Friday, May 3, 2013


4/28: 12 miles (because we did 23 the day before). Marion to Atkins

4/29: 15.1 miles. Atkins to Lynn Creek.

4/30: 18 miles. Lynn Creek to Jenkins Shelter.

5/1: 24 miles. Jenkins Shelter to Jenny Knob Shelter.

5/2: 14.2 miles. Jenny Knob Shelter to Wapiti Shelter.

5/3: 18 miles. Wapiti Shelter to Pearisburg.

We did 100 miles 6 days! SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH US.

It's not every day that you get to see a middle aged man in a button-down white collared shirt and maroon sweater vest Tokyo Drift his 1989 Geo Metro around the corner of a gravel back country road. Dumptruck and I watched this happen with dumb befuddlement as gravel flew into the air like sparks from a firecracker. The man's car roared in protest as he rocketed around the corner at approximately 45mph, the back tires spinning out, and then he was gone.

Dumptruck and I said nothing, but crossed the gravel road and continued on the trail. Ten minutes of silence passed as we hiked uphill surrounded only by the sound of birds calling and merrily chirping crickets.

"DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?!" Dumptruck suddenly burst out, scattering a few startled birds out of the nearby trees. I immediately stopped hiking and turned around.

"I don't know!" I cried "I thought I imagined it!"

"He... He looked like my dad."

"Little did you know that when no one is home, your dad takes the car out to a road in the woods and goes TOKYO DRIFTING EEEVEERYWHEEERRRE."


We're onto you, Dad. Your secret is out. You're a madman, that was totally unsafe. But: respect, bro.

The past week has been incredibly difficult, but has been fun nonetheless. Doing these giant mile days has been a little bit like, well, hiking giant mile days over huge mountains while wearing our homes on our backs. Like snails, but stupider. We have made it to Pearisburg, and I have never been happier to see a sleazy motel. Someone forgot to tell the shower drain that its job was to drain water, so I got to have the singularly entertaining experience of watching a clouds of black dirt billow away from my body in the rapidly filling tub. The week's worth of dark filth curled away into the water like Hexus from Fern Gully, disgusting and fascinating. The human body's capacity for smelliness is... I... There are no metaphors.

Dumptruck and I have been very lucky in that we have been able to continue hiking with Whistle and Grim. There's really no reason for them to be doing these giant mile days with us, other than they love us. Or maybe, it's because they are simply Briskly Approaching New, Although Not Advisable Sections (BANANAS. They're totally insane).

On Tuesday the sun shone down on us with the sort of menacing intensity of an East Village mobster on the day of his daughter's wedding. Dumptruck and I made it halfway up a cleared mountain bald and collapsed down, happy to be in shade and eat our lunch. Five minutes later, the cloud that had been blessedly covering the sun decided it had better things to do and floated away. We had already gotten out our food, so we soldiered on with eating, while we felt the sun stand on our backs. A few minutes later, Whistle trundled up to us and sat down. I looked over at her and cocked my head to the side.

"Are you... Okay?"

"WHAT? I mean, yes! Yes? Yes."

She looked at me, apparently trying to make eye contact. But I got the distinct impression that she was looking through me, like I was a ghost and there was something mildly more interesting behind my wispy ghost body.

"Have you been drinking water?" I asked as gently as I could.

"Oh yes," she nodded like a bobble head, and then stood back up again. "Do you know... When the.. Ummm... Sunshine?" She waved her hand in the general direction of the sun, and then covered her face with her hand.

"Are you asking when we'll be back under tree cover? I'm not sure. Are you sure that you're- oh, okay." She had started hiking again, and was headed further uphill. I told Dumptruck that it might be a good idea to follow her, as she was clearly in some state of delirium. We successfully got up the hill, and when Whistle saw Grim at the empty shelter, she began laughing hysterically. If eyeballs could have little spirals instead of pupils, Whistle's would undoubtedly look that way. Grim expressed some concern that she was, perhaps, being effected by the heat. She waved the thought away, continuing to laugh.

"Where aaaaare weeeeEE?" She asked, looking around at the surroundings like she was recently put back onto earth after a short alien abduction.

"On the Appalachian Trail," Grim replied slowly, trying unsuccessfully to make eye contact with Whistle. She shook her head like she was trying to rid her ears of water, then plopped down and began eating lunch. A bit later her eyes refocused and she admitted that she had, perhaps, been a bit addled in her brainspace. I promise that she has been very healthy and non-heat-broken since then.

Today, in fact, she had much more energy than I. I got through the day by playing a game I call "Catch the Whistle." It involves her hiking ahead, pausing to break, and waiting until she can see me a few 100 feet below her on the mountain. Then she hikes ahead again. It's like a video game that I will NEVER WIN. She's like the electronic rabbit for a dog race. Or the carrot dangling on the end of a string in front of a donkey.

We have had a wonderful time, went swimming in a pond under a waterfall (EVEN THOUGH IT WAS FREEZING) and we have been very glad to be with each other. Grim and Whistle are taking a zero day tomorrow in Pearisburg, but Dumptruck and I need to continue on. So, we split again (temporarily) but Dumptruck and I will keep each other safe while Grim and Whistle will do the same.

Tonight, we feast at an all-you-can-eat Chinese food buffet.

Clever Girl

Sorry about the cow carcass.


  1. LOVE the dump truck x2 photos!! Now, you need to find a raptor (or, perhaps its current evolutionary form, the humble chicken) to take with Clever Girl and BOOM Christmas cards

    Package going in the mail tomorrow!!! P.S. Mad props for the Fern Gully reference

  2. Wow you are all speed hiking. You got a lot of miles walked. Ditto on loving the photos. Be sure you all wear sunscreen and stay super well hydrated with the days getting warmer. Be safe
    Margie and Maurice

  3. So sorry! I should have told you earlier that Whistle has been afflicted with heat induced delirium since her earliest days. Don't ever leave her alone when she descends into googly eyed hysteria! She is rarely a threat to anyone but herself. Please keep her safe! Mama Whistle

  4. TOKYO DRIIIIIIIIFFFTTTT. You two continue to be the kind of inspiration that makes life worth living. Keep it UP! Big news from the NYC front when you've got time to hear it. Details forthcoming.

  5. Love the dump truck photo. that helps me remember his name, when I talked to Apple Butter, I called him the hurt shoulder guy, cause I could not think of his name. I'm a visual learner. Love the blog, Apple Butter's Ma

  6. Well, not only did the guy in the Metro look like your Dad...he sounds like your Dad! Dad Dumptruck is one of the coolest guys around, and he would definitely Tokyo Drift a Geo Metro! You guys are really moving...way to go! Keep an eye on the Whistle girl. We're thinking of you. Photos are super as always and your posts are so well written we feel very connected. Love to all! Mom and Dad