Friday, August 12, 2016

Advice: Tips on avoiding blisters while hiking

It sometimes may seem that blisters are an integral part of any hiking experience, but it does not have to be this way. Here are some tips on how to avoid these painfully annoying feet passengers and have an overall more comfortable hiking experience.

1. Choose the right shoe fit! 
The best way to prevent hiking blisters is to choose the right pair of shoes. They should be of a correct size and fit the purpose. The right fit for hiking shoes is snug (but not tight!) around your heel area with some wiggle space in the toe box. There should be no tight or friction spots and your foot should not move inside the boot.

Spend some time walking around with the hiking shoes before buying them; find an incline or just walk up and down a flight of stairs. Try your shoes with the pair of socks you will be using and any insoles you might require.

2. Be aware of your feet shape
Know your feet and the usual problematic areas and take that into consideration, when purchasing your pair. Some people have exceptionally wide feet, some people are proud owners of a high heel bone, and some have very narrow feet. Be extra cautions with these feet features. Do not hesitate to try on males’ shoes, if you are a female, and females’ shoes, if you are a male. Females’ shoes are usually narrower, while males’ are a better fit for wider feet.

3. Choose a slightly larger size than your street shoes’
Your hiking shoes should be half to full size larger than your street shoes to accommodate any feet swelling and thicker hiking socks. It is also advisable to try your hiking shoes on in the afternoon, as this simulates the swell you would get after walking all day. Take any inserts you would be using with your hiking shoes, as this affects the fit and sizing of the shoes.

4. Get a proper pair of socks
A good pair of socks is absolutely essential for a comfortable hiking experience and is very important in helping you avoid blisters. Choose specialized hiking or other active-wear model, ideally from wool or synthetic fabric. Cotton socks get wet very fast, dry slowly and tend to lose shape easily, which might result in blisters. The socks should be of a correct size – not too loose or tight around your feet. Also, the heavier the boot, the thicker your socks should be, as this provides efficient cushioning inside the boot.

5. Break-in period
Do not take a brand new pair of boots on a long challenging trip. Hiking shoes require a break-in period for them to get softer and better fitted to your feet. The heavier, sturdier the boot, the longer time this takes. However, you should not expect the boot to change fit after some period of time, so do not purchase a pair that is too tight or does not fit right. There are enough brands and models these days for you to find the perfect match.

6. Avoid getting your feet wet
Wet feet result in blisters – that’s the sad reality. So if you can, try to avoid this by choosing waterproof hiking wear and maybe waterproof socks. However, sometimes moisture in your boots is impossible to avoid and there is nothing too terrible about it, just make sure to choose wool or synthetic socks and avoid cotton. Hiking gaiters are also good ways to keep your feet dry, by not allowing moisture enter through the top of the shoe. If you encounter a river crossing in your hike, I do recommend keeping your boots on, as they provide a stable platform. Crossing rivers barefoot is very dangerous and is not recommended.

7. Use preventative taping
A good way to prevent blisters is to reinforce the skin of problematic areas with tape. If you feel some friction or pressure points, broadly tape the area with sticky sports tape. I recommend flexible fabric sport tape and not plastic tape or band-aids. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the taping or your sock. If I’m on multi-day backcountry trips, I usually just leave the tape “glove” on my feet for the duration of the trip. Some people use duct tape, as this provides extremely slippery surface, eliminating any friction with your boot.

8. Wear liner socks
Many people choose to wear two pairs of socks – one tightly fitting liner sock and a thicker hiking sock. This gives better cushioning and decreases friction with your boot.

9. Hikers wool
A very neat technique is using the so called “hiker’s wool” that you wrap around your toes and other problematic areas. Ask for these products in your local hiking or outdoors store.
Avoiding blisters is not about spoiled comfort; these pesky feet wounds can result in some serious suffering and even failed trips and objectives. I can’t even count all the times we had to cut our trips short or were forced to take days off, as someone in our party would generate some nasty blisters. They can definitely be avoided though – all it takes is careful selection of footwear and taking a few extra precautions.

Good luck!

About the Author
I’m Eric, and I’m the Editor in Chief of True North Athletics. I’m also an avid adventurer, digital nomad and traveler. I enjoy all types of outdoor sports, a good golf tan, and spontaneous weekend trips. I currently live in Brazil where I can be found frequently hiking the rain forest around my city!

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Hiking: Updates from Storm's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike (8/1/16 thru 8/10/16) | Massachusetts and Vermont

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Storm (Moe) is now making his way north through Vermont on the Appalachian Trail. He's over 1,600 miles into his Appalachian Trail thru-hike. He started hiking the Appalachian Trail on April 6, 2016 at Springer Mountain in Georgia and is now into his fifth month of his thru hike. Here's a look back at his last several days of hiking in his own words:

August 1, 2016 - Water Snobs
Slept on at Vanessa's later than normal. I got up at 7:30 and are a little bit of all of my food. I slowly packed up but in no rush. Dragon fly who is a south bounder stayed at Vanessa's last night and informed us that after the first creek there is no water going north for many miles.

Dragon Head and I headed out at about 9am. We stopped at a Cafe for coffee and croissants and then got on trail. We had three big climbs today. Bear Mt, Mt Race and Everett Mt. 2 peaks over 2300 and one over 2600. These were the biggest climbs since Shanendoah in Virginia.

The day started out cloudy but dry. It was still humid but not oppressive. We started up Bear Mt and the climb up was not terrible. It was steep but easy footing. Coming down Bear Mt was another story. We had heard rumors that it was extremely dangerous even when dry. We were a bit worried. It wasn't the extreme dangerous we were anticipating but it was tough as all the rocks were wet which made for a slow going. There were two points of the descent that I got nervous as we had to drop down between rock ledges and with the wet rocks I was worried of slipping. We made it down safely and then descended into Sages Ravine which was simply wonderful. It was a very pretty walk with the creek flowing through the ravine. It would of been nicer if the sun was out and everything wasn't damp. We continued on and at the end of the ravine we crossed into Massachusetts.

Only 4 states left at this point and this is when dragon head and I started discussing water. We both commented that there had been many streams so far today and lots of water. Why did the south bounder say there was no water. I know it had been very dry but in the last 3 days we had received a good soaking of rain so things should be flowing. Why would we be told there was no water when today there is. We both have noticed people are stingy about their water. It tastes funny, it looks funny. I find it amazing that after 1500 miles people are still expecting Evian quality water from a stream. I mean I can understand in Georgia your initial resistance to water from a stream, creek, pond, but after this drought there are still water snobs out here. I feel info that is passed of "there is no water" is in reference to their own perception. That water is this that or the other thing so I'm not drinking it so there is no water out here. I know for myself I avoid stagnant water, water with strange colors to it, water that is coming out of a dump or chemical plant or from a superfund site. But a creek that is flowing albeit not at a marathon rate is still good water. Your hiking in the woods why are you being a water snob. We laughed at the absurdity of this. But it's happened since New Jersey people telling us there is no water yet there is plenty. Or people complaining the water tastes funny even when it comes out of a sink, pump or well. I'm just thankful for the water and I'm not going to get dehydration. We have dubbed these people water snobs.

Ok moving on we began the climb up Mt Race which had an easy ascent. The top of Mt Race had .60 miles of open rock ledges with fantastic views. It started to rain at this point which made the descent down treacherous. There were a lot of smooth rocks most of the way down which made for some slow walking. Each step had to be methodically thought out so you didn't slip. We made it down and immediately headed up Mt Everett which had a steep smooth rock ascent which made it difficult with the rain. Slow going on the up but summited with no issues to not much of a view.

We headed down and the trail was a smooth and steady descent. Thank you trail gods. We arrived at a picnic area where there was 2 coolers of ice water. We were able to fill up and move on without having to filter water. We arrived at Glen Brook Shelter at about 5:30. We decided to stay in the shelter as thunderstorms were on their way. Two south bounders arrived, well one south bounder and his brother who was out section hiking. They were both from Georgia and it was nice to exchange stories of what's happened, what's coming and what's good places to stay visit ahead. It was nice to chat while we ate. We found out from the SOBO's that they passed Hazel three miles before the shelter so we knew she made it down the rocks safely. I knew she would be fine but we both fell today and two points I was pretty nervous coming down the descent so I was thinking of her. We only did 14 miles today but the climbing was tough after not having to do it for awhile and having wet rocks. Tomorrow we are shooting for a 21 mile day.

August 2, 2016 - Salted Caramel Pie
I woke up to the sound of rain falling on the tin roof. It's mornings like this you don't want to move. I finally convinced myself to get up. The shelter was a tiny one fitting only 4 of us. DH and I and the a south bounder with his brother. The plan was to push for a big day today as we did much shorter days the two prior. We ate breakfast packed up and headed out by 7:30.

The day begin with a steady ascent down Mt Everett. It was steep and many open rock slabs that were very slippery from all the rain. It was super slow going and we caught up to Tetris who also was headed down slowly. You would reach a descent down open rock and look "ok which way has the least possibility of death." None of us got hurt and we made it down to the valley. Tetris, DH and I hiked together. We stopped at the ATC New England branch and I was a little disappointed. There was no log book to sign and we weren't even invited inside. We were able to fill up on water from the hose but it would of been nice to see their operations. In my book a missed opportunity to get thru hikers involved for after their hike.

We continued on and the trail was relatively flat at this point passing through fields and pine woods. We reached US 7 where you could hitch into Great Barrington. On the Guthook app for the AT it said there was an antique store that sold soda. We were sold and walked the .20 down the street. We relaxed ate snacks and drank our liquid gold.

The second part of the day would include the hike up East Mountain, walk through ice gulch, pass by Beartown State Forrest and Benedict Pond and finally up Mt Wilcox to the shelter. The climb up East Mt was a struggle. I'm definitely lacking something in my nutrition which is making me sluggish and weak at times. I'm gonna start taking a multivitamin when I can get some to me. I made it up East Mt and we followed the ridge line all the way to Ice Gulch Shelter. DH was ahead of me and I met back up with him at the shelter. We both ended up taking a nap at the shelter as we were beat after eating a late lunch.

We moved on and I started coordinating with a high school peer of Jeff who has been following me on Facebook as to where to meet. She wanted to bring me pie that she had and to actually get to meet me. I picked beartown mountain road as a good spot as the trail crosses it. I told her I would text her as I got closer. We descended down out of ice gulch and crossed Lake Buel Road to trail magic put on by y-wham. I think I got the organization right. A nice cold drink, bag of M+M's and some other goodies. DH and I sat and relaxed and ate. We moved on passing MA 23 and another smaller road. We climbed some more and reached beartown mt road and though it was paved it was moss covered and clearly not operational. I messaged Amanda and said new meeting point. Beartown road and Benedict Pond. After some finagling we finally met each other and had pie. We chatted and ate pie and I moved on hoping to get to the shelter before dark. I said goodbye and continued on.

The climb from the pond to the shelter wasn't too bad and I rolled in at just about dark. DH had gone ahead and had is dinner. Tetris was there as well as Old Spice, Axe and old timer. By the time I got there all the tent sites were taken. This spot had 2 shelters sleeping 6 and 12 and both were empty. The older shelter has no one in it. I would normally never do this but set my tent up in the shelter so I would not be eaten alive by the bugs. It was lights our for me by 9 with a full belly of pie.

August 3, 2016 - Upper Goose Pond Cabin
Woke up at South Wilcox Shelter in my tent. It's kind of strange to be in a tent in a shelter but it helped to keep the bugs out. I would of tented in a heart beat if there was room. DH came over to the shelter to make breakfast as I was packing up.

We got on trail at around 7:30 and the goal was to make it to Upper Goose Pond Cabin. I gave Tetris the remainder of the pie before I left and we kicked off. We had the rest of Mt Wilcox to climb over and then a steady descent. We continued on down before climbing up Cobble Hill with a vista to the valley below and the very small town of Tyringham. We crossed several foot bridges and came across fresh spring water and a cooler of sliced watermelon. We rested and had several snacks and ate with old spice, axe and old timer.

After our respite we had the big climb of the day which was baldy mountain. The trail was steep with loose pine duff and roots which made it slow going. I fell back to the end of the pack as I am still feeling sluggish and like I'm dragging. I really must be low on something and need to figure that out. Dragon head boogied on ahead and I was like the boy took speed as he zoomed off. Great energy burst!! I followed up the rear and hiked with old timer who is from Ohio and old spice and axe who are father and son. The three of them stopped to take a break and I moved on. Descending down into Goose Pond area. The land around the pound used to belong to an outing club who donated it to the AMC to keep it forever wild. The AMC built and operate a cabin by volunteers for Thru hikers to stay at free of charge. The upstairs have 16 bunks. The first floor has a common room with a big fireplace and a kitchen. There is a big front porch with rockers and a picnic table. Outback there is a space to cook, eat, do dishes, and wash up. There are places to camp as well. The cabin also has 2 docks a beach to swim and 2 canoes to take out on the lake. The trail came down to the lake and you walk most of the way around the lake to get to the cabin. It is .50 miles off trail but so worth it.

I arrived at 2:30 and dragon head was already there. I checked in with the caretaker and was able to get a top bunk. I made myself a late lunch and then took a nap. A few thru hikers were trying to figure a way out to order a pizza and asked if I wanted in. Heck yea! We ended up with 2 sheet pizzas as the pizzeria gave us a deal. 8 thru hikers ate a lot of pizza. After pizza I headed down to the dock and watched as the sun was getting low. Dragon head was sitting on the dock and I asked him if he wanted to take the canoe out. I got the key and we paddled around the lake. It was beautiful and amazing to see a lake in Massachusetts with no houses on it. We headed back to the cabin and had a snack and I headed to bed. I hear that in the morning we get pancakes.

August 4, 2016 - Doc and Claire Miller
I woke up this morning around 5:45 as the other hikers started to stir. With 16 hikers confined to a small space we be ripe. I had emailed Doc Miller who is Kirk's great uncle. Kirk being the walking stick family just as clarification. Dragon head and I were going to be picked up at Angelina's sub shop at around 5 when I got into town and called him. I hoped my timing would be good as it's hard sometimes to estimate when you will arrive somewhere when walking 20 miles.

We got packed up and the caretaker made all thru hikers coffee and pancakes. What a treat to have all of this done for us from the AMC. Dragon head and I got on trail at 7:30. The terrain for the day looked really good with no big climbs. Early on in the day we crossed over the Massachusetts turnpike. This was a HUGE milestone for me as I have been driving under this crossing for over 20 years and even more when Jeff and I lived apart. I always would daydream what it would be like to hike the AT and kicked myself for not attempting it after college. I stopped and did a small video to post on the web.

We then climbed up and over Beckett and Walling mountains as well as bald top. We stopped at October shelter for a snack before the trail leveled out and was relative flat for 10 miles. We stopped at the cookie ladies house which is a u-pick blueberry patch and the woman who runs it often times has fresh baked cookies on the porch and allows hikers to buy cold drinks and fill up on water. Unfortunately the cookie lady was in town and we had no cookies!! We did stop and refill up on water and chat with the other hikers who were there. Old spice, axe, old timer, monarch, Peter Pan were just a few.

DH and I moved on with only 9.5 miles to Dalton. The terrain continued to remain flat and we came to Blotz road where a trail angel was doing trail magic with cold sodas and snacks. We stopped and chatted with the trail angel and tumbleweed and foot long rolled in. We all sat and chatted for about 20 minutes before moving on. We quickly climbed up Warmer Hill where we got a view of Mt Greylock in the distance. I'm coming for ya I said to the air. Dragon head and I continued on with a slight descent down to Kay wood shelter where we stopped for a power nap and recharge. After leaving the shelter we had a short but steep climb before the descent down into Dalton. We crossed a set of railroad tracks and the trail then followed a residential street down to the downtown. We passed sweat peas and could not resist some ice cream.

We then moved further on into town making it to Angelina's where we called Doc. He showed up in minutes and brought us to his house where we met Claire his wife. They were so wonderful to us letting us do laundry, shower and made us the best meal ever. We had grapes, salad, homemade mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, sausage sandwiches and pudding for dessert. Amazing! It was so nice to relax and get to know them both. Such good people. We also were staying the night and sleeping on a mattress with sheets simply amazing. I look forward to meeting up with them again in the future. It was such a great day of hiking, great weather and great company to share a meal with.

August 5, 2016 - Mount Greylock

Had the best nights sleep at the Millers house. I called Bascom Lodge on the top of Mt Greylock to see if I could make a reservation at the bunkhouse. I was told everything was booked so we won't be staying on top of the mountain. DH and I got up and packed up. Claire made us sandwiches and sliced up banana bread for us to take. She made us breakfast and gave us tons of food to get back on trail. Doc gave us a ride back to where we left the trail and we were off. They were truly remarkable and I am most appreciative of them putting us up.

Our first climb was up and out of Dalton which was a gradual climb up Mt Crystal. We descended down off of Mt Crystal into the town of Chesire. We both had to stop at the post office for packages. Ompi had sent me a package from Florida. In his words he said I was to skinny and needed to eat more. My food bag was almost empty so it was a well needed addition and I was thankful. Thanks Ompi. Dragon Head had 4 packages and had lots of food. We packaged up our bags and started out. To see things were heavy was an understatement. On a positive we were going to meet Jeff's parents at a road crossing in a mile to slack pack up Mt Greylock.

We arrived at outlook ave and no sooner that we took off our packs they pulled in. What timing on that! We stripped down our packs to bare minimum and left it all in the trunk of the car. We had 7 miles to go to the summit. They were going to go into town to have lunch and then meet us on the summit. Thank god we didn't have to walk up the hill with our packs. It wasn't terribly steep but it would of taken most of my energy going up with the weight.

We made it to the summit around 4:30. We learned on the way up that there was a wedding all weekend on the summit and that was why everything was booked. Even the restaurant was going to be closed for dinner due to a rehearsal dinner. So Jeff's mom texted me to see if we wanted food from the cafeteria before it closed at 4. I said yes please. When we arrived on the summit we at least had burgers and beef brisket sandwiches waiting for us. We were able to take a shower at the lodge for 5 bucks. They at least had that option. We went back to the car and repacked our packs. I said goodbye to the family and we started our descent down to the shelter. We only had 3.4 miles to go which wasn't too bad. We arrived at Wilbur Clearing Shelter at about 7:30. Hazel was there and we were able to catch up on our hikes. I tried to eat more food from my food pack to lighten the load.

Tomorrow my mom and sister drive to meet up with me in North Adams. I might get to slack pack again. I haven't seen them since April.

August 6, 2016 - County Road
I heard rain drops at 5:30 in the morning on the tent and dove out to retrieve my clothes before they got wet. Hazel and Dragon Head were doing the same and we all went back to bed. The plan was to sleep in walk the 3 miles down the hill and have Chinese food and meet my mom and sister. The rain drops stopped immediately after we retrieved our clothes. At 7:30 I got up and was packing all the items inside my tent. Hazel had already left to begin the climb down and dragon head was also packing. I heard a few drops so I put my pack outside and the few items that go on top of the tent and food bag and got out of the tent to pack it. I pulled my rain fly off and the heavens opened up. Dragon head was able to pull out his stakes of his tent and run with his full tent and bag to the shelter. I however had to much loose stuff scattered about and trying to pack it I was already screwed. I packed up my tent which was soaked, I was soaked and my pack was soaked. Oh well let's just get down this mountain.

The descent down was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I caught up to Hazel and we walked into town. Dragon head was still at the shelter when I left. Hazel and slipped and fallen in a mud puddle and was headed to the YMCA and I wanted coffee and headed to a Getty gas station. After getting coffee I crossed the street to where the Chinese food buffet was. Next to the Chinese food was an empty price chopper grocery store. I spread out my gear to dry and hung my tent over the plant rod in front. Dragon Head arrived around 10:30 and Hazel had made it from showering to putting in her laundry. We got into the Chinese Food place as soon as it opened.

My mom and sister arrived at 11:30 and joined us and we all had a good time. We laughed at the stories of my mom and her new smart phone and trying to figure out how to use it. After we ate we looked at the maps and we're going to slack pack 7.2 miles to county road. I emptied my pack and put a few snacks, 2 Nalgene of water and my filter. Dragon head used my mini pack and Hazel went bag less and put waters in the mini pack. We got dropped off and headed back on trail. We had a 1000 ft climb and reached the Vermont/Massachusetts border. Only 3 states left and what a fantastic feeling.

3 miles in I get a message from my sister that attempting to drive county road she almost got stuck and a local said you can't get to the trail this way. So she decides to attempt from the other side. We trek on and go another 3 miles. Now I get a panicked message. The road from the other direction has a bridge out and she can't get there. So we now have to push on another 10 miles. Not the original plan but us thru hikers can handle anything. So instead of 7.2 it will be 18.1. Luckily I have my filter and filter us more water and we push on.

We climb up Consultation Mt highest climb of the day at 2833. We keep boogieing to make it to Vermont 9 before dark. Our final climb up Harmon Hill gives us a nice view of the valley and then we have an extremely steep descent down to 9. It was dark at this point mostly in the thick woods and we took it slow and steady. We pop out of the woods and my mom and sister cheer. They had gotten two rooms at the Autumn Motel as they weren't planning on staying but didn't want to drive back this late. We were excited that we didn't have to try and set up tents in the dark or have to climb back up the other side. What a day.

August 7, 2016 - The Fire Tower
My mother and sister are the best. Waking up in a motel room in a bed after our 18.3 slack pack day and nighttime decent was wonderful. Hazel, dragon head and I slept until almost 8am. I got up and took another shower because I could and packed up. We all piled into the van after continental breakfast and coffee. My mom and sister dropped us off at the trailhead and collected the coolers of trail magic they did the day before. I said my goodbyes and it was back into the woods for us.

We had a big climb up to 3700 feet over 10 miles. There were several ascents and descents in between but the trail gradually went up over the ten miles. Climbing up out of route 9 I thought I was gonna drop from my pack weight. After slack packing for the last two days with full weight plus all the food I had it was a slow go. We stopped at the first shelter for a snack and to rest. We pushed on after I devoured a bag of Doritos and Mt dew.

The climbing was slow and steady but nothing terrible after the initial climb. Once we were a mile from Goddard Shelter the trail became steep and climbed through a spruce and balsam forest. It smelled so good. Dragon head made it to the shelter first then me and turn Hazel. We took a break and loaded up on calories. We then had a .30 climb to the top of Glastenbury Mt which had a fire tower with a fantastic view. We took pictures and then began the descent to Kid Gore Shelter where we crammed three tents into space for two. We made dinner together and got into bed at 8:30. Tomorrow we do Stratton Mt which is almost 4000. Not sure if I mentioned this previously but we crossed the 1600 mile mark at the infamous county road. So exciting.

August 8, 2016 - Stratton Mountain
Woke up today around 5:30 am to running critters. Have no idea what they were but boy were they noisy. Shhhhhhh people are trying to sleep. I finally got up and packed up at around 6:30. I made coffee and had breakfast and the three of us got on trail at about 7:30.

We all hiked 3.8 miles to Story Brook shelter where we took a rest and had a snack. It was 6.8 miles to the top of Stratton Mt. Summit. The trail was fantastic with an easy pitch and though there was climbing it wasn't horribly steep. With that said I was still dragging as 1600 miles has definitely taken a toll on my body. I plan on taking a day off in Manchester center. I need it terribly and need to eat and load up on calories. I think it's a good time to do so as we head into the bigger climbs.

I took my time climbing up Stratton Mt and reached the summit. Dragon Head was already up there and we climbed up the fire tower together. The visibility was fantastic and the view was amazing. I took a lot of pictures. We then came down and ate a lunch and snacks. Dragon head headed out while I was finding accommodations for tomorrow night. DH's sister is coming up to see him in Vermont and he's staying a night with her and then taking a zero a green mountain home. Hazel is going to Nero in Manchester center and is staying at green mountain home. When I called they were full so I'm staying at a bed and breakfast in town.

I finished booking and Hazel showed up. We hiked down the mountain and met dragon head who was at the spring getting water. We headed to Stratton Pond shelter. There is a 5 dollar fee to stay at this shelter and after looking at it we decided lets just hike 2 more miles and stay in our tents. The shelter is not enclosed and there is no bear pole or cables. Didn't seem to have much going for it. We passed the 3/4 way mark of the whole trail on our way down Stratton Mt and it was so exciting. We hiked to a footbridge crossing and there were great stealth sites to camp at and that's just what we did. We talked and figured out we only have 110 mile to New Hampshire and 235 miles to Maine. It's so crazy this journey is getting close to ending.

August 9, 2016 - Caution, Don't Become Roadkill!
Woke up to the sound of the creek. I slept really good and didn't want to move. We were planning on just going 8 miles to the town of Manchester so there was no rush to get out of the tent. I finally got up and packed and made coffee and ate breakfast. While I was packing up my tent Hazel headed out to stay ahead of us as she says she hikes slow. This lady can move and she is a strong hiker. Dragon head and I ate breakfast and got on trail at about 8:30.

We only had 8 miles to go and one climb over Spruce peak. We caught up to Hazel at about 2 miles from from the road and all hiked together. We descended down to the road and came across a sign that said "Caution do not become roadkill". Route 30 apparently has two sets of lanes with speeding traffic on a blind corner. They recommend looking both ways while crossing and run. It was a hair raising road crossing especially with speeding tractor trailers.

We made it safely across and Hazel went to chat with some hikers and their family. Soon enough we had a ride into town. We arrived into Manchester at about 12:30. The three of us all ate lunch at Cilantro. Hazel headed out to resupply and to go to Green Mountain house. Dragon heads sister picked him up around 2:30. I headed to Palmer House resort and motel. I checked in and got settled and headed into town to eat again and get coffee. I headed back to the motel and went to the pool. Afterwards I lounged in my room and fell asleep at around 8:30. So nice to relax.

August 10, 2016 - A Real Zero
I slept in this morning as I had nowhere to be and no hiking. Well sleeping in meant 8:30 but that's late for me. I got up took a shower and headed to the continental breakfast the motel offered. I wiped them out but luckily not to many other guests were even taking advantage of the breakfast. I headed back to the room to grab by small day bag and headed into town.

I stopped first at EMS to buy a new dry sack as a chipmunk or something like it chewed a hole in it while it was hanging in the tree. After I got my new sack I headed to Starbucks to get an iced coffee. It was delicious. I'm happy I decided to take a zero today not only is my body sore and needed a rest but it rained heavy all morning and it's raining again.

I stopped in McDonald's for lunch and then headed back. I thought of taking a swim in between rain showers but Dragon Head texted me. He said his sister dropped him off at the library in the morning and had been there for two hours. He wanted to stop at Cilantro for lunch and asked if I wanted to join him. I said sure let me walk down that way. I got there within a few minutes and ordered chips and salsa as I didn't want to eat another full meal. Lieutenant Dan was eating when I walked in and dragon head was talking to him. He finally caught up to us and DH had been hiking with him for awhile before we started hiking together. I finally got to meet him and we all ate and chatted catching everyone up on the happenings.

Jeff had texted me while I was at the restaurant that he was coming to do a surprise visit. He wanted to come on Sunday to slack pack us but there was no roads whatsoever. Seeing I'm heading further north and it will get harder to see one another he wanted to do a quick visit. Dragon head and I after eating walked down to the price chopper to do out resupply. We supplied for four days of food taking into account that we will be near two restaurants in those 4 days. We think that we actually have the right amount of food and not too much. We checked out and sat on a bench eating snacks we had bought ourselves. Dragon head called green mountain house to be picked up. This is the hostel I tried to get into but they were full. The guy was there shortly after and DH headed to the hostel.

I headed back to the motel and went in the pool. The sun finally had come out and it got hot and sticky quick. I dried off and changed and Jeff arrived. OMG I was so excited to see him. We went and got a pizza and spent a few hours talking about my trip and what's going on at home. Around 7 Jeff got ready to head back to the Catskills. It was a little over 2 hour drive. Which was still very long and I can't believe he drove all that way just to see me. After he left I got into bed and watched tv until I fell asleep.


Storm is posting regular updates from the AT on his Trail Journal

You can also follow him on his Facebook Page, Moe Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Storm is also working to raise money for charity as he hikes the Appalachian Trail. He currently has a GoFundMe campaign that is supporting the work of the Catskill Center to protect and preserve the Catskills and the Catskill Park, where Storm lives, enjoys the outdoors and volunteers!

Read all of Storm's posts on Adventures in the Outdoors.

For more information about the Appalachian Trail

You can visit the National Park Service's Appalachian Trail Park Page, which features a link to the AT brochure and map.  Guides and maps are produced and sold for the AT as it passes through each State between Georgia and Maine.  There are several books including the Thru-Hike Planner, the AT Guidebook, the AT Thru Hiker Companion and the Data Book to name just a few that can help hikers who are planning on hiking the entire AT or sections of it. We also maintain a section for Appalachian Trail Guides, Maps and Books at on Adventures in the Outdoors Online Shop.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Video: Ask A Thru Hiker | Does the Appalachian Trail change from state to state?

We're offering the opportunity for you to ask the Appalachian Trail questions you've always wondered about. As we meet up with Storm throughout his Appalachian Trail, we'll be asking him questions about his experiences.

This time Sherry asks Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker Storm if the trail changes from state to state. He lets us know the trail does change and each state has his own flavor! It's a great exploration of Storm's experiences from the 4 months that he's been on the Appalachian Trail.


Storm is posting regular updates from the AT on his Trail Journal

You can also follow him on his Facebook Page, Moe Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Storm is also working to raise money for charity as he hikes the Appalachian Trail. He currently has a GoFundMe campaign that is supporting the work of the Catskill Center to protect and preserve the Catskills and the Catskill Park, where Storm lives, enjoys the outdoors and volunteers!

Read all of Storm's posts on Adventures in the Outdoors.

For more information about the Appalachian Trail

You can visit the National Park Service's Appalachian Trail Park Page, which features a link to the AT brochure and map.  Guides and maps are produced and sold for the AT as it passes through each State between Georgia and Maine.  There are several books including the Thru-Hike Planner, the AT Guidebook, the AT Thru Hiker Companion and the Data Book to name just a few that can help hikers who are planning on hiking the entire AT or sections of it. We also maintain a section for Appalachian Trail Guides, Maps and Books at on Adventures in the Outdoors Online Shop.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hiking: Updates from Storm's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike (7/26/16 thru 8/1/16) | New York and Massachusetts

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Storm (Moe) is now making his way north through Massachusetts on the Appalachian Trail. He's over 1,500 miles into his Appalachian Trail thru-hike. He started hiking the Appalachian Trail on April 6, 2016 at Springer Mountain in Georgia and is now into his fifth month of his Appalachian Trail thru hike. Here's a look back at his last several days of hiking in his own words:

July 26, 2016 - Day of Slack Packing
I woke up in my own bed again and it felt wonderful. The alarm went off at 6:30 as I was getting picked up by Jeff's dad to be brought back to the trail around 7:30. I got up showered and packed my new pack. I got picked up and we stopped at the village market in Tannersville and I got the breakfast hero sandwich. Carb load up is necessary.

We headed down the thru way back to the Bear Mt area. I got driven into Fort Montgomery so I could pick up my package from the post office there. We drove back over the Bear Mt bridge across the Hudson and back to Manitou road where I had stopped on Sunday. Dragon head started his morning at Fort Montgomery and was about 3 miles ahead of me. I hoped to catch him today.

I started on trail with Jeff's dad driving ahead to meet me. There was one kind of steep climb up to the ridge and then relatively flat on top. 3 miles and the trail descends down to US 9 and the intersection of 403. There was a shell gas station at the intersection so I stopped and had a snack. Dragon head had just been there about 15 minutes earlier and had texted me he was moving on. After my snack I moved on with several ups and downs.

When I reached Old Albany Post rd Jeff's dad was there with several other hikers chatting and with Dragon Head. I stopped and at my lunch and hiked on with Dragon head still getting slack packed. Several other roads later I finally met Jeff's dad for the last time at Dennytown Road. I filled up on water and said my goodbyes and Dragon Head and I continued on. The plan was to make it to Fahnestock State Park. We had several steep ups and downs on our way and finally we reached and crossed NY 301 and saw the lake on the other side. The trail looped around the lake and on the far side there was a beach. On the service road to the beach we found a nice stealth spot and set up our tents. Near the beach there was an outdoor shower which was nice to use. The lake itself was so low water level wise it didn't look pleasant to swim in so we skipped that.

We both ate dinner and headed to bed at about 8:45. First big mile day in the heat in awhile and it took a toll on me. Tomorrow I walk through Stormville New York area and this is where Jeff grew up so I know the area well.

July 27, 2016 - Stormville, NY and Mountain Top Deli
Today was going to be the day I walk through my old stomping ground for a few summers. From Fahnestock State Park through Stormville New York. Jeff lived and grew up near the AT in Stormville New York. I spent much time in the area when visiting him for the 15 years his parents lived in the area after he moved to Massachusetts.

Dragon Head and I woke up around 7:30 and got up and made breakfast. I tried out the new VIA from Starbucks that my friend Heather sent me from Vermont. It was darn good. We both headed up to the concessions and bathroom area waiting for it to open so we could fill up on water. We got on trail about 9:30 and trucked the 5 miles to RPH shelter and rested for a bit. When we arrived Coach, Heavy-D, c-sharp,jack rabbit were all there. They had ordered Chinese food which apparently can be delivered to the shelter. Dragon head and I rested for about 20 minutes and trekked on.

We crossed under the Taconic State Parkway and it was very surreal for me to have walked from Georgia and be in an area I knew so well. I told Dragon Head how when I first started coming down to this part of New York the Taconic was very dangerous. As thru hikers you had to cross all 4 lanes of traffic in one shot. Many of the roads cross all 4 lanes and some exits were a right turn 90 degrees into a side street. There were no exit or entrance ramps and you did all of the above with traffic going 70. When the speed limit is 55. The lanes are not normal size highway lanes but skinny just about the width of your car. Driving it to date is still uncomfortable.

From the Taconic state parkway the trail begins a Steep climb up to Hosner Mountain road. The trail descends down to the road (again very surreal as this road was the back way to Jeff's parents house) and then it climbs steeply again up to route 52. When I was at RPH I told everyone at route 52 there was a deli Mountain Top and a Pizzeria only .40 away from trail. C-sharp caught up to us just before 52 and the 3 of us walked down to Mountain Top.

When we got there 5 other hikers had gone that way after hearing me talk about it. Dragon Head and I split a large pizza and a 2 liter bottle of Mt Dew. While sitting and eating pizza another 10 or so hikers showed up all from RPH shelter. I bought a bunch of drinks from the Deli and chugged those down. After eating we both felt like it was nap time. I took my foam pad and headed behind the building where they have a grassy area. Heavy-D was laying on the grass napping so we followed suit. Slowly one by one hikers came behind the building and laid down as well. It was a sea of napping hikers on the grass. A funny sight to be had. One memory I have from Jeff's parents house were they always had rolls from Mountain Top. I bought 4 to pack out with me and a Mt Dew. Dragon head and I packed up and headed out by 4.

We climbed out of route 52 and entered a field with views of the Catskills... Yay home. We continued on with some sharp little climbs up to small rock ledges finally arriving at Morgan Stewart Shelter. This shelter is one that both Jeff and his brother Doug maintained as kids. I ate a cold dinner of rolls and ready made rice. Both Dragon head and I headed to bed about 8:30. Tomorrow we plan on going 16 or 22 miles to one of the shelters. We may split a room in Wingdale if we end up with terrible stormy weather. That remains to be seen. For now off to bed.

July 28, 2016 - Into Connecticut
Woke up at 5:30am at Morgan Stewart shelter. Gosh way to early to get up so I rolled over and went back to sleep. I did finally get up at 6 and packed up and had breakfast. Dragon head had gotten up a bit earlier and was ready before me. The mosquitos were so bad he needed to push off before me as they were swarming him. I couldn't even finish my coffee as they were relentless.

I pushed off from Morgan Stewart at about 6:45. The trail this morning was mostly downhill we a few tiny climbs. I crossed over depot hill, a set of railroad tracks and across route 55. The trail then went 1/2 way around nuclear lake. I guess the lake had been contaminated many years ago and it was a superfund site and has since been cleaned up. I stopped at Telephone Pioneer Shelter for a snack and to sign in at the log book. The trail descended down to county road 20 where the Dover Oak is. This is the largest oak on the trail at 20 feet around and estimated to be 300 years old. In another mile or so the trail crossed NY 22 where there was a nursery on the left. The nursery lets hikers rest in their gazebo. They sell cold drinks, some resupply and they let you refill on water out back of the building where they also have a outside shower.

I met up with Dragon Head here and about 14 other hikers. I bought two cold drinks and sat on the gazebo. It was getting really hot so I also took my shoes and shirt off and rinsed off in the cold shower to cool off. We learned there was a food truck on the other side of the building and a bunch of us went over and bought lunch. I got a hot dog and a soda. After about 45 minutes DH and I continued on. The trail wound through a field for about a mile and it was hot. We had a steep climb after the field and up to a ridge. We followed for three miles.

I clunked my head on a dead branch overhanging the trail as my pack caught it and pulled it down on my head. I gave myself a god size bump and a scratch but nothing major. It was really the first blood I drew on the trail so not bad for 1450 miles. We stopped at Wiley Mt shelter and cameled up on water and refilled our bottles. From the shelter we only had 4 miles to go. We met up with Eagle who ended up walking with us to Ten Mile River Shelter. After two miles we reached the sign welcome to Connecticut the gateway to New England.

The shelter has the river next to the shelter snd we were able to jump in and cool off. It was nice but the water actually wasn't too cold. It goes to show how warm it really has been. We made dinner and settled in for the night. I had been dealing with a stomachache most of the day. I figured it out it's probably due to being dehydrated from the heat yesterday do it was most likely constipation. Which made sleeping uncomfortable adding in the mosquitoes.

DH and I decided to crash in the shelter as with the impending soaking rain we didn't want to deal with wet tents. Our plan is Kent tomorrow and Trooper is supposed to be coming to New York and Jeff is going to bring her to see me tomorrow. It's been since April 15 the day she left the trail that I have seen her.

July 29, 2016 - Deep Thoughts
Today was another great day on the trail. The day started off to rain though my terrible stomachache had improved as I drank lots of water through the night. Dragon Head and I shared the shelter together with another woman. It was a hot night of sleeping at first and buggy till the rain started and cooled off. The woman at the shelter was a character and was the oddest non hiker I have met on the trail. She was nice but very curt to us when we arrived. She was from New York City with very little food, 6 glass bottles of iced tea and a small backpack. She had no sleeping pad or bag and used a gossamer covering when she slept. I don't think she liked the way our clothes smelled and asked us to lay them on the grass. I said I can but when it rains I don't want them covered in mud. I felt bad but there is not much we can do out here mid hike. She lightened up when 10 more Thru hikers showed. She definitely was a character and talked a lot of split personality disorders.

DH and I (Dragon Head for short from here on out) headed out about 8:30 as the rain had stopped. It's nice when you get a spot in the shelter as it makes it so much easier to pack up. This is the third day DH and I have walked together and I really like him and get along with him. After the initial two days of talking about the basics like family, jobs, trail life we have moved into more philosophical conversations. We both come from very different backgrounds yet have very similar beliefs and attitudes towards life. What I have enjoyed about DH has been the company. 90% of my time on the trail has been hiking alone. Luigi and I hiked several days together but mostly at our own paces and met up for snacks, lunch and camped together for a few weeks. Ompi and I hiked together for two days fully and the rest of the time set our own pace and would have lunch together and usually camp together as did the royal couple. Otter and I hiked together for a total of 5 days. I spent lots of time with him off trail such as trail days, Waynesboro etc. Dragon Head I can see myself staying with all the way to Maine. We hike the same pace, seem to pick when to do town stops the same and are very similar. I'm not sure how long we will be together but I'm enjoying it.

The solo time on the trail has been wonderful and reflective and I've had lots of time to think. Hiking with someone after not for awhile has been really enjoyable, especially the conversation. We spent most of the morning deep in conversation covering a variety of topics. One thing I love about the AT is people are generally open to listen to one another and hear people's stories and thoughts. Not everyone is always going to agree but people out here are open and respect the difference in thought. We all have had different ideas about where we are headed as a society as we look at that society from the perspective of being cut off from it in small way. It's so interesting to hear people's thoughts on this. Anyway of tangent here.

Deep in coversation we went up and down several climbs without noticing really. We caught up to Hazel who walked with us. I enjoyed her company as I believe DH did as well. We exchanged stories of some of the eccentric people out here on the trail. Many funny stories were exchanged and we had some good laughs. Now with three of us talking the time just zoomed on by. We had 9 miles to get to the town of Kent and we were there by 12:30. We walked the .80 miles into town hopping for a ride. No such luck and the town of Kent was not that far off the trail but it's nice to not have to walk extra.

We arrived in Kent and DH went to the outfitter/ice cream place. I mean come on this is a hiker paradise. Soda, doughnuts, fudge, ice cream and resupply!!!! DH needed a new spork thing as his broke like mine did back in the Smokeys. They did not have titanium so he had to settle for a new same spork. I bought a soda and a doughnut as I could not resist. We the walked down main street looking for a bank for Hazel. Then headed to the laundry and Chinese food. The three of us put all of our clothes together and did one load. A dollar a person for to wash and a dollar to dry. Wohoo. We walked over to the Chinese place and a sign said closed for vacation till August 4th. Argh!!! So we walked Main Street looking for a place to eat. We found a pizza/pub and headed there. DH got the sin city burger and this thing was the height of a steak knife. It had 4 patties on it, it was huge. I went with the chicken bacon and ranch sandwich with extra ranch! Hazel had an apple walnut salad. Great food and good company. Hazel and I head back to the laundry while DH went to the library to apply for jobs for his unemployment. We all ended up at IGA for resupply. We then brought everything to the laundromat and repacked our packs got our clothes and were off.

The day got hot even though it was not supposed to be. Some guy on a bicycle asked us where he could buy Pot (marijuana). We we're like uhm yes we are thru hikers but no we have no idea. Try the ice cream shop I said. I dunno!?! I guess two guys in their 30's and a woman in her 40's look like the pot smoking type. We laughed pretty hard. I asked Hazel if she thought that this morning when she woke up that someone would be asking her where to buy pot.

We left the town and I'm typical town leaving fashion we had the big climb. My shoes were bothering me at this point. I had swapped out my boots when I went home for a pair of trail runners that Doug had that were brand new. Well after almost three days they were causing my heels to get blisters so I need to swap them back to boots. Trooper is coming down and Jeff is picking her up tonight in Springfield MA. I get to see her tomorrow. Jeff will also bring my new old boots with him. This is the pair of hiking boots I've had at home that are two years old but only have 100 miles on them at the max. They are well broken in.

We made it to the top of the ridge and after a few more ups and downs we had the steepest decent of the whole trail. I was in the lead and had to stop a few times to think ok how am I going to get past this. After some careful maneuvering we made it to a parking area. The trail followed a gravel road for about 2 miles. The black gnats suddenly were horrendous by this dirt road. I'm not sure if it was from the soaking rain we got last night but they were swarming.

We arrived at the shelter and DH and I immediately stripped down and went in the Housatonic River to cool off and then set up camp. The three of us cooked and ate together and all crashed at about 9:30. I very much enjoyed my day with these two. Both DH and Hazel are very intelligent, funny and nice people. I don't know how long my time with them will be but when I think back on my AT hike Kent, CT will always be the day I spent with these 2.

July 30, 2016 - Trooper
Today I get to see trooper and Jeff. I'm so excited for that and to have sometime with both of them. I had a hard time falling asleep last night but once I did fall asleep I slept well. I woke up originally at 5:30, fell back asleep and got up for good at 6:30. I got packed up and had breakfast. Hazel got out early and said see you when you catch up to me. Dragon head was also up at this time and we chatted while we drank coffee. I went down to the river to filter water and it was so peaceful and beautiful.

We both got on trail at around 8am. The trail was relentless this morning with many steep ups and downs. It was again another type of roller coaster and a part of the trail that no one seems to talk about. The new to me trail runners I was trying were killing my feet and causing lots of rubbing and small blisters had formed. Dragon head was ahead of me doing a good pave which usually I can keep. Not with these shoes.

We caught up to Hazel and rested, had a snack and filtered some water. The trail continued with its ups and downs. We had a total of 9 of them. We all rolled into Pine Swamp Branch Shelter and ate lunch and rested. Only 6 more miles to meet up with Trooper and Jeff. We continue on and surprise more ups and downs though not as tough. The morning climbs really tuckered us out.

We arrived at route 7 to where Jeff was parked and I got to finally see Trooper after many months apart. They brought Mt Dew, Gatorade, egg salad, rolls, bananas, oranges, cookies, brownies and so much more. I shared with Dragon Head and Hazel. The best part was we got to slack pack the 2 miles to town. We threw our packs inside the car and did the road walk and followed the river. The two miles felt like 10 minutes. We met Jeff and Trooper and continued to slack to the town where they met us at Toymakers Cafe where they allow tenting for free.

The three of us got our tents set up as the rain was starting to fall. Dragon Head and Hazel headed into town to find water, clean up and food. Trooper, Jeff and I went to get dinner so I could spend some time with them. We ended up getting Chinese in the town of Cannan. It was nice and relaxing to be with them both. I got dropped back off to my tent at around 8 and thankfully it was still dry on the inside. They will be back again tomorrow to support me before Trooper heads back home. The Catskills are only 1.5 hour drive from where I was so not to long. I was so happy to see them and now I'm ready to crash.

July 31, 2016 - Rain, rain, rain
Woke up to rather heavy rain at Toymakers Cafe. There were about 10 tents scattered on the grounds. The cafe opened at 7 so I headed over shortly after opening to get breakfast. Hazel was inside ordering when I went in. The place was small but had a great vibe to it. I ordered egg, bacon and cheese wrap and an iced coffee. Dragon Head, Tetris and joyride all wandered in and joined Hazel and I. The food was fantastic and the service exceptional. I would definitely come back here on a day trip.

The rain let up and we rushed out to break our tents down. Just as we started the rain started back up again. Argh!! Hazel headed out first and then Dragon Head and I did. Joyride and Tetris were still behind when we headed out. There was a light drizzle as we walked. We headed by the falls on the Housatonic River which were very pretty. We caught up to Hazel and all hiked together. We climbed up Mt Prospect and I fell slipping on a root which was wet. No serious damage done but my knees were sore. Jeff, Trooper and Doug were going to meet me near Salisbury.

We descended down Mt Prospect and reached US 44 where we had a road walk to town. Hazel left us and continued on the AT. Dragon Head was going to Nero and stay at Vanessa's where he has a package. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Slack pack with Doug? stay at the hostel? Once we reached town with how sore my knees were, with rain I the way, a big climb outta town on wet rocks and not a lot of roads for slack packing I decided to stay at the hostel. It was a really short day but I didn't want to over do it.

Jeff and the gang found me at the hostel. I took a quick shower and we headed out to eat and resupply me. The rain started back up as we made it back to the hostel. I said my goodbyes and got inside about 5:30. I spent the rest of the night relaxing watching Netflix. Tomorrow the climb up and over Bear Mt should be interesting, especially if it is raining.


Storm is posting regular updates from the AT on his Trail Journal

You can also follow him on his Facebook Page, Moe Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Storm is also working to raise money for charity as he hikes the Appalachian Trail. He currently has a GoFundMe campaign that is supporting the work of the Catskill Center to protect and preserve the Catskills and the Catskill Park, where Storm lives, enjoys the outdoors and volunteers!

Read all of Storm's posts on Adventures in the Outdoors.

For more information about the Appalachian Trail

You can visit the National Park Service's Appalachian Trail Park Page, which features a link to the AT brochure and map.  Guides and maps are produced and sold for the AT as it passes through each State between Georgia and Maine.  There are several books including the Thru-Hike Planner, the AT Guidebook, the AT Thru Hiker Companion and the Data Book to name just a few that can help hikers who are planning on hiking the entire AT or sections of it. We also maintain a section for Appalachian Trail Guides, Maps and Books at on Adventures in the Outdoors Online Shop.