This post is a contribution from Amos Hopkins and Katy Graves, whose fundraising hike-a-thon of The Appalachian Trail, The Bluegrass Music Trail, is raising money to purchase bluegrass instruments and instruction for needy children in the Appalachian region. Find all the pledge and donation info here.
We are publishing their trail journal here on Bluegrass Today.
From Amos Hopkins and Katy Graves – June 4, 2006
So we are half way through Pennsylvania already and I understand that the topography starts to get much more steep after the town we are in right now. It has been two weeks since we started the trail. I have been experiencing what is commonly known as “Trail buzz”. I have always had a part of me that is at home with the woods, the mountains, the animals, and the open trail. It feels that this part of me has been reawakened after a year of the indoors. I am in total bliss!
Things have been great although, I have had some pretty severe foot problems. After limping about 50 miles through Maryland, I finally had to break down and see a doctor in PA that diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis (sp?). Apparently the tendons in my foot are separating from the bone. It sounds yucky and it is, but I’m still limping on. Mornings are the toughest when my legs and feet are severely inflamed, but I get them stretched back out throughout the day. The trail has been such a joy that I cant let myself miss out merely because of foot trouble.
Part of what has kept me going has been the curiosity of each oncoming day. Also, because I am so darn stubborn!
As is the custom on the Appalachian Trail, Katy and I have already earned our “Trail Names”. Hers is “Cover girl” because I discovered that she has been hoofing cosmetics in her back pack to wear along the trail! Funny, I guess what ever makes you feel more human when you re covered in dirt sweat and grime is a good thing (I myself am in need of a serious shave). I earned the name “Mowgli” from the jungle book. Its because of my love of tree and rock climbing. Every night we hang food bags up in the trees that will hopefully be out of the reach of bears. I have been known to climb the unclimbable while using a reverse-belay technique with the rope attached to the heavy bags while bumping the bag up the tree using my head! It sounds silly I guess because it is.
We have met some amazing people on the trail. Each person has a different reason for taking on this rather daunting undertaking. The most interesting people are usually older (perhaps because they do the trail for more profound reasons).
Last night we wandered into a town for a hot meal and a bed and ended up playing music at a local establishment. It has been so amazing to see America through the geography, history, and local culture that adorns the trail along the way. It is so different then seeing it through a windshield. At the end of the day, it reminds me, that if you want to know where you come from, you must wander out of your own back yard.
Tomorrow, the trail starts to go up into real mountains. The easy part is over. But my excitement gets me out of bed every morning, ready to face the day with a fierce desire to see what is around the next corner. I miss you all! If anyone is interesting in sending us letters or postcards (a true delicacy when you’re away from home) please send them to:
c/o Bet Stewart
1427 Thompson Hgts.
Cincinnati, OH 45223
She’ll make sure we get them
One Step at a time,
-Amos Hopkins & Katy Graves (aka Mowgli and Cover girl)
p.s. here it what Katy has written about our latest jaunt:
Well, like I said, chipmunks are not bears, although when they rustle the leaves in their cute little chipmunk ways they SOUND like man eating beasts and make me run screaming in the opposite direction. Actually, from what we hear, the bears won’t get crazy until we get to New Jersey and that won’t be for another couple weeks, so I’ll let you all know if we get attacked.
Anyhoo, we’ve been happily traipsing along, getting up to about 14 miles a day, as long as our feet are holding out. We’ve had some problems with our feet, especially Amos, who has something called plantar faciatis(sp?) where basically his plantars tendon is tearing….mmmm…yum. Anyway, we went to a podiatrist who told us to get off the trail and when we refused he told us to get new shoes. So here with are in Duncannon, PA with new kicks and all the problems that go along with breaking in new stiff hiking shoes. We spent my birthday in Boiling Springs, PA at a crazy bed and breakfast stuck in a time warp and run by a lady named Kitty, who yelled at me for “VIOLATING THE CLEAN BATHROOM!” (I really had to pee and the other bathroom was occupied-so shoot me.) Anyway, it was a memorable way to mark my 25th year. A great birthday despite the psycho inn owner.
So now we are getting into the very rocky parts of Pennsylvania and are somewhat worried what it will do to our already hurting feet. We stayed at this awesome hotel called The Doyle last night, which caters to hikers and charges something ridiculous like 14 dollars a night and serves a mean plate of fried chicken. Its really great to be a part of the thru hiker culture and (mostly) everyone has been really kind to us. Yesterday after hiking about 12 miles up and down rocky mountains we came across a cooler filled with candy for thru hikers and just a little bit further was another cooler filled with ice cold juice! This was a wonderful bit of trail magic, courtesy of Trail Angel Mary, a local women known for her random acts of kindness to thru hikers. Today, in fact, she is driving us over 20 miles to an outfitters store, so Amos can get a new sleeping bag! We have been really blessed to have met many Trail Angels along the way who have helped us out with free rides and such. Good Karma coming their way, for sure! Its been awesome to see these little bits of America as we travel through these small mountain towns. After so much traveling abroad, it nice to expand your understanding of your own country and culture. So my final thought this week is a reminder to all of you who may have forgotten: The outdoors smells like wildflowers and it doesn’t get much sweeter than that, so get outside this summer and take time to stop and smell the sunshine and loveliness!
Love and Happy Trails!
Katy and Amos aka Covergirl and Mowgli