Our feet took us 103.5 miles this week!
Video of the Week
We officially completed 1/4 of the Appalachian Trial! Passing the 547 mile marker was a very exciting milestone for us!
Crossing the 600 mile mark was also a special moment for us. One of our greatest supporters, Mr. Wilson, has been consistently encouraging us with motivational texts as we trekked between 300 and 600 miles- the toughest miles to get through, mentally. Most of the people who quit, quit somewhere within those 300 miles. Passing 600 was a psychological milestone!
We were struggling to get a hitch back to the trail from the Troutsdale, VA- a town so irrelevant they have no cell service with any carrier (most locals don't even use cell phones because of this). I think people were afraid of thru-hikers because whenever we stuck our thumbs up for a hitch, people would wave shyly and increase their speed passed us, as if we were going to run after them or something. Danielle and I were feeling hopeless when a huge 18 wheeler pulled over for us! We hoisted ourselves in and were pleasantly surprised by the spacious cab. The very sweet man drove us down the road to the trail head. Definitely my favorite hitch yet.
When we got to Atkins, VA, a big storm was approaching. Rather than push on and camp in the rain, we decided to treat ourselves and stay in a luxury motel. When we got the the Comfort Inn, we were blown away by the clean beds and showers, unlimited coffee and snacks, and extensive breakfast buffet. Honestly, I felt like I was staying at a five star hotel. It makes us laugh how low our standards have become for "luxury". But seriously, we had the best sleep we'd gotten in weeks!
When someone surprises you with kindness on the trail- usually in the form of food or beer
We saw signs for a hiker feed in Troutdale, VA. Free food? Duh. We pushed on through treacherous rain and mud to arrive in time for a 6pm dinner. We caught a ride to a Baptist Church and were so excited to see dozens of our hiker friends. There were actually over 60 hikers at the picnic- and there was no lack of food! Burgers, hot dogs, mac & cheese, various salads, tons of desserts, and lots more in between. It takes a lot of food to satisfy 60+ hikers and they successfully did so! It was incredibly generous and we were so grateful to Pastor Ken for putting it all together.
The Captain's house was a magical experience. This man lives across the river from the Appalachian Trail and opens his yard to thru-hikers. He offers cold, obscurely flavored sodas (like pineapple and fruit punch soda) to everyone who stops by. The best part of camping at the Captain's house was zip lining across the river. With my hefty pack, I was concerned the zip line couldn't handle me, but fortunately it could. Phew! That'd be embarrassing.
A kind soul who helps a hiker in need
The Loeper family sent us the most amazing re-supply package! It's so exciting to get boxes with different treats that we generally don't buy for ourselves. The Loepers even included a Visa gift card that we used to pay for our stay at the Comfort Inn to escape the rain. *TEARS OF HAPPINESS* Their generosity and support made our week!
A wilderness alias- I am Sunshine, Danielle is Moonshine
Grandma & Cinderella : We met these studs on our first night on the AT and their friendship reminded Danielle and I of ours. We didn't see them again until Trail Days, but we often wondered if we would run into them again. TG we did! Lately, we've been hiking with these hooligans since we're both pushing 20+ mile days. Contrary to popular belief, they are actually heterosexual and embrace their gender non-conforming trail names. Grandma was named for his love for knitting (he promotes this skill on his Tinder profile to "weed out the biddies") and Cinderella lost his shoe early on the trail (though he could also be named for his stunning blue eyes). These Nashville natives are two peas in a pod and we hope to keep up with them!
Other trail names: Moonfire, Tater, Blueberry Yum-Yum, McLovin
The inevitable, devastating, yet retrospectively hilarious moments on the trail
It rained literally every day. That's not even the worst part. The MUD is the worst part. Two steps forward, one step back. It's like walking in sand, but worse because you're wet and dirty. Avoiding the mud is impossible and usually leads to falling in it. I fell in the mud like three times a day. It's so sad to be muddy and wet and have to keep hiking. Honestly, if I wasn't so damn high on endorphins, I would've definitely cried.
Another bummer about the rain is that both Danielle and I discovered that our rain jackets are not waterproof. They're not even water resistant. Wearing a rain coat was pointless- rain drops immediately absorbed into the fabric and onto my skin. I tried re-waterproofing my jacket when we stopped in town with no success. I don't think I will ever buy a North Face rain jacket again. Danielle and I ordered Frogtogg rain gear- super lightweight, super cheap, and ACTUALLY waterproof. The switch was one of the best decisions we've made out here.
Yet another bummer about the rain- my new Altra Trail runners ripped. Yes, these are the new ones I got in Damascus. Yes, I only hiked in them for 10 FRICKEN DAYS before they ripped. When I reached out to Altra, they were apologetic and offered to send me another pair. They admitted that Altras do not do well in rain and mud. Uhhhhh, really? That's kindof a bummer because that's what I'm dealing with this month. Fortunately, I'm a DIY goddess and did a spectacular repair job that will surely hold up another 100 miles or so.