Week 5 on the AT: Magic & more magic

Weekly mileage

Our feet took us 88 miles this week

Video of the Week

Highlights

After Roan Mountain, there is a hike over three gorgeous balds and out of Tennessee (for the last time). We returned to the Roan Highlands after recovering in town from our treacherous snowy hike on Roan Mountain. It was extremely windy, but the skies were clear and the views were incredible.

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Laurel Falls were gorgeous! 

Laurel Falls were gorgeous! 

We experienced the most epic trail magic EVER in a random field about 22 miles before Damascus, VA. It was hosted by Riff Raff, a trail family made up of previous fun-loving thru-hikers. When they saw us approaching, someone yelled "Hiker!", then about 100 other people joined in and yelled "HIKER!". I got so excited that I jumped, lost control of my trekking pole, completely tripped Danielle, and we took a huge digger. A fitting ungraceful entrance. They welcomed us with beads, bracelets, hugs and beers. They cooked meals, provided endless free snacks, and tons of beers. We had planned to hike farther that day, but quickly changed our minds. Riff Raff was so welcoming, generous, and, of course, FUN! We hope to see some of our favorite Riff Raff friends again at some point throughout the journey.

Pre-trail days Riff Raff trail magic

Pre-trail days Riff Raff trail magic

Vinny (and owner El Duche) enjoyed Riff Raff

Vinny (and owner El Duche) enjoyed Riff Raff

Danielle is no longer a vegetarian! Yep. Meat has been tempting her for a few weeks now. Until one night, someone was cooking a pasta with meat sauce. Danielle was hungry. She got a bowl. I was like "are you sure you want to do this?" And Danielle assured me, "it's been a long time coming!". She had to have been the happiest girl at the campsite. The next day, she balled out and ate bacon, pulled pork, chicken wings, and a hot dog.

Nothin like a good legs up kind of snack break

Nothin like a good legs up kind of snack break

Trail Magic

When someone surprises you with kindness on the trail- usually in the form of food or beer

Upon arriving to Dennis Cove, we were greeted by a lovely family with a burrito bar! I'm not kidding- and yes, it was as amazing as it sounds. They had a hand washing station (which the germophob side of me appreciated), an incredible burrito bar with all the toppings I could dream of, and tons of other snacks. We hung out for a few hours and had several burritos each. The longer we stayed, the more food came out! We ate cinnamon buns, watermelon, granola bars, oranges, chocolate bars, and basically anything else they put within eye sight.

The next day, we received fantastic double trail magic when we reached Lake Watauga. Peppermint, a section hiker, set up a table with tons of cookies, vegetable platters, chips, and other snacks. At a second table, an amazing woman whose daughter thru-hiked two years ago served homemade chili, hot dogs, ham, pulled pork, and grilled cheeses! Not surprisingly, we hung out at the lake for several hours before trekking on.

Trail Angel

A generous soul who helps a hiker in need

Nature is neat! 

Nature is neat! 

Sheepdog: We got to a road crossing to find a white pick-up truck, tail down, full of snacks and with coolers full of refreshing drinks. A woman introduced herself as Sheepdog and it didn't take us long to realize this woman is an absolute angel! After chatting a while and waiting for some other hikers to arrive at the gap, Sheepdog invited us to get pizza with her! As if pizza wasn't enough, Sheepdog went out of her way to help us slack pack the next day (slack packing is when you hike with a day pack and someone drives your big pack to your destination). Having packed WAY too much food, Sheepdog saved us by lending us day packs so we could give our bodies a break for a 14 mile hike. We have seen Sheepdog a few times since and she never fails to make us smile!

Nana Susie: When we got to Damascus, we stayed at the only place with vacancy, The Montgomery Homestead. It was a blessing not only because the house was absolutely adorable, but also because we became the adopted granddaughters of the owner, Susie. The B&B was booked the next three nights for Trail Days, but Susie hated the idea of us camping in Tent City with thousands of other hikers, so she let us camp in her back yard all weekend! It was SO nice knowing our belongings were safe in Nana's yard. When she saw us out her kitchen window, she'd run out with freshly baked blueberry muffins and freshly picked strawberries- something my Nana would absolutely do, too! We were so spoiled by Nana and we are so thankful for her love and hospitality.

Trail Names

A wilderness alias- I am Sunshine, Danielle is Moonshine

Barnum: We've hiked with Barnum off and on since our first week on the trail. He got his name from Barnum and Bailey's Circus because he was in a real circus throughout college! He's a super talented trapeze artist and tightrope walker. One night this week, Danielle and I needed to night-hike in order to get to where we needed to be the next day. The sun was almost set and we were starting to get a little nervous about the night creatures that would soon emerge. We passed through a field with only one tent. I tested my luck and yelled "Barnum!". We were THRILLED to hear our best buddy respond "Shine sisters?". It didn't take much to convince him to night-hike with us and it was a ton of fun. He's able to keep up with our ridiculousness, put up with our shenanigans, understand our sarcasm, and still keeps us around.

Scuba Steve: We met Scuba in the least ideal of situations. Danielle and I had just drank a few beers at the Riff Raff trail magic and went off to find a good pee place (the party was in a field, so you had to walk a bit to get any sort of privacy). We walked on the trail until we reached the woods. We were looking forward to peeing in peace. A minute later I look up to see a guy about 50 yards away with his back turned to us. I was shocked. He must've been just as shocked to turn a corner, look up, and see two full moons. We yelled over that we were decent, it was safe to look, and thanked him for being so polite. Scuba became one of our favorites, despite him having seen our butts.

Other trail names: Bird seed, Diesel, Bubblegum, Refill, Teradactyl

Bummers

The inevitable, devastating, yet retrospectively hilarious moments on the trail

We always carry too much food, but this week we probably had four extra days of food. With all the trail magic, we weren't eating much of our own food, so our packs had to be upwards of 45 pounds. It was not ideal and we swore to get better about controlling our food-shortage anxiety.

My sewing job couldn't handle my aggressive walking and my shoe broke again. It didn't feel as bad as it looked until it rained. Then, my feet were the saddest. A new pairs of Altra trail runners were waiting for me in Damascus, so we got off the trail 15 miles before Damascus and hitched a ride into town. It was a great decision.

BYE SHOES

BYE SHOES

To everyone who thought I'd have a thigh gap by now, LOL I don't. And thigh chafe is so real. But seriously, it was a phenomenal week and the bummers had nothin on us.