Author: James Hess (page 1 of 3)

A Hiker’s Guide to Stocking Stuffers

The holiday season is upon us and many are frantically searching for the perfect gift for our loved ones.  It can be tough to find that one great gift and, unfortunately, you’re on your own on that one. We can, however, offer some great suggestions for stocking stuffers this season!  All of these items we either own or have used on the trail, so we can attest to how great they perform.  So without further ado, here’s a list of our favorite stocking stuffers for that special backpacker or hiker in your life!

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Fields of Green: Appalachian Trail Tales, Part 14

Day 57 (June 2): We woke early with a mission to reach Partnership Shelter with enough time to resupply in town before bed. Nadine and I were the first on the trail and were covered in spider webs within a few minutes. I felt as if I was wearing an invisible cloak with the webs trailing behind me as I hiked. I imagined the webs spanning the trail as if they were rubber bands trying to pull us back as we hiked through them. Our first climb of the day took us up and over a ridge that looked like an enormous rock wall that reminded me of the wall from Game of Thrones. Reaching the Trimpi Shelter before noon, we ate our second breakfast but somehow lost all motivation to continue hiking toward our goal. The rest of the day we trudged up and down hills without any energy in our step. Unfortunately, as we crossed a field we spotted more grey clouds following us and enthusiastically picked up our pace to race the weather to the shelter. After a few miles of heads down power hiking, we decided it was time to stop for lunch to hopefully refuel our already spent energy reserves.

Grassy field on the AT

Grassy field on the AT

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Appalachian Trail Food: Favorite Meals From Our Thru Hike

Hiking the Appalachian Trail is hard enough.  Finding food that is cheap, delicious, and calorie-dense, while also obtainable at the limited resupply options along the trail is another issue.   In this post we’ve described some of our favorite Appalachian Trail food and meals that helped us reach Katahdin.

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Great Success!

On October 15th, Nadine and I reached the end of our grand journey at the summit of Mount Katahdin. It took us 6 months, 1 week, and 1 day to hike the 2189.1 miles of the Appalachian Trail, through 14 states, from Georgia to Maine.

Nadine and I at the summit of Mount Katahdin.

Nadine and I at the summit of Mount Katahdin.

We’ve hiked through all four season as the wilderness grew around us from a brown, leafless landscape in Georgia, to a green tunnel of foliage in Virginia, and then back again with the most remarkable fall colors we’ve ever witnessed in Maine. We’ve encountered countless walks of life, both big and small, as we trekked north including frogs, toads, mice, squirrels, otters, grouse, owls, coyotes, deer, bears, and moose. We’ve experienced generosity from total strangers at ever stop along the trail, some even welcoming us into their homes to forget the tribulations of the trail for an evening. We’ve met countless new friends along the way that have helped us persevere when times were tough and will forever be a part of our lives. We’ve smiled and laughed, screamed and fought, cried tears of both joy and frustration, but here we are at the end of this long adventure.

This journey is one we’ll never forget and, who knows, we may even repeat some day in the future. For the time being, however, we’re putting our feet up to rest and enjoying the simple luxuries of modern living. That is, until we grow bored, once again, and head out on our next grand adventure.

On a side note, it has been difficult keeping up with the blog while, at the same time, maintaining focus on the goal of Katahdin. We have, however, been keeping meticulous notes on our daily itinerary and experiences, as well as, taking hundreds of photos along the way. In the next few months, we plan to continue updating this blog with our adventures from the Appalachian Trail as well as past adventures. If you’d like to follow along, please remember to check back often or subscribe to get reminders when we add new posts.

Sore Feet: Appalachian Trail Tales, Part 13

Day 51 (May 27): With a big day ahead of us, we woke early and had a larger than normal breakfast. I scarfed down pop tarts, a cliff bar, and coffee to get me moving and we were on the trail before 9:00am. Our hike started with some dull PUDs to get our blood flowing. When we reached Iron Mountain Shelter, where we had originally planning to stay the night before, we were glad we stopped early since we could smell the feces as we approached and the flies pointed out a few piles of fresh dung. At mid day we were surprised as we left the woods and crossed TN 91 into a cow pasture which provide views of the valley and surrounding hills.

Cows grazing near the trail.

Cows grazing near the trail.

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Slow Mornings: Appalachian Trail Tales, Part 12

Day 47 (May 23): We started the day off with a few cups of hazelnut coffee. Everyone at the hostel procrastinated leaving as long as possible and some (Derek, Got Away, and  Short Cut) even decided to spend another night to rest hurting legs. Jonny, Alex, Nadine, and I set off around 11:30am to see how many miles we could knock out. The day’s hike took us through some new scenery, which include open meadows, waterfalls, swampy lowlands, a cemetery and church, and a lot of muddy trail.

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In The Clouds: Appalachian Trail Tales, Part 11

Day 42 (May 18): We woke early to catch the 8:30am shuttle into town to visit the post office and get some breakfast in our bellies. McDonald’s McGriddles hit the spot so well. After breakfast we began the arduous process of drying out our wet tent and packing up our food bags and the rest of our gear. We had a few left over beers so we each cracked one and donated the rest to the hikers that were just arriving at the shelter. In no time it was early afternoon so Nadine and I finally threw on our packs, which now weigh a cool 31.5 and 30.5 pounds, respectively, and said goodbye to Uncle Johnny’s.

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More Catching Up: Appalachian Trail Tales, Part 10

Day 34 (May 10): Had an awesomely easy hike in the morning down to some field crossings.

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Grabbed some trail magic (Doritos and Cheetos) near Devils Fork Gap and some farm fresh hard boiled eggs as we headed toward Hiker Paradise Hostel at Rector Laurel Road (mile 309.4) for a mid day break. After a few sodas and snacks we were convinced by the rest of the group (Jonny, Sam, Charlie, Derek, And Ronan) to spend the night and get an earlier, more convenient shuttle toward Trail Days. Setup tents in the yard and got a case of beer before a rain storm passed through. Had pizza for dinner and played some cards before heading to bed.

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Catching Up: Appalachian Trail Tales, Part 9

Catching up on our posting, these next few may be a bit brief.

Day 29 (May 5): We climbed out of camp rather early, while inhaling a quick breakfast on the go. Along the trail it started to down pour on us. Enjoyed some hot ramen for lunch at Groundhog Creek Shelter. Nadine found an emergency blanket that was left at the shelter, which she wrapped around herself, making her look like a baked potato. Climb towards Max Patch as the rain slowly turned into a snow mix and eventually hail. We were soaked to our bones within seconds, while the incline was getting the best of us. By the time we reached Max Patch the trail was covered in snow.

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Beer Blazin’: Appalachian Trail Tales, Part 8

Day 26 (May 2): With our bags already packed from the day before you would think we would have been able to get on the trail early. This was not the case. We dragged our feet and slowly made our way out of town to snap a picture at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park sign before hitching a ride back to Newfound Gap.

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