From Springer Mountain Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Trekked Macon

Gentle readers, it is with great fondness for all of your interest in Macon's great trek that I will be signing off this blog and bid you adieu.  Missy has left for the ATL airport to pick up Macon this afternoon at 3:00, and I wanted to make one final post.

I went back to the beginning of the blog and re-read many of the posts. The names like Hiawassi, Franklin, Gatlinburg, Clingman's Dome, Damascus, Harper's Ferry, and on and on....seem so long ago and brought back so many memories.  However, it is with very mixed emotions that it is time to acknowledge that this trek is over.  When she started, we were, how can I phrase this delicately, concerned.  We worried about her safety, we worried about her health (injury), we worried about the wisdom of starting a business and then leaving it for six months, we were worried about ourselves bidding her farewell.  What we found was a strong, gregarious, adaptable, innovative, observant, tough adventurer we had as our daughter.  We found that the trail is a wonderful sub-culture that is supportive of these kinds of dreams, that takes in for its own all types, all strata, all persuasions of folks who are bound by a common love and adventure.  Macon has made many friends, many of whom I have no doubt she will stay in touch with for many, many years to come.  There has been a status for us too, kinda like the parents of a "starter" on the team that comes with being the parents of a "thru hiker" that has been fun and served to open many conversations.

I am so looking forward to spending some time with her while she figures out the next big adventure and to hearing the stories and tales of the trail.  The layout and designer part of her will have her edit, re-format, and basically clean up this very amateurish project of love.  So, with that I sign off, but you should stay tuned as Daystar has more to say to you!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We made it!!

I summited today! I have completed the Appalachian Trail!! Off to celebrate, more info later :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No News is Good News

Gentle readers, like me you are probably on pins and needles wondering how our intrepid crew of hikers is doing, Daystar in particular.  We have not heard anything, and really don't expect to, until tomorrow or Tuesday anyway.  Macon is in a very uninhabited part of Maine with few if any cell towers around.  Here is a link to a group that maintains the trails through the 100 miles: 100 Mile Wilderness Adventures & Outfitters .  Also if you are looking for more to read while we wait, here is the link to Tater Tot's blog :Lost and loving it

And finally, here is The Chairman singing what I consider to be Macon's theme song:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

100 Mile Wilderness to Katahdin

Well gentle readers, this is it - the home stretch to Mt. Katahdin. I've been staying at Lakeshore House in Monson, Maine the past two nights and today we will head out into the 100 Mile Wilderness. I've got about 8 days of food on my back - the heaviest my pack has been. This has been an adventure of a lifetime and I'm so excited to achieve this dream. I'll continue to write summaries of my adventures in NH & Maine, but this likely will be the last post until I summit.

If you pray, pray for me. If you drink, raise a glass for me. Whatever you do - think of me and wish me good weather and no injuries for this last bit. Thank y'all so much for all the great support!

Here we go!!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NH - Hanover

Gribley and I walked into NH soaking wet. We'd gotten drenched the night before and also again during our slack pack. It didn't matter - we were so joyed to be in New Hampshire!! It represented so much - the second to last state, and also the big, bad, beautiful White Mountains that I had been fearing and was excited for. 

Hanover is a college city trail town (home to Dartmouth) and not even a mile into NH. The AT led us directly into downtown and we made our first stop at the outfitters. Mom & Dad had mailed my warm weather gear (warmer sleeping bag, fleece jacket, socks, warm long johns, and of course lots of goodies!). Posts Offices also accept mail drops, but they tend to have shorter hours, especially on weekends. Various outfitters and hostels have proven to be a better bet. 

I also had a package from Saloman - my third pair of hiking boots.

Gribley's mother sent him a similar package and after a big time of show & tell, we consolidated boxes and headed to Ramunto's Pizza to meet up with the crew we were slack packing with. Upon arrival we learned that hikers got a free slice! We did pay for a beer, and it was so nice to sit and relax. 

At this point I need to back up a bit - a few weeks earlier I posted something about my AT hike on my Facebook page and got a message from an old childhood friend, Jackie, that had moved away while we were still young. We had connected on Facebook but otherwise had not been in touch. She messaged me saying that she and her husband, Will, lived near Hanover and offered to have me & Gribley over for a night - warm bed, shower, dinner... all things hikers dream about! I excitedly agreed - in addition to the generous things she offered, I was so excited to see an old friend! We planned for her to meet us at Ramunto's. I bought her a beer and introduced her to my hiker trash friends. (Side note - "hiker trash" is the expression used by hikers to describe a group of their hiker friends. It is always said lovingly and with a smile. We are all otherwise more or less upstanding citizens in society, and it's so crazy to always be dirty and stinky, having to hitchhike around town).

After retrieving our packs from the uncle of the hikers who offered to slack pack us, Gribley and I left with Jackie to meet Will at the grocery co-op. We picked out lots of fresh veggies for a salad and chicken, sausage, corn and zucchini to grill. We drove back to their apartment and got started with the shower/laundry process. Jackie prepared dough for grilled flat bread and Will started making the amazing dinner. 

We went back downtown for gelato and then crashed pretty hard. We'd been so exhausted leading up to NH that it was so nice to be warm, clean, full and then get a good night's sleep. The next morning, they dropped us back downtown. We mailed home our summer gear and got groceries and eventually hiked out. Stay tuned for the next bit!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Daystar sent a blog text from Caratunk, Maine - 151 miles to go!!

Daystar sent this text earlier today:
We stayed at Pierce Pond (swimming, sunset, and wildlife) last night. Gribley & I got to the Kinnebec River (Kinnebec means "long, quiet river"; it is the most formidable unbridged water-crossing on the AT) around 9:30am, met the ferry guy, signed waivers, and crossed over smoothly in the red canoe (the ferry is "the official" white blaze route). Quick resupply at Sterling Inn (really cute B&B) and then got a ride to Northern Outdoors, home to Kennebec River Brewery. Next stop, Monson!

White blaze in the canoe


Monday, September 10, 2012

Vermont Part Three

Gribley in Sally's Beauty Supply
Once we hit the road to Rutland, we stuck out our thumbs and got a ride from a postal service worker. He dropped us downtown at the grocery store. We picked up the next few days' worth of food. There was a Sally's Beauty Supply in the same shopping plaza, and Gribley picked up a tube of mustache wax. The boys have a tradition of not shaving their beards or trimming their mustaches. His has gotten longer than he's ever dealt with, haha, so with the wax he can curl the sides up, keeping it out of the way.
French Toast at the Inn at Long Trail

We had burgers at a local pub. Tater & Pants were staying in town at a hostel down the street and joined us for a beer. They headed off to see a movie, and Gribley and I hitched back to the Inn at the Long Trail ( The Inn has a great Irish pub, and let's hikers camp across the street. We set up our tents and went to the pub for a few Black & Tans, except made with Long Trail Ale + Guinness ( The Olympics were on, and it was nice to kick back and root for America! We got up the next morning and had a fabulous breakfast before hitting the trail.
The Inn at Long Tail

We were off to a late start and then had a long lunch by a lake. Right by the lake there was a sign pointing the way to Katahdin, so of course we followed!

We were headed to "The Lookout" which supposedly had an abandoned cabin with great views. It was getting dark though, and we came by a grassy patch by a dirt road and decided to call it an early night.

We got up early and decided to have breakfast up at the cabin - we felt better about checking it out in the daylight than at night. Hillbilly Berry was there - an older guy we'd met back in NC. We had a leisurely breakfast and went up on the roof deck despite the misty rain.

View from Lookout
After Lookout we headed out for Hanover, NH. We were talking about how hungry we were, and how much we missed "real food" (food that doesn't come in powder packets that you add water to), when we came to a road. Just as we were approaching to pass, SOS and Trail Mama happened to drive by on their way to Woodstock. They invited us to come to town and join them for lunch. Without a second of thought, we yelled, "Yes, please!!" and hopped in the car. We found a little sandwich shop, picked up lunch to go, and discovered a picnic table by a stream in town. Trail Mama was headed to the library, and SOS dropped us back to the trail. After a good lunch, we were craving ice cream, and there was a small farm store by the trail. We each bought a pint and sat by the trail enjoying our indulgence. About five more hikers joined us and also bought pints. After all that eating, it took us a good while to get up and going. That ended up being a bad decision - a bad rainstorm was on the way, and we had a ways to go before the next shelter. Gribley wrote an email to his aunt describing our wet trek, and he agreed to let me share it here:

        "Finding water is no longer an issue, in fact, it has been increasingly difficult to avoid it! For the last 140 miles or so, I have been hiking through Vermont's Green Mountains and, if I had any doubt as to how they acquired that name, they have long since been erased. The mountains are unbelievably lush and dense with a thick, vibrant undergrowth. They are magical. However, I believe the ability of a forest to support this amount of plant life is directly correlated to the amount of rain it receives. And here, when it rains, it pours.
        Two nights ago, my friend Daystar and I got a bit of a late start to the second half of my hiking day. The trail emerged at road crossing where a farm was selling delicious Vermont ice cream. I ate an entire pint, so the decision to immediately resume hiking fell to my stomach (not my most reason-oriented decision maker.) Eight miles still remained on our agenda to a shelter which was the planned destination for the evening. I heard thunder in the distance as the sun was beginning to set and put my legs into overdrive hoping that we would make it there before the skies split -- we didn't. Our questionably water-resistant headlamps were the only source of light and the rain fell so torrentially that the reflection of the light off the falling droplets completely obscured any vision. I slipped and slid down the path-turned-stream by feel and the light of lighting strikes for about a mile and a half before reaching the shelter. What an experience that was!
        Luckily, our fellow hikers who had already arrived at the shelter and avoided the rain sprang into action in character compassion and scooted together to fit a couple more wet, cold hikers into the shelter. I was able to change my clothes and cook a hot meal and by the time I crawled into my sleeping bag, I was snug and comfortable with yet another amazing, yet trying, Appalachian Trail experience under my belt. The experiences that I encounter out here run the spectrum from uncomfortable, amazing, exhilarating, compassionate, terrifying and everything in between, but the stories I will have to tell and the strength of character it builds will last until my last breath. It is such an amazing adventure."

The group in the shelter that Gribley mentioned above was a group of four hiking the Vermont section of the AT. Two of them hiked the AT last fall but had to skip VT due to Irene and were back to finish the last bit of trail. Their uncle lives in NH and offered to slack-pack them to Hanover. They graciously invited us along, which was a great treat! We got poured on again headed into Hanover but were so happy to cross the NH border!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vermont Part Two

Vermont Part Two

Our stay in Manchester Center ended up being very restful but I still felt a bit sick. We bought a half gallon of OJ to chug, veggies & fruit to snack on, and wandered over to a local Mexican restaurant for a light dinner of chicken tortilla soup & salad. The next morning, Frank Sutton, our host, ( served coffee & scones, and we relaxed on the side porch.

Sutton's Place
Gribley signing guest book

After settling up & signing the guest book, we stopped by Mountain Goat Outfitters (  so Gribley could buy a new pair of hiking boots. He started out with Merrells, which he loved, but they wore out really fast and Merrell only provides one free replacement. If anyone is considering a hiking shoe, especially for a thru-hike, I definitely recommend Saloman (  They've sent me two free replacement pairs without any hassle or questions, and when my younger sister, Cole "Bebop" hiked 400 miles with us and got an unusual tear in her Saloman boot, she was sent a free replacement pair. 

We ran into Hop Along at the outfitter. We'd met him back in Gatlinburg, TN at the Grand Prix Motel. He's an older British fellow and had to get off the trail a ways back due to some minor injuries. He still wanted to travel north along the AT, even if he couldn't hike it, so he had been "supporting" Chameleon while she slack-packed, meaning he drove a car to meet her at road crossings so she could hike with a day pack. Lucky for us, he agreed to drive us over to the Post Office, which was closing in 10 minutes - no way we would have made it otherwise. Gribley mailed home his old shoes and some miscellaneous items. I mailed home a book and miscellaneous items of my own. Carrying all your belongings on your back - up and down mountains - keeps you constantly assessing how essential each item is, and if there are ever items that can be parted with to save weight, we love to get rid of those things. I've found this to be an ongoing process throughout the whole hike. For a few weeks I may love an item, only to realize it really isn't necessary and not worth the weight.

After the Post Office, Hop Along dropped us off at the supermarket for the next round of resupply until Rutland, VT. We bought groceries and then sat outside the store repackaging everything. This used to be a long process but I feel like an old pro at this point. All granola bars and oatmeal packets are removed from the cardboard boxes, Pasta Roni or cous cous dinners are put into ziplocks (by the way, ziplock brand, heavy duty freezer quart size are the best - they are the most durable and can be reused many times). If we buy a block of cheese, it is removed from the plastic wrapper and put in a ziplock. Plastic jars of peanut butter are opened to remove the seal. Basically, we look for any trash that we can dispose of in town. We all have pretty high "Leave No Trace" ethics, and packing out trash is important. Every wrapper or piece of packaging that goes into the woods comes back out and is placed in a trash can. We sometimes even become "eco-warriors" as we call it, when we pick up trash on the trail or at a campsite that someone else has left. It's upsetting that the mindset that so many people have is that someone else will come along and take care of it.

Anyway, after taking care of food & packaging trash in town, we still didn't quite feel like hiking out in the 90 degree weather and decided to see what movies were playing. We realized we'd seen all of them and were debating what to do when the ticket guy came out with a big bag of popcorn and invited us to come sit in the AC - such a treat! We made some phone calls and relaxed until the day cooled off a bit. Getting back to the trail from town is always an adventure, whether we stick out our thumbs or kindly ask for rides from people in parking lots. We saw a guy with a bright green Mexican soccer jersey wearing a cowboy hat get into a huge, super nice pickup truck, and Gribley asked for a ride. The man had no idea what the AT was but agreed to give us a ride. We explained that we were hiking from Georgia to Maine, and he was shocked. "For fun?!" he asked us. He told us that he had walked from Guatamala to the US, and it had been a scary, dangerous journey. He is now an American citizen and breeds horses and was in town for the big horse show. Crazy world! He wished us good luck and dropped us back at the trail head.

I still was feeling under the weather, and we only hiked a few miles up to Bromley Mountain where there was an abandoned ski hut. We were unsure if it was ok to stay there but found a hiker register inside and realized lots of hikers came by for a snack, and many had spent the night. No one else showed up that night, and we watched the sunset before going to bed early.

Gribley at sunset on Bromley Mountain

Abandoned skit hut on Bromley Mountain
Daystar at sunset on Bromley Mountain

 The next morning I really wasn't feeling well, which was apparent to Gribley by how late I slept. Usually I'm an early riser on the trail, eager to get up and get moving. That morning I just couldn't get up so he let me sleep and made some sweet efforts to make me feel better: picking little flowers & arranging all my breakfast things.

Gribley's arrangement of breakfast foods
Breakfast in the abandoned hut on Bromley Mountain

We took our time eating, drinking coffee, and enjoying the porch before setting out. I made the mental decision that I just needed to will myself to get better, that I was in this for the long haul and I needed to buck up & get going. We hiked to a random stream about 14 miles away, not quite as far as we had hoped, but decided to call it a night around 6 (earlier than when we usually stop). Gribley and I both love camping by streams - water is easy to get at night and in the morning before leaving, and most important it is so soothing to fall asleep next to.

We agreed that, in exchange for calling it an early night the day before, we would hike some big miles the following day. We had some great trail and passed White Rocks Cliff, where many hiker's had left cairns. It was pretty incredible.

We hiked past Clarendon Shelter up and over Beacon Hill to a small, crummy stealth spot amidst a dense pine forest.

The crummy site at least was a good incentive to get up & get moving into Rutland, VT - our next resupply. The hike that day included a reroute as a result of Hurricane Irene's damage last August. The reroute was actually longer and went along a road instead of through the woods. Like most other hikers, we decided to hike the original section and check out the damage. We were really glad we did - that section marked 500 miles to Katahdin!
Daystar signing register at 500 miles to go
The damage overall wasn't that bad, except for any waterways- you could see that they had flooded and some of the banks had been washed away. One part was a little gnarly, and we had to walk across a sketchy ladder.

Gribley crossing stream.  View of Irene's damage ~ Aug '11
Luckily we made it through the Irene section ok and climbed up Killington - the highest peak in VT that is on the AT (I think the highest peak in the state is further north, away from the AT). It was gorgeous up there, and we could look north to the Whites in NH.

View of the NH Whites
Gribley and Daystar
We hiked down into Rutland for resupply. More to come, stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rain in Maine

Daystar texted earlier to ask about the weather forecast between Rangeley and Stratton.
Thankfully, it looks pretty good after a cold wet day
and sleeping through a downpour last night. 
Today, Daystar and fellow trekkers climbed Saddleback Mountain,
"one of the most spectacular above tree-line stretches of the Trail in Maine."

Though drenched, Daystar is in good spirits and is planning to hike to Stratton by this Friday.  She and Gribley and not sure who else are at Poplar Ridge Lean-to tonight with 209.7 miles left to hike, but who's counting?
Gribley in the rain

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vermont Part One

At the Vermont border!

Making it into Vermont felt like quite an accomplishment - only three states to go! The AT in Vermont is shared with the Long Trail, the oldest continuous footpath in the US and an inspiration for the AT.

After hitting the border, we hiked a bit before a long snack break by a stream.  We passed by Congdon Shelter around 6pm and decided to push on further to get as close to Bennington as possible for our morning resupply. For most of the trip so far, finding a stealth camp spot was a breeze. The trail had been relatively flat and the forest wasn't very dense. We found this wasn't the case in VT - the trail was all up or all down, and very dense. Wherever it was flat, it was also muddy. I was doubtful, but we ended up finding a spot to pitch our tents before it got dark. 
small stealth spot

sick Gribley
We got up early the next morning to head into town. Gribley started to feel a cold coming on, which wasn't a good sign. We'd all stayed pretty healthy the whole trip, despite our sugary, processed diets & consistent over excursion, but at that point we were all starting to feel pretty run down. Anyway, we had an easy hitch into town - a nice guy with two little blond boys. We did laundry, bought food, and then were disappointed to learn that the rec center mentioned in our books was going through renovations and would not be letting hikers take showers there.. oh well! After picking up a really sweet package at the Post Office from BeBop, a nice man offered to drive us back to the trail. Gribley and I had been ahead of Tater & Pants, but when we got back to the trail, Tater was there! (Pants was still a bit behind). We all took a long break by a river before hiking uphill a few miles toward the Goddard Shelter. Vermont proved to be tougher than us, and we pulled up short at a tiny stealth spot with a fire ring. I love having fires on the trail and usually we are too tired to make the effort. Unfortunately that night, Gribley was up all night coughing & trying to ride out his cold. I realized how easy it is to take for granted having a bed, water, and medicine at home. He sounded pretty miserable in his tent and just tried to drink water all night.  
The next morning, Pants caught up with us and we hiked up Glastenbury Mtn, which had a cool observation deck with a great view. We noticed the trail was getting much more crowded at this point - lots of hikers doing the Long Trail, AT "SoBos" (SouthBounders), and then some folks who decided to skip PA and other states with intentions of returning to them after summiting Katahdin. This crowding seemed most evident the night we stayed at Story Spring shelter. We barely found tent sites, as the shelter & land around it was totally packed. I found one tiny tent spot, that required a log in my vestibule, but hey - it worked!

Glastenbury Mtn
We left early in the morning to hike up Stratton Mtn. It was a gorgeous day and we even had a chance to swim in Stratton Pond. We stopped a bit early at William B. Douglas Shelter - it was half a mile off trail, but really beautiful. Its rare that all four of us (Gribley, Pants, Tater, & me) actually all camp at the same camp site, so it was fun to have a fire and all hang out together. On a sad note, I think I had caught whatever Gribley had and was starting to feel under the weather. I went to bed early, drank tea & lots of water, but still woke up with a sore throat. We were all heading into Manchester Center in the morning for groceries, and Gribley and I decided to stay a night in town to recover from our colds. We found a really cozy B&B - Sutton's Place. I napped all afternoon and Gribley watched the Olympics downstairs.
Ok folks, I'll try to catch up on VT part 2 from Stratton, Maine - our next town stop. We will hopefully arrive there on Friday. Happy trails!

End of MA

Hello readers, Daystar here on a computer in Rangeley, Maine. I was up at 5am this morning to hike the 9 miles into town. After a big burger & lots of fries, and a quick stop at the grocery store, I'm now parked at the library for the afternoon to do some catching up on the blog.

I believe I last left off in Dalton, MA. We ended up taking an unplanned zero that day after being tempted by popcorn & AC while watching Batman in the next town over. Six hiker bums tried hitching back all together, which rarely works unless you come across someone friendly with a pick-up truck. We all split up and lo & behold, Tatertot & I quickly got a ride back to Dalton (I hear girl hikers have better luck hitching than guy hikers :) Back in town, we decided to have just one beer while waiting on the boys. As often happens, one beer turned into a few beers which turned into orders of nachos, and then the next thing we knew, the opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics came on, and what do you know, USA was almost last in line for the parade and at that point we just HAD to stay to watch USA! Needless to stay, we ended up staying another night...

That next morning was rough leaving and then it started pouring rain.. not fun.. We slowly made our way to Cheshire, MA. The trail runs through town and there is a nice Catholic church has a small room for hikers. We were so grateful to have a space to dry off. Tatertot & I walked down to a pub for burgers. Because it was Saturday night, Gribely decided to stay the night so he could attend church in the morning. Pants & Tater hiked about three miles out of town. I was so tired, I only made it about a mile outside of town before calling it a night. 
My little stealth campsite off the trail

My life in stuff sacks

Sunday morning, Gribley caught up with me and we hiked up Mt. Greylock - our first mountain over 3,000 feet since the Shenandoahs in VA!

Mt. Greylock

View from Mt. Greylock
After a long lunch enjoying the gorgeous view, we headed down into North Adams. The trail sort of runs through the town. We crossed a river and camped just on the north side of town. In the morning, we ran back into town without our packs to get enough food to make it into Bennington, VT - our next planned resupply.

Crossing the river north of North Adams, MA
 Soon after, we hit the Vermont border!

Monday, September 3, 2012

"These miles won't hike themselves...."

Cloud Ocean
Daystar checked in with her mother this morning.  Maine has proven to be as difficult as advertised.  They left Andover on Saturday and hiked essentially straight up and down over huge boulders, many so difficult to climb the local trail clubs have installed iron handles and foot steps to assist hikers in the climb over the boulders.  Our merry band of trekkers used to knock down anywhere from 15 to 22 miles in a day, but the new normal is 10 miles due to the incredibly challenging terrain.  They camped near Old Blue Mountain yesterday and have passed cloud ocean (see pic).  They need to stop and take a dip in the ocean as they haven't done laundry in two weeks and it's getting, how can I say this delicately, ripe.  They hope to make Stratton by the weekend.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Macon makes it to Andover Maine

Earth Station in Andover ME
Macon called this morning to tell us she has made it to Andover and will do a small re-supply before they head back out this afternoon.  Interestingly enough Andover is home of the Andover Earth Station built in 1961 to communicate with Telstar 1.  Macon communicates with TelMom1. Today the signal was clear,  she sounded great, and ready for the final 256.5 miles of this trek.  Hopefully she will send some more pictures to us to post.