Archive | April, 2013

Trail Legs

24 Apr

Something that is often discussed among thru hikers is the concept of “trail legs”. It describes the strong legs of a hiker with hundreds (or thousands) of miles behind her who is able to cruise through 20+ mile days. Trail legs can really only be achieved one way- day after day of hiking endless ups and downs. The result = Priceless. The ability to hike all day long with relative ease is what makes thru hiking doable (and much more enjoyable!)

For Emily and I this past week, and the next couple coming up, are all about rebuilding our trail legs. When we got off the trail in November we were able to hike 20-25 miles a day with few complaints. After 163 zeroes 10-15 miles a day have been more our speed. We have been working hard to find a balance between pushing ourselves to get back in shape, while still listening to our bodies and avoiding injury. Having said that, our first week back we knocked out 94 miles and we are pretty darn proud. Yesterday we were even able to hike 18.5 miles, motivated by the idea of a comfy bed and a hot shower that awaited us in Daleville, VA.

The trail itself has been beautiful- well maintained with very few roots and rocks to trip us up. Spring is definitely in the air and the lower elevations are incredibly green and lush. While the ups and downs have been reasonable, they feel pretty intense on our too-well-rested legs. But, we have kept our heads and slowed our pace resulting in a happy medium of both miles covered and enjoyment of the trail.

Below is a shot of the Guillotine, which we passed through a few days ago.

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Three days

19 Apr

Well we are on day 3 and doing pretty darn OK. We only hiked 2.3 miles our first day out, passing the point of our initial heartbreak. It was there we said a prayer to the trail gods and then quickly moved forward without looking back. We stayed our first night (and all of them since) in shelters by ourselves. It is nice to have the solitude as we get our heads and our bodies back into trail shape.
Day 2 consisted of 10 miles. We crossed over Cold Mountain on a sunny day and enjoyed our hike over a couple of Virginias famous bald mountains. We got to the shelter early and enjoyed a late lunch early dinner, we refer to this as “linner”. This allowed us to hit the hay early in preparation for the next day. However around 1 am we were awakened by a deluge on a tin roof. It sounded as if we were laying on the Tarmac with 747’s taking off ten feet above our heads. Georgy was even taken aback and nestled down close for a bit. We slept through the night in a series of twenty minute naps. As the rain passed over through the night we were still awakened by loud drops of water hitting the roof as it fell from the trees.
Not feeling rested we started our day despite the very strong urge to stay in bed. It was damp and foggy. We finally convinced each other we needed to just bite the bullet and get up. Coffee was a must and it was a good idea. We climbed straight up out of the shelter and over our first peak for the day. Then it was a 4 mile down hill. Our knees were feeling it and we were both quite happy to enjoy a beautiful section of trail that paralleled a babbling creek. We had some lunch by the creek and then set out to finish our day.
This ending was a doozy. We climbed, and climbed. It was our first real climb since being back and we felt every step. Jen let me lead and we kept a nice turtle-like steady pace up and up. Our last 1/2 mile to the shelter was quite vertical. We were very happy when it was time to take the turn onto the side trail that finished our climb for the day.
We feel good about our 15 mile day. It wasn’t easy but we kept a respectable pace and made god time. Tomorrow we head into town for a re-supply and then back out for a quick 2 miles to the next shelter.
I know everyone wants to know about Georgy Bear. He is doing well. He has settled back into trail life and is smiling along with the rest of us. We are all quite happy to be back. While we miss our significant others and our families, the trail feels right. It feels like home.

Packing Madness

15 Apr

It has been a whirlwind two days of packing and planning. Emily and I have tried to fit 3 months of planning, packing and organizing into 48 hours. Luckily everything we learned came back quickly and we are ready to head back out! We are headed out the door in a few minutes back the exact spot we stepped off 163 days ago. With the support of all our friends and families we know we will knock out these last 817 miles. Special thanks to Sue and Bob Moore for being such wonderful hosts. They let us cover their house in gear and food and fed us like kings!

Here are a couple shots of the packing and our last pre-trail meal:

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