Ken called from Neels Gap tonight, which is 30 miles from the end of the AT! He expects to finish tomorrow, Monday October 29. His request, as he mentioned before, is that everyone get out for a walk at some point tomorrow to help commemorate his walk in the woods.

From Springer Mountain, GA he will go to Atlanta for a couple days, on to Florida next weekend, and then to NY to officially decompress from the hike.

Yay for Ken, and for all the AT thru hikers class of 2007!!!!!

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October 28-31??? And Thanks! And GEAR FAILURE 
1. I'm 160 miles from the end, and even at a "slow" pace that's 8 days for me, or October 30. At a more average pace it could be 6 or 7 days, so October 28 or 29. I'll give a final update when I hit Neels Gap which is 30 miles from Springer!!!

2. Thanks for the water drops and info! There's definitely been a lot of water at road crossings in TN/NC (VA was surprisingly unhelpful in this respect) and now GA! :)

3. Walking from my hotel room in Fontana Village, overlooking the majestic Smokies, I stepped on a stone funny and caused a strap to rip completely off my Chaco sandals - my primary footwear! The N.O.C. is in 30 miles and has a good footwear selection, and my Crocs can get me there if need-be... but with the help of an awl, screwdriver and zip-ties I have managed to temporarily repair my sandals AND reinforce the other straps close to ripping. Yay!

See you in 30 or 130 miles when I next have internet!
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October 31??? 
I'm randomly educating a guesstimate finish date! October 31st, Halloween! Just like when I was half way and suggested to some of you that you partake in the "1/2 Gallon Challenge" by eating some ice cream with me, I am now asking that on Oct 31 you get outside and walk! A short hike, walk, run, picnic, whatever! Celebrate my last day of hiking by getting outside! Keep checking the site for any changes, but for now plan on Halloween. I'll let you know if that changes.

I'm about to enter the Smokies and unfortunately had to put a few warmer articles of clothing in my pack (ohhhh the weight!) in anticipation of 30F temperatures. Once I'm through the Smokies I can shed those pounds though, so hopefully I'll be through by Sunday.

Gettin' there!
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Well I am FINALLY in Tennessee and North Carolina! To welcome me, both states are throwing a "Winter Wonderland" festival just for me, or so it seems. Temps are dropping - but will go back up again - and I just might see frost any day now or even snow! Roan Mountain is within my sites and at 6285ft (no view, however) it will also be coooooold - I don't think I'll stay at that shelter, even though it's the highest on the AT!

On the plus side, after more than a month I have once again WALKED IN THE RAIN! It's been so dry that the last time I hiked in the rain was Duncannon, PA I think. The last time it rained (at night) was in the Shenandoah's. My second day in to TN/NC I had 4 hours of wet hiking and then it rained most of the night while I was warmly tucked away in a log cabin hostel. Ahhhhh... tonight I'm also staying in a [more modern] hostel, hence the internet.

Thanks Andrea for getting those photos online so quickly, and thanks to the Postal Service for delivering it - it only took, what, 14 days to go 200 miles? Figures, the one and only time I sent a flash card in the mail this happens. hehe

I was originally planning on some slow days and some zeroes (no miles) but the hostel owner today suggested I get through the Smokies ASAP before the cold sets in. So I think I'll do just that. Plus I think there are some new hikers gaining on me fast and I'm not ready to see them yet. :)

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Sept Photos 
After nearly two weeks, Ken's package to me with his latest batch of photos finally turned up.

***See new photos link at right.***

I also got to check in with Ken in Gettysburg, PA this weekend. No, he hadn't turned around and hiked back that whole way, but he did take a few days off and rode with new friends (thanks Geezer and Slow Barbara!) up to Gettysburg for the 25th annual "gathering" of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association. It was great to catch up and meet lots of new people. We got to see some fabulous photos and film from other long distance hikes in the U.S., so I'm sure Ken has some more ideas now for his next adventure. We were both intrigued to hear about the latest extension of the International Appalachian Trail up in Newfoundland.

Ken got back on the AT this morning in Damascus, VA.

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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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