Stink ascended Katahdin today and successfully completed the 2175 mile Appalachian Trail. AMAZING!!!!!!! He said he really hadn't been able to sleep the last few nights just thinking about getting to the end and last night was no exception. After about three hours of sleep he got up and approached the base of the trail before 6 AM. He said the weather was a bit overcast at the bottom and then cleared as he ascended; then back into clouds. He took pictures all the way up and I can just imagine the emotion behind the pictures. Just imagine hiking all that way over five month's time and then seeing the goal in front of you.
Once back down the mountain he got a ride to the bus station and took the bus into Boston. He is currently traveling via train into Philly and will arrive around 4:40 AM Monday.
He said he is just exhausted and looking forward to resting and watching TV!!! After that adventure, he deserves a nice period of R&R.
Congrats to Josh, aka Stink. WE ARE SO PROUD OF HIM!!!!!!!!!!
8:23pm: Day Three on the Wilderness Trail
Stink is hammering through the wilderness, trying to outrun the mosquitos! He is rationing his DEET so it lasts! Day One he hiked 26.2 miles; Day Two was 21 miles; and today he hiked 30 miles (29.6 on the AT and 0.4 on some side trail that went nowhere he wanted to be!
Will crash tonight at the shelter and finish the hike on the Wilderness Trail tomorrow. Then it's on to Baxter State Park on Saturday; potentially summit on Saturday or wait to do it on Sunday. It all depends on endurance and weather! Today he caught a good long glimpse of Katahdin out in front of him and he said it was powerful. Not only does it pop out above the other peaks, it has taken 5 dedicated months of his life and over 2000 trekked miles to get here! Awesome......
There are lots of Southbound hikers on the trail (and taking up space at the shelters). He gets LOTS of questions about his gear and I imagine they wonder if they'll look like a seasoned hiker when they finish in several months.
12:41pm: Off to the Wilderness
Stink took a zero day at the hostel yesterday; awoke to the sound of thunder overhead and just rolled over and got a few extra winks. He explored Monson (about 10 businesses total and 3 of them are antiques stores), got some grub (one of the places made him a special vegetarian quesadilla) and took time to get re-charged for the next challenge. Any items from his pack that he figured he would not need over the next week got shipped home and then he restocked his pack with food for the next 4-5 days.
Pictures should be coming soon and I'll get them posted. Stink says he had great weather all through the 'Whites' of New Hampshire and so the pics should be wonderful! He's been picking wild blueberries and keeping an eye out for bear.
This morning he planned to head out to begin the 100 mile wilderness trail which he hopes to cover in 4 1/2 days. There are lean-tos along the trail where he'll be staying. Then it will be on to the summit in Katahdin for the finish! GETTING CLOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
10:06pm: Stink has logged 2000 miles!!
As of 3:30 this afternoon, those feet of his have hiked 2000 miles of the AT...WOW!!!!!!!!! And that's just the trail; not all the side trips into towns and down trails that don't exactly take you anywhere. :-)
Foot is being beaten into submission. He has gel insoles for padding and foot is taped to give it support. The mornings are a bit rough but then the foot just kind of gives up and discomfort is tolerable. As he gets closer to Katahdin any discomfort is just easier to bear!
ETA for Katahdin is August 2nd...no chance of sending him some clean clothes for the ride home as he would arrive at the last mail drop on Sunday! Oh, well, hope that doesn't blow his chances for a ride home. :-)
6:26pm: Maine...the goal is getting mighty close!
Heard from Stink this morning. He figures he will hit Katahdin around August 4th. Amazing! Considering he left March 1st and it usually takes six months...this guy is trekking big-time! He's looking for one more mail drop in Baxter, ME just before his last ascent to Katahdin. Guess he wants those clean clothes for the photo op!! His Mom and I will be in Alaska...hope that some of his readers will be able to be there to congratulate him (and maybe give him a lift home!!)
So the good news is that he is nearly 90% through the trail with only 220 miles yet to hike. The bad news is that he wrenched his foot on some boulders and has major discomfort. I'm figuring he strained the ligaments and the way to heal is...you guessed it...rest!!!! Okay, so that isn't going to happen. He is going easy on it; only 10 miles today and will do 15 each of the next two days. He just wants to stay in front of the pack and this distance puts him about a half day out in front! He's going to strap it with tape and has purchased a padded insole. That on top of the cold beer and hot pizza today might help. :-)
He's past the toughest part of the AT, having trekked the 4000 foot mountains and crossed over Mahoosuc Notch. He's in the central part of the Maine AT now and will soon be contending with the Kennebec River. You really have to watch where you cross it as it really swells after a storm and some hikers, I read, have to literally wait out an opportunity to cross. Stink has landed in the water once on this hike so let's hope he doesn't have a repeat performance!
10:25pm: trail vacation
hey all- i done spent the past few days up on the banks of lake champlain in northern vermont with caitlin and her family. wandered around burlington, dropped some gear and picked up some new stuff, but for the most part i've been vegetating and devouring everything in sight. hooray, calories!
tomorrow's sunday the fifth, and i'm back on the trail. excited because i've got less than five hundred miles to go, but still apprehensive as they're some of the toughest miles on the trail. it get steep, high, and remote up in NH and ME and, as usual, i'm not entirely confident. should have some great views up above treeline, though.
and sooner than i think, i'll be home. time's flyin' by.
10:46pm: Spending the Holiday around Burlington, VT
Heard from Stink...phone reception has been tricky now that he's up in the hills again! He is headed to Burlington, VT to spend the holiday weekend before returning to the trail. He has about 500 miles to go and is getting excited about reaching the goal!!
Happy 4th of July everyone! A special happy birthday goes out to Stink's great Aunt Edna who turns 101 on the 4th. She's been asking about him and wondering where he is on the trail!! We should all be so alert at half her age. :-)
10:31pm: New Batch of Pictures!
Stink is in Dalton, MA...lots of rain lately and that Maine destination looms out there in the distance. Time to ponder 'why am I doing this' waiting for the wet stuff to subside. Well, check out the pictures and get a taste of what he is viewing (when the skies are clear). Beautiful country!
11:28am: Trekking Through Connecticut
Stink continues to make his way toward the goal. After a couple of nights in Delaware Water Gap, he was back on the trail and averaging 15+ miles a day. The rains have been a bummer but he is pushing on. He called last week to say that he had pain in his gum and jaw and needed medical attention ASAP. Major thanks go out to Dr. Godick for his help and guidance in making sure that Josh got to a DDS for proper treatment in Kent, CT. The 'team' of Dr. Godick and Mom Breit found a dentist, got him treated, conferenced with the Dentist, and got Josh back on the trail within a day. Amazing and SO APPRECIATED by Josh. And of course thanks to the DDS in Kent who treated the abscess (and had no problem with the 'trail odor'..."Oh, we treat AT Hikers all the time") and got Stink back to his buddies. As of Friday he was feeling fine and moving forward!
Check back in about 4-5 days; I should have his newest set of photos posted.
12:45pm: Delaware Water Gap today!
So, let's bring you up to date. Josh, aka Stink, left the trail for Memorial Day weekend to catch up with family and friends and then hopped back onto the trail on Tuesday, May 26th. Mike took some time off of work to hike some of the PA section... he and Stink covered lots of miles and hiked through lots of rain! The rain started Tuesday and pretty much followed them until Saturday. They arrived in Hamburg, PA on Saturday and took time to roam around the Cabella's store for a few hours. Josh emerged with a new pair of boots which he is breaking in covering the PA trail terrain. Mike headed back to Philly on Saturday and Josh continued on his way...he figures he's averaging 15 miles a day now; many days are 20+ miles.
A couple of nights ago Josh woke to something crawling across his head. About the time it got to his face he reached up and grabbed it....a millipede was traversing his forehead and emitted a noxious liquid as Josh grabbed it. The liquid ended up in his right eye and burned like 'you know what'! He flushed his eye (no doubt sacrificed some of the water for the morning coffee!) and two days later is still feeling some soreness. It should resolve without issue but that's just yucky!
Today he is covering the 16 miles from last night's abode to tonight's Delaware Water Gap destination. It rained yesterday and he met up with a bunch of other hikers who were making it a short day so he joined them. There is an infamous pot luck at a church in Delaware Water Gap on Thursday nights and hikers are always welcome to join the community in a good meal. Stink says he will be there tonight for sure!!
Tomorrow AM Bonnie and Deb are driving up to DWG to spend a bit of time with Josh before he heads on up the trail. Looking forward to it!
10:56am: North of the Mason-Dixon line
Josh/Stink checked into Harper's Ferry Appalachian Trail Headquarters and is officially the 51st Thru-hiker to register for 2009. Quite an accomplishment to have walked from Georgia to WV...and now PA. He is leaving the gospel radio stations behind (hopefully...as they interfere with NPR) and has his eyes set on a spot just outside of Harrisburg. He is well stocked with homemade cookies and protein bars after his last mail drop and feeling stoked about a couple of days off the trail to touch base with family and friends coming up soon.
Aside from the gross 'I had to pull this *#@! tick off my eyelid' encounter, he has only discovered one other tick feeding off his flesh. Lots of ticks, including deer ticks have been plucked off clothing and skin before finding a spot for a meal. (Deb note: Add this to what I've read in blogs of other hikers and I've decided that I will live/hike the AT vicariously through Josh with no desire to add it to my list of 'things I'd like to do')
On the bright side ... Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, cool woodland plants and great scenery. Continues to meet interesting characters on the trail. Loves the homemade cookies at each mail drop. Feeling very accomplished with his feat thus far. Weighing in at a very lean and mean 145 pounds.
4:51pm: So you think you had a bad day....
Stopped in a restroom to wash up a little. Looked into the mirror and saw a dark object on my eyelid. I HAD A G-D TICK EMBEDDED IN THE SKIN BETWEEN TWO EYELASHES. UGHHHHHHHHHH. PAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2:35pm: bear's den hostel
nice day today, sunny and cool. jumped off the trail about .2 miles to a hostel built out of an old fortress or something. this place is cemented out of tons of native stone and surrounded by a tall zombie-resistant wall....cool spot. won't be staying here tonight but it sure is nice to grab a coke and some online time.
saw a turtle today. it was brown and orange. i picked him up and he hid in his shell. i sang the teenage mutant ninja turtles theme song to him and he did not respond. so i put him back down.
the shenandoahs were wet. had rain almost the entire time, but it was nice to hit the waysides (rest stops on skyline drive, a road what parallels the AT for the park's length) and get $1 yuenglings and delicious coffee. i did see a bear! after over 900 miles and sometimes ridiculous precautions, i finally had visual proof that bears exist. the thing was running away from me, about 80 yards away, and then crossed skyline drive. it was black and furry. i felt satisfied.
chaco sandals were hurting my feet pretty bad for a little while (read: 9 days or so) but i've since developed callouses of the foot and of the mind. and my ankles have gotten stronger, so these new airy kicks are great for wet, muddy trails. there's poison ivy in pretty abundant patches, though, and i'm doing my best to avoid contact with it. why don't deer get poison ivy? can anyone tell me that?
i'm looking forward to harpers ferry tomorrow (hooray!) and west philly in a little over a week. i can use the relaxation and beers. and it'll be nice to see some folks, too. peace -stink
so i got into daleville / i-81 interchange late yesterday. the folks at teh outfitter were quite helpful, getting me into / out of a new pair of shoes! hooray, chacos! (for the uninitiated, chacos are like sandals with boot soles on 'em.) they're amazingly comfortable in hot weather, seeing as they've got no uppers at all and mah feet can breathe.
okay, past week sum-up: first day, 7 miles. then i did 25 ,18, 22, 20. lots of miles, real hard and fast. it snowed two days after i sent home my winter gear. shortshorts in the snow? hilarious!
there's a restaurant called "the home place" in catawba, virginia that all the thru-hikers and guidebooks call "the best food in the south." it's price/menu-fixed southern home cookin', served family style, and it's only open four evenings a week. i hit it friday night and was thoroughly disappointed. i'd forgotten just how carnivorous white folks down here are. all i really had to eat were biscuits (delicious) and cole slaw. not worth having to hike hard during the heat of the day to arrive before closing. c'est la vie.
and after it snowed the weather went straight up. it's been in the upper 80's for the past few days, scorching me. shortshorts are awesome, and with my new kicks i should be able to take the heat in stride. instead of slathering myself with sunscreen, i've taken to wearing a ballcap (the hideous yellow one, with newly-affixed Wawa patch) with a bandana edge tucked under it. the bandana covers my ears, face-sides, neck and shoulders and whenever i see my shadow i can't help but hum the theme to "Lawrence of Arabia." ("Nothing is written!")
so yesterday i hiked late into the day. it was hot. i had salt crystals on my chest. and when i got to town, i bought whole chocolate milk. it was delicious. and a family (homer and teresa) put me up for two nights. their daughter, who thru-hiked at 11 years old, is attempting another thru-hike this year at 18. i met these folks thru another couple hikers who happened to be sitting in front of the chocolate milk dispensary (Kroger's).
so yeah, a shower or two, some laundry, pizza for dinner. and instead of leaving out this morning (sunday?) i decided to help homer and teresa with some trailwork. i cut a few dozen yards of fresh trail up about five miles from here. they're doing an appalachian trail re-route. the old trail goes over a rocky, rutted out hump and the new trail cuts along the side of it. less than .2 miles in total, but the re-route should save a few ankles and groans over the life of the trail. and anyway, half a day's work and i feel like i've earned my keep and given a little (very little) back to the trail. also, it felt good to swing a pulaski again and get dirty.
fyi - fine brown dirt works as ersatz sunscreen on the lower legs. green, biodegradable, and cheap too!
so this afternoon i've taken a bath (omfg felt so good) had a couple sodas and enjoyed some pb cookies from laces. relaxin' in style! peace
9:56am: Hiked into the night to get to Pearisburg
Josh called last evening from a pay phone in Pearisburg, VA. He and "Little Tree" had hiked into the night (and through some rain) to arrive in Pearisburg. He said he's hit his stride...15 - 20 miles most days and feeling good. One of the reasons for getting into town last night was to re-supply his food! It seems all the love and extra food he packed in at his last supply stop went quicker than he thought. He tried to get more food at THE store in Bland, VA but all they carried was hardware, turkey calls, and $4.00 oatmeal. So he ate the last of his food and set off yesterday for Pearisburg. When he called he had just finished a scrumptious meal of bread, cheese, avocado, green pepper and a fizzy orange soda. YUMMMMMMM????? They had purchased the food in the local Food Lion and then plopped down on a couple of pink adirondack chairs for sale in front of the store to enjoy their feast. Now satiated they were on their way to Holy Family Church Hostel where he will probably stay a couple of nights (get his first shower in almost eight days...thus his trail name, Stink :-) and get his phone charged!).
Activities today include re-supplying his food and making a visit to the Goodwill store to find some lighter clothing. Oh, and he may look for a replacement hat since his Bruins cap took a swim. He has, however, found a couple of hats along the trail. One is a plastic hat that covers the back of his neck (but he is not one for wearing plastic) and the other is a BRIGHT YELLOW Nascar cap with flames and checkered flags on the sides and SPORTSSTUFF.com across the front. Oh, yeah, can't you just see Josh wearing that!! Ha!
Pearisburg is 624 miles from Springer Mountain where he started. Next mail drop is Outdoor Trails, Botecourt Commons, 28 Kingston Dr., Daleville, VA 24083. That town is 716 miles from Springer so....you do the math if you are sending him a package. This boy is really moving now!
10:56am: Guess Who Fell into the River!
Got a call from Stink this morning. He has cell phone coverage back, at least for now. Of course he has no place to charge his phone so he'll probably have it off most of the time!
He is about 18 miles outside of Damascus looking to hike about another 18 miles today. He has a good climb today and then some up and down but is feeling good and sounds great. After he picked up his mail the other day, he re-evaluated his options and headed back to the hostel instead of trying to get in front of the storm. Armed with a good book, some Cadbury eggs and a dry spot to crash, he spent the day resting and reading.
Yesterday as he was crossing over some water on a narrow foot bridge he lost his balance. Pack and all, he landed on his head in the water. Thanks to his hard head, he survived with just a good size lump on his head and soaking wet clothing and pack. He was able to make it out of the water by himself, even though a hiker coming up the trail (hastening her approach after hearing the utterances coming from the downed hiker) could have pulled him out. Soaking wet and testing himself for signs of concussion, he decided he was okay to continue. After wringing out his clothes, he figured the best way to dry them was to put them back on and head up the hill. Temp was in the 50's and he figures he was 85% dry by the time he reached the shelter. One of the items he bought earlier in the trip was a stuff sack that was touted as being 100% waterproof. Prior to this he had not tested it...but I am happy to report that he will be sending the manufacturer a letter of thanks because his sleeping bag and down coat were perfectly dry! Everything else was soaked but bless the stuff sack!
Tragedy did strike, however. He is without his Bruins cap. There is no replacing that baby. That cap has been through thick and thin with him. He asked that we call the Methodist Church Hostel in Damascus, hoping that perhaps he left it there. Otherwise, it is most likely floating downstream after his head first crash landing... Oh, well. These things happen. As long as he is okay!
The trails are pretty crowded these days. About a dozen people were at the shelter last night. Keep checking back because his first set of pictures are on their way and I'll post them as soon as they arrive. And did you notice the new Userpic? That's josh at a supply stop in Damascus, VA.
11:37am: Leaving Damascus...back on the trail
With 35+ pounds on his back, Josh/Stink left Damascus (461 miles from Springer Mountain - Start Point) this morning. As he spoke with us by phone, he saw the thunder clouds moving in and said he really needed to get out on the trail. He had two packages waiting for him when he arrived in town the other day. He had stocked up on food for his next week of hiking as the next supply stop is about a 5 day journey. Well, one of his packages contained MORE food so he added it to the pack. (The other package contained items that had him howling right there at the mail counter, Leonard!) We told him we had sent him a package as well...hopefully it will be there this morning. (And it's even more food!) Now he probably has about 7-9 days of food on his back. Oh, the weight of being loved! He said he wishes he could eat faster as the food adds quite a bit of weight to his pack. Oh, well, the guy needs to eat! He has dropped about 8-9 pounds since he started; didn't know he had anything to lose!
Damascus is an interesting place, he told us. It can have a way of 'sucking you in', so says the Stink man. A couple of trail acquaintances have spent some time there, taking on work or the like. Time to move on!
His air mattress finally got a leak that couldn't be patched; the guy at the store was fabulous. He gave Josh a new mattress and said he would deal with the manufacturer on the other. Nice.
Today he will hike about 10 miles to the next shelter; hopefully without getting too wet. The pain in his knees is quite manageable and he is in very good spirits.
Next mail drop is in 2-3 weeks or so (160 miles from Damascus): If you send, we are finding that it is better to send it early as it will be held up to 30 days and you don't run the risk of him missing out on your goodies!) "Please hold for AT Hiker" Josh Breit Holy Family Church Hostel 516 Mason Ct Dr. Pearisburg, VA 24134
'Stink' sends greetings to all from the Kincora Hostel on Dennis Cove Rd in Hampton, TN where he's staying for a couple of nights. It's run by Bob Peoples, a true AT legend who keeps the trails maintained in that section of TN. A weather front is on its way in bringing rain and then snow today and tomorrow. Josh, I mean Stink, plans to slack pack today, stay at the hostel tonight, and then see what the weather brings tomorrow. (Looking at the weather maps, it appears to be a 'zero' day tomorrow with snow continuing well into the day.)
Night before last Stink just wanted some alone time. Seems it's pretty difficult to find out there on the trail! So he slipped off the trail and found a great place to set up his tent on a river bank amongst the wild daffodils. He said it was so peaceful just looking out over the river, listening to the water and enjoying the solitude.
No cellphone service around here so he relies on pay phones.
Next mail stop is in Damascus, VA. He should be there in 3-4 days. He's gotten some GREAT packages...way to go, friends! If you send anything, mark the letter/package: "Please hold for AT hiker" The address for this location is Josh Breit, c/o General Delivery, Damascus, VA 24236
10:10am: Tune your bikes in exchange for a night's stay...
Josh called this morning from a pay phone (no service for his phone in these parts!!) at Uncle Johnny's Hostel in Erwin, TN. He's staying at a hostel there and tuning bikes in exchange for a night's shelter. He bought a new tarp tent and set it up last night to try it out. Slept like crap; only about 3 hours. Needs more practice to get it right.
It snowed a couple of days ago. The temp has been about 45-50 degrees, so nice for hiking.
Currently hanging with Wolfman, Rachel, Blondie, Sir Long Legs, Twist, The Dude, and says Starbucks is in town somewhere. You're never alone on the trail!
His knees have still been bothering him but it's not as bad as it was before...probably just getting used to the pain!
He's headed for Damascus, VA for his next mail stop.
12:28pm: Hot Springs, NC
Howdy all- Have made it to Hot Springs, North Carolina. This is about....270 miles or so into the trip. I'm hanging out at Sunnybank Inn, it's a hostel/community house for hikers run by a kind fellow named Elmer. Today's been pretty busy, running around and resupplying as well as buying a new tarp-tent. My bivvy sack will be on its way home as soon as i hit the post office.
I ran into a short section of rough attitude a few days back before gatlinburg (middle of the smokies). I was pretty certain i was headed home. Rough hiking and exhaustion kept me down. But now i'm doin' my thing and slowed down a bit, taking it easy and the trail's gotten much more pleasant.
Tonight Nicole is coming out here to grab me, Lightning, The Dude and Starbucks to ferry us all to Asheville for a couple days. It'll be nice to hear some live music, eat at a vegan dining hall and knock back a few beers without having to worry about mice, miles, or weather (for at least a little while).
Will keep y'all posted.
Much love -Stink
ps- starbucks is from austin, TX. Only heard good things about it and as soon as i can, i'll head out there!
11:47am: Hanging out at Fontana Dam "Hilton"
So picture darkness, fog, visibility of about 6 feet, a lone hiker wearing a headlamp making his way toward the next shelter about 6 miles ahead. About every 50 feet the hiker yells out, "Heyyyyyyy" to avoid a late night encounter with a bear or... whatever might lurk out there. Once you have that picture, put Josh's face on the hiker and you have his experience of last evening. He awoke late on Sunday and missed his hiking buddies by about 20 minutes...so he spent the day trying to catch up to them, doing so when he finally reached the Fontana Dam Shelter around 10:45 last night. Total distance for the day...22 miles! He joined about 13-14 other overnight campers who took shelter from the cold, wet weather (it's still raining).
On Saturday he had met up with a couple of weekend hikers who were more than well stocked with 'Amish Friendship Bread' to share with other hikers. There really weren't many hikers who stayed at that shelter Saturday night so they left Josh with a couple of loaves of the carb-load bread. He also was treated to part of the book the couple was reading aloud to one another that evening...one of the CS Lewis novels. Josh said it was like having your own audio book! They let him use their stove as his has been giving him some fits...and not being able to heat food and water in this cold rainy weather is pretty crappy.
So today (Monday)...Josh is probably going to stay at the Fontana Dam Shelter. His legs ache a bit from yesterday, it's raining, and some of the hikers he's been hanging with are there at the shelter. He needs only to cross the dam and he will be in the Smokie Mountains. As we were talking, more hikers were coming in to get out of the rain so he needed to say 'bye for now' in order to get back inside to stake out his spot!
10:34am: Franklin, NC...and feeling good!
So we've heard from Josh a couple of times. Last weekend he called from Dick's Creek Gap in Georgia. It's right where the trail crosses Route 76. He was headed to Blueberry Patch hostel for the night.
Yesterday, 3/11 he called to say that he was in Franklin, NC and staying at Ron Haven's Budget Inn. They run a hiker shuttle there and he was going to reload supplies. He is currently hiking with Erin, Wizard and The Dude. Oh, by the way...thru hikers take on trail names and Josh's is 'Stink'. Anyway, he feels great, it's been beautiful since the snow storm, the boots fit great, and he is having a fantastic time! Rain is expected but he's got his rain gear so 'no worries'. Wizard has a video cam and Josh was in one of them for the briefest of moments...but of course you need to watch it! Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaAh2P0KrjM
Stink has probably hiked 110+ miles of the trail so far.