Friday, May 27, 2011

No, Tom, that is NOT a big dog!

May 27, 2011

Today is Tom's 18th Birthday!  He called home today to tell us about his exciting time last night at the Watauga Lake Shelter in Tennessee.  First he lost his glasses.  Ugh.  They were brand new, purchased just two weeks before his hike started in March.  He put them on a stump along with his wallet and other important items and went for a swim.  Then the glasses weren't there???  Hmm.  So he crawled around looking for them for 45 minutes.  No luck.  So we are sending his back up glasses with a slightly weaker prescription to him on the trail.  He won't get them until at least Wednesday of next week since Monday is a holiday.  Of course he can still hike.  His vision is blurry but otherwise he can continue. 

So two months and over 400 miles later, after he's hiked through the Smokies, and other heavy bear territory, and never a sighting....until he loses his glasses!  So him and a few other hikers are sitting around the picnic table at the shelter and two guys jump up and run to the shelter while saying something about a bear.  Tom, squinting thinks he sees a big dog, but takes the other hiker's words for it and runs to the shelter.  Apparently the bear had cubs with it.  Not the best situation.  To make matters worse, the bear kept returning through the night.  Must have been a pretty sleepless night for the shelter mates.  Tom did say he tried to get some pics but his camera flash wasn't able to pick them up in the darkness.  He did say he saw one of the bear cubs get spooked and scramble up a tree. 

Happy Birthday Tom.  Hope you had a wonderful day!

Posted by Mom

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Picking up Ben in Roan Mountain, TN

Thursday, May 25, 2011

On Friday, May 19, 2011 Hank, Tammy, Ellie, and Max headed south to pick Ben up off the trail.  We spent Friday night in Pearisburg, Va visiting with our cousins Dave and Tammy and their three children; Paige, Grant, and Hailey.  After a wonderful visit, we left Va and headed further south to Tennessee.  In the late afternoon we arrived and set up camp at Roan Mountain State Park and awaited a call from our hikers.  Ben was the first to call and we were off to pick him up.  We knew he was located on Highway 19e somewhere between Roan Mountain, TN and Elk Park, NC.  He was easy to spot sitting against the guard rail with a backpack at his feet.  Ben had hiked a total of 389.6 miles.  Next we programmed our GPS and went in search of Tom who had hiked to the 400 mile mark and was located on Walnut Mountain Road.  We drove until the very curvy mountain road turned into a dirt road and we continued on only knowing he was located somewhere along that road.  We first spotted his pack leaning against a tree and Tom wasn't far from it.  Apparently he thought we had left him there for the night and was worried that he'd have to set his hammock up soon.  We all finally arrived back in camp around 7 pm and we cooked up a bunch of steaks, fried onions, baked potatoes, and baked beans for our hungry hikers. 
On Sunday,  Tom babysat his younger siblings while Mom and Dad hiked with Ben to finish up his last 10.4 miles of the trail.  He was able to hike this last section without his pack!  And what a hike it was, up, down, switchback after switchback, a very LARGE snake, some friendly hikers to chat with, 2 beautiful waterfalls, and a friendly dog that tagged along for awhile before heading off with a hiker named "The Guy".  So Ben made his 400 miles and we were happy to have finished it with him. 
Monday morning we ate breakfast, and pumpkin pie to celebrate Tom's upcoming 18th birthday, and then we packed up camp.  We fed Tom lunch, grocery shopped with him, found more camp fuel, and then took him back to the trail and we all said good-bye!  And then he was off, on the trail again.  The rest of us, we turned and headed north as well, but towards home.  On the way home we stopped in Roanoke to visit with Mom's friend Kristen and her boyfriend Chris.  We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and evening with them before heading to Front Royal for the evening.  Traveling with little ones can be hard so we did the 9 1/2 hour drive in bits.  We spent Monday night in Front Royal and on Tuesday we visited the Appalachian Trail where we dropped big brother Nick off back in 2009 for his senior year hike.  And after a little jaunt on the trail to burn off some toddler energy we all headed for Delaware. 
So now Ben is back home, and Tom is hiking north towards Katahdin!  So please keep checking in on Tom's progress.  And if you would like to help Tom celebrate his birthday please check out the previous post of info on where to send birthday greetings!  Thanks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17, 2011 Ben is leaving the trail

May 17, 2011

Ben has decided that he's had enough of hiking.  We are headed to TN this weekend to pick Ben  where the AT crosses Walnut Mountain Road near Roan Mountain.  The road crossing marks the 400 mile mark on the trail.  Tom however, is looking forward to going on alone.  He wants to pick up the pace and keep heading north to Maine.  We are really proud of how far the boys have come.  Ben is thinking about hiking the trail in sections until he completes the whole thing.  So maybe he'll be hitting the trail again next spring!  We are looking forward to our visit with Tom and with Ben coming home.  We really do miss our guys.  We'll be bringing a pumpkin pie with us as Tom requests one every year for his birthday dessert! 

And then there was Damascus!  The boys had a blast camping, partying, catching up with fellow hikers, eating, and getting their gear repaired.  Tom's back pack had a major malfunction and he took it to the Osprey Dealer to have it repaired and after looking his pack over, they gave him a brand new one free.  Wow!  His pack is worth over $250, so what a savings!  And Ben's sleeping mat had a few small holes in it and was leaking air.  After attempting repairs the dealer also gave him a new mat for free.  We are so grateful to all the companies who send representatives out to Damascus for Trail Days and set up these free "gear repair" clinics.  Before leaving town, Tom found a small guitar that needed repairing.  He asked around and found someone willing to lend him a few tools, and he now has a guitar with him.  He's asked me to send him his tuner and some picks.  He's quite the resourceful one. 

Tom and Ben are now headed back to Unicoi, TN where they were picked up for the ride to Damascus.  There they will be hiking north again to meet us.  Please keep the boys in your thoughts and prayers this week.  We want Ben to feel like his hike was a success.  400 miles is an awesome accomplishment. 


And just as a reminder

 Tom's 18th birthday is fast approaching on May 27th  and if you would like to send him a birthday greeting here is the info:

If anyone would like to send birthday cards, small care packages, and/or gift cards and cash to him we have a few options to get them to him.  If you would like to send a small care package please limit the contents as he will have to carry it up the trail with him.  The best things are small packages of gum or mints, jerky, lollipops, protein bars, pictures, postcards, and small mementos.  If you would like to send him birthday money that's great or he could also use gift cards to major chain restaurants/stores: i.e. Subway, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Food Lion, Walmart, etc.

Option #1 If you get birthday cards/packages to us by 5/19 we can bring them South with us when we go to visit the guys. 

or

Option #2
Send birthday cards/packages directly ahead to him on the trail. Please allow enough time for your birthday greetings to arrive.  Post all birthday cards at least 5 working days prior to the estimated date of arrival and check with your post office to assess the best way to send packages. UPS and FEDEX do not deliver to General Delivery addresses. All post offices will accept mail for hikers as long as you address the label as follows:

Thomas Zmyewski
General Delivery
Shady Valley, TN 37688
Please hold for thru-hiker ETA 5-25-11


Thomas Zmyewski
General Delivery
Troutdale, VA 24378
Please hold for thru-hiker ETA 5-31-11



posted by Mom

Monday, May 16, 2011

Damascus

First off, Damascus Trail Days ROCKED!!! I am definitely coming back next year. We partied and hung out with all the people we'd met along the way, and also with some new friends.
    The parade was the funnest one I've ever participated in. It consisted of a huge water fight stretching from one end of main street all the way down to the other end. I had about 50 water balloons in my bag and they were gone halfway through.
    Other than the party, another great part was when I gave my back pack to the Osprey manufacture representatives to have it fixed, and they just gave me a whole brand new pack!
     I also found 3 packs of hot dogs yesterday that someone had left in a cooler for the leftover hikers to find, and on the way back to the fire pit I was hanging around, I also found ketchup.
    There was free food in quite a few places these last couple days, so I haven't touched my food bag this entire weekend.

posted by Tom

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Difficult Week to Erwin

May 10, 2011

It's been a hard week for Ben.  He has been feeling poorly and eventually passed out on the trail one afternoon.  His symptoms indicated that he was dehydrated and not eating enough calories during the day.  We got the guys off the trail and they called ahead to a hostel for a shuttle ride to town.  They resupplied with higher protein and higher caloric foods and then spent the night at Uncle Johnny's Hostel in Erwin, TN.  The next day they hitched a ride back to the trail but Ben has continued to struggle this week.  He's homesick, tired, feel crappy, and not liking hiking right now.  So after getting back on the trail they had to hike the rest of the way back to Erwin,TN.  When they arrived back in Erwin, we called in an order for pizza- meat lovers---with jalapenos for Ben.

The good news is that it looks like the boys have secured a ride into Damascus, VA for the annual Trail Days event that the town sponsors each year.   http://www.traildays.us/  this year the festival begins on Friday May 13 until Sunday May 15.  A woman that goes by the trail name Redhat messaged me on facebook to tell me that she had met the boys in GA, and NC.  She thru-hiked the trail last year and has graciously offered the boys a ride north to the festival from Unicoi, TN. on Thursday so the boys will only have 2 more days of hiking this week.  The guys have been anticipating this trail fest for quite awhile and we hope they have an awesome time in town. 

After Damascus, Ben will be assessing his intent to hike or not to hike on further.  The guys will have to secure a ride south to Unicoi, TN to get back on the trail at the point that they left.  Tom is ready to pick up the mileage and wants to keep hiking north to Katahdin.   We'll be heading South to visit the guys the weekend of May 20th.  Tom's 18th Birthday is fast approaching on May 27, 2011.  We are planning on celebrating with him when we drive south.  If anyone would like to send birthday cards, small care packages, and/or gift cards and cash to him we have a few options to get them to him.  If you would like to send a small care package please limit the contents as he will have to carry it up the trail with him.  The best things are small packages of gum or mints, jerky, lollipops, protein bars, pictures, postcards, and small mementos.  If you would like to send him birthday money that's great or he could also use gift cards to major chain restaurants/stores: i.e. Subway, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Food Lion, Walmart, etc. 

Option #1 If you get birthday cards/packages to us by 5/19 we can bring them South with us when we go to visit the guys. 

or

Option #2
Send birthday cards/packages directly ahead to him on the trail. Please allow enough time for your birthday greetings to arrive.  Post all birthday cards at least 5 working days prior to the estimated date of arrival and check with your post office to assess the best way to send packages. UPS and FEDEX do not deliver to General Delivery addresses. All post offices will accept mail for hikers as long as you address the label as follows: 

Thomas Zmyewski
General Delivery
Shady Valley, TN 37688
Please hold for thru-hiker ETA 5-25-11


Thomas Zmyewski
General Delivery
Troutdale, VA 24378
Please hold for thru-hiker ETA 5-31-11



Posted by Mom

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Erwin Tennessee

We arrived in Erwin last night  because we got a shuttle from Sam's Gap. We still have about 24 miles on the trail to get back into Erwin. We will be hitching into Damascus  http://www.damascus.org/  this year because we are still over 100 miles away. We will be staying all 3 days in Damascus and hopefully we can get a hitch to a town 12 miles away that has a movie theater. Now I must go and pack up my tent so we can go hiking.  Goodbye everyone.
-Ben
*edited by Mom for grammatical errors!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Heading to Erwin, TN

May 3, 2011  Day 45

Tom bought a new pair of shoes in Hot Springs, NC and now the guys are heading towards Erwin, TN.  They started off slow this week.  Then Tom slipped and twisted his ankle so they spent a night at a hostel doing work for stay again.  This time they got to move a big pile of mulch!  Apparently the hostel (Hemock Hollow)www.hemlockhollow.net had "REAL" mattresses and the guys got a really late start the next day.  Once back on the trail they received word of "trail magic" up ahead.  Tom and Ben mentioned something about a grill!  Hmmm, my guys stopping for food.  Who would have thought?  The guys seems to be in really good spirits.  They are enjoying good weather and the camaraderie along and on the trail.  Today will see the guys hitting the 300 mile mark.  Way to go Coach and Big Ben!

And best of all we finally received the camera card in the mail and we are uploading all the photos to Flickr as fast as we can.  So check out the slide show here on the blog!

Oh, and I also learned a new phrase this week.  The AT is a white blaze trail.  For anyone unfamiliar with hiking trails- they paint a color on trees, rocks, fence posts, roads, etc to mark trails.  So they are following the white blazes north.  So this week Tom mentioned that he had spent the morning "pink blazing".  Hmm.  Well, turns out he was following some girls!  At least he still has a sense of humor.

Posted by Mom
                                                                      Tom (Coach)


                                                                        "Big Ben"

About Me

My photo
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.
There was an error in this gadget