Trail Update

It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged (at least mileage wise), so I figured I’d catch everyone up to speed on this journey toward a Calendar Year Triple Crown!

The Precipitation Is Never-Ending

Pretty much every 2/3 days has involved either rain, snow, or both. That isn’t a complaint; rather a simple observation. There has only been one time when I was extremely cold and of course it was due to the rain. I’m pretty good about keeping things dry out here but a big morning thunderstorm and cold front wetted out my gear and left me shivering for a few hours until I was dry.

In some ways, the extreme weather is even more fun than the mundane, 40° days since I get to experience something I don’t normally come into contact with! Going over a few balds north of Roan Mountain handed me just such an experience.

Shelters Are Gross, Kind Of

OK, you probably already knew this but the AT has shelters sporadically built along its length for hikers to sleep in. What you probably didn’t know is that these shelters may as well simply be a safe haven for rodents as well as people. There have been a few times I have actually slept in shelters due to weather, or maybe simply because it looked clean and I was too lazy to set up my tent. Of these rare instances, a majority of times I have woken up to either large unknown creatures gnawing away in the dark or mice scurrying around my sleeping bag. That being said, shelters are good for two things at the very least, those being water accessibility and mileage goals. Usually the shelters are located near a good water source, and for that reason I like to pitch a tent in the vicinity of them. That and each day as you push miles they can serve as a definitive “beginning” to your day!

Trail Angels and Legends

Since I started relatively early I’ve run into just a few trail angels here and have seen their inspirational messages all along the trail.

That being said, no one has left a bigger impact on me than one Robert Bird. Bird is a trail angel who simply cares for all humans regardless of their past. He opens up his home to hikers, feeds you, does your laundry, and will have you laughing with every other sentence.

This wise old man does all of this without charging a penny. The mohawk-wielding head has never even set foot on trail, and doesn’t care for hiking himself. While this may be the case, he absolutely adores what the trail does for those who hike it and for that reason will continue to be a trail angel as long as he can. Snagging a stay with Bird is more difficult than anticipated. He only takes referrals, and while he has several thousand Facebook friends he will not accept your request if he does not recognize you. Should you be lucky enough to make it into one of his many yearly photo albums of hikers he’s helped (he seriously documents EVERYONE), just know that you’ve truly been touched by an angel.

Miscellaneous Issues

My knee pain has finally subsided and I’ve begun to push some bigger miles (as I write this I’ve done two back-to-back 34-mile days). That being said, I dealt with a nasty blister that simply wouldn’t heal as my feet were never given the opportunity to be dry. Pushing large miles on old shoes has done a number on my feet toward the end of the day but the pain is nothing to write home about. Lastly, today I contracted some poison ivy on my left calf. So aside from some minor wincing here and there and a lot of itchiness, my body is holding up well!

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Comments 2

  • Rob Bird : Mar 11th

    Thanks for the kind words Zach. All good wishes as you move up the trail and beyond.

  • Donna : Mar 23rd

    love your spirit and positive way of looking at things.


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