For New Comers

For anyone coming to this for their first times, our thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail ended on June 6th, 2009 after 4 months and 6 days of being out on the trail. We made it as the first ones to finish the trail north bound for 2009, and we had a wonderful experience. Starting from the most recent entries to the beginning of our trip is our journal entries. For anyone who may have questions about planning a thru-hike feel free to e-mail me at anytime (my information is a few posts down)

Enjoy!

To All South Bounders!

We are finishing up this morning, but for any south bounders that we have met along the way who has come across this site, here are some helpful numbers and names to have along the way. Any of them (including myself) will be more than happy to help you in anyway possible, so feel free to write these down and utilize them. They will slack-pack you, clean you, and give you a soft place to sleep for little to nothing.

Enjoy your thru-hike and make sure to call someone who understands before getting off if you think thats what you want to do!

Manchester, VT
Odie Green
(201) 290-9153

Dalton, MA
Rob Bird
(413) 446-4208

NYC
Ian Mangiardi (Me)
(917) 885-0205

Unionville, NY
Dick 'the Mayor' Ludwick
(845) 726-3956

PA/D.C.
Andy Laub ("Camel" of "The Dusty Camel")
andrewdlaub@yahoo.com

Atlanta, GA
Dave Dagresta (thru-hiker '09)
DavDag8@live.com

Final Post

Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this will be my final real post. Obviously tomorrow the picture of us atop Katahdin will go up, but this is what it all boils down to.

Andy and I started this trip as strangers, and are now brothers. We have gone through so much over the past 4 months and have realized a lot of things about each other, ourselves, and our lives. At the beginning of this trip, we were on it to hike the trail and have an adventure, and we quickly realized that is only a small fraction of why we were there. Several things brought us to the trail, but we have had time to reflect and understand what we have gotten out of this trip and why we both needed it. This year has been a big one for both of us, and we needed to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and really reflect on who we are, and who we want to be. Andy told me a fable about a rattlesnake the other day:

"A rattlesnake was frozen in the middle of a path one frosty morning as a little girl walked up to it. 'Please warm me up little girl so that I may go about my day, for I am frozen and cannot move' said the snake, 'I promise I won't bite you.' So the little girl warmed him up, and as soon as the snake was warm enough to move, it bit her. 'Why did you bite me?' asked the little girl, and the snake responded 'I am always a rattlesnake.'"

Basically, one of those silly fables that shows a person can't change who they are. We came to the conclusion that the rattlesnake never hiked the Appalachian Trail! We took ourselves out of our comfort zone to reflect on life, and have changed from it. The trail isn't about walking from Georgia to Maine, its about the bond we have created with one another and how we have changed from it. The adventure we had has changed us, and has created an unbreakable friendship. We have witnessed the metamorphosis that each of us has gone through, and will forever be better for it.

In the morning we will finish this adventure, and end a chapter of our book. To all the people who have helped us along the way, we thank you for your support. We will be putting a book together of our pictures and stories, and would greatly appreciate any letters or words that people who have followed this journal would like to cement in our memories.

If you would like to contribute, send any e-mails to irm215[at]nyu.edu, or if you would prefer to send a hard copy, e-mail me anyway and I will give you the address to send it to.

Thanks again to all, and good journeys,

The Dusty Camels

Christmas eve eve

In two days we will summit katahdin. Today we left the shelter, and all went swimingly! We are in better spirits, and not only that, but Dave and Dennis made it up to us! We weren't expecting that, but are happy to see them and finish up with them.

So right now we are camped out with them after a long day. Nikki said she could come earlier, so we have huffed the past two days to finish this up. She will be here tomorrow night and we will summit on Friday and the forecasted weather is gorgeous! We are almost there, and man are we excited.
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First sight

Today we left our shelter to climb over the last large hump before katahdin. There were four peaks we had to go up and down, but on the last one, we had our first sight of the big finale. It was quite large to say the least.

Our morale is dwindling and does so throughout the day. However, we are only three days away from the finish, so spirits are a little better than last week!

We got to our shelter, and shared it with a woman from Maine who was doing the 100 mile wilderness. Other than the view of katahdin, it was another day on the trail. We are excited to finish but down that we are still on the trail at this point.

Hopefully we will do better tomorrow.
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Nice day

Today we woke up and left the shelter around 10. It was a decent hike, we had a few up hills, but only one really difficult one. We went through some bogs and over lots of small bridges because its so muddy. When we stopped for lunch, we were swarmed by black flies. So much so, that we actually sat there and ate with our head nets on. They are just like gnats that bite , they are incredibly annoying. Once we got going again, the terrain began to flatten out. And then we had a very wide river to ford! I suppose that was the exciting part of the day. We were knee deep in the water for about 150 feet. It was cold. But we are in Maine! And it was refreshing to give our feet a mini ice bath.



After the ford, we began a slight incline for about 6 miles to our shelter. Its pretty remote around here besides some logging roads, but its a cool dense forest with lots of rivers and brooks. Where we are now is an exciting shelter. Why's this? Well, we are at the base of the last real mountain before katahdin! Not only that, but from the summit of this mountain, we can actually see katahdin! This is incredibly exciting. We are almost there! We will take it easy for a few days and have the day off when Nikki gets here, and then on the 8th, we summit the big guy!



We are feeling better now that we are closer, but emotions are a little dulled at the moment after the past week. The excitement will overwhelm us soon enough!

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On our way to katahdin

Today we woke up early at Shaws hostel to a giant breakfast. It was very tasty! It was nice to have a large scrumptious meal before the last week of our trip.

As we were eating the infamous trek walked in. I was delighted to see he seemed like a nice chipper old man, until he completely ignored all of us. He was an ass. As we were leaving, we were getting pictures with Gil and dawn and asked if trek would like to get in. He said no, and then dawn said he doesn't like his picture taken, and he responded - from 5 feet away - there are plenty of pictures of me, I'm just doing my laundry now.

Whatever, we couldn't care less about him. So we left the hostel and started up for the trail. Gil told us about a side road he took to follow train tracks for a while and that it was really nice, so we did that to get back to the trail. It was gorgeous when we left and when we were on the tracks, but after we got back on the trail, it started raining on and off. When it wasn't raining, the bugs were out in full force.

Before our shelter, we had to ford a river that had a rope hanging over it because it was fairly deep and moving pretty quickly. That was fun, and once we got to the shelter, we set up camp and relaxed. It has been raining on and off, and a lot of thunder. There was one crack of thunder that actually scared the daylights out of Andy and I. Not to long after, we heard a large tree fall not too far away.

Today, two trail saying came to mind - hike your own hike and, its not about the miles, its about the smiles. We realized to stay out of other peoples hikes as everyone has a different experience, and no one can comment on another hikers trip unless they are there with them.

We talked to Nikki, andys friend who is picking us up at katahdin, and set everything up. We are excited to lop the head off this dragon!

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Almost there

Well last night was hard, but we are almost there. We will be venturing into the hundred mile wilderness tomorrow and finish up this journey soon enough.

We are in a hostel with a south bounder. Its an interesting feeling seeing someone who has just started as we are just about to finish. He is a cool guy and we gave him some information of people who helped us along the way.

The last week begins tomorrow.
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How to describe our feelings right now..

We are mentally strained to the point of insanity. Its like we are in prison locked up with the key dangling in front of us. We are on the brink of going crazy that it actually begins to physically hurt.

Right now we are doing anything we can do to finish as quickly as possible. We are in Maine now and we are going as quick and hard as possible to get this finished.

The hundred mile wilderness is the last hump. That is a hundred miles of dense forest away from any sort of town. Once we complete that we will be 10 miles from the end, but we still have a few days to get to that. Service is spotty out here, but I will do my best to update you guys. Hopefully we be done soon. We can't stand too much longer of this!

The only thing harder than being out here alone, is being Andy and knowing his new girlfriend Danielle is waiting. What a crazy trip.
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What a day

Well we woke up on top of a 5200 foot mountain to rain and the tent violently shaking from the wind. We started walking and made it a couple hours through the raw rain, drenched to the bone, and we decided to go into town as all our clothing was wet and we were freezing. the slippery rocks, my fall, and a rock to andys face helped facilitate that decision as well.



We got down to the road, and a park ranger helped us to town. We are doing our laundry and sleeping in a warm dry room tonight.



Last night was an eventful night. We had a long talk as we were both feeling tired mentally. We both decided that while we need to enjoy this trip, its time for it to end. so, we are going to put our heads down, tighten our boots, and hit the trail as hard as we can. We are going to wake up earlier, go to bed later, and truck as many miles as we can until we finish. We are going to try to finish around the 15th rather than the 20th now, which means about 4 more miles a day. So, I may not post often for the next few days until we are in Maine as I will be too tired.



We will see you in Maine.



Ps congrats on Andy and Danielles rekindled relationship - another outcome of last night.





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Mt lafayette

Well today there was lots of climbing. We woke up and made our way to the trail and luckily didn't have any problems finding it. We knew we had a 4000 foot climb today, so we were a bit apprehensive as to how it would pan out. The thing about the whites is you're never really on a ridge line, so you are going up and down on some really steep mountains; but, to say the least, it is gorgeous.

The climb was tough, and there were some scary steep parts, but on a whole it went well. Before the first of three peaks we went over today, we met and older couple named mr and Mrs going home. They have hiked the trail 2.5 times and are planning to do it again for Mr going homes 80th birthday! They were very nice and we talked to them for a little before starting up to the summit.

When we got to the first summit, we were just under two miles to Lafayette, and for those two miles we were on an exposed ridge line - it was awesome. We could see what we were going to climb before hand, and it was just a nice change of scenery.

We finally got to Lafayette and there was a little corner in what looks to be an old foundation and we decided to camp there. Technically its not legal, but its ok - were thru hikers! We walked down a steep side path to fill up on water after talking to a group of people out for the day. After we came back up, a guy walked over to us and asked if we wanted some carrot cake, so obviously we jumped at the offer. It was marks 50th birthday, and he was spending it on this gorgeous mountain. We talked to them for a while and another guy named Jeff gave us power bars and the rest chipped in with carrots and m&ms! So it was a good day. We also met a woman who was running a loop that is part of a local search and rescue team, and hopefully we won't need to see her soon!

This is by far the best campsite we have had. To our right we see Washington and where we will be going, and to our left we can see mooseilauke and where we came from and behind us is a raven nest.

As gorgeous as this is, we are feeling the length of this trip. We grow tired, but hopeful to finish well.

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So it begins!

Hiked today: 15.1
Hiked total: 1798.0
To katahdin: 373.3

Today we got a late start, but we had a good sleep and it was a gorgeous day, warm and sunny. Allie Matt and Victor left half hour before us to summit moosilauke but we caught up with them soon.

The accent was a 3500 foot accent in four miles. It got fairly steep at some parts, but for the most part it was pretty consistent. Andy was ahead of me, so we both hiked that section alone, I was only ten minutes behind at the end though. A few hundred feet before the summit, there was a very flat section, and I got really excited since I could see the top. It was memorial day, so there were tons of people on the trail, and I blew right passed them all! I met up with Andy at the top and boy was it windy! It was amazing. I had my poles in front of me going up hill so I wouldn't be blown over, it was insane! It was so exciting and beautiful though.

After half hour at the summit, we started our decent. We stopped at the shelter for a little to leave a note to the three we spent the night with, and met some new guys. We hung out with them for a while, and then started what's supposed to be the steepest 1.4 miles on the trail - that was interesting. There were logs bolted into the stone and metal bars as hand railing because it was so steep. It took us a full hour to go down it.

Once we were off, we went into town to resupply and get some food. Unfortunately, money is tight now, and we couldn't stuff our face at the diner like usual. So, we each got a chicken, macaroni/potato salad, bread, and juice to have for lunch. After re supplying for basically the rest of new Hampshire, we started to get back to the trail.

It took forever to get a hitch. We were right in front of this tourist place, and we saw our first bear! Unfortunately, it was in a pen for bear shows, but we did see one! Just as we were about to give up on a hitch for the night, a crazy guy picked us up. He was awesome. He was wolfman for the tourist place and looked the part! He dropped us off and we started to search for the trail. We couldn't find it. We walked all over looking, but had no idea as to where it was! About an hour goes by and its getting dark, and I pull up a map on my phone to see the trail being called the cascade brook trail. So we follow the signs to that, angrily telling the woods its the APPALACHIAN trail and to get it right on the signs.

We set up camp for the night and will resume tomorrow. Unfortunately, after tomorrow, there will be three days of heavy rain. We will be going over the presidentials. Who knows what that will be like - may be snow and ice at that altitude. We look forward to continuing the whites, but are wary of the weather.

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Welcome to the whites

Hiked today: 21.0

Hiked total: 1780.9

To katahdin: 397.4



This morning we woke up and packed up. We slept in again, as we have enjoyed doing lately, and slowly made our way to the trail.



The hike was a little crazy as it started raining like crazy and did so until noon. We were fairly wet and a little chilly. It was a fairly uneventful hike though. We needed to get some food, but didn't want resupply for a full 4 days because we didn't want to carry a full load over moosilauke. So we got one ride from a guy in a pick up truck to the main road. After walking a little while, a guy in a direct tv truck passed us then turned around and came to pick us up and being us into town.



While in town, we ate and got a days worth of food and went to get back on the trail. A guy offered to drive us to the trail. So we took his ride, and went to the trail.



When we got to the trail, we hiked a mile to the shelter. We set up and then went to a giant river near by where we were going to swim. However, it was freezing, and lots of mosquitoes, so we just filled up our water and left.



When we got back to the shelter, there were three people our age there; allie, Matt, and victor. They were out for a few days before they start summer jobs. It was funny because they were day students at a boarding school nmh used to play against, and they knew people from around andys area. So we hung out with them and victor and Andy played guitar and we had a good night.



Now we have just entered the whites, and tomorrow we have a very big climb. We are excited, but also bummed because my camera batteries died and the charger which I was supposed to get in Boston never made it there. So we have a disposable camera. Into the real mountaineering stuff tomorrow!

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On the trail again

Hiked today: 11.0
Hiked total: 1747.5
To katahdin: 430.8

Crows. Stupid stupid crows. They woke us up at 6 with their cawing. One actually pooped on my tent. I hate crows.
Last night we camped right off a road in town and when we woke up we realized we were a little closer to the road than we thought last night. We also had a revelation last night sitting in town. When someone went by and asked us about our hike we realized we are sick of telling the story, but get pissed if people don't ask. After this statement, we came to the very enlightning revelation that that is how women feel. We now know what its like to be a woman. After we fell back asleep this morning, I woke up to a guy standing on the road looking down on us. I explained we were thru hiking and everything was cool. Actually, funny enough, after the guy asked what we were doing, Andy, while still sleeping, responded with a grunted 'thru hiking'. He didn't remember it after he really woke up.

So we packed up and left for the post office to get replacement pads that were shipped to us. On the way there, a very AT looking woman drove by and yelled out the window 'the trail is good, and it is the way!' That was very amusing. After that we went to lou's which was a very nice diner - just our kind of place. After we walked in and set our packs down, an excited waitress seated us. She said she liked having hikers so made sure she got us. She brought us free donuts and muffins which were delicious. She was very nice, and enjoyed her company greatly.

After we left we headed for the trail to begin the last leg of our trip. It was a gorgeous -albeit a little hot - day. The bugs were a little too intense, and we are not looking forward to the bug season which is almost upon us. After granting Danielle her wish of having her picture on the trail, we hiked only 11 miles to our shelter. We are going to average around 15 for the rest of the trip, but today we decided to just do 11 to get back into the swing of things. We had some good talks along the trail, and we were talking about after the trail and Andy came to the conclusion that he is moving to nyc and finding a job there. Before, it was one of the top three cities where he will end up, but now, for various reasons, he has picked the wonderful new York city.

So here we are, in a shelter again! The dusty camels have returned.

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Sleeping in

Hiked today 12.4

Hiked total:1759.9

To katahdin: 413.4



Today we slept for a total of 13 hours. I guess we are still catching up on sleep. We decided to go to the shelter today and only hike 12 miles and sleep in an old fire tower. So, after breakfast and being at that shelter for nearly 20 hours, we left. The hike was actually fairly hard, and we were extremely tired at the end of it.



We saw a lot of pretty sights along the way, and a lot of views of what's to come in the whites. It was really windy and a little cold though. We were able to see the firetower from a few miles away which was really cool, but we could also see how far it was.



When we finally got to the fire tower, we climbed up to see that 4 windows were broken and it was extremely busy - people were climbing up it a lot. So we decided not to sleep up there, especially since it was supposed to rain. However, the sight was gorgeous. There were 360 degree views of all mountains. shelter we are in now is actually an old rangers cabin, so its pretty nice. We enjoy having a 4th wall and a door very much, and wish every shelter could be like that. There is a guy here named thunder, and he gave us some extra food.



So all is well on the trail, except the lack of service. Tomorrow we will be at the base of the whites!

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And then we're....

Well, as we speak Andy and I are on a bus back to hanover where we left the trail. Its been an exciting week, and we took a few days longer than expected, but it was worth it.



We left danielles around 430 to take a bus back, and we both decided that we couldn't stay away from the trail any longer; it was getting a little too comfortable away from it!



We have 440 miles left on the trail, and we have a lot of work ahead of us as we are about to enter the whites. Previously, when we talked about what's going to happen along the trail we said:

"we have a couple weeks until we get to Philly, and then after that we will have 10 days until new York, and then we have 3 weeks until Boston for graduation, AND THEN WE ARE done!" well ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived to the 'and then we are' part of that time line. The last leg of the trip has arrived.



So, thank you for your patience and waiting for us to return to the site. There won't be a day missing until this trip has ended.

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sorry everyone

I know I know, it's been a while, and for that I apologize.

Anyway, just a short recap of whats been going on. The day after we left the Hazeltons, we started our hitch into Boston. It took a total of four hitches to get in, but only 4 hours -- which is only an hour longer than it would have if we were to get a straight shot, and shorter than it would have if we were to take the bus!

After breakfast, we went to the on ramp and set up two signs, one saying AT Hikers, and the other saying 2 Boston 4 Graduation. We set up the signs on our poles and sat on the guard rail to wait. As we were sitting down, a pick-up truck pulled off to the side and told us to jump in. We put our packs in the back, and got in the front. There were two guys there, and one of them was going to the hospital at Dartmouth to get checked out. They were nice guys, and they gave us a ride about 10 miles away from concord (nearly halfway.) So they dropped us off, and we went to go to the south bound on ramp only to find that it was a nearly 3 miles away. Unfortunately, we had to walk, but it's not like we don't do that anyway, so we started out and wrote on the back of one sign to 89 South to see if we could get a ride the three miles. About a mile and a half into it, we went through a town and a pick up that was pulling out of a parking lot stopped in front of us. We weren't sure if he saw the signs or where we were going so we went to go talk to him, but he just pointed to the back of the pickup and we hopped in. And off he went, to where? We had no idea. We were relieved at first after he got onto 89 south, and it was an interesting experience driving on the highway in the back of a pickup truck, but cool none-the-less. We thought our first ride put us in a tight spot by putting us 3 miles away from the south onramp, but this guy really put us in a tight spot. We needed to get from 89 to 93, and that is what he did. However, he was still going to the end of 89 and didnt drive up 93 at all, so he dropped us off in the middle of the highway at the on ramp to 93 from 89. This was a tough place to get a hitch, because everyone is turning off one highway and getting on to another, so everyone is speeding up and theres no room to pull over. We actually got lucky and only waited about 15 minutes before someone pulled over. He was nice enough to pull over just enough to let cars pass, but it was still a tight spot, so we jumped in as quickly as possible and headed off. His name was Gil and he was from around there and was very nice enough to drive us as far as he could which was about 25% of the way.

After gil dropped us off, we went and set up near the onramp once more. we were actually there for the longest time, we tried moving and going to different spots and finally after a while, we got one. Tom picked us up and drove us as far as he could before he had to pick up his girlfriend in salem, ma. Luckily, she called him and said she would be late, so he offered to drive us in all the way to downtown Boston -- which he did.

So we ended up in Boston, walked around, saw some people, showered and got situated. We will resume our hike early this week, but when, we are not sure. So theres the update! And I will update it again once we jump back on the trail!