Waynesboro, VA to Harper’s Ferry, WV

Day  75: We slept in this morning at the hiker hostel. Upon waking, I took a shower, then got breakfast and coffee. Then I visited the ER for my feet. They told me it was simply overuse and to keep taking the Vitamin I. We got lunch and ended up talking with some “townies” there. An older couple offered to give us a ride back to the trail and we took it! We had an easy 9 miles to the shelter and saw one view. We met a super nice PATC Ridge Runner at the shelter and enjoyed a campfire with others before bed.

Day 76: We finally broke 20 miles today! The terrain was great as we finally found a flat stretch in Virginia. (There is a rumor that VA is flat… it is NOT!) We hiked the end of the day with J-Rex. It was very hot and when we found shade we joked that we were in air conditioning. We summited one mountain that had a huge rock pile that we scrambled up for almost 360 degree views. While there, we ran into a geology intern that us about how the mountains formed. On our way to the Loft Mountain Campground, where we are staying tonight, we saw two bear cubs with their mother! When we arrived to the camp store, we immediately got ice cream and soda. We shared the campsite with two other hikers. After setting up our tents and having dinner, we headed down to the camp store to shower. Along the way, we saw a hare sniffing a turtle. The hare was all nervous about it… too funny! Very tired after my first 20 miler and I can hear a thunderstorm moving in. We watched it earlier as you could see lightning in the huge thunderhead. The Shenandoahs have already proven themselves to be much more friendly than the Smokies.

Day 77: A short 14 miles today and I’m glad, because it was so hot out! We slept in while waiting for the camp store to open so we could resupply. I also had ice cream and soda for second breakfast! J-Rex hiked all day with us and it was nice to have her along. A couple of views today, but mostly just hot. We got into camp around 5PM, set up and had dinner. Now reading until bed!

Day 78: We woke to a nice breezy day! 19 miles turned out to be pretty nice. The terrain got easier as the day went on and we got a couple nice outlooks. Hiked with J-Rex again… she is so nice! Saw another yearling bear and tons of deer. We hiked to the Big Meadows Campground and stopped into the camp store to resupply. While we were shopping, another hiker came over to ask us to help her eat a blackberry ice cream cake. The thing was huge, so we obliged! It was so tasty. We decided to eat dinner there and Cozy joined us halfway through. She ended up paying for our campsite and giving us laundry detergent! Trail magic from fellow hikers is just awesome. After dinner, we got a tent site and set up our tents. Then we showered and washed laundry. A quick rain shower came through before bed.

Day 79: Today was a long but great day! We ate breakfast at the Wayside with lots of coffee. We started hiking around 9AM and the weather was nice. We hiked steadily until we got to the Skyland Resort and Restaurant. We decided to eat lunch there! I had salad, chicken pot pie and fruit. It was all very delicious. After lunch it started to pour as a severe thunderstorm was coming through. We checked Navigator’s phone and the rain was supposed to pass within an hour, so we decided to wait it out. I ended up napping on the couch in the lobby. We hike don afterwards and got some beautiful views at Stony Man Mountain and more further up the trail. We got rained on a little before reaching the shelter, but nothing serious. Sleeping in the shelter tonight to keep everything dry.

Day 80: Today was a ‘meh’ day. We got a nice view in the morning from Mary’s Rock. The clouds rolled in as we were checking it out. Afterwards was straight hiking. I put my music in to get through it. We saw a young buck in the trail. It didn’t run away from us! All the animals in the park are too tame. Later on, we got second lunch and a blackberry milkshake at the Wayside. Then we had a short hike into camp. My muscles are feeling tight today. I need to chug water and stretch out!

Day 81: We hiked 13 miles today and left Shenandoah National Park (we’ve started calling it Blackberry National Park after J-Rex noticed the blackberries were the park’s best feature). We got trail magic as we got to Route 255 near Front Royal, VA. We went just a quarter-mile from there to the Mountain Home B&B, which is a renovated historical home from the Civil War era. (They run the B&B like a hostel but can’t call it a hostel due to town ordinances.) There was an extremely nice couple running the place and they were very accommodating. They drove us to town to resupply and we ate dinner at the Tavern Mill Restaurant. The food there was absolutely yummy!

Day 82: Woke up at the Mountain Home after a wonderful nights sleep in a real bed! They cooked us a wonderful breakfast and we had great conversation. We didn’t end up leaving until around 10AM. The trail was mild and we stopped for lunch at a shelter with a deck and chairs with backs! We got trail magic about 2 miles before the shelter and decided to pack in a beer! We only did about 10 miles to the shelter we are staying at. Drying out our stuff and enjoying the early day.

Day 83: 16.2 miles today. The day started out easy and we cruised through the miles. There wasn’t much to see so we joked with each other to pass the time. J-Rex is still with us and we’ve been having a blast! Sky Meadows State Park was pretty and we got to sit on a bench. In the afternoon we started a section of the trail known as “the roller coaster”. It is 13 miles so steep ascents/descents. We got two out-of-the-way this evening. More to come tomorrow. In camp early again! More reading to be had tonight. Staying in a slanted tent site, but we’ve slept on worse.

Day 84: Today we finished the roller coaster and it was pretty brutal. It was a hot day and we were not rewarded with good views. We stopped in at the Bear’s Den Hostel before lunch to grab a soda and refill water. The place was gorgeous, as it is an old castle. We hiked on until we finally made it past the roller coaster. Having planned on staying at a further shelter, we decided to stop at the Blackburn AT Center for the night. The caretakers ended up cooking us a spaghetti dinner with salad and bread! We slept on some cots on a screened in porch. What a wonderful surprise to a tiring day! We also hit the 1000 mile marker today! Here’s to 1000 more.

Day 85: We finally made it out of Virginia! We hiked 12.5 miles into Harper’s Ferry, WV today. There were no views and at times the terrain got rocky. We are very excited to be in West Virginia. When we got to town, we went to the ATC Visitor’s Center and got our pictures taken! This is the emotional halfway point (as the official changes every year). I am hiker #808! Afterwards, we checked into the Teahorse Hostel and went to get a late lunch. Looking forward to our zero tomorrow!

Day 86: Zero Day :)

Pearisburg, VA to Waynesboro, VA

Day 60: We did 19.7 trail miles today, but we also hiked back to the trail from the hotel in Pearisburg. We got a couple of views from the power lines and a great view at lunch. We saw a queen ant out of her nest… she was huge! This section of trail was very rough. It looked as if no one had worked on it in years; trees were down and branches grown in. Stopping at Pine Swamp Branch Shelter tonight. Very tired!

Day 61: We were supposed to do 18 miles today, but decided to do it tomorrow since the terrain looks nicer from the guide. We stopped at an outlook for lunch and ended up taking a nap! It was nice and sunny. We got into camp in the afternoon and I took another nap after we set up our tent. I woke for dinner and enjoyed conversation around the campfire until bed.

Day 62: As we left camp this morning, we flushed a big turkey in the trail ahead of us. We climbed Kelly’s Knob, but there were no views! We stopped in the woods for lunch and could hear an animal rummaging behind us. I also heard something rustling in the leaves by the log I was sitting on. I looked down to see a big brown spider. It started running down the log towards Navigator and I yelled at her to get up! The spider jumped towards her just as she stood up. Who knows what it was trying to do. Also during lunch, the top of a tree tumbled down behind us! The best part, however, was the orange butterfly. It was hanging out on all our orange stuff and rode on Navigator’s backpack for a solid mile. Very neat! After lunch we had a serious climb and got a free apple from another thru-hiker’s family. It tasted so delicious! We got a couple of views and the four Vitamin I’s I took helped me get down the hill to the shelter. We had salmon and couscous for dinner… it was great! Very tired again.

Day 63: Today was a good day! We woke up at 5 AM and set out early. We killed the first hill and visited a memorial for the most decorated WWII veteran. We hiked down that mountain and then it was off to Dragon’s Tooth. That was very cool. We rock climbed up to the top of these huge rock outcroppings to a great view. The hike down was very rocky and beautiful. The scenery reminded me of Acadia National Park (minus the ocean). My only problem was my sore feet, but I enjoyed the hike anyways. Staying at Four Pines tonight. It is a very laid back place. We are camping in the yard. Got a shower!

Day 64: What a cool day! It started out warm with a fresh pot of coffee and we passed 700 miles! We got hit by a quick thunderstorm and the downpour felt nice as it cooled us off. The sun came back out for our climb to McAfee Knob. The views were great and we stood out on the overhang for pictures. We hiked on and got hit by another thunderstorm on our way to Tinker Cliffs. There was pea to dime sized hail and it was coming at us sideways due to the high winds! I could feel it pushing us around. We stood behind some big trees to block it before deciding to move on. The sun came back out and we got spectacular views from the cliffs. Afterwards, it was a short downhill to the shelter. We cooked dinner and it started to rain again as we set up our tent. Hunkering down until the morning!

Day 65: A nice short hiking day! We got a few good views on our way into Daleville, VA. When we got to town we went straight to the Three Lil’ Pigs Restaurant for food and free banana pudding! Afterwards we went to the outfitters and I finally found some Body Glide! We hit the grocery for resupply and Wendy’s to charge, then went to Pizza Hut for dinner. Once stuffed, we hiked 1.5 miles to Troutville, VA. We hitched a ride to the Town Park for free camping. We set our gear out to dry and went to the Fire and Emergency Department for free showers and laundry! We got done after dark and came back to set up our tent in the park.

Day 66: Today’s 17 trail miles felt good! Last night there was a lot of noise (train, people, cars, etc.) at the park but I still managed to get some sleep. We walked 1.2 miles on the road to get back to the trail. The terrain was nice, but after our lunch break I noticed my left “ring finger” toe was super swollen. I’m not sure what happened! I took Vitamin I to try to help with the swelling and pressed on. We got some good views from Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and the sun was super hot out in the open! We got into camp just in time for dinner and still have some daylight left before bed! Sleeping in the shelter as we are the only one here. Off to read!

Day 67: Today was a good day. We got a few good views in the morning crossing the BRP. We made it to Jenkins Crossing for lunch where there was a nice swimming hole. I jumped in before eating and it was very cold but refreshing. After lunch we had about 8 miles left of our hike (18.4 miles total). We hiked up and down on mountain, then had a 5 mile uphill to the shelter. It felt great! I wish we could hike uphill or flat all the time. We caught up to Utah today and met Turtle and Flea. Very nice people!

Day 68: What a long but fun day! We started the morning before the birds were up. I woke Turtle up by shaking her tent and growling like a bear. She woke right up! Flea and Utah were the first to leave camp, followed by us. We got a view early on and another shortly after. We made good time on our 19.9 trail mile day. We had lunch at a campsite with a perfect rock seat. Afterwards, we had a long downhill to do. That was rough! Jammed to my music for a lot of miles. When we got to the footbridge, we met Miss Janet and she offered us a ride! Food and resupply done, we hung out with some fellow hikers before bed.

Day 69: We spent the morning in Glasgow, VA sleeping in, showering, charging and surfing on the computers at the library. We got two hitches to the trail. The first took us a mile and started driving before I was fully in! Thankfully Navi caught me. The second was from a man up visiting his father who fights poachers in Africa! The people you meet! He was very nice and we saw him again as he ended up shuttling more hikers out to the trail. At the trail head, we ate lunch then started hiking. We got a couple of good views and a couple tough climbs. Only around 10 miles but it was hot and we are tired! We set up our tent late, as quickly as we could. Off to bed early and it is still very hot!

Day 70: We saw a bear today, munching on something. It didn’t seem to mind us! Today was so hot and humid. We got to a shelter after lunch and decided to take a nap before climbing 5 miles to avoid the heat. When we got up, we ate dinner and headed out. We reached the top of our last climb as the sun set and we watched a thunderstorm in the distance. The flashes had a red tinge to them. At the top of our final climb, we heard a pack of coyotes get a kill. We got to the camping area  around 11 PM and set our tent up quickly. Later that night, the thunderstorm moved in and I made Navi get up so we could move the tent under some trees. The storm was crazy! Tons of flashes and booms.

Day 71: This morning we slept in late to make up for the late night. It felt great! We hiked a short 14.7 miles. We got trail magic at Salt Log Gap! We scrambled up Spy Rock to some good views and noticed some thunder clouds moving our way. The rain hit us and continued until we got into the Priest Shelter. The trail log was funny as people were writing confessions. We had dinner and set up our tent just before another thunderstorm rolled in. It was raining so hard it bounced off the ground and came into our tent! My bag got damp overnight, but I stayed dry and warm.

Day 72: We started the morning by climbing 4.3 miles down the Priest and it actually wasn’t that bad. Afterwards we climbed up Three Ridges Mountain (stopping in at the shelter for lunch) which was long but not too bad. We lost and then regained 3000 feet! We hiked down the other side and ate dinner at the shelter. We have been taking longer breaks which has led us to hiking later. We hiked until sunset where we stopped at an outlook and thankfully found a spot to set up our tent. We could see city lights and an incoming thunderstorm from the outlook!

Day 73: I woke up feeling exhausted today. We had a pretty easy 15.7 miles into town but I just didn’t have the energy. We managed to get to town around 3:30 PM and found soda trail magic! We tried to hitch a ride and got picked up in a company van. He drove us around town on the highway to drop us right at the post office. My shoes were not there! I called Merrell and got things worked out, but I can’t wait any longer for new shoes! I’m going to buy a new pair at the outfitters tomorrow. We are staying at a free hiker hostel with cots and wifi!

Day 74: Zero Day :)

Damascus, VA to Pearisburg, VA

Day 48: Today was a short day out of Damascus. We mailed most of our cold weather gear home, keeping our down jackets, hat and gloves. Since we had to wait for the post office to open, we got a late start. We finished hiking early, which I’m happy about. I need to catch up on some sleep. Trail days was not very restful, because there was so much going on!

Day 49: We hiked 16.2 miles today. I felt good for most of it, though I got a little light-headed near the end. The views from the shelter are spectacular! We got some trail magic today in the form of soda and an extra meal to cook. We stuffed ourselves with easy mac for dinner.

Day 50: We passed 500 miles today! Another 16 mile day but this one was broken up by a hiker feed in Troutdale! So much delicious food and 73 hikers. There was plenty to go around. After the feed we got shuttled back to the trail and had three miles to go to the shelter. We hiked the last mile in the dark with our headlamps. We decided to sleep in the shelter to be quicker getting to bed and faster in the morning. There was a big thunderstorm overnight and it was nice to start out the next day dry!

Day 51: 19.7 trail miles today! Our longest day yet, but we cruised through the miles, making good time. There were no views, so I used music to provide further entertainment. My feet were definitely hurting by the time we got to the Partnership shelter, but nothing more than to be expected from such a long day. Whoever said your feet would stop hurting around 500 miles was lying! There was little room in the shelter, so we decided to hitch to town. We got picked up by a couple from PA that were down doing some section hiking. They drove us to the Pizza Hut in Marion. As we got out of the car, the woman handed Laura $20 and said dinner was on them! You get trail magic in the most unexpected places! So wonderful. We each got a large pizza and salad bar. After dinner we decided to go stay at the Traveler Inn since it was so cheap! I got to talk with my parents on the phone and I miss them. They are the best and I’m thankful that I grew up adventuring into the woods with them. Sleeping on a real bed tonight. Excited to continue our adventure!

Day 52: This morning we spent in Marion, VA resupplying and at the library uploading pictures/videos and blogging. We got a shuttle back to the trail around 3:30 PM. A short 7.1 miles to the first shelter and one viewpoint. We got in a little before 7 PM and had a huge dinner. The conversations tonight were fun. I was smiling and laughing all night. This is what I love about the hiking community! Big day tomorrow.

Day 53: We are now on a normal 6 AM wake up schedule. We weren’t on the trail long when we came to an old school-house. Inside was trail magic! I had soda, chips, a little debbie and I got more sun screen. There was also a museum off the trail, but we decided to continue on instead of visiting. We walked through some cow fields and then came into Athens, VA. We decided to stop at The Barn Restaurant for ice cream and ended up ordering a second breakfast! We later got ice cream at a gas station. Onward we went through more fields and then back into the woods. There were two steep climbs/declines to get through and my feet were sore afterwards. We found more trail magic three miles from the shelter in the form of soda! Once we got to the shelter we set up and went to get water. We talked with some other hikers over dinner and hung our bear bags. 18.4 miles today, bed time!

Day 54: A tough 19.1 miles today. We started the morning with a short but steep up/down and then a 4 mile hike up to Chestnut Knob Shelter. We stopped there for lunch then it was 10 more miles to the next shelter. The terrain was rocky and without views. The last 3 miles were the worst! It was all downhill and my pace slowed greatly, as my feet were killing me! I even cried a little (but not much). I had fun complaining with Cheer Up and Utah once we got to the shelter. We got in pretty late, so we didn’t even get to bed early!

Day 55: Today was a fun day! We cruised the first five miles down to a road where we got shuttled to a free breakfast! There was a sign at the shelter last night telling us about it. We stuffed ourselves and then they gave us a free shuttle to the Dollar General in Bland, VA to resupply! They dropped us right back at the trail. From there we had 9 more miles to the shelter. The terrain was pretty easy but it got very hot by the end of the hike. We got in mid-afternoon, so I took a nap. I was still feeling yesterday’s hike. After I got up, I ate dinner and we hung our bear bags. I think I will read a little before bed tonight.

Day 56: We did just over 16 miles today. After our morning snack, I heard a rumble in the clouds above us. A few minutes later we were being rained on. I decided to not put my rain gear on since it was really warm out and I was already sticky. The rain felt really nice. We arrived at the shelter for lunch and it was full of people. We ended up staying for two hours! After lunch we hiked 6+ more miles and crossed a suspension bridge. We walked half a mile to Trent’s Grocery where we are tenting tonight. I got a bacon burger and Cajun fries, along with a chocolate milkshake! I also got a shower, which is nice because I was stinky and gross and sticky. Can’t wait to do laundry!

Day 57: Today was very hot and I got tired and slow after lunch. We stopped for a break and snack, and I was back to normal afterwards. We hiked to the Woods Hole Hostel, an amazing place! We tented there and got a homemade dinner that was very tasty. Before dinner, the owner had us all hold hands in a circle, give our names, home location and one thing we are thankful for. The food was amazing!

Day 58: We woke to fresh coffee and a great breakfast at the Woods Hole Hostel. After breakfast, it was hard to leave, because the place was so nice and the people so friendly. I played fetch with their dog! Once we set out, the going was easy. We got three viewpoints in the short 10 miles to town. We got into Pearisburg, VA this afternoon and hit the DQ before heading to the hotel we are staying at. We had Mexican food for dinner and a comfy bed to sleep in!

Day 59: Zero Day :)

Roan Mountain, TN to Damascus, VA

Day 40: The Mountain Harbour Hostel indeed has the best breakfast and has been the most hospitable. They even had goats! Today was sunny and warm and I was glad there was lots of shade. Only a few vistas, so we passed the day talking. The campsite we had planned on going to was awful, so we continued on maybe another mile. Very tired today, but not as bad as before our zero.

Day 41: I got two more blisters on my right foot this morning. They are on the other side, near my big toe. It is pretty painful to walk. Eventually I got into a rhythm though. What a beautiful day! I’m glad we had shade in the trees. The waterfalls on Laurel River were gorgeous! Just past those we hit the side trail for Hampton, TN. My sleeping pad wasn’t waiting for me, so Cascade Designs is sending it to Damascus. The Hiker’s Haven was actually a dump and was flying the confederate flag, so we decided to stay at the other hostel in town. It turned out to be an old castle and the owners were super friendly! They even let us do a load of laundry for free so we didn’t have to go back down the “haven”, which has the only laundromat in town. We walked to Subway for dinner and they had a drive thru… what?!

Day 42: It is hard to believe it has been six weeks! A nice cool morning for our climb up Pond Flats and back down again. (A pointless climb with no views.) We got to a public beach on a huge lake and decided to take lunch early there. It got very hot and we dipped our feet in the water. Hiking out of there was easy until we got past the dam. Afterwards it got extremely hot! I even got a little dizzy from it. Thankfully, a thunderstorm rolled in and cooled us off. We didn’t even use our rain gear! My feet killed by the time we got to the shelter. We set up the tent, cooked dinner, and napped for two hours. We got up to hang our bear bags and then I popped one of my blisters. Afterwards, I went right back to sleep for the night. Great views here!

Day 43: There was a undercast when we got up in the morning, which was very cool. The clouds were light and fluffy looking. My blisters and feet hurt, so I popped some Vitamin I and walked on. When we got to a big field on a farm, we ran into some trail magic. It was a group called Riff Raff of former hikers. We ended up hanging out there until about 8:30PM and then we hiked to the closest shelter to set up our tent. We did a little night hiking, but wanted to avoid the impending thunderstorms, so we set up at the shelter. I had the best bear bag throw!

Day 44: Today we hiked 18 miles into Damascus. We cruised for the first 15 or 16 miles, but after that my feet were hurting so we slowed down. It was also raining off and on all day. It rained especially hard for the last three miles or so. I was pretty miserable when we got to town. I was happy to finally get my new sleeping pad though! We ate at the Blue Blaze Cafe and were shivering the whole time. We kept asking for more coffee to help warm us up! Eventually the rain stopped and we took showers to warm up. We were on our way to Tent City to set up, when we heard people were giving away free knitted hats! We got ours and then walked down to Tent City and got settled in near the woods.

Days 45-47: Trail Days! Zero Days! :D

Erwin, TN to Roan Mountain, TN

Day 35: Last night the trail only came through about three or four times, so I was able to get more sleep than the night before. We woke up, packed up quickly and were on our way. We stopped to get water about an hour in and found out that we only had three iodine tabs left! Thankfully, we still had some of our other purification tabs left. It was a hot day, so sharing one liter of water until 1PM was rough. We did come upon some trail magic at the gap we had planned on stopping at for lunch. I had sweet tea and a banana. Sweat tea is probably my favorite thing about the south. It is so delicious! After lunch we came to a grassy bald with good views. After taking them in, we continued to our camping spot. We decided to take a nap (after filling up on water) and got up later to make dinner. Now to go enjoy the fire that some other hikers just built!

Day 36: We had a nice morning hiking up to a thick spruce forest at the top of a mountain. There was no undergrowth and it was nice and cool. As we started downhill, the old spruce was dead and a new generation was coming up thickly. We stopped in at the next shelter to fill up on water and continued onto Iron Mountain Gap, where we came upon more trail magic! I ate an orange, nutty bar, and pineapple orange soda, along with my own lunch. Afterwards we hiked through an apple orchard and could really feel the sun burning. We came upon a sign about the hostel we were headed to (Greasy Creek Friendly) and had to do some investigating to find the correct way. We made it though! We resupplied and headed to town for burgers, fries, salad and milkshakes! Looking forward to sleeping on a mattress. We are planning an early morning tomorrow, so we aren’t worried about being woken by the crazy neighbor.

Day 37: Today we got up at 5AM, which was lucky, because shortly after the paranoid schizophrenic rode down to his mailbox on a lawn mower and later continued to ride around in his lawn. We packed up as we watched this go down and were on the trail around 5:45AM with our headlamps. The sunrise was gorgeous, with pinks, blues and oranges! Our first break was at a nice lookout and the low sun created shadows, allowing us to see more details. We took another break later as we trudged up Roan Mountain for a few hours. We ran into Mountain Squid along the way with a volunteer trail crew. At the top of Roan Mt. we found the bathrooms locked and no water, so we went to the shelter to fill up. We decided to hike another mile down to a gap before eating lunch, and we are glad we did! An older couple hiking up from the gap recognized us as thru-hikers and gave us ziplock bags full of food. More trail magic! We devoured the food and our lunch. Afterwards, we climbed two balds with great views. From there we trudged four more miles to the shelter with sore feet and a blister on my little toe. I was happy to get to the shelter, which is an old barn with beautiful views! I’m very tired and another early morning tomorrow, so it’s off to bed for me!

Day 38: Only nine miles today, but my feet and blister killed the whole time. Every step hurt, but for some reason I didn’t take any Vitamin I. I was holding back tears by the end! As we got to the road there were a bunch of dogs, which I got excited about. As I went to pet one it barked and growled at me. That was all it took for me to lose it. I walked away quickly as I started to bawl my eyes out. That dog set me over the edge! Thankfully when we got to the hostel it was beautiful and awesome with lots of friendly dogs.

Day 39: My 25th birthday! I ate ice cream, lied around reading, and took several naps. It was awesome! Zero Day :)

Hot Springs, NC to Erwin, TN

Day 29: A good day back on the trail. We did about eleven miles and most of those were uphill. The last half mile before we stopped for lunch was tough! I definitely needed a break. We wanted to keep pushing though, so we could eat lunch at the tower. It was worth it as the views from the tower were spectacular. You can tell that the mountains are becoming more mellow, even since Max Patch. There were supposed to be severe thunderstorms today, but we managed to make it to camp without even getting rained on! Feeling tired today, but happy to be back on the trail.

Day 30: We did 15.4 miles today and it felt great! We killed the uphills. The morning started out cloudy, but the sun was shining through by early afternoon. We got some great views from some cliffs. We climbed a section of the trail that was labeled “exposed and strenuous” and it reminded me a lot of Maine hiking. We hiked along a ridge for a ways. To one side there were mountains and on the other it was flat and littered with towns and farms. It was funny to see such a contrast in the landscape! We had “Thanksgiving” for dinner, which means stuffing with chicken and cranberries rehydrated in the water. It was a delicious meal and a good change from what we’ve been having. Things are cooling off, so I’m all snuggled in bed!

Day 31: A wonderful but tiring day! We planned to hike 8.6 miles to Devil Fork Gap and stay at the Laurel Trading Post, where we needed to resupply. However, we got there at noon and were able to hitch a ride, so we decided to hike a bit further. We ended up going six more miles to the next shelter. My feet are the most tired, but a few other muscles are sore too. The afternoon/early evening was sunny and warm with a nice cool mountain breeze. Wonderful weather to hike in! Especially since the morning was cold. Tonight is cooling off but we are happy it is not raining. Laura says, “No complaining, unless it’s raining.” As for our afternoon, a cheeseburger and two cans of soda will do a lot to boost morale. We had a great afternoon. Definitely ready for bed!

Day 32: “Here I sit all broken-hearted, tried to shit but only farted. Yesterday I took a chance, tired to fart and shit my pants.” ~ privy poems
Today was a fun day. We got stuck at some trail magic at Sam’s Gap for about 2.5 hours eating food and I got a Straw-ber-rita! Afterwards I wanted to go into a food coma, but we needed to keep going. We ended up only doing about ten miles total, but we are still on schedule to get to Erwin tomorrow. We saw more snow flowers today and they were awesome! We also got onto a bald with 360 degree views. We would have stayed longer but it was super windy. The bald was covered with grass. Off to bed early tonight.

Day 33: What a windy night. The wind didn’t hit our tent, but it was howling in the treetops overhead all night. I got up in the night to use the privy and the stars were absolutely beautiful. So bright! In the morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. But I managed and was rewarded with a few good views. The day warmed up and I wanted to take a nap in the sun! We hiked mostly downhill and my left foot started aching around ten miles in. I popped some Vitamin I and we decided to go all the way into Erwin, TN. We are camping at Uncle Johnny’s Hostel and taking a zero here tomorrow. Met some new hikers and saw some familiar faces. I love how nice everyone is and how easy conversation is with fellow hikers. I am starting to feel a sense of community out here. We had a pizza and salad tonight, looking forward to more food in the morning! Hopefully my feet feel better too.

Day 34: Zero Day! :)

I will add pictures to this post when I get to an area with faster internet and no time limits.

Davenport Gap to Hot Springs, NC

Matt (far left) and Andrew (far right) join Laura and I for four days of hiking. This is us on top of Max Patch.

Matt (far left) and Andrew (far right) join Laura and I for four days of hiking. This is us on top of Max Patch.

Day 24: We hiked a short nine miles with the boys! The day started out with rain off and on. The rain was warm, so it was no bother hiking through. When we got to the summit of Snowbird Mt., it was rainy, windy and cold. There is an FAA tower at the top that looked neat, but we didn’t check it out closely, because we were in the cloud and wanted to keep moving to stay warm. There were supposed to be good views, too! The rain held off after we got to camp and we played a game of Spades.

Taking a quick snack break.

Taking a quick snack break.

Day 25: A great day! It was sunny and warm. The hike up to Max Patch wasn’t bad and the 360 degree views were awesome! We got all sorts of trail magic at the top and some down in one of the gaps. A short and easy hike. My feet and muscles love it!

Lunch break atop of Max Patch.

Lunch break atop of Max Patch.

Day 26: What a hot and humid day! Only 10.5 miles but I still feel tired because of the heat. We didn’t get much for views, but the forest floor was all green plants with flowers littered everywhere. Very cool and pretty! Catnip and Wheels caught up to us today. I hope we get to hike with them some. Headed into Hot Springs tomorrow!

Forest floor littered with trillium.

Forest floor littered with trillium.

Day 27: Today we woke up before the sun to get to Hot Springs as early as possible and to try to beat the rain. We hit the trail just as the sun was coming up. We cruised through the mileage, as the terrain was nice and easy. Plus the guys were excited to get to town to grab a beer. The food in town was great and soaking in the Hot Springs felt wonderful!

Walking through Hot Springs.

Walking through Hot Springs.

Day 28: Zero Day :)

The Smoky Mountains

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Day 18: Today we entered the Smokies with rain off and on all day. We got some nice vistas but didn’t get up the fire tower before the showers started. At just under 15 miles my feet are feeling it. We saw these little white flowers everywhere. It looked like the hillside was speckled with snow! A packed shelter tonight since you have to stay in it unless they are full. The poop situation here is pretty dire since there are no privies. I shouldn’t have had so much chili in town! We heard there were some bears sighted the day before. It would be neat to see from a distance!

Ground littered with white flowers.

Ground littered with white flowers.

Day 19: We hiked 16.4 miles today! We decided to push on from the previous shelter since this one was only 1.7 further and tomorrow the terrain is supposed to get tougher. Plus, when we saw this one had a privy, we were sold! We got some great views today and more white flowers. The flowers opened up to reveal purple stripes on the petals. Sore feet as usual and I turned my ankle not paying attention, but it seems fine. Hoping for another warm night!

Close-up of the white flower.

Close-up of the white flower.

Day 20: A shorter day today, with lots of views! We climbed Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest point on the AT at 6655 feet. We also passed 200 miles! We are hiking right along the North Carolina/Tennessee border. Nice weather today. We ran into some more trail magic! I had a turkey and cheese sandwich, an orange, some peanut butter crackers and mnm’s. We are so lucky for trail angels! I’m glad we got a second lunch there, because at dinner I never felt full. I need to bring more snacks! I don’t think I slept well in the shelter last night. I am super tired tonight! I can’t wait to get back to our tent. We met a newly wed couple today that is doing a thru-hike for their honeymoon. Very cool!

View from Clingman's Dome.

View from Clingman’s Dome.

Day 21: A short day today. We were hiking along a ridge line, so we would have had great views if it weren’t so cloudy! We did get some views early on, but by mid-morning we were white-walled. Thankfully the rain held off for the most part. We only got hit with passing showers and it was pretty warm out. We got to camp early and ate an early dinner. I regretted that as I was hungry again before bedtime. I didn’t have any extra snacks so I stole a snickers from tomorrows rations since Andrew will be picking us up with snacks. Hopefully I can make it 15 miles on pop tarts, a granola bar and a bagel with chocolate spread. That’s all the food I have left! I need to bring more next time.

Sunrise at Icewater Spring Shelter.

Sunrise at Icewater Spring Shelter.

Day 22: A 15 mile day today and we did it in 7 hours, including breaks! We were cruising. The terrain was pretty easy, with mostly downhills. A beautiful sunny day with a couple of nice views. When we got down to the road, Andrew was waiting with southern BBQ and soda! It was so delicious, I had thirds! Looking forward to our zero at Andrew’s coworkers house. We are very grateful for his hospitality!

Day 23: Zero Day :)

Dick’s Creek Gap to Fontana Dam

Laura and I at the NC/GA border.

Laura and I at the NC/GA border.

Day 10: Today was a great day! We crossed into North Carolina and it feels like we are actually making progress. Only thirteen more states to go! I am still feeling tired at the end of the day, but not like before our zero. Coming into NC we got hit with steep hills right away. It was beautiful weather but felt too hot to hike in! Lots of nice people at the shelter tonight.

Cool tree just after entering NC.

Cool tree just after entering NC.

Day 11: Wow, 16.2 miles today! My feet are the most tired. The rest of my body is tired but should be good to go with some rest. The views from Standing Indian Mt. were spectacular! I’m curious if we will hike any of the mountains I could see. Had a hard time finding a tree to hang our bear bags in. Hopefully our food survives the night!

Myself at the outlook on Standing Indian Mt.

Myself at the outlook on Standing Indian Mt.

Day 12: Today was shorter at just over 12 miles, but my feet needed the rest. We are camping next to a nice stream which should be pleasant to sleep to. Today is the last day the couple from Oregon is on the trail. It is sad to see them leave as they were such nice people! We got some great views from an old weather observatory tower today and some trail magic! I had soda, a sloppy joe, cheese puffs, a nutty bar, an apple and a banana! Yum!

Views from the tower!

Views from the tower!

Day 13: Today we did a short day, though we meant to go 15 miles. It was raining when we stopped at the shelter for lunch and we heard there was a big group already at the next shelter. Wanting to sleep out of the rain, we decided to stay and hike the miles tomorrow. I’m happy for the short day and to stay dry.

Views before the rain hit!

Views before the rain hit!

Day 14: We did 16.5 miles today to reach the Natahala Outdoor Center (NOC). The rain started back up just as we left the shelter around 7:45 AM. We hiked super fast in order to stay warm as the temps were in the low 30′s with rain and wind. We were lucky though, as people just a half hour behind us reported hiking through sleet and freezing rain! We got to the NOC just after four and my knees were not happy with me. However, after a burger, salad, chips and salsa, chili, a brownie sunday, and two beers, I was feeling great. Next came a shower and laundry, which appeased my achy muscles. I’m happy to be staying in the hostel here tonight as it’s been spitting snow and we are only at 1700 feet! Loving life.

Lots of hunger hikers at the NOC!

Lots of hunger hikers at the NOC!

Day 15: Today was a long but great day! We got up in a warm room and got our packs together. We went to get breakfast, which included 3 eggs, 2 pieces of french toast, home fries, a biscuit, 3 slices of bacon, a cup of fruit, orange juice and coffee. I think we have the hiker hunger! On top of this, we found out that Moe, a fellow hiker from Maine, had bought our breakfast for us! Trail magic from hikers is even better! Stuffed, we resupplied at the general store which pretty much has gas station food. We didn’t get onto the trail until 10 AM! A very late start for us, but that didn’t faze us. We took our time hiking and talking with others along the trail. We got some nice vistas and the sun was out. There was even a warm breeze! We saw evidence of frost and there was ice falling out of the trees as the sun warmed them up. We didn’t get to the shelter until 7PM, so we decided to just eat snacks for dinner to avoid the lengthy cooking process. The bear bag hung easy and I ended the day by watching the sunset. I had to borrow some of Laura’s gear to stay warm over night. The temps got super low and by bag wasn’t cutting it!

Sunset!

Sunset!

Day 16: We woke up late and were some of the last people out of the shelter. I woke feeling well rested and perky. As the day went on, it got very nice out and I decided to listen to some music as I hiked since there wasn’t much to look at. Eventually, we could see Fontana Dam from the trail. Very cool! I started to chafe today… ouch! Hopefully it will heal over our zero day. Staying at the Fontana Lodge tonight and it is very nice. A bit pricey, but not bad. Excited to take a rest day!

Day 17: Rest Day :)

Neel Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap

Laura and myself on Blood Mt.

Laura and myself on Blood Mt.

Day Six: After a nice stay at the hiker hostel, we procrastinated getting ready to go hike. It was raining pretty hard and it was so cold out! By the time we got ready, the rain had stopped and we started our hike out dry. This did not last long though and we endured our first day full of rain. It was so chilly that we only stopped once to shovel food and water before continuing on! I felt pretty sick to my stomach most of the day too. It turns out that eating all that food at the hostel worked against me! This was our first long hiking day and I was happy to get to the shelter and set up our tent.

Day Seven: Waking up and having to put on wet and cold clothes was a great challenge. What a long day! We did 15.4 miles today, the first half being relatively flat and the second half having big elevation gains and losses. We saw a dead baby bear in the trail, which was very sad! We suspect a male killed it in order to mate with the female. We didn’t stick around to find out if she was still in the area! Hiking up Tray Mt. was difficult, but it paid off with great views. As we were getting ready for the night, I noticed I could start to see my own breath! We think it dipped below freezing over night. I’m happy that my gear was still able to keep me warm!

View from Tray Mt.

View from Tray Mt.

Day Eight: Getting out of bed was difficult as it was still very cold up on Tray Mt. I was also feeling sore from adding big miles over the last few days. We had another 11 plus mile day to get through today. As we hiked, we noticed that our pace had slowed way down and that we were very achy. We decided to take our zero day early to let our body recover. We made it to Dick’s Creek Gap and grabbed a shuttle into Hiawassee, a cute trail town in Georgia. As we left our motel for dinner, we ran into some of our hiker friends whom we thought we wouldn’t see again, since we were moving along faster. It was nice to chill in town and have a beer with them! They will be missed in the days to come.

Our room at the Budget Inn!

Our room at the Budget Inn!

Day Nine: Rest Day :)