Palmerton, PA to Garrison, NY

From left: Voodoo, Navigator, J-Rex, Toots

From left: Voodoo, Navigator, J-Rex, Toots

Day 106: The hike up Dante’s Inferno was so fun! It rained last night so the temps weren’t bad. We scrambled up, which was a blast, and had good views. We found berries further on, but didn’t dare to eat many since we were hiking through a Superfund site (from zinc production in the valley). The trail was rocky in sections and it was tiring. When we got to Smith Gap Road, Bud’s parent were there doing trail magic! They had fruit, veggies, hummus, soda and water. Everything was delicious. Turtle and Flea were slacking with Bud and it was good to see them again. When we got to the shelter, we set up camp and did our chores, then off to bed!

Day 107: The walk down to the spring was a long one this morning. We filled up again since we were unsure of the water at the next shelter. We hiked down and out of Wind Gap, where the worst of the rocks was rumored to start. The climb was steep and the rocks were rough, but not as bad as I’d expected from all the complaining! We got to the shelter and the water was running. We had dinner there, then continued to a campsite with a view! It was nice and cool with this polar vortex weather. It feels like fall in Maine! I brushed up against some poison ivy today. Hopefully it doesn’t get bad!.

Day 108: We are in New Jersey! Woke to a dewy morning. It was a quick walk into Delaware Water Gap and there was trail magic when we got there! Burgers, soda and some resupply stuff. It was awesome!! We went into town and stopped by the hostel for a shower. We worked on a puzzle while waiting for each other. Afterwards we went to the outfitter for bear rope and a gas station to finish our resupply. Then we went to the Water Gap Diner for an early dinner. The food was great and the price, too! We then went to the hostel to repackage our food and headed back out on the trail. We put bumps in our hair after entering New Jersey. On the hike to the campsite we saw a mother bear with her cubs. There were so small! They were munching on blueberries (we were too). The ridge runner at the camping area is letting us use his huge tent for the night. Slumber party with J-Rex! There are bear boxes too, so no hanging bear bags. It has been a good day!

Day 109: Heard a bear last night but I think I scared him off when I got up to use the “restroom”. There was also a deer munching on leaves right outside our tent. You could hear it breathing and chewing, it was so close. We got up to another cool morning thanks to the polar vortex. We didn’t get far before we were stopping to eat blueberries… there are so many! There are blackberries, too. J-Rex hiked on ahead to try to get some miles on us before her boyfriend comes to visit. We crossed 1300 miles and decided to celebrate by getting a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato at the Monegan Outdoor Center. We spent an hour there. Views are getting nice again! Climbed a tower this afternoon. The trail went back and forth between rocky and road walking. My feet were hurting by the end of the day. 16.9 trail miles! We have a campsite to ourselves tonight. Scared off a bear just after dinner. Hopefully it doesn’t come back tonight! Sleepy time.

Day 110: The bear never came back. It rained a little overnight. Nice terrain this morning! We stopped in Branchville, NJ for lunch at a steakhouse. I got a burger. We hiked to a tower and got great views, then hit the next shelter for water. We took our next break on a mountain with a pavilion and views. We talked with Tumbles there, then he joined us for the last three miles to the shelter. He told us about the human couch! What a nice guy. We all talked over dinner until dark.

Day 111: We woke to a nice cool morning but the day quickly warmed up. We were headed for a beach further down the trail. We stopped at an observatory tower before heading down to the water. We got food and sat reading. The water looked pretty dirty, so we skipped swimming but got to take a shower. We headed back up the trail and took a side trail to the highest point in NJ. We climbed up the tower, without our packs! Then we had about 7 miles into town. We stopped in Unionville, NY for resupply and are staying in the town park. Hopefully there are no train tracks around! We went to the Tavern for dinner then set up in the park. We hung out with some fellow hikers before bed.

Day 112: We got breakfast and resupplied at the Unionville General Store, then headed to the trail. We did a lot of flat and road walking. We got to walk around Wallkill Preserve. It is a National Wildlife Refuge and it was a freshwater marsh. It was beautiful with mountains all around! Then we climbed to a vista where we could see the marsh and the High Point tower. We stopped for lunch and ran into Dos Lekis and Bottle Cap. We decided to pace off them into town. We had a few more climbs and descents, then it became flat again as we reached a boardwalk through a bog. It was gorgeous but hot! Finally we reached the road to Vernon, but we stopped at a farm for ice cream before hitching into town. We set up at the hostel then went to resupply. We showered then had to wait to do laundry, so we got to bed super late.

Day 113: We slept in late this morning but it didn’t take us long to get a hitch back to the trail. There was a steep climb to a vista. We could see the trail below and I could just make out the High Point tower in the distance. It was hot and muggy, and it got worst as the day went on! We stopped at a park for lunch and filled up on water. Then we got to a section of steep ups and downs. We crossed into New York! From the border, we hiked with Voodoo, Spider and Mighty Blue. We did a lot of scrambling, which was tiring, but we got a few good views. We reached a road and walked to a creamery. I had a banana split for dinner! We all tented in the parking lot above the creamery. Hopefully we don’t get into trouble! Today’s hike was very exhausting.

Day 114: I didn’t sleep well last night. Woke to a chilly morning. Another day with lots of scrambling up and down steep rocks. There were many tasty blueberries! We did a short day and got into camp around 4PM. Relaxing and resting up tonight at our stealth site. We are on a nice patch of moss. Lots of blueberries around, hopefully no bears tonight!

Day 115: We woke to a beautiful morning. We hiked down off the mountain and found a water cache at the bottom, so we filled up. We took our first break at a pond, which was lovely, and I napped for a few minutes. Then we hiked up another mountain and stopped for lunch at the shelter. We sat in the sun and saw J-Rex and her boyfriend Max on the way out. We walked another mile, then walked down to a beach. They had ice cream vending machines!!! Soda vending machines, too. We swam and I had an ice cream and soda before and afterwards. Then we hit the trail hard. We crossed an interstate that I’ve ridden on before. It was a steep climb before the shelter. There are blueberries everywhere!

Day 116: We got great views of the NYC skyline last night and this morning. We hiked to a tower with nice views and vending machines that took cards. Then we hiked down to a lake that was packed with people from the city. There was lots of music and so much BBQ! We couldn’t yogi food, because everyone thought we were homeless, so we got food from the concessions. On our way down the trail we missed the blazes and ended up doing a lap around the lake. We found the path the second time and went into the zoo. We saw a fox cuddled up sleeping and two bears interacting. It truly was the low point on the trail. Then we crossed the Hudson River and climbed back into the woods. Eventually we made it to the Appalachian Market and stopped for a wrap. Then we hiked to the Graymoor Spiritual Center for free camping in the field. They also had a shelter with outlets and a solar shower.

Day 117: Zero Day 🙂 We walked back to the Appalachian Market for resupply and heard music getting louder and louder as we returned to the Graymoor Spiritual Center. We joked that the monks were really bumpin’. We soon realized that the music was coming from the field we were camping at. We had pitched our tent in the middle of the field and returned to a soccer game in full swing and our tent nowhere to be seen! It turns out that it was an Ecuadorian celebration with soccer, food and dancing. They were raising money to send back to Ecuador. Thankfully, a few hikers moved our tent off the soccer field for us while we were gone on resupply! It was cool to watch another culture’s style of celebration.


Carlisle, PA to Palmerton, PA

Day 96: A short 12 miles out of Carlisle. We did some more field walking, but thankfully they took us along the treeline. We covered the flat ground quickly. During our afternoon break J-Rex appeared! She hiked with us the last two miles to camp, which was the only hill we had to climb today. Into camp early and loving it!

Day 97: Last nights camp spot was awesome! We woke to a pleasantly cool morning. We had a few ups and downs before hitting a rocky section marked in the guidebook, but it really wasn’t bad. Just over 11 miles and we were in Duncannon, VA around 1PM. We went to the Doyle for lunch and a beer. The place was a bit of a dive but very hiker friendly. Afterwards we got some soda and ice cream, then caught a free shuttle to the grocery store to resupply. It was so hot out, even at 5PM! We went back to the Doyle to repackage our supplies then hit the trail. We hiked 4.3 miles to the next shelter over some rocky terrain. We decided to stay in the shelter, because we got into camp around 8 PM. The shelter is pretty dirty, lots of trash and there are some hornets building a nest.

Day 98: What a hot and muggy day! Last night a tree fell and woke us all up. We quickly checked that it was not the one holding our food bags and went back to sleep. It was hot all night! We had lunch at Table Rock, which had nice views. As the day wore on, the heat really got to me. It was rocky in sections, but nothing we haven’t seen hiking in ME. We got down into a valley with the first water source all day. There was a nice campsite there, so we decided to stop for the night. Just over 13 miles. We got a fire going and drank some ice-cold water! I can hear a thunderstorm coming in, maybe it will cool things off!

Day 99: We woke to a cooler morning, as the thunderstorm did come through last night. The hiking was pretty easy all day and the cooler air was nice. We walked through an old coal mining town along an old railroad bed. We got water at a spring but it looked nasty. Further down the trail we saw some big vaults that actually had limestone in them to purify the water. From the settlement, the water had a pH of 4 and traces of metal! We decided to dump our water out and get some below the vaults. As we approached camp rain threatened, but nothing happened. Just over 16 miles but we still got to camp early. My feet hurt for the last 1.5 miles or so. Rinsed off in the creek and have had lots of time to read.

Day 100: Wow, I can’t believe it has been 100 days out here! We are now less than 1000 miles to Katahdin! We saw a HUGE black snake in the trail today. Its head was up as it slithered away. The trail was pretty grown in and not much maintenance has been done. We hiked pretty quickly to the 501 shelter, which is an enclosed building with bunks! We claimed ours and then hitched a ride into Pine Grove to resupply. We got a hitch fairly quickly! Afterwards, we hit a pub for dinner and the food was wonderful! We walked to Route 501 to try to get a hitch and there was a man out doing yard work. He took pity on us after a few failed attempts hitching and drove us back to the trail head! Chilling in the shelter as the rain starts coming down.

Day 101: This morning we ran into Rudy and Daddy Long Legs on the way to the trail. YWAM was there doing trail magic. We saw another black snake in the trail again, but not nearly as big. The trail was a little rocky today but not bad. There was very little elevation change. Got to camp pretty early after 15.1 miles.

Day 102: We hiked 9 miles into Hamburg, PA today. There was a super steep downhill right before we got to town. Once there, we met up with J-Rex, Voodoo and Chip, and caught a shuttle to Cabellas. It was the largest Cabellas and they had displays everywhere with tons of animals. After getting fuel, we went to Five Guys for burgers and fries. Then we walked to Walmart to resupply, followed by Dunkin’ Donuts to charge our stuff. Four of us ended up getting a dozen donuts for dinner! We got a shuttle back to the trail and hiked out-of-town around 6PM. We got into the shelter after dark and had to set up our tent and hang our bear bags. Our bear line started to tear! A very hot night.

Day 103: We slept in after the late night. Getting the bear line down was a bit of a challenge. I ended up tying a stick to the end of the line above the tear and leaned back until I was lying on the ground. I did this once more and Navigator grabbed the stick (from PCT hang). The clove hitch was so tight that we decided to cut the line above it since it was trash anyways. We realized the mistake as soon as she cut it! We had no way to lower the bags without letting go of the line! Navigator grabbed her pack cover and we used it to catch the bags as they fell. After all that we decided to make some coffee with breakfast and got a late start out of camp. We climbed to pulpit rock, which had an astronomical park with huge telescopes! Too cool! Next we came to the Pinnacle, which had great views. We saw a female rattler and there was a cave in the rocks! We met Twiggs, who climbed down into the cave. After we left the Pinnacle, there was a short ways further to get out of the rocks and onto an old road. We got to the Eckville Shelter late afternoon. We ate lunch and took a cold shower from the solar shower. It still felt nice since it was such a hot day and we hadn’t showered in a week! Grudgingly, we pushed on and I sped up the next hill! I didn’t want to have to hike in the dark again. We went over many rocks before reaching the Allentown Shelter just before dark. We cooked dinner and set up in the shelter. We got our bear hags up just as it started raining. We got hit with a huge thunderstorm as we got ready for bed. It was nice falling asleep to the rain and feeling the cooler air.

Day 104: There were a lot of rocky sections today. We went over the Knife Edge, which was sketchy in spots, but thankfully we didn’t see any snakes! We got water trail magic just before Bake Oven Knob. We got rained on for the last few miles before we reached the shelter. It was unfortunate, because we passed through fields full of blueberries (we still stopped to eat a few). We decided to stay in the shelter to dry off. It was dirty in there!

Day 105: Near-O: We hiked one trail mile into Palmerton, PA and stayed at the Jailhouse Hostel. It was in the basement of the towns Borough Hall. We had good and cheap food in town and resupplied. We were silly with J-Rex and Voodoo… we put on fake tattoos and painted our nails! A fun near-o.

Harper’s Ferry, WV to Carlisle, PA

Day  87: We had another waffle breakfast at the Teahorse Hostel and then walked back to the trail. The trail took us through a very historic part of Harper’s Ferry, which was neat and pretty. Afterwards we crossed into Maryland! We walked along a bike path for a few miles and saw a bunch of turtles in a green-covered boggy area. We climbed to some cliffs where we could look back to Harper’s Ferry. Further on, we stopped for a break at Gathland State Park, which had an empty tomb. We did about 16 miles and ended up sleeping in the shelter.

Day 88: We got up a little late to a nice morning. We took our first break at the Washington Monument, which also had nice views. It was very hot on the rocks. We hiked to a stream and took extra water to the shelter. Sleeping in the shelter again because the tenting sites are bad.

Day 89: Today was a great day! We crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania and are now officially out of the south! The day started off with rocky terrain and a view from High Rocks, which you can hang glide off of. Right after lunch we stopped at Pan Mar State Park in MD and it was hoppin’! There was a concession with ice cream and soda. There was a high school reunion, a wedding and a band was playing while people were dancing. There was a bunch of different styles. Very neat! Apparently they have a band playing there every Sunday and people come to dance. We stayed there a while and then stopped at the border to do some Civil War reenactments with bayonets we made from sticks and duct tape. After it was a quick hike to the shelter. In early enough to read!

Day 90: A short 13.6 miles today. Only on big climb in the morning and we crushed it! A view at the top, where I sang “Penn-syl-vania, home of so many rocks!” to the Lion King “Circle of Life”. J-Rex sang along. We made up other songs as we hiked along throughout the day. There were a few rocky sections but they did not last long. We got to Caledona State Park around 3PM and Big Sexy joined our camping group. We got a site and then Torch, a 2011 thru-hiker, came to give us trail magic! He drove us to Walmart to resupply. He also brought us soda, beer, Gatorade, cookies, chips, fruit and these pepperoni things. We grabbed Subway and talked with Torch at our picnic table while eating. He left us with a lot of food. After he left, we showered up and hung our bear bags. Is it a coincidence that all four of us are New Englanders?

Day 91: We’ve officially made it halfway! We started off the day with a few climbs but the terrain leveled out afterwards and was very easy. The first shelter we got to was so well maintained; there were even flower pots! Staying 2 miles closer to Katahdin than Springer tonight.

Day 92: A short 3 miles to the AT museum and it was on to the Half Gallon Challenge (eat half a gallon of ice cream in under and hour). I couldn’t do it! I ate too slow and got so full. I almost finished, but to prevent vomit, I stopped. We stayed and digested for about an hour, then hiked another mile to a beach! We stopped to swim and it felt so great. A hot and humid day. Eventually, we got out and hit the snack bar for a cheeseburger and fries. When we finished eating we were so hot that we jumped back in! Eventually we got out and packed up to hike a quick 6 miles to the shelter. It had bunks so we stayed in it. Hanging bear bags was a funny challenge tonight, but we finally prevailed! A bit of reading before sleep.

Day 93: Today was a pretty short day. We had a little tough terrain to get through, including two rock mazes, before reaching the cornfields. We got into Boiling Springs for a late lunch at the Boiling Springs Tavern. Everyone was super friendly and the food was great! The day was so humid that it was hard leaving the air conditioning. We got back on the trail for a short 2 miles to the parking lot we were to meet Andrew at. It turned out that he got delayed due to an accident and wouldn’t be there for 2 hours. We could  hear thunder moving in. We ended up getting a ride to our hotel from J-Rex’s friend! Just in time before rain, too.

Day 94-95: Zero Days 🙂 🙂

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 hiked on 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 night’s 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 Lovin’ Cup 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 Lovin’ Cup 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! 😀

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! 🙂

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 🙂