Hiking the Appalachian Trail #2

Springer Mountain to Mount Katahdin

Thru-hike #6

103 days, 2,100 miles, May-Jul, 2009

Ray Jardine

Ray's AT-2009 page 4 of 4

Thanks for the help. Hope all is well man where ever you are. "Keep it real free the heel" - Steve L. "fly By," CO

Readers: "Fly By" is a very special person to me. In fact, of all the people I met on my hike this summer, he probably had the greatest influence. However, if you were to ask him what I learned from him, I'm sure he wouldn't have a clue.

Someone else I learned from did not even stop to talk. He raced by, hiking the other way, and was gone in a flash. Then I just stood there, overwhelmed by a realization that, after a few hours of thinking about it, changed the remainder of my hike.

I could write a whole chapter of book about what I learned from these guys and many others like them.

I like to think I was hiking like a sponge, soaking up knowledge moment by moment, day after day for weeks on end. Doubtless others could do the same.

I love your book! I met a SOBO on the AT in VT that met you, Ray, in the Whites, NH this year on the AT. He had the most awesome, respectful things to say about you! I think he stayed with you in a hut. - Chris C., NJ

Chris: Thank you, and yes, I met the fellow you are referring to at the Carter Notch hut. The two of us sat by a nearby pond while waiting for the guests to finish their dinner. The late evening was still and beautiful, and we had a pleasant 30-minute talk. I didn't get his trail-name, and he didn't ask for mine. The conversations were more about his philosophy on life at that particular time, which I found very interesting.

It seems that he had enlisted in the Army, and that they had given him enough time before deployment to thru-hike the trail, if only just. He was a young man in his mid 20's very concerned about America's security against terrorists, and wanted to do everything he could to help.

Later, in the hut after we thru-hikers had finished our dinner, he cornered me and asked how I was managing to hike the trail so fast. Seems that the others had told him who I was. The problem was, he confided, at his present rate he didn't think he would be able to make it all the way to Springer. So I gave him my philosophy in a nutshell of hiking slow in order to hike fast. When he heard the details he said, "You have just revolutionized the rest of my hike." (I'm writing these details in my present book.)

Later I heard from someone else who met this same person a thousand miles further south. He was hiking strong and doing fine.

Hi Ray, It was my pleasure to meet you this year on the AT, in Monson, ME. I really enjoyed the conversations. I try to learn something from everyone I meet; from you, I learned a bunch. Meeting you also sparked my interest in lightweight backpacking. I also enjoy your website and reading about your's and Jenny's adventures. - Ed C., Atlanta, GA

Walky Talky: It was great to meet you at the Bald Mtn Brook Lean-to, I believe it was, and of course at Shaw's. I enjoyed our lunch at the Spring Creek BBQ. Looks like you had good weather on the Big K!

Ray-I heard you came in to the Birches on the 28th when I was leaving, but you weren't actually there when I left so I missed saying a last goodbye. Send me an email and I'll send you a few pictures of me at the beginning and my final too. They are too big to attach here. I've enjoyed a week or so of doing nothing, and now hitting the gym to finish off the goal. I hit the doctor tomorrow but I already started antibiotics for lyme disease as I'm pretty positive that was what was running me down the last 700 miles. My knees are hurting pretty bad, but I'm sure they will improve with some work. No clue what the world holds next...I enjoyed meeting you though. - "Feels Like Today," North Carolina

Hey Ray! Congrats on finishing another one! I was only about a day behind you from Monson all the way to Katahdin and finished on the 30th. It was great meeting you on the trail. Best of luck with the new puppy! - "Gutsy Rabbit," Tampa FL

Plain 'Ol Ray! Congratulations on finishing your thru-hike well! I wrapped up my own AT hike on August 27. I enjoyed meeting and talking with you at Shaw's. (I'm the guy with the insulin pump.) I look forward to hearing about your next adventure. My next self-imposed task is to watch some of your skydiving videos that you mentioned. Take care and God bless. - Paul M. "Firesocks," Huber Heights, OH

Hi Ray- Just to refresh your memory, I am one of the two "Hanover Housewives" from the Carter Notch hut. It was fun meeting up with you in the Wildcat Ridge in the White Mountains this past Saturday. What an impressive web page you have! Lots of good info and tips there. Thanks for your help in thinking that through and arriving at the right decision for us. We are home now, a little sore in the knees, but really happy with our trip and the fun we had. You are probably at Kahtahdin by now. Hope things are going well! - Audrey and Anne, Hanover, New Hampshire

Ray, I made it. You asked me to let you know how it went. It still blows my mind that we met at the Price Chopper in Manchester Center. Small world. God's richest blessings to you and Jenny. - Brad A., KY

Hi Ray! Greetings from the Hiking Poles! We met you briefly on the AT last summer - remember the Poles hanging in their hammocks? We enjoyed our conversations with you smile Congrats on your succesful hike. See you on another trail! - Tom & Malgosia "the Hiking Poles," Desert Hot Springs Ca

Hi Guys! Thanks for getting in touch. I remember Malgosia taking this photo. I was hiking behind Tom when she suddenly turned around and snapped the picture of me pretending to hide behind him. I'm sorry that she didn't appear in the picture too.

Actually our meeting was not so brief; we hiked together for a few hours, and leapfrogged throughout the rest of the day. The "Hiking Poles" do not actually use trekking poles. Tom thinks that, contrary to all the hype, they make the hiking a bit more taxing. I would have to agree, which is one big reason why I don't use them. But instead, the trail name is meant to suggest that they themselves are Poles (from Poland). Tom had hiked the AT before; he was making his second trip. And I believe he also hiked the PCT. Malgosia was making her first thru-hike, and was doing fantastic.

Hi Ray! I had SO MUCH FUN hiking with you those couple of days in New York!

We laughed a lot- like when we almost didn't get to spend our golden dollars at Tiorati Circle because the vending machines were closing - we laughed and laughed and ate ice cream and chips until it was late. And then we night hiked through the rugged rocks!

I teased you about being the King of Ultralight and carrying a full-sized can of Off!

Our couple of days hiking together was magical. I enjoyed hearing your life story - much of which I didn't know. I still think you should do speaking engagements, and make a movie! Your life story is fascinating, and I feel so lucky to have heard so many of your stories in person.

While we didn't talk about gear much, I learned a lot. You gave me confidence about hiking late in the day and enjoying the "magic hours" around sunset. I ended up hiking more during those hours and was rewarded by wildlife sightings like a mother and baby moose in VT, and beautifully lit vistas.

Your method of taking your time going uphill helped me enjoy Harriman State Park much more, and when I got to the rugged parts of NH and Maine, I definitely used a "lower gear" more effectively.

I was never very good about carrying less food, but I did get better about carrying less water. I remember you saying "Don't carry it, drink it!" And I never ran out of water!

Ray, when I think of the hiking we did together, I smile. Thank you for being a part of my AT hike!

May you and Jenny have many more great adventures!

PS: I can't stress enough how while for you, both accomplished adventurers, hiking the AT is like a walk in the park, for me it was a Really Big Deal, so it still looms large.

- Carla R. "Zipper," New Orleans, LA

Honey-do! Photo by R.J.

Hey buddy! Don't know if you remember, but we met and hiked for a day in SNP. I was on your site and purchased a knife kit, and saw your summit photo. I finished Oct. 5th on a cold, windy, rainy day and have never seen a more beautiful mountain. Congrats to you and the AT class of '09! - Noah O. "honey-do!" Newark, DE

Indeed I do! And by the way, I was seeing Jewelweed all the way to Katahdin. It was amazing that it ranges that far north.

Here's a tip for AT hikers from honey-do!: Learn to recognize Jewelweed in the early season while still flowerless. It looks a lot like Nettle. But once you get to know it, it actually looks quite different.

And a tip from me: Jewelweed is a good remedy for poison ivy, and I saw both from GA to ME. If you break a stem of Jewelweed off a few inches above the ground, the plant will re-grow. So don't pull it out. Crush a few inches of the harvested stem between your fingers, and apply the juice to your rash. Save the rest of the stem for further applications. I don't use the leaves because the stem is much more juicy. Opinions vary, but I think this plant works for all kinds of skin aliments, including a nettle rash.

Best to you and Lydia.

Ray, we met you in 2009 while thru-hiking the AT.-in the White Mtns at one of the huts. The 3 of us did work-for-stay. You and my husband cleaned out the freezer. When we asked your trail name, you said "just plain old Ray". But, to us you'll always be "lightRay". Petunia & Treehugger ME to GA 2009.

That would have been Galehead Hut, and yes, I remember you guys well. Best of luck to you, and good hiking!

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