Today started off with an absolutely, incredibly, wonderfully beautiful hike over an exposed ridgeline. First over Mt. Lincoln and then over Mt. Lafayette. The Franconia ridge hike was about 2.5 miles long and I wish it was longer. It was nice to be up there early in the morning. One side of the ridge was in shadow and the other side was sunny.
Much of the AT travels through forests, so it's very different to be able to look back and to see where you have hiked and to be able to look ahead and see where you are about to hike.
Today was relatively uneventful with the exception of the incredible amount of breath taking views.
I am glad to be hiking with a trail partner again. On my own, I was getting a bit stuck in my own thoughts which seemed circular. It was harder to focus and to see ahead. I wish it could have been Plant, Max, and I all finishing the trail together. I have been truly blessed to have had so many great hiking partners during this expedition.
My first trail partner, my sister Kate, got the expedition off to a great start. Kate is a lot of fun. She brings energy to the trail and being with her is never boring. It is easy for her to make friends and she gave me the courage to meet others. As neither of us had hiked the Appalachain Trail before, we had to learn the ropes and we figured out how to resupply, find and purify water, properly fold toilet paper, hitch-hike, and other things necessary to stay on the trail for over 2,000 miles. Back then our gear was new, our clothing was clean, and our eyes were wide open.
David, aka Plant, joined me next. Plant is one of my oldest friends. We have been friends since we were in Cub Scouts in first grade. We have been camping and backpacking together ever since. During our time on the trail, we enjoyed sharing some of our favorite stories and camping memories. In contrast to Kate, Plant is quiet He also very smart and helped to revise plans and calculate mileage quickly. While he wasn't able to hike as long as originally planned, he hiked an amazing 1,000 miles and was a great partneron the trail.
For a week, my oldest sister Bonnie and her husband Riley, aka Gas Tank, joined Plant and I for much of the 100 miles through the Shenandoah Valley. For a while, we were a trail family. We saw our first of many bears together and celebrated Gas Tank's birthday. It was originally Bonnie's dream to thru hike the AT, and that encouraged me to plan the Great AT Expedition.
Now, my younger brother Max is hiking the trail with me. Max will backpack over 400 miles of the AT. When I was thinking about coming home, Max encouraged me to continue on and even offered to come out join me on the trail. Max is more than a brother, he and I are good friends. Max is also in scouts and is close to earning his Eagle. He has promised to hike to Mt. Katahdin as long as we can do it before he loses his VO2 max. Max runs cross country and is a really good long distance runner which has helped him to adapt quickly to the trail
Around 5:30 pm. Max and I decided to fill up water and stealth camp in a flatter section of the trail. After we had spent a good deal of time filtering our water, we walked past a hut that had a water spigot that was potable, oh well. We intended to go further than the first stealth site, but Max's foot started to bother him and we decided not to push it. So we found the first spot and set up camp there. Later that evening, a group of Boy Scouts set up tents down the hill from our site. Max went to bed right after dinner, close to 7:15. I took some time to journal and think, then crawled into my sleeping bag. Turned out Max was not able to fall asleep for a while, due to a root under his sleeping mat.
Liberty Spring Campsite to Stealth Camp Site
Location: Latitude: 44.19365, Longitude: -71.48871