Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cookymann Is Off The Trail

I came off the trail on Monday, April 27. My brother- in-law is very, very ill. It was time for me to get back to regular society. I will update the blog with my last week of hiking activity as I get time. Thanks to all of you for all the support you have given Betty and I during my hike. Cookymann

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Map of progress

(Click for larger version)

I'm sure there are better ways to do this, and googlemaps isn't showing this by AT route, but here's an idea of how far he's gone to this point. 
Day 1 was Point A, Damascus VA. 
Day 24 was Point B, Catawba, VA. 
Distance between the two points: 236 miles. 

Day 24 - Catawba

Cookymann made it to Catawba for the buffet dinner. Heading out on Sunday to make it to Roanoke by Monday... Mom will meet him there for a down day. 

The distance on the Appalachian Trail between
VA311-Catawba, VA and
Baxter Peak-Katahdin, ME is
1,479.5 miles.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 23

Dad called around noon today and was 5 miles north of Niday Shelter, and was aiming to make it to Pickle Branch or further towards Catawba. There's a buffet dinner in Catawba that he might try to make tomorrow. Good motivation, I suppose. 

The distance on the Appalachian Trail between
Pickle Branch Shelter Side Trail, VA and
Baxter Peak-Katahdin, ME is
1,492.1 miles.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 20

Got a somewhat unintelligible voicemail from dad today. I think I made out that he is at the second shelter northeast of Pearisburg, Pine Swamp Branch. He sounded in good spirits, at least from the garbled message. 

The distance on the Appalachian Trail between
Pine Swamp Branch Shelter, VA and
Baxter Peak-Katahdin, ME is
1,533.1 miles.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 18 - April 18

Pearisburg VA

Day 18 Journal Entry: Today I hiked 13.0 miles (12 on the AT and 1 mile from the trail to the Holiday Motor Lodge in Pearisburg, VA). The terrain was more up and down today with the last couple of miles into P-burg steep down. After arrival I talked to Mom, Dad and Betty. I also did my laundry and updated my blog. Nice break, but tomorrow it is back to the trail.

Day 17 - April 17

AT thru pine woods, Bridge over Dismal Creek, Pearisburg - one hiking day away

Day 17 Journal Entry: I hiked 18.8 mi. today and spent the night along a forest road 3.8 mi. short of the Doc's Knob Shelter. That is probably the most I have ever in one day in my life. There was one medium up grade but all and all the trail was well graded and mostly level.By late afternoon it was pretty warm. I would guess the in the low 70's. I saw another blacksnake and a turkey. I am tired, but otherwise fell very good. Goodnight.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 16 - Trail Critters

Day 16 Journal Entry: I hiked 3.0 mi. from Bland to the AT and then 12.1 mi. on the AT for a total of 15.1 miles today. It was a gorgeous day with full sunshine and the temperature was probably around 65 deg. Suppose to get down to 38 deg. tonight, but no wind. It should be a good sleeping bag night. Physically I am starting to feel real well. Blisters are healing, no sore muscles and my lung capacity is improving everyday. I talked to Lawrence and Daniel this evening. I enjoyed the talks. I sent my soft shell coat home with Betty and added the weather band radio that Sara gave me for Xmas. It is nice to have a radio. Better sign off and get ready for bed. P. S. Warm weather = reptiles. I saw a black snake, garter snake and a lizard today.

April 15 - Highlights of Bland

Day 15 Journal Entry: Betty, Ben and Lucy came to see me in Bland. We went to the Cracker Barrel in Wytheville for lunch and then did my laundry and resupplied food. I sent my mailing box home with Betty. I am glad that I had it in Troutdale and Bland but I have mostly figured out what I need and don't need. It was a bit of a hassle to send and receive. If I need specific things, Betty can mail them to me. I am starting to feel well enough physically that I am starting to miss Betty, Ben and Lucy. It was really good to see them.

April 14 - Get water at your own risk

Day 14 Journal Entry: Last night was very pleasant with no rain. It started raining just as I was leaving camp at 8:30 am. It rained on me for about 3 hrs. and then stopped. The 11.7 mi. hike was pretty easy as there were only two 500 ft. climbs for the day. About 90% of the trail was well graded and that sure beats stumbling over rocks all day. Bland, VA is 2.5 mi. off the AT. As I was walking down the road to Bland a gentleman stopped and gave me a ride to the Big Walker Motel. Betty and the dogs are coming tomorrow and I am taking a down day. When I leave on Thurs. the weather is suppose to be nice for 3 or 4 days. That would be good. Cell phone reception is good here so I talked to Betty and Paul and Judy Wise tonight. Time to go.

April 13 -Valley on the way to Jenkins Shelter

Day 13 Journal Entry: It poured rain in the early morning at the Chestnut Knob Shelter, but the rain had stopped by the time I left at 10:30 am. It then dripped and drizzled most of the day. On the ridges it was windy, but not to bad. When I got to the Jenkins Shelter I had descended 2,000 ft. so the temperature was up to 50 deg. and the wind was calm. I set up my tent up about 300 yards past the shelter near a stream. There were three thru-hikers that stayed at the shelter that started at Springer Mt. around Mar. 1. They were routinely doing 18-20 miles per day. I admire them for all the cold weather they went thru. I hiked 10.0 mi. today will go over 100 mi. for the trip tomorrow.

April 12 - Chestnut Knob Shelter

Day 12 Journal Entry: Today I hiked 9.1 miles and the last part was up 1900 ft. in 4 miles. I arrived here(Chestnut Knob Shelter) about 4 pm. Arrival temperature was about 68 deg. and the views were excellent. There are mountain ranges in all 360 deg. of the horizon with a farm valley before the mountains to the north. The views that we hike for! I had cellphone reception and was able to get a hold of Betty. I better check out an go to bed.

April 11 - Knot Maul Shelter

Day 11 Journal Entry: I made the 13.9 mi. to Knot Maul Branch Shelter today. I paced myself and arrived feeling well. Spent the night in the shelter with southbound Dakota. Northbound Evergreen and Blue arrived at dark and had hiked 25 miles today. Goodnight.

April 10 - Trail Medicine for Blisters

Day 10 Journal Entry: I spent last night at Partnership Shelter with Leadfoot and another couple. Leadfoot is 69 years old and had five bypasses on his heart a couple years ago. We both hiked the 11.6 miles to Adkins today and are staying at the Relax Inn. I left Partnership at 8:45 am and arrived here at 4:30 pm. It started raining about 10 am and quit at 1 pm. Forecast is for more rain tonight, but clear tomorrow. Hope to make 13.9 mi. to the Knot Maul Branch Shelter. Blisters get better each day and I feel pretty good. Good night.

April 9 - Within 100 yards of AT - Prototype new AT Shelter - Fiscal years 2010 - 2019

Day 9 Journal Entry: Hit the trail head at Dickey Gap at 7:45 this morning. Hiked 14.5 Mi. to the Partnership Shelter and arrived about 4:30 pm. Nice day to hike. Sunny, low wind, and temperature reached 50-55 deg. I paced myself so I didn't get to tired. I was glad to see the shelter. Plan to make to Adkin, VA tomorrow. Time to go to sleep.

Recap - April 9-18

Day 9 - Apr. 9
Hiked 14.5 miles to the Partnership Shelter today. Was a beautiful day for a hike. You can order pizza from the Pizza Hut in Marion if you want. I did not. I spent the night in the shelter with Leadfoot. Leadfoot is 69 years old an had 5 bypasses on his heart a few years ago. He hikes pretty good.

Day 10 - Apr. 10
Today I hiked 11.6 miles to the Relax Inn in Atkins, VA. It is 100 feet off the Trail. Leadfoot left 45 minutes before I did and I did not see him until I got to the inn. It rained lightly midday but was not bad. We meet hikers from NY that are going to Pearisburg tomorrow and hike south. Hopefully I will see them in a couple days. Blisters are almost well.

Day 11 - April 11
Went 13.9 miles to the Knot Maul Shelter and spent the night with south bound Dakota and north bound Blue and Evergreen(she). They had hiked 25 miles today. They started at Springer Mt. the first of March. They are in shape.

Day 12 - April 12
I hiked 9.1 miles today with the last 4 miles going up 1,900 feet. Chestnut Knob Shelter is on a 4,400 ft. knob and the view was fantastic. The view was 360 degrees with a beautiful green valley to the north. Had cellphone reception and was able to get in touch Betty.

Day13 - April 13
It poured in the early morning, but it had quit by the time I started walking. It was drizzly, but very little rain. It was chilly up on the ridges, but when I descended 2,000 ft to the Jenkins
it was very pleasant. I slept in my tent near the stream just passed the shelter. It was a pleasant night. Hiked 10 miles today.

Day14 - April 14
The 11.7 AT miles to Bland, VA was pretty easy as it was relatively flat. After the AT I started walking to Bland. After about a mile a gentleman pick me up and took me to the Big Walker Motel in Bland. That was really nice.

Day 15 - April 15
Betty, Lucy and Ben came to see me in Bland today. I took a down day and we went all out and went to Cracker Barrel in Wytheville for lunch. After that we did laundry and I resupplied on food. I sent my mail forward box home with Betty. I have most of the things that I need now. It was really good to see all of them.

Day 16 - April 16
I hiked 3 miles from Bland to the AT and then hiked 12.1 miles to the Jenny Knob Shelter. Weather was great, sunny with a high of about 65 degrees. Warm weather is bringing out the reptiles. Saw a black snake, garter snake and a lizard.

Day 17 - April 17
I hiked 18.8 miles today to a road 3.8 miles short of the Doc's Knob Shelter. I was tired, but otherwise felt good. Saw a turkey fly up behind me. I think 18.8 miles is the most I have ever walked in one day.

Day 18 - April 18
Total hiking today was 13 miles. Twelve miles on the AT, and 1 mile into Pearisburg, VA to the Holiday Motor Lodge. Since I have arrived, I have done laundry, updated my blog, and called Betty and Mom Dad. One highlight was the Chinese buffet for dinner. Terrain was rougher and more up and down today. Glad it was only 13 miles.

Day 18 - April 18

I arrived in Pearisburg today a about 3 pm. This is the first time that I have had access to a computer since Troutdale. It looks like Alli, Daniel, Lawrence and Sara have updated when they get info. I thank them. Now I am going to do some short blurbs for some of the past days. Thanks for all the support. Cookymann

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day 16 - Jenny Knob

I spoke to Larry last night. I'll paraphrase:

"I hiked 15 miles today, 3 from the motel in Bland, VA to the trail and then 12 miles on the trail to Jenny Knob shelter. I spent yesterday in Bland with Betty and the dogs. My legs are no longer sore and a my blisters have healed. I'm still wearing duct tape over the blisters but I hope to take that off in a couple of days. My stamina is increasing but the folks who have been hiking since Springer can still hike many more miles in a day than I can.

Regarding equipment...I spent some time in Bland waterproofing some of my equipment that had developed leaks. I've also been a bit warm in my 15 degree sleeping bag but it was nice last week when the snow storm came through.

It has been very nice being in front of the massive crowd of people that started in Springer about the same I started in Damascus. I don't have to fight for spots in the shelters but there are still 3 or 4 other hikers to chat with most nights"

The distance on the Appalachian Trail between Jenny Knob Shelter and Katahdin, ME is 1583.2 miles. The distance to go is 2046.2 miles. Keep at it Larry!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 15 - Bland, VA

Dad had a down day in Bland today. Mom met up with him there and took the dogs, all a welcome sight I'm sure.

The distance on the Appalachian Trail between
US21 and 52-Bland, VA and
Baxter Peak-Katahdin, ME is
1,595.3 miles.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 12 - Chestnut Knob

VM from Dad yesterday: Chestnut Knob, 4400', clear views in all directions.

The distance on the Appalachian Trail between
Chestnut Knob Shelter, VA and
Baxter Peak-Katahdin, ME is
1,617.0 miles.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 9 - Back on track

Cookymann called today around 4:45 after 14 miles on trail, which makes for pretty impressive time. He's at Partnership Shelter. Pleasant 60 degree day to hike, he's glad he waited out the snow and cold.

The distance on the Appalachian Trail between
Partnership Shelter, VA and
Baxter Peak-Katahdin, ME is
1,651.6 miles.

Day 9 - Troutdale, VA

Will be back on the trail by 9 am. Cookymann

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 8 - Troutdale, VA

Weather is considerably better today. We had sun all day and the temperature reached the mid 40's. Most of the snow melted here in Troutdale. They got 6 to 8 inches at the higher altitudes so it may take a couple more days for it to melt up there. Hiker CaveMan took a down day today and we both plan to leave around 8 am in the morning. Weather later this week is suppose to be much warmer with showers. My blisters are about healed so I am ready to hit the trail again. My heels are being protected by moleskin covered with duct tape. Believe it or not it works pretty well. Signing off for dinner. Should be back to a computer in about a week. I think that after 2 to 3 days of hiking I will be back in cell phone range and hopefully Daniel and Alli can update the blog. Have a good week. Cookymann

Journal Entry Day 8: Today was a much better day. It was sunny all day and warmed up to near 50 deg. Almost all the snow is melted here in Troutdale. They had 6-8 " at the higher levels so it may take another day or two for it to melt. This afternoon I loaded my pack for tomorrow's hike and mailed my box to Bland, VA. I should be there in 6 to 7 days. If all works well, Betty will meet me there. My blisters are healing well with the aid of moleskin covered by duct tape. This combination actually works pretty well. Talked to Betty and she said that Randy Allen had heart surgery. He is out of intensive care now and we wish him well. I leave in the morning. Time to go.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Days 1-7 - Overview of first 7 days of hike

April 1 - Day 1 - April Fools Day - Friends Don and Lois Gerhardt drove me to Damascus, VA to start my hike. We departed Damascus around noon and they walked a couple miles on the trail with me to see me off. There was some uphill that day but it was a very pleasant first day. I spent the night at the Saunders Shelter in my tent and it was a pleasant upper forties night. Distance hiked - 9.3 mi.

April 2 - Day 2 - It was sunny when I started the day, but was drizzling and getting windy by the time I set up my tent along Hwy VA 601. I pitched my tent as close as possible to the trees but the wind was still very strong that night. It poured down in the early morning but the tent passed both the rain and wind test.

April 3 - Day 3 - I hiked 9.8 mi. to the Thomas Knob Shelter at 5,200 feet. It is near Mt. Rogers which is the highest mountain in Virginia at about 5,700feet. Last night was warm, but as the day progressed the thermometer dropped steadily. When I arrived at Thomas Knob at about 5 pm it was 35 deg. with high, gusty winds that I would estimate at least 40 mph. It also included blowing fog and mist. Called Lawrence and he said it was about 65 deg. in Raleigh that afternoon.

April 4 - Day 4 - When I awoke this morning it was 25 deg., wind howling and blowing fog. Trees and other vegetation were covered with hoarfrost. I don't know what the wind chill was but it was cold. I had plenty of warm clothing and was fairly comfortable. By afternoon the sun had come out and it was up to 60 deg. The afternoon hike was great although it was still windy. Visibility was almost unlimited. Saw some wild ponies in Grayson Highland Park. Females looked very pregnant, guess they will foul soon. Tent camped at the Old Ochard Shelter where John Johnston and I overnighted in Jan. as I was checking out my winter weather procedures. It was good training for the cold. Todays milage - 11.0

April 5 - Day 5 - Made it to Troutdale, VA at about 4:30 pm and picked up my "go forward box"
from Jerry at Jerry's Kitchen and Goods. Another hiker, Deuce, and myself are the only ones in the Baptist Hostel tonight. The temperature got up to 75 deg. today, but it was very pleasant hiking in the trees, which I did most of the day. I hiked 10.0 mi on the AT and 2.6 mi to town for a total of 12.6 mi. Tomorrow is a down day. Note:Troutdale has no cell phone reception and the rooster crows to to wake you in the morning.

April 6 - Day 6 - Started the morning with breakfast at Jerry's. Scrambled eggs, biscuit and gravy and OJ. Better than trail food. As the day progressed it got windier and cloudier and by the late afternoon it was spitting snow. By bed time I had decided that I was not leaving in the snow tomorrow. No no place to wash clothes in Troutdale so Jerry loaned me a 50 quart Rubbermaid plastic tub and I washed them in cold water in the room. It took 5 complete full rinses but the water finally ran clear. I also spent a good deal of time updating the blog and sending emails. Hiker Burns hobbled into town and spent the night at the hostel. He showed me how to download pictures from my camera to the internet.

April 7 - Day 7 - It snowed and blowed with some drifting last night. I would guess that it has accumulated about 1" on the grass. the roads are clear. Now it just above freezing with snow squalls. This morning a hiker came to the hostel. He spent the night out and hiked several miles this morning and was very cold. He had a friend pick him up to take him to a warm place. About 2 pm CaveMan came in with a ranger and will spend the night at the hostel. He hiked over 15 mi. and said up on the trail it was pretty rough. He said there were lots of drifts and water running under the snow on the trail. With weather as it is I doubt that I will hike tomorrow. If I do, maybe I will go 4 mi to the next shelter

Day 7 - Jerry's Kitchen & Goods

Monday, April 6, 2009

Days 1-6 - Ponies and Snow

Larry will fill us in on more details later via his trail journal but here is the rough itinerary Alli and I have pieced together based on his photos and their timestamps.
  • Day 1 - Hiked from Damascus to Saunder's Shelter, a 9.4 mile hike mostly uphill.
  • Day 2 - Hiked from Saunder's Shelter to campsite at VA 601, an 8.8 mile hike.
  • Day 3 - Hiked from VA 601 to Thomas Knob Shelter, a 9.8 mile hike over Whitetop Mountain.
  • Day 4 - Hiked from Thomas Knob Shelter to Old Orchard Shelter, an 11.0 mile hike.
  • Journal Entry Day 4: Tenting at the Old Orchard Shelter. What a difference a day makes. This morning I awaken to 25 deg., very gusty winds and hoarfrost. Hike today was windy but it warmed up to 60 deg. Plan on making it Troutdale, VA tomorrow and then take a down day. My box is there at Jerry's Kitchen and Goods. Left it there on the way to Damascus on Weds. Tonight there are calm winds with a temperature on about 45 deg. I don't think it will freeze tonight. Body and mind feeling pretty well. Miles today - 11.0
  • Day 5 - Hiked from Old Orchard Shelter to Baptist Hostel in Troutdale, VA. I hiked 10.0 miles on the AT and 2.6 miles into town for a total of 112.6 miles.
  • Journal Entry Day 5: Made it to Troutdale at about 4:30 pm. Staying at the Troutdale Baptist Hostel in the bunkhouse. Duece is the only other hiker here and he is staying in the other part of the bunkhouse so we have individual rooms. Each room has heat, electrical outlets and lights. It would be nicer if I hadn't forgotten my telephone charger, but there is no cell phone reception in this town anyway. It only got down to 45 deg. last night at the shelter and made for pleasant sleeping. Today it warmed up to 75 deg. so I drank much more water. When I arrived at Jerry's Kitchen and Goods I pick up my box and he gave Deuce and I a ride up the hill to the hostel. Tomorrow I am taking a down day. I feel pretty good except for a couple blisters and they are healing. By tomorrow evening it is suppose to be snowing. Big temperature change. Today's walk was 10.2 miles on the AT and 2.6 miles into town for a total of 12.6 miles
  • Day 6 & 7 - Zero day in Troutdale, VA due to bad weather....SNOW!!! Only 2128.3 miles to go :)
  • Day 6 Journal Entry: I spent the day at the hostel and at Jerry's . Had scrambled eggs, OJ, biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Bacon cheeseburger, Dr. Pepper and garden salad for lunch. Dinner was shrimp with tomatoes on pasta and tossed salad. Today was wash day with no laundromat in town so I washed my clothes in a 50 qt. Rubbermaid tub that Jerry loaned me. It took 5 full rinses to get the water to run clean, but the clothes looked good after that. I spent over an hour on the internet. Burns, the hiker that is spending the night here tonight, showed me how to download pictures from my camera and email them as attachments and insert them in my blog. Hopefully by tomorrow night between me and my support staff my blog will be updated with pictures and words. Temperature fell throughout the day and it started snowing in the late afternoon. So far it has accumulated lightly on the grass. Suppose to snow tomorrow so I am taking another down day. Blisters are healing and I feel good.
  • Day 7 Journal Entry: Sitting in Jerry's and I just finished some delicious homemade chicken and dumplings. It snowed throughout the night and accumulated about 1 inch of snow in the grassy areas. Temperature is just above freezing and we are having snow squalls. It is suppose to get into the 50's tomorrow so I plan on hitting the trail in the morning. Hopefully I can reach Atkins, VA in 2 days and Bland, VA in 6 days. It may take 7 days , but hey, I am retired. Blisters are healing and I feel pretty good. Of course I am not to hot or to cold or climbing up a mountain with a pack. Internet is now available so I will sign off. P.S. Jerry has Dr. Pepper in old fashioned 12 oz. glass bottles that is made with real sugar. Yumm. Caveman came down off the trail and is taking a down day tomorrow. He hiked over 15 miles today and said the trail was no fun. He said there are numerous drifts of snow and that you often break through the snow into the water on the underlying trail. Probably will take another down day tomorrow.
Here are some photos from the first six days on the trail:

Day 1 - Saunder's Shelter

Day 2 - Bridge that is both on the AT and the Virginia Creeper Trail

Day 3 - Thomas Knob Shelter

Day 4 - Ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park

Day 5 - Waterfall near Dickey Gap

Day 6 - Snow at Baptist Hostel in Troutdale, VA

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 3 - Thomas Knob Shelter

Dad called LJ this evening from Thomas Knob Shelter. Apparently he got a good rain challenge overnight, and his tent passed. I've been using this handy distance calculator to see how far he has left to go...

The distance on the Appalachian Trail between
Thomas Knob Shelter, VA and
Baxter Peak-Katahdin, ME is
1,687.3 miles.

Go Dad Go!

Journal Entry Day 2: 8.0 miles today. Tonight I am camping where the AT crosses VA Hwy 601. Low this morning was 50 deg. High in the low 60's. Light rain since I reached the campsite. I am a bit sore, but not bad. Suppose to rain tonight and tomorrow, so I will get to practice my wet weather procedures. My attitude is mostly dependent on if I am going uphill or downhill. No rain is better than rain. Last night I overnighted with a couple that were 57 & 60. They started mid Feb. at Springer Mt. When I asked how they handled the cold they said it was no problem as they were from Alaska.

Journal Entry Day 3: Hiked 9.8 miles to Thomas Knob Shelter today. Last night I had heavy rain and very gusty winds. Tent passed the rain and wind test well. It was warm last night but not today. When I arrived it was 35 deg. with very gusty winds. Probably 30-40 mph. Called Lawrence and he said it was a very pleasant 60 deg. and sunny in Raleigh. He gave me a hard about killing myself on the mountain. Of course he had been skydiving all day. Physically I feel well. My pace seems to be matching my level of conditioning. Time to check out for the night.

Day 3:

Day 1 - Pictures in Damascus (cont)

A few more pictures of Larry's first day on the trail from Don and Lois.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 1 - Pictures in Damascus

Photos courtesy of Don Gerhardt. Don and Lois drove Dad up to Damascus and hiked a few miles with him. Thanks for sending these along.
A turkey vulture overlooks Dad's early progress.
Trailhead in Damascus
Wishful thinking?
Lois and Don with Dad
Happy trails, Cookymann.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day 1 - Saunders Shelter

Just got a call from Dad. He's at Saunders Shelter watching the sun set after 9 miles on the trail. He dodged the rain and said the weather was just about perfect at a steady 60 degrees.

1,705 miles to Baxter Peak in Katahdin, ME.

Journal Entry Day One: Don and Lois Gerhardt brought me to Damascus, VA and walked about a mile with me. Excellent day to start a hike with the temperature at 60 deg. and overcast and no rain. Hiked 9.3 miles to the Saunders Shelter. Beautiful night, quarter moon and lots of stars.