Saturday, September 29, 2012

Loner Summits Katadhin!!!

Loner called Corajeanine last night and told her that he had already summited Katahdin Sept. 28th!!  He tried to call me but I didn't get to the phone in time and I know he only had a few minutes left on his phone.  But he got wildcat and she passed the info on to me.
Loner said that it was a beautiful day and clear and he was hiking up Katahdin with some of the hikers he and Wildcat had met at Caratunk (or Monson)  I'm not sure which.
Loner told her he had met some day hikers on the trail, as well, and they gave him a lift to Millinockt last night and were going to give him a ride to Bangor, Maine, where his grandmother lives.  So that was some grateful serendipity for sure. Thanks goes out to hose hikers!
Wildcat and I couldn't get off the phone, constantly repeating how we couldn't believe he'd made it already.  He told me last week, he though he'd make it by Saturday, Sept 29th must he must have been booking,  or night hiking with his headlamp to make it.   We just kept saying over and over, "I can't believe it" or "I'm amazed."   The journey seemed so long, and the wait without videos was frustrating, but perhaps without news of knowing exactly where he was each day, we could't believe that once he was out of the 100 Mile Wilderness his journ3ey was almost finished.  Unfortunately there's no videos yet and I'm not sure where his computer is, so not sure when there will be videos.  He didn't have time to give more details so we're waiting on those too.  I can't imagine all the emotions he's feeling.
I'm filled with a huge respect for his dedication, but also a certain selfish gratitude that I'll get to see him soon. As I do the happy dance and holding back tears of pride, I'm rushing around now getting ready for his return home to So9uth Carolina, after he visits with his grandmother and then goes to Ohio to be with Wildcat.

Fatherman summits Katadhin

Fatherman summited Katadhin today, Sept. 26, 2012!  My family, including Loner and I follow him and enjoy watching his videos.  He was hiking before Loner started and served as an inspiration.  I've enjoyed his style, as well as his traveling talk show.  
And it gets better for us the viewers... he's posted 17 more videos on his You Tube Blog FM on the AT 2012,  HBC2194's  channel.
Great country,meeting new people, hearing about old friends on the trail, some fishing and fording of streams, meeting cool folks at the Hiker Hut, the climbing of mountains and some introspective insights from Fatherman and friends as he approached Katadhin.  Not to mention the summit video - one very important showing of the FM Traveling AT Talk Show. 
Thanks FM - you've inspired a whole new crop of hikers and helped supporters of the Class of 2012 stay sane.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Loner in !00 Mile Wilderness

Corajeanine is now home in Ohio, and I heard from Loner from the top of  Barren Mtn. in the 100 Mile wilderness in Maine on Sept. 24th.  We had a very brief chat but at least he can get cell service on the tops of mountains.  He didn't have much to say except that he had to head north in order to meet his grandmother in time and he and Jeanine had a great time.  Loner gave Jeanine the trail name Wildcat.

Once Loner can post, and Wildcat has time to add her videos to her video blog, there will be some great shots and videos, since both of them love indie film making and photography.  When Loner picked her up at the airport (thanks to the shuttle guy!) Wildcat said there was never an awkward moment.  I get to talk to Wildcat  more than Loner these days but I'll let her tell you their story herself .  She posted a journal entry and some more great photos on White Blaze. 
These are some photos she took of their hike. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Loner, not alone, in Maine

So here's the scoop:  I just got a phone call from Jeff as he rode a shuttle bus to the airport in Portland, Maine.  No, he's not getting off the AT, he's riding back with Jeanine, who flew into Maine to hike with him last week.  He rode the shuttle from Rangeley to meet her and then they both rode the shuttle back to Monsoon. 
Their initial idea was to hike towards Katadhin so she could hike that part of the trail with him, but they didn't think they'd have enough time so they hiked back to Caratunk.
Loner said she was a great hiker at 10 miles a day and got her first blister on the last day of her time in Maine.  Boy, did Loner get spoiled along the way. Jeanine made the fire and cooked every night and then topped it off with dishes like pancakes and chocolate dipped pretzels.
So now you might need a little background story since some may wonder how all this came about since Loner never mentioned a girlfriend until maybe July.
I think it's an amazing story given that Loner was about to get off the trail two months ago in New York and now his journey has taken such an unexpected turn.
Loner had only known Jeanine from watching her You Tube videos on Corajeanine's Channel. 
They followed reach other's videos because they both have a passion for arrowhead hunting.
Loner had posted comments on her You Tube video blog  You Tube blog and she had commented on his videos on Carolina Arrowheads. Jeff recently admitted to me that he'd had an interest in her for about a year, but had never said anything, never wrote a private message or email to start a conversation. 
Jeanine and I talked on the phone or emailed almost everyday for about two weeks before she left for Maine.  She's such a delightful woman, full of energy and enthusiasm for life and told me she'd loved the outdoors all her life since hiking and exploring the mountains of her native Kentucky as young as four years old.
She started watching Loner videos, I'm thinking at the suggestion of one of the arrowhead collectors in Ohio, who are a real close group who get together often to go on hunts. Jeff's been communicating with the Ohio group for a couple of years now via the comment sections on their you tube channels and they are all very supportive of each other and learn form each other.
But for a while Jeanine she didn't even realize that Loner of the Appalachian Trail was also Jeff of Carolina Arrowheads.  Once she did, however, she started sending him private messages which led to phone calls in July and a short while ago, Jeff invited Jeanine to come join him on the trail.  Afterall, in the small and close community of arrowhead hunters, how many are women share the same passion which requires both patience and affiliation with the outdoors?
Three weeks ago they started making plans. This was quite a surprise to me, since Jeff is the last person I'd expect to meet someone via the computer, but once I started communicating and talking to Jeanine on the phone, I could see how it could happen.  She's such an open and down to earth person, full of ideas with the drive to put them into action and one who lives life to its fullest. As an example, this is the woman, with two children in college who does a cartwheel every time she finds an arrowhead! That's a joy in life not found in too many places these days.  Like Jeff she delights in the simple and natural things of life and they share many other things in common, interests, values and their philosophical viewpoints on life.
 Her enthusiasm is so contagious - I know she's had a powerful effect on Loner's journey and offered support, even before she went and hiked with him in person. 
The photo at the top of both of Loner and Jeanine was taken on top of Moxie Bald.  I thought the background was snow, but Jeanine told me it's some type of white moss or lichen.
They also hiked Pleasant Pond Mtn. and stopped in Caratunk yesterday. They were both sad when they boarded the shuttle today to take Jeanine back to the airport and then Loner back to Rangeley where he'll finish his hike through Maine and to Katadhin. 
It's probably going to be sketchy as far as receiving phone calls, emails or videos from now on.  And they may not get on until after he finishes his journey.  I'll try and let you know as I know. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Appalachian Trail 75th Anniversary

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail, a very special year for the Class of 2012 thru-hikers, and celebrations from Harper's Ferry ( which is also celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 1862 Battle of Harper's Ferry), West Virginia, Rangeley Maine are going as I write to celebrate the history of the trail, the maintenance and preservation of the trail and the trail towns along the way who support the trail and the

In addition to overseeing the many volunteers and Trail Mainentance clubs and groups along the AT, they also teaches hikers from how to best enjoy and protect the trail.
And for my interests, they also keep up with all the statistics every year. On White Blaze, Leantree peaked my interest in the stats when he posted that The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), published some new information in their Sept./Oct. 2012 issue of AT Journey on the number of thru-hikers who made it about half way on their thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail this year. This year the ATC in Harper's Ferry registered a record number of thru-hikers passing through their long awaited doorway... 1,012 hikers made it that far, beating the 2011 number of 849. However, on the ATC website as of Sept. 12th they had upped that number to 1,016.
They also posted on the website that 2,500 NOBO thru-hikers registered in 2012 at either Amicalola Falls (A blue blaze or approach trail) or Springer Mtn in Georgia for the start of their trek. These numbers do not include the 500 or so Southbound hikers, flip floppers or section hikers which also start the trail.
Even though the Appalchian Trail was envisioned by Benton Mv\cKay in 1921, at first it was put together in sections and it didn't open until 1937 from Georgia to Maine, but it wasn't until 1948 when  the first northbound thru hike was accomplished by only one hiker, Earl Shaffer of York, PA, who also later set the records for the first southbound thru hike and the oldest thru-hiker when he did it again when he was 80- years old, fifty years later.
Since then  12,000 completions have been registered of those who thru-hiked.  But the rates are growing in large numbers. 
The ATC office at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, considered the main mid-section, is where every thru hiker reaches a welcome milestone. Here one of the staff takes their photo in front of the building and it's get in yearly logbook. Each hiker is also given a new hiker number, reflecting their new placement, since y now usually 50% of thru-hikers have dropped off the trail.

Loner was the 801st NOBO thru-hiker to check in at Amicalola Falls/Springer Mtn., Georgia and he was the 529th hiker to pass through West Virginia.  Once he reaches Katahdin, he'll receive a new number representing his place among those 2012 thru hikers who will complete the Appalachia Trail as they summit Mt. Katahdin in Baxter Maine State Park. . 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fatherman and Apache post more videos

Well, I stand corrected from my previous post.  Fatherman and his AT Traveling Talk Show has now posted five new videos, from New Hampshire but dating back to August. In some of the videos, he's with a huge crowd of hikers - like what you'd see at the beginning of the AT, not closing in on the end.  He introduces some folks he hasn't met before.  In others it's just FM and Medicine Man on Moosilauke heading towards the Whites. And we get a different view than the Loner posted of that rough trail going back down Moosilauke (and I'm not talking about Medicine Man's kilt.

And Apache has reached Maine and is posting videos as I write.  He's posting from right before and then after the border between New Hampshire and Maine, and it looks pretty rugged, cold and a bit cruel if you ask me as it sits atop Mt. Success in NH and then   Lots of rebar climbing on the Goose Eye Trail in Maine. 

Loner in Rangley, Maine

The class of 2012, at least the hikers I follow who are on their way to Katahdin, have gone eerily silent.  No video blogs, no text blogs, no phoned in messages.  I guess that goes to prove that Maine is an outdoors world, as the state juts up here above Quebec Canada.
Rayo, Frenchy, and P.J. Wetzel have summitted  Katahdin; Fatherman, Apache and Loner have gone off the radar as they enter the Mahoosuc Mountain Range and either close in or now trek through the 100 Mile Wilderness with towns, libraries, hostels and resupplies in short supply.  Maine is a big deal to hikers, they've been seeing AT signs pointing in two different directions for close to 2,000 miles, one pointing to Spring Mtn. in Georgia, the other pointing to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
I did get a very brief email from Loner that he was in Rangeley, Maine about 220 miles from Katahdin on Sept. 12th as he was doing his laundry.  That was it - I imagine a brief use of a computer somewhere.  I hear his phone battery is giving him some trouble and haven't had a phone call in about a week.  Rangeley is a beautiful upscale wilderness resort in the lakes region of Maine, and comprises 267 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Many folks say it's the toughest part of the trail, as if the previous 2,000 or so miles was just prep work. In Maine alone, thru-hikers will complete the equivalent of hiking Mt. Everest.  So I know he's getting the views.  Just hope his camera is holding up for future videos. (photo is from
So now I guess we just wait.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Loner in Maine - Final State

Jeanine and I heard from Loner as he reached Andover, Maine on Sept. 8.  Last state to go, he's less than 250 miles away from Katahdin right now.  Jeanine is flying in to Portland than driving to meet him so they can hike part of the trail together!  They are both very excited (and I imagine slightly nervous).  Jeff mentioned that he'd finished Mahoosuc Notch Trail which is filled with glacial boulders and has the infamous notoriety of offering the most challenging mile on the AT.  Loner  said it was hard but he made it. He's also been dealing with some major hammock fail - so hopefully he can rig something up to last the rest of the trip.
Not sure if their will be any more videos - it depends on the facilities on Rangeley.  After that there's not too much in the way of towns or WIFI.
In other news, followers of fans of Fatherman were wondering where he was since he hadn'ty posted any videos since August 17th.  Loner said he'd talked to FM when FM was in Andover, New Hampshire but Loner was still in Gorham, NH. He figured FM is about five days ahead of him. This is what Loner wrote me:
"FM is fine and I've seen his name in the logs. He is about a week ahead. He left me a note that he was in Andover when I was in Gorham. There is not much signal in these parts and he only has his phone to make vids. Most THRU HIKERS that post vids have a big gap near the end and then catch up after. "
 Fatherman finally got on White Blaze and in his usual sense of humor to let us know he was still on the trail and wrote this:  
"FM here!! Alive and well, my friends. The rumor of my demise has been greatly exaggerated, ha! Thanks for the concern, and yes, the vids are coming soon!"
Although he still didn't tell us where he was, darn it.  
One person even posted that Fatherman was looking thin and that's the truth with all the thru hikers - they're all looking pretty rough by now, thin, boney, cheekbones protruding, bags under their eyes, long scraggly beards.  Loner says the young crowd looks even worse - they're all "stick men." he told me.

Frenchy Summits Katadhin 8/25/2012

I'm a little late on this announcement, but another thru-hiker who Loner and I have been following is Frenchy (Matt French) from New Jersey.  He summitted Katahdin on August 25th, 2012, after leaving base camp at Baxter State Park at 3:30 am.  He walked up in the dark and experience sunrise at the summit by himself!  A rare thing these days since it's prime weather for daytrippers and Frenchy is also somewhere within the hiker bubble of those left out who will make it the entire 2, 180 miles.
Frenchy has been a great hiker to follow because he keeps a blog, Journey North, as well as a you tube journal.  He's an excellent writer, full of atmosphere, detail, energy, metaphor and emotion.  I had tears in my eyes as I read the emotionally-laden post of his summit hike, and another viewer admitted they welled up too. I know I've said it before, but as we come to know the hikers and family members of the Class of 2012 (and before) from White Blaze, You Tube, Blogs and Trail Journals, we feel like we know them even though we've never met.  I think this is one reason that Trail Days in Damascus is so huge because all these people want to reunite with friends they met in person along the trail, but also hikers want to meet other hikers, they only heard about or saw their names in the shelter log books.  And the families and supporter want to meet each other as we helped each other along the way. 
 I hope he takes the time to turn his blog into a book.
 But he was smart to to utilize a You Tube journal called Appalachian Frenchy 2012, too, since I think the Class of 2013 thru-hikers and every year after that may prefer the video diaries, as opposed to blogs or journals.  and it's much easier now with smart phones and small laptops.  Luxuries past thru hikers and old timers couldn't indulge in.  Times they are a changin' - sometimes too fast for me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kath's tips for hiker support

Kath from White Blaze, who has been a great supporter for Loner, passed on another great tip.  Lightweight and easy and fun.  She has been sending drop boxes to a number of 2012 thru-hikers and she likes to include gift cards.  These are for food - one of the things besides a shower, and laundromat, a hiker craves even  before he gets to town and food it the top of the list.  They often only think of  food that last few miles to town. I'm kicking myself I never thought of this and didn't find out until he was 1800 miles in.
 This is what she told me.
  "I think that is one of the BEST things to send the hikers as long as they are ones like Pizza Hut, Subways, McDonalds, etc. as you know they have them in almost every town. They are light and can be used as soon as they hit town. Plus I think some hikers hate to spend the money, but this way they can eat a lot without feeling guilty. Plus they do not have to spend it at one time." 
For those family members or supporters who purchase their own guide book, as I suggested in an earlier post, they should be able to see which chains are in which towns, and that will help on choosing cards they can use the next place they stop.  Up until you get close to Maine, you should be safe with any of these big three but towns are smaller the further north you go and some don't even have the popular fast food places.  In the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers Companion, there's a map of each town with the locations of the restaurants and other things a hiker needs in town, such as hostels and hostels, outfitters, laundromat, library, WIFI accessibility, laundromat and grocery stores. 
The other idea she came up with is a great game hikers can use on the trail - lightweight as well, especially good for the gram weenies like Loner.
 I had never heard of a carabiner game and I'm not sure which one she sent him, but they're so cool because they can hang from a backpack strap and entertain a hiker when he's rained out or resting for the night.  The little game I sent was a Carabiner and it has different light patterns that emit. You have to try and memorize them and repeat it back. It's a lot of fun that should keep Jeff busy for hrs on the trail! And super super light.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Loner Completes the Whites

Well, this has been an an up and down part of Loner's Trip, he's left Gorham, NH yesterday and should be in Maine today!!!  The last and final state. He has loaded 4 new videos of The White Mountains, an up and down trip, including high 70 mph winds and Jeff's most exciting day and getting soaked and having to camp on the side of Mt Madison and spending a very very cold and wet night. So we get to see that you can't always stay positive - some conditions are just too rough.  Lots of great scenery  and a small town thrown in. But he also got to hike with some cool hikers and loves the Whites. And he's now only about 290 miles from Katadhin.

 Loner also reveals something that I didn't even know about until two weeks ago and it's pretty exciting but I don't want to put a spoiler in here.  After you've had a chance to watch the videos and if you catch it let me know, and I'll tell you some background stories.  It's a pretty great thing and certainly nothing Loner expected when he left from Georgia. 
And I can tell you its even better than finding an arrowhead on his birthday on the AT!
He admitted he's had some days when he just wants to get home, but he's going to finish now that he only has less than 400 miles to go - about three weeks.
It's not that he minds the climbs and the mountains but that he's excited and homesick at the same time and eager to get there now that some people he knows are reaching Katadhin.  He never met Frenchy but followed him on You Tube.