What are you doing when you retire? Will you have enough time, health, money and mobility to
of your dreams? Do you have a Bucket List? How about 6 months walking the Appalachian trail
to Katahdin? Gordon (Gimp) and Ross (Scrounger) did the entire
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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
I forgot to mention we found your entry in the Bear's Den registry,
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
the train into Washington, tomorrow, for the day, take a bus tour, visit
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 ...so far...but Ibuprofin is used
frequently. Must go, as the computer is in demand.
Buck and Fleur
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
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
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
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
Buck and Fleur