The Appalachian Trail - Buck & Fleur 2008       Picasa Photo Album

What are you doing when you retire? Will you have enough time, health, money and mobility to tackle some of your dreams? Do you have a Bucket List? How about 6 months walking the Appalachian trail from Atlanta to Katahdin? Gordon (Gimp) and Ross (Scrounger) did the entire Appalachian Trail in 2003. They both retired the week before they left to go to Atlanta. Malcolm (Goat) was along for the first third of the adventure (Damascus), but had to drop out with a back injury.

Chris (Buck) retired for real this past January, Betty (Fleur) a few years back. They're keen, they're fit, they're 65 and most important of all, they're Gonzos. Follow along with the posts that receive from them. The maps are marked showing their progress.

Greg Vail is tinkering with the idea. With any luck, Bruce (Dipper) will be retiring and starting the Appalachian trail in late March '09. How cool is that?

July 22

Just to follow-up on Fleur's summary to, and including Fri. 11 July: we stayed in Sleepy Holow/Tarrytown all day, walking throughout both villages 'till after supper, returning to Ed and Margaret's to join another couple for dessert. Early Sunday morning, Ed drove us to the Amtrak rail station, and we spent the next ten hours heading north, up the Hudson River, up Lake Champlain, into Quebec, arriving in Montreal at 7:30. Took a bus, and shuttle to get to our hotel near the airport. On Monday, we took a sightseeing bus around the city, walked around downtown, and wet back to the hotel that evening.

On Tuesday, we checked out, but were permitted to leave our baclpacks in the hotel, thereby freeing us to go downtown, see the iMax presentation on the Grand Canyon, then rent bikes for a quick ride to the Expo islands. By 9:30 that evening, we were on our way to Halifax, by Air Canada, touching down at 11:30.

Thus ended a journey that lasted 121 days, including 106 days/1,030 miles on the Trail. The lack of scenery in Virginia was my downfall; I became too discouraged that we climbed up, and walked down mountain after mountain among 70-foot, leafy trees, that prevented any views whatsoever. In addition, since our walking rates differed, Fleur and I spent considerable parts of each day out of contact. She seemed comfortable to walk by herself, but I could not comfortably spend that time alone; I simply ran out of things to think about!

Our sincere thanks to all who communicated with us; your e-mails meant a great deal. Everyone should know that Gordon has been a piller of reliable support throughout the trip; we were, and are, very grateful for all he did for us, and for the communication with our daughters. For the last time,

Buck and Fleur

July 14

Chris still isn't feeling A-1 and with the conveniences of being near N.Y.(actually Sleepy Hallow), we've decided to take a train to Montreal tomorrow a.m.(13) stay there until the 15thand take a late flight home.Kim, we will be in touch with you from Montreal. We will get in touch with auntie Pat and hope we can meet with her.

We have some misgivings about leaving the trail--lonely for the people we will not see and at the same time feeling guilty ,maybe disappointed in ourselves????????? But I did not want one of us to get ill at this point----some people have been flattened for days.


July 12

YES we are very much alive taking a holiday from the trail.

After Harper's Ferry, we made our way to Iron Furnace Hostel dodging afternoon showers as we went along and not succumbing to the 1/2 gallon challenge(ice cream) like many others did, starving themselves in preparation for the ordeal.

Then we got a ride into Gettysburg (with an hostel guest),took a bus tour which covered the battle in touching detail.Quite amazing to experience an area where the battle took place. But guess what???????? You can't get out of this place!!! There are no buses. We thought there was no problem since there were train tracks and a train but it was just a museum. Next brain wave -----rent a car. Road block!!----No one way rentals. I thought we were going to have to hitch a ride to Harrisburg but we put the word out and as luck would have it a gentleman came knocking at 9 a.m. next morning at 10 we were on our way to Harr.where we boarded the AMTRAC for Philadelphia where we again took another bus tour. Nice city.

Next day train to Andover,o/n with a classmate thinking we'd hit the trail next day but Chris's classmate, now living in N.Y.called us and we've been here for two nights and yes,we took a bus tour (4 hrs.) However,after all this activity BUCK is complaining of exhaustion--legs stiff and tired chills ?headache. Rx.----Vitamin I and to bed at 8:30. Our plan was to be driven to the trail which isn't all that far from here but we'll see how events are in the morning.


July 09

We are leaving Philadelphia this morning, bound for Boston, arriving at suppertime, and being hosted overnight, by a friend of Fleur's. We will make our way back to the Trail from there, and hike for the rest of the month. We'll' be in touch.

Cheers, Buck and Fleur

June 27

Hi, Gord,

I forgot to mention we found your entry in the Bear's Den registry, dated 14 June 2003; that would put you and Ross 3 weeks ahead of us, remembering we skipped 64 miles. We are in Harper's Ferry, resting, and deciding where to stay. We plan to take the train into Washington, tomorrow, for the day, take a bus tour, visit the President, and take the train back. We'd like to hear how the Bruces made out at Mt. Washington, when you can.

Cheers,Buck and Fleur

Hi, Gord,

Thanks so much for the Craisins, and Worthers candies; they were---emphasis on "were"---delicious. We shared the candies with our trailmates the past few evenings, but consumed the Craisins, without help! We really appreciated your thoughtfulness.

We are at the Bear's Den Hostel, owned and operated by the ATC, for the night, before the two-day hike into Harpers Ferry. We really oudid ourselves, yesterday, by starting at 7:15 a.m., and arriving at the Shelter, 18 miles later, at 8:15 p.m. It was not an intended high-mileage/long hours day, but necessitated by lack of camping/water sources as the day went along. Today was no respite, as we hiked the notorious "Roller Coaster', 10 miles of constant ups-and-downs. It was exhausting enough that we were happy to end the day at this air-conditioned stone house (think of Precesky property, at Clementsport). For $25, we each get a bunk, pizza/ ice cream/soda supper, laundry, shower, and internet access. It is a beautiful facility!

We expect to get to Harpers Ferry on Sunday. It is quite refreshing to hear hikers talking about the Euro Cup final, on Sunday, rather than the usual baseball/car racing, or whatever.

Last Sunday, we started the day with four of our closest friends, hiked to a beautiful lodging/dining complex near the Northern end of Shenandoah National Park, had a wonderful lunch in their dining-room, and hiked towards a camping area that p.m. We were aware of the pending thunderstorm, but ignored the need to seek shelter!! It struck with violent, wind-driven, torrential rain, which turned to cherry-seed-size hail. By the time it stopped, 45 minutes later, we were soaked, and the Frogg Toggs, which would have kept us warm in the tent, were, of course, soaked, though continued to keep us warm. That necessitated the decision to make for Luray immediately. We walked down the mountain, arriving at the highway at 8:15 p.m., and hitched a ride into Town, arriving at a beautiful motel at 9 p.m. We were thankful to have survived a potentially unpleasent night so well---and learned a valuable lesson: don't ignore the warning signs!

The next day was a "zero" day, spent enjoying the Luray Caverns, a stunning experience!

Have to go; thanks, again, for the gift; it was really appreciated. We will pick up the disc in Harpers Ferry.


Buck and Fleur

They have now traveled 987.5 miles averaging about 8.2 miles per day. For those with maps they are located a little south west of Washington DC at about Snickers Gap. The Bears Den Hostel really is something to see, a beautiful (1930's) stone building now being run by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

It is rather surprising to note that Fleur hasn't mentioned all the rattle snakes that give this hostel its reputation.

Oh and the dining rooms in Shanandoah are really quite hiker friendly. They have a special area for hikers to eat. It is far far away from the other paying people so as they can maintain their appetite and not have to sit next to smelly, very smelly hikers.

Gimp At '03 Ga-Me

June 18

Last Friday, at noon, on the Trail, Fleur complained of blisters, and suggested we stop soon. We called a Trail Angel number, and were soon on our way, together with our two travelling companions, two sisters from New Jersey, to a private campground in Big Island, on the banks of the grossly-polluted James River! We all spent the night in an a/c camping cabin, while Fleur tended to the blisters.

Next morning, she declared her recovery incomplete, and we should consider a "zero"day. Our Trail Angel arranged for our transportation directly to the Dutch Haus, a thru-hikers' dream ! We took a small room in the lower floor, and suffered through a wonderful evening dinner in the company of a dozen of our fellow hikers. After a delicious breakfast, Sunday, we agreed to slack-pack 10 miles South-to North. The hike back to the pick-up point was done by 3 p.m., and we relaxed at the Haus 'till our equally delicious chicken dinner was served, topped by peanut butter pie!

The next morning, we were driven to Dripping Water gap, bound for Waynesboro, having skipped 50 miles. We hiked the last 5 miles, to the Visitors' Centre, in 2 hours! BUT it had just closed! However, the list of Trail Angels in Waynesboro was posted, and we were picked up by a couple our age, who before dropping us at the church hostel, invited us to their home for the night. After we prepared supper at the church the couple took us to their beautiful home that only overlooks the mountains and the Town!!. Had a great sleep, wonderful pancake breakfast, and a drive to the Quality Inn this morning, where we will spend tonight. Our Angels will pick us up early tomorrow morning and take us to the Trailhead, where we, finally, start the Shenandoahs, highlighted by frequent stores along the Trail, vistas, and easy hiking.

Fleur and I sent our sleeping bags home, in exchange for fleece blankets. Fleur bought a Golite Jam2 bag which, when fully loaded, weighs 20 lbs.

We have reached the mid-way point in terms of days, and can begin to think about departure for the bike trip; can you, please, confirm the start date?

We wish the Bruces good luck at Mount Washington, and that you'll have a great trip. Neat to realize we're all in the same Country!

Please have Gillian and Warren send the 512-memory chip in the next box; when we receive it, we will send the 1 g-byte chip for downloading.

As you (Gimp and Scrounger) know, the summer solstice requires the hikers to walk the Trail in the nude---will make for an interesting day, especially since we're walking along the well-travelled Skyline Parkway on that day!!!Cheers,

Buck and Fleur

June 16

Best as I can figure they have now gone 780.2 miles averaging 9.5 miles per day They are about a days hike north of Glasgow Va.

Fleur came down with blisters on both heels, yesterday, so we called a Trail Angel. Sure enough, he drove us to a store, then a nearby campground, where 4 of us rented a camping cabin for the night. Blisters seemed to have healed well this morning, so the same Angel---who is a seasonal camper at the campground---drove us to a Trailhead at Punchbowl Shelter, where we transferred to another Angel, who owns the Dutch Haus B & B. We no sooner got in the door than the first drops of rain from a thunderstorm started falling. they passed, but were followed by successive t-storms, with heavy rain. We, no, I, have become very disillusioned with Virginia's "Green Tunnel", a 500-mile walk through the woods. We are thinking of skipping forward at some point, in order to walk in more scenic areas.

It appears Canada Post has lost a second food drop, this one scheduled for Daleville, last week-end. Very annoying, and cause for concern, to wonder if your box has been delivered, every time you go to the Post Office. Wonderful to think they approach the matter with such indifference: if we pay more, the P.O. will do a better, more reliable job; minimum cost means "maybe" delivery!!

We realize Greg Vail retired last month, and wish him a great time as he begins an unscheduled existence. In case he's wondering about camping alone, there are SEVERAL people on the Trail doing just that. Moreover, they hike at night---male and female alike---alone!!! We met an hiker from Summerside, PEI, last week, hiked and camped with him for a few days, and stayed with him, his wife, and married son last week-end, in Daleville. That's all for now.

Buck and Fleur

June 09

We climbed to the Dragon's Tooth on a day when the temp. reached 93F, and we were apart, and were tight on water, and too exhausted to go down the side trail to the Tooth. However, we did enjoy the Home Place dinner, and did get great shots from McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs.

The excessively high temps. have taken their toll on a lot of hikers, as the local HoJo, here in Daleville, has a number who are laying-over extra days.

The heat will slow us down, as the energy level certainly goes down, and breaks become more frequent. Do we ever stink after a day of sweatin' in high temps.!!!

We are spending time with "Serene", a guy from PEI, whose family is helping him recuperate from a day of dehydration.

Looks as though Harper's Ferry could be reached in 3-4 weeks. We will be glad to share the Trauil wuith anyone planning trips to the Whites, or the area when/ we get there.

Who is going to Mt. Washington in two weeks? Wish them luck; I'll be with them in spirit.

Must sign off; say "Hi" to Darrell, as I'm sure the project has moved to readiness to demolish the old School.

Buck and Fleur


May 30

Gordon: They have now gone 621.1 miles averaging 9.3 miles per day and learning the advantage of "slack-packing". This is where you somehow find a way to hike without your pack by getting a ride north and hiking back (like they are doing here) or hiking north and hitching a ride back (actually quite easy) as people here are used to seeing hikers looking for rides and in spite of their unwashed condition still get picked up fairly quickly. It becomes an easy way to get bigger miles in and still recover.

We are in Pearisburg, VA, and will slack-pack tomorrow, 20 miles North to South, and take a "zero" day Sunday. This is a real break for us, as the alternative was to be a 5-6 day trekk without any contact with civilization. We will get to Catauba Thurs., and will enjoy an all-you-can-eat dinner, before we press on to Troutville. The weather continues to be changeable, but is getting warmer. consequently, we are sending home our mittens and gloves!! We have, also, sent home the PocketMail unit.

Virginia has brought a gradual change in the topography, with fewer, steep climbs, and more stretches of level terrain. The rhododendrens and azaleas are in flower, the pink variety of the azaleas giving the beautiful fragrence. We THOROUGHLY enjoyed a Church-sponsored, free breakfast last Monday, at which we met a father-and-son couple from Cape Breton! We had a great time, and look forward to getting together at Christmas.

Today, we met "Spirit", a second-time thru-hiker from PEI: great guy, and who is hiking with another "Islander" who we expect to meet tonight. No blisters or injuries far...but Ibuprofin is used frequently. Must go, as the computer is in demand.

Buck and Fleur

May 27

Gordon: As of last night, Chris and Betty are in Bland, Virginia.
- They have now hiked 578.6 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia.
- This is approximately 1/4 the way to Maine.

May 19

Gordon: Their latest letter As of friday the 9th They are in Laurel Fork Gorge a distance of 408.5 miles and their average remains 8.5 miles per day

They are in Marion Va. about 522.7 miles from the start and almost 25% of the way. They are now averaging 9.3 miles per day and that still takes into account the last few "zero" days of going to "Trail Days" in Damascus. They seem to be comfortable doing as much as 15 miles a day so they should start to really fly. A good write up. They are having fun now Gimp AT Ga-Me '03

We are in Marion, VA, after spending last night in Hurricane Campground, in Jefferson National Fotest. We met a retired Engineer, who drove us to our food drop, in Troutdale, then to the laundromat, in Marion, then to the Rodeway Motel, back to the laundromat, AND THEN back to the Motel. How's that for Southern hospitality!!? We stayed in Damascus Tues.., Wed., and Thurs. of Trail Days, long enough to have two, free Baptist Church suppers, and meet a pal of yous from 2003, trail name "Fig". He remembers the two guys dressed as nuns in the parade!! Also recalls your attendance at an annual meeting , of the Maine chapter.

We "Slack-packed one day North of Damascus, and can now say our typical, daily mileage is 12 miles; did a 14-miler, with pack, yesterday. Weather has been out-of-the-ordinary by local standards: we've been going to bed at 7:00 just to get out of the cold, and waking to freezing temperatures, backed by wind and fog. Today is sunny but cool. Will get shuttle to trailhead, at Dickey Gap, tomorrow, and head for the Frienship Shelter, the HQ of Mount Rogers National Forest; it boasts free laundry, and showers!

We climbed over Mt. Rogerslast Sat., but saw nothing until the fog cleared at Whitetop. The wait was worth it. We were amazed at the number of week-ewnd hikers on the Trail: Scouts galore!!. Also met a Tech. grad. of the class of '81, who now lives in Lexington, VA, working in the paper industry.

We were bewitched by the wild ponies on the Trail from Whitetop and beyond. Even saw new-borns! We presume you and Nancy had a great trip to Scotland, and will show the photos at the Canada Day gathering. Hope you are enjoying the Holiday. We sent a camera memory chip to Gillian, and presume she will get it to you. Edit them as you wish for posting, but we would want all of them forwarded, with thanks, to Gillian.

Sorry for brevity of some of our postings; one recent computer was transmitted by dial-up, and we fell asleep waiting for 'phone connections! Have a great time at the Relay this weekend; I really miss it!! Betty is amazed at the number of varieties of flowers along the Trail that she has in her garden; next year's version should be quite nostalgic for us. Did you pick Ramps along the Trail? They are an edible member of the onion family.

That's it, i'm told by my over-the-shoulder "editor"!

Buck and Fleur

May 16

We left Erwin this past Monday, heading for one of the most arduous climbs to date: Roan Mountain Bluffs. We had to climb 2,100 feet to the summit, but the view from the summit was wonderful. Believe it or not, an hotel was built on the site in 1884, and operated for 20 years. It required travel by train , and carriage to reach it. Its virtues were reputed to be the wonderful, dry, clean air, and constant- temperature(43F) water. Nothing but a segment of the foundation remains, but we can attest to the water temp. and quality.

Two days later, we booked into Mountain Harbor(U.S. spelling!) B & B and Hostel. We had an alcove in the loft hostel, which accommodated 5 others, whose company we thoroughly enjoyed. HOWEVER, the breakfast, which cost $7 each, would make any 5-star hotel envious! The dishes were sumptuous, and beautifully presented in their home. We ate heartily, to say the least, then slack-packed 14 miles from a location North of the Hostel, arriving back at it late p.m. Stayed the second night with light rain overnight, then back to the breakfast table for a completely new array of mouthwatering dishes.

We were well-fed when we left this morning, and arrived at another hostel , at Dennis Cove. It is not Kincora, the more popular of the two at this location, but is named Laurel Fork Lodge and Hostel; we have our own cabin for $30, and consists of two bunks, table, and chairs. We're looking to a quiet night.

We expect to get to Damascus Wed., a few days before Trail days; we will, probably, pick up our food box, and move on, but arrange to be shuttled back to town for the week-end. Please make the following revisions to the food boxes before mailing them: add 6 heaping spoonfuls of English Toffee to my cappuccinno envelope; carefully cut off the sharp corners of the cheese, and peanut butter, packages, then tape them together (they are making holes in the ziplock bags during transit); add 6 Fruit Source bars to each box(found in Sobeys, in 'Vegetables' section); skim milk, and cappuccinno, bags should be bagged a third time, and taped, to reduce movement in transit.

Buck and Fleur

Gordon: Chris is getting a little more wordy so there is a bit of info here He has learned the "slack-packing" trick where you hike without your pack and somehow some else moves it or you together again and you do longer miles without having to carry it. They should be past Damascus by now but Chris isn't quite aware of technology yet so he might still be only sending to Gillian and Kim

April 02

Gordon: I have heard from them Not much - man of few words but they are alive Note new name Buck 08 and Fleur They are getting the hang of it.

April 01

Gordon: Didn't speak to them but their food drop is gone. I did speak to a thru hiker who left friday (5 days after them) so if they were out there he would have passed them and he didn't remember them. Therefore they have moved 35 miles on to Hiawassee where there are motels and internet access and lots of buffets.

Gordon: I have heard nothing but after a quick trip through the mail drops their parcel is gone..
- Now that is not a "for sure" as if they have gone through for sure as I don't expect the guy to go through 3 or 400 food parcels as if I was standing there, but it is possible that with the huge lineup for the pay phone and no internet access they went on right by to head to Hiawassee another 35 miles.
- I will keep checking in the Mountain Crossing.
- I did speak to a thru hiker who was 5 "very hard days". getting there from Springer and said the weather is "terrible" and he didn't remember them, but also said he passed about 200 hikers.