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Stop seeking and ye shall find

One of my goals when I originally set out on this journey was to take a LOT of pictures. Photography has always been one of my passions, but as my skill (and the technology) improves, so does the passion. Why else would I carry a good 15 lbs of extra photo equipment in my pack … especially since 35-40 lbs is the recommended TOTAL weight for such an endeavor? This extra weight no doubt contributed to my lack of success in becoming Hiker Extraordinaire, but only a little.

Part of the extra weight was a hard drive, to store all the evidencephotos. By the time I got sidetracked to Ohio, I had about 4000 (yep … thousand) pictures on that hard drive. Unfortunately, due to the constant, unplanned uprooting of my life at the time … the hard drive got … misplaced.

As one might expect, I was a bit devastated by this. I had access to copies of many of the photos, but the originals … let’s just say my character grew three times that day. In a way it seemed I had invalidated a few months of my life. But ya can’t change what ya can’t change.

In the past few weeks, I have been upgrading my photo site, to make it more functional, add more photos, and add the capacity to (gasp) sell said photos (had to be done). Despite my “loss”, I still had a couple of thousand pics to sort through and upload … the vast majority NOT on the site.

It turns out … 2 years later … that I in fact did NOT lose most of those photos. I … surprisingly … did the smart thing and actually backed up the back up drive, without even remembering I did it. I may have lost a few photos, but the vast majority were actually hiding in plain site right here on the computer I picked up in my travels. Most of these photos are now available on the photo site (or soon will be).

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A random image from the re-found photos.

It just goes to show you that if you let things go, they might just come back to you.

P.S. All of the original photos form this site are available on the photo site. You can even BUY them if you feel so inclined … but either way they are often higher quality versions than displayed here. Swing on over and take a look.

I should have taken a left at Albuquerque

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Monroe Falls, Ohio

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Monroe Falls, Ohio 41.144501, -81.439834 Monroe Falls, Ohio

This journey has always qualified as exploring the unknown. Even when I was under the delusion that I would leisurely walk 2200 miles with nary a sweat, I truly did not know what to expect. But I have to admit, ending up in Ohio never even entered the realm of far-fetched possibility. It is definitely NOT on any trail map I have encountered.

Yet somehow that is where I am today.

This journey has definitely shifted in ways I could never even imagine, yet it is all the more exciting as a result. I am truly beginning to explore the world as I always wanted to, even if some areas are not on any list of Place to Explore I might have ever made. This just brings to the forefront a very simple reality … there is beauty and ugliness to be found EVERYWHERE. We often all have expectations every time we visit someplace new, whether from information gained through the information storm technological societies face daily, or our own imagination. And most likely our expectations are at least partially wrong.

“Why?”, the more curious might ask, “ARE you in Ohio anyway?”

Well I’ll tell you.

As my journey morphed from a jaunt in the woods into a nomadic wandering, any budget that I even imagined got completely shoved into the realm of poorly written fiction. Sadly, this means some people have been hit harder than others in the capacity of supporter (thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU mom). In an effort to recoup some of the excess, as well as have something to work with to start actually earning funds again, I have come to the land of Kelly (my fellow nomad). Here she will use her skills and connections to earn a few bucks so we can get back to th realm of survival again. So we will be exploring the wilds of Ohio for a couple of weeks.

In the mean time, here are some pictures of the beauty I have already encountered along the way.

Making like a leaf and … ?

Yep. I am still in The Void. But while I existententially explore, I have also decided to at least deal with the technology issue a bit. I went and got myself a cheep computer, and now I can actually do things with my pictures … and maybe even write regularly. In the mean time, while I continue to figure out … well … what I am actually doing, here are a few more pictures of the area. I will be able to take ans post many more now! 🙂


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Damascus, VA

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Damascus, VA 36.633727, -81.783730 Yep, still in Damascus

Navigating without a map

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    Hungry Mother State Park

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    Hungry Mother State Park 36.883776, -81.526499 Hungry Mother State Park

“Why am I out here?”

Ultimately, every hiker will be asking themselves this question… most likely after a particularly bad or painful day. The funny thing is, at that moment in time they may not even know the answer to that question. We all start the trail with our reasons; our own justifications for attempting such a grand adventure. However, it seems to me that the justification we give ourselves to get started may be completely different from the “real” reason we are out here… often to our own surprise.

But that is how life really works.

This question has been bouncing around my mind like a pong ball of late, especially as any vision I had of the HOW of this journey has been completely replaced by that pesky bugger known to some as reality. In the last few weeks, I have found a new hiking partner, systematically gotten caught by every hiking town with any allure in a 300 mile radius, spent about 6 times my budget, found at least 3 places  that will be my future life and career, walked several hundred miles … most of it NOT on the trail, embraced my inner savage, helped my current hiking partner find her future porch rocking chair mate-for-life, had a nasty stomach flu, and dyed my hair and beard red, blue, and purple.

Yet I still am not clear what I expect to find.

This confusion, combined with a severe lack of cooperation from the Gods of Technology, is why I have not updated in a while … incidentally causing a few folk to wonder if I had been abducted by aliens or possibly eloped with a Sasquatch. Now, as I lie beneath a clear night sky in the oddly appropriately named Hungry Mother State Park (Virginia), I am in a position to share once again, even if I am not quite sure what I am actually sharing. My future vision, usually vague when it comes to myself, is now about as clear as wearing a blindfold in a sandstorm. The way I see it, these are the possible scenarios:

  1. I will eventually finish. Preferably before the grand celebration party that is no doubt being planned as I type. Or at least in the next decade.
  2. I will be kidnapped by aliens or elope with a lonely Sasquatch.
  3. I will start a hippie commune. Or go a little more upscale with a bed and breakfast/hostel. I will eventually become part of the mythology of the trail.
  4. I will actually complete a book.
  5. A combination of any of the above.
  6. None of the above.

Yep. All is clear now.

NOTE: One of the tech issues I have been fighting with tooth and nail has to do with photo transfer, so sadly youse guys are gonna have to wait for a new batch of masterpieces. 

The truth sets in

 

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Woody Gap

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Woody Gap 34.677591, -83.999357

Day 2-5
Weather: rainy; cold, rainy, and windy; rainy into sunny; hot sunny
Distance travelled: 21.1 miles

After Jeff’s setback, I hooked up with two new hikers: Rich (Grey Wolf) who is my age, and Ken who is 71 (no trail name yet). We all realized that our eyes were bigger than our muscles, and we are basically some of the slower folk on the trail right now.

Day 2 was crappy weather, and we were all feeling the effects of the previous day, so we stayed put that day. The next day we moved on, though it turned out to be and even crappier day. Between the rain, the chill, and the three stooges, we ended up only making it roughly half way to where we wanted to be. We made the mistake of camping in a gap (Cooper’s Gap) which means stopping in a wind tunnel. Thirty to fifty mile an hour steady winds, combined with rain and almost freezing temperatures made for a rather uncomfortable night. We were saved by some trail magic when a local car camper took pity on us and gave us beverages and food, and even a hat that night, and returned the next morning with hot coffee.

The next day we reached the shelter we were originally aiming for on day 2.

Finally today, day 5, we got the exact opposite weather, being unseasonably hot. Beautiful views, but dehydration was hanging over us. We ended at Woody Gap, far short of where we wanted to be again, and beat, decided to stay in a hostel. A subway sandwich, a hot shower, some cleaning, and a decent night sleep (hopefully), ended this part of the journey.

Right now we are averaging about 5 miles a day, which is well shy of the 8 to 10 a day planned on, but we are still plugging along. I shed most of the gadgets I brought along. They did not really work as I hoped, and are not worth the 15 extra pounds the are loading me with. I will still blog, and take as many pics as I can. It just won’t be as often as I envisioned.

Incidentally, my trail name is Rotund.