Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Trails Slim Jim

I talked to Zac yesterday from the Whitehouse Landing Wilderness Camp. This is a small place where you can get a bite and a dry place to sleep. It was about a mile off the trail along side a lake. He had to sound an air horn at the dock and the owner came and picked him up in his boat and took him back across the lake to the lodge. There was no electricity there except in the kitchen. That was supplied by a wind turbine generator. It was a nice change considering the night before he was in a lean to playing host to a herd of mice that were after the food in his pack. He said that there were mice everywhere. He could hear and feel them dancing around on his sleeping bag in the pitch dark all through the night. Hard way to end a long day of walking in the rain with a swollen ankle and sore knees. The next day his ankle was hurting more and he was finding it harder than ever to walk the shortest of distances. This part of the trail is covered with large roots and deep ruts. Zac said it was like doing a tire drill in football practice only with smaller tires and deeper holes. He needs to average about 20 to 25 miles a day to beat the snows in the White Mountains and make it back to Georgia by Christmas. The pain he was having caused him to make a decision that he struggled with for days. Not being able to walk as far each day meant he was not going to make the miles he needed to beat the coming snows in New Hampshire. He told me that he was going to call it quits for now and try it again next year. He is catching a flight home tomorrow and will be arriving in Atlanta around 11:30 P.M. I could tell he was tearing up some when he was telling me he could not go on anymore. He said that he felt like he was letting everyone down and asked me to tell people following his blog that he was sorry. He was very depressed and feeling defeated. I told him that he has not let anyone down and he needs to concentrate on his great accomplishments. Hiking the PCT was a fantastic adventure and he took all of us along with him. I told him it was not a defeat, it was only a postponement. I think he understood what I was trying to tell him but he still feels awful about it. Thank you again for all of your support and letters. There are still videos to come as well and updates on Zac's plans.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First night on the AT

I spoke with Zac this morning and he was on his second day on the AT. He had to reach the start of the trail on the top of Mt. Katahdin. This was approximately 5 miles from Baxter State Park. Then, he could start the journey south. He reached the top at 10:45. His goal was the get back down and out of Baxter Park before it got too dark. If he was unable to get out of the park it would cost 30 dollars to camp. He camped just on the outskirts of the park. Unfortunately, his head lamp batteries died and he had to set up his tent in the dark. He was too tired to eat much. He was able to stop a store today and pick up some new batteries and he will have some light tonight. Unlike the PCT, there are numerous lean to type shelters that will keep him from sleeping in the rain. He said he had passed by a few northbound through hikers that were almost through with their own trek. I am sure was remembering his own excitement when he was that close to the Canadian border. He said he had received some valuable information about trail conditions ahead. The trail has many roots and rock ledges to maneuver over and around. The going is slow. His foot was giving him some problems and he was not sure how far he was going to go today. He wanted to make it at least to the lean to shelter at Rainbow Springs. You can follow along if you go to postholer.com, click the AT and you can get an idea of where he is.

If you want to send him a note or package the nearest address is: (send by tomorrow to make sure it gets there on time)
Zac Finley AT hiker
c/o Shaws Lodging
P.O. Box 72
Monson, Maine 04464

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Last night I arrived to the day's final destination after having being on the move for over 12 hours from Bozeman, Montana. The day's travels ended in Millinocket, Maine, a very small town with a friendly local community where everyone seems to know everyone.

I was unable to finish my previous post I started to write while I was in Bozeman, but it seemed be summed up quite well by my dad in the next post. I do want to personally thank David and Susan for their generosity and hospitality, as they invited yours truly, a complete stranger, wet and smelly, into their wonderful home overlooking Lake Washington and the downtown Seattle area. David, you are a courageous human being to be, and continue to strive for more accomplishments! Truly inspiring! Susan, you keep up your fantastic artwork, including baking those amazing blackberry pies. Delicious!

I also would like to thank Shea for treating me to a wonderful trail's end and birthday celebration at Chico Hot Springs, and for everything you have helped me with while transitioning from the PCT to the AT. The visit I had in Yellowstone couldn't have gone much better. I was able to see and catch up most of my friends I have made over the past seven years in the park while visiting the Old Faithful Inn and Lake Lodge. Unfortunately, I did miss one of my best friends, Julie. I only mention it, because I know she will be reading this soon. Sorry, Jules. Will call you soon!

A small propeller aircraft carried me and only about seven other passengers from Bozeman, Montana to Denver, Colorado. I only had about 5 minutes to run across the Denver airport to catch my next jumbo jet to LaGuardia airport in New York City. Flying into New York was exciting. I was able to catch airiel views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and all the massive skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building. It was quite the change in scenery from having a bird's eye view of timber lined lakes and snow capped mountains. After a couple hours in New York, I was off in my smallest plane yet to Bangor, Maine. Before touching down there, I was able to enjoy an amazing sunset above the clouds from my seat. Once in Bangor, I had just enough time to buy a bus ticket for Medway, Maine and grab a chicken sandwich and jr. bacon cheeseburger from Wendys, my first meal of the day! Darkness had fully set in by the time I arrived in Medway and the owner of the Appalachian Trail Lodge was there to pick me up and drive me another 12 miles to Millenocket, Maine, the closest town to the AT's northern terminus. Surprisingly, I met my first two thru hikers that also had arranged for Paul to pick them up. Two of a Kind, a couple from Jacksonville Florida, were flipping forward from southern Maine to start the end of their northbound hike. They had started their trek from the AT's southern terminus in north Georgia, March 12th. The three of us grabbed a bite to eat at Paul's Appalachian Trail Lodge Cafe before finally settling down at the Lodge itself after a long day's worth of travels. At the lodge, other AT thru hikers that had just finished their trek from Georgia were celebrating. Trinket and Toothpick were among a couple of the hiker's present.

Today, I will take a day off! I woke up slow and late and enjoyed a giant breakfast at the local cafe. Hopefully after getting a few chores done, like getting food supplies, researching my next junt across Maine, and post office duties, I will relax, get some ice on my ankle, and wait for a decsion to come to whether or not I should stay another night in town before firing up the hiking engines again from Mount Katahdin. Until them, I will continue to discover the differences from being out west along the PCT and the older, more historic, sites along the Appalachian Trail. Without even looking around, it's easy to tell I am in a new world, New England, by listening to the chatter of voices amongst the local town people. Accents have changed dramatically! Buildings are smaller and older. Streets are narrower. More hardwood trees with leaves are begining to change into exploding organge, yellow and red blasts. I can hardly wait for my trekking adventure to continue southbond across this beautiful country I have already, and will continue to admire and love in slow motion. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. Happy trails!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mt. Rainier


Getting from point A to point B was a real journey in itself. Point A being Manning Park Canada and point B being Katahdin Mountain, Maine. Saturday morning around 11a.m. Zac left Manning Park by bus to Vancouver Canada. He took another bus back to the states arriving in Seattle around 10:30 p.m. He had almost 24 hours before he was to catch his flight to Bozeman the next day. He had to walk about ten blocks in the rain from the bus station to the A line metro station that would take him the the airport. While on the train trying to dry out a couple from the Seattle area began talking to him and he told them about his journey. He told them he was going to sleep in the airport that night. They would not have it. These people insisted that he come home with them and get a good hot meal and spend the night in a warm bed. Zac could not talk them out of it and next thing he knew he was in his own room with his own bathroom. The couple were Susan and David and they treated him to what ever he needed. A trip to the post office and the library. He thanked them and took the A line to the airport. He flew to Bozeman Montana where he was picked up by Shea, a very close friend from Yellowstone. She treated him to a day at the spa for his birthday. I'm sure his body had an overhaul there. He spent a few days in Yellowstone relaxing before heading back to Bozeman. In Bozeman he went to see a doctor about his ankles and feet. The doctor told him that nothing appeared to be broken and he should try to take it easy and buy some insoles for his shoes to ease the pressure on his feet when he walks. He flew out of Bozeman at 6:00 a.m this morning with a stop in Denver and New York before landing in Bangor Maine tonight around 6:20 pm. He was able to catch the only bus going to Medway that day. The shuttle from the Appalachain Lodge met him there and took him to the lodge where he will be staying. After a night or two there, getting prepared, he will be shuttled to the trail head and the beginning of a a new adventure. I will keep you posted throughout the trail south. In the mean time I will post some of the last videos received from the PCT.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Heading East

I've finally got some time to put a bit more time into a post, being in the familiar Holiday Inn in Bozeman, Montana. I've got much to share from the last moments on the PCT to celebrating my 25th birthday in my old backyard, Yellowstone National Park.

It was exactly 5:45 pm pacific standard time on September 16th, 2010 when I completed my walk to Canada from Mexico on the Pacific Crest Trail. A few hours before crossing the border I remember very well, standing atop an unnamed summit, 7126 feet above the sea. I stood there alone with aching ankles and sore shoulders gazing down on the surrounding stunning Washington landscape. Rugged mountains, some with glaciers slowing gauging deep ravines into their bellies, in all directions. The mountains that would usually lay in front of me to the north while standing atop a mountain resembled the next few days' challenges. Not on this day. The mountains north of me that Friday were ones I would not traverse. They towered over land beyond trail's end in the heart of British Columbia, Canada. Stepping off that summit onto the rocky trail is when my emotions began to fly in every direction like the views that surrounded me. I knew it would be my last mountain top on the PCT. I realized I really was, "almost there" this time. Only eight more miles of downhill to the Canadian border.

Before I knew it, I could hear the booming voice of Baby Steps, chatter of Fox Trot and pure joy of Flash Back trickling through the trees from below three switchbacks in the trail. I let out a loud "YEEEEEEEEHAW!!" It was of course returned with more hootin-n-hollern as they waited for me on the United States-Canada border. I made sure to wipe the remaining tears of joy off my smiling cheeks before arriving at the bottom of the hill and in the arms of Baby Steps with a celebrating hug. There are too many, and not enough words to fill in the blank of how I felt to be finished. Pure joy! Proud, relieved, and completed are a few others. A monument, very similar to the one at the Mexican border, where I started 5 months and 3 days prior, stands on the Canadian border in the middle of a long clear cut, that is the international boundary in a thick forest. The only difference, one of the wooden tiers reads: Pacific Crest Trail Northern Terminus. The rain started to fall from the heavens no more than ten minutes after my arrival. So the four of us took the classic pictures of celebrating by the monument, quickly gathered our trash of Snicker bar, Hostess cherry pie, and Slim Jim wrappers and emptied and dried celebratory beer cans into our packs and decided to push on to the real trail's end, eight more miles into Canada's Manning Provincial Park, where we'd get to the closest road into civilization. Flashback, Fox Trot, and Baby Steps are much faster hikers, and I knew this meant I'd get to the lodge in Manning well after them, and all of us would not finish there before the skies turned black and filled with more rain. It didn't matter though, because we would be DONE!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Could it be Bigfoot?

Early one morning deep in the Washington wilderness Zac heard a sound...........