Thursday, August 29, 2013

a rant for crappy dog owners everywhere...

i don't know what's been so weird about the last day, but i've run into two really crappy dog owners in a row, and they've both made me SO MAD!

yesterday, a big group of us hikers stopped by a guy's house who was in our guidebook. he regularly invites hikers over for free ice cream and a game of croquet. as we approached his driveway, a large lab ran out into the gravel road and "welcomed" us with growling. a lady followed the dog and grabbed its collar and led it back into the yard. i assume she was the owner. she was at least the handler for the time we were there.

we all had a good sit on his porch as we ate our ice cream. all the while, this lady is trying to figure out what to do with her dog. at first, she puts it in her car. then i see her walking it on a leash. she walks it around. she brings it close to us. the whole time, the dog is never relaxed.

when we all go to play croquet, swayze gets up to come to me. swayze's coming directly to me, and the lady and that stupid dog are in between us. i didn't think anything of it because the lady has the dog on a leash (and a good owner/handler would be reading their dog's body language or have it under control), but when swayze got even with the dog, the dog jumps out and attacks swayze. i didn't see the original nip. when i saw it, the dog was at her neck, so i ran over, checked her neck really well, and she seemed okay. the lady didn't even apologize!!!! or even reprimand her dog for its behavior!!!! she was just like, "oh.. ok. my dog just jumped on yours. that's cool..." she tied it to the railing of the porch after that.

turns out, after closer inspection, the dog's original bite landed on swayze's rear and gave her a single puncture wound to her hindquarter. it will heal, but this morning, i would have been out of camp by 8, but instead i had to boil some water to make a sterile flush for her spot. also, that stupid dog that bit her is an iraq dog that's probably suffering from PTSD. AND the lady is apparently in vet school???!!! how in the hell are you in vet school and you don't have the common sense to keep a post-iraqi dog on leash away from other dogs???? and you can't read dog body language???

and then this morning in camp, some day hiker brings his FOUR very large dogs into camp off leash and lets them just roam around everyone's tents. by this time, i am already in the process of boiling swayze's water for her wound flush, so all of my stuff is already packed up. but it's still so inconsiderate of someone to bring their dogs into camp and let them sniff around tents. we are hikers. we live in the woods. we deal with bears and other large animals, and we hike upwards of 15 miles a day. granted, it doesn't make a lot of sense that a bear would be in camp in the morning time, but if someone had wanted to sleep in, those dogs sure would have ruined that.

so i'm by the bridge, and one of his huskies is approaching us. i stand up between swayze and the dog, and i ask the guy if his dog is friendly and let him know that my dog was bitten yesterday. he says yes, so i move and let them meet. they haven't met for five seconds and his dog is growling at swayze, so i move in and block his dog. i ask him to take his dog away and he says to me, "ah, i've owned dogs all my life, and it's fine. if they'd have wanted to do anything, he'd have done it by now." so i told him, "yeah, and that's what the lady said yesterday, too, and my dog got bit. could you get control of your dog?" and then he took me by surprise. he said, "it's not a f---in' private campground.

i'm from the south. and in the south, an older gentleman would NEVER address a younger lady with that word. but i realized i wasn't dealing with a gentleman, and i quickly lost my lady. i told him, "i realize it's not a f---in' private campground, but when i ask you to get control of your dog, you should do it!"

i have been so angry at people with dogs! how ignorant can you be??? if you have an even slightly aggressive dog, leash the damned thing so that good dogs and good owners may enjoy themselves accordingly! arrrrrr!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

i'm in new hampshire!!! :)

i am in my last state of the AT!!! :)
i crossed into new hampshire yesterday. these last couple of days have been amazing. God has truly blessed me with trail angels... two days ago, poppins and i were coming down a mountain and a guy yells at us from his back porch, "you guys want some coffee?" it stopped me in my tracks, and i yell back, "umm... yes!" so we got to the roadway and turned right, dropped our packs in his side yard, and went in for a cup of joe. baltimore jack (a guy who's hiked the AT 8+ times) was there with a few other hikers and the owner of the house, whose name was dan. to summarize, we wound up staying there for a few hours, and then it was decided that they would slack us south for 13 miles that afternoon. so travis loaded us up in the truck, drove us to west hartford, and at 2:30 that afternoon, we started the 13 mile hike back to dan's house. we got there a little after dark for a completion of a 19-mile day. more people had arrived and a homemade smorgasbord awaited us. there was bbq chicken and pasta salad and corn on the cob... a hiker's dream! dan even gave me the last can of coke! :)
i wish i could explain how awesome the next morning worked out. i will try. i will preface it with this: i absolutely LOVE how trusting and amazing the hiking community is.
our original plan for that morning was to have travis drive us back to west hartford before he had to leave to go back home to connecticut. however, as i'm packing up my tent, a complete stranger pulls into the driveway at dan's barn, gets out, and asks me if the owner of the property is around. i pointed to dan's house, told him he lives there, and he asked me his name. the stranger's (trail) name wound up being forty-four, and he was there to see if dan wouldn't mind slacking him over the exact same section that we had slacked the day before.
no less than half an hour later, forty-four had handed his car keys over to us, and entrusted us to drive his car the half hour north to west hartford and leave it parked and waiting on him for the end of his hike. it wound up working out amazingly for everyone involved because travis could drive straight to connecticut, forty-four got an extra half hour of hiking time that wasn't spend driving to west hartford, and we got to stop by the dunkin donuts on the way. :)
i wish everyone in "the real world" was so trustworthy as to give them the keys to your car in absolute faith that it would be exactly where they said it would be at the end of the day.
it's 10:30 a.m. and i should be hiking right now, but i've decided that i will take today rather slowly. i haven't been feeling well these past three or four days, and at first i thought it might could be giardia but those "fears" have been put to rest and now i've decided that i am probably stressed and dehydrated and just really tired.
here are the following reasons why thru-hiking is SO MUCH EASIER than section hiking:
- you only have to request off from work or quit your job once.
- you have (relatively) no deadlines to work with, so you can take your time with everything
- you only have to pay for transportation to/from the trail once
there are probably many more, but those are the major three that i can think of right now.
i've just been stressed about having to meet tim, kira, and heba on a certain date at a certain time. new england has been kicking my ass as far as terrain goes, and it's so hard to tell when it's going to happen. one day will be an easy 7-hour 14-miler and the next day, it'll take me an entire 10 hours to complete the same distance and i'll be completely beaten down at the end of the day. i think it has something to do with the fact that i've been on the trail for over four weeks now and there hasn't been a single day where i've not put my pack on and hiked. granted, i did have one day where i only hiked 3 miles into town and the rest of the day was spent doing town things and relaxing, but i have backpacked every single day for the past month. when i was on the trail the first time, i was out for five months and an entire month of those were complete 0 days. that's a 0 every five days. that means i'm 4 days overdue for rest. :) okay, so maybe i was a little lazy the first time, but i'm kind of amazed at myself for not taking a full day off this time around.
i will be in the white mountains of new hampshire in a few days. for those of you who pray, please pray for me. :) i think every hiker is a bit intimidated by the whites because of the extremes of the weather. mount washington holds the record for the second-highest wind speed ever at 231 mph. granted, that was almost 80 years ago, but the unpredictability continues. and i'll be dealing with myself and swayze over it. i know it will all wind up fine in the end, but please pray for excellent weather for the next two weeks in new hampshire. :)
 ooh!!! also!!!

yesterday, my AT checklist was completed because i finally saw a tree fall in the woods!!!! (and it made a sound!!!!) :) so now i've seen rattlesnakes and bears and moose and turkeys and porcupines and a tree fall in the woods.

Monday, August 19, 2013

three weeks down...

my, how time has flown by! :) 

i am currently in vermont and as i type this, i'm downing a pint of ben & jerry's phish food. vermont has been amazing thus far! y'all, i am super close to being a 2,000-miler, and i have STILL not had to hitchhike. i really had planned on hitchhiking this morning when i got to the road, but these vermont people are so nice, i swear i had not even set my pack down and had time enough to put my thumb out, and a car had pulled over and wanted to know if i needed a ride. so swayze and i hopped into her car, and she took us straight to mcdonald's. wanna know what my breakfast was? are you ready for this? i had a bacon, egg & cheese mcgriddle, a sausage biscuit, and a cinnamon melt that was washed down by two big glasses of sweet tea (thank GOD mcdonald's exist in the north)! 1,200+ calories of pure bliss. swayze had her fix, too: three sausage biscuits! 

mcdonald's was an amazing treat because yesterday, i ran out of food. up until vermont, you could "deli hop" on the AT, which basically means that you hit a town at least once a day that's close enough that you can go in for lunch, and not have to pack that food with you. when i resupplied the day before i hit vermont, i got the normal amount of food that i have been getting, but there aren't any delis mid-day here in this state. so i went through my food faster than i thought i would, and i was sufficiently starving by the time we got to town this morning. 

my pack is newly decorated! i ran into a few trail maintainers the other day, and they were painting blazes on the trees. i really wanted to paint a blaze, and i asked them if i could, but i don't think they took me seriously and they just laughed about it. but when i ran into their buddies a few miles north, i asked them if they would paint a blaze on my pack, and they let me do it myself! :) so now i have a white blaze on my backpack, and it's with bona fide AT paint! 

i have been meeting new, awesome people on a fairly regular basis. i haven't seen damselfly in almost a week. i feel really bad because there was a bee climbing up my shirt, and when i tried to climb behind my back, i took my pack off and dropped it to the ground, but when i bent down, the bee fell in my hair and got stuck, hahaha. then i semi-freaked out because i could hear this bee getting so pissed off going BUZZBUZZBUZZBUZZZBUZZZZZZZZ right next to my ear, and damselfly braved the bee and got it out with two sticks, but then it fell on her foot and stung her through her sock. and she's allergic to bees! =( so she took my bullet bee for me, and then had to go into town and medicate herself, and i have yet to see her since. she is okay now, and hopefully, she will catch up and i will see her soon. 

swayze's feet are holding up well. i bought some softpaws... they are nail caps that are meant to protect hardwood floors from dogs' feet. they're the last thing i could think of that might work for hiking. her front feet have had them on for almost 3 weeks now, and i just put her back toes on a few days ago. we'll see how this goes. i just ordered her a new coat tonight that should keep her nice and toasty for the white mountains here in a few weeks. i'm getting kind of nervous about how cold it will be when i get to them...

oh... i stayed at a hostel a few nights ago. i saw a picture of tim from 2011 where he'd stayed there. there is now a blank spot on that poster, and every time i open my guide book now, a handsome hiker man stares back at me. =D

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

hello from connecticut! :D

so we're in connecticut! :)

everything so far has been pretty awesome. it took us about a week, and we still don't fully have our trail legs, but swayze has totally perked up, and just the other day, we pulled our first 21-mile day. granted, the day after, those numbers were reversed, and we just did 12, but we're getting there. :)

we ran into a rattlesnake three days into the trail. that was kind of scary... it was big and fat and yellow. i had to call swayze off of it two or three times, and then it just went on its way. no bears yet. i have yet to do any laundry, but i've had two showers. none with soap, though.

it's so cold for summertime! it's getting down into the upper 50s and lower 60s here, and that's not normal for (what i consider to be) summer. i mean, i guess it might be for here, but when i hiked two years ago, i didn't think the north could get hot. it was still in the 80s at night two years ago. but now, i'm thinking that these are normal temperatures for the north in "summer", and it worries me because i'm not sure how cold it'll be when it actually starts turning cold. i've got a +45 bag, but i can't fully crawl into it and bundle up because i share it with the swayze dog.

she is getting all sorts of trail magic, as always. damselfly and i walked to a deli that was .6 off the trail the other day, and i bought swayze a can of alpo just to break up the routine food, and next thing i know, the lady behind the counter brings her out two more cans as a treat. and then today, we were sitting outside the coffee shop and a lady bought a dog treat and fed it to her. she's lovin' it. :)

gearwise, i'm impressed with things. carrying only 50L isn't so hard at all. i have yet to perfect the amount of food i'm carrying, and i can't drink enough water. even though it's relatively cool, i'm still drinking upwards of 3L a day. i'm not 100% sure how i feel about the tent that i wound up getting... i had to go with the big agnes fishhook ul 2, and it's zipperless. its setup can be tricky on tent pads/concrete, and every once in a while, a few bugs (mainly black ants) will still wind up getting in. on our test run in tim's parents' backyard, we decided that a permethrin treatment was a must, so that's definitely helped with the amount of mosquitoes, etc., but that was a downfall of the tent: i feel if you spend $460 on a tent, you shouldn't have to do anything else to it, especially if bugs getting in is a known possibility. imo, the fishhook should come pre-treated.

my hiker hunger is beginning to kick in, but it's not full-force yet. i have been craving cokes, but nothing super weird (such as ice covered in ketchup) yet.

i miss seeing and talking to everybody! much love to you folks!

some have asked, and if you would like to send anything, here's the formula for general delivery. :) many, many thanks in advance for anything received. :D next town stop to be announced soon.

angie holbrook
c/o general delivery
dalton, ma 01226
please hold for thru-hiker
est'd date of arrival 08/15/2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

a brief view of things to come... :)

lots of fun things are happening, ladies 'n' gents.

in the past two weeks, i've talked with both of my managers concerning a 6-week leave of absense for the end of july through august that would allow me to go finish the AT.

three weeks ago, tim, kira, swayze and i went to linville gorge for three days and two nights of outdoor adventure. the weather on sunday was not so great, so we car camped that night and then hiked out on monday morning. God bless all trail maintainers!! we took an unmaintained trail off the mountains to sea trail to get down into the gorge, and at times, i was just closing my eyes and walking forward to avoid having them poked out by the leaves and overgrown branches. we saw three snakes... an unidentified brown snake, a black snake, and a copperhead. the copperhead was really pretty... he was just sunning himself on a rock. the main bridge down in the gorge had been washed away a few weeks prior due to flooding, so we actually had to swim across the river. we threw our packs on a pulley system someone had rigged up and forded the river. no oxen died in the fording.

we ran into two people who were at linville hiking with their dogs. the dogs were two really cute labs named springer and baxter. :) it was kind of crazy, too... apparently the guy followed my blog when i hiked. small world! they were really nice.. the guy offered moral support to swayze when she had to swim across the river, haha. she wasn't too fond of that.

that weekend, i realized i might be able to cut my pack volume by more than a few liters. for the three days, i had plenty of extra food, and plenty of empty space in my bag. since that weekend, i've tried on multiple packs in the 50-55L range. i think i've decided on the osprey aura 50L. but i want the green color. not the ugly purple color.

so not only will i try to hike with a ~25% reduced pack volume, but i think i'll try going stoveless this time, too. while i really enjoy a buttered hot chocolate every once in a while, i'm super lazy about doing dishes in the woods. twelve hours between cooking and cleaning doesn't make ramen any easier to scrape off the sides of your cook pot. this will take some getting used to. stay tuned on how that all works out.

section hiking kinda sucks, though. i'm gonna have to figure out all travel logistics and whatnot. i much prefer the "drop you off in the woods and just call me when you're done" routine. not so much a big fan of having a timeline i'll have to go by... what happens if i get to a town and there's another church picnic with ponies to ride?! or if i meet another stranger lady that just happens to want to take me and my dog out of the summer heat for three awesome days of home-cooked meals and ice cream?! zeroes are the BEST! and i'll have to limit them.

so pretty much the entire dynamic of this hike will be different than last hike: less space, less weight, less meal options, and less vacation in the middle of the woods. this will be based on planning, planning, planning. and i kind of suck at that.

challenge accepted!