Tuesday, October 23, 2012

FAQ #1: What is your favorite section?

Grayson Highland Wild Ponies.
There are a few questions that we tend to get from most of the people that we talk to... so I decided to answer those questions here.  One of the most often asked is, "What is your favorite section?"  My favorite section in the south was from the Roan Highlands in northern TN to the Grayson Highlands in southern Virginia, around 100 miles.  (I'll do another post for my favorite northern section - once I finally get around to looking at those photos.)

It seems that a lot of people's favorite places tend to be places where they had a great experience due to trail magic, good weather or a wonderful friend memory.  When we started into the Roan Highlands, Yogi was just getting over being sick and we were finally able to move with a bit more speed.  The weather made me feel like I was walking through Ireland - with low rolling clouds that moved in between the open balds.  I loved it!

Yogi & BooBoo
The day we actually passed over Roan Mountain was rainy, cold, foggy and super windy.  We stayed at Overmountain Shelter, which is an old converted barn that hold 20ish hikers and looks out into a meadow.  When we rolled into the shelter around 5 p.m., there were a few sick hikers that had already ducked out of the rain.  One fellow was huddled in the corner coughing; another was hammocked up claiming stomach flu.  We made dinner, took a NyQuil and were in the process of falling asleep when what would eventually be our group of friends loudly entered with song, dance and merry spirits.

Roan Highlands.
The next day, clouds continued to swirl around us but the rain was no longer falling.  The ground was thoroughly soaked - leaving slippery puddles in the mud.  At one point, I slid two feet and fell with my toes curled up under my body.  I wrote that night, "My toes are a little sore, but when is something on my foot not." We had wonderful trail magic of sodas and snacks, which was much appreciated on a rainy day when we didn't take time for an actual lunch break.  We camped by the Elk River, which was down a steep and slippery .2mi trail.  I slid down and into the creek - and Yogi didn't even make a comment because he could tell how utterly exhausted I was.

Hump Mountain.
We passed Mountaineer Falls, where I got to try my first attempt at waterfall-slow-shutter-speed-photography.  And that was an adventure in and of itself:  I had to skip across mossy rocks in front of the waterfall at least 5 times because I kept forgetting stuff on the other side!  During that, I stepped on a Salamander's tail.  You could see how the tail was still slightly connected and was flailing around at a much quicker pace than his body.  I felt really guilty about this!

Mountaineer Falls.


Toad.
We had to do a quick town run into Hampton, TN.  Towns were probably the hardest part of the trail for us.  We would feel really stressed out about having to hitchhike in, get to the post office, grocery store, food to gorge on right then and hitchhike back out in a relatively efficient manner.  The day we went into Hampton, TN was no exception - but we needed more food (and wanted Subway).  We had 6mi to hike before we would hit town and only had one bagel and one cup of cocoa to share, which isn't near enough food.  After we passed Laurel Falls, we turned right when we should have turned left and ended up at the shelter.  We were both so crabby (ie hungry) that Yogi was grunting at me while we were trying to figure our way back to the trail!  Once we got into town, we each ravenously devoured foot-long sandwiches, chips and drinks, which is the part that makes town worth it.  We stopped immediately once we got back to the trail and just set up camp by the river to rest our tired feet.


Goslings at Watauga Lake, TN.
We started the next day refreshed!  Lunched at Watauga Lake, which we later learned is a popular place to drop dead bodies from a Verizon worker.  Yogi had his first spill of the trail - he had decided to take a short cut between switch backs and he just rolled down the hill.  We had a beautiful sunset and a deserted shelter to ourselves.

Sunset at Vendeventer Shelter.

Tennessee/Virginia Border.
We had about two more days before we were going to cross into Virginia (our 3rd state!) - and Trail Days Festival.  On/off rain, a black bear, night hiking and beautiful scenery.  Trail Days was interesting to say the least.  We stayed in Tent City - a big sports field that they open up to camping for the festival.  It was like a music festival with drinking, dancing, camping - but only a drum circle instead of any other music.  And most of the participants were stinky hikers.  It was neat to go to as being a thru-hiker.  We got to see people that we ahead that hitched back to the festival and people behind.  I don't think I'd be too keen on returning for a future Trail Days though.

We headed out of town after another Subway run, which gave me mild food poisoning.  After a day, I felt good to go and we headed out to the Grayson Highlands.  We camped at Thomas Knob Shelter, about a half mile from the summit of Mt. Rogers (5,729 ft and the highest point in VA). 

Rhododendron Flowers.
The next day was clear and beautiful.  We started in Fur/Spruce trees that gave way to blooming Rhodadendron bushes that gave way to open, rocky balds.  We saw some wild ponies from a distance and a few moments later we walked right into a group of about 10 or so.  They only came up to about our waist and were so friendly!  They wouldn't stop licking Yogi and me due to the salt that was on my skin from sweat. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2184.2 Miles.

And we walked the whole thing...

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers, BooBoo & Yogi.
I'll post something worth reading soon.  Right now, I'm exhausted, trying to get re-adjusted back to the real world and I have well over 12,000 photos to sort through! 

Friday, June 29, 2012

1017 Miles.

We've made it to Harpers Ferry - the unofficial (because it's still another 75 miles to the actual) halfway point!  At a very quick glance, these are a couple photos I like.  Enjoy!



An owl!  Yogi saw it fly by, then he sat and posed forever!

Red Spotted Newt.

We get a lot of fog.  I miss the fog now that it's so hot!

Today!  (99 degrees and a heat index of 115! Dang!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

630 Miles.

I just wanted to do a quick check in, since we are taking a lazy day (ie sitting in an air conditioned room watching TV all day!) in Pearisburg, VA.  We are still having a wonderful time and for the most part are really healthy.  We just have stiff and swollen feet - but I guess that would be expected after walked 630 miles. 

So far we have seen 5 mice, 14 snakes, 15 deer, 5 bears, 14 lizards, 2 turtles, 1 turkey, 10 salamanders, 18 toad/frogs, 5 rabbits, 20 chipmunks, 8 squirrels (you would think that one would be higher - but they aren't as abundant in the woods as they are in the city), 16 newts and wild ponies! 

We've had 12 showers and done laundry 4 times (in 2 months - we smell bad!).  I've fallen 7 times (and the last one was a doozy - the rest were barely even worth mentioning) and Yogi has fallen 2 times (and once was because he took a short cut so he rolled down a hill).   I usually win in Paper, Rock, Scissors (7 vs. 2).

Us at Beauty Spot.  Sorry it's not a better photo but it's the quickest one I could find that included both of us!

Every day in an adventure that is exciting to get up, pack up our home and keep moving. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

200 Miles.

We've made it past the 200 mile mark and are loving every step.  We are in Gaitlinberg for the night.  We stopped to refuel with the best of intentions to head back out to the trail but we've been hearing threats of 10 inches of snow and we may get a new water pump tomorrow (ours is having issues).  So far we have seen a couple of snakes, deer, black bears, a lizard, turtle and wild turkey.  The Black Bears scared us (mostly because we still have the grizzly mentality) so we stood on the trail for 30 minutes before Spark (2011 thru-hiker) came up and helped us pass with ease.  We've met some great folks (hikers and wonderful trail magic angels!) and seen some great stuff.  For the most part we are feeling really good.  My boots were making my toes sting so in a moment of anger through them over the mountain side (this means I am hiking in sandels... and 10 inces of snow!).  G has been having some issues with his ankle after getting boot inserts but nothing that is too bad. I wish I could share details - but I am keeping a journal and will share all when I have time.  I wish I could write a bit more but I'm on a time limit. 
Best wishes and happy trails!  Lots of love, Yogi and BooBoo!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Faith.

Our original start date for the AT had been March 25th.  That had been our date for almost a year when my sister called me about a month ago.  Her daughter, Bailey Faith, the one who had come to visit me last summer in Yellowstone, was going to be having brain surgery the last week of March/first week of April in Memphis to help her seizures.  Well of course, we couldn't leave.

On a June day in 1952, women in the Le Bonheur Club, a sewing circle devoted to the well-being of children, gathered with community leaders to realize their dream of opening a new children's hospital.  The keys to the front door were tied to balloons and released to symbolize that the hospital would always be open to any child in need.    With the opening of the new Le Bonheur in June, 2010, the dream continues.
Graham and I discussed staying both weeks - and I wish that I could be here the entirety of their stay.  We were afraid of running into snow on Mt. Katahdin at the end of the trail and decided to play it safe and only stay for the first surgery.  My mom and brother-in-law will be down for the second surgery.  My sister's best friend will be here from the beginning until Jeff arrives.  Still, I wish I could be here to be support and positive energy for my sister and my niece.

They arrived on Sunday during the day so we got to go to the zoo.  We saved the bears for last, since they are Bailey's favorite (and it was pretty sweet to see a polar bear and panda).  I think my favorite were the sea lions - they looked so graceful flowing through the water.  (Zoos do make me sad but I'm glad Bailey enjoyed it.)  They came to a delicious dinner at Graham's mom's home before heading to the FedEx House.

They checked in bright and early on Monday morning to Le Bonheur Hospital.  It is an absolutely beautiful hospital with amazing art work to help brighten the kids.  I have been truly impressed with everyone whom we have worked with - they are all extremely friendly and stop to take the time to make sure everyone (Bailey, my sister, me or anyone else who happens to be in the room at the time) fully understands everything and has all their questions answered.

Bailey had two days of tests to prepare for today - her first surgery.  They did a question mark cut that starts above her ear and curves up over her head.  (That was a horrible description.)  They put in some electros (wrong word - it's like sensors that you've seen on medical shows that are put on the chest, just smaller and made to go inside her head) that are now sitting on her brain.  The wires are coming out of her head and are attached to a machine that will measure her seizures.  Once they get it narrowed down to the size of a pencil eraser, which will hopefully not contain anything that is super vital, then they will have her second surgery to remove that part as well as the electros. 

Today's been a bit tough and long.  Tomorrow will be as well and then the doctor is saying that the pain should start subsiding.  The second surgery shouldn't be as bad as this one.  They added something to her brain that her body doesn't necessarily want but they next one is removing that so it should be easier.

Please be sending good vibes Bailey's way and keep her in your prayers.   She is quietly snoring in front of me as I'm writing this.  I'm in awe of her strength and beauty as she goes through this. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Finishing.

When we've talked about hiking the Appalachian Trail, we really hadn't talked too much about whether or not we were going to finish.  It had never really been a question - until others started asking it.

My mom read Appalachian Trials, which suggested that we create a list of why we are hiking the trail.  I'm not going to create a list because I don't really have one.  I feel like I'm doing it because that's the next that we are doing.  There is no question in my mind that we are going to finish it, unless we fall extremely ill or break a leg or something outrageous.


I'm looking forward to long days of walking with everything I need on my back.  I can't wait to slosh through some mud and be dirty.  Oh! and stinky.  Really stinky.  We are going to be wet, frustrated and exhausted.  Some days we are going to hate the trail, ourselves and probably each other.  Those are going to be the days I'm thankful for walking with Graham (maybe not at the time, but later) - we'll motivate each other and keep ourselves as excited to keep hiking as we are to start.

Only 13 more days until we start hiking - and I can't wait!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Appalachian Trail Itinerary.

Appalachian Trail by Unknown.
 This is our basic itinerary for the next 6 months - so keep in mind that is will change at points.  I'm going to try to keep this as up to date as I can so it should be fairly accurate - if you want to send anything (or specifically some light weight food), then we would be very appreciative.

To address a package it will be:
       Name of business (or General Delivery, if it is a Post Office)
       Attn: Leslie Timmons & Graham Kennedy
       Thru-Hikers Approx. Date
       Street or PO Box #
       City, State  Zip Code


March 31 - Start hiking at Amicola Falls State Park!!!
April 5 - Blueberry Patch Hostel, 5038 Hwy 76 East, Hiawassee, GA  30546
April 16 - Nantahala Outdoor Center, 13077 Hwy 19W, Bryson City, NC  28713
April 25 - Standing Bear Farm, 4255 Green Corner Rd., Hartford, TN  37753
May 2-5 - Lindsay's Wedding
May 15 - Adventure Damascus, PO Box 1113, Damascus, VA  24236
May 21 - Exxon Convenience Store, Exit 54 Exxon, 7327 Lee Highway, Rural Retreat, VA  24396 (UPS only)
May 27 - Post Office, Catawba, VA  24070
June 10 - Crabtree Campground, 11039 Crabtree Falls Highway, Tyro, VA  22976
June 17 - Post Office, Luray, VA  22835
June 23-25 - Visit Cheryl
July 1 - Doyle Hotel, 7 North Market Street, Duncannon, PA  17020
July 9 - Edge of the Woods Outfitters, 110 Main St, Delaware Water Gap, PA  18327         (FedEx/UPS only)
July 17-19 - Visit Jill
July 28 - Williamstown Motel, 295 Main St, Williamstown, MA  01267
August 9 - Hikers Welcome Hostel, PO Box 25, Glencliff, NH  03238
August 19 - White Mtn. Lodge & Hostel, 592 State Route 2, Shelbourne, NH  03581
August 27 - Post Office, Rangeley, ME  04970
September 11 - Shaw's Lodging, PO Box 72, Monson, ME  04464
September 19 - Mt. Katahdin!!!

I'm excited for getting out onto the trail and start walking - 15 more days!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Brief Update.

We are in Memphis now - getting ready for the AT.  Yesterday, we finished our shopping and starting packing our boxes.  We felt like we had a lot of food (and we do) but we ran out of some stuff before we thought we would...

Food for AT.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lugers.

Luge Day is always an exciting day.  Who wouldn't love hopping in a sled and flying down a track as fast as you can?  I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked of actual luge participants - but I did get a few portraits that I really enjoy.

Gregor.
Berlynn.

Zach.
Matt.
Zac.
Gunga Ga Lunga!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gunga Ga Lunga!!!


It's official - the 2012 Snow Lodge Winter Olympic games have begun.  The Snow Gods must have been happy with us since it dumped snow all day long.  A parade and speech from the wonderful Bethanie began the winter games.

Bethanie shared the story of young Prince Ràiner, whom was born to the Queen.  There were others that wanted Prince Ràiner so they kidnapped him and took him way over the mountains.  The fearless Birkenbeaners skied out into those mountains and brought young Prince Ràiner back to the Queen.  All Hail Queen Rachel!


The first event is the Rainer cup, a relay race on skis.  We pass along a backpack with a six-pack of soda, which is conveniently the same size that young Prince Ràiner was when he was kidnapped those many years ago.  We lost horribly!  It all started when Graham took off on the first leg and his ski boots popped out of his bindings.  As he struggled to put his boots back in the clip, the strap of the backpack came undone.  Eventually, he did get going but after an obviously slower start than the rest of the racers.  By the time it was my turn (the third leg), I had enough time to take a quick bathroom break between the first switch off and my turn to switch off.  We ended up in last place.

Next was tug-o-war (on skis, of course).  No metal edged skis - safety first.  Tug-o-war is about a lot of drunken trash talking, falling and trying to keep pulling.  Team Rainer always wins.


I'm glad the Olympics are here - it's a nice break from the monotony of the end of the season.  People seem to be excited this year and good participation.  I hope it keeps up until the closing ceremonies - Yellowstone's Birthday, March 1.   Gunga Ga Lunga!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Upper Falls. Spring 2011.
We have 20 days left before we leave Yellowstone forever.  Well not quite forever because that would be unnecessarily dramatic, I'm sure we'll be back sooner than later.  It is definitely strange to think that we aren't coming back this summer.  It's been my home for the last two years - and Graham's a summer longer. 

East View at Inspiration Point.  Summer 2010.
I went on an amazing Canyon Ski tour the other day and was feeling a bit teary eyed when we went out to Inspiration Point.  When you get to the parking area, there are some steps to the right, which I think I've only been done once or twice and there is a view out to the left that takes your eyes down the river meandering through the Canyon for what seems like miles.  It's a view that most people hurry past in the summer to get down the stairs and it's a view in the winter that few get to experience.  I think it's my favorite view.

East View at Inspiration Point. Winter 2012.
I used to love going out to the rim after work to get away from the hustle and bustle of the developed areas.  I would bring my notebook and write about whatever had been on my mind.  As the words escaped through my pen so would the tension and stress be blown away by the warm summer breeze. 

Near the end of my first season, Luke and I had gone for a hike along the North Rim as a farewell and had accidentally gotten off the trail near Crystal Falls.  We followed what must have been an old path that was fine on the side we were on, but once we crossed the stream it had been overgrown.  We scrambled up the hill and found an old building.  I couldn't tell you what it was because Luke was so afraid a Ranger was going to come popping out from behind a tree and give us a fine for being off trail.  We were about 60 seconds away from the Brink of the Upper Falls parking lot but I can still see Luke running off out of fear.

Upper Falls at Night.  Summer 2010.
The next chapter of my life is going to be amazing - hiking from Georgia to Maine with my best friend.  It's certainly getting sad that this chapter will soon be wrapping up.  I'm sure to have a few more nostalgic posts before the end is over - the Canyon has been my backyard, I figured it was the best place to start.


North Rim.  Summer 2010.
P.S. The 2012 Snow Lodge Winter Olympics begin next week!  Gunga Ga Lunga!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Photo Contest.

It's that time of year again - photo contest time.  Tomorrow is the deadline and I got my photos in the mail yesterday - whew!  Here are the three competitors:

Wildlife:

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Scenic:

Night.

People:

Waiting with a Friend.

Wish me luck! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lost & Found.

It was BEAUTIFUL today!  Clear blue skies, warm temperatures (around 35 F), and I worked all day.  So I went ice-skating during my "cigarette" break and had a ball!


A ("fictional") story:

Rebecca Daisy is a wonderfully kind 76-year-old marathon athlete and cross-country competitive skier from a small town tucked away in the rolling high plains with grand vistas of the Rocky Mountains.  She recently went on vacation – skiing out at the Little Canyon of the Purplerock and along Autumn Creek.  During the last day of her visit, she began to feel under the weather.  It was most likely a cold that caused her to feel a bit more hazy than normal.

After returning home from her vacation, she took a few days to unpack while she waiting for her sore throat and scratchy voice to evaporate.  When she finally went through her bag, she was missing a jacket.  Not just any jacket but one that she had received a few years ago for being the oldest and one of the most active members of her ski club.  She was wearing it when she won the big ski race in Wisconsin last winter.

She called the Front Desk say she had forgotten her jacket hanging in her closet of her cabin.  When she had returned from her Autumn Creek ski, she knows she remembers hanging up the coat she wore (not the one she left but a different one since it had been a fairly warm day and she needed something lighter) next to it.  She just must have missed it since she wasn’t feeling well. 

After clearing her driveway of any accumulated snow, she called back to learn that housekeeping couldn’t find it. Well if the housekeeping staff couldn’t find this very sentimental jacket, then she was would hire the best detective in the land! 

After stewing in her feelings over the lost jacket, she called again before her moonlight ski to see if any new developments had happened.  Bad news – no jacket.  By now, she’s not sure if a detective will be enough, maybe she will need a lawyer as well.

As she was heading out for her ski, she looked in her closet to get her jacket and she found the missing jacket from the ski club!  So she called 411, which connected her to payphone outside the hotel where a random smoker happened to answer.  The confused recipient stopped by the front desk to inform the staff to call of their search – the ski had been lovely and the jacket had been found!

During my last two days at work, we have been accused of stealing twice.  Ms. Daisy (whose name has been changed to protect the innocent) was really a very nice lady (truly - there is no sarcasm in the sentence. I would love to sit down and have a cup of tea with her.).    However, the day before, a totally different lady came down and said that she had left her prescription sunglasses with a pink frame on her desk.  They must have disappeared after housekeeping had been in her room because they aren’t anywhere to be found.  We went looking - lost & found, the lobby, a quick glance in her room (where my boss was attacked by a scarf and he freaked like a little girl).  She asked us to file a police report, which we did, and place a letter of suspension in whomever had cleaned her room's file.  That evening, we discovered she was looking for regular glasses, which we had in our lost & found and promptly returned to her.

Please keep my last two days in mind next time you misplace an item.  The gal behind the front desk will appreciate it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter Wonderland.

Lone Star Rainbow.
Some days I feel really frustrated about my self-portrait project.  Most days I feel inspired.

I was feeling very low about taking pictures, in general.  I think this has more to do with the snow (read: icy) conditions that we were having this winter.  Until our big storm that has been lasting dumping snow on us over the last week, we've only had snow three days and we've been here for over a month now.  The days get above freezing, which means things start to melt.  The nights get well below freezing (-4 degrees F tonight), which means things freeze really hard.  This combination means that I don't feel inspired to leave my home.

However, because I've committed to getting out and take at least one picture a day that I have my camera with me almost always now.  If I'm going to go through the trouble of lugging it around, then I may as well use it - and I've been using it a lot out in the Upper Geyser Basin (ie the one right outside the Lodge).  In fact, I've been taking so many pictures that it's hard for me to stay caught up with organizing and any adjustments that I do (which is minimal on my landscape pictures).

The storm that we just had completely transformed the landscape.  We went out for a ski along Spring Creek and the up and around on the Howard-Eaton - it was calmly (i.e. no wind!) snowing the whole time creating a trail of wonderful powder that was so much fun to ski. 

Here are some of my favorites - I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Thermal Run Off along the Firehole River.
Grotto Geyser Erupting.
Blowing Snow and Shadows.
Lone Star Major Eruption.
Thermal Run Off on a Cold Morning.
Heart Spring.
Doublet Pool.
First Attempt at Night Photography - Castle Geyser
Old Faithful Eruption at Dawn.
Twigs in a Snowy Crack.
Of course, that isn't all.  Those are just my current favorites; however, if I were to remake this post in a year it would probably be a different handful that we posted.  I feel like my landscapes are getting calmer - maybe it's just the winter.