Date: Wed, 17 May 1995 14:46:03 -0500
From: (Brendan Hoar)
Subject: Trip Report: AT/Tom Floyd Wayside

I had this 95% written last week, but forgot about it...oops.

Long story:

My ex-housemate Rachel has been, for the past 6 or so months, trying to get me to go hiking with this guy she met doing trail maintenance last year named Greg (aka Greg Walker which I'd been calling him, since thats what Rachel calls him, but its sort of a nickname she gave him I just found out). She's been coordinating all this from Olympia, WA... Seems she thinks that we'd be good friends. I'd explain in depth, but it would really go into a lot of personal stuff about him that would probably be I'll keep it pretty simple.

Basically, he has this thing about the so called "real world". He hates it. So much so, he avoids it as much as possible. He has a backpack. He has some supplies. He has some money. He spends more than 8 months of the year hiking if he can.

Anyway, so he calls me the week before last and says he's on the AT and would be hitting the Front Royal the weekend before last and says it'd be a good place to meet again.

Fast forward to Saturday, May 6th.

Here am I, carrying way too much crap in my big pack walking East South East on route 522, hating myself for not noticing the topology of the hike I'm about to make before starting. When you're hiking on the side of the road, you have a lot of time to do things like read maps. The theme song to the old TV show "The Incredible Hulk" (sorta similar to the one from the Young and the Restless, I realized) keeps going through my head no matter how hard I try to eradicate it by singing other stuff out lound.

3.5 miles from Front Royal, VA to the AT crossing with a rise of about 400 feet. Mostly a very slow incline, not much decline at all. I have to adjust my boots several times, though. They weren't quite broken in. Ouch.

From there, 4 miles up to the Tom Floyd Wayside. However, its a climb of over 1000 feet...and it has downhill sections and flat sections too.

It took about 3 hours to get there from the crossing. The last .5 miles was the worst, as it was a steep (for me, remember WAY out of shape, carrying too much shit) zig zag, the term for which I can't remember. I must've fallen over three times after wrestling my pack off to rest. That was not fun. But, boy, when you stop you feel damn good. Endorphins!

I had 96 ounces of H2O before I left front royal. I had about 16 left when I arrived at the wayside...and I was really thirsty. Greg let me know I was lucky this time - there was a well kept spring just down the hill. "Clean" too (no boiling/filtering necessary), but I was dubious anyway and boiled it for a while on my small gasoline stove.

Now, the wayside is essentially a glorified treehouse w/o the tree. A roof, a floor, three walls (one open side). However, this is the most glorified of the waysides - it has a deck w/ benches! Ha! Crack open the beer! Oh, no beer. Suck. There was a privy about 30 feet away, with a marvelous view from the throne (it had a two piece door, so you could sit w/ the bottom door closed and have privacy and a good view).

We made dinner. First course: A mixture of boxed special rice blend w/ flavor packet and two oriental flavor (no comment) ramen noodles and some extra white rice and bread chunks to make it last longer...very very salty. Second course: Fantastic Foods Cajun red beans and rice w/ a bunch of rehydrated dried tomatoes for variety. Two stars. We almost had bean soup...but I had neglected to read the box before hand and we didn't have enough fuel to let it "simmer for three hours". OOPS.

When it started getting dark, we cleaned up and headed for the sleeping bags. Our original plan was to be asleep by 10 and wake up at 6, to get ready for a 10 mile hike to route 55 starting at 8am (since I had to pick up my housemate Kate at Baltimoe Washington International at 7:30pm Sunday night).

So, it gets dark.

We spend the next 5 hours talking about politics and making jokes about lines from the three star wars movies, Brazil and Time Bandits (think british accent-"I've got an idea...", "digital watches!", "mum, dad, don't touch it, its evil! ") and various other stuff that wouldn't be funny explaining it to y'all anyway. Had to be there, I guess...

I ended up snoring at 3am and getting a trashbag thrown across the shelter at me in the middle of night. I still say I only snore when I have a cold or allergies.

The mice keep waking Greg and I up. Good thing I read about Hantavirus* making it to the AT (one case so far from the AT, its about 50% fatal) on the Friday before when I was leafing through the latest Backpacker magazine.

No sleep. Oh well, there goes the Sunday hike.

The next day, Greg tells me "the story". Its his life over the last 10 years. I'll skip it for y'all.

Breakfast - I took mueslix (sp?) and mixed it with water/sugar/milk powder and made a sort of hot oatmeal out of it. Greg had hot grits. Yes!

Squeeze butter is scary. Anyway...

We hiked out (down 1000 feet) very quickly the next day to rte 522 and Greg took a picture of me in front of the infamous "Violators will be eaten" sign that you see pictured in all sorts of AT guides. I want a copy of that picture...

Headed back to Front Royal and picked up my car (luckily, not towed from the shopping center I left it in). Ate an entire pizza on the way home. Did not feel bloated. Body needed it. I was still hungry.

Next time, I'll pack light. My back still is complaining after a week and a half.

Random stuff here:

Fun story - After walking for like 1 or 2 hours w/o running into anyone there was one point where I had to cross a stream on a log that was put there to make it possible. My pack really has my balance fucked up. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to do it w/o falling over. As soon as I'm over, maybe one minute later, this guy is approching from the other way. No pack, wearing sunglasses...and...a..."hello my name is" sticker.

He asks me "where does this trail dead end?". I say, "it doesn't, its the Appalachian Trail". [Greg later tells me that a better answer would have been to say "Maine" and to keep walking (as I was walking South at the time).] So, hellomynameis gives me a funny look and then asks - "How far to the 4-H center"? I said, "well, I saw the entrance to the 4-H center out on route 522". He said, "and thats how far?". I said, "well about an hour, maybe more ago". He says, "then thats the wrong way then, as I saw it from a clearing a few hundred feet back".

He needs to stick to the blue blazed trails, not the white one.

See, the funny thing about the AT is that you feel like you are in the wilderness, but you're never more than a couple of miles in some direction from some kind of civilization. At night, it becomes obvious, especially if you are on top of a hill or mountain - city/house lights are pretty much always visible.

Yeah, so I drove from Front Royal to Arlington, VA and rested for a little while. Then called BWI, verified that Kate's flight was on time and it was.

I arrive at the airport and its delayed 2.5 hours. Equipment failure. I check in at home to verify that I should wait. Kate had called and yep, I should wait. I go sit in my car for 1.5-> hours and read Scientific American, since going home and coming back would take up all the time, so what was the point?

I go back in and notice that the flight was canceled. I call home - they've been trying to page me via the Airport Intercom system for like ever since 20 minutes after we last talked. Kates coming into National on another flight. Guess I should have waited in the airport. What A Drag. I think I dislike the real world too.

Oh, I guess thats enough...


*makes this message appropriate for d&e!
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