Waldo's Journal

Update: June 28th, 1999

Well, I'd hoped to be able to go hiking in June, but that couldn't happen. I'm a victim of my own success; business is great at WAM!design. Now I'm hoping to be able to head out in September with Seeker?!, with whom I've hiked much of the AT. I've only got a few days hiking left to finish up good ol' PA, and then a few more to finish up New York. That'll leave me with Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and some of New Hampshire. Those are all relatively small states. I'd like to be able to knock out PA, NY and some of CT this year. Should I be able to schedule things right, and if my feet hold out, I think that's a pretty reasonable goal. I could theoretically hike in July or August, but given my past problems with heat, I'm not too anxious to try that.

Update: April 17th, 1999

Wow. So much has happened. I've started a company, I'm 20 years old (nearly 21!), and I still have another few hundred miles to go.

I've been going through my old journals, working on my sections on my hike from Mount Washington to Mount Katahdin in September and October of 1996. I'm just about ready to add my section on my second hike in 1997. Somewhere out there is my journal for 1998 in Pennsylvania. I'll transcribe that when I get the time. Also, I'm going to take all of my '96 journal entries and put them into an easier-to-read and easier-to-print format, similar to the one that I'm using for my '97 entries.

I've pretty much got this summer planned out. I only have a little bit of Pennsylvania left, but I now know that I'll break my feet. It's just too rocky. But I want to just get it over with so that I can enjoy my last section, from Bear Mountain Bridge, over the Hudson in New York, to Mount Washington, in New Hampshire.

So, I'm breaking in a new pair of boots, and I've been packing up. I think that I've got my pack down to 14lbs. I'm going for a 4-5 day marathon hike, and I expect to cover over 100 miles in that time. That would be no amazing achievement for a thru-hiking. But I haven't hiked since last summer; it'll just about kill me. But I'm sure that I'll enjoy it.

When will I do it? I'm shooting for early June. We'll see. It's hard to make time. I can't believe that I'm the president of a company. :)

Anyhow, stay tuned. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.


Waldo Update: August 7th, 1997

I'm home again. I went and broke my feet again, making seven broken feet so far in my hike. I'm not sure of where to go from here. I turned 19 on July 31st, which meant that my health insurance was cut off. Being in the business of injuring myself, that's bad. I can either start paying lots of moola (I don't have this) for insurance, or enroll in at least 9 credits worth of classes at a college. So I've had to enroll at the Piedmont Virginia Community College here in Charlottesville in English, History and Astronomy. I'm editing my journal entries and marking them up now, so expect them soon. I'll be back from Florida on the 16th, so perhaps around then.

When will I hike again? I don't know. I won't do any hikes longer than five or so days for the remainder of this hike, though I look forward to future long-distance hikes.

My posting to the Appalachian Trail Mailing List sums it up best:


I've broken both of my feet. Again. That's 7 now. This has grown stupid. I made it as far as the Hudson River. I'm editing my journal entires now, and they should be available soon. I just signed up for classes at the community college and I'm looking for a job. I have taken two years off of school and dedicated a year and a half of my life to this hike. But there's a line between dedication and obsession, and I'm treading it.

Will I finish my hike? Of course. But, simultaniously, I must now proceed with my life. I am hundreds of dollars in debt and in awful physical condition, foot-wise. I've hyperextended my left achilles tendon -- it's extremely painful -- broken a metatarsal in each foot, twisted both ankles, developed an ingrown toenail in my big toe on my left foot, gotten blisters on my right foot from walking to correct for these problems, and shinsplints. My medical insurance ended July 31st -- my 19th birthday -- unless I enroll in college. So I've picked up 9 credits worth at the community college.

I'll have to hike here and there over the coming weeks and months, though it will be expensive and difficult to get up north and back repeatedly. Many of you have been greatly supportive, e-mailing me as I hike, sending care packages, calling and writing. It's helped me immensely as I hike, and I couldn't have done it without you.

What's next? I don't know. Tomorrow I take my honors placement testing at PVCC for History and English, later this week I go to Florida with my girlfriend for a bit, and I start classes the 26th. I'll need to get a full-time job to pay for college at Harvard, where I will most likely start fall of 1998. While I'd love for hiking to play a large roll in my life in the coming months and years, I've entered the dreaded Adult World.

It sucks.

Yours, Waldo

So that's the scoop. What can I say? I've worked very hard, been perhaps a little too persistant, and I've done the best that I can. I'm not done, and I will hike when I can. But this is the end of my long-distance endevours for now. I'll only injure myself further. Perhaps in a year or two, once I'm certain that my feet are in good shape, then I'll pick a new trail or start this one over.

I have not given up; I have developed realistic expectations given my condition. When I'm all healed I'll do another couple thousand miles. Maybe by then the AT will be ready for the modern world of computers. And maybe by then the modern world of computers will be ready for the AT.

Waldo Update: July 14th, 1997

OK, so it's July 14th -- just barely -- at 11:58 PM. I'm at home in Free Union, Virginia, preparing to leave again. I've edited, marked up and uploaded my June journal entres (at left, bottom.) I'll continue hiking with Seeker, and I'll start again at the point that he hiked to while I was off the trail -- Delaware Water Gap, New Jersey. That leaves me with 148.7 miles from Duncannon to Delaware Water Gap. There are two reasons why I'm jumping ahead. The first is to keep up with Seeker, the second is to put off the notorious Rocks of Pennsylvania until my feet are in better condition.

I'd like to be starting in Duncannon, not only to achieve some sort of continuity but to meet and hike with the Waldo Fan Club.

Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997
From: Scott Hoffman

Dear Waldo:
Hi! I thought I might write and see what up with you? How are you doing? Are you ready to start your north bound track yet? Have you desided yet were your going to start out yet when you restart the trip? Could you consider Duncannon, PA? We,the members of the loyal order following of the Waldo Club, would like it. Please consider it. I could make you homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies if you would so honor us by starting here instead of NY state.:)
Mother Natures Son

Sorry, Mother Natures Son, I gotta start a little farther north. But I would, and I mean this for all of you, enjoy hiking with any of you that keep up with my website. Seeker, I'll warrant, won't half mind it either.

My feet still don't feel so good, but they're a lot better than on the summer solstice three weeks ago. I've gotten Superfeet, as recommended by Jim "Skyline" Austin, these wonderful inserts that make my feet rather happy. I've switched from my Nike Air Structures sneakers to my Asolo 535 boots to get more support for my delicate little footsies. I've removed some choice items from my pack, so that its weight is firmly under 20 lbs.

My time in town was spent well -- I spent most of it limping about cautiously and spending entirely too much time at my girlfriend's house. (Our 1st anniversary was yesterday, the 13th! I'm tickled.) The time to leave just sort of crept up on me. Seeker is headed towards Front Royal now, hiking the Shenandoah National Park. He'll call me on Thursday when he gets to Front Royal, and I'll drive up in his car, which he left here, and continue with him to Delaware Water Gap.

My next problem to tackle is getting my Newton and Motorola communicating so that I can transfer my journal entries. Technically, the Motorola and Newton should not work together. However, there's a fellow at Motorola, Russ Brewer, who has shown me that there's more to Motorola than meets the eye.

Date: Fri, 27 Jun 1997
From: Doug Basler

Hey Waldo,

I was sorry to read that your computer and phone is still giving you troubles. But I have good news as well. Our department is making changes and open to the solutions which people like myself have. Just yesterday, Friday, I typed up a proposal for an additional position within our department and met with my supervisor for an hour to discuss it. I brought your journal entry as a concrete example of how we've blown it and ways to solve this problem. She was very excited about the idea and wanted to discuss how it would fit within her ideas for change as well. I don't know what will come of our meeting, but one thing that was settled was that we need to get you on-line.

So, can you email me with the details of your situation again. I don't remember everything, but I recall that you have a Montana modem and that you are using a Motorola phone. I'll need the factory model number off the back of your phone, any part numbers from your modem and also the details as to why it's not working. I imagine that you will need your computer set up via software to be compatible with the Montana. What precisely did Newton tell you to do? Also, what have you already done? Do you remember which Motorola departments you spoke with and what steps they told you to take? I know you're going back on the AT soon and I'd like to get this whole thing resolved in one shot for your sake. If all you need is that last direct connect cable from us, my supervisor has agreed to get you one; no charge. So fill me in if you can and I'll bring the info back to work and we'll get you up and running as much as we can.

Until then, take care of those feet.


That cable should arrive tomorrow, as further e-mail with Russ established, and may just solve my problems. I'm awfully impressed with Motorola.

How long will I be out this time? How long will I hike? I really can't say. My girlfriend and her family will be going to Vermont and Canada, and has offered to pick me up on the way south at the end of July. That's my first window of opportunity. I would go home then only due to physical injury. Otherwise I'll stay on until August 7th, as I'm going to Florida -- like I did last year when I first broke my foot -- with the frequently-mentioned girlfriend and her family. Zeb Blanchard, active user of the Appalachian Trail Mailing List (more info at http://www.trailplace.com) has offered to show me around Cape Canaveral, where he works. Unfortunately, my visit doesn't seem to fit within the launch schedule, but maybe bad weather will supply a space shuttle launch or landing. So, time shall tell how my 'net connection will work, how my hiking time will be spent and how far I'll be getting.

Waldo Update: June 30th, 1997

Ooooh, what a short, not good trip it's been. I hiked from Harper's Ferry, West Virgnia to Duncannon, Pennsylvania from June 12th until the 22nd. Over those ten short days I managed to re-fracture my feet, get shinsplints in both shins, pass out twice from heat exhaustion and get my first-ever blisters. I hitched to Harrisburg, PA on the 22nd, where I went to the ER and visited an orthopedic surgeon the next day.

The word from Dr. Jefferson at the Polyclinic Medical Center is to stay off my feet as long as they hurt and hit the trail then. The fractures are, fortunately, slight, since this time I had enough sense to get off of the trail as soon as they began hurting. Because of this my time at home will span about three weeks. The shinsplints will simply hurt, and that will be that. I was told to drink more Gatorade to prevent the heatstroke, take something called Day Pro to stop the pain and deal with it.

I caught a Greyhound Bus at 7:00 PM on the 23rd to Washington, DC, where I arrived at 10:00 PM. My brother met me there, where we walked the four blocks or so to Union Station, where my father was parked. The local welcoming committee greeted us on a dark street on the way to Union, and we had to hold our own with drawn knives. People ask me if I ever feel unsafe on the trail. My answer is and will remain the same: I feel safer on the Appalachian Trail than I do anywhere else.

I'm trying to stay in good shape around town, but it's tough. My cycling shoes don't fit right, due to the swelling of my feet, and my shins hurt quite a bit. I'm going to need to purchase some heavy-duty hiking boots, but at about $250, I don't think that's likely. When I start hiking again around the 15th of July I'll have to hike in my lightweight Asolo 535s and hope they'll suffice. I plan on being injured (let's be realistic here) again by around August 5th, bringing me home in time to go to Florida with my girlfriend and her family for a week, leaving the 9th. I'll start hiking again around the 20th and hopefully finish that time, provided my feet don't fail me again.

But Waldo, you're asking, why continue on this masochistic death march? You've broken five feet so far, only gotten 1450 miles, and you're going to ruin your body! Well, I said something on my site back when I first started it in Februrary of 1996. I said that I would finish the Appalachian Trail. And so I will. I'm a man of my word, and this was a promise to you and, far more importantly, to me. I am proceeding cautiously with the approval of a qualified physician, and I believe that this is a non-threatening, though painful, way of going about things.

Motorola has given me a huge headache. For those long-time readers here, you know about the trouble I had with them last year. I had a Motorola phone and a Motorola cellmodem. Niether came with the appropriate cable to connect them. Motorola, after several weeks of e-mail, phone calls and letters, finally admitted that these cables did not, in fact, exist, which is why they would not send me one. Enough of you sent them nasty e-mail that they somehow whipped up a few cables which were sent to me several months into my hike. I never did get a chance to use them, though, with the Motorola modem.

Well, I discovered a little problem on my first night on the AT this June. The cable did not work. I called Motorola's 800 number from Waynesboro, PA, where I spoke with a few incompetent fools. They did everything from deny my existance to the modem's existance to the cable's existance. I was told to call several weird long distance numbers, which I ignored, and was transferred to people who had no idea why I was talking to them. Finally I spoke with Russ, their trusty young customer support guy. Russ laid things out for me. He discovered that they'd sent me a cable manufactured by Honda, their Japanese competitor, which would not work with my setup. The cable should have read "SKN-4826". Instead it just said "Honda". Russ told me that I could buy a new one for $58. I ain't got $58 for that. Basically, I was screwed until I could get a new cable. We talked about the AT for a bit -- apparantly, Russ had done some AT hiking himself. I've since gotten e-mail from him -- he wants to hike the AT as a honeymoon with his fiancee. I think it's an awesome idea, a true test of a marriage (though I'd do the hike before the wedding), and hope to guide him towards a successful long-distance hike. So my problem may not be fixed, but Russ did a great job as telling me like it was, and I'm glad Motorola has at least one competent employee. E-Mail Russ and give him bits of thru-hiking advice! I'm sure he'll need it pretty soon.

I've got big long rambling journal entries on my Newton for each day that I was out. The problem is that they're on my Newton and not on my website. I need to convince AppleTalk to work with the Newton to get them onto my laptop, then get them onto here! Don't worry, I get 'em up soon.

So, once I get rolling, I'll get writing, and my journal entries will somehow start popping up once again. Hope you'll be here! Until then, see an article I did for "ping.magazine" at ALDHA's website.