Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Prettiest Place on the Trail

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Prettiest Place on the Trail

pan 1 ma fixLiving is not enoughone must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower     ~ Hans Christian Anderson

This post is likely to start a bit of a lively debate as there are many amazing places along the Appalachian Trail (AT).  Also the time of day, the season and the weather on a given day have a lot to say about how a particular place looks.  A disclaimer as well, as of this writing I’ve only seen about a third of the trail (approx. 750 miles) so I’ve got a lot more to see to make any kind of definite statement here.  I’m also happy to take your suggestions and pictures on this subject, as always, love to hear from you all.

The view above is just a random hillside in southern Massachusetts near Mt. Everett.  Along the trail from Georgia to Vermont we got many big views, these include Blood Mountain in GA, Clingman’s Dome on the clearest day I’ve ever seen in the smokies, Mt. Albert, Rocky Top, Mcafee’s Knob, Mary’s Rock, Jug End and too many others to name.  This list of course misses all of the little unnamed spots we hit at the right time on the right time in the right weather that just stun us in the moment.

Rev Kane on Rocky Top

Rev Kane on Rocky Top

I will say that one of those perfect moment spots for me was Mt. Unaka.  It was a special morning, we’d screamed challenges at the hill the night before at the end of a long day.  The climb was steep and hard but the payoff was a summit reminiscent of Middle Earth.  Making the summit and finding this magical place I just sat down and let it embrace me, one of the truly special moments for me on the trail.

The summit of Mt. Unaka

The summit of Mt. Unaka

There have been amazing sunsets and sunrises while on the trail and the best one I didn’t even try to photograph.  I woke up in my hammock one morning and thought the shelter nearby was on fire.  When my sleep filled eyes adjusted I realized that it was the sky, not the shelter on fire.  The sky was burning, pink and orange more brightly than anything I’ve ever seen.  It was a spectacular show of color that I almost couldn’t believe was real.  I thought about going for my camera that was packed up under the hammock and then I gave in to the reality that I didn’t want to miss a second of the amazing show being put on by nature so I just laid in the hammock and marveled at the show.  Below is a horribly poor substitute for some of the sunrises I have seen on the trail.

Dawn at 5000 feet

Dawn at 5000 feet

You get a lot of trail talk about amazing places you’re about to come upon.  One of the most talked about is Max Patch, a huge bald with three-hundred and sixty degree views.  Personally I didn’t find Max Patch all of that exciting and even less so once we missed the first blaze on the base of it and got lost for twenty minutes.

However once I got near the MA/CT border I started hearing about Sages Ravine.  Partially because it was brutally hot and humid and you could get in the water there.  In this case the spot matched up to it’s billing.  The Ravine is another magical spot, deep in shade on a hot summer day, a small river with short little waterfalls running into cold pools where you could sit down in the water and cool off, fabulous.

sages ravine 2 fix sages ravine 1 fixI failed to photograph my favorite spot as I went through, a little fall splits around a natural rock bench so that you can sit there with water spraying you on either side with your feet in the river.  Sages Ravine will be forever burned into my brain and one of my best AT location memories.

I’m sure I have some more amazing places to see as I head into my next 400 mile leg through MD, NJ, PA and NY.  Below are just some random photos of pretty places I’ve encountered along the trail, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Beaver Pond on the trail

Beaver Pond on the trail

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OTHER PIECES YOU MIGHT ENJOY

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Changing Plans

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Trail Community

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Do You Love It?

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Happy News – July 26, 2015

Happy News – July 26, 2015

happiness news

I caught the happiness virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
~ Hafiz of Persia

Three new unpublished manuscripts by Dr. Seuss found!  New books to follow.

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15 Year Old’s Brilliant Invention Will Alzheimer’s Patients from Getting Lost

1

Colt’s Players Treat Veteran’s Charity Founder to Home Makeover

1

Creating Showers on Wheels for Homeless People

1

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Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Changing Plans

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Changing Plans

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One of the only certainties on the trail is that things will change.  My plans have changed so many times since I started this adventure a little over four months ago.

Rev Kane on his arrival at Amicalola Falls State Park

Rev Kane on his arrival at Amicalola Falls State Park

The biggest changes have come about because of injury.  I started the trail with less than stellar knees, particularly my right knee. I strained it once early pushing too much and had to double zero but was doing ok.

Then I fell and twisted my knee on the humps just past Overmountain Shelter. This resulted in a week off trail in Damascus, VA but my knee although weaker was functional and so I moved up the trail north to Marion, VA.

After a break in DC I jumped up to do the Shenandoah National Park, skipping 300 miles in an attempt to preserve my knees so I could hike into the Northeast where I grew up.  As I came through the Roller Coaster in VA my left knee gave out.

pond 8 fix

So I left the trail to rehab my knees taking two full weeks off. I then did a one week test hike from Bennington, VT down to Lee, MA.  The week went well with some new heavy knee braces in place and an old friend as a hiking partner.

Pausing in front of a pretty stream on our last day!

Pausing in front of a pretty stream on our last day!

I then rested another week before doing some slack packing through MA. During that week one of my knee braces started to cut into my knee on long climbs. This would continue to occur on both knees once I got back on the trail full time.  Add to that a big drop off in fitness from time off the trail, and high heat and humidity that added heat rashes and chaffing into the mix and enough bugs to inspire me to put on my bug netting for the first time, ever!

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All of this culminated in a particularly miserable day going south over Mt. Everett. That day brought the realization that I would not be able to complete a thru-hike.

I’m not done with the AT this year. I’ve continued hiking south which has let me run into a lot of my former hiking partners. I’ll take a break for a bit then move leisurely south til I get to Harpers Ferry.  All total this should leave me with 1200 miles completed, not bad.

I’ll also do a few miles in NH and ME, possibly Katahdin, so that I’ll have hiked some miles in every state on the trail.

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More adventure will follow including a trip to photograph Polar Bears in Canada in October.

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Hopefully a book about all of this as well. I’m happy and proud of what I’m accomplishing and having many happy days my friends. Thank you all for your interest and support, hope you are having happy days as well – Rev Kane

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Happiness Resources: Happiness Podcasts

Happiness Resources: Happiness Podcasts

happiness

Tonight a collection of multimedia pieces about happiness, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Happiness podcasts from Robert Puff, PhD podcasts on a range of topics related to happiness.

Spread Happy – a site with a number of happiness related videos to check out

How to be happy podcasts – a series of podcasts on life, relationships and happiness

Does having children make you happier? – a piece from NPR

What you need to be happier –  10 minute video lecture

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Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Bloody, Buggy & Fungi

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Bloody, Buggy & Fungi

View across the Berkshires

View across the Berkshires

In Massachusetts and Vermont, there had been plenty of mosquitoes, but in New Hampshire, they had reinforcements ~ Jennifer Pharr Davis

So this was my last slack pack in Massachusetts before heading back on the trail full time.  I had started at the same spot a few days ago and went south and there had been a ton of mosquitoes.  Several folks on the trail had mentioned the bug level as well.  So I dosed up with bug dope and hit the trail, and the bugs won, quickly.  So I broke down and gave into the bug madness and put on a long sleeved shirt and for the first time ever, the highly fashionable whole head bug net.

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Conveniently camouflage colored to hide you from pernicious but not so bright bugs.

The hike was nice, pretty forest, nice trails and good views as the picture above shows.  The only downside was that my right knee brace had cut my leg the hike before and my bandage job didn’t hold up on the hike.

bloody kneeThis also was the day of the fungi, given the bug swarms only one of the photos below are mine, I went to the web to find similar photos of the fungi I found as well as a couple of the ever creep me out, rock tripe lichen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Rock tripe lichen

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Rock tripe close up

toadstool 2 toadstool3 shroomI head back to the trail full time on Sunday and look forward to many more happy trail days my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: How the trail is changing

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: How the trail is changing

pond 8 fixYou need special shoes for hiking — and a bit of a special soul as well.
~ Terri Guillemets

March 7th! That was the day I started hiking the Appalachian Trail, and no, I’m not done. I’ve had some knee problems and taken a couple of trail vacations so things are going a bit more slowly than I had hoped, but I’m still at it.  I will return to the trail full time on Sunday.

As part of my rehab for my knees I’ve done some slack packing south on the trail and have even done a week-long test hike heading south.  The reason I mention the direction is because typically I’m heading north on the trail, as are the majority of hikers it seems.  Additionally, by heading south I have the opportunity to run into folks I was hiking with earlier in the season.

Reuniting in VT with hikers I met on the first day.

Reuniting in VT with hikers I met on the first day.

The trail has changed over the last couple of months.  We all know that only about 20% of the hikers who start a thru-hike complete it.  So although a couple of thousand folks start out, most of them going north, around 500 will actually complete a thru-hike. This means that in the beginning of the season there were a lot of hikers on the trail.  On my first morning the knots on my ropes were frozen and so it took a couple of hours to break camp.  While I was blowing on my knots to thaw them out, I watch as a steady stream of hikers, a minute spaced apart marched past my camp.

My first night on the trail

My first night on the trail

This meant that we had a lot of company on the trail, it was common that every time that you stopped for a snack or lunch people would catch up to you on the trail and you’d likely meet someone new.  As we moved further north, and particularly as we got into Virginia, large numbers of folks had to end their journey.  So that now when you stopped for lunch, you didn’t always meet new people, but frequently you still did.

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Rev Kane at the Virginia Border

Now that I’m hiking in the Northeast, we are down to probably 30% of the folks who started the trail, so things are really sparse.  Stopping to eat usually means peaceful time alone without interruptions or meeting anyone.  So we’ve gone from seeing our community members frequently to things being not so consistent, particularly if you step off of the trail for a few days.

Rev Kane with some of his trail family

Rev Kane with some of his trail family

I’ve really noticed this as I’ve passed thru-hikers heading south and spoken with them.  They are always looking for other thru-hikers and seem far more lonely than they ever did early on in the season.  The thing is that there still is community out there, we’re just spaced apart a bit further and heading south I see this.  So one of the reasons I’m heading south starting this week, instead of starting back north, is the opportunity to encounter more thru-hikers and particularly those I’ve known since early on.

So although some things have changed on the trail, a lot of things haven’t, life is still simple but hard on the trail, the people we are with are still awesome and 90% of us, are still happy 90% of the time.  We hope you are too my friends ~ Rev Kane

RELATED ARTICLES

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: My Favorite Posts So Far

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Changes

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Galleries – Hikers

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Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Buggy, Muggy & Happy

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Buggy, Muggy & Happy

selfie MA
Hiking is something that I really, really like to do. It’s distracting, you’re in nature, and you get a nice workout that way. I would tell everyone to hike as much as they can – you just feel so much better when you get outdoors.     ~ Odette Annable

Welcome to the lowlands of Massachusetts n the Summer. That’s right, humidity, gnats, blackflies and mosquitoes.  So as I get ready to get back on the trail full time I’ve been slack packing Massachusetts from Lee down to South Egremont where I’ll jump back on this Sunday.  Of course Summer here means warm days, high humidity and lots of bugs.  I grew up in this area so I was ready for it but it still can drive you a little bit nuts.   I’ve seen at least a couple of hikers wearing full head bug nets on the trail.

trail 1This area is beautiful with lots of little lakes, beaver ponds and swamps with their associated mud and bugs.  The forests are amazing and I know I’m biased as these are the forests I hiked and hunted in when I was younger.  Likely because of that the image I always had of hiking the AT was walking through deciduous forests with lots of pretty little streams were I could take a break and sit beside them for lunch and cool off.  That’s what this area provides.  There are hills sure, but these aren’t the brutal slopes of Georgia, or the big hills of NC/TN that we came through and not quite the monsters we will face in front of us in NH.  This is good walking ground, with decent trails and pretty vistas.

The forest always yields up its fair share of surprises and this week has been no different, yesterday I found a tree either auditioning for a role in the next Punisher film or preparing for October’s Day of The Dead celebration.

skull lichen 1

The nice thing about flowing south is I’m running into folks I started NOBO with in March.  This week I’ve bumped into Papa Lou, Salmon and Food Walker and his wife, so good to see folks from my trail community.

There are also lots of field crossings in the Northeast and this leg has been no different, another fence crossing, and more cows hiding in the shade to avoid the heat.  I felt their pain, with temps in the high 80’s and humidity readings to match I was soaked all day.  But look at my face above, even a muggy, buggy day on the trail is better than a good day in the default world.

fence 1 fence 2So go get yourself some miles my friends and have a happy day ~ Rev Kane

RELATED ARTICLES

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: The Next Generation

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Trail Community

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Quitting the Trail

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Thank YOU Ministry of Happiness Followers!!!

Thank YOU Ministry of Happiness Followers!!!

You all ROCK!!!

You all ROCK!!!

True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. ~ Antoine de Saint Exupery

So this past weekend we have now registered as many views this year, as we did all last year!  That’s because of you dear readers.  We truly appreciate the support and we hope that in some small way we are helping you have happy days my friends!

If you like what we are doing please continue to share our posts and page.

Thank you, thank you, thank you ~ Rev Kane

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Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: The Next Generation

Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: The Next Generation

Rev Kane and his nephew on the AT in MA.

Rev Kane and his nephew on the AT in MA.

We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Mankind’s greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Those of us lucky enough to be hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) are truly blessed.  We get to hike the east coast of the United States, see amazing forests and places a lot of people never see.  We benefit greatly from trail clubs and maintainers, trail angels and our fellow hikers.  I believe we have a responsibility to give back, and yes that means volunteering for trail maintenance crews, being trail angels ourselves and spreading the word about this amazing resource we posses in the US.

Getting fierce next to his first white blaze

Getting fierce next to his first white blaze

We also I think need to give back by making sure the next generation comes to appreciate this resource as well.  This means telling them stories, showing them pictures but more than anything else it means taking them out on the trail to see it for themselves.  So this past week I took the opportunity to make some lemonade out of lemons.

My nephew at the Shay's Rebellion Monument

My nephew at the Shay’s Rebellion Monument

Since I was off the trail rehabbing my knee, which included some “slack packing” (day hiking with a light pack), I took the opportunity to help my nephew grab his first white blazes.

It was fun, he did great and he kept up a pretty fast pace.  It was a short hike, but hopefully the type of experience that will get him at least a little bit hooked on chasing white blazes.  So get out and get yourselves some white blazes as well, and take a munchkin with you and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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More Inspirational Quotes about Life & Happiness

More Inspirational Quotes about Life & Happiness

2Some more quotes to help you have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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