Week 8: Beauty & Bugs
Our feet took us 130.9 miles this week!
Video of the Week
Sunrise at McAfee's Knob wa one of the most incredible hikes so far on the trail. Not only was the knob gorgeous, but the next 20 miles of ridge walking were also beautiful.
Another highlight this week was listening to my first audiobook! Shoutout to Kath for the literary recommendations and to Corbin for his internet wizardry. Danielle and I were definitely in the honeymoon phase of having headphones in while hiking. We hiked farther apart than we usually do (100 feet vs two feet) and actually missed chatting all day every day. Other hikers are shocked that we hadn't used headphones prior to this week yet we still have things to talk about. Anyone who knows us probably isn't surprised that we can talk for ridiculous amounts of time and not get bored.
When someone surprises you with kindness on the trail- usually in the form of food or beer
I cannot express how excited we were to see Granny and Mark, an amazing couple we met at Watachuga Lake (about 400 miles ago) hosting yet another incredible trail magic event. When we caught word that there was trail magic at the bottom of the mountain, we ran. I'm not kidding, we risked our lives sprinting 1.2 miles down a steep trail for the chance of getting a hotdog. When we arrived, it was better than we imagined! Granny's daughter hiked the AT two years ago with her fiancé and ever since this power couple has been spreading trail magic wherever they go. We were warmly greeted with hugs, beer and sliders. We ended up hanging out all night to enjoy s'mores around a raging fire. In the morning, Granny made us all pancakes, French toast, grits, scrambled eggs and coffee! They are an amazing couple with the biggest hearts who are so passionate about serving the thru hikers. They might do more trail magic in Pennsylvannia and I already can't wait.
When we arrived to Buchanan, we walked around town asking where they served beer because that's the best part about being in town. There was one fairly new place, The Brink, that served beer (Bible Belt problems). We shared these incredible pesto garlic fries and a caprese salad along with a few beers. Just as we were finishing, a man asked if we were thru hikers. We began telling our story and he was thrilled to hear that we were NESCAC girls. Not only did he cover our entire bill, but he gave us his card and offered us jobs if we were interested after the trail. What a guy.
A kind soul who helps a hiker in need
Emily Madden sent us a spectacular resupply box in Bucanan, VA! I babysat for her adorable toddler in the year between college and the trail. The box contained all the yummy snacks I missed from their snack cabinet like Annie's Bunny Grahams! I miss the Maddens TONS and am so so grateful for their support!
We were blessed to have met the Prillaman family when we trekked through Troutville, VA. They picked us up and welcomed us into their Roanoke home. Actually, Kit first endured our stench as she kindly drove us to several outfitters to get new hiking clothes and trail runners (no more Altras for me). We felt awful because this was the longest we had gone without showers (almost two weeks...yikes). We showered, did laundry, and enjoyed a lovely family dinner! It's so nice to sit around a table. The Prillamans are the most adorable family- all so kind, smart, athletic, funny. Family goals, seriously. We left feeling refreshed and loved!
The inevitable, devastating, yet retrospectively hilarious moments on the trail
Bug season is in full swing. Actually, it's just beginning. But it came in with a bang. That seemingly endless rain must've been ideal breeding conditions for all things creepy and crawly. The caterpillars are brutal. They're much quicker than you think. If you put your pack down during a snack break, there are sure to be at least a few on your pack and probably one or more in your pack by the time you pick it up. They dangle from delicate strings waiting for innocent hikers to walk by then BANG their furry legs are on your face. Once a caterpillar fell into our Mac n cheese. We fished it out, but the boiling water was no match for the little guy. We couldn't throw out the Mac because 1) it was our only dinner left and 2) according to "leave no trace" we would have to pack out our caterpillar-infused meal in our packs 3) more protein, right? Instead, we plugged our noses and quickly emptied the pot. We have to keep telling ourselves that soon all these nasty worms will be butterflies...
No-see-ums (they're really called that) are the worst little buggers. they're so little and look like knats or fruit flies. Don't be fooled because these guys bite. They're absurdly annoying.
The last critter I'll mention is a spider the size of Pluto (RIP, 8th planet) . It's body was the size of a quarter and its legs extended to the size of my palm. He lived in a shelter. It was an awesome shelter, actually. It sleeps 20 people and has a treehouse-like feel with its open loft. Our friends convinced us to get over our stubbornness and sleep in the shelter- it'll be fun, right? Wrong. It was a warm night, too warm to sleep in a sleeping bag, but if you dared exposing skin, the no-see-ums would attack you until you crawl back into your sweat pouch. I had my headband over my ears and my hand over my mouth- ignoring the no-see-um bites because I had bigger things on my mind- that spider. After an hour of trying to sleep, Danielle poked me and we agreed that we'd had enough. We set up our tent (right in the shelter, since it was so big, so we could sleep in peace. But we will never sleep in a shelter again.