Week 1: Thriving & Surviving
We are thrilled to announce that we reached our $6,540 fundraising goal for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention the night before we summitted Springer Mountain- the first of many on our 2,182 mile journey. We are so grateful for the incredible support for such an amazing cause!
Our feet took us 78.6 miles this week!
Video of the week
First day at camp
We get to Hawk Mountain Shelter, the first shelter on the AT, and immediately start scoping out the real estate for a prime spot to pitch our tent. It all looked flat to me but Danielle actually knows what she's doing and ensured that we got the perfect slice of campground. I took off my pack and looked around- there were at least a dozen tents set up and lots of people gathering, cooking, and chatting. I felt like it was the first day of college orientation- does everyone already have friends? I'm tired, do I need to make friends? Why does everyone seem like they know what they're doing? Literally how do I set up camp? I was super overwhelmed. Danielle, the wilder girl, swooped in and started setting up camp. We pitched the tent, collected water, sterilized it, changed into camp clothes and started to set up our stove to cook dinner. I followed Danielle's lead and tried my best to act like I knew what I was doing.
We (aka Danielle) started to make some Parmesan cous-cous and, since most people had already eaten, everyone was kinda watching. Have you ever seen Naked and Afraid? At the beginning of each episode, participants are given a survival rating based on their physical condition, experience, skills, etc. Well, everyone was looking at us like we were solid 3's. People were like "do you know how to use that stove?" "Maybe you should turn down the flame". Obviously, Danielle exhibited her impressive cooking skills and everyone shut up. But seriously, everyone was comparing gear, experience and basically predicting who will survive the trek to Katahdin. The only positive to being rated 3's is that everyone seems to be impressed with us when we crush miles and eat gourmet camp food. And don't worry, I caught on soon enough.
Our first state-crossing- one down 13 to go!
When someone surprises you with kindness on the trail- usually in the form of food or beer.
We received our first trail magic from a lovely couple, Jenny & Wendall. They greeted us at a road crossing with homemade cookies, ice cold Gatorade and other yummy, attitude-boosting snacks. They set up a table and show some lovin to thru-hikers every week in honor of their friend who completed a thru-hike and recently passed away.
A generous soul who helps a hiker in need
When Danielle and I arrived in Hiawassee, GA, our first resupply town, we were looking forward to come good ol Chinese food. The night before we planned to get to town, we read the menu in our tent and chose what we wanted to order. Looking forward to devouring crab Rangoon literally got us up and over mountains. We were devastated to realize that Chinese food was actually half an hour from the trail. In desperation, we called the restaurant and explained our predicament. We cried tears of joy when our girl Tammy, a waitress at Asianos, PICKED US UP! After a Chinese food feast (which included some very questionable meat), Tammy drove us almost 30 minutes back to where we needed to be. So thankful for Tammy and Chinese food!!
A trail-given wilderness name- way more fun than nerd names
Generally, I'll talk about the absolute characters we meet on the trail in this section. However, I should probably introduce myself first: My trail name is Sunshine and Danielle is Moonshine! She the ying to my yang! We each shine in different ways but neither of us could do this without the other! Some people have started calling us the Shine Sisters. Our personalities complement each other SO well and she's the best adventure buddy I could ask for!
The inevitable, devastating, yet retrospectively hilarious moments on the trail
On day two, we both noticed painful bumps on our ears. My first thought was an ear-biting insect. After consulting Web MD, we realized we have Juvenile Spring Eruption- a UV induced skin condition common in young boys. I guess our hair styles and headbands expose our ears to sun similarly to the classic buzz cut for your average 10 year old boy. Ugh.
After our first night in town, we ate so much junk food, including two family size bags of chips (Ruffles Sour Cream & Onion and Cheddar Sour Cream, no shame). We started hiking later that day and immediately felt like absolute crap. After 4 miles we had to stop at the nearest campsite since we both were on the verge of barfing. We both passed out at 5pm and woke up the next morning feeling much better. Junk food is awesome and well deserved, but not such a great idea when we have to be physically active the same day.
Another bummer: An experience four-time thru hiker convinced me to leave my mug, wet wipes, and extra batteries in a hiker box to reduce unnecessary weight from my pack. I ended up re-purchasing all these items within the next few days. I definitely was reminded to stick to my gut, especially since I'm the one carrying that extra weight! You gotta hike your own hike!
Final bummer of the week: service and wifi is sketchy and unreliable, but I will try to post every week!