459 miles to go! 
I'm in Damascus, VA just 4 miles from the NC/TN borders and can't wait to leave the state behind! Not that it's a bad state, but it's certainly the longest (600 or so miles). It's also been one of the most beautiful. Unfortunately the envelope I sent to Andrea with the memory card of photos is worryingly late in arriving, so hopefully we haven't lost them...

I saw 12 bear in the Shenandoah's and even walked underneath one that was hanging out 10 feet above my head eating acorns. I scared it just like it scared me and we both froze - then I hurriedly walked on and it remained frozen in a look of "maybe it didn't see me". Apparently they're eating the acorns early this year because of the drought. I do have (well, Andrea MIGHT have) photos of a mother bear in a tree 100' off the ground over a parking lot - with her 2 cubs - lunching.

As for this drought... it's bad. Worst in many years. And yet, so far as long as you can carry 10 miles worth of water you'll be ok - unfortunately how do you know this time it won't be 15 or 20 miles? The longest stretch I had was 16 miles, but if I were desperate I'm sure I could have take a detour to find water. These days I'm carrying 2-6 liters of water at a time which. With these mild temperatures I can easily hike the whole day with just 2 liters, but that's because I drink the most at night in camp, which is another 1-2 liters. So if I'm carrying 6 liters I can walk for 30 miles in one day, drink up at night, and still have 1/2 a liter for the morning which will last maybe 10 miles. So basically 6 liters can get me 40 miles, and I'll definitely find water in that time. The question is, how do I know when to carry 6 liters instead of 2? Educated guess, info from other hikes, and luck. :)

Well, my internet session is about to expire, time to go. I don't think I'll have another scheduled mail drop since I'm about 20 days away from finishing the AT! Go Ken Go! Oh, and once again I'm hiking in my solo bubble (since Front Royal, VA) but there are a few not far behind and a few 1-3 days ahead. Cheers!
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Done With Shenandoah 
848 miles to go! The funny thing is that 50% of that is in Virginia! It's such a big state. I'm in Waynesboro, VA which is the first town on the southern end of Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah was great, the bears were plentiful (I saw about 10) and often hanging out above my head in the trees eating acorns! Water's still a problem and the little rain we just had doesn't seem to have made a difference.

There are a good number of southbounders behind me by a few days, so we're starting to come through the area.
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Off I go! 
As Andrea wrote the other day, I'm back on the trail. The first day back I was checking all the trail registers assuming I'd find a bunch of SOBOs ahead of me. To my surprise there were none! I camped, slept, and when I woke up in the morning two SOBOs pass me as I'm taking down camp! It happened too quick for the event to register and not even a single wave was exchanged. Five minutes later I'm coming out of the privy to find Smoky and Brit stopped for breakfast! Long story short I'm instantly in amongt 6 SOBOs (Smoky, Brit, Stoker, Quasi, Sweet Tea and Kiwi/Spoonman) and we all move about the same pace. I was hoping to walk alone through VA, but I can't pass up the chance to spend time with Brit and Smoky so I find myself taking a day off in Harpers Ferry whilst I wait for them to recover from some long days.

I do love Harpers Ferry though, so this works out great.


** BTW, thanks to everyone for checking this site and taking interest in my journey. When I am done with the trail I will be putting captions to my photos AND writing up my trip into a "book" format rather than these little blog summaries. The blog is just to whet your appetite. :) **

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On the Trail Again... 
After an extended visit, I dropped Ken back off at Del Mark Park, MD at 12:30pm today to start hiking again. A little more than 1,000 miles to go!

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1100 Mile Summary AVAILABLE! 
New summary available, look to the right...

Photos ARE NOW AVAILABLE! 07/24-08/25!
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1041 Miles! 
Well, I'm just a couple days away from the half way point - which I should hit this week! A couple days later I'll be with Andrea in DC for a few "zero days" (no mileage on the AT), so this will be a short but eventful week. I'm currently in Duncannon at the locally historic (and part of AT history) Doyle Hotel and find myself with 4 southbounders - 2 I've spent the past week with, 2 are jumping around the trail a little because they don't have enough time to complete the whole thing. Lady, Mr Wiffle, Jedi and Navigator. All great people. I also find myself with a potentially dangerous health condition and will be picking up some meds today - there's a chance I have acquired Giardia (intestinal parasite) and am in the early stages of it. I won't go into specifics, but it is easily treated and in 5 days of treatment I should be right as rain. It's possible it's something entirely different, or even just diet related (need more fiber), but the meds are safe and will kill whatever else it might be - or the Citrucil fiber supplement I'll buy today will be the key. Until I'm better I just need to keep hydrating and overeating. At least I've gained 3 pounds since VT, so I'm pretty sure I'm eating right otherwise.

I'll leave a more detailed summary of the trail once I hit DC, but here's the short version:
- VT was muddy and rainy!
- MA was buggy and less rainy
- CT was gentle, less bugs, and river walks (ahhhh)
- NY was virtually bug free, lots of small ups and downs
- NJ was over quickly, saw no bears, bug free
- PA is long but flat, springs and streams mostly DRY so carry lots of water

Oh, and my second Gregory backpack began to fall apart after a week. :(
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Fuzzy Ken 
Ken met up with a guy in Bear Mountain, NY and got to play with his iPhone. And so we get to see how fuzzy he was last week! (He's shaved since then.)

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Two "Zero" Days 
Adam, Sara and her father (Peter) met me to hike a 5.2 mile stretch of the AT up and over Bromley Mountain near Manchester, VT. Being about an hour from there, I decided to let them take me home with them to NY (conveniently also where my belongings and "base camp" are located). So I took Sunday and Monday off to re-gear, re-supply, and re-gain some of the 25 pounds my body has lost since I began. To be fair, only 15 pounds were from my core body weight (170 pounds) and the other 10 came from the weight I gained intentionally weeks before my start. I returned to civilization at 155 pounds - but a lot of fat has been converted to muscle so I prefer to say I'm in "marathon shape" rather than "skinny as a rail". :)

Anyway, I added two links on the right to help you find the photos! When I get time I'll add captions and organize them better, but one thing you realize when you get to town is that you have far too much stuff to do in too little time.

Tuesday morning (July 24) I'm hoping Sara can get me back to the trail - I'm anxious to see who's caught up and/or passed me!
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398.5 Miles Down, 1.5 states! 
Around 11am this morning I finished the section in New Hampshire known as The Whites! Up and down many mountains, in 45F temperatures with 40mph winds and rain, and rocks galore! Didn't get to see much because of the clouds, but I'm sure The Whites are gorgeous. :)

Take a look at the right side for the "398 Mile Summary" page for full details! In short, the hardest part of the trail (The Whites and Maine) is done and I'm told is pretty much flat and fast from here to Georgia!
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I'm pretty sure I'll be in Gorham, NH around July 6th, I have updated the Mail Locations accordingly.

Gregory sent me a loaner backpack that's rated to carry LESS weight than the backpack I'm sending back - the backpack I'm sending back was falling apart because I was carrying too much weight. We'll see how long this one lasts. hehe

Getting in to Stratton I pulled a 22 mile, 15 hour day despite significant elevation changes - so I'm hoping that the next stretch through the Mahoosuc's (which is rated as the hardest so far on the trail) won't be so bad. So far my legs and body are holding up just fine and I'm feeling good. I'm definitely losing a little sensation in my feet, and occasionally a minor tear in my achilles acts up.

I've seen a lot of hikers, a lot more than I thought I would - and it seems the common thought from everyone is "There are too many hikers". Once us SOBO's pass the NOBO's (maybe around Maryland?) the trail will really feel empty.

Well, I'm just waiting for a ride back to the trail from the owner of this hostel, but if it gets too late I'll just stand out by the road with my thumb out. Turns out the guy that gave me a ride last night to town was the same guy that gave "Brit" a ride in this morning - the locals definitely like to support the trail. :)
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