Meet Bernie Waugh-A retired NH municipal lawyer and AT thru hiker
A long time hiker with a story to share
Good morning Norwich ,Upper Valley residents and hopeful readers,
This story is about Bernie Waugh, a recently retired NH attorney and a long time AT thru hiker. One could say this story qualifies as a story in “A day in the life of series” that I recently started on my blog, however in this case you could say it was a bit more than a day. ( Editor’s note to get you in the loop ) I recently took some photos at Dan and Whit’s as two groups of thru hikers were passing thru Norwich on their way to Maine and asked them to share their stories on my blog. I am waiting to hear back from them as soon as they get some downtime and hopefully not on a zero day. In the meantime, while having lunch with a good neighbor and friend, I mentioned this idea to him and he stated that a friend of his had hiked the trail recently and just might have a story to tell. So without any further delay meet Bernie and enjoy reading about his travels on the Appalachian trail. (Photos for this story are courtesy of Bernie).
If after you read the story and you have questions for Bernie, you can email them to him at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a retired NH municipal lawyer, and long-time hiker. In late July I finished all of the Appalachian Trail south of Hanover (a bit over 1750 miles), having begun at Springer Mt. Georgia 5 months earlier on Feb 25. The furthest I'd previously walked in one swoop was 350 miles of the Arizona Trail in 2018. This year I'd set out to walk all of the AT (up to Mt Katahdin) with my brother Richard (a violist in the Cleveland Orchestra, 8 years younger and 8 inches taller than I). But he developed a stress fracture the first 275 miles and had to drop out. I stopped at home in Hanover because hiking alone got a bit old, plus my father's health was declining (he's since died at age 97).
I averaged 17 miles a day or so - constantly passed by young turks doing 20+. I also took a "zero day" (rest and resupply) every 5 days or so. My trail name, bestowed by two brothers we hung with for a week, was "Conductor" (based on my railroad-style cap, and my puffing like a locomotive up steep hills). On-trail I slept half the time in my one-person tent, and half in shelters. Zero days were spent at motels or hostels (the FarOut app, which most AT hikers use, tells you about available lodging plus shuttles). Some hostels offered "slack packing" where they'd shuttle you out for a day's walk without a pack, and come back for you. But I feel that the spirit of the AT is carrying an overnight pack the whole way, which I did.
My brother (right) and myself (left) Feb. 25 at Springer Mt. Georgia, the southern terminus of the AT.
The AT bridge across the James River in central Virginia, first part of May (The trail climbed about 3000 vertical feet just the other side.)
Myself at the AT halfway point, just south of Pine Grove Furnace, PA
Shelter near the Lehigh River in PA - the oldest of the shelters I slept in.
Crossing from NJ into NY state. The guy in the kilt (recently out of the military) had composed a song (to the tune by Merle Haggard hit) entitled "Day Hikers Stink" - based on the fact that long-distance hikers get accustomed to the "normal" hiker body stink that offends non-hikers, but we can't stand day-hiker odors such as perfume, scented hair spray, scented clothes dryer inserts, etc. The woman on the right (trail name Jilly-Goat) was a math teacher from Indiana taking her summer break to hike a 400-mile section. I hiked with her for several days.
A view north from "Jug End" Massachusetts on the day after the storm which flooded Vermont (and the only "zero day" I took at a shelter). I had to splish-splash almost two weeks (as far up as Killington) before the mud started drying out.
A ledge above Cheshire MA. The guy on the left (trail name "Professor Sprout" who taught botany) said he'd had to leave the Trail for a week to recover from a snake bite. The guy on the right ("Chuckster") was one of the few hikers I met who, at 71, was older than I (at that time 70). Mt. Greylock, the highest point in MA, would be visible in the background, but for all the Canadian wildfire smoke.
Me, enjoying a hamburger in Bennington, VT, where my wife Mary had come down for a short visit.
Please don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have about the AT in general or about long-distance hiking at age 70.
Thanks to Bernie for sharing his story with us and thanks to my readers for your continued support of my blog. Please consider being a free subscriber and why not upgrade to a paid subscription as there are several options available to you. Click on the subscribe button to view options.
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