Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stating the Facts

To make up for the infrequency of blog posts throughout this trip, we
thought we'd give you a state by state rundown of the entire AT as we've
experienced it and as we anticipate it. Here's the catch...I like blogging
and you like reading, but we're both busy people. So rather than taking the
time to carefully craft a post that's both informational and easy to read,
I'm going to forget the rules of grammar and just shoot from the hip on
this one. I'm also including for each state the Appalachian Trail
Conservancy's difficulty range, the trail's distance, and our average daily
mileage. For the record I disagree with most of the ATC's difficulty
ratings. Sections of each state are harder they are rated. For example,
Pennsylvania has a very steep, incredibly rocky climb more difficult than
anything else we've done yet the difficulty rating is a 4.

*Georgia* - Difficulty 6 - Distance 76.4 - Mileage 8.23 - Bearcub's friend
Anne drops us off at the trail. We let out a collective gulp as we watch
her drive away. We're anxious, excited, nervous, and slightly scared. The
trail goes up and right back down again through the entire state. It's
rough on Bearcub's knees so we take a day off to play bar trivia with the
locals. We consider holing up in a hotel for 6 months writing fake blog
posts about the trials and tribulations of the AT, but instead we keep
hiking. Or do we?

*North Carolina* - Difficulty 3-6 - Distance 95.5 - Mileage 7.5 - The
terrain is still pretty up and down as if it was a bunch of mountains or
something. For some reason we didn't think it would be this hard. Bearcub's
knees are still acting up, so we take 2 zeroes and a few very short days.
We start to get a steady pace going as we reach the Smokies. This is the
time we meet everyone we'll be hiking around for the next 1,000 miles.
We're getting the hang of hiking and decide we might could keep doing it.
That's Carolina speak for we might be able to keep doing it.

*Tennessee* - Difficulty 5-6 - Distance 287.9 - Mileage 10.12- The trail
hugs the TN/NC border for miles. We never know what state we're in. Bearcub
comes down with what eventually becomes known among hikers as the Erwin
Sickness right outside of Erwin, TN. This sidelines us in the trail town
you least want to be sidelined in. Sorry, Erwin. Trail at the end of
Tennessee is beautiful and not too challenging. Our spirits are renewed.

*Virginia* - Difficulty 2-6 - Distance 550.3 - Mileage 12.19 - We're
excited to get to what we hear is the easy part of the trail. Disappointed
to find it's only slightly easier than the first part of the trail. The AT
reaches into its grab bag of ailments and hands Bearcub a healthy dose of
Giardia. This makes Virginia's 535 miles seem even longer. Nonetheless, we
finally get into a groove and start consistently logging decent miles.
However, we kiss the hopes of finishing before Bearcub's cousin's wedding
on Sep 23rd goodbye. We get our first visitors when Bearcub's aunt and
uncle, my family, and friends Anne and Sarika come to visit. Anne
henceforth not so secretly hopes for blog mentions. My mom makes it clear
that she doesn't like my beard. I tell her hopefully it will grow on her
like it did on me. Zing.

*West Virginia* - Difficulty 2-3 - Distance 4 - A tiny state that we're
happy to knock out quickly. Hit the psychological halfway point in Harpers
Ferry. They take our picture at ATC headquarters to prove we made it this
far. My eyes are closed in the photo. 1.017 miles wasted.

*Maryland* - Difficulty 2-3 - Distance 40.9 - Mileage 12.47 - Another tiny
state. I tease Bearcub in front of some friends about a previous fall she
took only to take a fall of my own seconds later. I stop teasing Bearcub.

*Pennsylvania* - Difficulty 2-4 - Distance 229.6 - Mileage 16.25 - It's
flat! For once, the trail is flat. We rejoice by catching the Sound of
Music at a resort/playhouse right off the trail. Not joking. Soon the flat
is negated by a hundred miles of jagged rocks and boulders. Fa - a long,
long way to walk on rocks. So - ready for our feet to stop hurting. In PA
we realize that if we really hustle, we may be able to finish before the
wedding. We decide to make like a Pizza Hut and Book It.

*New Jersey* - Difficulty 2-5 - Distance 72.2 - Mileage 16.06 - Overjoyed
to be done with PA. We face off with a protective mama bear. The wind
steals my trekking pole and throws it off a mountain. Not The Situation I
was hoping to encounter in Jersey.

*New York* - Difficulty 2-6 - Distance 88.4 - Mileage 17.38 - Unnecessarily
challenging trail takes us over every rocky incline in the entire state
even though there are plainly easier routes. Water sources are a far cry
from the crystal clear springs in the south. Luckily, trail angels provide
water, take us in for the night, and feed us. We don't know how they get
our laundry smelling so clean until we get poured on the next day and soap
suds start running down my legs.

*Connecticut* - Difficulty 4-5 - Distance 51.6 - Mileage 16.4 - pretty
trail, but difficult. Not much else to say about it other than the fact
that we got a free beer at a liquor store just for being thru-hikers.

*Massachusetts* - Difficulty 3-6 - Distance 90.2 - Mileage so far 17.1 -
similar to CT in that it's both beautiful and difficult. Dissimilar to CT
in that we're currently in it. Amazing visit from Bearcub's sister who
takes us to see the new Batman movie. The film is even more awe-inspiring
since we're so out of touch with reality that we think it's real.

*Vermont* - Difficulty 5-6 - Distance 149.8 - We've heard the trail in VT
is beautiful, but it looks pretty rough on the elevation map.

*New Hampshire* - Difficulty 6-10 - Distance - 160.9 - supposedly the most
difficult state, but a planned visit from Bearcub's mama and papa bear
should help to soften the blow. Also supposed to be amazing beautiful.

*Maine* - Difficulty 3-10 - Distance - 281.4 - also supposed to be
difficult, but we should be on cloud 9 knowing that the journey is almost
at its conclusion.

Guyline's eyes are closed - 1,017 miles wasted

The rocky trail of Pennsylvania

Somebody needed an extra rinse cycle
A beer and wine shop in Cornwall Bridge, CT offers all thru hikers a free beer of their choice

To be honest, at this point of the trip the state I'm most looking forward
to is Illinois. I hear Chicago is as flat as a pancake. Later, readers!

- Guyline


  1. This post was quite the trifecta: informative, hilarious, and about me. 3 cheers. Good luck and keep up the pace! I need to see you guys back in the Great Midwest asap. In the meantime, I'll be contemplating if the Situation or Book It joke was the best... and trying my darnedest to make it up to NH! XOXO!

  2. Wow! You have come a long way. It's exciting to see you count down the miles! Looking forward to seeing you in NH. Stay safe!
    Love, Mama Bear

  3. We're guessing the protective Mama Bear you encountered mistook you for her cub's father. Hope Ruth and Laun don't decide to take Bearcub back home with them after they see your beard! Hope you all enjoy your visit and have a lot of fun!

    Stay strong and be safe - love always.

  4. This blog is amazing and we can't wait for you guys to be back celebrating with us in chi town! Love you guys! Bear cub's twin cousin :)