Virginia

Sriracha care package from Alla

Sriracha care package from Alla


Sorry for the long delay since the last post. The thing is that most hostels I come across either have no internet at all or they have the slowest dialup ever. That creates problems for us hikers who are trying to find decent computer access in order to blog. Woods Hole Hostel has satellite internet. So if you really think about it, you are receiving this blog post from space!!
Inside Woods Hole Hostel

Inside Woods Hole Hostel


Hostel Rules

Hostel Rules

Many are wondering what I eat out here so let me give you a little taste of my daily food intake. Keep in mind that it always fluctuates a little in order to avoid food boredom.

Breakfast: 4 cups of oatmeal. I always add powdered milk, protein powder, some kind of green super food powder, instant breakfast carnation, and a couple ounces of olive oil. Then I grab a torilla and smoother it with peanut butter or nutella and down it with a cup of coffee. I think that gives me about 1,500 calories.
2nd breakfast: This is a couple hours later while im on the go and its too early to stop. I usually eat 3 bars; 2 cliff bars and a snickers or something like that.
Lunch: I stop and cook during lunch. This forces me to get a 30 minute break. My lunch tends to consist of whole grain angel hair pasta, I’m done with Ramen Noodles. Sometimes ill make spaghetti with some powdered Italian mushroom sauce and other times I’ll make a soup with chicken soup powder. Both types of meals will get a dose of chopped up garlic and onions and lots of olive oil. (yes, I do carry a clove of garlic and an onion). I also add Wasabi Peas to the meal, curtsey of Egor and Ella. But that’s not all, a few ounces of summer sausage on the side hits the spot.
2nd lunch: This is a couple hours later and tends to be a quick meal with tortillas. Something like tuna on tortilla with a bunch of tobasco sauce and a pieces of dried fruit.
Dinner: I tend to be on the go so there are 2 options; eat some GORP (peanuts with chocolate candy) or simply make a quick pit stop and make a protein shake. 2 packets of oatmeal with powdered milk (Nido is the best), muscle milk, packet of hot coco, and couple ounces of olive oil. This will power me through the last couple hours till supper.
Supper: If I have any energy left I’ll try to cook something with spaghetti with a side of meat and some kind of dried fruits. Honestly, supper tends to be any kind of meal mentioned above with loads of protein.

The funny thing is that a lot of hikers out here talk about my food bag. Apparently I carry one of the biggest bags on the trail haha! And I just found out from Raven that my choice of meals is always a great topic of conversation for other hikers.

So far I’m doing pretty good. We joke around that all of use have developed our hiker legs now, but not hiker feet. The feet are the weakest link for everyone. They get super sore at the end of the day. However, this is getting better. The past few days I’ve been hiking 20 mile days back to back with no problems. That’s telling me that the legs are definitely getting stronger. Speaking of strength, my pullups have decreased to 18 in the mornings! That’s horrible news so Lex brought me some hiking poles. I’m going to try to get my upper body strength back up. I guess morning pushups and pullups alone was not enough. When I hike with the poles I put as much force down into them as possible to work out my arms. I feel like some four legged creature now hiking the AT.
Lex hiked with me from Atkins for 13 miles. It was an epic hike through thunder, lightning and sideways rain. I gave him the trail name El Tigre because I knew the people at home would approve (Nina, Sara, and Alla to name a few). Ask him for the details on the trip, it was fun! Luckily El Tigre and I were below the large mountain that I was supposed to climb that day. This is what happened on top of Chessnut Mountain:

Chessnut Ridge Shelter Log

Chessnut Ridge Shelter Log

Some funny things that happened so far:
I was sleeping in Roan Mountain shelter next to Columbus. The next morning he told me:
“Dude, you talk in your sleep right?”
Me: “Really? What did I say?”
Columbus: “Well, I was awake at 2 in the morning and you said one word ‘Spiderman!’.”
We laughed and laughed all morning about that. You know for sure that your trail name fits when you speak your trail name in dreams hahah!
I told Columbus it was a good thing it was my name vs his or that would have been straight up creepy.

The other day I met Stretch for the first time. Stretch told us that he was walking down the side of the road sweating and dying from the blazing sun when his luck changed. He came across a Twinki in its wrapper. And it gets better, he also found a can of Dr. Pepper too! Unfortunately both were cooking in the extreme heat of the day so he did what anyone of us would do, Stretch ate the Twinki and drank the coke haha! Funny guy!

I came across this school from 1870. It was super neat to see how schools were built back in the day. It totally reminded me of little house on the prairie.

Check out the teeter totter!

Check out the teeter totter!

Best trail magic ever! Loads of food and supplies

Best trail magic ever! Loads of food and supplies

Rules at the School

Rules at the School

One of the coolest things I’ve come across so far were the ponies at Grayson Highlands. These guys move around the hillsides and are free to roam where they please. Us hikers pride ourselves in our pony selfies.
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Baby ponies!!! Life is now complete.

Baby ponies!!! Life is now complete.


Pony artwork= Fail

Pony artwork= Fail


Guys if you have an opportunity to go camping for a couple days, go to the Grayson Highlands! You will have no regrets, only sweet dreams about ponies. Oh wait, I totally forgot to mention that they bite and kick if they don’t like you. Rugby came up to one of the ponies and the thing turned around and kicked him! He was so mad; “I flew all the way from Britian to see ponies and all I get is disrespect!” hahaha good stuff.

People talk about the Virginia Blues. A lot of people drop out in Virginia because they get bored with the trail. I just don’t understand that. It has been one awesome state so far! Here are some random photos I took in Virginia:
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Actually, this was in NC but it turned out great so I wanted to share it.

Actually, this was in NC but it turned out great so I wanted to share it.

This was my favorite privy so far:

The most epic throne ever! Yes, this is an actual bathroom.

The most epic throne ever! Yes, this is an actual bathroom.

That’s about it for now. The next post will be in 2-3 weeks until I reach a larger town with a library or something. Take care everyone!
Spidy

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Smokey Mountains- Been there, Done that!

ClingMans Dome

ClingMans Dome

Hello everyone! I am currently sitting at the Hiker Ridge Ministries Resource Center using their computer. This place is a gem in Hotsprings, NC. If you are ever in town, make time to visit Queen Diva. She is such a bundle of joy to be around with. She also makes some delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Hiker ministries

Hiker ministries

So what can I tell you about the Smokeys? The Smokey Mountains are completely different from everything else so far. The trail in Georgia has been deciduous forest (leave based trees). Once you enter into the Smokeys, be prepared to walk through amazing groves of Conifers (pine trees). I am absolutely in love with pine trees! The smell of pine and the carpet of pine needles is intoxicating.

Right before I left Fontana Dam, I was resupplying at the local store. Their selection is not amazing but not too shabby. My food bag was a total weight of 16.5 pounds. That was supposed to last for 8 days but… I ate it all in 5.

This is what a 16 lb food bag looks like!

This is what a 16 lb food bag looks like!

The funny thing is out here people do not count calories anymore. We simply measure intake of food by pounds per day. All my food is dehydrated stuff by the way: pasta, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and junk food like poptarts, snickers, paydays…
You may be surprised that I am eating 3 lbs of food a day but its actually perfectly normal haha! Most former through hikers are shoveling food down their throats all day long.
Well, once I entered into the Smokeys the weather for the next 2 days was supposed to be sunny. But that was wrong of course. It started snowing the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that… At first I was like “Wohoo! Snow, I love it!” After a few days I was like, “More snow seriously?! Come on!” And then things got interesting. The temp simply plummeted. I spent a cold night in my tent while it was 0 degrees outside. It was absolutely miserable haha! I would wake up every 30 minutes or so and do pushups/sittups to warm up and then try to go back to sleep. What made things worse was a re-occurring dream I had. There was this T-Rex that was chasing me all night long. He had it out for me hahaha! That’s what I get for watching Jurassic Park one too many times.

Eventually the snow stopped falling and I was able to put out some big miles despite the 2 foot deep snow drifts. I’ve never hiked in snow up to my knees but it was actually fun! I was able to dominate on the trail because of my shoe chains. Everyone was jealous and one guy even offered me $100 for them, but I refused because compromising safety was not worth it. I was lucky to make it to Standing Bear hostel where I could resupply.

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Standing Bear Hostel, wonderful place!

 

Tunnels through the pine forest, amazing!

Tunnels through the pine forest, amazing!

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Snow Chains, worth the .5 lbs

Snow Chains, worth the .5 lbs

One of my favorite shelters was Mt Collins Shelter. This place is nestled in among giant pine trees which reminded me of Snow white and the 7 Dwarfs of all things. I was expecting the Dwarfs to show up and kick me out. It is located .5 miles off the AT which isn’t too bad of a hike. I forgot to sleep with my wet shoes and socks that night, big mistake! My shoes were bricks of ice and my socks, well… If you held a piece of wood in one hand, and my socks in the other, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference haha! True story. However, Dune said that Shelter gave him magic dreams. He spent all night at an ‘all you can eat buffet’! Those dreams are always the best. A lot of people out here have mentioned how crazy and vivid their dreams get.

Mt Collins Shelter

Mt Collins Shelter

I eventually made it to Hotsprings after 7 days of hiking in the snow, and one miserable day hiking in heavy mud/slush. Totally worth it!

Highlights of the trip:
-I scored some sunglasses at a hiker box. It was awesome wearing them in the bright snow. But I forgot them at pecks corner shelter.
-I got a new Jetboil at Fontana Dam. Man was I excited, like a kid on Christmas! But it broke the 2nd day of use.
-I thought my food would last through the smokeys. But I ran out 3 days short. I’m thankful for Standing Bear Hostel.
-My quads are part steel now. But by Achilles Tendons are still not up to par with these mountains.

That’s about it for now people. Take care and God Bless!

Chuck vs Snowman. Snowman stood no chance!

Chuck vs Snowman. Snowman stood no chance!

Quick update

Hello everyone! I survived the Smokeys. It was intense; fog, rain, ice everywhere, 0 degree nights, snow drifts 2 feet deep, ice showers (thats where chunks of falling ice from the trees are hitting you). It was pretty intense. I will update with a post and pics about the events in a couple days. Right now i have virtually no signal out here. The goal is to get to Hot Springs, NC in 3 days time.
Take care,
Spidy

Operation GA was a success!

Cheoh Bald

Cheoh Bald

Hey guys, it has been a looong week for me. There is so much going on out here everyday that it is impossible to get bored. During the last post I was at BlueBerry Patch Hostel. What an amazing place. Honestly, if for some reason I had to stop my hike at BlueBerry (injury), I would have been happy with it. But its a good thing I’m still pushing onward.  The first couple weeks out here was such an adventure because of the community of people out here. Every day I get to meet some of the most interesting individuals from all walks of life. So with that said, I’ll spend some time introducing you to my trail family while I give you a quick weekly overview.

As soon as I walked into NC, things changed quickly. I’m talking about the terrain. It was as if NC was saying, “Oh, you came from GA? Well that’s cute. Put on your big boy pants because this aignt no picnic!” The NC mountains are so much steeper than GA by a long shot. Walking out of NOC, nantahala outdoor center, we were treated to an uphill climb of 5,000 feet for 4 miles. It was like walking up a stair case for hours. But the view is always worth it.

Near Muskrat Shelter

Near Muskrat Shelter

Chuck

There was a couple days when it was pouring rain all day and night. Those days suck because everything eventually gets wet. After a couple cold days of rain, I quickly threw up my bear bag and got into my tent. Some of the guys had a kick out of my bear bag that I strung up in the tree and we had some good laughs about it.

Worst bag hang i've done haha!

Worst bag hang i’ve done haha!

I have been leap frogging with a couple of people the past 2 weeks. Leap Frogging is when you pass somebody one day. Then in a couple days they catch up to you and pass you and so on. Ranger and Canadia have been doing just that. Ranger got his name because apparantly he knows everything about Forest Rangers. This guy is 6’2″ and man can he walk fast! I can never keep up with his long legs. Canadia is from Canada of course. She said we suck a naming foreigners because there is a guy name Swiss from Switzerland, a couple from S. Korea that everyone calls the Koreans, and a German couple that are called…The Germans. Well, Canadia is one of the toughest girls out here. She got hit by a car a week prior to starting the AT. The Doc gave her a knee brace and she is pushing on.

Ranger and Canadia

Ranger and Canadia

A quick photo with product placement and then I will continue ;). No blisters from my Minimus and they are holding up very well.

Eating lunch on Rocky Bald

Eating lunch on Rocky Bald

I met up with this group of people that call themselves the Flock. It’s a long story why but everyone there has a unique bird call. You are supposed to call out when walking into camp to identify yourself. They were so much fun to hang with for a couple of days. I eventually became an honorary member and my bird call was the Turkey haha! Their names are Oops; she is always falling or forgetting something.
Mary Poppins; she has everything you could ever need in her bag.
Maybe Mike; no one was sure if Mike was his name for the longest time. And Cupcake; this guys is something else! Believe it or not but he used to live 10 minutes away from my house in Spartanburg! The first South Carolinian I’ve met. He got his name by saying that the following: “I want this year to be so easy, minimum rain and no snow, that they put a cupcake on my AT badge!”

The Flock

The Flock

Cupcake

Cupcake

Cupcake discovering leverage hahaha!

Cupcake discovering leverage hahaha!

We had a grand time hanging out at NOC, Hobo camping near the railroad and sitting next to the campfire way past hiker midnight (9pm). I eventually took off and made it to Fontana Village. There is no cell signal out here but the local Grocery Store has a computer so I got a chance to upload this blog. Fontana is soooo much fun! There are so many hikers here hanging out and resupplying. And guess what, FreshGround is here!!! He provides trail magic to everyone for several days then moves up the trail where we get a chance to meet up with him once again. When I came into camp, I ate a full plate of his special french fries, 4 hotdogs and 2 DrPeppers. I was going to eat my 5th hotdog when a girl, Belue, asked for it. FreshGround was out of dogs by then you see so I told her no. I’m just kidding! Of course I gave it to her! I simply got a second plate of fries and then my appetite was satisfied.

FreshGround, the nicest guy I know.

FreshGround, the nicest guy I know.

Eating Hotdogs at Fontana Shelter

Eating Hotdogs at Fontana Shelter

Well, that’s about it guys! Operation GA was a success so onwards to Operation Smokey Mountains. That is going to be tough because of some crazy Polar Vortex is supposed to hit us on Tuesday.

Thanks everyone for you prayers and support.
SpiderMan out.

Operation AT

Chuck and I crossing from Georgia into North Carolina

Hey everyone! I’m hanging out at the Blueberry Patch Hostel today, man is this place amazing. The hostel is truly a gem in the middle of the wilderness, but more on it later.
Saturday my parents showed up and picked up the dog. Hiking with Olive was fun, but it’s hard to take care of someone other than myself so… Olive went home. The plan was to hitch-hike the rest of the way to Springer because there are no other trails directly to Springer Mountain. When mom heard my plan to hitch-hike, she was horrified. Her ultimatum was either they give me a ride or I go home. I took the ride which was nice and quick.

And so it begins

I started in Amicalola Falls. This is the 8 mile approach trail that everyone takes. It’s not bad but it is a steep trail.

Amicalola Falls

Going up the trail, I came across a guy who was finishing his Southbound hike. The guy started in Maine in August for a simple week hike. He liked the trail so much that he simply kept going for the next 7 months! Wow, hiking through in the middle of winter is incredibly hard. Well, I eventually made it to the starting point.

There were around 30 hikers camping up top which was pretty neat. As for places to sleep, there are loads of great camping areas. I simply couldn’t say no to this 2 story shelter that I came across. Sleeping in the top story reminded me of hanging out in a tree house when I was a kid. It was simply awesome! Luckily I had no issues with mice. They are very problematic at other shelters.

Shelter Slept in Upstairs

View at the top of my tree house shelter

The people that I met here are so interesting. Slow Poke was named by his wife. He is a retired Vietnam Vet with some very interesting stories. Another guy named Canada was named because he came from there a couple days ago. The energy and positive vibe that everyone gives off is simply incredible.

Meet Canada

The next day I went to Gooch Shelter. Everyone scattered their tents along the hillside around the shelter. In the mean time we hung out at the shelter and had a grand time talking and laughing. There were these two ladies that had no clue how to operate their cooking stove. A guy showed them how to turn it on and the lady took her pot, with the rubber cozy on it, and set it on the flames! Haha that was entertaining. What I’m getting at is this, some folks simply aren’t prepared at all. Guys, so much has happened on the AT and I don’t want to bore you with the details, so I’ll try to keep it short. So, what is life like out here on the AT? Lots of hiking, super awesome people, always thinking about food, always talking about food with people, the people out here are incredibly nice, and I’ve come across people from all over the world who are walking with me. They are what make the AT a fun experience.

Some highlights on the trail:
– I came across a guy whose trail name is Fresh Ground and he was doing trail magic outside Gooch Shelter. It was amazing! Fresh pancakes, fries, cookies, hot dogs, omelettes… He had it all. There was a hiker there pouring about 6 tablespoons of sugar into his coffee. He said “this will power me through these crazy mountains!” We couldn’t believe it, so I dubbed him Sugar Crush. Everyone loved it, so it stuck with him.
– I slept on top of Troy Mountain in 15* weather. There were crazy wind gusts all night. It was so cold I had to use my emergency blanket. Rough night. Next morning, I ate breakfast and as soon as I walked down the trail, more trail magic!!! Ben was grilling cheeseburgers, So I ate 2 with a Mountain Dew. Keep in mind this was right after 2 cups of oatmeal, cliff bar, and coffee. My hiker appetite has definitely kicked in. If you haven’t caught on, trail magic is when people make magic happen on the trail. And by “magic”, I mean food.
– I sneezed 20+ times one day, personal record. I passed a field where every bit of pollen gravitated into my nose. I stopped counting after 20 because I thought I was going to die haha!
– My new trail name is Spider-Man. They named me Spider-Man because I rock climb and do pull-ups every morning at the shelters haha. I love it!

Below are some photos that I’ve taken so far. Enjoy and I’ll keep you updated.

One of many shelters

Owners of Blueberry Patch Hostel

Fresh Ground giving trail magic

Eating my cheeseburger trail magic

15 degrees outside with strong winds