Saturday, October 8, 2011

We are happy to announce that Tom arrived home off the trail on Wednesday, October 5, 2011.  We still don't have a total hike mileage to give out yet, but it is about 1400 + miles.  While he didn't finish his thru-hike this season, he had a grand adventure for the last 6 1/2 months that he was out on the trail.  He's already planning to get out there next season and finish up his hike.  We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and encouragement to Tom and to us as we followed his progress over the last several months.  Tom has lots of awesome stories and tales to tell, so when you run into him, ask him to tell you one. 

Tom came off the trail near the Mount Washington area in northern New Hampshire.  He decided he was done hiking and called to let us know on a Saturday.  We needed some time to arrange transportation home but by that evening he had made his way to Vermont by hitching a ride from one of the trail towns.  On Sunday he was able to catch another ride to Springfield, Mass where he caught up with some family friends. A great big thank you to the Cummings family for welcoming Tom into your home.   Once we had him nailed down to a location we were able to arrange a ride home for him.   A dear friend of our family, Linda  Orr, was visiting a new grandson in Lexington, Mass and on her return trip she was able to pick Tom up and deliver him to our home.  (Thanks Linda!)

We've received lots of questions over the last 6 months and the ones that we were asked the most were:  Aren't you worried about him?  Is it safe?  Is he hiking with a group?

And the answers are, yes, we worried about him.  But while we worried, we also knew our son very well.  We knew his strengths and weaknesses.  We knew he was capable of taking on this adventure.  Our greatest challenge as parents was stepping back and allowing our son the space to go out on his own and hike his own hike, to allow him to set the pace, to go as far as he wanted to go.  Our job was to be his support when he called home and needed some encouragement to go on, to transfer money into his account and then allow him to figure out how and when to spend the money, to send him seasonal equipment as needed, and to remind him that we missed him and loved him and that we'd be here when he returned.   And when he didn't call for several days, we were trusting that all was well.  We learned to let go and to have faith.

Is it safe?  Yes, as long as you adapt to the trail, follow the long established routines and use your common sense.  Hitchhiking scared us.  But it is an absolute necessity when you hike the Appalachian Trail.  The local residents are so used to the hikers and so generous with their time, transportation, food, shelter, etc.  Our son learned to receive kindnesses from lots of strangers and these greatly enhanced his experience.

Is he hiking with a group?  The answer is no.  He did not start out with a group.  He started with his younger brother who came home after 400 miles.  Tom eventually hooked up with some other hikers who formed a close alliance and they spend lots of time together on the trail.  Together they went to Maine and hiked south.  Even though they were together, they still spent the day hiking alone sometimes as they all were hiking at their own pace.  Sometimes they would only gather in the evening at a shelter or would part for a few days if some of them went into town.  Tom was 100% responsible for his own food, shelter, and medical needs. 

One day, your child may come to you with some wild dream or crazy them, let them go, and sit back and watch your child transform themselves into a new and better and more responsible and capable person ready to take on all the challenges of adulthood, college, and more.

Thanks for following along.  And stay tuned for more adventures!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hostel in Bethel Maine

Well here I am, in Bethel, ME. I'm situated nicely the hostel, and not just any hostel this is one affiliated with hosteling international. So its very nice and cheap and quite a bit cleaner than any other hostel I've stayed at. Going over Mahoosucs notch here in a couple of days. Unfortunately planning has been getting a little difficult seeing as I've lost my AT guide. :(... oh well I'm hiking with Foon and Redsocks still so I'll use their book.
-Keeping keeping on

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 19, 2011

We had plans to go and visit Tom this week.  As with anything that involves our family, a simple little visit turned into an expedition to Maine!  It went something like this.  Hank was off from work for the week and we thought it would be wonderful to take a quick 3 hour trip up to New York with Ellie and Max and visit Tom.  So the afternoon before as I was baking and cooking up some of Tom's favorite meals and snacks we get a text from Tom.  He wanted us to know that he was thinking of flip flopping his hike which just means he wanted to go to the end of the trail and hike South.  That was followed by the text that asked if we'd drive him and 4 of his hiking buddies to Maine.  Oh my, I wish you all could have seen the gleam in Hank's eyes as he quickly envisioned a "road trip". 

So our quick 3 hour trip north, sight seeing, a comfy room and a short ride home the next day turned into a drive to Highland Falls, NY.  We knew that we would have hungry hikers so we brought a picnic lunch that we all shared in a small gazebo where we spent an hour eating and getting acquainted with Foon (Alex), his girlfriend Red Socks (Megan), Wiskers (Nathan) and Cliff (Matthew) and of course the Rookie (Tom).  Afterwards we all piled into the van and headed to Kent, Connecticut to fetch a package being held for Cliff at a local outfitter.  Then we headed north to Maine stopping only for restroom breaks and an impromptu picnic dinner that turned into a mosquito biting festival!  We rolled into Augusta, Maine at 11:30 at night; Hank and I were exhausted--we headed to bed---the young folk....they slept in late the next morning! 

Thursday found us at Denny's for breakfast well more like brunch but closer to lunch! Then to Walmart and Dick's for supplies and then finally on the road again.  We drove, and drove some more.  We saw lots of signs on the interstate warning us of moose in the area.  We never saw a moose!  When we finally reached the area of Baxter State Park we needed to find a hospital for Cliff who needed his arm looked at for a possible infection.  While Cliff was being evaluated we all ate another picnic dinner sans the mosquitoes this time.  Then it was off to Rite Aid to get prescriptions filled and finally towards Katahdin.  Of course our hikers had  no camping reservations so we had to take them to a nearby campground.  When we left the group, they seemed pretty pysched to be there at the mountain.  They were planning on climbing on Friday, August 18.  And then it's just several hundred miles back down to NY! A piece of cake.

Red Socks, Foon, Cliff, Wiskers, Rookie

Mount Katahdin in the background

Flip Flop and Katahdin

I could just take the easy way out. It would be easier....I could just say that Katahdin was so awesome there aren't any words to describe it. However that would be a lie. Katahdin was the most fun, most challenging, mountain i've encountered this entire 5months. The views were so epic at the top that I was left staring into the distance for some minutes. The climb up was over boulders we had to use our hands and pull ourselves up. It was a fun kind of exhausting that left you exhilarated and asking for more. That was Katahdin it was fun and now I'm heading down south to New York.

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011

Tom's still hiking.  Hank, Ben, Ellie and Max went to visit Tom on the trail on July 19 through the 21st.  Mom stayed home all by her "lonesome" and took care of Liberty the yellow lab, Jane the cat, Ralph the rabbit, and Sam and Noel the turtles.  It was a hard job but someone had to do it!  During that trip Hank offered Tom a bump up north since he was running behind schedule and faced with weather constraints.  After bumping ahead 300 miles up to PA, Tom met up with some friends that he had met earlier in the season.  Tom plans on returning and completing the 300 miles that he skipped after he reaches Mt. Katadhin.
Once in PA, Tom battled a foot infection through the rest of the state, visiting a doctor for antibiotics and then another visit to the local ER when the infection would not go away.  After receiving a shot and some oral medications he was on his way again. 
Tom is currently hiking through New York with Foon, Red Socks, Whiskers, and Cliff.  From everything we hear he's having the time of his life.  He's received some wonderful trail magic lately including a couch to sleep on during a rainy night, and right now he's staying at a free hostel with a "real bed" being reported!!! .  I just texted Tom for the name of the town he is in.  He said he didn't know but that he'd find out after he got out of the hostel shower.  What a rough life! Okay, he's done with his shower and reported that he's outside of Tuxedo, NY which places Tom around the 1363 mile mark on the trail. We are headed up to visit with him later this week and will return with more stories and photos from the trail.

Here are some pictures from trail magic received earlier this month around Stroudsburg, Pa.  Lots of thanks to Emily and Koon for their hospitality! 
Tom is on the right, and apparently too busy eating the blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon to look up at the camera.  Can you blame him? 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Polite words cannot describe this feeling.

Polite words cannot describe this feeling. ****! that could be any bad word and pretty much any bad word would sum it up. When my dad drove me up to Duncannon, PA. I stayed the night and then stayed another night then crashed like a hundred yards up the mountain on a large flat boulder. I couldn't fall asleep till like 5am. So I ended up getting up to hike at 3pm on Saturday. Then did the 4 miles to the first shelter all uphill a horrible clumb then I went down to the shelter and it wasn't the right name for the shelter? Thats because instead of going North I went...... thats where the ****! comes in cause. ***happens.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm in PA?

Alrighty heres what officially happened. I got the so called "Virginia blues", those blues were nothing other than me being homesick and tired of hiking. Physically I can do it. The mental aspect however is a little harder to overcome, but I think I will. Probably only for no other reason that I dont want to be a quiter.

I had called my dad so he could come pick me up, It ended up being an extended visit and a bump up north. We decided it would be best for me to be moved up to PA since I was in danger of not finishing before Baxter state park closes. I just hopped up 300 miles but I will be back to finish that bit up before the year is over.

Maine if it kills me- Thomas

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 7, 2011 It's Been Awhile!

Seems like it's been forever since I've updated the blog.  It's summer and things are crazy and hectic with all the usual summer things to do.  So in case you were all wondering, Tom is still hiking.  He is currently around the 750  mile mark on the trail in Central Virginia.  He's been having a blast for the past several weeks.  He spent a few days down in Southern Virginia being fed and pampered by my cousins in Pearisburg, Va.  Cousin Tam fed him, gave him a hair cut and ran him around to do errands.  Then of course he got to play video games and put his feet up for awhile.  What a hard time he had hitting the trail again!  Then once he arrived in Daleville, he was off the trail again for the day enjoying some more TLC from an old family friend, Kristen, who used to live in Delaware with us.  So once again, Tom enjoyed some fresh food, good company and a boost to his spirit!  Of course leaving Daleville apparently turned into an epic tale of a cheap hotel room, several hiking buddies and a swimming pool.  Not sure how many days he spent sacked out there but he is once again back on the trail and hoping to put some miles behind him. 

Tom is currently on his 3rd pair of shoes so far on the trail.  We can't believe how fast he is blowing through them.  We are hoping to meet up with Tom once he gets in the vicinity of Front Royal, VA or farther north.  Traveling with his younger siblings is challenging and we are hoping to keep the one way trip to 3 hours or less. 
 Today is Tom's 110th day on the trail.  This is when the trail becomes the most difficult. He's been  hiking in the evenings and by moonlight as it is so hot during the day.  He's spending more time alone these days as the majority of the pack are further north of Tom.  He's not on any particular time table and so therefore not pushing hard to make big mileage each day.  But the Virginia blues have been hard on Tom.  The endless days of hiking and eating the same foods gives way to fabulous days hitting the local towns, talking with the locals, eating out, and hanging with fellow hikers in the shelters at night.  So leaving towns, hostels, and the fellowship of other hikers becomes harder; the distance traveled each day becomes less as more time is spent enjoying the summer weather and all the distractions along the way.  Tom had wanted to be in Harper's Ferry, WV by July 15th and now knows that he is dreadfully behind schedule so he has decided to pick up the pace a bit this week and put some miles behind him.  So good luck Tom and we hope to catch up with you soon.

And your package with your shoes, board shorts, new socks, and a few little goodies is on it's way to Glasgow, VA by priority mail.   Hope you catch up with it in a few days. 

Love, Mom

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roanoke, VA

So here I sit using my moms friend Ms. Kristen's computer. I arrived in town earlier this morning and got a room at the howard johnson hotel for $10bucks since im splitting the room with my pals Tyvek and Moose. Hiking has been a blast so far and I'm looking forward to getting farther north.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Virginia Blues

Apparently Tom has the Virginia blues ie; state with most trail miles "550 or so" and a high dropout rate. He seems to be fighting them and sounded upbeat when we spoke to him last night, after not hearing from him for three whole days, which made us somewhat anxious. He has met back up with some pals that he thought were to far ahead and now they are trying to catch up with others that are ahead. He knows who is still hiking and when then they went through an area by looking at the logbooks at each shelter. He is coming up on 700 miles, a little less then a third of the way and the enormity of the undertaking is bearing down on him full force. He is actively trying to lighten his pack down to the barest essentials. He is shedding his hammock and midweight sleeping bag. We are sending him a ultralight TARP for shelter when shelters are out of range and a ultralight summer sleeping bag. The first lady to hike the trail used a shower curtain for coverage! "Grandma Gatewood hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1955 at the age of 67, wearing Keds sneakers and carrying an army blanket, a raincoat, and a plastic shower curtain which she carried in a homemade bag slung over one shoulder"   Hank

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Been hiking a long while now and it's pretty fun. Iv'e lost 35 pounds of my body and about 8pounds off my pack. Iv'e recently been renamed the rookie, seeing as once Ben got off trail my coaching days were over. I'm currently in Pearisburg, VA staying at my cousin Tam's house, but seeing as I've been in town about three days I'm heading out. This is a short update because the libraries closing. I'll post again soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So we don't have much to update.  We've only had rare updates and/or phone calls from the trail in the past 2 weeks.  Tom has been making more daily miles and as of today he is at 542 miles and camping at the Davis Path campsite north of the Va 683/U.S. 11/I-81 area of Atkins and Marion Va.  That's about all the details I could get out him when he called home this morning while waiting to place his order at the diner where he was with a couple of other hikers, Scout and her husband, Nick.  I suppose his hunger pangs were more important than Mom's million questions!!  We've also been having reception problems as well. 

This is Partnership Shelter on the trail north of Troutdale.  Tom arrived here on Saturday, June 4 and then he took a zero day here on Sunday where he received a massage for his aching leg.  By the end of the week Tom should be hitting the 600 mile mark!  Hike on Tom! 

About Me

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Welcome to our blog. Come and visit and get to know my crazy busy family. First there is me, Tammy, also known as the MOM. And then there is Hank-the Dad. We are the proud parents of 5 wonderful and wacky kids. In order of birth-Nicholas, Thomas, Benjamin, Eleanor, and Maxwell. We are a homeschooling family and we love to explore, travel, and create dynamic family traditions and rituals with our children.