Michael called today. He ate roadkill black bear last night. A man
hit it with his car so he had it butchered. His wife shared it with
Michael and some other hikers. Not the normal trail magic.
He and Wiffle will start hiking the 100 mile wilderness tomorrow. Mt.
Katahdin is at the end of the wilderness. They took a zero day today
since they hiked a 30 mile day and they needed to resupply. The sign
going into the 100 mile wilderness says you must have a minimum supply
of 10 days of food. However they only plan to be in the wilderness for
5 days. He said there will be no means of contact until they leave the
Here is the big plan...I fly to Bangor, Maine on the 17th. Wiffle's
parents pick me up at the airport. We find Michael and Wiffle at the
base of Mt. Katahdin where they are waiting on Gumpy, Peeper and Hawk to
come off the mountain. Gumpy, Peeper and Hawk plan to summit on the
17th. Hawk's father will also be there waiting. We have cabins rented
in Millinocket, Maine. After celebrating their summit we will try to
get as much rest as possible because Michael, Wiffle and I plan summit
Katahdin on the 18th. Wiffle's parents are going to hike around on
other trails while we go up the mountain. The hike up Mt. Katahdin is 5
miles and it is straight up. This will be a hard 10 miles, especially
for me. I'm excited though. I can't even imagine the emotions a thru
hiker has on top of this mountain. I'm sure I will cry just watching
them. I cried after coming out of the Grand Canyon the first time we
hiked rim to rim. That was the hardest hike I had ever completed. I
have done another rim to rim since then which was a little easier just
because I knew what to expect. Michael has hiked rim to rim a total of
three times. An AT thru hike is a bigger accomplishment. What a
As I have told you already we will then be moving south so Michael and
Wiffle can actually complete the trail. Remember they have to hike the
81 miles they missed when they came home for Mom's funeral. While I
rent a car and slackpack them in the New York-Connecticut area, Wiffle's
parents will return to Maryland. After the real end of the trail for
Michael and Wiffle we will drive Wiffle home. We will then head south
to hike the 53 miles Michael aquablazed earlier. This section is
Harper's Ferry to Front Royal, Virginia. After this section Michael
will have officially completed his AT thru hike. Woo-Hoo!!!
We hope to have time to see the coast of Maine before we have to start
driving south. If time doesn't permit we intend to return to Maine next
year for a visit.
The end of the plan is we return to Olympia around Labor Day. Back to
work and reality.
I am glad Michael will be home. I miss him. I am so proud of him. I
am happy he has been able to achieve a dream he has had for a long time.
Wish him luck on the final leg of his journey.
I haven't actually heard from Michael since Tuesday so I haven't had any
news to report. I received a post card today. It is a picture of Mt.
Katahdin. Just a short note to say he would see me there soon, he is
ready to be home and he and Wiffle are moving on. I read on Gumpy's
trail journal that All Smiles and Wiffleball had caught up with them.
They all met up in Monson, Maine at a hostel last night. He said
Michael and Wiffle had walked 27 miles yesterday. I received a message
from Wiffle that they had hiked 32 miles. Either way that is a great
accomplishment. I am so proud of them for pushing so hard to catch up
with the crew after taking a day off the trail for Wiffle to recover
from the virus. They are all now heading into the 100 mile wilderness.
According to what I have read there is no cell service or any other
means of contact in this area. I probably won't talk to Michael until
the end of the trail. I am flying to Bangor, Maine on Friday. Wiffle's
parents are picking me up at the airport. Branden (Skeeter) will be
staying here at the house. Michael and I will return around Labor Day.
I will be sure to give you an update when we return. If I happen to
hear from Michael or find out any news before I leave I will send an
email. Thanks so much for your continued support. You are great
Michael called yesterday. He and Wiffleball had planned to do a 24 mile
day. Instead they only did 13 miles due to Wiffle waking up with the
"hiker virus". The virus is affecting most all hikers in the area.
Branden had it, Peeper had it, Hawk had it and now Wiffle. Michael
feels sure he and Gumpy will end up with it also. Hard to avoid out on
the trail. It usually lasts 24 hours and the symptoms are vomiting,
diarrhea, sweats, fever; all the bad things a virus can do for you.
Rest is about the only remedy. If they can sleep for several hours they
seem to bounce back rather quickly. I don't see how they can still hike
10-15 miles feeling so badly. Of course they don't have much choice
because they have to get off the trail and into a town in order to get
the needed sleep for their recovery. Michael and Wiffle were going into
Rangely, Maine to rest. I read on Gumpy's trail journal that Blues
Clues also contracted the virus yesterday. He stayed at the Pine Ellis
Hostel to rest.
Michael called today and said Wiffle is much better. They were moving
along. The rest of the crew is now quite a bit ahead. I'm glad Michael
stayed with Wiffle. Remember, Wiffle drove Michael home from New York
for Mom's funeral.
Talked to Michael this morning. He and Gumpy spent last night at
Gumpy's house. Gumpy's granddaughter was in a play and Gumpy wanted to
see her so Michael went home with him for the night. The trail is very
close to Gumpy's house. The rest of the crew had moved on to Gorham,
NH. Michael and Gumpy were meeting them there this evening. This would
be a 22 mile day for Michael and Gumpy. Both of them are tired and worn
out so I am sure they are hurting tonight. Michael said even the "kids"
are tired and sore. I am sure anyone who had walked almost 2000 miles
would be tired and sore. Michael is actually ahead of his planned
schedule. His pacing schedule had him in Gorham on July 26 but the
pacing schedule had no zero or nero (near zero) days which of course are
necessary. He is hiking more miles per day than he originally planned.
I am so proud of him.
Michael called yesterday. He was in "The Dungeon" near Crawford Notch
in New Hampshire, 1.5 miles from Mt. Washington, mile marker 1850. The
Dungeon is a small basement shelter in the Lake of the Clouds Hut. The
Lake of the Clouds Hut was constructed in 1915 at an elevation of 5050
feet, the highest, largest and most popular hut on the AT. It costs
$100.00 per night to stay upstairs and $10.00 per night to stay in the
basement. The Dungeon sleeps six and the price is right. According to
the Thru Hikers' Companion book guests in the Dungeon have access to the
hut restroom and the common area. Michael said it looked just like the
jail in Owingsville, our county seat. I doubt that was a compliment.
Today they were climbing Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the
Northeast at 6288 feet. Information per The Thru Hikers' Companion is
many buildings have come and gone on the summit of Mt. Washington,
including a 94 bedroom hotel completed in 1873 and destroyed by fire in
1908. The summit is under cloud cover about 55 percent of the time.
Average summertime high is 52 degrees and the average wintertime high is
15 degrees. On April 12. 1934, an on-land wind speed of 231 mph was
recorded, which still stands as the world record. The weather yesterday
was cold and rainy at the base of the mountain. They have been walking
above tree line on many mountains.
The husband of my friend at Kroger is attending a survival skills school
in North Conway, NH. He has been following Michael's blog and figured
they were near him so he offered to do some trail magic. This offer
came at a great time. Gumpy and Peeper had to leave the trail for a
short time to attend the funeral of a close friend. Doug was going to
shuttle them and the rest of the crew today and tomorrow from Pinkham
Notch. Michael and the rest are spending the night in North Conway.
Very nice gesture from someone we have never met. Thanks, Doug.
Michael says each day is harder. He has worn out his 4th or 5th pair of
shoes. They will reach the Maine state line at mile marker 1902.4. The
AT ends at mile marker 2184.2. Less than 282 miles when they reach the
state line. Of course Michael still owes the trail about 135 miles due
to Mom's funeral and the aquablazing he did in Virginia. Michael will
be finished with all of the trail by Labor Day.
Gumpy and Peeper have a blog on Trail Journals. They do a great job
with updates. I was just reading Gumpy's entry for Wednesday. He is
writing about the group deciding to take a zero day on Tuesday due to
the bad weather. 70 plus mph winds on Franconia Ridge and thunderstorms
kept them off the trail. I am glad they are being smart. Gumpy goes on
to say as they were climbing the ridge on Wednesday that All Smiles
(Michael) is laughing and hiking like an excited child. I am so glad
All Smiles is having a good time. I know these past couple of months
have been difficult for him as well. If you want to read some of the
journal, Google Gumpy and Peeper. Also, you can read about Michael and
see some new pictures on the Facebook page of Kentucky Heartwood.
Thanks for all the support,
Branden and Polaris summited Mt. Katahdin yesterday. 2184 miles in 122
days. I haven't talked to Branden but Michael gave me the news.
Michael called today. He and his crew climbed the second steepest climb
on the AT today, Mt. Moosilauke, at mile marker 1791. Mt, Katahdin is
the steepest climb. These are not the highest points on the AT but they
are the most elevation changes. The elevation change today was from
1350 feet to 4802 feet. Wow! He said the last mile was rock steps. I
looked at some images on line. Beautiful but hard. Michael said they
were going to continue hiking a few more miles before calling it a day.
He said they were all doing well and still having fun. He thinks he is
losing more weight. I imagine he will return home skinny and hairy.
Michael called yesterday. He was in Vermont where the Long Trail and
the AT meet, 45 miles from New Hampshire. He should get to New
Hampshire on Thursday. He was 480 miles from Mt. Katahdin in
Millinocket, Maine. He said it felt good to be under 500 miles from the
end. Of course he will hike the 81 miles he missed when he came home
for Mom's funeral and the 53 miles he aquablazed as we travel south.
He said the weather is HOT and HUMID. He said he had a bandana tied to
his backpack. The bandana didn't touch his skin. There was no rain.
When he stopped to rest the bandana was wet from humidity. We can all
identify with his weather conditions. I guess it could feel worse if we
were walking up and down mountains 25 miles every day. lol
A story Michael told me...He hung his shirt on a tree limb and a chipmunk
ate holes in it. He is sending the shirt home and told me he wants to keep
it just to show how wild and dangerous life is on the AT. lol
I am going strong, the group is hanging together and there are about 550
miles to go. We are entering the Green Mts. in Vermont and then into
the Whites in New Hampshire. I am seeing moose tracks, bear tracks,
beaver ponds, and snotty south bound AT thru hikers. I don't know what
it is about them but they seem to have an attitude. Maybe its just
because we are seeing the first wave coming thru SOBO and they are the
ultra fast types. I have met some very cool folks who seem determined
to make it on to Maine. The class is thin now, as you can imagine, and
I am walking with people who are committed to the trail. I went
swimming in Stratton pond today, it was absolutely amazing.
Thanks to all for the good thoughts and concern. We are doing okay. We
are very blessed and very lucky all siblings are in agreement on every
aspect of the details after Mom's passing. The past four days have been
busy. We have sorted through and distributed all the contents of Mom's
house. We four children chose any items we wanted to keep first, the
five grandchildren chose second (along with the great grandchildren) and
then the friends and neighbors. Anything left will be donated. Mom
would have given the shirt off her back to a total stranger therefore we
gave everything away instead of trying to sell it. We had lots of help
these past few days to get this job accomplished. I counted close to 20
people pitching in. This in itself shows how much my Mother was loved.
My sister will be moving into Mom's house. Lori has a two story house
but would prefer a one story house. It was sad to clean out Mom and
Dad's house but it was okay since the house will still be in the family.
Daddy built a fort in the backyard when Tyler was very young. Every
grandchild and great grandchild since then has played on that fort. We
hated the thoughts of future grandchildren missing out on Poppy's fort.
By Lori living in the house we will still be able to visit the home
place. We will probably make her host all holiday events. lol
Mom passed away on Monday, June 25th. As you know I had told Michael to
stay on the trail. He didn't mind me. Tyler and I were heading to town
for the visitation at 4pm Tuesday evening and he walked through the
door. Of course I burst out in tears and fussed because he came home.
I was so afraid he would not return to the trail if he came home. As it
turns out Wiffle Ball came home with Michael as insurance he would
return to the trail. Michael has a big beard, he has lost 20 pounds and
he was stinky. Wiffle was so good to drive Michael from New York and
elsewhere (a total of 13 hours) in order to be here for my Mother's
services. The funeral was Wednesday and Michael spoke at the service.
He did a great job. Michael and Wiffle left Thursday morning to head
back to the trail. Tyler left Friday morning to head back to Memphis.
They have both called to check in. I miss them and look forward to
seeing them soon. I am doing fine.
Michael called twice today. I talked to Gumpy, also. He is a Doctor in
New Hampshire. It was comforting to discuss Mom's condition with him.
Of course Michael still tells me all I have to do is say the word and he
will come straight home. I didn't say the word. I have my friends and
family. Tyler will be home this weekend. I am okay.