5 Million Steps to Khatadin

Schedule for each day

Pictures

Scroll down to catch up on the progress!

Welcome to our website chronicling our adventure on the Appalachian Trail.  Beginning on May 15, Mike "Too Fast" Sandlin and Regis "Buckeye" Shivers will take the first step of the five million steps to Mt. Khatadin, Maine, along the Appalachian Trail.  With the support of their wives -- Judy "Crew Babe" Sandlin and Diana "Buckeye Babe" Shivers -- Mike and Regis plan to cover the 2167.1 mile Appalachian Trail in 66 days.  They will make the final climb up Khatadin on July 19.  With three weeks before the start of the run, the final details of the trip are taking shape -- planning for sleeping arrangements, meals, and laundry for the ladies and training, training, and training for the guys.  Watch for more details in the weeks to come.  We’d love to hear from you.  If you’d like to run with the guys or crew with the girls, give us a shout.  If you can put us up for a night, let us know.  For any correspondence about our trip, e-mail us at ATadventures@aol.com

Meet "Too Fast" and "Crew Babe"

Mike has been running ultras since the early 1980's after a successful career running 5Ks, 10Ks, and marathons.  He has competed in races all over the United States as well as Hong Kong.  In 2000, Mike was 18th on "Ultra Runner's" list of the top 20 all time number of ultra victories and currently has a streak of at least one ultra victory during each of the past ten years.  Perhaps Mike’s greatest claim to fame is his mention in the very first issue of  “Ultra Runner” magazine.  Judy is the ultimate ‘crew babe’ having been Mike's faithful crew for the past eight years.  Judy enjoys traveling with Mike and making new friends from all over the world.  For the past two summers, Mike and Judy have traveled to Colorado for a little "R and R," hiking, mountain biking, and training.  The highlight has been Mike's competing in the Hardrock 100.  Since moving to central Virginia in 1999, Mike has grown to love the Blue Ridge Mountains and training on the "white blaze" of the Appalachian Trail.  The Sandlins are very proud of their new home in Big Island, Virginia, and are very excited about returning to Big Island for the few days the AT is near their home.  

 

Meet “Buckeye” and “Buckeye Babe”

Running and competing in races has become Regis's favorite pastime during the past 14 years. His running did not start out for the purpose of competing but only to lose weight and to get healthier. As a result, he not only lost weight but developed a competitive edge to make his running goals even bigger.  Regis ran his first 100 miler in 1990.  The race he chose was the Mohican 100 in Loudonville, Ohio and being a "Buckeye" was a good reason to chose Ohio for his first 100. He has finished this race 8 times and set the "masters" record in 1991 and the "grand masters' record in 1999.  The toughest thing about his running is his training.  What has helped Regis most is that his son, Regis Jr., has taken up the sport (of ultra's) so they train together. During the summer of 2000 when Regis Jr. lived in Leadville, CO., Regis and his wife, Diana, visited Colorado and Regis and his son hiked/ran 23 of the 14,000 ft peaks.  His wife Diana is very supportive of his racing and she has been his crew during all of his ultra events.  The best thing about his running is he and Diana love to travel to the races and they have met many new friends over the years.

 

Day 1 - May 15 - Started at 6:31 AM covered 37.1 miles. Ended 6:01 PM. Total elevation gain was 8630 feet. Saw some interesting wildlife. Saw a rattlesnake on Blood Mountain. Someone in the group got the bright idea to make it rattle. Even more exciting was seeing a bear. The bear was probably 175 - 200 pounds. They all got to watch it for a while before it ambled away. Beautiful weather. Good start to great adventure. Info from a phone from David Horton who is with the group for the first couple of days.

Day 3 - May 17 - Started at 6:30 am at Dick's Creek Gap in GA.  By 8:30 am, the group of three crossed into North Carolina.  They report their excitement in seeing another bear in the woods.  In fact, this one was heading north on the AT as well.  Crossing three peaks over 5000' in elevation provided a little hill work.  The weather was very hot and dry as a bone.  With many of the  streams dried up, they went over 5 hours on two bottles of fluid each.  36.3 miles were covered today in 11:17,  raising the total to 103.1 miles. The accommodations for the evening were tents set up in a camp ground.  Horton reports that "the girls" are great crew people and very excited to be hop-scotching through the woods and country roads to meet their men. Each meeting of runners and crew brings on a time of eating, drinking, and rest.  No one seems to be in a particular hurry to move on down the trail - except Horton, of course.  But hey, it's not his adventure!  

Day 4 - May 18-  Today was similar to yesterday in  a couple of ways.  1) There were again three major climbs up and over mountains standing 5000' tall, allowing for a final quad-busting descent of 3300 ' off the last mountain  2) The threesome started shortly after 6:00 am and put one foot in front of the other for 10 hours and 27 minutes.  3) It was still dry and very hot.  4) Mike and Regis are doing well with no aches and pains to speak of.  The similarities ended by NOT seeing a bear today.  However, David did spy a coyote.  They are staying along a river tonight at an outdoor recreation area near Wesser, NC.  But, they aren't on the ground tonight.  It's warm showers, hot food, and soft beds in a hotel tonight!  31 miles today with just about 2000 to go!

Day 5 - May 19 - Day five started off with a bang.   The mileage was "just" 28.8 miles, but the total climb was approximately 8200'.  The day began at 5:58 am and ended at 4:59 pm, for a total of 10:59.  No bears sightings, no coyotes, no injuries.  Everyone seems to be doing fine and actually having fun.  Hot weather was again par for the course except for the last 30  minutes of the run- then, rain!  However, even the rain could not dampen the excitement of crossing Fontana Dam and the beginning of the Smokies.  Sleep tight, boys and girls.  Tomorrow's run begins with a 3360' climb and marks a major mileage day of 40.5 miles and no aid for the first 32.  Sweet dreams!

Day 6 - May 20 -What a huge undertaking today!  40.5 miles from Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap with 11,370 feet of elevation gain and 7830 feet of elevation loss.  The guys report poor footing and rough trail. They did manage to top Clingman's Dome,  6642 feet above sea level.  Their only aid was when Judy and Diane met them at the summit to re-supply them for the last 9 miles.  Having started at 4:00 am, they were glad to see their 15 hour and 17 minute hike come to an end!  The hotel , hot showers and hot meal was quite appreciated.

Day 7 - May 21 - Weather-wise, today was much like yesterday with off and on light rain.  The trek required a mere 5630' of climb compared to yesterday.  However, the down side to it all was the 9080' of descent.  Hope the quads held up!  The 33.1 mile journey took 10:35 to complete.  The highlight of the day for Mike was a third bear sighting.  Regis missed out on this one as he had the second bear sighting of a couple days prior.  They foursome are spending the night in a hotel in Newport, TN.

Day 8 - May 22 -  Stayed in a hotel in Newport, TN which was very enjoyable for all.  Got up at the usual time (5:00am) and out the door by 6:00.  Started the run by 6:30 and were crewed five times.  The crew had a most interesting day -- could not find ANY of the trail crossing (on the first try) but eventually were successful.  Met Buddy the calf while getting directions to Brown Gap.  Why don't they mark any of the roads in North Carolina or Tennessee?  Finished in Hot Springs and spent the night at a camp ground on the outskirts of town. 

Day 9 - May 23 - Rain, rain go away.  Left Hot Springs at 6:15 on the way to Devil's Fork Gap.  Too Fast and Buckeye had several tough climbs.  Stayed in Erwin, TN, at Uncle Johnny's Hostel.  Enjoyed pizza delivered to our door. 

Day 10 - May 24 - Left Uncle John's early to begin the run at Devil's Fork Gap.  Crew Babe and Buckeye Babe had an adventure getting to Rice Gap.  Had to leave the car early on the trip up, then left the Jeep a mile from the summit.  We persevered.  Too Fast and Buckeye were glad to see us. We all had a good laugh at the next aid site -- at 9:30 in the morning the runners were enjoying hot spaghetti and buttered bread.  The Crew went back into Erwin to shop and visit the local library.  Spent another night at Uncle Johnny's.

Day 11 - May 26 - Did not have a restful night -- a "friendly" beagle living near the hostel barked from 5:00pm until 10:30pm. It finally relented when it began pouring down rain.  Generally, rain on a tin roof leads to peaceful rest.  Not everyone in our group rested peacefully.  Rained basically all day finally clearing in the late afternoon.  The crew met their first real obstacle after coming around a curve to find a tree across the road.  No problem for the Crew Babe and Buckeye Babe.  Met Dave and Nancy Drach on top of Roan Mountain.  Guys are running great.

Day 12 - May 26 - Stayed with the Drach's on Beech Mt. last night and enjoyed a meal of the best BBQ in North Carolina.  Thanks Dave and Nancy!! The runners (including David Horton who mysteriously appeared from nowhere yesterday) began the day by climbing Roan Mt.  It was a clear day with 360 degree views.  They saw Mt. Mitchell, Grandfather Mt., and many, many more mountains.  The most interesting thing they saw were the 15 GIANT longhorns grazing on the top of the mountain.  We had three crew access points where the runner enjoyed homemade "goodies" courtesy of Nancy Drach.  Thanks Nancy.  Too Fast and Buckeye finished in just over 11 hours (sounds like a long day on the trail but was actually one of their shorter days). 

Day 13 - May 27 - The day started out with the crew hiking with the runners to Laurel Falls.  What a spectacular view!!!  The guys had a good day with David Horton running with them, although he left them before the days 35.8 miles were complete.  The crew is still pampering them and meeting all of their needs.  The moving-down the trail time for the day was 11:24.  The crew cooked a hearty meal for the evening meal.  Then it was time to retire and wait to see what tomorrow brings.
 
Day 14 - May 28

We spent the night at a motel in Mountain City and had to drive on what must be the "curviest road in Virginia" between there and the trail head.  Enjoyed visiting Damascus.  Too Fast and Buckeye enjoyed a cheeseburger and fries from the Dairy King after passing through town.  Crew Babe and Buckeye Babe waited at the next crew stop on an old railroad tressle for the guys.  Too Fast came through and decided to catch Patch, a thru-hiker, who was just in front of him.  Within 10 minutes, Buckeye came into the crew stop and, after 468 miles, decided he had had enough.  After finally convincing the "crew" he was serious, he rode the last 4.6 miles with us to retrieve Too Fast at Va. 601. 

May 29:

By far the toughest day of the trip.  It rained ALL night as we camped at Bear Tree Campground.  Did not get much sleep thinking about staying dry and continuing the adventure solo.  Finally just got up at 4:30 (not sleeping anyway) and slowly prepared for the day.  Very hard and sad for all.  Said goodbye to Buckeye and Buckeye Babe at 5:50 and trudged through the rain toward the trail head.  Mentally very drained.  Buckeye and Buckeye Babe -- we love you and will miss you dearly!!

May 30:

Had a very good evening after a tough day.  Stayed at the Troutdale Baptist Church who very graciously opens it's Sunday School building to hikers -- clean, hot showers, a washing machine, and a roof over our head.  WONDERFUL!!  Too Fast and Crew Babe survived the day by themselves.  Enjoyed seven crew access stops today.  Cooked supper at the church and rested well.

May 31:

Too Fast running well after a good nights rest at the Big Walker Inn.  The DQ cheeseburger, fries, and strawberry shake didn't hurt either.  He, generally, takes a while to warm-up then has several hours of nice running.  As might be expected, gets more and more tired as the day goes on.  For the last couple of days, Too Fast has added a few miles at the end of each day in order to lighten the load for the following day.  Seems to be working for him.  Charlie and Nancy Hesse drove in from Lynchburg as we were returning to the motel.

June 1:

Too Fast had company on the trail today.  Charlie ran the entire distance with Too Fast today.  Crew Babe also had company today with Nancy hitting all the crew stops with her.  Rained most of the day (not very fun to run or crew in).  Drove into Pearisburg to spend the night and eat hot pizza.  Everyone enjoyed watching the end of the Shawshank Redemption which we had begun watching the previous night.

June 2:

Very, very long and hard day.  Too Fast ran over 37 miles most of it with Charlie Hesse.  Crew Babe and Charlie's wife, Nancy, crewed.  Not a very enjoyable day in that the trail around Pearisburg was overgrown and muddy.  Also, there was a 18 segment with no crew access.  Spent the night at a primitive campsite with no shower facility.  Only Too Fast got a shower using the Solar Shower).  

June 3:

Camped in the rain . . . . again.  Had a hard time reaching the trail because the rain "washed out" the road to the trail head.  We tried to get Charlie's van up the hill without success.  Also tried to drive around the mountain and go up the back side.  After two hours of driving on unmarked roads, we jumped ahead to the eight mile mark.  We "visited" with some friendly donkeys while waiting at Sinking Creek.  Too Fast encountered some Salt Lickers -- wild goats that lick the salt off the legs of hikers and runners.

June 4:

Very tough first seven miles moving up and down Dragon's Tooth.  Our spirits were lifted when we were greeted with some trail magic (provided by thru hiker Jeff Williams of Catawba) as we approached the crew stop.  Surprised and delighted with the treats.  Later that day, Too Fast enjoyed a BLT from the Catawba General Store.  He had a small scare when he was chased by a mad mother turkey.  Who would have thought that a turkey could move that fast.  Thankfully, he was running down hill and was able to out-sprint the mad animal.  

PS - to June 4 - Too Fast went back and ran the eight miles we had missed the previous day which contributed to the rough start.  

June 5:

It's good to be getting closer to home and in familiar territory.  Got on the Blue Ridge Parkway at about the 10 mile mark.  Were surprised (not really) to find David Horton at around the 18 mile mark.  Saw many, many thru hikers today.  The AT looks like Grand Central Station with so many hikers.  Enjoyed spending the night at our home in Big Island and, especially, enjoyed the cheeseburgers from the H and H, the company of David and Nancy Horton, and kind words of our neighbors, the Bennetts, the Nichols, the Knights, and many other Big Islanders.
 

June 7:

It was very hard to leave Big Island this morning after a few days at home.  Too Fast was craving glazed donuts this morning so I made a quick trip into Buena Vista for donuts, coffee, and gas.  We met two insect researchers from Canada on top of Cole Mt. -- very interesting to talk to.  David and Nancy Horton visited us at our campsite by the Tye River bringing KFC, homemade mashed potatoes, and chocolate ice cream.  What a treat!!  Kevin brought Too Fast three cupcakes (which a couple of thru hikers enjoyed the next day) and an Arby's Roast Beef sandwich.  Jim Stevens, an LU Religion Professor, also came by to check on us.  Thanks so much for everyone's support!!!!!

 

June 8:

Enjoyed a good nights rest at the campground (with no rain).  Too Fast heard a bear roaring in the distance this morning but did not see it.  The scariest moment so far -- a large rattlesnake struck at Too Fast during the middle of the afternoon narrowly missing him.  Thankfully, Too fast was too fast for the snake.  Needless to say, we quickly reviewed snakebite first aid procedures after this encounter.  I met two researchers from the Smithsonian Institute studying birds in the area -- again very interesting to talk to.  Officially off of the Blue Ridge Parkway as of this afternoon and into Shenandoah National Park.

 

June 9:

Stayed in Waynesboro last night.  Too Fast got 11.5 hours of sleep last night.  When's the last time anyone went to sleep at 5:30pm.  Never?  Dennis Herr (aka: The Animal) came out for a day of running with Too Fast.  They did not have to worry about seeing a bear today -- they were talking so much, a bear would not have come within 100 yards of them.  They saw Dr. Stevens several time today as he hiked the trail.  It's always nice to see a familiar face and smile.  I had an encounter with a snake today.  Fortunately, it was crossing the road in front of me as I was driving north on Skyline Drive.  I did stop and take it's picture being careful not to get too close.  I was close enough for it to rattle at me a couple of times.  Will camp out tonight.

 

June 10:

Had the worst nights sleep last night.  Being the weekend, the campground was full and very, very loud.  I slept four hours in the car while Too Fast toughed it out in his tent.  It was cool during the morning and nice to have lots of access.  The AT crosses Skyline drive 28 times so I've had some easy crew days.  Dennis ran with Too Fast again and again they did not have to worry about seeing a bear.  Met Theo, a friend of Dennis, who came out to say hello and help shuttle his van.  Dennis brought us a variety of drinks and  homemade applesauce bread (which was wonderful).  Thank you to his wife, Sue!! 

 

June 11:

Camped again last night and got a great nights sleep and no rain.  Supposedly, a bear had been seen during the last few evenings but we had no sighting.  Crew Babe has yet to see a bear!!  Have seen thousands of deer though.  Still lots of access which is nice.  Is starting to get hotter and hotter during the late afternoons.  Too Fast not eating as much in the afternoons but drinking plenty and taking E-caps.  Thankfully, no hydration problems so far.  Will spend the night in a hotel in Front Royal.  Shared some water and snacks with some thru hikers at the end of the day.  They had a few problems finding water and were craving chocolate.  We were happy to share from our stash.

 

June 12:

Hot, Hot, Hot.  Good nights rest.  Too Fast ran out of the Shenandoah National Park today with out seeing a bear.  Many, if not most, of the thru hikers had seen a bear.  Have I mentioned that it was hot today.  I hiked in twice to crew for Too Fast.  We will miss the easy access of the SNP.  Everywhere I stopped today smells like honeysuckle.  I love it.  Steve Pero from Boston will drive down today to run for the next couple of days.  Finished with the first part of the "Rollercoaster" going into Harper's Ferry.  Feels like we're back in Georgia -- eight ups and downs in eight miles. 

June 13:
Too Fast, Crew Babe, and Steve Pero got up early to drive to the trailhead (about an hours drive).  Karen and Tom Shantz were kind enough to allow us to spend the night one day early at their home off of I-81.  Had many highlights for the day.  Too Fast went over the 1000 mile mark.  We left the Commonwealth of Virginia for the last time.  Actually ran in three states -- Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.  Went into Harpers Ferry the ATC Headquarters and had our picture made for their thru hiker "memory" album.  All in all, a very nice day on the trail.

June 14:
Got up at our usual time -- 5:00am -- and left for the trail soon after.  Tom Shantz joined us today as well as Steve Pero.  Early on we passed Trail Dog and his crew.  Crew Babe saw his pals most of the day and enjoyed comparing crew stories.  We've probably seen the last of them because his plan called for him to go over 45 miles for the day.  Upon returning to Tom's house, we all enjoyed a dip in the neighborhood pool.  Very refreshing.  Have really appreciated the hospitality of Tom and Karen and their hot showers and hot meals.

June 15:

Spent the last night with Tom and Karen.  They were so great to us.  Thanks again!!  Steve left last night about 7:30 and soon after we hit the sack.  Tom ran with Too Fast for about four hours.  We went into our seventh state (PA) today.  A friend of Tom's, Dennis "Chief" Simmons came out for a couple of hours.  After the run, Too Fast was craving a steak and baked potato so we drove into Chambersburg for a nice meal.  It rained most of the afternoon.  Saw our first fox as we drove away from the trail.

June 16:

Had an interesting evening last night.  Were supposed to stay at the Caledonia State Park but it was drizzling.  We opted for the front porch a cabin that is rented out sporadically.  Unfortunately, it was rented last night.  We had 90% of our camping equipment out and set up when the renters arrived.  We threw everything in the car in search of some cover over our heads.  We ended up under the Big Flat Fire Tower where we were at least somewhat protected from the rain.  Neither of us slept well fearing that the local sheriff was about to drive up and make us move.  He never came.  Reached the halfway mark today somewhere on the trail.  Too Fast celebrated with a pint (not the traditional half gallon) of chocolate ice cream at the Pine Furnace State Park Grocery.  Hey, it was 9:00 am.  Enjoyed visiting with a thru hiker the front porch of the Mideast ATC Headquarters in Boiling Springs. 

June 17:

Spent in night at the Appalachian Hotel off of Hwy. 11 last night.  Too Fast enjoyed a cheeseburger, fries, onion rings, and a coke for supper.  His weight seems to be holding steady now.  Basically, he has little appetite in the late afternoon when the temperature is high.  Otherwise, he is fine.  We are officially in the rocks of Pennsylvania.  Access is pretty good so far but we are told it will be limited in a couple of days.  Saw two snakes while hiking into Duncannon. 

June 18:

Spent last night with the Russells just north of Duncannon.  Had a great time with a wonderful family.  We were treated to a lovely meal and the watched The Replacements on the Russell's in home theater (complete with real theater seats).  The evening was a great diversion for both of us.  Thanks so much to all the Russells!!  Not much access today.  I hitched a ride to Rausch Gap with a Game and Wildlife worker to help break up some of the distance for Too Fast.  Had a scary hour or two.  Too Fast became somewhat lost on the trail coming off Rausch Gap.  Apparently the AT has been rerouted in the area and some of the old white blazes have not been changed to blue blazes.  Imagine his feeling when the white blazes he was following suddenly came to a dead end.  Listening to his gut, he bushwacked until he found the trail again -- unfortunately when he reached the trail he started going south!!  Needless to say, the Crew Babe was getting concerned when he had not appeared from the 4.8 miles in over two hours.  Again, listening to his gut, Too Fast made the decision to turn around and head back down the trail.  As it turned out, the spot where he originally came out on the trail was less than a quarter mile from the road crossing.  Chalk one up to the AT experience!!

June 19:

Spent the night in Pine Furnace last night and got a good nights rest.  We met several thru hikers today -- two ladies in particular were Survivor and Hawaii.  Most of the people we saw on the trail today had gotten lost in the section that Too Fast did.  Makes us feel a lot better.  I seemed to have good access today.  Too Fast did a fairly long section that allowed me to grocery shop, go to the library, and start some laundry.  Enjoyed chilidogs for supper!!

June 20:

Spent last night at the Blue Rocks Camp Ground right off the trail.  Too Fast blue-blazed into our campsite at the end of the day.  We hiked up to Pulpit and Pinnacle Rocks first thing this morning.  Too Fast took off after that!!  Still very rocky and is getting very, very hot.  Saw an interesting sign while travelling down PA 309.  It said "Caution Bear Crossing."  No bears were crossing at the time, though.  I still have not seen a bear. 

June 21:

We are both so happy to be getting close to leaving PA and all of these rocks.  They are very big and really seem to slow Too Fast down.  He is taking his time trying not to fall and injure himself.  This was actually a very uneventful day.  Very good access.  He is continuing to eat well in the mornings until midday and then seems to lose his appetite during the heat of the day.  Lots of beautiful farms and fields full of wheat, corn, etc.  Got to spend a few hours with Amanda during the evening.  She is attending a camp not far from where we finished for the day.  That was especially enjoyable.

June 22:

Enjoyed the Delaware Water Gap area.  I walked the 1.5 miles into New Jersey with Too Fast.  The trail crosses the Delaware river on a automobile bridge in which the traffic is not more than a few feet away.  Very unnerving.  Met a few thru hikers today.  Everyone was comparing bear siting stories.  The big news of the day is THE STREAK IS OVER.  I finally saw a bear (actually two) while on the trail.  As Too Fast was approaching Culver's Gap, I hiked in toward him.  About 1.5 miles from the finish, we met.  He had seen four bear during the last 11-mile section.  Needless to say, I was very disheartened.  But, only a few moments later, he stopped in the middle of the trail and pointed out a mama and cub about 30 yards down the trail.  They had spotted us and were running away.  I loved it.  Today, Too Fast came off the trail with two lost beagle dogs he had nicknamed Horton and Hesse.  He will have to explain that later.

June 23:

Slept in a somewhat loud hotel last night and we are both very tired.  Its raining, raining, raining.  Basically, it rained off and on all day.  I did very little hiking/running today.  Too Fast is ready for some dry feet.  He had a scary few moments on the trail when he encountered two bears (on separate occasions) that did not run away from him.  Eventually, they did.  I think he's ready to get out of New Jersey.  We had Chinese food in Vernon, NJ tonight and will spend the night at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church.  The church allows hikers to use the facilities for a small donation.  There are about ten hikers staying dry there tonight. 

June 24:

Got into New York today.  Very exciting to be getting into our ninth state.  Where Too Fast has been counting bear sightings, I am counting limo sightings. I've almost matched him already.  We have been putting some "miles in the bank" for the last couple of days which we "cashed in" today.  Too Fast had a relatively short run this morning, then we checked into our campground, got cleaned up, and went into New York City.  We have both been to NYC but not together.  We caught a train to Hoboken, NJ then the subway to 33rd Street.  Very nice diversion from some long days and hard work on the trail.  We walked under the Empire State Building, down Broadway, had a hot dog from a street vender in Times Square, pizza a few blocks later, and hopped back on the subway and train and headed north.  Great time!!

June 25:

Stayed in a loud campground last night.  We know what we are doing is not normal but it would be nice to get a decent nights sleep sometime soon.  What can you expect when you go to bed at 7:30.  Had some interesting sights from the trail today.  From the top of Bear Mt. we could make out the skyline of NYC.  Very neat even though it was hazy.  Bear Mt. Inn is awesome.  Would be a great place to stay.  So beautiful and peaceful.  From the Inn, the AT goes through a zoo.  I got to go through with Too Fast before hiking back to pick up the car.  Went over the Hudson River on a fantastic bridge with great views.  About mid morning we got a call from Steve Feller who lives a short distance from our stopping point for the evening.  He invited us to spend the night with him and his family.  Not wanting to hurt his feelings (ha ha) we decided to take him up on his offer.  I made a quick trip back to the campsite to back up our gear.  Steve met us a few miles from his home and we enjoyed a home cooked meal (thanks to Steve's wife) and a roof over our heads.  Thanks to the Feller family for putting us up!!

June 26:

Enjoyed another one of those uneventful days.  Not much climbing so Too Fast made great time.  Bugs are getting bad.  Having to spray ourselves several times a day.  For lunch we enjoyed hot dogs from a stand .2 miles from the trail.  Great dogs that hit the spot.  Further down the trail we saw the AT Trail Station off of Hwy 22.  Steve told us last night that the train stops on Saturdays and Sundays in the mornings and evenings.  The "station" is actually a platform set up by the tracks almost in the middle of field.  Finished the day by doing a few extra miles and getting into the next state -- Connecticut 

June 27:

Spent last night with Bert Meyer just over the Connecticut state line.  Really enjoyed visiting with him.  Cooked supper at his place -- Too Fast was craving spaghetti and salad.  The bugs were out early this morning.  We're having to use bug spray constantly now.  Connecticut is a lot tougher than we expected.  Not the rolling hills of New York but some pretty bid climbs and descents.  Also very rocky and rooty.  Very hot and humid.  Ran a lot of the day close to the Housatonic River.  Saw a couple of neat, old covered bridges

June 28:

Stayed at Bert's again last night.  I was treated to my favorite meal -- Tex-Mex Connecticut style.  It was very, very good.  We got to bed early last night.  Very hot early in the morning again.  The trail is still very rocky in some places.  Not seeing many thru hikers but lots of section hikers.  I had to hike into most of the places that I saw Too Fast today.  A few long sections without road crossings and one road that was closed.  Too Fast is ready to get to some trail he can run!!  Maybe in Massachusetts which we entered today.  Have tried to make contact with Pete Palmer to come out and run.  No luck yet -- sorry Pete.

June 29:

Spent the night in a hotel last night and ate pizza in bed.  It was great.  Good nights rest for both of us.  Great access and the trail is in good condition.  Thankfully, not as hot this morning and very overcast.  We're on a mission to find gazetteers for the states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  I need all the help I can get to locate Too Fast on the trail.  No luck yet.  Too Fast had good run today with an emphasis on running for a change.  Today was a typical crew day with me washing clothes, shopping, and giving aid.  We've both decided that we are feeling the effects of the 46 days on the trail and road.  We're officially tired!!

June 30:

Moteled it again last night.  Too Fast had lots of climbing today.  I did some hiking as well.  I went up and saw the Cheshire Cobbles overlooking Cheshire, Mass.  Unfortunately it was very hazy and the view was not great.  I then drove to the top of Mt. Greylock and hiked down toward Too Fast.  We enjoyed a nice hike back to the top together.  Beautiful views but still a little hazy.  Showered at the lodge on top of the mountain and drove into town to find a place to camp.  If we're camping, you can bet it is supposed to rain (and it did).  Found all three gazetteers today and we are thankful for them.  Makes both of us feel more comfortable about heading north.  Ended up sleeping in the covered grandstand of the athletic fields at Williams College. 

July 1:

Spent an interesting night in the bleachers.  Its amazing how many people came out to the field and track during the night.  One in particular walked the track and talked (loudly) to himself for about 30 minutes.  Very, very strange indeed.  Another group of kids came out there about 2:30 and ran around for a while.  A few ventured toward the bleachers and Too Fast blinded them with the beam of his flashlight.  Because it was very foggy, the beam looked a lot brighter than it really was.  It served its purpose well and they ran off.  Got into Vermont this morning.  Too Fast saw his first sign that moose are in the area.  According to him, he spotted a huge set of moose tracks.  The sighting was verified by a local hiker on the trail.  Crew Babe saw the moose crossing sign on the road.  Too Fast got off the trail today leaving behind his two favorite things -- rocks and lightening.  Thankfully, he finished just as a storm was about to hit!!

July 2:

Spent the night in a hotel in Bennington, VT.  Nice and quiet.  A storm came through during the night and it is really cool now.  We both left this morning with fleece jackets on.  Only one access point today so Too Fast had to carry lots with him.  Ended up staying cool most of the day which helped in making it through the run.  There were many hikers on the trail today probably because the AT and Long Trail are together at this point.  I've been suffering from a swollen and hurting ear.  I think I got a spider bite when we camped out a few nights ago.  It has really been bothering me.  Hopefully, it will start feeling better.  I spent the day wandering around Manchester.  It's a cute town with lots of outlet shopping.  We are safe because there is no extra room in our car. 

July 3:

Spent the night in a one room cabin in Manchester, VT.  Very enjoyable.  Ate some more Tex-Mex again last night and of course I enjoyed that.  It was cool almost cold during the morning.  I took several hikes in toward Too Fast during the day.  Saw so many frogs -- what's up with that?  All in all a very pleasant with Too Fast actually running a few extra miles.  We went into Rutland in the afternoon.  I finally had some Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  It was good but not great (nothing is compared to Blue Bell).  Too Fast had a Denney's Club Sandwich for supper.  Called my sister, Jena, and wished her a Happy 40th Birthday !!

July 4:

Spent the night at a cute hotel last night.  Slept well.  I dropped Too Fast off for a long section with no aid and then found a Fourth of July race in Woodstock, VT.  I did it with a nice lady from Florida who spends the summer in Vermont -- Debbie, her son Zachary, and friend Andy.  It was a lot of fun!!  After the run I still had time to hike in to give aid to Too Fast.  He appreciated the coke and popcorn very much.  I even wore my race number into the woods.  We spend the evening walking around town.  Its a very cute town that was decorated for the fourth.  We celebrated at our campsite with some Vermont cheese, French bread, and Swiss chocolate.

July 5:

Stayed at Quechee State Park last night.  We defied the "rain gods" by renting a covered lean-to.  It did rain but it didn't bother us.  Heard (not saw) the fireworks from a nearby town.  Some knuckleheads were out about 1am shouting and screaming.  Not a great nights rest.  Had ok access today which was nice for Too Fast.  The weather was nice as well.  We made it into New Hampshire this afternoon and the trail went right by the Dartmouth College campus.  Walked around the campus a bite and went to the library.  Read on his website that Andrew Thompson had been forced to stop his attempt at the AT speed record.  We are both very sad that the weather did not cooperate with him.  What an accomplishment though!!  What some may see as a failure should be viewed as quite an achievement for Andrew and his crew. 

July 6:

Spent the night at the campground again last night and slept pretty good.  Had decent access early but not so great later in the afternoon.  I hiked up North Moose Mt. and back down with Too Fast.  Trail is in decent condition.  He seems to be able to run quite a bit of it today so he made great time.  Still eating well and maintaining good body weight.  Saw the Dartmouth Ski area.  Pretty cool.  Have seen a few thru hikers and section hikers but no moose (yet)!!

July 7:

Spent the night last night with Al Sochard in N. Woodstock, NH.  We saw our first MOOSE this morning on the way to the trailhead.  Too Fast and Al hiked up Mt. Moosilauke and I drove around and hiked up the north side toward them.  On the way, I saw three more moose.  Too Fast is very jealous of all my sightings.  Mt. Moosilauke has been Too Fast's favorite mountain so far on the AT (he saw his first Moose there).  It was a clear day and Al and Too Fast could see various White Mountains rock formations and even mountains in Canada!  There were a lot of steep rocky climbs on the trail today; however, Too Fast is glad to have his first day in the White Mountain behind him.

July 8:

Spent the night again with Al Sochard in N. Woodstock, VT.  Got up at our usual time (5:00am) for a relatively short mileage day (29.1 miles) but a long day on the trail.  Al went out with us for the first several hours.  I dropped the guys off at the Franconia Notch trail head and drove ahead to the Falling Waters trail head.  I hiked up the 3 mile trail and met the guys on the top of Little Haystack.  The three of us then hiked the Franconia Ridge to the top of Mt. Lafayette.  It was a nice hike above the tree line but unfortunately there was absolutely no views.  It was a tough hike for all of us because it had rained unexpectedly the night before.  Too Fast continued on to Crawford Notch while Al and I hiked (slipped) down Old Bridal Trail.  Too Fast had lots of climbs and descents in the remainder of his run.  He was chilled most of the run despite wearing four layers of clothes.  Needless to say, he was happy to get off the trail that evening.

July 9:

Started early for the trip over the Presidential Range.  I dropped Too Fast off at 5:00am for his trip and went back to the motel for a little more R-and-R.  Too Fast left ready for a blizzard on the top of Mt. Washington carrying quite a load of clothes in a backpack on his back.  The only access today was on the top of Mt. Washington.  I drove the eight mile auto rode in low, low gear in about 30 minutes.  The toll was $16 which included a cassette tape to listen to while driving up and down the mountain, a certificate of completion (suitable for framing), and a bumper sticker which will not come close to my bumper.  I reached the top in time to see the fox that visits every morning.  I hiked down to Mt. Franklin and back.  We were fortunate to be on the summit on one of the few days with a view (25 miles).  Too Fast reached the summit in about 5.5 hours hungry and ready to for a rest break.  After a short break, he continued his trek toward Pinkham Notch.  Our evening was spent on a "wild moose chase."  We followed a Moose Viewing bus for about 45 minutes out of town (Gorham, NH) with high expectations.  We were greatly disappointed that after all our travels we saw a lone moose mom and her yearling.  For those keeping score in the Great Moose Lookout -- Crew Babe has seen six moose and Too Fast has seen three.  

July 10:

We are happy to be writing this report with double digit days in July.  Today was filled with a series of steep climbs and descents over rocks and roots.  Luckily, the morning was clear and the rocks and roots were not as slippery as they could have been.  Too Fast saw several southbounders and is glad that he only has approximately 300 miles to the finish.  I hiked the last three miles of the trail today and found to be very runnable.  Too Fast agreed.  He ran those miles which were the first runnable miles in several days.  We’ll be entering our 14th and final state tomorrow – Maine!! 

July 11:

Got a good nights rest at a motel in Gorham, NH.  Enjoyed watching some of the Baseball All-Star game last night.  Were interested in seeing Cal Ripkin in his last All-Star game -- he hit a home run on the first pitch to him and was named MVP.  Too Fast ran into Maine today.  It was an interesting day.  Mostly slow moving.  I blue blazed to hike the Mahoosuc Notch and Mahoosuc Arm with him.  The 1.1 mile Notch took us about an hour and 35 minutes.  It was literally climbing over, under, and around boulders.  I only fell a few times and Too Fast did not fall at all.  We continued on the trail up the Mahoosuc Arm.  Basically, we were walking on a path of concrete, straight up the mountain, there was very little to hold on to, and it was raining.  On top of the Arm, I blue blazed back down and Too Fast continued on the AT. 

July 12:

Today was one of the toughest days yet.  Too Fast had been warned that the first 150 miles of Maine were very difficult because the trail is rocky and rooty.  Roots, roots, and more roots.  For many miles he was walking on only roots.  Apparently in some places the trail had washed out beneath the roots and the roots were actually several inches above the dirt.  Not a fun way to travel.  Oh yeah, it was raining, too.  We saw our first moose in Maine today.  It was so cool.  He was drinking out of a small stream.  We watched him for about 15 minutes.  He actually started walking toward us but some other people walked by and spooked him off.  Cooked supper in the room tonight and had too much Ben and Jerry's for dessert. 

July 13:

After a good night's sleep, we woke to clearing skies, which made us both feel much better.  Following two days of constant rain, it was nice to see a little blue sky and no rain!  It was cloudy and cool for the entire day.  Our thoughts today are with our friends in Colorado who started the Hardrock 100 this morning.  Here's to Deb, Steve, Dennis, Sue, and Harry and all the other 120 Hardrockers.  Just Do It!  In honor of his two Hardrock 100's, Too Fast wore his Hardrock cap today.  Too Fast had a good run today.   He said the trail was in better condition today, compared to yesterday; however, due to the steep climbs his pace was still slow.  In fact, he said he did not even have a pace today!  Too Fast is looking forward to getting the next couple of mountainous days completed.

July 14:

Spent the night in a hotel in Stratton, ME.  Cute place and good rest.  We made a quick trip to the US and Canadian border after the run yesterday.  We could not pass up the chance to make the 25 minute trip out of the country!!  Too Fast's pace was still slow today but not due to the climbs.  There was only one major climb today -- Mt. Bigelow (4090 feet).  His slower pace was due to the fact that the trail is still full of roots.  Also, we are still experiencing brief periods of rain every afternoon.  The rain is keeping the temperature cool but the trail conditions are deteriorating.  Thankfully, no new blisters have developed on Too Fast's feet even with the hours of wet feet.  As he was finishing his run today, Too Fast's thoughts were still with the Hardrockers in Colorado !!

July 15:

The highlight of the run today was forging the Kennebec River WITHOUT A CANOE.  The river is approximately 100 yards wide and the ATC provides a canoe to transport hikers across.  Too Fast chose not to use the canoe and simply waded the whole distance.  Today was the first day in many that Too Fast was not rained on during the run.  The trail is getting dry!!  Rumor has it that we will be able to see Mt. Katahdin soon.  I am having a time negotiating the roads here in Maine.  The gazetteer is almost right.  I have not driven right to any of the road crossings that are not major highways.  The roads are rocky and bumpy and getting muddy with the afternoon rains.  Only four more days now!!

July 16:

Got a good nights rest last night and are very excited about the coming four days.  Too Fast began the 100 Mile Wilderness at the six mile mark today.  A sign at the beginning of the trail head suggested that hikers should pack in a minimum of 10 days worth of food.  I was scared that I would not have good access to him because he ran with very few supplies.  He did take enough to get him to the next crew stop 30 miles away.  We were encouraged because the sign also indicated that Mt. Katahdin was only 114 miles out!!  Thankfully, the logging road was passable and Too Fast completed the run with no problems.  In the course of trying to find the trail, I found another road access about three miles further.  Too Fast felt so well that he did the extra three miles.  So far, it has rained six out of the six days we have been in Maine.  Not helping trail conditions.

July 17:

We're "smelling the barn" and ready to get to Mt. Katahdin.  Too Fast rested last night after a fairly long day and decided to hit the trail at 3:30am.  Since it has rained every afternoon and very few of the nights and mornings, we both thought this was a good idea.  We were spending the night at a campground several miles off the trail in a trailer.   I dropped Too Fast off at the trail head and went back to bed.  I was able to see him a few times during the day.  We lucked out and had no rain during the morning.  By midday, he was actually at the stopping point for the day and decided to do an extra 15 miles.  It was a great idea until the thunder and lightening began and we were both out on the trail.  I only had a short sprint back to the car but still was soaked to the bone.  Too Fast was not so lucky and spent 15 minutes sitting off the trail (away from roots and rocks) in hopes of not getting struck by lightening.  Not a fun 15 minutes for someone with a slight phobia of being struck.  Ten minutes after returning to our trailer, David Horton and Steve Feller arrived.  

July 18:

After a good night's rest by some of the four in the trailer (at least we did not get wet), Too Fast and David hit the trail about 6:30am.  Steve and I dropped the guys off, crewed them once, and then saw a moose (his first sighting) driving to the next crew access point.  We checked into a campground in Baxter State Park and then drove back out to meet the guys.  Too Fast and David ran the 17 mile segment very fast and were in very good spirits.  The goal for the day was to finish the entire trail except the last 5.2 miles.  Mission accomplished.  Too Fast, David, and Steve came off the trail at about 5:30pm.  On the way out of the park, we saw a moose in the middle of a pond eating his supper.  We were all amazed at how long the moose could hold his head under the water to eat.  After showering and eating, we settled into our four-man lean-to at the campground. 

July 19:

Needless to say, Too Fast and I wondered if this day would ever come.  After almost ten weeks on the trail, we were ready.  The alarm did not even go off and Too Fast was waking us all up.  We ate and were packed quickly in anticipation of summitting Mt. Katahdin.  The four of us started the trail at 5:55am.  The first two miles were reasonably easy and went by relatively fast.  The last three miles are another story.  At about the two mile mark for the day we begin a series of steep ascents, which included straight up rock climbing.  We had been warned of these climbs; however, seeing is believing!  These steep climbs lasted for two miles and then it leveled somewhat.  We were greeted with a sign indicating just one mile to the summit!  Needless to say, the last mile was the best mile of the AT.  Too Fast and I were both very composed during this last mile until we both saw the Mt. Katahdin sign indicating the northern terminus of the Appalacian Trail.  It was then (about 100 yards away) that Too Fast (and then me) began a series of laughs and cries at the same time.  We held hands for the last 100 yards and then celebrated the end of our journey with a Big Kiss!

Our "mission" was accomplished at 9:02 a.m. - 65 Days, 2 Hours, 31 Minutes after leaving Springer Mountain in Georgia.

We stayed on the summit for thirty-five minutes and then began the final 5.2 mile decent to the base of Mt. Katahdin.  What a way for the AT to remind all of us of the difficulty in undertaking such a challenge.  Too Fast went too slow (in his words) in order to be safe; however, I managed to have a series of minor falls which served as a reminder for days ahead of the experiences of the trail.  We did finally reach the base of the mountain and you could hear a sigh of relief from all of us that the journey was finally completed.

Epilogue

Hey, everyone - Too Fast here!

Judy and I would like to say "Thank You" to everyone for following our journey and taking time to be a part in our summer.

First, I must say "Thank You" to Crew Babe!  She was unbelievable!  I will never understand how she found me on some of the back roads in Virginia and the logging roads in Maine.  Every runner is lucky when they find someone to be a good crew member and it is even better when that person is your wife.  It is better because we were able to share in all the experiences of this journey. Unique experiences are always better when you can share them with your best friend, which in this case is my wife as well.  She is the best

My daughter was also a big source of encouragement for me during the summer.  I talked with her most everyday on the telephone and she constantly told me that I could do it.  Thank you Amanda for being such a wonderful daughter!

Gary did wonderful work in keeping the website for us.  His generous actions were not taken for granted and Judy and I feel very fortunate that he was willing to give of his time and talents.  Thank you Gary!!!!!!

David Horton's advice and recommendations were great.  From the very beginning, David's experience from his previous speed record helped me in planning the daily stages and Judy planning the crew access points as well as lodging.  It was so much fun to have him with me during the last two days to lift my spirits and share in this unique experience.

A big thank you goes to Ian Torrance and Montrail for their generous sponsorship of running gear.  The Montrail shoes were great on this journey and the encouragement from Ian was greatly appreciated.

All the individuals who gave Judy and me lodging and those that ran with me during the summer were great.  I dare not mention them because of my fear of leaving someone out.  Many of the families we did not know before the journey began and after just a few hours, Judy and I felt they had been a part of us for many years.  We appreciate all of you and we hope one day we can return the Blessings you shared with us.

I must also give a word of thanks to Dow Ford.  He has been my friend and running partner for the past twenty years.  He has seen most of my high and low points and he always seemed to provide words of encouragement through the years.  I look forward to sharing the trail with him during this year's JFK 50 miler.

Finally, I must say thank you to Regis and Diane.  It was very difficult to see them leave the trail; however, we must always remember the accomplishments of their journey.  They journeyed almost five hundred miles through not only rugged Southern mountains, but also the heat that is so often associated with the South.  Reg and I shared so many laughs and tears those two weeks we were together and I value our friendship so much.  It is a real bummer that they did not finish the entire AT; however, the failure would have been the fear of not ever allowing one's self to take on such a challenge.  I'm sure we will have many of miles of running together in the future.

If anyone is interested in doing an AT speed hike, please give me a call.  I can be reached by calling the Sport Science Department at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  Judy and I would be glad to share in our experiences and suggestions.

Thanks Everyone!!!

Too Fast of Big Island, Virginia

Class of 2001