Boiling Springs, PA

At last my feet seem to be getting a bit better.  Lisa Schaffer most graciously mailed my old leather Scarpa boots back to me.  They are much heavier than the trail runners I’ve been wearing, but the extra support and protection they afford seems to be worth it.  I can’t walk as fast as the young bucks,  but I can walk long into the evening.  Through the judicious use of Walmart silicon gummy bears I’ve been able to gradually reduce the fiery sensation of plantar fasciitis on the soles of my feet.  However, I’ve already learned that it can return with a vengeance at the drop of a hat.

A number of exciting things have happened since my last post.  Paramount among them is the arrest of my old trail chum “Bismarck.”  I hiked a couple days with him back near Erwin, Tennessee.  We tented together just before crossing the Nolichucky River near Erwin, Tennessee, and I saw him again going through the Roan Highlands.  He told me he was a consulting engineer that worked on bottling and packaging plants.  The fact is that he was a very clever accountant that managed to embezzle close to 9 million dollars from Pepsi Cola while he worked for them in Kentucky.  Plus, he is suspected of setting his house a lite with his dead wife in it.  Someone apparently recognized him on the trail and pointed him out to the FBI at Trail Days in Damascus, VA.   He was featured on the “American Greed” program.   His massive beard was a clever disguise.  He’s been hiding on the AT and other places since 2009.  Please read all about it at:

He seemed a good chap as he freely shared his peanuts with me.  You never know who you are going to run into on the trail.

The next exciting news I learned from a Through Hiker named “Smasher”. He rejoined the trail North of Harpers Ferry, WV. after leaving to attend his sister’s wedding.  He is the son of the Harvard University Physics Professor I met back at Fontana Dam, NC.  Before leaving the AT he had been hiking near “Gray Wolf” the German Policeman from Cologne that I was trying to catch up to.  Apparently, the trail wore the “Gray Wolf” down to the point that he went home somewhere near Glasgow, VA.  Smasher said he just got tired of the PUDS (pointless ups and downs), and no regular access to good beer.  I don’t blame him for going home.  He’s proven himself to be a sensible, entirely rational fellow.  I concede, I did relish the idea of catching him.

A few days ago I met a really remarkable 20 year old Norwegian with the trail name “Mammoth”.  He said he has been hiking around the U.S. since June 2013, and he reckons he’s hiked over 12,000 miles.  Roughly from New York to Seattle down to San Diego across to Florida and now up the Appalachian Trail to Maine.  He wants to do Canada next year.  Seems an insane prospect to me.  He carries no stove, Yogis (i.e. Begs) what grub he can, and seems to survive on the most meagre of funds. I asked him why and he said “It’s something he always wanted to do.”  He’s from Kristiansand and attributes the fact that he has no perceivable accent to his mother coming from Wisconsin, U.S.  He looks a little the worse for wear but said he regularly hikes over 30 miles a day. He wears size 14 trail runners and uses no hiking sticks of any sort.

I’m well North of the Mason Dixon Line now.  If I can only keep it going.  A catastrophic fall is always a fraction of a second away, poison ivy is absolutely everywhere, and tick season rapidly approaches.  At this point the AT has truly become a “green tunnel” with everything fully leaved out.  The copious rains have worked their magic.  Good thing I’ve always loved the forest primeval.  New hatches of insects and the occasional interesting humanoid relieve the pounding monotony of the daily ritual of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Till next time,

Long Stride

Light Heart – Easy Pace

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