AT Happiness: The Shenandoah

AT Happiness: The Shenandoah

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

After my trail diversion to visit Washington, DC I returned to the trail at Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, VA. This is the southern entrance point to the Shenandoah National Park (SNP).

I had heard a few things from other hikers about the SNP, you can carry very little food, it’s flat and there are a lot of bears.

Modeling the bear pole

Modeling the bear pole

Coming in on the southern end of the park I had my doubts about the food issue. It wasn’t til a few days in before we started regularly passing through the camp stores, waysides and lodges in the park.  In fact the first camp store we came to was closed, luckily the wayside was open.

It was great to be able to get a couple of hot dogs, fries, 2 cokes and a milkshake only a couple of miles off the trail. As well as to grab a Gatorade and sandwich fixings for dinner.

We were able to do this nearly every day through the north end of the park. It provided a nice change of pace from the normal snacks and camp food we carry.

Nothing on the Appalachian Trail is easy or flat, at least not so far. Without question though some parts are flatter and easier by comparison. The SNP falls into this description.  There were climbs and descents but nowhere near the level that we’d previously experienced.  Also the trails in the SNP were very well marked and maintained.

Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!! Ok we didn’t encounter any lions or tigers. However in camp each night the conversation wasn’t did anyone see a bear, it was, how many, how big and how close.

Web photo

Web photo

I saw my first AT bear in the SNP and heard some cubs in the brush followed by a momma bear grunting and barking at me from an uncomfortably close distance.  I would argue that any bear you can hear but not see is too damn close. I hustled along the trail til she stopped a minite later.

The SNP was pretty, we had some great views and met a lot of section hikers. New faces are always fun in camp.

Rev Kane with fellow hiker and vet Mau.

Rev Kane with fellow hiker and vet Mau.

Rev  with Hercules aka Vortex

Rev with Hercules aka Vortex

Two beautiful section hikers I met in the SNP

Two beautiful section hikers I met in the SNP

I would recommend the SNP section to anyone wanting a taste of thru-hiking life on the AT. I’d also recommend doing it pre-Memorial Day or post Labor Day when the weather is cooler.

All in all the SNP provided me with many happy days my friends, and hey, it’s summer, fondo some hiking! It will make you happier. – Rev Kane

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AT Happiness: For Our Veterans

AT Happiness: For Our Veterans

Rev Kane with fellow hiker and vet Mao

Rev Kane with fellow hiker and vet Mao

One of the things I’ve noticed on the trail is the large number of veterans who are thru-hiking.  The other night I met Mao and over the next couple of days we spent some time talking.

He’s an exceptional young man, one who served his country in war but is now committed to keeping kindness, peace and compassion on his heart.  He’s one of my favorite people I’ve met out here on the trail.

He also told me about a charity he’s supporting through his hike in honor of a lost comrade. The site for the group is http://karellahikeat.org/donate-now/

You can donate directly and in honor of a fallen soldier or donate by buying a t-shirt at the following link:

http://purpletunatees.com/hike_for_higher_ground

Given this is memorial day I hope you will consider donating. We have a tendency to think of this holiday as the beginning of summer but it is so much more.

I have had the opportunity to talk with a number of veterans who have lost comrades both in action and through suicide once they have returned home. Their stories were powerful and touching. Our government, in our names, has sent a generation of men and women to war. Now we need to make sure we help take care of these veterans who were willing to lay down their lives for us.

Many who have returned are injured physically and/or psychologically. Please take this chance to help either by donating or by at least sharing this post.

Thank you, and have a happy Memorial Day my friends – Rev Kane

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A Whole Bunch of Happiness Signs & Sayings

A Whole Bunch of Happiness Signs & Sayings

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AT Happiness: Status Update

AT Happiness: Status Update

Well lots has been happening, a quick trip to Washington DC and then a 300 mile bump up to the Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

The park is beautiful and the trails are great. I started with a 3 day sinus headache and grouchy knees, both have improved.

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Meeting lots of new hikers like our new friend Hotfoot.

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I’ve also taken up a new hobby, modeling things on the AT. Maybe I’ll change my trail name to Vanna.

Modeling the bear pole

Modeling the bear pole

Modeling at the Shenandoah National Park AT exhibit

Modeling at the Shenandoah National Park AT exhibit

We are seeing a lot of deer and bears in the park, haven’t been able to get a good bear photo yet.

We’re at mile 924 and with the bump up I’m closing in on my 600th mile walked since March 7th. Not bad for an old boy, still having happy days my friends. – Rev Kane

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AT Happiness: The Best So Far

AT Happiness: The Best So Far

So as I head back out onto the trail tomorrow I want to address some of my favorite things so far.

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The first thing to address is the people, they have definitely been the highlight. Most of the hikers I have met have been fantastic. My favorite hiking group though has been the AARP gang.  Awesome, Backtrack and Kingfisher along with our youngsters and later adittions including Shaggy Hobo, Second Star, Jedi and Ice Cream.

Lovely Tie at Laughing Heart Hostel

Lovely Tie at Laughing Heart Hostel

Laughing Heart Hostel in Hot Springs was great, Tie who is the manager is fantastic. One of the other things I loved in Hot Springs was the food, especially the wings at the Tavern.

I also really loved my rooms at the Old Mill and the Mountain Harbour B&B, both at higher rates than typical hikers budget.

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My favorite mountain was Mt. Unaka the top of that climb landed us smack dab into middle earth.
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Best trail magic was definitely the trail magic camp near Hurricane Shelter in VA. A hot grilled cheese with bacon sandwich and a coke, absolute heaven.

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Best trail name and one I considered using, pictured with me, Yukon Cornelius.

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The best breakfast by far on the trail or damn near anyonewhere else. The breakfast at Mountain Harbour B&B.  Mary pictured above runs the place with her family.

A few other things to mention:

Best pizza – BennyDeluca’s in Charlottesville, VA.

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Best trail meals – the meals our group made at Standing Bear and Laughing Heart.

Best shelter – Overmountain Shelter which was amazing.

Overmountain Shelter

Overmountain Shelter

Best guide – The AT Guide by David “AWOL” Miller

Best Outfitters – Outdoor 76 in Franklin and Mt. Rogers in Damascus.

Rev Kane

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AT Happiness: Looking Back

AT Happiness: Looking Back

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A couple of weeks ago I was asked by someone what was the most profound thing I have learned on the trail? My reply was that the most profound thought was not born on the trail, but was really driven home to me climbing mountains in Georgia.

The idea is a simple one, we don’t spend enough time looking behind us.

I know, I know, you have been told a hundred times to not look back, the past is the past.  However that is not the lesson in its entirety. What you should take from that advice is to not dwell on the past and keep moving forward.

While moving forward we often get fixated on our goals. When climbing a mountain you can get completely locked in on the summit.  Then, when you get a false summit it can truly crush your spirit.

What you need to do occasionally is to stop, breathe and look back down the hill. Instead of fixating on what you still have to accomplish, take a moment to realize what you have already done. Congratulate yourself and take strength from the realization that given how much you’ve already climbed, what you have left is absolutely doable.

You can do it my friends, you can climb that mountain, you can achieve your goals. Of course you can, look at how far you’ve climbed already and have a happy day my friends.  – Rev Kane

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AT Happiness: Why I Respect Section Hikers

AT Happiness: Why I Respect Section Hikers

Rev Kane on Rocky Top

Rev Kane on Rocky Top

Recently I read a piece by a section hiker about why he loves and hates thru-hikers.  It was an interesting piece that came down to he admires thru-hikers for being able to live out his dream, but dislikes us for looking down on him for being a section hiker.

I think that perception is incorrect, sure, there are likely some young thru-hikers who hold that opinion.  Some of the hikier-than-thou hikers look down on everyone not ripping 20 mile plus days and carrying less than 25 pounds in their packs.

The majority of thru-hikers I’ve spoken to share my absolute respect for section hikers for a couple of reasons.

First, the absolute commitment they display. Sure thru-hiking means total life disruption for 6 or 7 months. But completing 2200 miles of trail 60 or 100 miles a year is a 20 plus year commitment.

Secondly, I respect their toughness, it takes some time on the trail to get your trail legs.  However, once you get to that point you are just dealing with wear and tear on your body. For section hikers, once you get to feeling good on the trail it’s time to go home. Then rinse and repeat 20 plus times.

So my hat off to the section hikers out there and much respect.  Oh and by the way feel free to hand off that extra food you’re carrying near the end of your hike.  :) – Rev Kane

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AT Happiness: Ponies!!! The Grayson Highlands

AT Happiness:  Ponies!!! The Grayson Highlands

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Most Appalachian Trail hikers love the Grayson Highlands.  It’s easy to figure out why. There are great views and of course there are ponies. However, like with most parts of the trail, how you view a place is really dependent on the conditions.

My day through the highlands started out in snow and fog.

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The trail itself is absolutely terrible as it is beat up and very rocky. Given I was hiking with a sore knee I’d been rehabbing it was not a great hike.  The clouds started to break later that afternoon and I did get a couple of views off of the highlands and it is a beautiful area. So given my views were so bad I’m including some pics below from my friend Second Star.

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Happy News – March 4, 2015

Happy News – March 4, 2015

happy news, happiness

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition. ~ Martha Washington

Dog tracks down owner 20 blocks away in the hospital

Five Effects of Kindness on Health

Car Wash Secret to Success? 35 Autistic Employees.

Couple Cancels Wedding to Give Back to Others

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AT Happiness: On the Trail Again

AT Happiness: On the Trail Again

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So it’s been almost a week since I’ve been on the trail.  My 21 mile slack pack went well on my knees, but ended in a skin rash on my legs.  This has happened on every day I’ve hiked over 20 miles.

The likely cause is either heat rash or the supposed hypoallergenic merino wool is irritating my legs once my liner socks get wet.

The rash has cleared up and I’ve bought a couple of pairs of cool max socks.  So on my next 20 mile day if it happens again then it’s definitely heat rash and I’ll need to hike in my liner socks or stop during the day and powder my feet and let my socks dry out.

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So physically I’m doing well, my knees are ok, not great but functional. I’ll do 40 miles over the next three days. Then take a few days off to visit DC and start moving north again at the southern end of the Shenandoah National Park.

Since Springer Mountain in early March I’ve walked about 430 miles and skipped ahead about 60 miles of the trail to bring me to mile 490.  It’s been wonderful, hard, and I’ve met some amazing people. I look forward to being back on the trail and many more happy days my friends.  – Rev Kane

 

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