Sent by Beeman or Quentin in person….
Between April 30 and July 12 (2013) I continued my hike NoBo (northbound) along the Appalachian Trail between Woodshole Hostel 10 miles south of Pearisburg, Virginia, and Arden Valley Road adjacent to the NY State thruway (I-87) a distance of some 759 miles.
I apologise for not keeping you more up to date with my progress buth there were dificultie that I encountered with this regard—-
1) Lack of signal for my handheld Verizon PC
2) No easy way to charge this device. (There is no electricity in most of the AT shelters.
3) The telephone aspect of it became uneconomic to use, particuarly from a foreigners point of view . I could not afford to waste money.
I arrived in Charlotte SC direct from St Kitts & Nevis on 27 April and following an entertaining (but sleepless) night in Charlotte bus station found my way to Pearisburg by bus and hitch ~hiking in the pouring rain, where I sort shelter in the Holiday Motor Lodge Motel.
Eventually I made my way to Woodshole Hostel where I had left the AT on July 7 /2012. From here I continued on foot NoBo for more than 700 miles across parts of six states of the USA.
Neville and Michael who own Woodshole hostel are memorable characters in that like me they are beekeepers, and also at meal times at their beautyfull hostel the tradition is to hold hands, give our Trail Name, and a thought for the moment.
Appalachian Trail hikers all have Trail names other than their legal names . Trail names can be weird; whacky; or just plain simple, just as one prefers; or maybe one name will refer to two people such as the Iowa sisters (two young women hiking together from Iowa; and they were friends not sisters.)
or M&M ….referring to a brother and sister whose Christian names just happened to start with the letter M.
My own Trail Name was simple and predictable ….”Beeman” sometimes qualified as ‘Nevis Beeman’ or ‘Beeman’ from Nevis.
A wee happening early in my 2013 hike portrays to you the way many people think about us AT hikers. On 4 May I was following 2 other hikers as we crossed a minor tarmac road somewhere in Virginia.They crossed over and I waited for an approaching car which had the right of way.This vehicle slowed and stopped and I was waved across in front of it, almost as if I had the right of way.
About this time I met a hiker named Jack Harbaugh a regular visitor to Nevis who had climbed Nevis Peak with the late Jim Johnson ….. Jack was just one of a handful of hikers I met all summer long who had been to Nevis. Another named ‘Sunshine’ may never have been to St Kitts & Nevis but she certainly qualified as a citizen of this Nation being the daughter and grand daughter of citizens of St Kitts & Nevis.
The month of May on the AT in Virginia can be pretty chilly at higher elevations especially at night and I was thankful for Mark Ray s Guernsey sweater/jersey given to me by his wife Penny (Mark Ray a great friend is confined to a nursing home suffering from Alziemers) I have carried this jersey throughout my Appalachian Trail hiking adventures,and when not being worn I tie it around my middle by its arms or used as a pillow.It has become very special to me ….
A typical day would involve walking from AT shelter to AT shelter (setting out about an hour after first light having been awoken by the dawn chorus of the birds….) usually 12 to 18 miles daily, occasionally more, sometimes less. Personally I preferred to sleep in the shelters although the majority of AT hikers preferred their tents.
I did carry a tent of course and one place I did camp was in the tiny town of Glasgow VA (about a half hour vehicle ride from the AT)
from where I posted mail to friends and relatives in the well known City of Glasgow,Scotland and about 100 times the size of Glasgow VA…..! !
At 548 miles the State of Virginia is the biggest state that the AT crosses and it is a great psychological boost to ones spirits to be finally out of Virginia and into West Virginia ( the AT goes through less than 10 miles of West Virginia) and this section centres on the historic town of Harpers Ferry at the confluence of two great rivers ….The Shenandoah and the Potomac. Harpers Ferry is the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the 78 year old organisation that was founded by private citizens to make the dream of the Appalachian Trail a reality.
From West Virginia one crosses into Maryland, as one walks across the bridge over the Potomac River and some 41 miles later one crosses the ‘Mason Dixon’ line into Pennsylvania,at 229 miles the third biggest state that the AT crosses.
Pennsylvania is noted for its exceedingly rocky footpath, the more so the further North~East one hikes towards New Jersey.
The rocky trails of Pennsylvania are much talked about by hikers the length of the AT ……usually greatly exaggerated but demanding to deal with none the less. Some of the AT in this State is covered in sharp looking rocks which really tear up your boots, (My Keene boots included), while in other areas the rocks or boulders are larger and one can rock hop from one to the next with relative ease …..Nevertheless all this rockyness slows you down and hikers walk with heads bowed (like monks in perpetual prayer) constantly watching the trail way at their feet. It is remarkable so few serious injuries occur.
My summer was memorable too for the wonderful and interetsing people that I met along the AT that I hiked this summer.
Some meetings were in fact reunions with old friends I had not seen in decades.
Rev Ellen Stratton a Presbyterian minister was just one of several. We had met as teenaged volunteers working at the Abbey on Iona about 40 years ago and had not met since. On 3rd July at the Presbyterian Church of the Mountain by wonderful coincidence a church hostel for AT hikers at Delaware Water Gap PA we enjoyed a tearful reunion that was so special to both of us, and thank you ”L’ill Engine” for catching this on film..
At another reunion I met with Mark Freeman and Sarah Cuthbertson both VSO on Nevis when I first arrived (1 September 1987)
Both now live in Virginia USA ….we had not seen each other in more than 10 years. But these reunions were planned. Quite unplanned was meeting a hiker named ‘Momo’ whom I’d met while coming down through Maine last August. We enjoyed each others company and shared wee adventures at that time. Rounding a bend of the AT in the northern Shenandoah Valley VA, there she was most unexpectedly walking up towards me.Having recovered from the shock (by sitting down on a stone at the side of the AT)
Momo deftly brewed up a cup of tea in celebration, for us both, and there we sat blethering ”19 to the dozen” for the next 2 and a half hours….bemused hikers walking up and down the slope sat on …..observing us with some curiosity.
Added to these reunions (and I met at least four other hikers I’d met last year on the AT) there were countless others who helped me along the way all of whom I am very gratefull too ….THANK YOU. True Trail Angels as the AT hiking community call you.
Kind people who gave me lifts or occasionally accomodation or who assissted me and other AT hikers in our travels.
One such couple were Steve and Jean Struharik , parents of Mike a scientist I know on St Kitts. They took me in; ”cleansed” me and my clothes and fed me as well as introducing me to their friends one of whom a beekeeper of note, and then enabled me to ”slackpack” the next day…..Steve bringing my 30lb rucksack from Turners Gap to Wolfsville Road MD by car.
Iam indebted also too the Paradis siblings and Max who helped so much when I came off the AT in New York State helping me with accomodation and finding a bus to Ithaca.
And of course Dave Bev and Laura Robinson who are just allowing me to ‘unwind’ at their Finger Lakes home …Sheldrake (near Ithaca) where i type this wee report now before heading to Canada.
By July 24 I have (by law) to be out of the USA as strictly dictated by my 90 day ESTA visa.(Disobey this and I would be banned from re entering the USA for many years to come….computers track ones movements accuratley these days you know)
However, if allowed, I intend to be back on the AT by 1st August to climb through the White Mountains of New Hampshire heading north from Hanover/ Norwich..on the VT / NH border.