Week 9 on the AT: Trailcation

Weekly Milage

Our feet took us 97.2 miles this week

Video of the Week

Highlights

Danielle's boyfriend's parents, Toni and Richard, picked us up in Buena Vista, VA and whisked us away to their incredible lake house for a much needed trail-cation. *See "Trail Angels" below

Kayaking on Lake Anna

Kayaking on Lake Anna

Crossing the 800 mile mark! 

Crossing the 800 mile mark! 

The longest footbridge on the AT

The longest footbridge on the AT

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Trail Magic

When someone surprises you with kindness on the trail

The terrain was not easy this week and we were pushing 20+ miles every day (weekly milage includes two zero days when we didn't hike any miles). Morale was high because we were hiking with good friends and the skies were blue as can be.  One day, just as we were finishing the last mile of our hike, ominous clouds rolled in. We kicked it into "mom speed walking" gear, which was about as fast as we could hike without falling down the mountain. The skies got darker the closer we got to the shelter. As we approached the campsite, we felt a few drops on our heads and quickly jumped into the shelter with our packs. Less than a second later, the rain started pouring down. The timing was unbelievable- as if the clouds were literally waiting for us to take cover before letting it rip. Even more impressive, the exact same thing happened the next day. It started raining buckets when we were just steps away from the shelter after a 26 mile hike. It makes you think someone is looking out for you. Thanks for sending us good vibes, everyone!

Trail Angels

A kind soul who helps a hiker in need

Toni and Richard Bell, Danielle's boyfriend's parents, are AMAZING. We had been pushing big miles for several weeks and our bodies were begging for some rest and relaxation. When we reached Buena Vista, VA, Toni and Richard offered to pick us up and take us to their lovely lake house on Lake Anna for the weekend. We nearly shed tears when these plans fell into place- it was just too perfect. They drove two hours to pick us up and welcomed us into their beautiful home. Danielle and I took full advantage of their washers and dryers by doing multiple loads of laundry (I'm sure they wanted us to smell nicer just as much as we did!). We even washed our sleeping bags and rinsed our packs out in the bathtub. Feeling more fresh and clean than ever, we enjoyed excellent food, wine, and company. Danielle and I went kayaking, attempted waterskiing (keyword: attempted), and lounged around to give our feet a break. Danielle was in heaven baking everything her heart desired and I was more than happy to test out all her goodies. Toni and Richard drove us all the way back to Buena Vista feeling rejuvenated and loved! We are so thankful for their generosity and hospitality- it truly made our week to go on such a fabulous trail-cation!

Feeling refreshed after a weekend at the lake! 

Feeling refreshed after a weekend at the lake! 

We would not be the happy campers we are without the phenomenal resupply packages sent by my lovely mother. Huge shoutout to the Hurlberts for generously contributing amazingly delicious luxury foods to these resupply boxes! And big love to Peggy for buying all the snacks and candies we crave! You both have helped take our trail cuisine to the next level and we are forever thankful!

Trail Names

A wilderness alias- I am Sunshine and Danielle is Moonshine

Jewels: This 65 years old legend is currently taking on her second thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. She absolutely crushes miles and her contagious positive attitude makes her fun to be around. She actually wanted to hike the PCT this year (even though she has already hiked that trail, too), but with the post-Wild trail craze, she was unable to get a permit and decided to hike the AT again.  I hope I'm as awesome as she is when I'm her age. 

Moonfire: Yet another badass woman we've met on the trail. This lovely lady is from Germany and is hiking solo to Maine. It's hard enough for Danielle and I to navigate the trail, organize mail, and travel in and out of towns and English is our first language. As a woman hiking solo, it's common to latch on to a group or "trail family" for security, but Moonfire is the definition of a strong, independent woman. On multiple occasions, I witnessed her completely shut down a guy who was either hitting on her or otherwise trying to assert his opinion over hers. This chick rules. 

Bummers

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

Whoever said Virginia is "flat as a pancake" is a liar. Virginia had some mild farm lands, yes, but we've been trekking several 1000+ mile climbs every day. The humidity makes this hiking much more difficult. The air feels heavy and we quickly become soaked with sweat- making the thigh chafe situation a serious threat. Regardless, we'll take the heat over the rain any day!

When we got to the top of a mountain after a really tough climb, there were two large cement blocks positioned perfectly for lunch with a view. Tired and hungry, Danielle found and read a hand-written note placed on top of the block: Two copperheads live below blocks. "Oh, weird. What blocks?" "Danielle...don't move." "OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WHERE IS IT HOLY SH*T" *looks down to see two copperheads coiled up  at the base of the blocks, inches away from our feet* *quickly hike away- disappointed that our lunch spot was ruined, but thankful some kind soul took the time to write a note that potentially saved our lives*