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View Full Version : "Three Hundred Zeros" -- are you kidding me?



Harrison Bergeron
02-11-2015, 10:21
I'm reading "Three Hundred Zeros", the book about Ken Blanchard's ("K1") 2007 hike.

Wow -- the guy starts out by nearly being run over by a moose on his shakedown hike. Then he gets on the AT, and has mice fighting over his gear and a bear tripping over his hammock ties right off the bat at Hawk Mountain.

He seems to wake up every night to the sound of bears poking through everyone's gear at every shelter. Half the time he's eating lunch with a bear eyeing him hungrily. At one point he chases off a bear that has just bluff-charged a couple of fellow hikers. And then he gets stuck at Fontana Dam when the rangers hold him back because a bear has decided to take a break right in the middle of the trail. He also sees numerous rattle snakes and one actually strikes at him and misses. He stops and takes a picture.

At one point, he's at some shelter in the Smokies and the trampled ground is a "surface cesspool" (his words) of poop and toilet paper as far as the eye can see.

This thing reads like a zombie apocalypse, only the zombies haven't figured out that brains are tasty.

And I had just talked myself out of that little 3oz can of a bear mace! Maybe I need an AR-15! And an isolation suit!

SteelCut
02-11-2015, 10:26
He did see lots of bears and other animals on this thru hike. Others that hiked with him rarely saw any. I guess he was lucky.

I guess you haven't got to his best bear story yet which I think was in PA or NJ (sorry, no spoiler).

TNhiker
02-11-2015, 10:34
At one point, he's at some shelter in the Smokies and the trampled ground is a "surface cesspool" (his words) of poop and toilet paper as far as the eye can see




that sounds about right for the russell field shelter.........

its doesnt have a privy so the surrounding area gets peppered with waste...........

rocketsocks
02-11-2015, 10:35
I liked his book as well, one of my favorites due to his hobby, so I'm a little bias. Still a good read though.

rocketsocks
02-11-2015, 10:38
that sounds about right for the russell field shelter.........

its doesnt have a privy so the surrounding area gets peppered with waste...........they don't dig a cat hole? Shame.

Rain Man
02-11-2015, 11:38
And I had just talked myself out of that little 3oz can of a bear mace! Maybe I need an AR-15! And an isolation suit!

Only one question for you: Did HE take bear mace, a gun, and an isolation suit?! LOL

Rain:sunMan

.

dangerdave
02-11-2015, 11:48
My favorite AT read!

Slo-go'en
02-11-2015, 11:49
And I supplied K1 with the little trail friendly ham radio rig he used on the second half of the trip :)

Harrison Bergeron
02-11-2015, 15:20
Can animals hear radio waves? Maybe all those critters were attracted to that 3 pound ham radio he was dragging around. I guess my 7 oz cell phone charger isn't such a silly luxury, after all!

I have to admit, it's the most entertaining trail journal I've read since Gator Gump. I just hope it's a work of fiction.

lemon b
02-11-2015, 15:42
Maybe it is an enlightened work of fiction with the goal of decreasing traffic on the AT. Hope it works.

imscotty
02-11-2015, 17:04
Secrets to seeing wildlife while you hike....

Hike alone, walk quietly
Wear 'forest' colors
Heads up, look around
No ear buds, listen
Know the preferred habitats of various species so that you know where to look
Get up early, the hour around dawn has the most activity.
Hike late, the hour around sunset is also a\very active.
With experience you gain an eye for finding wildlife, a slight movement, a sound, a silhouette, the alarm call of birds.

Cookerhiker
02-11-2015, 17:55
FYI his first name is Dennis, not Ken.

By pure happenstance, I met K1YPP at the southernmost crossing of I-81 and had a nice talk. As it turned out, it was only a few days before he took himself off the trail because of his chest pains and headed home to Florida. The rest is history.

Of all the AT books I've read, 300 Zeroes is the most humorous and most creative in the way each heading is worded. While Dennis had some editorial help, he still did a terrific job in making the read most entertaining.

And I'm grateful for his helping me when I decided to self-publish my book. He offered many valuable tips and always responded promptly when I wrote him, always with useful and practical advice. I ended up using the same self-publishing company when I wrote Shades of Gray, Splashes of Color.

Second Hand
02-11-2015, 20:20
I found the number of bear encounters curious as well, however I thought it was a very well written and entertaining.

My advice, finish the book, but leave the bear spray behind.. You may want the AR-15 for the shelter mice, but be mindful of sleeping hikers.

kf1wv
02-12-2015, 05:58
I helped Dennis through NH. (My hat's off to Slo-go'-en, KD1JV, just "up the road.")

"Kit-Kat"
kf1wv, formerly kd2vx

Uriah
02-12-2015, 17:05
Secrets to seeing wildlife while you hike....
Hike alone, walk quietly
Wear 'forest' colors
Heads up, look around
No ear buds, listen
Know the preferred habitats of various species so that you know where to look
Get up early, the hour around dawn has the most activity.
Hike late, the hour around sunset is also a\very active.
With experience you gain an eye for finding wildlife, a slight movement, a sound, a silhouette, the alarm call of birds.

To which I'd add: ditch the hiking poles. It is much easier to hear a hiker clanking his/her metal-tipped poles than one without, particularly on a rocky trail.

k1ypp
03-20-2015, 11:55
Hopefully, you've finished the book Harrison. I got a kick out of your comments. You've made some good observations.


I too have pondered why I saw so many bears. In 2007/2008 there were lots of bear sightings. There was a serious drought and I think it was forcing them to wander further to find water and food. Many of those that I was hiking with had never seen a bear in previous years and saw plenty while hiking with me.Then too, I counted any bear I saw as a “bear sighting.” In some cases, such as the female with three cubs, that was “4”sightings, hence it was easy to accumulate 38 in total.


I'd have to go back and look, but I don't think that I alluded to the bears actually “poking through everyone's gear,” if I did, that wasn't true. They did wander around several of the shelter sites during the night and I got to watch them, holding my breath that something would go wrong, but it never did, thank goodness. The reality is, the bears are more scared of us and usually would run away at the slightest provocation. They've been hunted a lot and it shows. The exceptions, which I didn't encounter, are the ones that have people feeding them, a dangerous maneuver indeed.


In total, I did “see” three rattlesnakes. I “heard” more than that, but didn't see them. Going over my photos I realized that I actually saw more copperhead snakes than I originally thought. They're more subtle.


TNhiker is correct, I believe it was Russell Field Shelter. The “privy” field was pretty disgusting.


I'm wondering what made you think it was a work of fiction Harrison? I did change a few names of people to protect their privacy, but other than that, the story comes right out of my notes. I can't think of anything in there that was that far out, maybe I just lead a far out life!


I also agree with imscotty, I tend to do as he indicates: hike alone, walk quietly, etc. More often than not, I would see the bears before they saw me. It did surprise me that, in all three cases, the rattlesnakes got the jump on me. I just did not see them. I've had other encounters over the years, but inmost cases, I did see them first, but not on the AT.


To all of you that commented here that I ran into on the trail, I can't thank you enough for all the help I received along the way. Certainly Kit-Kat and Steve, (ham radio KD1JV), but others as well. It was the journey of a lifetime.


Hopefully, this helps clarify some of the mysteries. It tickles me that so many have enjoyed the book and have found it useful. Two other tidbits of information: Two people have written me to tell me they ended up pursuing getting an amateur radio license after reading the book. I thought that was nice. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, two people contacted me to tell me that, after reading chapter six, the heart surgery chapter,they were experiencing chest pains similar to mine and checked into an emergency room and ended up also having a life-saving heart bypass. That was inspiring.

Cookerhiker
03-20-2015, 12:59
...I too have pondered why I saw so many bears. In 2007/2008 there were lots of bear sightings. There was a serious drought and I think it was forcing them to wander further to find water and food. Many of those that I was hiking with had never seen a bear in previous years and saw plenty while hiking with me.Then too, I counted any bear I saw as a “bear sighting.” In some cases, such as the female with three cubs, that was “4”sightings, hence it was easy to accumulate 38 in total.....

In 2007, on a mere 2-day weekend hike in Shenandoah NP, I saw bears on 3 different stretches of trail. 2007 was also the year of the ATC biennial in NJ. On one of the organized day hikes along the NJ AT, a bear came up to the ridge while we were having lunch, turned his tail, and sauntered back down. Never saw more bears along the AT than 2007.

egilbe
03-20-2015, 13:16
I've been thinking of picking up 300 Zeroes. Now, I'm convinced.

2Ply
03-20-2015, 13:44
Just finished the book last week. Told my wife he should have named it 300 bears! It was a good read as well as his Trail Journal posts. If you enjoyed K1's book check out Model T's Walkin' on the Happy Side of Misery for another good read.

Bronk
03-20-2015, 14:06
There are some places that get so much traffic that when you dig a cathole you're really just digging up someone else's crap and depositing yours underneath it.

slbirdnerd
03-20-2015, 14:34
A great book! His perseverance is inspiring.

Roanmtnman
03-28-2015, 16:29
Just bought this book for the kindle. I have really enjoyed it so far!

coppertex
03-28-2015, 16:42
Perhaps there were a few exaggerations? I don't care - I really enjoyed the book and it was good entertainment! His style of writing is fun to read, too many AT books follow a "trail journals/blog" style of writing that puts me to sleep.

Northern Lights
03-28-2015, 18:45
I really enjoyed this book. And it's not only the smokies that are a cesspool. Hike in the bubble and at any giving camp site without a privy(and in some cases with) all you see is garbage and toilet paper strewn about.

illabelle
03-29-2015, 06:31
Looking forward to reading it soon. My daughter managed to get a copy through an inter-library loan. :)

Harrison Bergeron
03-29-2015, 20:54
K1YPP -- Finished it up a couple of weeks ago. Great read, but I gotta say I hope my month in the woods next May is a little more mundane. Bears on the next mountain -- fascinating. Bears tripping over my tent -- not so much. In a lifetime of hiking, I've only had a glimpse of a bear in the wild once, in Colorado. Your report from the AT wow'd me, to say the least.

But sorry if it sounded like I doubted you. Call it wishful thinking!

k1ypp
09-30-2015, 21:52
Glad you enjoyed the book Harrison Bergeron. My AT hike was an adventure of a lifetime and I can honestly say I don't think anything will ever match it. I could do without matching the heart surgery.
It is interesting how many bear encounters I had. This summer I thru-hiked the Vermont Long Trail, all 273 miles. I never saw a bear, at least one that would be a confirmed siting. Jane and I hiked the first 132 miles together. Just before the Sunshine shelter we (I?) saw something large dart across the trail up ahead. However, it was such a blur that I couldn't count it as a bear siting, it could have been a deer, or coyote, it was just too fast and my eyes didn't have time to focus on it. We did see lots of bear evidence, but no bears. Just as well.
On my very last night on the trail I had a beautiful moose encounter, a cow and calf. As usual, I failed to have the camera in hand to get a photo. It was a picture perfect setting too, the setting sun was just right. It was a tense few seconds, she stared me right in the eye from about twenty-feet away and then the calf darted off behind her and she followed. Cows can be very dangerous when they have a calf with them, I was eyeing up a tree cluster to jump into.
Once again, glad you enjoyed it and hope the May hike was successful.

Dennis "K1" Blanchard

saltysack
10-01-2015, 06:09
Great read...one of the few books I truly enjoyef


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Jeff
10-01-2015, 08:33
Hey K1....glad you completed your LT thruhike. Enjoyed hosting you and your wife in June.

SteelCut
10-01-2015, 08:43
Great read...one of the few books I truly enjoyef

Agreed. AWOL's and K1's are my two favorites.

Odd Man Out
10-01-2015, 09:18
I am not familiar with the book. Was wondering about the title. Did he spend 600 nights in hotels?

rafe
10-01-2015, 09:35
I am not familiar with the book. Was wondering about the title. Did he spend 600 nights in hotels?

No. You'll just have to read it to find out. ;)

k1ypp
10-05-2015, 18:12
No. You'll just have to read it to find out. ;)

I did spend about 4 nights in a hospital, which ended up costing about as much as 600 nights in a hotel. The title, Three Hundred Zeroes, comes from the reference to "Zero" days when hiking the trail. I needed 300 zeroes to recover from a six-artery bypass operation after reaching Pearisburg, VA. Other than that, unlike Bill Bryson, I did go back and finish the whole trail. It was the hike of a lifetime!

Gravytrain
10-05-2015, 22:06
Wow a three pound radio? The radio I carried in the Army weighed 38 pounds, without attachments like antenna, handmic, battery (those weight 8 pounds each).

Cotton Terry
10-05-2015, 23:26
I'm still reading Three Hundred Zeros, but I must say it's one of the better thruhiking books I've read. Definitely a keeper.

k1ypp
10-11-2015, 21:31
Wow a three pound radio? The radio I carried in the Army weighed 38 pounds, without attachments like antenna, handmic, battery (those weight 8 pounds each).
Yeah, I recall some of those radios. I worked with the PRC-47A often, it was about that weight. Loved those batteries!!! Spent most of my time working the AN/TRC-24A, TSC-15/A and the AN/TRC-97A tropospheric system. They were so big and heavy they mounted on the back of a 3/4 ton truck.

Dennis, "K1"

egilbe
10-12-2015, 21:08
Yeah, I recall some of those radios. I worked with the PRC-47A often, it was about that weight. Loved those batteries!!! Spent most of my time working the AN/TRC-24A, TSC-15/A and the AN/TRC-97A tropospheric system. They were so big and heavy they mounted on the back of a 3/4 ton truck.

Dennis, "K1"

I was trained to operate a radio/teletype in the Army. They never left a vehicle. Too power hungry. Too heavy. I like my cell phone.

k1ypp
10-18-2015, 22:06
I was trained to operate a radio/teletype in the Army. They never left a vehicle. Too power hungry. Too heavy. I like my cell phone.

Yeah, the small, modern radio is a wonder. I'm considering something with higher power for the future though...32359

amythestylist
10-21-2015, 16:00
I somehow have not heard of this book. I am going to get it ASAP! It Sounds great :)

Cotton Terry
10-21-2015, 17:26
AWOL's and K1's are my two favorites.

I like AWOL and K1's books as well. I'm rereading Rubin's On the Beaten Path, which is also good.

ekeverette
10-21-2015, 19:35
I enjoyed his book, and when you write a book about just hiking,,hiking hiking, you got to add some spice. Just got thru the Shenandoah's and saw 17 bears. I left his book at the hostel in Georgia for folks to enjoy. I liked K-1's book. EVEREADY

PennyPincher
10-22-2015, 03:06
I was trained to operate a radio/teletype in the Army. They never left a vehicle. Too power hungry. Too heavy. I like my cell phone.

Ha! I was trained as a RaTT rig operator but never touched one after school as my units never had them. I was NG in the late 80s and early 90s and there was a lot of downsizing going on then and equipment was scarce.


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