Georgia to Maine - - Please join me from start (4/1) to finish (8/10) - 132 days!!!!!

Bethlehem, NH
I have completed my thru-hike of the AT from Georgia to Maine; I started 4/1 and completed 8/10/10. I decided to do this thru-hike in memory of my brother Michael and in turn decided to turn it into a fundraiser. All money raised went to the Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country which gives year-round opportunities in sports and recreation to people with physical or developmental disabilities. My wife Pam and I got involved with this program because it allows us to help people with disabilities enjoy the outdoors like we do and my brother Michael did. Michael was born mentally challenged, and he loved to visit us in the North Country of NH and go hiking. He also loved the outdoors and did many other sports. So, to help others do this and other outdoor activities is a TRIBUTE to him, and an HONOR to us. Many of you have helped me along my journey and donated (follow donation link) directly to a secure website. All donations have gone and WILL CONTINUE to go to ASPNC – nonprofit org to help assist others to hike, ski, kayak, snow shoe..etc… Thank you all in advance for your kindness & generosity, Dave & Pam Smith

Monday, May 31, 2010

Saturday 5/29

PTD is very excited he will see his sister Sue and her boyfriend Jere later tonight. Sue & Jere also invited the Flying Scotsmen to come w them to their friends farm about an hr away, spend the night, take a zero day, kick back, relax and then hit the trail on Monday. Kind of like Survivor when you win a challenge and get to bring a friend. YIPPEE!!! Scotsmen was excited, since he has no family in the states. They are all over in the UK. They can all spend the holiday weekend together.

Today Ponytail saw a momma bear and 2 cubs on the side of the trail. The momma bear wasn't too happy that he was walking the trail somewhat near her. The cubs were aways away from the trail. She stood her ground and stomped her feet and grunted. Dave slowly backed away, never taking her eyes off of her and went back down the trail a bit to sit and wait for her to leave. He wasn't challenging her. Eventually she left and he continued on.

Dave and Jimmy (Flying Scotsmen) got to the trail head in Swift River Gap about 5ish so they hitched into Elkton, Va to a Mexican restaurant to wait for Sue and jere since they wouldn't be there till around 8:30pm                     897.2 miles to date on the AT

Friday 5/28

Ponytail hit the 2 MILLION foot step mark. 3 Million more to go. What an accomplishment! Way to go PTD!

PTD encountered a bear today right in the middle of the trail. He could see this massive black bear in the middle of the trail ahead.  He was so excited he was trying to grab the camera out of his side pants pocket and grabbed his gorp (trail mix for those that don't know). Oh, no! Put it back quickly and hoped the bear didn't smell all the fruits and nuts. He then found the camera (other pocket) too late, that dang bear ran off. PTD is determined to get a pic of a bear. Says he saw 2 black snakes today, some turkeys and some bunny rabbits.

He also told me he has poison ivy. He is putting some cortisone cream on it till he gets to town on Sat to get some Calamine Lotion. Says it is on his feet, legs and arms. Not itchy. YET!

Says he skirted several wild storms today.

He stayed along w/the Flying Scotsmen at the Lot Mountain Campground.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 57- map - click several times to make larger - you can do that for all pics on the blog

Thursday – 5/27

Thanks for all the encouraging words. Dave is feeling better. Not quitting(he isn’t a quitter) or anything just having one of those days. I think Allen you had it right. The VA blues. Longest state on the AT 550 miles.

PTD and Jimmy(The Flying Scotsmen) eagerly awaited Jim Lemire’s visit. Jim and his wife took them both to the Chinese buffet in town. Nice visit. Very nice for Jim to invite the Scotsmen to have lunch w/us too. PTD really appreciates Jim taking time to come see him. He also has been great support for Pam. THANK YOU!!! After lunch Jim brought them to the grocery store, pharmacy and to the SNP headquarters so they could obtain their back country hiking permits (just like they needed to get in the Smokey’s). The ranger says it is going to be a busy weekend for hikers. It is Memorial Day Weekend and EVERYONE wants to hike and camp in the Shenandoah’s. Jim and his wife said their goodbyes to PTD and the Scotsmen and dropped them off back at the trail head about 12:30 or so. Super visit!

Tonight both of them stayed at the Calf Mountain Shelter.

Next visitor is coming Sat night.  Can't wait to see his sister.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wed night from Dave

Hi All,

I'm in Waynesboro, VA., staying at the Grace Lutheran Church Hostel.

Going in am to the Post Office for my mail drop then meeting a friend from NH (Jim Lemire) who is vacationing in the area and wants to take me to lunch. Super! I will enjoy his company. He too has hiked the AT. After lunch he will bring me back to where he picked me up so I can start back on my journey.

On Sunday I get to meet my sister Susan and her friend Jere somewhere in the Shenandoah’s. I am excited. We will take a 0 day at their friend’s house on a farm. I love farms. It reminds me of my grand pop’s house out in the country in PA. They will hike w/me on the trail for 2 days. They have been practicing so they can keep up. I will slow a bit for them; don’t want to push them too hard. Although Susan was in the NY marathon last year and her and Jere are very athletic (run and bike all the time) it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

There are times lately on the trail when I question why I am here, do I have it in me to finish what I started, I miss my wife and my home, but I love being on the trail but just sometimes my body just totaly hurts and mentally I am exhausted.

Then I think of my brother Michael, people from the adaptive program like Martin, Bella and the lovely ladies and gentlemen from the Ski for Light program and Bulldog. I tell myself here are people who dealt and deal with hardship every day of their life, not of their choice and they don’t complain. So, I shouldn’t complain!!!! Needed to vent and share with you my thoughts lately.

Then I come to a place like this church hostel and see what strangers will do for other people they never met and not expecting anything in return. I believe there is hope yet for the human race and realize some people do care about more than just themselves.

I apoligize for the rambling but sometimes the trail gets the better of me! I won’t let it consume me. I will finish! Must stay positive.

Talk later, Hike Safe,
Ponytail Dave

Wednesday 5/26

Ponytail called me from Cedar Cliffs this morning. He was overlooking the Shenandoah Valley – Sun is out and he is dry. He is very happy.

He says the view is mountains on one side and on the other it is flat.

He came across several deer this morning. Deer seem to only run about 30 feet from you and then they just stop, turn around and watch you. Bizarre!

He went though Rockfish Gap - Old terraced gardens, cemetery, old homesteads. Neat to see. Some people also say this area is haunted. He didn’t see any ghosts.

The Flying Scotsmen and PTD called the day hiker(from the night before) when approached the end of the trail in Waynesboro. He came and picked them up and brought them to the church hostel and said if they need any other rides while in town to call again. No problem, he was more than willing. People are so friendly in the south.

They are staying at the Evangelical Lutheran Church hostel. Tonight is Wednesday and they put on a big feed for the hikers. Super eats - Fried Chicken, Baked Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Homemade Mac and Cheese, salad fixings, Lemonade, Ice Tea..and more. Then there was cake and ice cream too. Ponytail say she was stuffed. Thinks he gained 5 pounds. I said good, you need it.

After dinner, they have a church service at the hostel. All are welcome to attend but not necessary. All that ate decided to attend. They say this was the biggest group ever of thru hikers to come to the service after dinner.

After that they were going to try to find a bar to celebrate Tillerman’s 61st b-day. No bars so they went to this Chinese place and had Chinese beer.

PTD ran into some people that says Mr Vix was looking for him and gave him a message that he would be in Duncannon and he would be watching the Soccer game - USA vs England on the 12th of June. PTD will make sure he swings in there to see him if he doesn’t catch up to him sooner on the trail.

Hostel has a curfew of 10pm. They just made it. Some stayed up and watched movies. PTD took the time to use the phone and computer.

20.8 miles day – total of 852.5 to date on the AT

Tuesday 5/25

Gues what everyone? It is raining. Oh and did I mention that PTD says this last week was rainy and lot of steep ups and downs.

PTD passed the Priest Shelter which is named for the massif dominating area. By the Tye River part of the AT was relocated in 2008. It now passes 2 mountain laurel thickets and remnants of long abandoned farms. Neat to see. Went up and over Three Ridges Wilderness too.

Ponytail stayed at Maupin Field Shelter – built in 1960 sleeps about 6 w/ High Tower, Flying Scotsmen and Nobody. There were also some day hikers there. 18.3 miles was the total for today.

One of the day hikers gave me their phone # and said when you get to the trail head in Waynesboro call me and I will give you a ride to town. AWESOME! PTD thinks he will take him up on this.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Monday 5/24

Ponytail and the Flying Scotsman called for a shuttle ride from the trail head to the Dutch Haus in Montebello, VA. It is a gorgeous B&B The only reason for this stop was while having lunch today at the Seeley-Woodworth Shelter PTD noticed an entry from Bulldog the blind hiker. Says he will be at the Dutch Haus getting some much needed rest. Ponytail wants to meet him so to town he went.

When they got to the B&B he was sleeping. So, they got all checked in, dried off and waited till dinner to see him. PTD was then able to speak to him and Hitchcock (the person who is traveling w/Bulldog and filming the documentary - a blind person thru-hiking the AT using a GPS). They talked all about different adaptive programs, the trail, the weather and small talk. Dave mentioned the Ski for Light program that comes to the north country several times a year. He told him that we have XC skied and kayaked w/the group over the past year.  Great bunch of people.

The Dutch Haus put on a fantastic dinner for all the Thru-hikers. Homemade meat loaf, baked potato - says it was the biggest potato that he ever saw. He had all the fixings and some greens. Then there was ice cream and chocolate cake.

Lois and Earl are super nice people and run a lovely B&B. Only about 7 miles of 81 for those that travel by car. THANK YOU for a wonderful stay. PTD says they made him feel as though he was in his own house.

Well, later that night he was sitting in the living room at the B&B just chatting with the other hikers and relaxing. Think there were about 12 staying there that night. When he heard voices in the other room. Thought they sounded familiar but really wasn’t paying too much attention. All of a sudden our friends Betty & Mikey walked in. Dave was in shock! A complete SURPRISE visit. They all gave each other the biggest hugs. They were traveling up from Florida and they knew he was somewhere in the area. They called me and I led the right to him. So, it was a good idea for him to go to town and not be in the woods tonight. He would have missed their visit. They stayed for a bit and talked. There was no rooms available at the B&B so they needed to go and stay down the road. PTD thought that was the greatest! Just out of the clear blue visitors. 1st friends from up north that he has seen other than family. While being on the trail.  He says it was such an uplift to see them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunday - 5/23

Rough night at Punch Bowl Shelter for all. Not much sleep for anyone.

When Ponytail got to the Punch Bowl Shelter Sat night he encountered that the Boy Scouts had tried to take over the shelter. They had all their gear everywhere in the shelter(they were trying to dry it – it rained). They were nicely asked by several thru-hikers to gather up their gear so that other people could get into the shelter to stay dry too. They did.

Ponytail got up and packed up his things (so he thought) and left for the day. He encountered a 300 yr old Chestnut Oak Tree, 150 yr old White Pine and butterflies galore today. Some yellow, some brown, and some black. It was really cool to see them all hovering over the cool moist mud. He even got trail magic today near Brown Mnt Creek. There was a cooler w/several ice cold PBR’s. For those that don’t know. Pabst Blue Ribbon is beer. That was really nice. Him and a few others had some and then moved on. Skies were threatening. He had been skirting showers all day long. He encountered a really bad thunder and lightning storm up on a ridge line of course it wasn’t in a valley. Nope Ridge line. Not much fun he says. Hope he doesn’t encounter these again. He was trying to run from it to get off the ridge and he says he pretty much ran all the way to the shelter from Bald.

He got to Cow Camp Gap Shelter and wanted to rest and start his dinner. Oh wait! Where is his stove? 15.1 miles back at Punch Bowl Shelter. Guess when the impatient Boy Scouts were moving things all around they moved Dave’s stove by and he didn’t realize it. What a dilemma. Nothing to cook his food with or in. The pot is w/it too along w/his spork. Needless to say he was preparing for a few semi hungry days until he could get to an outfitter to buy a new pot and stove. (absolutely no way to cook all the nice dinners he has) Higher Tower and AD(Asian w/dreadlocks) left the shelter a bit after the Boy Scouts and noticed a bag w/a stove had been left behind. They figured it must be Pony Tails or Tillermans. They came into the shelter later on around 8:30pm and Dave was thrilled that they had found it and carried it all that way(15.1 miles) to him. If Dave had hiked on and didn’t stay at this shelter he wouldn’t have seen High Tower that night or maybe for days. What a nice guy! Bottom line PTD is happy and got to have a hot cooked meal.

So, 15.1 miles today and did I mention PTD PASSES THE 800 MILE MARK TODAY

Monday, May 24, 2010

Saturday 5/22

Around Matt’s Creek Shelter they estimate rocks in the area to be 5 MILLION years old. Pretty cool! He crossed over the longest foot use only bridge on the AT. It crosses the James River.

Went into a town called Glasgow, VA to the Dollar General (think that is his new favorite store) to get some more supplies to hold him over to Waynesboro where his next mail drop is. It was an Emergency Service Day celebration in the town park. A huge cookout w/call emergency personnel. He went over and got a big pulled pork sandwich. Yummy, yummy! He was starting to leave town as it started to drizzle. On and off for the next several hours.

As he was going up Bluff Mountain (3,372) it was really foggy. He couldn’t see 5 feet in front of him. He kept walking and soon he came above the clouds and it was sunny and not raining. PTD came across a monument marker.

In 1890 little Ottie Cline Powell a 4 1/2yr old little boy went into the woods on a November morning to gather firewood for the school house and never returned. His body was later found several miles away on the top of the Bluff Mountain in April 1891. Local rumor is that little Ottie was murdered. They also say his ghost still lives between there and Punchbowl Shelter. Little Ottie is trying to find his way home so they claim. People claim they have seen apparitions of him in the night near the Shelter. Spooky.

Guess where Dave stayed? Of course - Punchbowl Shelter. He did not see any signs of little Ottie. He has now reached 785 miles to date on the trail. He did 25.1 of those miles today.

Friday 5/21

No rain today. Yeah! PTD passed a super nice swimming hole at Jennings Creek but it was before 8am so didn’t feel much like swimming., Later in the day he came across Orchard Falls. Nice Waterfall especially because of the rains. On top of Apple Orchard Mountain you go under what they call “the Guillotine” large boulder stuck over the trail between rock formations. Some good ups and downs the last few days. This mountain(4,225) is also the last highest point Ponytail will go over till Mnt Moosilauke in NH. He saw some more deer today. Deer seem to be getting closer and no so afraid of hikers.

Stayed at the Thunder Hill Shelter which sleeps 6. Water source is still running. Late summer it tends to dry up. He was w/ Jimmy the Flying Scotsmen again today. Haven’t seen 2 Rings in awhile. Thinks he is still behind him. Today did 17.2 miles

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday 5/20

50 days Ponytail has been on the trail. He loves it and wouldn’t trade it.

He says he was out bright and early today. Already by 9am he had done almost 4 miles. There was a delightful smell after the rain. He thinks it is honeysuckle.

Dave has now entered the Blue Ridge Parkway. The AT runs parallel to the Parkway.

Pretty sites at Montvale Overlook. He was there about 3ish.

PTD saw Air force One today. Said it was pretty cool! He ran into a park ranger and he confirmed it was Air force One.

He did run into some trail magic today. It was from Footnote & the Mrs. He got hard boiled eggs, pound cake, fresh strawberries, fresh carrots and broccoli, mountain dew and fresh water. This was fantastic. He says this helped his afternoon tremendously.

He will stay at the Cove Mnt Shelter tonight.

24.9 miles today and he feels great to be putting on the miles.

Wednesday 5/19

Ponytail says it poured like cats and dogs last night. Not much sleep.

He called this morning from a top of Tinker Cliffs. Clouds were breaking up and there were spectacular views. It is going to be a nice day.

He did go into Daleville to the outfitter to pick up his mail. All excited because that means notes from home and goodies.

While there PTD had to unexpectedly buy a new set of trekking poles. He went Leki this time. Thought he could fix his old poles. They kept unlocking on their own and compacting. Not even duck tape could have saved them. There were old. When he started the hike he didn't know how long they would last but didn't want to spend the $$ to get new at the time. He also liked them because they made a clicky clack noise when he hiked and he liked that. They made it over 700 miles + all the hikes before. He got his $$ worth out of the old poles.

Ponytail was told that Bulldog (a blind hiker) is still on the trail and only about 2 days or so ahead of him.  He hopes to catch up to talk to him and tell him all about our adaptive program in the north country.
He decided to spend the night in town. He would be able to make a few calls, do laundry, eat good and spread out everything so it could dry. He got a newspaper and when done reading it he stuffed it in his boots. This helps them dry faster. It wicks the moisture.  When he checked into the motel 8 they said the pool was closed. He said he didn't care because he didn't want to get wet anymore for awhile. He was pruney enough. It has rained on/off every day since Pearisburg.  A little under 100 miles away.

Oh, I forgot to mention PTD did come across a scale too today. He weighed himself. He is a whopping 170lbs w/his boots and clothes on. He started the trail at 193lbs. Just can't get enough calories a day to keep weight on. One website states an average man weighing about 190lbs who is 5'11 needs to take in about 2400 calories a day (that is if he is only working out 3 times a week) to maintain his current weight. Another website states for men hiking the Appalachian trail they need to average about 6,000 - 8,000 calories a day to maintain weight. You just can't carry enough food to obtain that daily. Hence the loss of weight. He may loose a bit more. Another website states that men usually loose around 30lbs total for the journey. Women tend to loose less.

Tuesday 5/18

Feeling really good. Getting stronger and wants to eat! Think the hugs from mom and dad over the weekend helped.

Today it is breezy and hot but skies looks like rain. He says he is starting to dry off a bit for now. Boots are still soaked.

Had to tell Ponytail today that one of our friends had just passed. It was very hard for me not knowing how he would take it being alone out on the trail. We thought we covered about everything before the trip on what to do if....Nope...didn't touch on death. He does have support out on the trail but no one just to give him a hug so that bothered me. Gingersnap wish you were there for him to give him a hug from me.  He was ok once he got the news. Sad of course but ok. We talked several times today.  Glad he was in a good service area.     Donald we will miss you.

Today he passed Dragons Tooth. Took pictures of all the jagged rocks that look like teeth. Very overcast. No other views.

Ponytail hit the 700 Mile mark this afternoon near Catawba, VA. Super job! Before we know it he will be in Harper's Ferry (1/2 point)

He also went to McAfee Knob (one of the most photographed place on the AT). Well, wouldn't you know it, it was pouring rain and foggy. There were no views. He did manage to strategically place the camera aways away and run quickly back over the slippery rocks to get a picture. Can't wait to see it. I will attach one of our friend Allen who was there on a better day last year while he was thru-hiking the AT.

PTD stayed at the Campbell Shelter. It is a small shelter that sleeps 6. To get water he had to go behind the shetler, follow the blue blazed trail through the "electric meadow" to the spring.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday 5/17

Sunday – PTD did only 9.4 miles.  Not because he wasn't  feeling well but because he didn’t want to go another  6 miles to the next shelter the way the skies were looking. Very ominous and w/all the hail and thunder and lightning storms they had been having recently he decided to stay put for the night. He stayed at the Sarver Hollow Shelter (only sleeps 6). He says that the shelter was very crowded later that night as more hikers did not want to push on due to weather conditions. He says people were sleeping on picnic tables (big overhang on shelter) where ever they could find a spot there was someone. He says people are rolling back in after Trail Days and shelters will be full for awhile to they all separate again.

Near the shelter he saw an old homestead. Thinks it must have been built in the 1800’s.

Monday – PTD called at about 8ish to say that it is rainy and gloomy but he was heading out along w/another hiker for the day. The rest were mulling around the shelter and deciding whether to hike today. He will miss some views today but he is here to hike and not to sit in the shelter. He says he is feeling much better today. Maybe we will see more miles soon. 

At 9:30am PTD crossed a significant "continential divide" today. Water flowing to the east of this point empties into the Atlantic Ocean and waters flowing to the west flow into the Gulf of Mexico.  Thinks it was something like 1920miles to Gulf and 405 to Atlantic Ocean.

He did not get to see the Audie Murphy Monument(he was the most decorated American soldier of WWII and he single handedly captured large nubers of Germans) Why this site? In 1971 he died near here in a plane crash. It was too rainy so Ponytail did not take the blue blazed side trail to try to view.

He got some sweet trail magic today.  Found a cooler that had cherry popsicles, water, apples and Gatorade. He said he didn't care that it was only 50 degrees outside and rainy. Said those could have been the best 2 cherry popsicles he has ever had. He did have Gatorade and an apple too.

He stayed at the Pickle Branch Shelter built in 1980 and sleeps 6. He did 16.1 miles today.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Random pics 4/13 - 4/20 2nd set

Someone is having a SUPER DAY!
Bear Trap

This shelter has a cage to keep bears out at night

Resting after a long hike

Eastern view of the Smokey Mountains from Clingman's Dome

Southern View

Western View
Northern View
Clingman's Dome - Highest point on the AT 6, 643 feet

Who said no snow in southern states in April.  Ponytail begs to differ

How adorable.  Yes, he built it.

Random pics 4/13 - 4/20 1st set

"The Fontana Hilton"
The Fontana Dam

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday 5/16

They all got up this morning and went to the local IHOP and had breakfast. They had a nice visit together.

They were almost back to the point where they picked up Ponytail last night when they noticed that road was closed. They stopped and asked the State Trooper what was going on. A big tree had fallen last night in the wind/rain/thunder & lighting storm and they were waiting for the crew to get there to cut it up and move it. Well, instead of waiting (it is Sunday and they are in hicksville) they found another back road that took them the long, long way around but they got him back to the same point without PTD having to walk from where the tree had fallen up to the trail head which would have added about 6 more miles to his day.

They got to the spot and there was 2 Rings. Sitting having snacks exactly where Dave had been last night. So, 2 Rings got to meet the parents too. They all said there good byes and 2 Rings and Ponytail went off on the trail. Back on the adventure.

PTD said he pasted the largest Keffer Oak tree on the AT . When it was last measured, the girth was 18ft, 3in. The tree is estimated to be 300 years old. He has yet to come across the Dover Oak that will be slightly larger in New York.

He also encountered another big snake today.  This must be snake week.  This one was black.  He says he got some good pics and we should see them soon.

Ponytail says not sure if he will be able to call tonight to let me know where he will stay due to low cell service.   Not to worry, I will find out and post where he stayed and the miles on the next post.

Saturday 5/15

Today PTD is excited. He will get to see my parents. They will be meeting me at a road crossing on 601 near Newport, VA. Sporadic cell service and this was a very remote area. He just hopes they can find him easy enough. Again, backwoods, off dirt road. If not they have a back up plan. He will sit and wait till 8pm and if no show he will walk a bit and tent for the night and try to walk till he gets service or the next road crossing about 6 miles. He sat and had some snacks and waited for them to come. Meantime, he started thinking, what if he has to spend the night. he will need water to cook his dinner. So, a family that was hiking into the woods to spend the night had some extra water so they gave him enough to get him by just in case. People seem to be so sweet.

Just after he finished his snacks he saw a car coming from a distance. It was Skip and Chris. Yeah! He hasn't seen them since they dropped him off in GA. 45 days ago.  Wow!  He has been on the trail that long.  He says time is going fast.

They took him off the trail for the night. they were going to spend the night in Blacksburg, BUT who knew it was graduation time and the hotels were either booked or were $200 + a night for a room. YIKES! So they went further and found a Super 8 in Christiansan. Just a bit outside of Blacksburg near I81. They all got cleaned up and went out to dinner at the Outback. Ponytail loves steak!

I talked w/my mom that night and she said that Dave looks good. Skinny but good. Not like he has been sick for a week. She said he has been taking really good care of himself since he was sick. Drinking fluid and making himself eat. That was good to hear ( I had been a bit worried). Ponytail knew if he looked sick or still was on the down they would be bringing him to the nearest medical center. I just love my parents for checking on him. Thanks Mom & Dad!!!!

Friday - 5/14

Ponytail did stay at the Rice Field Shelter on Thursday. He got to the Shelter and took a nap yesterday afternoon. When he woke other hikers were napping too. Just a hot muggy day. They offered to go get him some water for his dinner and what not so that he could rest some more. The water source at this shelter is down a steep about .03 miles away. That was very kind of them. to offer.

PTD said it was very foggy in the middle of the night like pea soup (he could see some eyes in the distance) as he got up in the middle of the night. When he woke another time and it had cleared and he could see stars.

Nice clear Friday morning. He could see views into West Virginia.

He is feeling better. Guess the morning and nights are the worse. During the day he does feel better so he can hike. He does say everyday he is getting stronger and feeling better. He is drinking plenty of fluids (some w/electrolytes) and he does have his appetite back.

Today he came across his 1st Rattlesnake on the trail. It was huge! It was as fat as a water bottle is round and about 3 feet long. It was stretched out in the middle of the trail. He says he almost stepped on it.

He will stay at the Pine Swamp Branch Shelter tonight. It is an old stone shelter that sleeps 8.  He has met up again w/the Flying Scottsmen and High Tower.  He met another hiker today called Gray.  Gray set up his tent instead of staying in the shelter.  He did come visit the shelter very quickly once all the rain and hail started.  When it slowed a bit Gray went back out to his tent.  The others all stayed put in the shelter.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday 5/13

Ponytail is going back out on the trail. Still not 100% but going back out. He may only go 7 miles to the Rice Field Shelter. He will know if he can go further once he is out there. He is hoping to walk off this bug.

PTD also had the pleasure of meeting Caribou’s parents. Very nice. They are taking him and several other hikers up to DC for a field trip. They all had breakfast together today. Thank you Martin & Gayle for his  breakfast sandwich. Caribou will return to this spot in a few days to get back on w/his journey.

Will write more about today on tomorrow’s blog. Just wanted everyone to know he is back on the trail.

Wednesday – 5/12

Not feeling well at all. Decided to take a 0 day. He went and did laundry. Not much of an appetite in the morning or for the past few days.  He went back to the hotel and took a nap. That isn’t like him. He usually can’t sit still. Naps are a waste of time he says. He slept for several hours. Guess he really needed it)  Got up, felt a little better. Went out to eat. Had 2 big salads. (he was craving some greens) and some meat. Hung out and talked w/several other hikers. As a bunch were in town getting ready to head back to Damascus (friendliest town on the AT) to go to Trail Days. PTD wasn’t planning on going back for that. He didn’t want to take more 0 days to play right now. Next year he thinks he will go back to VA in May for it. Will be a nice reunion w/fellow hikers.

He did see 2 Rings in town. Said Mr Vix went on ahead and is doing some heavy mile days (I think he said one day was like 36 miles – WOW!  Go Mr Vix!). Hopefully in a bit Mr Vix will take a zero day or 2 and Ponytail will catch up to him. If not Mr Vix we have your email and will be in touch.

PTD also met Caribou. Him and his parents have a 2nd home here in Bethlehem, NH. Cool! Ponytail hung out and wrote notes back and forth to each other for a bit in the afternoon.  Caribou is deaf. PTD does not know sign language. So, notees were the best way to communicate.  Caribou is hiking w/his service dog – Knolow. PTD enjoyed spending time w/Caribou today.  

Tuesday – 5/11

Still not feeling so hot. Ponytail got into Pearisburg sometime in the afternoon. Said rained 1/2 the day.  Which didn't make him feel any better.  He got a room at the Holiday Motor Lodge. His 1st room on the trail by himself.(well, except w/me.  Especially nice that there is a phone in the room and it is all his. He can use it whenever.   Now he can break out the phone card from the kids at Littleton High School and use it.  Great! Now he is sick and doesn't feel like talking to people.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not a planned zero day!

Hi All,

I'm in Pearisburg Va. Since I share my entire trip with you, this is part of it. As you know from Pam's postings I've been feeling a little off the last couple of days.

When I was coming into town yesterday afternoon I had quite a stomach ache,thought it was just cause I was really hungry. So I got into town went right to Hardees for burgers and fries, got a room,showered, and then went to a Chinese buffet across the street. Well!!!! when I ran back to the room "IT" all started. To put it bluntly I spent most of the next 12 hours on the toilet!

This morning I was feeling pretty lousy so with Pam's insisting I took a day off. I guess my body is saying rest.

Felling better tonight so I'll be off in the morning. I will possibly see Chris and Skip(my in-laws) Sat. on their way back from Florida. I hope it all works out so we can meet for an hour or so.

Love hearing from everyone and enjoy reading the cards and things Pam sends with my mail drops from everybody.

Well gotta run(no not to the bathroom) not much time on computer. Glad I could share this with you all!!!!!!!!!

Talk soon,

Hike Safe,

Ponytail Dave

Monday 5/10

PTD called this morning at 8:45 to tell me how cold it was. 39 degrees. I said ha we have you beat. 29 here in Bethlehem.

He ate his pop tart w/some grape jelly for breakfast and pushed out. He wanted to get moving so he could stay warm. Guess I don't blame him.

He is still not feeling 100%. Allergies? Cold or maybe Flu? But he keeps pushing.

Ponytail called again at 11:15. He already had done 7 1/4 miles in about 2 1/2hrs. Guess he was moving fast. he must have been jogging.

At 3pm he called(must be a good reception day) to say he hit 600 miles today on top of Brushy Mountain. That is 100 miles in a about 5 days.

He will stay at Wapiti Shelter - another 24 miles today on the trail. Shelter sleeps 8. His friend Ichabod was there tonight w/him.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday 5/9

Happy Mothers Day Everyone

Brrr there was frost on the ground this morning. Ponytail says he was glad he was in an enclosed shelter last night. Also, he says he is feeling better. He took more allergy meds just in case.

He said the day warmed up but still windy. It was like the trees had just popped open at higher elevations. He knows now it was his allergies bothering him and not a cold. He never had allergies when he was younger, just started as he got older.

Today's lunch was a bacon/mayo sandwich. He had some pre-cooked bacon in a package and a packet of mayo. So, he decided to put it on his round flat bread and call it lunch.

Hit 2 trail magics today. 1 not so good. Whatever it was, was gone by the time he got there. Bummer man! 2nd one was gallons of fresh spring water. He filled up. He said that was really nice.

There is a foot bridge that the book said was closed at Laurel Creek for repairs. But, by the time he got there it was open.

He read there was a sub way about 2 miles off the trail in Bland, VA. He was going to give it 10 minutes trying to hitch a ride to town. If he got a ride he would sink his teeth into a nice juicy turkey cheese sub. If not he would go aways down the trail to set up camp and make some Ramen Noodles. Well, no ride so he didn't want to walk the extra 4 miles round trip, so he went to the next shelter and made himself some Ramen Noodles mixed w/4 cheese potatoes, a few slices of a slim jim, mixed in some soy sauce. Yum. Not a turkey sub but it wasn't 1/2 bad after a 24 mile day. Thinks he would eat anything at this point.  Washed dishes and went to bed.  He is staying at the Helveys Mill Shelter.  Sleeps only 6 and was built in 1960

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday 5/8

Ponytail woke today not feeling good. Sluggish, throat sore, stuffy. Thinks maybe allergies or a cold coming on. Says it rained really hard last night. Now he gets to put away a soaking wet tent. Yeah! He wants to get moving on because it is cool, damp and windy. The wind has been relentless the past few days.

He saw his 1st hummingbird today. Made him think of home because we usually put up feeders around Mothers day. Again, another sign of spring.

He traveled through a bunch of pastures today and he came across lots of cows, calfs and bulls. He made sure he took off his red bandanna just to be sure. Didn't feel much like running from a bull today.

He did have a Mexican stand off w/several cows. They all stared at each for a few minutes. They were right in the middle of the trail. Dave finally said fine I will move since you won't and he was on his way. He was going to be stopping soon at Knot Maul Shelter for lunch. He ate a bit and took some vitamin I and an allergy pill. Feeling better but not 100%

He proceeded to go to a spring fed pond about 1.8 miles from Chestnut Knob Shelter. This is where he will spend the night. There are no closer water sources for north bounders. This shelter is unique. It has plexiglases windows. Most shelters don't have windows.  561.3 miles to date

He cooked, ate, did dishes and washed up a bit before taking some more vitamin I and another allergy pill and it was good night Irene. Snuggled into his nice warm sleeping bag in the shelter out of the wind.  Hoping he feels better in the morning.

Friday 5/7

Left at 8am on his way to Atkins, Va to pick up his mail at the Happy Hiker Hollow. This is a shelter that excepts mail drops. He gets all excited for mail deliveries. I do put all correspondence anyone sends to him unopened in his packages. So, please if you have anything to send, cards, paper pics, funnies, jokes....get it to me and I will put in his next mail package. This way he is only getting 1 box at each mail stop and there will be no lost mail or rejected mail, just in case he has already past that point.
On his way he came across several butterflies hoovering near some lilacs that had just blossomed. Pretty site. Walking with Spring, his 1st blooming lilacs.

He got his mail. He really enjoys hearing from everyone. Thank you everyone, keep them coming. He has way too much food. Guess we didn't plan well for this drop. He ended up leaving a jar of peanut butter(sick of it for right now) and some other items in the hikers box for others to take if they wish. His load is now lighter and he his happy.

A yearling bear ran out into the trail right ahead of him and they both surprised each other. Dave stopped. The bear ran up into the tree. Dave just stood there looking to see if the mother was anywhere around. Nope. So he tried to get out his camera for this photo op but the bear jumped out of the tree and went on his way. How exciting. His 1st encounter w/a bear on the trail. He also saw 4 deer all together near a stream. Soon as they saw him they left.

Ponytail will camp at Crawfish Valley along Reed Creek tonight. He got there and he ran into someone he had been hiking w/earlier. Jeff. Jeff now has a trail name. Ichabod. They have been missing each other because Ponytail  was always a day or so ahead. Speaking of that he hasn't seen Landfill, Maple or Inferno lately.  As of right now Mr Vic and 2 Rings are ahead. PTD says he will catch up to those 2 really soon. Those 3 have this I gotta get ahead of you kind of attitude. That is good. Keeps them all pushing ahead.  Also, Dave found out that Ginger Snap and Orange Moon decided to leap frog ahead to NY. They had already done this part of VA several years ago and will finish now by doing a section hike from NY to ME. They sent an email saying bye for now to their hiker family. At the shelter was also Bad Dinner and Stretch. Ponytail had met them before but never spent time w/them.

Thursday 5/6

Ponytail saw several deer on the trail today. It is real common to see deer and turkeys out there near the trails. These particular deers actually started him because they ran right into the trail right in front of him and then ran right away once they saw him.

He came across an old yellow school bus, broken down, wheels partially buried in the dirt, it must have been there awhile. He said it reminded him of the movie "Into the Wild"

25 miles in 10 hrs. Not too shabby! He is staying at the Partnership Shelter. Outsie of Sugar Grove, VA. This shelter is super. It has a warm shower,heated w/propane, a pay phone, free shuttle to go into town and the best thing...PIZZA DELIVERY. Yes, Pizza delivery. He got himself a large extra cheese pepporoni pizza, some mozzerela sticks and a 2 litter of Pepsi delivered. He didn't share(the rule of thumb is you eat 1st and if you can't finish then you offer it up to fellow hikers --UNLESS they have nothing then of course you share) and all that was left was a little Pepsi.  He is a hungry hiker.  Says all everyone does it sit around and talk about their destination that day and food they want to eat or just ate.  Food, Food, and more food.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wednesday 5/5

Happy Cinco De Mayo - Ponytail will only dream about Coronas today.

Time to say goodbye. Too short but a wonderful visit. We packed up our things and headed out. I needed to go drop Ponytail off at Rte 600 on Whitetop so he could start back w/his adventure where he left off the other day before we met.  Before we got too far we had to stop and wait for the roaming cows in the road to move as we headed down off of Mountain Music Rd. Again beautiful mountain/farm country here in Elk Creek. Aunt Peet's is the place to stay to feel at home and relax. Thank you Linda and Orpha for your wonderful hospitality.
We arrived at his starting point about an hrs drive from the house. Reminded me of the Kancamangus Highway the way all the roads were crocked, steep and narrow. One minute it is 55 and then it is 15 on a hairpin turn. You must pay close attention or you will go off the road.

There was a ranger at the starting point on Whitetop. He was able to take our last picture together. He did mention to Ponytail that they were doing some blasting near the trails so to be careful and to adhere to the signs and try not to jump too much when they go off. Boy are they loud!
He waved as he walked away into the country side. Back on his journey of walking towards home. Meantime I was off 4 1/2hrs to the airport to come home. Long day for both of us.

He said he did encounter several blast points. One he needed to sit and wait 1/2hr for them to get everything in order and detonate.

Today he did run into a gentlemen from Hopkington, NH called Lone Wolf who was also walking the AT. Really cool how many people from New England he is meeting out there.

He will stay at the Old Orchard Shelter tonight just outside of the Grayson Highlands.

PONYTAIL HAS REACHED THE 500 MILE mark at 5:50 on 5/5 on top of Pine Mountain which is 5,000 ft. That is really cool. I am playing the lottery.

Tuesday 5/4

We headed out early in the morning to hike on the AT in the Mount Rogers High Country (highest mountain in VA) area and the Grayson Highlands. I was all excited because many hikers encounter wild Feral Ponies here. How cool will that be to see horses in the wild on the trail.

We started out in the Rhododendron Gap (This would be even more gorgeous if all the rhododendrons were in bloom. They actually line the trail. They are just budding since we are up over 5,000 feet) to Wilburn Ridge(bunches of rock outcroppings and we even went through the "Fatman Squeeze" - a narrow tunnel of rocks - when PTD hikes it tomorrow w/his big pack on he will need to take it off to get through) to Wilson Creek to Massie Gap and some other trails that were in the area but were not part of the AT. We were on the trail about 20 minutes and we saw 4 ponies and a foal. This was amazing. They were just in the field a little bit off of the trail. 1 came close enough to pet. We had never seen wild ponies before. Their hoofs are smaller than a regular horse. We stayed for a bit an admired them from afar (didn’t know how momma would like us near her baby) and moved on.

We were on our way up a ridge when a large hawk flying low flew right over us carrying a snake. Eek! Snake didn’t look too long or too fat. We were just glad the hawk did not drop it on us. We wish we had the camera out and ready, what a shot that would have been.

When we got on top of the ridge we nestled down between some rocks to eat lunch. It was extremely windy. It was also warm maybe around 80 and we had puffy clouds. Amazing views of the country side in many directions. After lunch we headed down off the ridge and good thing Ponytail was using his hiking poles because it startled a small snake on the rocks on the trail. This was a green snake which was maybe a foot or so long and skinny. I walked off the trail and around the rocks where the snake was. Did not want to get close just in case.

We came across several day hikers and they were asking if we had seen any ponies. We told them were we saw one of the herds in the morning. We also came across several Thru-Hikers that Dave had run into before. Eddie from Germany and another later in the day we saw a girl named Clarity. They both told us of a larger herd of ponies that was not so friendly. Guess they were up near one of the shelters last night and got aggressive towards the hikers and ended up kicking one of the dogs that was at the shelter. Yikes! Guess that herd had 2 foals so maybe over protective mothers.

Sad but this is nature. We came across a carcass too. The Ranger had warned us in the morning that it was an extremely hard winter and some of the herds have been dying off and we could encounter several carcasses near the trails. The one we found was lying off the trail just a bit. Bones, well that is how I needed to think of it so I could deal with seeing it.

We also saw several fighter jets and a transport at close range.  They must have been doing training in the mountains.

The day was getting late so we decided to head back to the car so we could enjoy the cottage and Jacuzzi. We were coming down around a corner and the same 4 ponies and the little one were right in the middle of the trail just looking at us. This time all of them came up to us wanting attention. We were a bit leery after hearing of the shelter story from last night. These 5 were very friendly. We must have spent 1/2hr petting the ponies and watching them. The little one came right over too. Momma didn’t seem to mind. The little one loved that we were all salty from hiking and kept licking us. Soon as she was done licking us she would go to her mom for a drink. What a pleasure to see them twice when some of the other hikers there for the day didn’t get to see any at all.

What a great day!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Monday 5/3

We rested, ate lots (mom sent brownies - THANK YOU MOM), went in the jacuzzi and caught up on events and random things that have been going on for the past month.  Very nice to spend time together.  We both ejoyed it. 

Ponytail really needed another day to put his feet up and let them heal a bit.  0 day today.  Blisters on top of blisters from those high milage days.  I have seen some other hikers feet and Dave's look pretty good in comparison.