NH and White Mountains National Forest Photo Update

Snapshot of our time in NH and WMNF!

on top of Wildcat Mountain

on top of Wildcat Mountain

up to the north peak of mt mousilake

up to the north peak of mt mousilake

first mountain of the whites

first mountain of the whites

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the rest of WMNF

the rest of WMNF

miss janets van

miss janets van

Kinsman

Kinsman

lonesome lake looking to franconia ridge

lonesome lake looking to franconia ridge

mt liberty

mt liberty

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bottle cap on mt liberty

bottle cap on mt liberty

franconia ridge

franconia ridge

waffles on mt laffayette

waffles on mt laffayette

ethan pond

ethan pond

webster cliffs

webster cliffs

presidential ridgeline

presidential ridgeline

lakes of the clouds and mt washington

lakes of the clouds and mt washington

sunset from lakes of the clouds hut

sunset from lakes of the clouds hut

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we hiked those! (view from near the stop of mt washington)

we hiked those! (view from near the stop of mt washington)

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CT/MA/VT Photo Update

Mt Killington, VT

Mt Killington, VT

As I said in my previous post, WE’RE IN MAINE! But again I am limited in computer time so I’m going to recap CT MA and VT with a quick photo update! Enjoy! (again the pictures are in a random order)

Mt Killington, VT

Mt Killington, VT

climb up to Killington, VT

climb up to Killington, VT

500 miles to Katahdin, VT

500 miles to Katahdin, VT

pine trees, VT

pine trees, VT

Mt Greylock! MA

Mt Greylock! MA

Stratton Pond, VT

Stratton Pond, VT

MA/VT stateline!

MA/VT stateline!

Everett Mountain, MA

Everett Mountain, MA

Dalton, MA

Dalton, MA

Race Mountain, MA

Race Mountain, MA

wild blueberries everywhere!

wild blueberries everywhere!

Sages Ravine (MA/CT)

Sages Ravine (MA/CT)

CT/MA stateline (almost)

CT/MA stateline (almost)

sunset at Riga Shelter (CT)

sunset at Riga Shelter (CT)

Falls Village, CT

Falls Village, CT

hiker trash, Kent, CT

hiker trash, Kent, CT

covered bridge, CT

covered bridge, CT

NY/CT stateline

NY/CT stateline

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Connecticut River, VT/NH

Connecticut River, VT/NH

getting back on the trail in Woodstock, VT

getting back on the trail in Woodstock, VT

Burlington, VT

Burlington, VT

Burlington, VT

Burlington, VT

Thundering Falls, VT

Thundering Falls, VT

MAINE!

I know I’ve been very behind on blog updates (and I hope to catch up once our trip is complete). I wanted to let all my readers know that Bottle Cap and I have arrived in Maine! Below are some photos (out of order b/c for some reason i cant figure out how to put them in the right order on wordpress)!

Bottle Cap in front of south pond

climbing rebar climbing rebar

Bottle Cap in front of south pond
so long new hampshire!

so long new hampshire!

yay! stateline!

yay! stateline!

rebar up Goose Eye Mountain

rebar up Goose Eye Mountain

Alpine bog on top of Goose Eye Mountain

Alpine bog on top of Goose Eye Mountain

falling into an alpine bog

falling into an alpine bog

On top of Baldpate Mountain

On top of Baldpate Mountain

that bog is trekking pole deep

that bog is trekking pole deep

climbing baldpate mountain

climbing baldpate mountain

Day 83 to 98: Pine Grove Furnace to Delaware Water Gap, PA

When we reached the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia a couple of former thru hikers welcomed us to the suck. And despite a few low points in Virginia we had many more good timessince then. However I would say the complete suck started after Pine Grove Furnace in PA. So due to an absence of computer/library in awhile and the miserable times in this section I decided to do a summary blog post of the rest of Pennsylvania.

The beginning of this section started with some hot and humid days. The section up to Port Clinton was filled with PUDs and scattered rocks. The farther we got from Southern PA the more the rocks popped up and the Lea time the wad between rocks. The first town we came to was Boiling Springs. It was a huge disappointment. It is a designated AT community but we felt like hikers weren’t really welcome and they were trying to hide us. We encountered rudeness grin residents and weren’t welcome in a local restaurant. There was a free campsite but it was located next to railroad tracks with frequent trains coming through at all hours of the night.

After Boiling Springs the heat continued into our hike to Duncannon. We stayed at the Doyle Hotel which was very hiker friendly but a bit rundown. There was not much to do in town besides hang out at the hotel. After Duncannon the heat, rocks, and cicadas continued. In addition to the heat we faced isolated rain and thunder storms.  The wet shoes resulted in blisters which lead to me falling and hurting my Achilles. On an afternoon after getting trail magic (one of the best so far) I realized I was not going to make it to the shelter before dark. We ended up taking a short vacation from the trail. We got a ride to Lickdale to stay in a hotel one night and free camping in Port Clinton for 2 days.

Port Clinton was a cute little town and close to the largest Cabella’s in the US. While there we got a fun visit from my college friends, Sarah and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth took us to the Yuengling factory and we spent the night with her and Sarah in Readding.

From Port Clinton to Palmerton we were plagued with rain and mosquitos. The rain made rocks slippery and our feet were hurting. We went through some poorly  maintained and poorly marked trail. By the time we reached Palmerton our feet were very sore with the worst yet to come. Palmerton was the first town we fully enjoyed though. From there we did 20 miles to Wind Gap. We camped behind a bar and they let us cook whatever we wanted from the kitchen for breakfast in the morning. Then it was 15 agonizingly painful miles to Delaware Water Gap (DWG). It included 5 straight miles of rock pointed straight up like daggers to our feet. We were so exhausted we took 2 days off. Those days allowed our friend Erik (aka Waffles) to finally catch up. And so ended our time in Pennsylvania. I apologized for typos but I typed this from my phone.

Day 78 to 82: Harpers Ferry Hostel to Ironmasters Mansion Hostel, Pine Grove Furnace State Park, PA

Find pictures of this section here and here!

Day 78: Harpers Ferry Hostel to Dahlgren Campground (15.8 miles)

For breakfast, we ate all-you-can-eat make your own pancake breakfast. Pancakes are much easier to make with a stove and a grittle. We had the usual up and out of town but it wasn’t nearly as steep. At the top (Weverton Cliffs) we had a nice view of Harpers Ferry and the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers joining. The trail was mostly flat and a little rocky. We had lunch at a large park and civil war memorial. We got to take advantage of running water and the parks bathrooms. Anytime we can use a toilet with running water, Bottle Cap and I feel very spoiled. We raced to the campground, hoping to set up our tent before it started to rain. Fortunately, a heavy rain never came and it only sprinkled. At the campground, we ran into Jet Lag, Tags, Peaches, and Mother Teresa, who we have passed several times along the trail. Right before the campsite, we saw a fawn calling for its mom. It was very cute but ran away before I could get a picture. At the campground we also met a section hiker with an adorable puppy. I got to watch and play with the puppy while his owner went to the restaurant up the road. The campground was close enough to the road we ordered pizza and soda for dinner. Bottle Cap and I try to never miss an opportunity for town food.

Day 79: Dahlgren Campground to Raven Rock Shelter (18.8 miles)

It was a long mileage day, but the trail was flat enough that we made very good time. In the morning we passed another historic park with the first Washington Monument. Again, we got to take advantage of bathrooms and running water. The day was growing increasingly hotter and more humid. It started to feel like summer because of all the vactioners. There was only one tough climb right before the shelter. It was a beautiful, relatively new shelter (maintained and built by the PATC). The only downside was the far location of the water. Luckily a southbounder had given us a heads up and we filled up at the creek before hand. So far MD had made me feel like a hiking machine.

Day 80: Raven Rock Shelter to Antietam Shelter (12.0 miles)

Sadly, this was our last day in MD. We did a short hike to High Rocks which had a view of the upcoming PA valley. A gentleman with boyscouts told us that if we took the road down we would have a much easier hike to the Pen Mar State Park. So we did a short walk down the road to a nice park with bathrooms and soda machines. Jet Lag, Peaches, Mother Teresa, and Tags were all there and they had already called a shuttle into town. We resupplied at Walmart and had lunch at a Chinese buffet. While filling my prescriptions at Walmart, the lady behind the counter offered to give us a ride back to the trail head in her truck. She even took us by the post office. Just passed Pen Mar Park, we passed another state line and left Maryland for Pennsylvannia (aka Rocks-sylvannia). We went up and over a mountain and took at short break at Deer Lick Shelter. We had planned to move 2 shelters past to Tumbling Run but we heard many hikers were going there. We stopped early at a less crowded shelter with a nice water source with Jet Lag, Tags, Mother, and Peaches.

Day 81: Antietam Shelter to Quarry Gap Shelter (13.4 miles)

It poured rain on and off all night leaving us to pack up a wet tent in the morning. We had a nice little view at Chimney Rocks where the elevation change in PA to all the other states was very visible. All the mountains seemed so much smaller. We had a nice lunch at Rocky Mountain Shelter and then second lunch at Calcedonia State Park. It was a nice state park with a concession stand, bathrooms, and a pool. While eating we got to dry out our tent on the grass. We ended up stopping early at Quarry Gap Shelter because we ate way too much and it was so nice. It was like a home away from home complete with a sun dial and welcome gate. All of the nicest shelters and section of trail have been maintained by the PATC. Turtle and Snail were also at the shelter along with some friends who were hiking with them for a couple weeks.

Day 82: Quarry Gap Shelter to Ironmasters Mansion Hostel, Pine Grove Furnace State Park (16.9 miles)

Since we stopped early the previous day, we woke up early to try and catch hiker bubble. Pine Grove Furnace State Park is the other unoffical half-way point and home to the half gallon challenge (hikers eat a half-gallon of ice cream). Though we were not partaking in the challenge we had hoped to see other hikers try. We hiked the first 12 miles to the official half-way point very quickly for us. At the half-way point, we stopped to eat lunch and take pictures of our accomplishment. After moving so quickly my feet were sore so we completed the last 4 miles at our usual slow pace. We arrived at the park as hikers were recovering from the challenge. Tags, Jetlag, Mother, and Peaches were all there. We also ran into Blimey and Pipin the Elf again (no going by 2 Ducks and 2 Beers/Abe). While we waited for the hostel to open, we ate a pint of ice cream and some fried food. The hostel is also run by the PATC and caretaker, Roger. It is a converted mansion that used to be owned by the Iron Master of Pine Grove Furnace, an iron furnace. It was a very neat historic building. We spent the evening relaxing there.

Day 74 to 77: Jim and Molly Denton Shelter to Harpers Ferry, WV/Knoxville, MD

Find pictures of this section here!

Day 74: Jim and Molly Denton Shelter to Rod Hollow Shelter (18.4 miles)

The beginning of the day we were plagued with cicadas. They were extremely loud in the valley around Front Royal, VA. In the field climbing out of the valley they were flying all around and into us. The morning was a tough climb out of the valley and we took a long lunch at Dick’s Dome (aka George’s Geodesic) Shelter. Our feet were definitely sore from our long previous day. Once we got out of the valley, the cicadas went away and soon the forest only had the sounds of birds. After the shelter, it was a very hot 8.4 miles to the next shelter. All the previous rain had made the trail very muddy and flooded. Once we reached the ridgeline, we were at Sky Meadows State Park, which was a large meadow. It was a very nice change in scenery. We hung out at the shelter with Goatman, Beetle Juice, 2 Pac, Obie and Shaman. Another big storm is expected to roll in so we planned to get up early to get to the hostel before it started.

Day 75: Rod Hollow Shelter to Bear’s Den Hostel (9.9 miles)

We woke up early to beat the expected thunderstorm with strong winds. We began our hike with humidity but no rain. Right as we started a difficult section known as the roller coast, the rain started. Right before it started, the sky got very dark and it felt like night had come. It poured rain for about an hour and then 30 minutes before reaching the hostel the sun came out. The farther we got along the roller coaster, the rockier the terrain got. Knowing more storm was coming, we didn’t take any break to get to the hostel. Bear’s Den was an amazing hostel, top 3 in the hostel’s we’ve stayed at so far. It was originally a summer home that was converted by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) into a hostel and you don’t just have to be a hiker to stay there. They offer a special for hikers of a bunk, soda, pizza, and pint of Ben and Jerry’s for $30. We spent the rest of the afternoon napping and watching Pirates of the Carribbean. And though the sun was out briefly in the afternoon, around 3pm the storm arrived with a huge downpour and crazy winds. Bottle Cap and I were very glad to be inside. We spent the evening hanging out with Shaman and Goatman. We got free dinner from Queen Deva of the Hot Springs Hiker Ministry of meatball subs. We ended up taking 2 more with us to pack out for lunch the next day.

Day 76: Bear’s Den Hostel to David Lesser Shelter (11.1 miles)

The day started out great. We had breakfast pizza and the weather was nice and cool. We finished the rest of the roller coaster feeling accomplished and we passed mile marker 1000! However, all the rocks and “ankle-breakers” of the roller coaster had my feet feeling sore. We took a long lunch at the Blackburn AT Center, another hostel hosted by the PATC. It was run by Caro, a thru-hiker from 2011. She gave us a soda and cookies before we got back on the trail. We had originally planned to go to a campsite closer to Harper’s Ferry but ended up stopping early at David Lesser Shelter. The shelter was huge! It had a porch and separate covered picnic area with a porch swing. Bottle Cap got a nice little fire going and it was a nice relaxing evening.

Day 77: David Lesser Shelter to Harpers Ferry, WV/Harpers Ferry Hostel, Knoxville, MD (10.7 miles)

We woke up early to do a quick 8 miles to Harpers Ferry to meet up with some friends from college. We officially left VA and entered WV (even though there was no sign to mark the occasion). We arrived at the ATC headquarters to meet friends, Laura and Sarah and a surprise visit from Elizabeth. We signed in at the headquarters and got our pictures taken out front. We are thru-hikers 510 and 511 to pass through. We ate lunch with Laura, Sarah, and Elizabeth before Laura had to return home to norther Virginia. Sarah and Elizabeth then shuttled us to Walmart before taking us back to Harpers Ferry to look around. We walked across the Potomac River Bridge to cross the WV-MD stateline (sadly no sign) before Sarah dropped us off at the Harpers Ferry Hostel. Sarah was awesome and paid for one of our night stays so we could afford to spend the night in a bed. The hostel was a very nice place with a very large kitchen. We helped the caretakers make a dinner of chilli and dessert of cupcakes and brownies.

Day 65 to 73: Shenandoah National Park, Rockfish Gap to Jim and Molly Denton Shelter

Photos for this section can be found here!

Day 65: Rockfish Gap to Campsite near Rip Rap Trail (~17.4 miles)

The weather started out nicer than the past few days. The rain from the previous day helped make it a lot cooler. We got a shuttle from Yellow Truck from town back to the trail head and we were entering Shenandoah National Park. We were very excited for all the food stops we were expected to see along the way. We sat on top of Little Calf Mountain to eat lunch. There we ran into Susquehana Slim, who we had met and shared a cabin with at Neel’s Gap. We hadn’t seen him since Georgia. And even though our spirits were much higher than they had been, we were moving very slowly. The terrain was fairly easy compared to what we had been encountering but my feet were killing me. We ended up stopping short of the shelter and camping in a clearing. We got very little sleep that night because some animal (deer or bear) was sniffing around our camp all night long.

Day 66: Rip Rap Trail to Pinefield Hut (~16.3 miles)

After a restless nights sleep, we slept in and made pancakes for breakfast. It was the perfect cool and sunny hiking weather. The terrain was uneventful and we moved pretty quickly. We took a long lunch at the Doyles River Overlook before hiking on a for a long early dinner break at Loft Mountain Wayside. Right before the waysid,e we stopped to look at the mapwhen Bottle Cap looked up and sees a bear. It was about 50 yards away just staring at us. He then sees a pair of small ears poking up out of the grass behind the bear. He tells me to quickly take a picture and then back away from the Momma Bear. She didn’t seem to mind our presences though and just turned around and walked away. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a picture before she walked away. We took a long break at the wayside eating chicken tenders, fries and blackberry ice cream. My feet were still really sore and it might be time for some new shoes.

Day 67: Pinefield Hut to Swift Run Gap, Harrisonburg, VA (11.6 miles)

We did a short day before getting picked up at Swift Run Gap by our old roommate, Dane. Short days mean one of our favorite things, sleeping in. I made camp pancakes again and have finally began to master the technique. We took a break at Powell Mountain Shelter. There we met german hikers, Smiley Virgin, Smokes, Turtle and Snail. We also met Thunderfoot, Oatmeal, and Roadrunner. After taking a long break to wait for Dane to get off work, we finished the hike to the gap. As we waited for Dane by the road, we could see storm clouds rolling in and we got into Harrisonburg at the perfect time.

Day 68 & 69: Harrisonburg, VA (0 miles)

Because of Dane’s work schedule, we endedup zero-ing in Hburg for 2 days. It worked out well because it rained most of the day those 2 days. We spent our time visiting our favorite food places and catching up with friends. I got new shoes, which I hope solves my sore feet problem. I had almost completely squished down the midsole of my original shoes. It was nice being in town but it felt like we had been living in a completely different world. When telling friends about the trail, it’s very hard to relate what we’ve experienced and what it’s been like. All and all, Harrisonburg was a great break but we were antsy to get back. Shoutout and thanks to Dane for driving us around and letting us crash at his apartment.

Day 70: Swift Run Gap to Rock Spring Hut (20.5 miles)

I love new shoes and waysides in SNP! Today was our best 20 mile day by far. The trail had a few PUDs broken up by lots of flat. It started out foggy and we were a bit worried about rain but by lunch time it cleared up. We leap frogged most of the day with a group of people that are in the hiking group called the Tribe (Monk, 2 Pac, Beetle Juice, Goatman, Grinch, and Kermit). We did 9 miles by noon and 16 by 4 so we took a 2 hour break at Big Meadows Wayside. We ate fried chicken and blackberry cobbler and drank a couple cans of beer. At the shelter there was a fire going and we drank the beer we had packed out from the wayside.

Day 71: Rock Spring Hut to Pass Mountain Hut (15.3 miles)

With the flatter terrain of SNP, 15 miles was a short day. The weather switched between foggy and sunny all day long depending on where we were. We stopped at Skyland Resort for an early lunch. We also got a beer and the bartender opened the bar early for us because we were hikers. Right before the Pinnacle Pinic area someone had left trail magic of soda. The new shoes I got had given me several blisters so as I was limping to the bathroom someone asked if we needed a ride. A British couple offered to give us a ride to Thorton Gap. It was our first yellow blaze and we gladly accepted. It was then a short 1.2 miles to the shelter. We met SNP ridge runner, Blessed and several ring snakes at the shelter. We spent the night in the shelter with some section hikers, making lots of jokes and having some good laughs.

Day 72: Pass Mountain Hut to Gravel Springs Hut (13.1 miles)

This was our last full day in the SNP and it was a wet one. From the time we woke up, it was raining. We were able to keep our feet dry all the way until the last 0.1 miles to the wayside. Right was we were away from the shelter of tree, the rain came pouring down. At the wayside we tried to dry out our shoes while we ate. After awhile, the sun came out and we knew it was our hiking window. We decided to road walk because it would be harder on our feet but we would move a lot faster. The sun quickly faded behind clouds, fog, and mist. Right as we arrived at the shelter, the rain came pouring down again. A section hiker, Bubbles, had a clothesline hung up to dry stuff. We hung up our socks and we clothes. There wasn’t much hope of completely drying our stuff but at least it would be “less wet.”

Day 73: Gravel Springs Hut to Jim and Molly Denton Shelter (18.6 miles)

We were very sad to leave SNP and all its food stops. Before we were officially out of the park, we saw 2 does chasing each other and our 5th bear. We did our first 10 miles of the day very quickly and had a nice lunch at Tom Floyd Shelter. After the shelter, the weather got very hot and humid. On the hill down to Front Royal, VA we found trail magic of cold water.  The last 6 miles after Front Royal felt very long. We were very relieved to see the shelter. Jim and Molly Denton shelter was amazing. It had a porch and a solar shower. There we met Clever Girl, Dump Truck, Grim, and Whistle, who we’d been following in shelter logs since Georgia. We ended up not getting a shower because there was no hot water. After a long day, we were pretty exhausted and went to bed early.