Trail To Oz

Keeping us connected as we walk from Georgia to Maine.

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Location: Walking up, the East Coast, United States

The two of us are hiking the Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine) starting late April 2006. Tin Man is a mid-twenties recent escapee from government tendrils (was an employee, not a prisoner). He plans to kick back in the Northwest until something lures him elsewhere. Scarecrow, nearly mid-twenties, has also just escaped from her own imprisonment (as an undergrad). She's not sure how, when or where, but eventually will be teaching biology. Both are looking forward to a really long walk.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Hello! One last update to let you all know that I completed hiking the Appalachian Trail. I completed the hike about a week ago by summitting the final mountain, Mt. Katahdin in north central Maine. I meant to write this sooner, but, as you may be able to imagine, I've been taking a bit of a break from not only hiking, but movement in general these past several days (!). The weather for that final climb was about as perfect as could be on an early October day, complete with views of the colorful foliage and temps that permitted more than a momentary pause at the peak for the first of several pause-and-reflect sessions. While it has been nice to be inside these days - taking sanctuary from the weather (it snowed here in Ohio yesterday), the transition happened almost too quickly to be a worthy epilogue for the many days prior in which no such shelter could be taken.

Some final facts and figures:
trail length: 2175.6 miles (according to 2006AT Data book)
Start date - April 24
End date - October 4
Longest day: 29.0 miles
Shortest (non-zero) day: 1.1 miles
Time for passing through the 1.1 miles of Mahoosic notch, the 'most difficult mile on the trail' : 1.5 hours (compared to a normal 2mph pace)
Highest elevation: 6643 feet, Clingman's Dome, Smoky Mtns
lowest elevation: 124 feet, in front of bear exhibit at Trailside Zoo, near Bear Mtn, NY
Earliest Start of hiking for a day: 6:30AM
Latest Start of hiking for a day: 4:00 PM
Evenings involving night-hiking: 5
Pairs of shoes used: 5
Types of animals seen: Rabbit, Deer, Mouse, Wild Turkey, (Semi-)Wild Horses, Raccoon, Chipmunk, Squirrel, Weasel, Cattle, Long Horn Steer, Porcupine, Moose, Black Bear, Rattlesnake and numerous bird

I had some close calls (I can really take a fall these days), but the worst of the physical injuries involved but a few blistered pinky toes as well as some assorted instances of chafing. There were a few quite-miserable moments, usually involving rain and having to walk across an exposed peak in it, but for the most part, both the weather and the trail were quite tolerable (that, or, I've already started blocking those days out!). The weather was plenty warm in summertime, but there were only a few unbearable days of it around the 1st of August. Along with this less pleasant, there was also the good - the beautiful sights and the wonderful people I met along the way, some of which are represented in the photos in the link at the bottom of this email. My favorite part of the trip though, regardless of view or weather, tended to recur each morning, about half an hour into the day's hike, when all of the body parts would get warmed up and everything (brain included) would fall into a familiar hiking rhythm. It is still too soon to have a bigger reflection on the trail, beyond knowing that it was both tough and worthwhile (as, to be cliche, 'many things tend to be'). Ultimately, rain or shine, backache or bug bite, it was a pleasure.

This is just a quick summary of thoughts; sorry if they are a bit generalized - the more specific anecdotes are still in raw form (and un-typed). I just wanted to let you know that I finished the trail successfuily and am ready for the next adventure. Hope you are all respectively well, and I will, like I said before, hopefully get to see some of you before I head out to the part of the country were they celebrate New Year's at 9 instead of midnight.

- TinMan

Thursday, September 21, 2006

To Maine!

Naturally, I wait until ten minutes before heading to the airport to update. How long have I been home? Oh well.

*Fast* update to say: I'm on my way (from San Diego) to meet TinMan in Maine for the last leg of the trail. Wa-hoo! I'll arrive in Augusta tomorrow morning (after a red-eye and two...TWO three-hour layovers), get a lift to the hostel in Caratunk, and wait for him there. He'll likely arrive sometime Sunday, and we'll hit the trail soon after.

From there, 151.2 miles to Katahdin. We're hoping to summit on the 4th, trail legs (what? where are those?) and weather permitting.

Can't wait to be back...hope the moose will be there to greet me!

- Scarecrow :]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Poor neglected blog.

All this time on my hands, all this internet at my constant disposal, and yet it's still tough to update this thing. But it needs an update. Oh, boy, does it.

So, anyone left wondering how the heck I've uploaded so many photos from the trail? Yeah, I'm not out there anymore. TinMan is rocking the trail like no one's business, but I needed a very extensive break. So, we slackpacked the last few days of the Shenandoah National Park (long, 100ish mile strip along the west side of Virginia) with the help of TinMan's parents and the amazing cabin they rented at the north end of the park, and then I rode with them back to Ohio before silver-blazing (flying) all the way home to sunny San Diego. That was almost a week and a half ago. I've been to the beach several times, in the pool many more, spent oodles of time with the family, and enjoyed showering every single day.

Enough about me. This is, after all, a trail blog.

TinMan is still trucking along; he's aiming to get to Port Clinton, PA in a couple days (by Thursday). The PA/NJ border should be about four days after that, and rumor has it he might get slackpacked through the whole state (80ish miles of the Trail in NJ). He sounds like he's not pining too hard for his Scarecrow, as he's been sticking with Tonka, Pockets, Riceburner, and Mash for about a week now. We met Tonka (female) and Pockets (her boyfriend) in the Shenandoahs, and hiked with them for several days before I took off. Riceburner was their trail buddy that had been off the trail for awhile resting his knees. I didn't meet him, but he sounds like quite a character (as are many long-distance hikers). Mash was a guy we hiked with for awhile pre-Hot Springs (the first three weeks of the trail, before we left for six days), so it's great to hear he's still doing well.

When I took off, we were four days behind our very original schedule, meaning a bit more hiking per day was needed to hit the September 31st deadline of finishing atop Katahdin. TinMan can haul it when I'm not there, and now he's only a day behind. So, he's in great spirits and except for the heat, all is well.

I'll be joining him again, but possibly not until the last 8-10 days (~150 miles) of the trip. That'd include the "100-mile wilderness" in Maine, as well as the final climb of Katahdin.

There are so many stories and people I'd love to share with you, but it feels a bit unnatural doing so through the web. High Tech (who TinMan might catch this week!) does a much better job at this, as he's very diligent about writing in the journal every morning and updating with his journal entries whenever he gets the chance. I linked to his blog in an earlier post.

Check out my flickr page (the Appalachian Trail set) for more pictures if you haven't been over there in the past week or so. I'll keep adding to the collection as the mood strikes me.

For now, I think it's time to for an afternoon swim. ;]

TinMan's one-woman southern California support crew,
- Scarecrow

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Still on our feet!

Just have a few minutes here for a quick update before we're back to hiking. Of course, I've had the internet at my disposal for the last day and a half, as we've spent two nights at this wonderful bed & breakfast, the Dutch Haus, with a computer right here for me to use...but it can be hard to update. I remember how to check email, and can even muster up the mind power to send an email off to the parents, but beyond that, the internet feels a bit overwhelming. We'll be in Waynesboro, VA in a couple days and our hotel reports they have internet for us, so perhaps you'll see a more comprehensive update at that point.

We spent two nights here, but did manage to hike 10 miles of the trail yesterday. We were planning on 20, but the weather encouraged us not too subtly to hitch a ride at the halfway point back to the safety of a roof and warm clothes. Plans change on a dime out here, it's pretty tough to know where you'll be in a few days. Thirty miles to Waynesboro, so just two fifteen mile days and it's resting time again! Not just resting, but (get ready) all you can eat *pancakes* for Thursday morning. Not to mention the steak dinner we've already planned for after we've arrived and cleaned up Wednesday evening.

We had six days on the trail from Daleville, a stop a couple days after staying with Mouse's Motor. After starting with measly 11 and 13 mile days, we had four long days to get to our next planned food resupply here. Let's just say I really needed a shower. Looking forward to getting out there today, as yesterday was a bit disappointing, and it sure does help knowing it's just two days until I can have a hot shower and a real bed again.

Sorry this feels scattered, perhaps I'll attempt to pre-prepare an entry before I get to Waynesboro. So much to say about the trail, but for now I've got to pack up and get back to it.

Still keeping an eye out for a full bear sighting, as the rear end that I spotted was just not enough. ;]

Oh, and a belated Happy Birthday to Julie! I promise, I thought about you on the 21st, but the cell service has been pretty unreliable lately. Hope it was a great one in sunny San Diego!

Signing off for just a few days,
- Scarecrow

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Trail Magic comes knocking.

There's a little thing called "trail magic" out here, and it comes in many forms. A gallon jug full of water sitting on the trail in a dry stretch, a surprise cooler of sodas and juice, even a fresh pizza delivery straight to a shelter or campsite around dinnertime. You never quite know when it's coming, but we've found there to be an endless source of trail angels out here to provide such welcome surprises.

Don't have much time, and I'll hope to give a bit more explanation later, but I'm sitting at the computer of such a trail angel right now, by far the most helpful and generous we've encountered, Mouse's Motor. She lives in Salem, VA, and what started as a half mile lift back to the road ended up as multiple shuttles around the area, a warm and dry place to stay for the night (shower! i got to shower!), and a hot breakfast of sausage and eggs. Might we upgrade this to "trail miracle"? Think so.

Anyway, running off to get a head start on the morning and hike the 20 miles into Daleville. Due to the internet access last night, we even snagged hotel reservations for tonight so as not to run into the full hotel scenerio we encountered in Pearisburg.

So many details, so little time. For now, we're happy, healthy, clean and dry, and immensely grateful to Mouse's Motor!!!

- Scarecrow