Our feet took us 82.2 miles this week
Video of the Week
Coming soon- next time I have enough wifi to upload it!
Visiting Johnson City's Woodland Elementary school's third grade! We were excited to launch their National Parks unit by talking about the Appalachian Trail, the Smoky Mountains, and camping in general. They were so curious and in awe that we actually live in a tent. One kid asked "where do you go to the bathroom?" "Well, Johnny, where do you think bears go to the bathroom?" "Ohhhhh" *kid turns and walks away*
I saw this PUPPY!
When someone surprises you with kindness on the trail- usually in the form of food or beer
Molly and Marissa mailed us the best trail magic ever! They're the best friends in the world! We were THRILLED to receive a huge box of candy, snacks, love notes and other goodies. It made our week and we feel so blessed to have such amazing, supportive friends!
We were rushing to get to Erwin,TN and when we got to a road crossing Sam's Gap, we were disappointed to find no trash cans. Something about emptying your trash bag is SO satisfying. We were continuing on the trail when a kind man named Yonder stopped us. He ran after us with warm, freshly glazed donuts, bananas and cold Cokes! It was incredible!
We also received some lovely trail magic breakfast from a sweet missionary who sets up a station almost every day (except Sunday). He had us sit down in lawn chairs and took our drink orders. I had a hot chocolate and a piece of banana bread! No better way to start a day than with trail magic!
A generous soul who helps a hiker in need
Chelsea and Beth, third grade teachers from Johnson City, were the most amazing trail angels when we visited their students this week. Chelsea's step dad picked us up at the trail and treated us to McDonalds- both of us had been craving Oreo McFlurries for weeks! After stopping at the elementary school, Chelsea's mother brought us to Chelsea's adorable apartment where we showered and did our laundry. It was SUCH a luxury to be in a real home. The two teachers then paid for our resupply at the grocery store AND treated us to a delicious taco dinner. They are so incredibly generous and we are forever grateful.
I don't usually consider thru-hikers as trail Angels but this is a rare exception. Thumper is a dad of four now grown-ups and has the biggest heart of anyone on the trail. He takes the time to get to know everyone he meets, shares whatever food or supplies he can, and always builds fires- even in the mornings! When he saw that our bear rope was stuck in an unclimbable tree and he saw me risk my life to get it (I obviously fell because I'm the least nimble girl), he GAVE US HIS ROPE! He was hiking with a buddy and they agreed to share a bear rope so we could have Thumper's. We hope to pay his generosity forward somehow on the trail!
A wilderness alias- I am Sunshine, Danielle is Moonshine
Bacon Tears: This girl was a vegetarian. Until her first on the AT. She had a change of heart when she gave meat a try and decided she fricken LOVES and NEEDS meat. The look of pure joy in her face when she eats meat makes you wonder how she ever lived without meat. I've honestly never seen someone love meat so much. She is hilarious.
Woobie: I'm obsessed with Woobie because he has an 8 week old puppy on the trail! I saw him on Instagram (sketchy, but I wish I cared) and hiked my best to catch up and snuggle this mountain pup! The day after leaving Erwin, we succeeded and found the notorious Woobie! The puppy was the cutest little fluff of love and I will be chasing Woobie and his puppy the entire trail, probably. PS there's a huge internet controversy over this puppy and whether or not it is in the puppy's best interest to be raised on the trail. What do you think?
Little Foot: She eats her food slowly, like a brontosaurus. I also love The Land Before Time and weirdly think about it all the time while hiking. She's adorable and is thru hiking the AT with her husband.
Other trail names: Music Box, Snorlax, Google, Wilko, Veto, Big Sky
The inevitable, devastating, yet retrospectively hilarious moments on the trail
My shoe broke. I was so so so sad. My feet have been happy this whole thru-hike so I was devastated when I realized I had a gaping hole in my shoe. I was the closest I've been to shedding tears while hiking with this damn broken shoe. My foot kept sliding around like it was in sand and it was a huge bummer. There is a happy ending, though! I put my seamstress skills to use and sewed up/ duct taped the hole well enough to hold another 100 miles (hopefully) to Damascus, VA, where a new pair of trail runners will meet me. Altra replaced my shoes for free since it had only had them for 3 weeks when they broke. So thankful they did because it would be the worst to replace my shoes every three weeks.
There were lots of thunderstorms this week. It felt like these dark ominous clouds only lingered around us, about to explode, when we were hiking over a bald or on the top of a mountain. On at least three occasions this week, we'd summit a mountain freaking out that we we were fresh lightning bait with our trekking poles aka lightning rods. It was also sad to run across these gorgeous views without being relaxed enough to appreciate them or even take out the GoPro. The thunderstorms were REAL this week. And so was the rain. And feeling like a wet dog. Anyone who says "I love hiking in the rain" or "wasn't that thunderstorm beautiful?" must be warm and dry somewhere or else they are LYING.
Hiking Roan Mountain was absolutely incredible- one of my favorite hikes so far. However camping at 6100 feet during a cold snap was one of my least favorite camping experiences so far. We set up camp and layered on all the clothes we had in our packs. It had been hailing but shortly before dark it was snowing pretty hard. Everyone slept in the shelter that night. Except for Danielle and I. We are too stubborn- we love our tent and sleeping next to lots of snoring, farting people with mice scampering around. That night, it snowed almost a foot on our tent! In the middle of the night, our tent collapsed on us- I honestly thought it was an avalanche and we were about to suffocate and die. Fortunately, we could punch the snow off the tent from inside and it was all good. Our feet were soaked and freezing the next morning- almost dangerously so. We hitched a ride into town at the first gap we came across and warmed up at a local diner. We survived but wow it was a wild night.