Monday, June 21, 2010

On to State #8, NJ

     On our 89th day of hiking we made it to Delaware Water Gap, finishing the stretch of trail through PA and moving on into NJ. The summer has been great so far. It has been hot for sure, but the longer days have allowed us to continue making steady progress. We had a great time hanging out with Casey and Ashley last week. Shiner Bock beer, a cigar, and hanging out around a fire with my best friend. Life doesn't get too much better. Thanks for driving across the country to see us guys. Such a treat! 
     As crazy as it sounds, we are actually in New York City right now. Our good friends Naira, Alla, and Julia came and picked us up for the weekend and took us to Clearwater, a music and environmental festival on the Hudson River. We had a blast listening to music, checking out the many informative booths, and catching up with the girls. You gals are too good to us. Thanks for everything!
     It's hard to believe that we have been hiking for 3 months already. It has been the journey of a lifetime, and I couldn't even begin to explain how excited we are for what lies ahead. Each day I find myself becoming more overwhelmed by the magnificently simple yet undeniably profound act of walking. The time in nature, the moments of reflection, the adventure of experiencing a new place together each day. . . it has all been such a blessing. Thanks for being a part of it all with us. John Muir put it beautifully when he said,  "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." Peace, blessings, and some of nature's good tidings to you all.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Half Gallon Challenge!!!

A tradition among thru-hikers, the goal is to eat a half gallon of ice cream at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, PA. Considering the cold and wet weather, Lola and I declined, but we were more than happy to shoot some video and commentate.

Day #88, Lehigh Gap, PA

Day #79, Halfway in PA

 Getting dropped off at the trailhead after a nice break.

Halfway there!!!!

 Beautiful summer days

 Trail Magic!!! Some lovely trail angel left us this amazing surprise at a spring in PA.

 Great visit with Casey and Ashley in Duncannon, PA.
WOOHOO!!! Car camping!!!!!

 Hiker Hostel in Delaware Water Gap, serving the A.T. community since 1975.

 Taking cover from a brief afternoon thunderstorm at the Clearwater Festival in NY.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Updated Itinerary

Just a little note for those of you who have asked about sending us care packages. Here are a few spots where they can be sent and the date they should be sent by. Please let us know by email or by comment on the blog if you have sent anything so that we can make sure and pick it up. Thanks for all the love and support . . .

Bryant and Laura Baker
General Delivery
Vernon, NJ 07462
*mail by June 14

General Delivery
Dalton, MA 01227
*mail by June 30

Base Camp Outfitters
2363 Rt. 4
Kilington, VT 05751
*mail by July 1

Friday, June 4, 2010

Over 1,000 Miles Behind Us!

     So our journey continues, and I must say, it continues to be amazing. It gets harder and harder to put into words the unbelieveable adventure that this hike has been so far. My apologies for it being so long in between posts and updates, but the internet access has often been limited. It was pretty special this morning, waking up in our tent on the Appalachian Trail, and celebrating our 5th anniversary!  Right now we're near the Maryland and Pennsylvania border where mom and dad Baker have met up with us, and we're taking a few days off the trail to rest, relax, and hang out with the folks. The past month has been great. We hiked 550 miles through Virginia, about 100 of that going through Shenandoah National Park. A few days ago we made it  to Harpers Ferry, WV which is the psychological halfway point of the trail. WOW!! What an awesome feeling! We also got to take a little side trip to Ohio for our friends Dave and Molly's wedding. Both the hiking and the break with friends was so good. We are continually finding ourselves amazed and humbled by life on the trail.
     Laura and I have a long list of thank you's and shout outs that we have been meaning to post, so here it goes. First off all to everyone who has sent us mail drops: Scott and Susan, Bryan and Carrie, mom and dad Baker, and mom and dad Boutwell. You all have helped us so much! Thanks for the notes, words of encouragement, and extra goodies! To Rick and Joyce: the yummy dried fruit, nuts and deer meat was a great surprise! To Victor and Meghan, Nate and Andrea, and Taylor: the care package that we picked up in Ohio was awesome. Thanks for thinking about us and for the great trail food! To C-Wray and Ann Lewis, our personal chauffers: Thanks for picking us up and dropping us off. You guys rock for all the driving you did. To Paul Bonner: all your help with logistics has been above and beyond. Thanks for handling all our boxes of gear and letting us take up some space in your room. Please tell your parents thanks for their hospitality as well! We want to say congrats again to Dave and Molly. Blessings and all the best to you both! Finally, thanks to everyone for the encouraging comments, the prayers, and thoughts. It's such a great feeling to be so supported.

Shenandoah National Park, Day#68

Dragon's Tooth, VA, Day #53

Laurel Fork Gorge, TN, Day #36


The Priest Wilderness, VA

Lola walks under "the guillotine"

Sometimes all I can do is throw my arms out wide, look to the sky, and yell from the top of my lungs.

Absolute beauty, up close and in the distance.

The lushness of Shenandoah National Park, VA

West Virginia!!!

Appalachian Trail Headquarters, Harpers Ferry, WV

Walking through Harpers Ferry with our friends Longshanks and Maple

The Patomac River outside Harpers Ferry

Journal entry from 5/26, day #65

     The winding down of another day . . . I lay back in our tent and soak in the stillness. Outside I can hear the buzz of mosquitoes, birds chirping responses to each other, and I notice large black beetle making his way effortlessly up the mesh wall by my feet. Suddenly the stillness is somewhat interrupted as leaves and twigs crackle under the hooves of a white tail deer. With his fuzzy spikes just barely beginning to show, he seems intrigued by us, but not in the least bit scared. He sniffs and snorts as he methodically makes a large, arching semi-circle around our campsite. If he gets a big enough whiff of my socks or sweat-stained shirt hanging from a nearby branch, he may hope to never see another "two-legged" again. As I watch him slowly circle, head bobbing up and down with each step, I notice that behind him, through the thick forest of trees and vines, the sky seems to be on fire. Bright pinks and reds accentuated by shades of purple have overtaken the western sky. I lay back once again, and I find myself in awe of how peaceful, how simple, how amazing life is right now. While reflecting and taking in the blessings of this moment, I'm reminded of a phrase I've heard, read, and recalled many times before. "This too will pass." As in moments past, this simple phrase once again seems to comfort me, to center me. Experiences, whether positive or negative, pleasure or pain, contentment or struggle, will come and go. Everything, in time, will pass. Remembering this truth makes me want to engage, to feel each moment even more. Without the difficulties of my past, this moment would not be as sweet, and in the future, recalling this simplicity and peace will help me handle a new struggle. Life gives us not what we want, but what we need in order to become who we are meant be. As the sun sets behind a sea of mountains, I am reminded of my smallness. When natures grandness is on display, I am content in my obscurity. Such a gift life is . . . a journey to be embraced.