Category: Trans America Trail

7/23 day 66 – Fini

7/23 day 66 – Fini

The end. Yorktown VA.

 

Going to take a few naps and finish up all the missing entries in the next day or two. Just wanted y’all to know that I finished.

7/12 and 7/13 days 56/57 – spoke repair and fire stations

7/12 and 7/13 days 56/57 – spoke repair and fire stations

7/12 – 7/13 day 56-57

Marion Ky to Sebree Ky

Sebree to Ford’s Falls

42 miles

55 miles

Double down post!

A pair of short days! Mostly because everyone wanted to see the awesome church in Sebree. We all had heard a lot about it so why not stop and see what all the fuss was?

I didn’t get off my couch until almost 8am. Good long sleep. Elijah, who had also spent the night at the church was out super early. I didn’t leave with Jessica until almost 9am. But it was relatively flat and forgiving. We made it to town by noon. And were greeted with a beautiful place.

The downstairs of the church was converted into a youth ministry area. Big couches and a huge entertainment center with even a karaoke machine were in one side. A full kitchen on another. The freezer was stocked with ice pops and sodas. A cyclists room had a big wall map and gear boxes for share and advice. There were cots to sleep on and the air-conditioning was ice cold. Perfect.

I watched Netflix and napped most of the day, knowing that the next week would be rough. Eastern Kentucky has been said to be pretty bad. So a short day to mentally prepare wasn’t the worst thing.

Broke a front spoke today, the second one now. There’s a bike shop a little farther north in Ownesboro that I’m going to stop at tomorrow. No problem.

7/13

Left paradise after a rock hard sleep – it’s amazing what a pitch black room will do for you. I left the TransAm and headed north to Ownesboro where I found the bike shop in town. Quick and easy front spoke replacement and a wheel true. The shop told me to try the BBQ around the corner, which was simply amazing. Like mouth watering good. Then it was back to the TransAm.

I hadn’t planned on a super big day because of the bike shop detour so I made it in and found the fire station I’d be sleeping at. There were cots and while there was no AC I had a giant fan blowing on me. I promptly took a nap.

I don’t think I can stress just how tired you get doing this whole thing. At the end of the day sometimes I feel my eyelids getting heavier as I ride. I’ve nodded off once while still pedaling. The sheer physical toll this takes means you always want food and sleep. With the heat not abating until sometimes 10 or 11pm it’s hard to always get to sleep early. So when you do have the opportunity to sleep extra it’s well received.

Coked a big dinner of pasta and potatoes and fell asleep again, in anticipation of a big day tomorrow. Jessica and Elijah are talking about a hundred miles day to Springfield – I’m not sure how I feel about that but I know I’ll be going at least 75.

 

7/11 Day 55 – Water ferry to Ky!

7/11 Day 55 – Water ferry to Ky!

Day 55 7/11

Goreville IL to Marion Ky

71 miles

It’s a little amusing to me that in 48 hours I was in 3 different states by bicycle. Especially when I think about how long it took me to get out of Oregon.

As soon I walked outside I could already feel the sun. There’s this moment where the first rays really hit you that lets you know just how hot it’s gonna get. The difference between a gentle sun caress and a burning flame licking your fingers. This was a little scorching this morning.

About 15 miles in there was an unexpected cool off moment. An old railroad tunnel was right alongside the road, so we pulled over to partake in the cool, damp darkness. It was a surprisingly long tunnel, well over 150 meters. Standing in the middle of it you could hear the water dripping and the air temp was a good 20 degrees cooler at least.

Stopping for lunch at a little gas station I went inside with the intent of getting something decent to eat. I was saddened because I found bare shelves and nothing more really than soda. I snagged the last can of chef boyardee and had a cold spaghettio lunch with chips and a slushie. Don’t judge my lunches.

Right before I went in though I remarked at just how wet and sweaty I was. I tried my hand at making a sweat Angel. It didn’t quite go the way I wanted it to.

The big objective for the day was catching the ferry and making it into Kentucky. In the last few miles into town we pulled over to marvel at the yard someone had constructed available for cyclists. Water, shade trees and a table and bike racks! As we were getting water the neighbors big German Shepherd came over to get pet. He leaned into you as you pet him and he almost knocked me over completely.

Made it down to the river and grabbed the ferry. It was an interesting experience crossing the water. Moving without doing any work is so odd at this point that I noticed my legs were bouncing a little bit as if they were trying to pedal the boat along. And then landfall and Kentucky!

We crawled in to town and hit the local church for a stay, we ended up in the upstairs youth ministry room. The full kitchen was calling my name so I went to the store and got on sale steak and a bag of salad. Jessica got pasta and garlic bread. I cooked food and ate and noticed the oven was producing smoke – the oven had never been turned off. Whoops. It would have been a little embarrassing to have the fjre department show up!

Kentucky is the 9th of 10 states and I’m thrilled to be in it!

7/17 Day 61 – The Ghosts of Damscus

7/17 Day 61 – The Ghosts of Damscus

7/17 day 61

Breaks interstate parks to Damascus VA

77 miles

*Note* – I know I have missed about a week’s worth of entries, I’ll be updating them hopefully in the next 24 hours, including my entry to VA, the last state. In the meantime this one was more important to me than those.

I’m sitting in The Place in Damascus, VA. Appalachian Trail town USA. The sign on the door said “closed for group” but I came in anyway. It’s empty of people. Well. Real people at least.

I’m here with ghosts. The ghosts of my memories of this place. Of a hike 5 years ago.

There’s the madness of packing going on. The day after Trail Days and we spent a night recovering. It’s now Monday morning and we’re trying to get a move on. The group is going to slack pack the miles they missed into town. I’m going to try and climb the 10 miles out of town. We’ll all see each other a little farther down the line.

Thunder and Burgundy are making jokes and funny faces at each other. They are like a pair of old shoes, well matched and worn together. They’re married now, they were together before the trail started – this is Thunder’s second hike.

Saga and Delorean are sharing a happy special look. The unsure kind of where things will go, but thrilled to have them happening. They were eyeing each other when I met them. I’m glad they were happy then. Everyone should be happy. They are joking back and forth with everyone but keep sneaking furtive glances at each other.

Pee Wee Germans stomped back in, the angry/funny grin that only he was capable of. He found the brick I had stashed in his pack before he even left. I shouldn’t have tried when it was already stripped down for the slack pack. Next time I’ll get him. Talker of course thinks this is hilarious and his mouth is open in a giant grin, laughter howling out. Who knew someone so young could do something like this on their own. He never told us he was only 17 until much later, but he has the poise and maturity of someone twice his age. But he’s always quick with a joke. Keen too – he didn’t miss much.

Skittles is torn on taking his rain jacket or or not. He has been having fun, but he seems tired. More than just the long weekend of partying tired. He gives up and leaves it at the hostel.

Rambo has been sulking. Her friend got arrested and charged during Trail Days. She hasn’t been too into things since. It wasn’t an easy thing for her. It’s never an easy thing for anyone to see someone they care for like that.

Gnar is napping. Well sorta. He’s sitting upright and staring into nothing. He’s amusing himself with his mind.

And I’m there. Watching. Joking. Packing. I feel kinda hungover still from the weekend. The whiskey last night didn’t help. I’m going to climb out of town and gate every second of it. At the top of the pass I’ll puke, mostly water but also a beer I drank out of the river trail magic stash. Probably shouldn’t have done that – my blood was still probably more alcohol than water at that point.

I’ll summit Katahdin with 3 of these people. 2 of them will go home. 4 others will summit 2 weeks before the rest of us. We go our separate ways, sometimes in alone and sometimes together. But we have these moments.

This is what comes back to me as I sit down on the bare bunks in The Place. Whispers if the conversations in those moments, flickers of the world 5 years ago. I couldn’t imagine the things ahead, for myself or for the others. I still can’t believe some of the things that happened.

I came into Damascus and all I wanted was one thing – to see the sign that welcomes northbound Thru-hikers as they enter town. To see that white blaze upon it. It’s a special thing. It marks the footpath from Georgia to Maine and back again. It leads weary footsore hikers to a place in my heart. It conjures up ghosts in daylight for me and dreams so real I can smell them at night.

Welcome home to Damascus. Appalachian Trail town.

7/9-7/10 Day53/54 – another Missouri zero and a big day

7/9-7/10 Day53/54 – another Missouri zero and a big day

Day 53/54 7/9-10

Zero and Farmington MO to Goreville IL

111 miles

I have zeroed more in Missouri than in any other state. Actually I think I’ve zeroed more in Missouri than all my other states combined.

Huh

Missouri is kinda…. Bleh. I haven’t really enjoyed my time in it so far. And when I got up this morning I procrastinated leaving until around 11am. I wasn’t planning on going far, just 40 miles or so. But when I got out the door at 11 it was already incredibly hot.

I know that the temperature signs they have in front of banks and what not are always higher than reality because they are in the sun…. But seeing even the thought of 108 degrees was enough to send me back inside for the day. I napped and ate and watched a movie. And told myself I’d get moving super early the next day to avoid the heat. And do a big day.

7/10 was that big day. I left Farmington around 630am, and pedaled hard and we’ll to get into my first pit stop in Chester. 40 miles done in a little under 3 hours. I felt great. Even greater because I was now in Illinois! And not just any place in Illinois – but the hometown of Popeye! Popeye was everywhere, and the statue that greeted me as I crossed the long bridge over the Mississippi was a classic. It’s always nice entering a new state because it brings new things. In this case it brought laughter.

The day was heating up though so I had to get cruising. Scotty’s Ride came in as I was getting through town and we both had decided to take the Mississippi levee alternate route. Riding next to the river and through the levee system was awesome and flat. Every once in awhile you’d pass through one of the levees, big earthen berms with sliding steel gates to keep the river back in case of the worst. It was a little humbling to know that they were regularly needed.

I stopped in Murphysboro for lunch at a KFC/Taco Bell combo. They always are a little weird, but it hit the spot. It was getting on towards 3pm when I left, with another 40 to go through the Southern Illinois Carbondale campus and a nature preserve. No problem right? Wrong. Illinois doesn’t have the nice “route 76” bicycle signs and I got careless. Missed a turn and then another one and had to backtrack a mile. The campus was also full of students (What’s a “saluki” anyway?) who didn’t always pay attention. Getting out of campus to the nature preserve wasn’t better. There were few to no street signs and the turns I had to make weren’t marked. I ended up 3 miles off course.

I was thankful when I pulled into my destination town and found the Methodist Church I was staying at. There was already another cyclist there, Jessica, who had hiked the PCT last year. I snagged a pizza, ate and promptly passed out on a comfortable couch. The day had been far longer than i wanted, but I was proud of this century.