The road less traveled…

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Snail Mail: Sketch is spreading her wings & flying away

It happens with almost every group that starts the AT together. Eventually everyone gets settled into a regular routine and daily hiking pace, and unfortunately my pace is drastically different then the rest of “Mama Miagi’s” crew. The most important rule of hiking is to “hike your own hike”, meaning you should be hiking the way you want to be hiking. I feel the 1st chapter of my thru-hike is coming to an end, as I’m heading out on my own and ready to hike longer days and camp in more interesting places! The goodbyes to the crew were bittersweet and its always possible we will meet up on the trail again, but the sense of finality was definitely hanging over our heads.

My 1st day venturing on my own I ended up doing double the mileage as the group. I was just about to arrive at my camping spot when I heard/smelled the familiarities of a campfire. As I came up the hill I found “Thor”, whom I haven’t seen since Hot Springs. Unfortunately he got slowed down due to some serious shin splints. His roaring bonfire was a welcoming sight and after I set up camp we caught each other up on all the “trail gossip” and where everyone was that we knew.

It was at this time that I found out “Buzzkill” had found 2 stray pups on the trail. He decided to keep one and name her “Gretel”, and my friends “Beans & Jelly” took the other one and named him “Aldo”. They are planning on taking the pups all the way to Maine and train them on the way! When I heard this I was stoked to try and catch up with them so I could see the puppies!

The next morning Thor again had the fire going and there’s a certain difficulty walking away from a nice warm fire to start a chilly morning of hiking. But alas, I left, and had a glorious day. I saw numerous deer, around 15-20. At times they were less then 8 feet away and not too frightened. I guess they are comfortable with the amount of hikers walking thru their home. I walked a solid 20 mile day and ended up at a shelter with Dave who I met at Woods Hole Hostel and is doing a section-hike of the entire state of Virginia. Dave was NOT feeling 100% as some untreated water is affecting his system. Thor later joined us at the shelter and it was just us 3 for the night!

Rain! I awoke to the sounds of water dripping from the trees! Sad day. I took my time eating my breakfast and when there was a  lull in the weather I was ready to head out. There was a big climb to the next shelter and an hour into my hike the torrential downpour began. I had my raingear on, but I knew there was no hope fore keeping dry. Halfway up the hill was a tote with Trail Magic from “Special K”. Inside I grabbed the last green apple and wolfed it down like a starving child. There was no way I could stop and enjoy the GRAPE SODA and BEER that were also available, so I grabbed a can of each, threw them in my pack, and kept trudging upward.

I finally arrived at Laurel Creek Shelter completely soaked and looking forward to  a nice break with a serving of Hot Ramen. WRONG! My lighter was soaked so my stove was useless. Damn! Should have got some waterproof matches. As I was sitting there contemplating my miseries, I was quickly becoming more and more chilled. So I decided to throw in the towel and after going only 6 miles, quickly changed to dry clothes and crawled into my sleeping bag to get warm. I was soon joined by Thor who had the same thought as me and wanted to get the hell out of the rain. I spent the afternoon watching the ran, reading my book, and once my lighter dried out, enjoying hot cocoa. I also took the time to enjoy the grape soda and beer! Awesome Trail Magic.

Ready to start a new day I set off in high spirits, mostly because the rain had stopped. Five minutes later my entire foot went into a stream. Damn! I was later walking along when it was necessary to perform a “snotrocket”. Having been declared a “pro” I went about my normal strategy. However the trajectory went a little haywire and I ended up with a boogie on my arm. To top off my good-luck day, during my lunch break I ended up spilling Ramen in my shoe! On another note, I ran into “Uno” whom I hadn’t seen since Georgia and it was fun catching up with him again. We ended up at the same shelter with some section-hikers who were NOT afraid to talk alot. They were nice people, but the earth shattering snoring that came out of one of them made me want to get up at 3:00 am and start hiking. But I didn’t. It was the worst night sleep I had so far.

Uno and I ended up hiking the morning section to Dragons tooth together! It was cold and rainclouds were in the distance, but we lucked out with a  decent view when we got there. It was a crazy, steep descent from Dragon’s tooth with lots of rock-climbing scenarios where I had to toss my trekking poles aside. By the time I got down to the road, the 10% chance of storms was definitely upon me, so I sat on the side of the road eating trail mix debating whether to keep hiking with Uno, or go to the hostel that was only 0.3 miles down the road. I was waiting for another sign from God, and when it began to pour, I decided that was as good a sign as any. I hightailed it down the road to Four Pines Hostel!

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May 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Chilli” Cheese Fries, Murder Shelter, 6-pack of Beer, and a Snowstorm! What a Week!

April 21-23 (ish) 🙂

Ringo, Slacky Feet, Cicada, Fievel, Beaker, Guac, Chicken Little Chaz, Honest Abe, and myself were all relaxing in a shelter on evening discussing our hiking plans for the next day. I mentioned that I would be going to the Wapiti Shelter that was 24 miles away. Honest Abe casually flips through his guidebook and screams across the shelter “Are you crazy?! That’s the MURDER shelter! We can’t stay there!” At this point, the others start chiming in “Why would you make us go to the murder shelter?” And following is a crazy conversation that involves the possibility of “copycat killers” and the multiple refusals (from the boys) of staying at Wapiti Shelter.

I countered their cries by stating I would be staying at the “murder” shelter, and all the pansies who didn’t want to stay there didn’t have to. Fievel said she would hike the 24 mile day with me to Wapiti Shelter, so I was set!

Note: I will NOT go into further detail as to why Wapiti Shelter is called the “murder”shelter. Reason being that my mommy & daddy read this blog and I don’t wish to worry them further. However, if you are “dying” to know details, then Google “murder on Appalachian Trail” and totally freak yourself out with the links that pop up. (transcriber personally thinks not to look anything up until Jill is completely finished and still maybe never.)

Fievel and I had a wonderful day of hiking together. About halfway through the day the trail crosses a road that has a gas station conveniently located 0.5 miles from the trail. Honest Abe, Fievel and I decide to take a serious lunch break, so we stashed our packs in the woods and walked to the gas station and had chilli cheese fries, that didn’t really taste like chilli, but were still hot, gooey, and delicious. We got a few more snacks, ice cream included, but most importantly, a foot-long sub and a 6-pack of beer to enjoy at the waterfalls!

Note to self: A stomach full of chilli cheese fries makes it difficult to move, let alone climb a mountain with a 6-pack of beer.

The 1.5 miles to the waterfalls was slow and difficult, but we made it in time to enjoy our sub and one beer before it started to sprinkle! AH! We were still 7 miles from Wapiti Shelter so we packed up and started walking! A couple more miles down the trail it had stopped sprinkling and we came to a spot that was so peaceful and surrounded by trees that we decided to take a beer break, for an hour! Ringo and Slacky Feet found us sitting on our rain gear, comfortably reclining against our packs, with a semi-cold beer in our hands. Boy were they jealous! We finally made it to the “murder” shelter, as did everyone else who was previously crying about staying there. Good news, nobody was murdered during our stay there.

The next morning I headed into Woods Hole Hostel, a quick 7 miles from the shelter making it a decent Nero day. It was rainy and cold all morning and all the “viewpoints” were lacking in views. However Woods Hole Hostel had a wonderful outdoor shower with steaming hot water! Once clean, we were invited into the main house by the fire since it was so cold out! Hikers were piling in to escape the rain, the hostel quickly filled up leaving only floorspace for the late arrivals.

Woods Hole Hostel was a wonderful place in the middle of nowhere. Its been open since 1986 and Neville and Mike took over after Tillie, Neville’s grandmother, passed in 2007.  It’s a special hostel because everyone is treated like family. Dinner and breakfast is served family style and Neville expects helping hands in the kitchen for cooking and clean-up.

Because of the crazy weather, there were over 30 hikers there. It was fascinating being surrounded by so many thru-hikers who share the same goal–>making it to Maine. We enjoyed a delicious Mexican feast that evening and were later serenaded by Cicada with his crazy guitar skills and “EZ”.

All-in-all a good Nero day!

All good things much come to an end. I awoke the following morning in the bunkhouse and SNOW was blowing under the rafters onto my face. I could list many terrible ways to wake up, and this is totally one of them.

I finally mustered up the courage to leave my toasty sleeping bag, climb down the ladder, and dash across the white lawn to the main house for some warm coffee. I really wanted to get back on the trail, but I feel God was telling me otherwise. So along with a dozen other hikers, I declared a Zero day.

My day was spent playing games, reading, drawing, and helping make lasagna. Our evening was once again blessed with the musical selections of Cicada and EZ and the next morning I headed for the snowy hills with a warm loaf of bread in my pack and ready to face the cold!

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May 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snail Mail: Atkins, VA

Day 45 & 46

There’s not a lot to say about Atkins, VA. Its really just a spot along the trail that has a motel, 2 gas stations, and a restaurant.

The boys eating at “The Barn Restaurant” in Atkins, VA.

We stopped for the night to rest up and played a crazy amount of card games, maybe even a few drinking games. I woke in the middle of the night and had to use the bathroom but someone else was in there. Even though I was paying for a motel room, I still walked outside and around the corner in the rain to “pop-a-squat”. I guess I’m not ready to be back in civilization.

We stopped at the Exxon station in the morning at the “Eats-n-Treats” diner for the special hiker breakfast: omelet, bacon, biscuit, 3 french toasts and coffee for $6.

Beaker and Cicada, “Hiker Special Breakfast”, at Eats-n-Treats diner in Atkins, VA.

The new owner, Jessica, asked for our suggestions for hiker specials so we made a nice list for her. She said she would name one of the specials after us: Mama Miagi’s Slackpacking Special! Super nice woman, stop in there if you’re ever driving through Atkins, VA.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snail Mail:Epic Hitchhiking Experience

Day 42

I arrived at a shelter one day to find Ratbucket, Hickup, Far East and Master Splinter deciding where to stay for the night. We also just realized that we hit our 500 mile mark and were ready to celebrate. So Hickup called a campsite with hopes of a camp store that sold beer, but there was no answer, so on to Plan B. We hike 5 more miles to the road and while Fievel sets up camp, Hickup, Ratbucket and myself hitch to town and get some goodies.

We were successful in getting a ride almost immediately. However the store listed in the guidebook that was only 3 miles away had permanently closed months earlier. The driver said he knew another place but sadly it was closed because it was Sunday. At this point we hopped out of the truck because we were already so far from our campsite and it was quickly getting dark, which obviously makes hitching more difficult.

So we sadly started the long walk back in the direction we just came from, hoping we wouldn’t walk back to our campsite with disappointing empty hands. We gave ourselves the “think happy thoughts” pep talk and next thing we knew a nice girl named Ashley picked us up and drove us about 10 miles in the other direction to a store that would sell us been and snacks. We even stopped by her house and her husband, Luis, joined us. They were nice enough to wait for us at the store and drive us back to camp.

Our 500 mile celebration was a huge success filled with scrumptiously refreshing beer, pringles, pretzals, and oreo cookies. Such a great way to celebrate the 1st chapter of our hike, with friends both old and new.

Our 500 mile celebration with Hickup and Ratbucket.

P.S. We really wanted a fire, but there was no fire ring. In the morning we found one about 50 ft away!

Old Country school named Settlers Museum along trail, open for hikers to look around.

Inside of school.

May 22, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Snail Mail: Grayson Highlands State Park

Day 42

If you are ever bored in the Virginia area and are looking for a place to explore, go to the Grayson Highlands State Park. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been! It’s a totally different landscape from the dense forest. Wide open spaces and amazing views and rock cliffs! Another bonus: “wild” ponies! They roam all over the grasslands and if they feel like it, they will wander right up to you. They have even been known to stick their noses in the hiker shelter and wake hikers in the middle of the night.

I don’t have much else to say about it except its awesome, enjoy the pictures!

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May 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snail Mail: Appalachain Folk School-April 12th

Upon arriving at Damascus, VA we did what we usually do when getting to town, get food, get clean, did laundry and get more food. Cicada saw a sign for a “work for stay” opportunity, and he had heard of the guy who was offering it, so as a group we decided to check it out. So the next day, after having a glorious cinnamon flavored coffee at Mojoes coffeehouse, we all set off for an easy 5 mile hike to US 58. Unfortunately during this “easy” 5 miles, Beaker seemed to have a disagreement with his new pack and shoes and somehow ended up head-butting a tree. When Fievel and I caught up to him, he was getting a safety lesson from a group of fellow thru-hikers and Avatar game him a Darth Maul Bandaid. It looked like he just survived a bar fight, and the tree won!

We had a peaceful snack break at a stream with Avatar then waited at US 58 for our ride to the AT Folk School, ran by Warren Doyle. I wasn’t sure who Warren Doyle was at 1st, but after talking to him for a while I realized I had recently read an article about him in Backpacker Magazine. He is a very well-known person in the hiking community! He’s thru-hiked the AT 16 times! That’s over 32,000 miles of hiking! He knows his stuff! He drove us to his place and showed us around. There were 3 buildings that could sleep around 60 people, a shower house, classroom, small dance pavilion, large dance pavilion, and about 5 smaller cabins for couples to use. We were able to stay there in exchange for 3 hours of work. Another hiker, “Metro North”, joined us a little later and we got to work moving about 2 cords of wood from one side of the property to the future campfire ring by the larger dance pavilion and barn. It was a great feeling doing some physical work with my arms for once and doing something for a good cause. We also helped move some large wooden fence pieces and metal siding pieces that were left over from a past construction project. At one point it took all 7 of us to lift something and work together to walk it across the bridge to the campfire area. Warren was so pleased with all the work we accomplished and our teamwork and assembly lines. After 2 hours we finished everything he had planned for us to do, so he said it was time to go to town for dinner! Fievel and I enjoyed sharing a delicious feast at the Mexican restaurant, while everyone else did the AYCE Chinese buffet.

When we returned to the AT Folk School we went to the house to have some hot cocoa-n-cookies and watch a documentary of the 1990 AT Expedition that Warren was a part of. It was so interesting to see that the thoughts/concerns of the thru-hikers over 20 years ago are still so similar to how I’m feeling now. Afterwards, anyone who wished was invited to the library/sitting room to just chat about hiking and basically pick Warren’s brain. We ended up staying awake until around 11pm (really late for a thru-hiker). He shared so many stories of things he’s experienced on the trail and how things have changed over the years. He’s been arrested for a civil disobedience in Baxter St Park because his group was not allowed to hike Katahdin in the rain. Over the next few years this is something that he and his class helped to change. He also shared what the trail means to him and the spiritual aspect of the trail to each hiker. We could have stayed and talked to him for days, but alas, the trail was calling us back. So the next morning Warren got us back to the AT by 11am and bid us farewell as we disappeared into the Virginia forest.

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May 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Snail Mail: What’s in the West Wing? It’s Forbidden!

Day 34: April 6th –> Good Friday

I was really wanting to get to Kincora Hostel early (which was about 16 miles away) because Ringo was returning to the trail, and his girlfriend (and my good friend) was finally meeting up with the group to start the trail! Kristin and Jake (Slacky Feet and Ringo) both worked at Eckerd Youth Alternatives with me in North Carolina. Eckerd is a year-round outdoor therapeutic youth program for troubled teens. Long story short: it was one of those jobs where you definitely get close with the people you work with, sharing both your successes and challenging times. I had not seen Slacky Feet in almost 2 years and was pumped for our reunion.

I left the shelter at 6:00 am completely bundled up with my buff covering everything on my face but my eyes. It was cold! There’s a good chance that the precipitation hitting my face was snowflakes, but it was still dark outside and my mind refused to acknowledge that fact. My hike today was quick and uneventful except for on thing, and I apologize if some of you don’t wish to hear it, but I’m going to say it. It was cold and wet, and I had to pee. I held it as long as I could, but finally had to find a good “pop-a-squat” location. Because it was so cold, I refused to take off my pack and set it on the wet ground. So today was my debut of peeing with my pack on! It could have ended really badly, but I’m happy to say my ability to pee with 35 lbs on my back is up to par. The whole thing was a success, and Fievel and Slacky Feet are very impressed with the technique!

Rundown barn just before reaching Kincora Hostel.

Moving on. I arrived at Kincora Hostel, outside of Hampton, TN, around 1:00 pm. Kincora Hostel is ran by Bob Peoples, who is another legend of the Appalachian Trail. Not only has he had Kincora Hostel open for almost 2 decades, but he also does heaps of maintenance on the trail and is heavily involved in organizing volunteer groups to work on the trail throughout the year. His hostel has always been a “freewill donation” which always helps the seriously budgeted thru-hikers.

I was the 1st to arrive at Kincora and when I told Bob there was a group of us hiking together, he mentioned that we should take advantage of the West Wing! Having watched Beauty and the Beast many times in my life, I asked “what’s in the West Wing?” Bob Peoples did not respond like the Beast did, but told me it was a separate little cabin out back that sleeps up to 6 people, has electricity, a couch, and a table! “It sounds perfect! I’ll take it!”

The whole group finally got back together and Ringo’s mom brought us some snacks and beer. Unfortunately the hostel was dry so we had to send the beer back, but it was the thought that counts. Ringo and Slacky Feet arrived just in time to catch the shuttle to town. The shuttle consists of Bob loading up the back of his truck and driving the 15-20 minutes to town down the mountain. He makes this trip twice a day for hikers and at one point there were about 16 hikers crammed in there! It was interesting! We enjoyed the luxuries of town and devoured some Arbys and Little Caesars, and then got the supplies we needed.

That night in the “West Wing” was like an adult slumber party. There was absolutely no alcohol involved, but lots of sugar and caffeine! Activities ranged from numerous card games, crazy story telling, and sharing with Slacky Feet all the crazy moments of the trail. There were crazy amounts of laughing going on and we stayed up ’til after midnight (which is crazy late for a hiker).

The next morning Fievel and I went in the common room to have breakfast of bagels, strawberry cream cheese, and lots of coffee! Bob was in the kitchen and said if our group was interested, he would slackpack us for the day. Since it was a huge mountain to climb, and it was Slacky Feet’s 1st day, we were pretty pumped for our 1st day of slackpacking. That also meant that we could have another night in the “West Wing”.

We ended up doing about 9 miles with delightfully light backpacks. There was ALOT of climbing so we were especially grateful for a day of slackpacking. It was a weekend and a popular spot on the trail because of Laurel Falls, so there were a lot of other people out hiking.

Kristin’s 1st day on the trail as we “Slackpacked” the 9 miles of Laurel Falls area

Group and a horse…

Me and a horse….it nibbled on me…so I must have smelled lovely.

Kristin, “Slacky Feet”, first blister bandaging party. Fievel (the expert) showed her how its done.

Group photo on our amazing slackpacking day (packs weighed less then 5 lbs.)

Hiking in action picture

Me and Laurel Falls

Back at the hostel that night we caught up with a lot of our hiker friends who had just arrived. The hostel actually filled up fast, so we invited Avatar and Chia Pet to crash in the West Wing with us since there was plenty of floor space and an empty couch. Our evening was NOT a crazy slumber party this time, but our morning wake-up included some jock jams. Chia Pet was definitely entertained.

Happy Easter! Our entire group decided to join Bob at his Church for Easter service. There were 8 hikers in total who went and stuck out like a sore thumb in our assorted hiker clothes! I was SO cold that morning that I was wearing everything I had: thermals, shorts, hiking pants, rain pants, tank top, long-sleeve shirt, fleece vest, and rain jacket. However, once we squeezed 8 hikers in a church pew, I quickly became overheated. So I asked Ringo: “do you think it would be okay if I took my rain pants off right now?” And Slacky Feet overheard and responded “of course, then you can check it off your bucket list.” So yes, I have officially taken my pants off in church. Check.

We were all happy to be able to go to Church on Easter Sunday and the congregation was very welcoming to us dirty hikers. Afterwards Bob swung by Burger King before dropping us on the trail and Fievel and I got a delicious breakfast platter to share…and then we attempted hiking on full bellies!

May 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snail Mail: Ups and Downs

Day 33: April 5th –>Thursday

My goal for today was to hike about 28 miles. I started at 5:45 am when it was still dark and climbed up Little Hump Mt. It was getting lighter as I was climbing the next mountain, Big Hump, but there was also a dense fog surrounding me. And then the worst happened: wind, rain, and cold! I threw on my rain gear like a ninja and hiked as fast as I could to get off the mountain out of the raincloud. I was seriously bummed because on a good day, those 2 mountains are supposed to have some pretty spectacular views. After that disappointment, I followed a couple of miles of really rocky terrain that was slippery and a trap of morning spiderwebs in my face. Guess that’s the negative of being the 1st on the trail for the day, someone’s got to clear all those spiderwebs…

Random rusted antique bicycle on the trail

The sun did finally come out in the late morning and I was in a beautiful valley full of flowers and colorful trees!

Gorgeous Valley that I was walking through just as the rain clouds went away and the sun came out to play.

I ran into a couple of turkey hunters who were very concerned about my well being and kept asking if I had enough food and water. Once again, I was the 1st thru-hiker they had spoken to, so they were very curious. A few miles down the trail I ran into some familiar hikers slackpacking it south. Slackpacking is when thru-hikers leave the majority of their gear at a hostel/wherever they are staying. They are then dropped off further up the trail so they can have a simple day hike back to the hostel they are staying at. They are given a loaner daypack, and instead of a 20-40 lb bag, they are only carrying water, snacks and a camera. Heaps of difference in weight! Obviously an easy day of hiking.

Around 2:00 I stopped at Jones Falls to eat my delicious tuna wrap lunch and soak my feet in the icy cold water. At this point I had hiked about 16 miles of my 28 miles day, so I was doing good on time.

Stopped here at Jones Falls for a delicious Tuna/Tortilla lunch break

About 2 miles from the falls was Mountaineer Shelter. I planned to stop here and refill my water before hiking the next 10 miles. However, during the next 2 miles I began to hear the ominous sounds of thunder. I’m not talking about faint thunder in the distance. I mean the intensely loud booms directly over my head that made me wish I was not in the middle of the woods. I figured it was a sign from God that He didn’t want me hiking 27 miles today, so I kept chanting a prayer: “Please let me get to the shelter before the heavens release a monsoon of rain on me!”

I know this story has you gripping the edge of your seat, but have no fear! I made it to the shelter and was happily dry. I had about 3 hot cocoas to warm up, cuddled into my sleeping bag at 3:00, and settled into reading a book for the rest of the day. Other hikers eventually filtered in and they were all drenched and miserable! I said an extra special prayer of thanks before I went to sleep!

I have come this far!

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Snail Mail: Roan Mt and Overmountain Shelter Barn

Day 32: April 4th –> Wednesday

We had ourselves psyched up for today as we were climbing Roan Mt. It was a pretty steep climb and the trail was a little more treacherous then regular because of the heavy rain the night before. Also, a lot of the trail was recently relocated, so it was incredibly muddy and unstable. When I got closer to the top, water was literally running down the trail.

Sign for the Highest shelter on A.T.

I finally got to the top and stopped at Roan Mt Shelter, the highest shelter on the AT! Not as impressive as it sounds. I was the only one there, and it was creepy, so I ate a bunch of granola bars and got out of there!

Roan High Knob Shelter, highest shelter on the A.T. at 6285 ft

Chimney remnant from the Cloudland Hotel built 1884 on top Roan Mt. There was a state line actually drawn through the dining room because drinking was legal in Tennessee but not in North Carolina. Alcoholic drinks could only be served on the Tennessee side of the line. One story tells of a local North Carolina sheriff who “guarded” the dining room to ensure no one imbibed on the North Carolina side.

I met a gentleman on the way down the mountain who joined me walking to the parking lot. I was the 1st thru-hiker he ever met, so there were lots of questions he had for me. In return, he shared his knowledge of the trees with me and told me about his family’s Christmas tree farm. If the rest of my hiking crew was with me, he offered to drive us into town for some BBQ. Sadly, I didn’t know how far behind everyone else was, so I just kept hiking.

From the bottom of Roan Mt the trail goes over 2 grassy balds with awesome views.

View from Round Bald outside of Carvers Gap, TN

Me on top of Jane Bald, falling off a rock

When I got to the top of the 2nd bald, I ran into a youth group of 16 kids and 2 adult leaders. I chatted with them for a while, and once again got asked many questions about long distance hiking. I found out they were headed to the same place as me and I didn’t want to get stuck behind them, so I said farewell and booked it to the Overmountain Shelter Barn to beat the crowd. One of the most loved shelters on the trail, it can sleep at least 20 people in it comfortably. I arrived around 3 in the afternoon so I had time to relax and enjoy the view with a couple of other thru-hikers. It was a delightfully peaceful afternoon spent lounging, listening to the Creedence Clearwater Revival, and eating ALL of my trail mix!

Me and Cicada at the Overmountain Shelter which is a converted barn. One of the most famous shelters of the trail. There were at least 35 people staying there the night our group stayed.

View from the Overmountain Shelter area

Chillin in our shelter space enjoying the view and snackin on anything we could find in our bags

The Overmountain Shelter Barn is located right along an old trail that soldiers in the Revolutionary War used to cut through the mountains and win an important battle. All the soldiers were volunteers from Tennessee and Virginia. The barn had amazing views down the valley as the sun set and there ended up being around 35-40 people sleeping in the barn or tenting near it. It’s like a vacation spot on the trail!

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snail Mail: Did we just become best friends?!

Day 31: April 3rd –> Tuesday

The morning hike included climbing up Unaka Mt which I thoroughly enjoyed because I got to the top just as the sun was peeking over. The rays of light shining through the forest and illuminating the mossy forest floor was breathtaking. I stopped to take quite a few artistic shots and to simply appreciate the beauty! At one point it was hard to see where the trail actually went because it all looked the same.

Me, ready to walk through the dense spruce forest of Unaka Mt.

Pretty sunrise through the trees.

Where’s Sketch?

I later stopped at Cherry Gap Shelter to have a warm breakfast of oatmeal with dried fruit. Cicada (who has been hiking with our group for a while now), Fievel, and Beaker showed up soon after. I hiked the next 7-8 miles with Cicada and we talked about all sorts of stuff, from family to where we want to travel, to what we want to be when we grow up. At one point I said I needed some motivation. So Cicada busted out into song. Not just any song, but the warrior training song from Disney’s Mulan, to which he knows every single word! And THAT is when I knew we could officially be friends! He cinched the deal sharing a continuous supply of peanut M&M’s, and he’s been a part of our crazy group since!

Its almost like Cicada and Ringo were twins separated at birth. Their personalities are so in sync with each other and its often frightening and entertaining at the same time.

The next shelter we arrived at was very inviting to stay. We waited for Beaker and Fievel and after a group decision, called it a day at 14 miles. We were happy we did because a little while later we heard some ominous thunder rumbling and eventually it down poured! We met a section-hiker, Linda, at this and had lots of good conversations. She shared her chocolate chips, and from this point on, I always add chocolate chips to my trail mix. Thanks Linda!

(Here are a couple more pictures that should fall in about here.)

Not even sure where this was…but it was pretty.

Found this water bottle on the trail….thought all my NCL friends would get a kick outta that.

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment