The epic journey of a sibling pair as they trek 2,181 miles from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachia Trail.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tree Line Trekking


Just two more states and Hansel and Gretel will be standing on top of Mt. Katahdin!  They stayed in Hanover with Mom and Two Bad after crossing the VT/NH boarder.  They contacted Dawd's Country Inn in Lyme, NH before hitting the trail the following day.  The inn keepers said that if Mom and Dad dropped off their packs, Hansel and Gretel could slack pack the day and the inn keepers would pick them up at the end.  At this point, Hansel and Gretel are looking to do anything they can to save time and energy.

Today was a little easier to hike.  There were some uphills, but not anything they couldn't handle.  They aren't getting too comfortable though.  It is a well known fact that New Hampshire is a challenging state.  Tomorrow shouldn't be terrible, but the following day, "death starts happening."  Hansel explained that New Hampshire is a very difficult state to plan for.  Since you are on top of mountains and above tree line (that means the point at which trees stop growing.  Click here for more info), the potential for campsite spaces is limited.  If you fall behind, you end up with no place to sleep.  Up in the White Mountains, you are not allowed to camp anywhere except the designated sites.  Even if you were allowed to camp anywhere, this would not be advisable because on the top of the White Mountains, the weather can change very suddenly and when you are above tree line, there is no where to hide from a storm.  It can be very dangerous.  "You don't want to mess around."  

Hansel and Gretel haven't reached the really intense part of the mountain range yet, but they are still coming across some intense views.  Today they came out onto a clearing to discover the biggest cliff they had ever seen.  That is quite a statement considering they have been hiking in the mountains for the past 3 months!  There must have been a drop straight down of about 200 feet!  Hansel didn't even want to go to look over the edge because it was just too frightening!  We can only guess what views will come in the days to follow!  New Hampshire might just be the most breath taking state Hansel and Gretel have traveled through yet!

Happy trails!

Hansel at the Vermont/New Hampshire Boarder

Gretel at the Vermont/New Hampshire Boarder

Monday, June 27, 2011

Vermont: The Final Days

The Inn At Long Trail ended up being home for two nights.  Hansel, Gretel and Two Bad asked if the inn keepers might be able to help them slack pack, by keeping their backpacks and picking them up at the end of the day.  Hiking without the pack makes "Vermuck" slightly easier to manage.  They were able to leave their packs there again the next day since Mom was going to pick up Two Bad after finishing VT.  She grabbed their packs halfway through the day and collected them from the trail that evening.  The spent the night in a hotel where they all could clean up and have a good night sleep before the final 24 miles stretch to the New Hampshire boarder.

The poor weather and slippery trail conditions really set our hikers back.  24 miles would be the longest hike Two Bad would have ever made.  After such a rough week of falling, twisting, aching, and bleeding, Two Bad made a difficult decision.  Finishing Vermont with Hansel and Gretel was a goal he had set for himself, a goal he mostly certainly could have accomplished had circumstances been different.  But pushing out these last 24 miles was simply too much on this day.  Hansel suspected Two Bad had mixed emotions on the matter.  Perhaps he was a little disappointed that he wasn't able to finish, but in realizing what he would have to do in order to cross the boarder, he was probably a bit relieved to be off the Trail.  He has done much more than most 50+ year olds could have done.  Maybe even more than most people of any age could have done!  And we are all incredibly proud of him for that!  He is a shinning example of how approaching life with the right attitude makes all the difference.  Despite his many aches and pains, he maintained a positive perspective and kept pushing through!  Two Bad, you are a champion!

Happy trails!

Gretel at Kent Pond

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Grand Return!

Gretel and Two Bad are back!  They returned to the trail on Saturday, June 18th at the Massachusetts/Vermont boarder.  Two Bad will be hiking all of Vermont with Hansel and Gretel, but in attempt to get back into the vigor of hiking many-mile days, Two Bad and Gretel started Vermont three days ahead of Hansel.  This means Hansel will be averaging 25-mile days in order to catch up with them, which he did.

They all met up in Manchester Center and stayed at the Green Mountain Hostel.  The hostel was owned by really great guy named Jeff who actually had two houses; the bigger of the two was designated for hikers.  The house had 3 bedrooms that were loaded with single beds.  The room where Hansel, Gretel, and Two Bad stayed had 4 single beds in addition to a TV with a selection of DVDs.  The hostel also had a fridge that was stocked with sodas, milk, and eggs.  There were plates and silverware to use.  "This place was just hooked up!" Hansel recounted.  It just had everything a hiker could want.  

The next day the three hikers resupplied and hit the trail.  This was a big day for Two Bad and may have been more than he was really prepared for.  They needed to pack in about 16 miles, and it did not help that the weather was awful.  As a matter of fact, Vermont in general was not ideal for hiking.  Although the first two days that Gretel and Two Bad were on the Trail were nice, it rained for 4 days straight once they met up with Hansel.  It has also been established that Vermont is a very muddy state.  Two Bad thought he was very clever to dub the state "Vermuck" which he repeated over and over throughout their hike.  

Vermont is also a bit of a rocky state.  Lots of little rocks that you had to be aware of all the time.  Here is a thru-hiking formula for you: 

                 Rain + Mud + Rocks + 40 lb Backpack = Falling

All three of them have just been falling all week.  Most of the time they didn't hurt themselves too badly, but they had to slow their pace a bit in an effort to maintain a level of caution and safety.  Having a heavy pack on your back does not help when the terrain is slippery and uneven because once you start to slip, the pack can through your center of gravity and bring you down easily.  Two Bad kept catching himself on his right knee (which happens to be the worse of his two bad knees) and in two days he probably hit it at least five times.  He also hurt his wrist pretty bad, rolled his ankle, and smacked his forearm hard on a rock.  Needless to say, Mother Nature was kicking his butt. 

"Yeah, but he didn't complain, like, ever!" Hansel reported.  "He was such a trooper.  He would have kept going until he died.  He would have just kept walking."

The only time they really had to stop and take care of things was two days after leaving the Green Mountain Hostel.  The crew stopped for a lunch break.  While munching, Two Bad took off his boot to reveal and sock full of blood.  The whole thing was pink and there was blood between his toes.  Open wounds on your feet is something to be concerned about when you are hiking.  Your feet, socks and shoes are most likely wet, which increases the potential for an infection.  

So, they finished at about 10 miles and got picked up by the owners of the Inn At Long Trail.  This in lies right off of the Long Trail (hence the name).  The Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail overlap for about 60 miles until the Long Trail branches north to Canada and the AT goes east to Maine.  In any case, the inn keeps were wonderful people and extremely hiker friendly.  Two Bad was able to clean up his toe.  As it turned out, it was only his pinky toe.  It seems as though the little toe nail got ripped off somehow, but everything was okay.  

They was also an Irish Pub connected to the Inn.  Super cheap and super great!  The beer was about $3.50 a pint and most expensive meal was $11.  There was also a live band!  The famous Blarney Rebel Band is a crew of 3 Italian Brothers who sing Celtic music.  They actually won "Best Celtic Song of 2009" with their tune "Stand With Me Boys."  I couldn't find a full free version of it, but here is a link to part of the song.  

That brings us close to the end of Vermont.  It's been a tough hike, but they are hanging in there!

Happy trails and sturdy ground!

Hansel, Gretel and Two Bad at the Inn

Hansel is reading up on a new topic: The Appalachian Trail 

The Famous Blarney Rebel Band

Friday, June 17, 2011

The End of a Long Hiatus

An apology to all of you who have been following the adventures of Hansel and Gretel (and Two Bad) so diligently.  I have gotten very far behind in my posts what with current life events and happenings, but no excuses.  It is time that we get back to the story.  The good news is, even though I have not been posting, I still have been collecting the stories... and there are many stories.  It's just a matter of composing them in a more readable way and adding in the pictures and such.  The plan of action to catch everyone up is going to be to share with you the most current stories now, while simultaneously filling you in on the old news.  I'll be sure to post a link to the new old story so that you don't miss anything, but I will date it as it actually happened.  Feel free to scroll backwards though to make sure you are getting the whole picture.  So here we go.  Lets jump to the present(ish).  Hansel and Gretel are getting dangerously close to reaching the end!

Happy Trails and more writing!