hotel in a town called Hiawassee, Georgia. I did 30 miles over the last two days, and my feet are feeling it. I've done 6 days straight, so this is my first day where I won't budge an inch. My dad went home two days ago, but his flights were delayed because of the bad weather in Chicago. I also think he passed his cold on to me when he went, as my throat is feeling very closed today.
Tomorrow night I should cross my first state line where I leave Georgia and head into North Carolina. I still haven't decided on how much of the AT I am going to do. I was thinking of maybe doing ythe first thousand miles and finishing at roughly the halfway point in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and doing the other half another year. This will bring me very very close to Washington, DC. And would take maybe 6 weeks from here.
The bad thing about that plan was that last time I did the trail the first 1000 miles was my least favourite part! It was after Harper's Ferry where I enjoyed it more, Virginia was a struggle.
So because I'm only doing a very large section I may skip bits here and there. I'm considering skipping the Smokey's, which is very crowded, but I might end up doing them either way.
I'll try and update tonight. My motel is the Holiday Inn Express in Hiawassee. The phone number is +1 706 896 8884 and my room number is 329. I'll be checking out tomorrow morning.
Posted by: The Packhorse

March 20th
Wow, what a few days! I've done 4 days on the AT so far, but going much slower than I would have liked. My illness a week ago, and then the plane travel made my legs very stiff.
I've done nearly 40 miles in 4 days, which is quite good for my first few days! I'll probably be starting to go a little further each day.
The weather on the first day was very cold and windy, and temperatures dropped below freezing when I camped on Hawk Mountain. Since then the weather has got better, and I've even got a little sunburn
My dad flies home tomorrow, so I'll be by myself from now on. I have 5 days worth of food, and am hoping to be in Franklin, North Carolina in the next few days. I'll try and get the Internet there, but if not then my mum will keep you all updated.
Posted by: The Packhorse

March 17th
Daniel is now in Georgia and walked from the visitors centre, Amicalola Falls State Park, yesterday. He should be starting from Springer Mountain today. His Dad, John who has travelled to Georgia with him will meet up with him a couple of times before returning home to England.
Posted by: Vicki

March 13th
This is Daniel's Mum, Vicki trying out the messaging service for him
Posted by: Vicki

March 12th
Well I've been really really sick this last day. No idea how it will affect me later this week, but it can't be good.
Instead of sleeping out in a tent the first week, I might end up getting picked up by my dad each night, before he goes home.
Posted by: The Packhorse

March 11th
Bear Attacks: Their Causes And Avoidance by Stephen Herrero
Posted by: The Packhorse

March 08th
Well I have only one week left to go. I need to do some more walking, and finish off this website. Feels like time is running out really fast.
I really need to do some more walking on the Pennines. I feel very comfortable with my backpack on. It's big and cumbersome, but it hugs your body tight, and is easy to balance with. You forget you're wearing it after a bit, and when you take it off you suddenly feel very light and exposed. The backpack is heavy, but my legs can handle that. The only concern I have right now is the distance each day. I need to up my endurance a bit now that my strength is good.
Posted by: The Packhorse