Hiking: Updates from Storm's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike (6/28/16 thru 7/4/16)

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Storm (Moe) is making his way north through Maryland on the Appalachian Trail. He's now over 1050 miles into his Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Here's a look back at his last several days of hiking in his own words:

July 28, 2016
Mountain Home Cabin - Click picture to see full size It was a tough night of sleeping at the shelter. We all settled down around 8pm. I was on the top tier of the shelter and the temperature was about 70 with a dew point near 68 or 69. It was super humid and hot. With 7 guys and 2 girls all crammed in together in the shelter and 9 pairs of boots and shoes and 9 packs and the faint odor or urine it was oh so pleasant. I did finally fall asleep but kept waking up and at 6 it felt like I hadn't slept at all. I got up and packed up and got on trail about 7:30. Last night I met firecracker, Kodak, Irie, Sparkles and moose. Also gasket, free fall, and Captain Planet were there as well. Only 14 miles to route 522 and my options were go into town and stay or stay at mountain home hostel which Ompi highly recommended. The first climb of the day was up and over Mt Marshall which offered a nice view at the top. Climbing down the other side I realized that I wasn't wearing my gaiters. Ugh! I left them on the picnic table at the shelter. I even looked around saying do I have everything but they must of been between 2 people sitting. Maybe someone will grab them and bring them forward. After Marshall Mt the trail descended for several miles and then a short but steep climb up Compton Mt which didn't offer much of a view. After summiting you then have the long descent into the valley to route 522. There was one small bump to climb over and it seemed like the hardest climb of the day oddly enough. It was probably being at a lower elevation you had more heat and humidity. The last 2 miles to the road were a breeze and I sat on a bench at the parking area. I decided I would call Mt home to see if they had any beds available. If not I would take the trolley into town from the trailhead. I called Mt home and Scott answered and said yes we have lots of space come on down. I crossed route 522 and followed the AT which parallels the road. At gate 7 you head back to 522 and the hostel is 100 yards up the road. When I got there firecracker and Kodak were there waiting for the postman. Kodak had a package going to the hostel but it hadn't arrived yet so he was hoping it would come today. Scott was inside finishing up the cleaning from yesterday's guests. I checked in and was the first one so I got to pick my bed. The property is amazing with 2 buildings on the ground. The smaller the cabin was a log cabin which was bricked over in the 1910's and is now where the hostel is. The main house is being restored by Scott and his wife Lisa and they are bringing it back to its original glory. It was built in 1840 and has had several additions. They are going to make that a bed and breakfast. He is very nice and Lisa is in Chicago so I didn't get to meet her. After I checked in he went back to work on the main house and said he would bring me into town around 4. I took a shower and the hostel provides hiker clothes so you can do all of your laundry. When I got out of the shower I had a text from Freefall who said Gasket had my gaiters. Yes!! I went downstairs and Kodak and firecracker were gone so I hope he got his package. Gasket showed up about 30 minutes later with my gaiters and he was going to wait for Scott to come back so he could buy fuel. Freefall and Captain Planet stopped in for cookies abs lemonade which Scott and Lisa offer hikers at no charge. Scott brought me into town at 4:30 where I did my laundry, ate dinner, had ice cream and an iced coffee. I texted him when I was ready to go back and he came down to get me. I was the only guest at the hostel last night and had the place to myself. The upstairs where 4 of the beds are have a big sky light and I watched the Lightning from the thunderstorms to out east. It was a great night and tomorrow I push to try and catch the Royal couple again. They stayed at the hostel the night before and left at 10. I missed them only by 3 hours.

July 29, 2016
I woke up at Mountain Home at around 7am. Scott said he would have the coffee on at 7:30am and would make breakfast at 8am. He's a fantastic guy who Thru hiked southbound in 2012. Him and his wife Lisa bought the property in 2012 and opened the hostel a year later. The main house they are turning into a Bed and Breakfast and are slowly renovating. They hope to be open by 2018. Scott headed up to the main house at 8:30 to begin his work day. He works remotely. I thanked him and went upstairs to pack and was on trail by 9:15. I had a total of 5 climbs today and none of them had names. Just hills I guess at this point. About 6 miles in I stopped at the Jim and Molly Denton shelter for a snack. It is probably one of the nicest shelter I've been to on the trail. They had chairs out front similar to Adirondack but not exactly. The shelter even has a solar powered shower. Wow talk about luxury. I pushed on and climbed into a meadow which had a bench at the top of the hill. This would be the only view I had for the day. After the meadow the climb down to Manassas Gap begin. The trail was steep and rocky such that I kept tripping. At the gap the trail crosses over railroad tracks and then crosses onto tucker lane passing under I-66. There was a man talking to a woman with a backpack on. She didn't look like a hiker and he said when the trail turns you will see a blue canopy and three tents. No one is there but help yourself to soda and snacks. Yes please and thank you. Unexpected trail magic on a Tuesday, wohoo. There were two other hikers there when I arrived. These were the same 2 hikers I had met at the Denton shelter. We sat and chatted while drinking cold drinks and eating oatmeal cream pies. They left before I did and while they were leaving I noticed that it appeared there had been a bad storm as lots of branches were down coming down from the ridge and now it looked like whole trees had been felled. The trail crossed over a bridge over a stream and it then climbed up to a ridge. Most of the way up there were uprooted trees, branches down, trees snapped and twisted. I first thought it might have been straight line winds but the damage and the direction that the trees fell did not indicate that. Then I thought later maybe a microburst but again the damage didn't indicate that either. Trees higher up on the fudge had just the tips snapped off as you went lower down the ridge the trunks were twisted and while trees uprooted. It looked like EF-0 tornado damage to me. I took some pictures. I pushed on stopping at Manassas Gap shelter for a snack. I continued on and the trail is rather easy in this section. Yes lots of ups and downs but more gradual so it's not as tough on the body. I arrived at dicks dome shelter and ate a late lunch. The two other hikers from earlier were there and calling it a day. It was 3:30 and I was pushing on for another 8.6 miles to the next shelter. After leaving the shelter I had a climb up to sky meadows state park. Lots of open fields and nice scenery. Not really any views but it was a plateau on top of the hill. I climbed down from sky meadows to route 55 which was a 2 lane divided highway which I had to cross. That was a challenge as the traffic was nuts and people drive way too fast for the road. Once across I had more climbs albeit smaller I was spent and walking almost in a coma. I only had 3.6 miles to the shelter. I told myself I would stop at the first available campsite. Of coarse there were no place to camp at all so I kept going. Finally making it to the shelter at 8:10. There was no one in the shelter but three people tenting nearby. Ireie was there from two nights ago. Put down my pad and rolled out my bag. Made dinner and am now laying down ready to crash. As I am writing this apparently the shelter is directly under the approach for Reagan airport. Plane after plane coming in for a landing. It's actually lulling me to sleep.

June 30, 2016
I woke up at around 6:30 this morning and was on trail by 7:30. Not too many if of us last night. I was the only one in the shelter and four other people were tenting or hammocking nearby. Today I am going to meet up with Tom. He is a friend of Mike K. who lives in the Catskills and is a friend of the family. I've gotten to know Mike over the last several months very well and he is fascinating to talk to especially anything about botany. Mike's friend Tom just recently moved to Virginia near the AT. When Mike found out I was still in northern Virginia he suggested I met up with Tom to take a rest. So that is what I'm planning on doing. His house is near Snickers Gap and we've been texting back and forth. He is 10.5 miles from my location and 3/4 of the way through the Rollercoaster. Speaking of that the Rollercoaster is 13 miles of tightly packed ascents and descents. They range from 300-700 feet. I came to the beginning of the Rollercoaster and there is actually a sign stating what it is and to enjoy the ride. I started up the first climb which wasn't too bad. Then the decent was steep with lots of loss rocks. Ugh the second climb was steep and lose rocks. By the third I stopped more often. Then the fourth climb I was moving really slow, fifth I was like oh dear god and then the sixth I was like ok I wanna get off now. I arrived at Sam Moore shelter at the bottom of the sixth climb. I had 3 more climbs to reach Tom and 7 to finally leave the Rollercoaster. I had a snack at the shelter and refilled on water. I started up climb number 7 but this time it wasn't too bad because somewhere in .40 miles I would cross the 1000 mile mark. Wow it's crazy to think I just walked 1000 miles. So waiting for that point kept me distracted from the steepness of the climb. Finally in the distance I see on a tree a brown sign that read 1000 in white numbers. I hit the mark and took a few photos. Ok the moment passed and I continued on. Down hill 7 and start up hill 8. Ugh finally onto bears den when Tom texted me did you start up bears den yet? I said I'm climbing it now. He said ok I will meet you at the top. I reached the summit and didn't see anyone matching Toms description. Hmmmm finally he was behind a group of trees blocking each other's point of view. We said hello and chatted a bit and headed back down to Toms car. He drove me back to his house which is so neat. It must have been built around the time of the civil war. The inside is all wood beams and wood floors all original. You could feel the history of the place. Tom made me two sandwiches and we chatted about plants, weather, global warming and the Catskills. I started to get sleepy and took a nap while he ran to the market. I got up and took a walk down the street to the general store where I bought homemade cookies and a drink. Tom got back from the market and he cooked a wonderful dinner of spaghetti with sauce with ground chuck and grilled onions. We talked more about plants, the weather, and global warming. Around the time of my nap he had asked do I want to spend the night. At first I was like I should rest for a bit and the keep on walking but with how tired I am I decided I'll stay. After dinner he had to run out and feed the animals for a neighbor who was away. I crawled into bed which is so comfy by the way and am settling down. I've decided I'm leaving everything and just taking this mattress with me back on the trail tomorrow.

July 1, 2016
I woke up this mornings at Tom's house and packed up and went downstairs. He was already up and making me breakfast which was a nice surprise. At 7:00 he said are you all ready to go and I was like yes I am. He drove me back to the trail and I thanked him for all his kindness and for putting me up. He drove off and I realized I was in the parking area for the AT on the opposite side of route 7 from yesterday. I had a dilemma now, do I get on trail from that parking area and go north or do I follow the trail back across route 7 to where I got off it yesterday. Of coarse I thought to myself it will make me nuts if I miss that .20 or .30 mile section of trail. So back I went and crossed over route 7 which was like a game of Frogger. It's a two lane divided road like a highway and people are cruising. I climbed up the small hill on the other side and made my way back to the side trail where we got off the AT to the parking area. I turned around and started heading my way back the way I came. I got back to route 7 and again held my breath as I dashed across the first two lanes and then the next two lanes. I finally was back to the original starting point and kept moving on. Oh boy back on the Rollercoaster again. Thank god I had such a nice rest at Toms and had energy for this. I had three climbs until I was out of the Rollercoaster. I made it up and down the first hill and was resting on the second when dragon head caught up to me. I had seen him at the last hut in Shanendoah and he had taken a zero in Front Royal. We chatted and started walking together. We got along well and had very similar hiking paces. We went several miles arriving at David Lesser Memorial Shelter where we filtered water, had lunch and took a nap. We were off for about an hour when hiker John showed up. I hadn't seen him since Fontana Dam and it was nice to see him again. He had cut his hair so I didn't recognize him at first. Alice showed up and so did leviathan, two hikers I hadn't met before. We all chatted a bit and dragon head and I moved on. We walked about 2 miles when we passed a ridge runner for the Potomac Apalachian Club and we chatted for a bit. Another mile we stopped for a drink and Dragon Head realized his water bottle with his sawyer had fallen out of his bag. He was like crap no biggie on bottle but that's my sawyer and I kinda need it. I said walk back up and leave your bag and hopefully it's a little ways up. Well the ridge runner came across it and brought it back to the shekter. So poor Dragon head had to walk all 3 miles back to shelter and then back to my location. He in theory added 6 more miles to his day. We continued on crossing WV 9 which was again a game of Frogger, a bit terrifying. The terrain was nice with a few small climbs. On the last climb I finally came to it. Now crossing over to West Virginia. I couldn't believe it Virginia the longest state on the trail was done. I felt amazing, dragon head took my picture and we moved on. We started the descent into Harper's Ferry and made it to the edge of town at 5:30. We came to the Shanendoah River and crossed over on the bridge. With the highway right there and cars zooming by it was loud and hot even at 6 at night. We took a side street arriving at the tea house and with luck they were not sold out. Yes!! We picked our bunks and Dragon Head paid for laundry and said throw some of your stuff in here so it's not a total waste. We both went to dinner at a restaurant right up the road. All in all it was a great day and I really enjoyed hiking with Dragon Head. I hope we get to do it again soon. I need to remember to get his cell number. Jeff is coming down tomorrow for the Fourth of July weekend. I'm so excited to see him as its only been once I have seen him since starting my thru hike. I will be hiking I think each day so technically no zero will happen.

July 2, 2016
I woke up at the Teahorse Hostel around 5:30 and was like this is way too early. I went back to sleep finally getting up at 7 to have breakfast. The owner of the hostel had come upstairs and had both tables set and there was coffee, orange juice, bananas, waffles with butter and syrup. Yum it was delicious. Overall the hostel was a wonderful place in a fantastic setting in Harper's Ferry. There is also a bike path in town which is several hundred miles long. Half of us were hikers at the hostel and the other half of us were bikers. It was a nice mix of people. Many of us hikers were taking a least one or two days off for the holiday weekend, myself included. Jeff was driving down today to meet me somewhere on the trail. Some of the hikers staying last night were feather, gasket, free fall and dragon head. I met cup of tea and Alice and 2 more hikers who I didn't catch their names. Gasket, Dragon Head and I sat in the lounge area and chatted for a bit. I was waiting for the ATC to open so I could get my picture taken and find out what number NOBO hiker I was. About 8:30 I got up and packed up my gear. I left the hostel around 9:15 and headed back down the side streets to where we got off the trail. It was only a 1/2 mile to the ATC which is in a stone building. They have a hiker lounge with drinks, snacks and computers for hikers. One of the staff asked if I was ready for my picture. I said lets do it and we went outside to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy sign. She took my picture and then brought me inside to fill it out. We were to put our start date and today's date on the top above our picture. Then below we were to put our name, trail name, email and phone number. I was north bound from Springer thru hiker 1185. When I started at Amiacola Falls at the archway I was hiker 1320. It was so exciting to get to the ATC in Harper's Ferry. Hiker John was there right before me and was hiker 1184. While in the hiker lounge they have past books of all hikers by year. I found Josh (worm) who hiked in 2001 and found Jeff (lost boy) and Jessica (messy) who hiked in 2014. It was really neat to see how many hikers there have been before who have gotten to this point. I was at the ATC for about an hour and I then pushed off and started hiking
north. The side trail back to the AT takes you down side streets and past national parks buildings. Once back on the trail you wander through the woods then come out to the rustic downtown with cobblestone street. With it being the Saturday of the Fourth of July weekend and sunny skies the downtown was mobbed. It took me forever to get through as people were stopping me to talk and to take pictures. I finally made it to the bridge over the Potomac and started over. The Amtrack train was also going over which had the Royal Couple on it as they were off to DC for the weekend. I crossed the bridge I descended into Maryland. The trail now followed the Potomac River and was a flat bike trail for about 3 miles. It then curved left going over the train tracks curving into the woods and then started a steep rocky ascent up to the ridge line. For this section of trail I was not expecting a steep climb like this and was a bit surprised at how steep the climb was for Maryland. However when you are starting at 225 feet and going to 1165 in about 1.5 miles it's going to be steep. Once on top it was relatively flat and I pushed the 6 miles to Gathland State Park where I was going to meet Jeff. Originally we were going to meet at the Washington Monument State Park but Jeffs drive down was taking less time than originally planned so I moved the meeting spot ahead. Finally he was there. Yay!!!!!!. I threw my gear into the car and we headed to Haggerstown to find a place to stay. Time for some relaxation and to load up on some calories. One quick edit, before I left the hostel The Dude showed up to pick up Feather and a group was going to Gettysburg for the day. It was nice to see Jake again as it had been awhile.

July 3, 2016
Woke up today at the Marriott and boy did I sleep well. The bed at the hotel is so comfy I wanna take it with me. We got up and showered and headed out. Our first destination was back to Harper's Ferry so we could go to the National Park. We still have our national parks pass from last year when we went to Yellowstone. We got to Harper's Ferry around 11 and parked in the visitor lot and took the shuttle over to the town. We walked the streets and shops. I took Jeff over the bridge I walked to go over the Potomac River. We walked up to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy so he could see that. I saw Cake there and Captain Planet. We had lunch in one of the restaurants in Harper's Ferry and took the shuttle back to the parking area around 3. Our next destination was Anteitum Battlefield National Park. It was a really interesting location and reminded me of Gettysburg. We headed back to the hotel and stopped for a snack and at Walmart so I could resupply. Tomorrow he may stay another night and slack pack me if the weather is as bad as they say it may be.

July 4, 2016
Woke up this morning at the Marriott Spring hill. Jeff decided to stay one more day as they were calling for lots of rain and he didn't want to drive back in rush hour traffic. We got showered and dressed and Jeff was going to slack pack me today. We ate breakfast, bought some coffee and he took me back to Gathland State Park where he originally picked me up. We arrived at Gathland State park and it was low clouds and a bit of mist. I started up and there was a gradual climb to the white rock cliff. It's amazing how fast one can boogie when you aren't carrying a heavy pack. I felt like I was running. I stopped at the second shelter and had a snack. Once I started back on the trail it started to rain. As I was leaving the shelter I bumped into Cake who was coming into the shelter. I saw her in Harper's Ferry yesterday. I arrived at Washington Monument State Park in the pouring rain and wind. This is not to be confused with the Washington Monument in DC. Apparently there is a second and its a rock tower which you can climb and see the views in the valley. Well today there was no views in the fog and rain. There was a family in a sheltered sitting area who was trying to take a group photo so I offered to do it for them. They had a waterproof camera which made it easier to get them all in I stood in the rain to take the picture. I pushed on and had several small ups and downs. I crossed over I-70 on a footbridge over the highway. I passed two Thru hikers who I had met in Shenandoah National Park. I don't know their trail names but they were hiking with one of their moms. This was her first day hiking and the weather couldn't be more miserable. I stopped at the next shelter to text Jeff I wanted to keep going to about 7 as I was making big miles. After I left the shelter I had a steep climb up to the ridge. For the next 8 miles it was relatively flat with some gradual ups and downs that were hardly noticeable. The rain kept pouring down and I was pretty soaked and was trying to get a lull so I could text Jeff where to meet me. This section of trail passed Annapolis Rocks, Black Rocks Cliff all which were pea soup fog so no view and I decided to not take the side trails. I finally was able to get a text through to Jeff to meet me at mile mark 1055.5 which was route 77. As I continued on I came up behind waterfall. She was like "no way, I thought you were ahead of me". Waterfall is probably the one person on the trail who I've seen the most. I was only about two miles from the road. The trail at this point became super rocky. There was a rather steep climb and then a steep descent which made it slow going with all the wet rocks and rain. I made it to the shelter before the road to text Jeff that I was at the shelter and almost there. Hiker John and C-sharp where at the shelter. C-sharp I hadn't seen since Rice Fields Shelter at the beginning of Virginia. I moved on passing through a field with many cows. With the fog it made it a spooky scene. I got to Jeff about 7:20pm. I did 22.4 miles today in about 7.5 hours which I thought was pretty darn good. We drove back to the hotel so I could shower. We went to Olive Garden for dinner so I could carb up. After dinner I went down to the pools hot tub to relax my legs.


Storm is posting regular updates from the AT on his Trail Journal (where much of this content is being developed from)

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

Storm is 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.