Sunday, April 27, 2008

The common morell

The past few days of hiking has been funny because of all the people out here picking mushrooms. The locals say that it has been the best year in a long time because of three inches of rain that fell recently. Phil and I are only too aware of the incessant downpours we experienced going through Shenandoah National Park. Anyway, much to the pleasure of locals, the rain had a positive affect on this years Morell Mushrooms.

You'll be hiking along an see a shady character squatting in the woods about 30 feet off the trail behind dense foliage. The first time I experienced this situation I half expected it to be an ambush, or if I saw overalls, a pending rape scene. It turns out that these people were just your average shroomers foraging around for the common morell. Its one of the easiest mushrooms to identify in the wild. This is assuming your sober while foraging. Many of the pickers also found it a good idea to carry along cases of cheap beer for the excursion. Phil and I fried some up ourselves the other night with a small packet of butter from KFC. It really was delicious. I hear they get sold for a fortune in some restraunts.

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

So we're almost back over the Mason-Dixon line. Yesterday afternoon, Adam and I made it out of the infamous "Rollercoaster" section (named because of its 10 accents and decents within about 13 miles) into Harper's Ferry. The night before we spent the night at the Bears Den Hostel; an old stone building on top of a mountain near Bears Den Rocks, which used to be the beautiful home of some wealthy family. We're taking a day of rest sans-hiking at my Uncle Pete's nearby in Maryland. My mom came down from CT, picked us up at Harper's Ferry, then took us back here. We had a fest last night, complete with steaks, spaetzle (German noodles), esparagas, and beer to our content. After another night here, we'll be heading back out on the trail tomorrow.
This morning we toured around Harper's Ferry a little bit. The historic town has many interesting things to offer, the dominating factor being its role in the Civil War Era. It was also awe-inspiring to hike in over the monstrous Shenandoah River yesterday. Tomorrow we'll be crossing the Potomac on an old RR bridge in order to get over the border to Maryland.
That's it for now, gonna take advantage of our remaining rest time to do absolutely nothing. I shaved my 2 month beard yesterday. I think I'll appreciate losing the extra hair, especially in this warm weather we've been having.
P.S. We also passed the 1000 mile mark on our hike into Harper's Ferry yesterday, which was exciting. Adam and I celebrated with a high-five.

-Samsa (Phil)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hello Friends/Family from Waynesboro, VA

Before I begin I must say that its not true that I got kicked out of Mt Rogers Recreation area for attempting to ride a feral poney. Thats just horse shit. But in the interest of full disclosure I think one of them liked me enough to the point where it could have been my noble steed. Then again, maybe it was just the salty sweat residue on my pack straps.

The last week of hiking has been incredible. We have had day time temps averaging the upper 70s and night time temps in the 40s. Phil and I have basically been following the blue ridge mountains on a north-east heading towards Maine. The canopy foliage is still not out which makes for stunning views of the Virginian flatlands down to our right and the lowlands between the blue ridge and alleghenies on our left. With summer time heat and no shade from trees it somtimes feels like a dry savanna. This is especially true when we're walking over sandy soil with lots of pines. I never expected some sections of Virginia to feel like California! The warmth is invirgorating, but yesterday we were swatting gnats from our faces as we cooked dinner. All I could think was, "And so it begins..."

Spring has not fully sprung, but it has already given us a taste of the pros and cons of summer hiking. We're not so quick to discount the cold as a bad thing anymore, although still happy to be free of the possibility of future snow drifts and snotstickles. Still meeting great people, like a 70 year old thru-hiking from Tennessee who we've spent a couple nights with. His names Bear Fodder and his son came out to hike a section (son of Bear Fodder). Son of Bear Fodder even brought his son out, who they just call rubby ducky (age 11). Its still pretty amazing that two 19 year olds can be living the exact same life style as a 70 year old for a year.

Phil and I are still teaching each other languages. He's teaching me German, and I',m teaching him Spanish. I think I could now be able to at least order some good beer, white sausage, and a Pretzel if I find myself in Munich.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Montebello, VA

Hey, we finally got to a computer to give an update, although it seems that's already been done. Matu came out to visit and we were really glad to have him. The weather remains to be relatively warm and clear. We're staying at the Dutch Haus tonight, a b and b about 2 miles down a dirt road off the trail. We should be getting to the southern border of the Shenandoahs in about 2-3 days. There's also apparently a great bouldering spot about 30 miles from here that we're hoping to check out for an afternoon. Not much else to report. I haven't had a chance to mention it, but Adam will be coming back to Mt. Roger's Park to repeat the section, hopefully within the year. I had to hike the end of the park alone because he got kicked out for fighting a wild feral pony, after a failed attempt at riding it. Other than that, we've hit our stride hiking, and are starting to cruise 20+ miles / day. Another substantial update will probably come in Harper's Ferry. Oh, we also passed an old freed-slave farming settlement yesterday, which marks some interesting Civil War history that we'll be walking through.

p.s. I'm working with a new trail name for now, Daddy Luv was getting annoyingly misinterpreted.

- Gregor Samsa

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Matu's visit

Matu met up with Adam and Phil in Dalesville and hiked for three days and two nights to Buchanan, VA. Below are some of his photos. Looks as though Adam and Phil fell under a lawnmower along the way, and the cattle are standing their ground....

Rights of Way