View Full Version : My 2013 NOBO Journey Review

12-15-2013, 23:27
Trail Name: Shake N Bake

First, i wouldn't call it a thru hike (technically it wasn't) or even a hike. A journey is really what it was because i did a lot of things in addition to hiking. Some memorable things:

- Realizing about 3 times that i still had not made it to the top of Clingmans Dome.

- 100 miles in 5 days of rain to Daleville VA with a lot of sketchy rock scrambles.

- I wandered off the trail on accident before Erwin. I followed an old forest service road for a while until i realized that it wasn't leading me off the mountain. Then i got to do some river fording early on because i found a small stream (which turned into a river) and followed it off the mountain. After 30 miles and some road walking i made it to Erwin at midnight.

- Did the Virginia Creeper trail with a few other hikers. It was a beautiful little hike.

- Built rafts with 3 other hikers and floated 150 miles of the Shenandoah River. Took us 3 weeks ... rafts are slow :)

- I got new shoes in Harrisburg PA that gave me huge blisters within 3 miles. Turned around with another hiker, went to Walmart, got bikes, and rode them to Stroudsburg PA the next day.

- Got a very mild version of the norovirus.

- Gave some Aspirin to a day hiker in the Smokies that thought he was having a heart attack.

- Got bored of hiking in Vermont so i got another Walmart bike and solo road from Bennington to Ludlow VT the first day then to Hanover NH the next day.

- Took another break at the NH/Maine boarder and drove to Foxwoods Casino for 2 weeks with another hiker to play poker. Soooooo random hah.

- Finally figuring out my ball of foot pain after 1000 miles and 4 different pairs of shoes.

- Trail angels! And the cool people that gave us random rides and random beer.

- Cool couple that i met floating the Shenandoah that invited all of us to eat/sleep/hangout at their house for the night.

- All the great and interesting hikers.

Average speed when hiking = 20 miles/day
# zeros = 30+
Favorite gear = baby wipes / copper spur ul2 tent
Least favorite gear = used baby wipes
Favorite trail spot = Tinker Cliffs
Least favorite trail spot = Autumn Inn in Bennington ... would rather sleep in a shelter and have mice crawling all over me.

What i would do differently if i did it again?

Honestly, i would try to go super minimal. My gear weighed around 15lbs (without food/water). I would be really tempted to use one of those large camelbak backpacks, even lighter tent/hammock setup, NO STOVE, cheap Walmart shoes. I'm a firm believer that Less is More now ... and weight is just part of that.

Advice i can offer?

1. Footwear, footwear, footwear. Figure it out before you go if you can. I went through trail runners, hiking boots, minimalist shoes, and finally settled on Nike Free's.
2. Listen to your body! If you're in pain ... take a break. I saw people just push and push with horrible blisters, infections, busted body parts, etc. Trust me ... there is plenty of time to finish.
3. Live in the moment, enjoy the journey, stop and smell the roses! If you're not having fun ... try something different.

What i learned?

You can't run away from your problems. They will follow you to the ends of the earth until you decide to confront them.

Valley Girl
12-16-2013, 00:00
"What i learned"
"You can't run away from your problems. They will follow you to the ends of the earth until you decide to confront them."

Great words of wisdom and thank you for sharing. I would love to hear more about the rafting adventure.

12-16-2013, 09:35
Sounds like an amazing journey, thanks for sharing!

12-18-2013, 20:08
"What i learned"
"You can't run away from your problems. They will follow you to the ends of the earth until you decide to confront them."

Great words of wisdom and thank you for sharing. I would love to hear more about the rafting adventure.

A few of us had been discussing the river thing for a while leading up to Waynesboro Virginia. So once there we started scouting around. Most places would let you do a section of the river but not the whole thing. One guy would let you buy from him and sell back later. The overall cost and logistics in our opinion at the time weren't worth it.

So... we all decided to go eat at this awesome Chinese buffet in town and discuss the situation which didn't look good. It was while we were eating that a hiker named Hump and I started talking about building our own rafts and how epic it would be. I told him about all the tubing we do in Texas and the ideas blossomed from there.

We got a hotel room next to a Goodyear shop. Went over to the shop and ordered 10 dump truck tubes. Then a trail angel named "Santa's Helper" gave us a ride to the hardware store. We picked up zip ties and two pieces of the best plywood we could find. The hotel let us use their drill and after a few hours we had these bad boys:


A trail angel named "Miss Janet" took us to Walmart for additional supplies the next day and then dropped us off on the river. After Tinkerbell saved a little boy from drowning (baywatch style) we started our illustrious 3 week journey. Some of our photos:


These rafts were gawd awful slow. Things were really slow anytime we neared a dam... one time it took 6 hours to go like 3 miles. BUT, the things were sturdy. Every time we came to a portage ... someone helped us out... every time. Somewhere about halfway through the float we started running into really shallow water and having tubes pop left and right. However, we got into town, pushed through, and made it work. Santa's Helper actually followed us the last half of the trip to make sure we completed the thing... so a big shout out to him as well as Miss Janet.

12-18-2013, 20:27
Near the end of the float we were really good at maneuvering and reading the river. I can't tell you how many times we picked "the only" spot navigable down some rapids. Any other spot would of popped a tube. Rain Apple (long haired guy) jumped off a 60 foot cliff. Plus, we found quite a few rope swings for some good times.

We also had to stealth camp a ton because there really are no public spots on the river other than the bank which is pretty rocky. We really only had one incident where someone got mad at us. There was a dam that had no safe portage, but it had a community boat ramp and picnic table on one side. We decided to camp there for the night and one person in the neighborhood happened to be driving by and started fussing. We explained to him the situation (hikers, rain coming, no portage path, late, etc) but he didn't want to hear it. The neighbor who's house was right next to the ramp came up and essentially told the other guy to bug off. This other guy was really cool. He was an outdoors guy, thought our rafts were cool, drank some beer with us, and even gave us a ride around the dam the next morning with his big white van.

One time Rain Apple and I got about a mile ahead of Hump and Tinkerbell. Then out in the distance i see a boat coming up behind us. Hump is the type of guy that could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. Sure enough, he had convinced the boat driver to give them a tow to catch up to us. We also tied on and they took us a little further to our meet up point with Santa's Helper. We did some platform diving, drank some, and a guy let us sleep under his pavilion for the night.

to be continued...