Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Shenandoahs, real life bears, and more!

Friends and Family -

First, I will have you know that Jeremy was the first to find - and photodocument - a mythical creature in the Shenandoahs.  While I have seen this 'bear' picture with my own eyes, I still find it hard to believe.  I expect Jeremy will be posting his evidence soon for your review.

Second, I have returned from the wilderness, bringing my part of the journey to an end.  While I was thoroughly enjoying my time--with very unique daily physical and mental challenges--I could not help but frequently turn my mind to the real world, and my real life.  

As we exited the Shenandoah park I began to seriously reevaluate where I was, and if I wanted to spend another 3 months disconnected.  Want, and should, were debated for quite some time and my decision was that the correct course of action - both personally and professionally - was to return to the real world and continue to pursue my life and it's broader goals.

I certainly have enjoyed my time away; I have learned a lot about life's necessities, and I have met a lot of fascinating people.  I'd certainly love to share my experiences, and stories with you as we are able in the coming months.  After nearly 1,000 miles of walking, a few hospital trips, near hypothermia, and countless views and mountains - it was time to come home.

For me, I thank you all for your support and comments throughout the trip and I wish the other two the best of luck, and Happy Trails!

-Category V

Monday, May 26, 2014

Enter the Shenandoahs!

Grabbing a quick bite to eat at Kings Gourmet Popcorn in Rockfish Gap before heading into Shenandoah Park!

You can now follow us on twitter at @PhastPhillyBoys - I'll have more frequent updates and little notes there via satellite!  If you are on our blog page, the right side will have our most recent tweets.

Happy Memorial Day!

-Category V

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Roanoke, Trail Days, and 800 miles!

Just a quick update - we made it through another section of VA past Roanoke!

There was some swimming and general water fun, despite the name, at Dismal Falls -

Cliff jumping!

Jeremy's turn -

And we were lucky enough to get picked up by my darling Marguerite and taken to Damascus Trail Days to experience true hiker shenanigans and lots of cool gear!

I set my new hammock up!  Finally received it from sMr Gear!  Really cool design, unfortunately I won't be using it this trip as I can't justify the weight difference from my BA UL-1 at 1 lb. 11 oz.  I will try to do a Recife of the shelter - a very unique and engineer approach to fixing a lot of the shortcomings with a hammock and tarp system.  

Here are a few pictures of the Nubé set up at Trail Days!

Now we hike on into the Shenandoahs!  We will be joined by some of my friends next weekend - Joe and Anne Marie I'm excited to see you guys and share some of our trail experiences with you!!

Over 800 miles down!  I can't wait for the day when the 'miles remaining' is the smaller number!  "Only" a few hundred to go.

-Category V

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Exciting World of Bland, VA

Since leaving Damascus, we have had much excitement, wet weather, and some small interesting Virginia towns. We sadly left several of our friends and hiking companions back in Damascus. 

We left Damascus with a heavy load full of six days of food, which paired with a few days of hard climbing on a rocky trail led to all of our feet aching. Chris's feet fairing the worst with signs of Plantar Fasciitis, along with our plans bringing us into town for our next mail drop Saturday after the Post Office closed, and the poor weather, led us to the decision to cut our mileage down going into Bland. 

To get into the bustling metropolis of Bland, VA, we got a ride from Bubba!

And were educated that Bland is more flammable before 4pm. 

We gorged ourselves at Dairy Queen since that was all that was left open when we got in. The next morning we ate ALL OF THE BREAKFAST at the Bland Corner Grill, in the back of the town gas station, store, and horse feedery. 

Then passed out on the lawn outside of the Post Office. 
Out of the two of those pant legs lying next to Chris's arm, he only left with one. Luckily three days later, the other leg was still lying on the lawn and the nice postal worker mailed it ahead to him. 

Other highlights of the town included the car wash (not for livestock or farm equipment anymore), 
and combo ministry and dental services. 

Finally, Chris went off to get his foot checked out by a pediotrist. It turned out not to be as bad as we feared. He received a cortisone shot in his foot and some anti-inflammatory medication, and was given the OK to hike on! And so we have. 

Blacksburg VA, over 600 miles and some Hokies!

OK, what is a Hokie??

We made it into Periaberg yesterday afternoon to be picked up by our wonderful college friend Fran and her b/f Greg!  Whisked away on the highway (WOW-I had forgotten how fast cars move) we arrived in Virginia Tech's college town for showers and dinner!

Also, we slept like kings! (Yes couches, but cushy, no mummy bag, no waking up to bugs, or numb limbs from cramped sleeping conditions.. Etc). It was glorious!  Also I was reminded how awesome whole house fans are in nice weather.  So peaceful!

The last few days have been great!  Let me take a moment to chronicle the high points and then I'll get into some "trail injuries".

Leaving the Highlands, the weather improved (finally!)

We saw cows! (I swear this one was challenging me, I kept my eyes down and hurried on!)

More delicious trail magic!

And here are a few shots of Virginia, as people expect it to be - beautiful and nearly flat (so nothing like the Highlands elevation wise)

Here comes the F-L-A-T!

Following white blazes all day, sometimes can get you in trouble-here is Jeremy contemplating his next step

Some highway blazes -

And the best angry sign from "management" ever!  Take particular note of spelling and use of apostrophes on this classy trash bag notification (people were very nice, and food was good!  I felt bad for their paint problem)

And now!  Spring, every so slowly, is creeping up here and there.  Found some beautiful flowers this past week!

Beautiful views from the Davis Farm Campaite... However it has the worst 1/2 mile trail spur from the AT.. Quite a difficult and unmaintained drop to manage at the end of the day!

I skipped Bland and my visit to a Podiatrist in this post (a very anxiety ridden few days for me considering the repercussions of a badly hurt foot on trail).  I'll write again soon and fill in those gaps!

-Category V

P.S.  OVER 600 miles!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We came here for the views!

The Virginia Highcountry is one of the more beautiful areas of the trail.  Vast landscapes, balds, and ponies dot this landscape.  Unfortunately, we saw almost none of this because of wind, rain, hail and a tornado warning.

Here are Texty and Pockets enjoying the view from a nice bench -

And here is Jeremy looking out from another great vantage point -

Thomas Knob shelter, at almost 5,500 feet was our safe house for the night -

Who knew we had lakefront property?!!

Through the wind, rain, and hail so loud we could hardly think, our spirits were high.  It was a wild ride, but fun.  The temperatures have been higher, so frostbite is no longer a fear - it's amazing how that fact alone makes things better.  We passed the time playing cards, and yelling over the noise.

And we even saw a pony!

-Category V

TN/VA Line, Damascus VA and 500 miles!

Just before town we crossed another state off the list - goodbye Tennessee!!

Damascus was a quaint and fun little town!  Population of just over 1,000 and very hiker friendly.

We got a group shot outside the Woodchuck Hostel (memory foam mattresses!!!!)
(From the Left Back: Poker Face, Mayo, Impact, Conner, Gordon.  North Star, Texty, Category V)

Impact loaded up on foodstuffs -

We marked our towns on the map!

And we enjoied the sunshine -

Then we headed out before the rain hit, and shortly after we passed 500 miles!!!

-Category V

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Follow our progress live!

So I've been playing with my Delorme InReach and tracking our progress pretty much since Hot Springs, NC.  You can follow us live with the link below, it updates location every 10 min via satelite.

We're just departing Damascus, VA and headed back up into the high country.  Rain and thunderstorms predicted Monday to Wednesday :( 

Wish us luck!!

-Category V

Friday, April 25, 2014

Max Patch, Hot Springs - Trail Fest, and SNOW!

So we're a bit behind on updating the blog, in the last 11 days since the Smokys we have been through 2 towns, enjoied a beautiful afternoon on Max Patch, and attended Trail Fest.  Also we got caught in some of the worst weather conditions I hope to ever see on trail.

Max Patch was georgious -

I took a 360 panarama -

And Speedy proved he is a culinary generous -

Joshua used his lehigh education to solve a rigging problem at one rocky campsite -
Over enginnered?? Yes.  Took him an hour?  Also yes.  Cool? Totally. 

Hard to see, but we camped on a little rocky outcropping just big enough for our tents, right next to a waterfall!  Georgious!

Moving on -- Trail Fest in Hot Springs, NC was adorable!

What a happy little town!  They even have their very own, real life, Leslie Knope (Parks and Rec)!!!  She was the best.

My darling Marguerite came to visit, and we went rock climbing and even had a hot tub!

A turn for the worst!  After a wonderful weekend and last last night camping on the river...
(Solar charger in the tree branches!)

It rained all night and well into next day, then as we climbed elevation the temperature began to drop dangerously.  Our gear was soaked and beginning to freeze; the trail was flooded in parts and snow covered in others. We even were pelted by hail at times!  Jeremy may elaborate in another post, but I had to call it about 5 miles early and, with frozen feet and finger, numbly set up my tent on a blizzard.  It took me about 5 hours in my bag to regain normal thinking ability and feeling in my extremities.  The night, alone, was mostly sleepless with temperatures down near 0 degrees F.  All my snowboarding gear, 20 deg bag and 15 deg liner were just enough to keep me alive... Not enough to let me sleep.

I took some photos the morning after -

Luckally everybody knew what to do in this situation - make sure you, yourself, are safe.  Jeremy and Josh made it to the shelter and warmed up by a fire.  Nobody got lost, nobody went out looking for the others in the horrid conditions. We all were regrouped by 1PM the next day. And, as the snow melted, it turned into another beautiful day!

That's all for now - what an adventure!!

-Category V