Sun god visits Grayhounds 2003       Picasa Photo Album

On the Trail, Sungod meets the Grayhounds

It sounded easy, I was going to visit my daughter in Cape Cod, check out where the boys were, nip over, and hike a couple days with them. The logistics are not that simple--where would they be the days I am available, what would they be doing those days, I was not looking for a day off doing laundray--but the 'All You Can Eat' stuff sounded alright.

Anyway I told Gimp I would be on the Cape July 21/22, gave him Allison's number, and said to call be with 'some' sort of details.

The phone rang Tuesday noon, they would be crossing highway #23, in Western Mass. Wednesday morning at 8:00am. I said I would be there without really looking at a map---turns out I have a 3+ hour drive, by-passing Boston--should be good for a traffic jam--How can I tell them I may be late----'can't.

Oh well, into my car after supper, arriving at the Trail Head at 11:00pm, parked the car, curled up in the front seat, and nappy boo time. Up at 5:30am, now I'm the early one--off into town to check out stuff, breakfast at Mickie Dees, back to the trail head, and at 8:03 (late, eh?) out popped the two Grayhound heads-actually I could smell them first, hear them second, and see them third.

Hugs and kisses all around.

I offered to take them to breakfast, there was no resistence--off to town, Friendly's for lots of grease and back to the trail head. They unloaded some extra stuff to take home, I gave Gimp a 'new' camera from #1 son Andrew (if you remember his 'really new' digital jobbie got crushed in Pennsylvania when the crashed on the rocks)

Now it was time to get to work, we had 11 miles to cover that day to our planned camp site.

I threw my 35 pounds of gear onto my back and said to myself---this is heavy, I wish I had of trained for this. It was 75* and humid, I think I already smelled like the boys. Off we went, UP, and then UP, and then UP. I thought we were in the Birkshires, highest peak being 3,400 feet, and most of the mountains were more like hills, meandering through fields.

I quickly learned that whether you were climbing from 5,000 feet to 6,000 feet or from 1,500 feet to 2,500 feet, you were STILL CLIMBING 1,000 feet of elevation. The difference here is that you don't get into a roll and do the thousand feet, you are up 100, down 200, up 150, down 100, up 300.

Everything here is lush, why not, it has been raining. The trails are very well maintained, not that many rocks or roots--lots of dirt, well trimmed, fallen trees well cut. The boys said the hiking here is a relief on their bodies after coming through the rocky Pennsylvania trails.

Being on the trail for a couple days and hearing the stories of the various people makes you realize there is more to long distance hiking than walking 13 miles a day. That may be the easy and routine part of the journey.

-Along with the walking (with 35 pounds on your back) you have to do all the stuff we do at home.
-You have to do it in the cold and snow-March in Georgia.
-You have to do it in the heat of June/July/August--75/80+*
-You have to do in the environment of biting bugs (basically ignore them), biting snakes (hopefully not get close to them), black bears (have to hang your food, this is inconvenient to being a pain in the butt)
-You have to filter your water which has a number of logistics, it takes a couple minutes to pump each liter, and the water sources, more often than not, are at least 1/3 of a mile (usually up) from your site.
-Hygiene-you wash in streams, you wash out of puddles, you wet towel, and sometimes you are at a hostel that actually has a shower.
-Laundrey-you wash your few clothes when you can.
-The kicker here is you usually don't wash clothes and self on the same days, so you are putting clean body into dirty cloothes or vice versa.
-Food re-supply-you go into towns where food was sent and/or buy from locals.
-All the other stuff you need to go to towns for--phones, etc.
-The kicker is these towns are not normally at the trail heads--1/4 mile down the road, 1 mile down the raod, 5 miles down the raod.--they were all different-walk, hitch hike, beg, you had to get there.

And then every day you just keep walking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For the two days I was with them we went by 4 camp sites, some with 3-sided addirondacks and some just for tents-These varied all along the trail but apparently they are spaced out at very usefull distances.

My first night was at a tent site, we arrived at 5:00pm--as Murphy says you always fill the day--the bugs are bad so I put on shell and long pants, it is so hot and humid I take off shell and long pants, its raining a bit-I put on shell----Gimp and Scrounger just go about their daily routine, boiling water, heating soup, cleaning dishes, brushing teeth, etc.

We were joined by Neil MacKenzie (see pics) an accountant from Scotland who quit his 10 year job to hike the AT ( interesting thing is he is hiking 'cold', meaning he has no stove and eats all cold food on the trail--I'm not sure how he keeps interested in his food)

Later in the evening a 24 year old girl, just graduated from Dartmouth U., who was section hiking for 30 days, now on day number 11. She almost quit when she spent the other night on top of a mountain, pouring rainstorm, and lightening--scared to death--then the next night she was at a hostel, shower, pizza, and is feeling okay--I trail named her Lightening Rod.

Gimp warned me that a tarp (which is all I usuualy take for set up) would not be sufficient against the bugs, I'm glad he convinced me to carry a tent--even though it weighs a couple extra pounds.

Crashed at around 9:00pm (dark), and 'fell immediately' to sleep (there's a hidden joke here for those in the know)--woke up around 3:00 to the rain--oh great.

Up at 6:30, packed in the 'slight' rain, packs on our backs at 7:05 and off we go, down, and then UP. I'm not sure which was toughest--the ups on my poor conditioning or the downs on my equally poor knees.

I had to make some decisions, I wanted to climb Mount Graylock, the highest peak in Mass., but that was 4 days north, and I wanted to hike with the boys for at least part of today, and I still had to find some way back to my car---I decided to leave them after 3 miles, went into Tyringham, immediately lucked into (actually not all luck, I went into their yard and basically begged) a ride back to Great Barrington. When I got to my car I realized I may be able to catch the guys as they crossed the road at Tyringham, drove back and caught them as they were hitching a ride to Tyringham (1 mile) to resupply. Good thing because there was nothing there. I drove them the extra 5 miles to Lee, grocery store, and another feeding frenzy at a Friendlys.

I then took them back to the trailhead where there was, what is known as a trail angel (actually a recent through hiker and his wife, Kemo Sabe and Mother Hen) who were giving out lemonade and gas, and do-nuts etc. for hikers.

It was now around 11:00am as I said good bye to the boys--they were having a pretty easy day on the trail, another 6 miles to hike to their campsite--then again it would have been a not so easy day if they were sitting around Tyrinham right now with no lift.--all days are different.

I was off, 1 hour drive north to Mount Graylock, talked to a Ranger found the shortest (time wise) but most vertical--(think the head wall at Washington) route to the top, found my legs reacted VERY WELL without the 35 pounds on my back, I was up and down in 5 hours, 4 hour drive back to the Cape and into bed my mid-night.

I slept well Friday morning.

Look forward to meeting the boys again in August in the Whites

Cheers Sg