Wood’s Hole

I’m loving this great little resting place. It’s an old cabin, with a fantastic garden, and some great spirits running it. I’ve met tons of other hikers here, had some great food, and even done some yoga! It’s been a fantastic visit. There have even been a few encounters with some friendly doggies and kitties here.

Atkin’s was a really craptacular stop. But we had a good belly full at the one restaurant in town, and got to watch a movie in our low quality, but cozy hotel room. It was still nice to sleep in a bed. We also met a hiker who is carrying a little kitten on the trail. A totally rare and amazing thing to see.

Our group is having a lot of fun together. We call ourselves Dumbledore’s Army, and carry wizarding cards. I know that’s the dorkiest thing you’ve ever heard, but it suits me nicely. We’ve gone 617 miles, and it’s starting to feel easy as a cakewalk. Sorry to be so brief, but others are waiting on the computer.


Things are going so well, I just wanna dance around like a crazy person…..and sometimes do. I spent the last week hiking with Tide Walker. Not only was it lovely to spend time with another female, but it was just nice to say, “Look at that beautiful waterfall!” and have a response. We made great time together, and pulled a marathon yesterday. 26 miles into Damascus and we did the whole thing in 10 hours, including an hour and twenty minutes of breaks. It didn’t feel too strenuous either, and now we have the luxuries of a hiking town at our fingertips! It’s been great.

After a much needed shower, I came down the stairs to see the back of a young man’s head that very much resembled BAM. I froze, and questioned it for a second, “Bam can’t be here, he’s way behind us.” Then I timidly said his name and he turned around, grinning, but looking like a gentle breeze could blow him down. Turns out he pulled a 34 mile day to catch up to us. You can chalk it up to male pride, but also, it’s pretty impressive, and I was happy to have his company last night. Though he got pretty wiped out pretty early.

So, we are forming a little troupe. I’m the trip planner, Tide’s the photographer, and BAM is the entertainment. It’s going to be great. My back pain went away completely and now I have a goofy, floppy hat to keep my ears from blistering. So things are looking up. Everyone is jealous of my pretty town clothes and I’m so happy to have showers and restaurants near by. We’re taking a well earned 0 today and then hitting the trail in the morning for a 4 day stretch on to Atkins. Where my mail drop awaits. I’ll be caught up by then, half a day early in fact.

So, you see, life is great. Thanks for listening and I’ll write more soonly!

Proud to be a Slacker!

I did a 20 nile slackpack yesterday. And it was delightful. Uncle Johnny’s drove us up the road 20 miles to hike back to his place, and today, he’s taking us back that 20 miles to go on from there. I got to carry a tiny little day back and I felt like I could fly! I was back at the hostel by 3:30 for swimming in the river and some cards! It was a great day.

Some people may judge me and say that I’m no longer hard core, for going 20 miles without my heavy pack. But that’s cool, I can take it. I still think I’m a tough, and quite frankly, my back really needed the break! It felt weird to be going south though. Now it’s on to Damascus, VA. I should be there sometime on Monday! Yeeeeeh-ha!

My Dinner with Elmer

I forgot to mention the great experience I had in Hot Springs last Wednesday. I stayed at a well-known, A.T. hostel called Sunnyback. It’s in a giant white house with tons of rooms and a beautiful overgrown yard with bird baths and benches in it. The house was built in 1840.

It’s owned by a kind man named Elmer. He’s older, I would say going on 70, but still quite spunky, though soft-spoken. He cooks organic, vegetarian dinner for his guests, which was half the reason I was interested in staying there.

At 7pm, the dinner bell rang, and I sat down with Elmer and 6 other guys. We start off by introducing ourselves and then answering a question, a sort of philosophical one, asked by whoever cooked the dinner. It was great. This nights question was, “If you could proclaim an American holiday, what would it be?” One guy said National Cheesy Bread Day, one said a death day, like a birthday, one said a day to celebrate freeing the slaves, I said National Pet Appreciation Day, and Elmer said something I was very intrigued by, “A day to honor those who have either not reproduced, or simply replaced themselves in the population.” I was happy to hear that. As I too, worry a lot about over population and wonder why I don’t get a $4000 dollar tax break for not contributing to the problem:) I’m mostly kidding, I know how badly parents need money, but I do worry a lot about the subject.

And anyway, in a part of the country where I see a lot of “Get right or get left” or “PETA-people eating tasty animals” t-shirts and signs, it was amazing to share the home of a kind, old, vegetarian. And when asked, “What made you decide to open your home up to a bunch of strangers?” He just said, “Well, I couldn’t imagine having this big house all to myself.”

Settled in at Uncle Johnny’s

Well, I made it to Ewin, TN. My second maildrop location. Alas, it’s Sunday, Easter Sunday no less, so I will be holed up here for a bit, waiting on the P.O. It’s good for me to sit still though.

 Sitting still has been a big issue with me actually. I want to be moving when I’m still, but then I resent having to move too much on the trail and wish I was taking more time to enjoy spots like the one I’m at right now. I think I get in my head too much about mileage and planning and haven’t yet figured out how to just relax and enjoy the journey. It’s got to come, in time, I hope. Anxiety has always been a good friend of mine, for some dumb reason.

 I’ve certainly made friends out here. And I’ve enjoyed having people to talk to while wakling sometimes. Even more so, I’ve enjoyed laughing with them, at night, in the shelters, while we’re all making our meals.

 When I said I thought women would be out numbered 4 to 1 here, I was gravely mistaken. More like, 8 to 1, maybe even more. It’s getting to me more than it should. It’s not like I don’t feel comfortable around guys, I just, I don’t know, miss estrogen, I guess. Plus, I often feel a little bit like fresh meat. Like I better somehow drop “my boyfriend Jesse said this” or “my boyfriend Jesse would like that” in to each initial conversation I have with a young man on the trail. It’s not so bad. I think I’m just wondering where the hell all the women are. Why didn’t they want to do this, like I did?

 Other than what I’m still going through, as far as finding balance and a little pain in my right hip, I do actually feel quite great. I’ve walked 340 miles and I’m settling into relatively easy 20 miles days. It seems realistic to finish in early August like I was hoping. Jesse is going to join me in about a month in the Shenandoahs, which will be lovely for many reasons. The trees are starting to bloom!!! Which means sweet, replenishing shade at last! By the by, the sun is killing me!!! I’m truly a creature of the north!

 Yesterday I got to this beautiful mountain top called Big Bald. A nice family saw me hiking alone and came over to ask a bunch of questions. “Are you alone?” “Do you feel safe?” “How many miles a day?” “When did you start?” “Do you want some chocolate covered blueberries?” “Do you want an orange?” It was great. And I did want chocolate blueberries and an orange, and really enjoyed eating them atop that mountain with a breath taking, 360 degree view of tree covered mountains as far as the eye can see. It was lovely. Made me remember just how much I love this kind of stuff.

 Thanks to everyone keeping track of me. Your encouragement goes a long way! TTFN.

I just Cuddled with a Squirrel!!!

So those of you who know me, know that I have a bit of an animal thing. That is to say, I love them! My cat is my best friend and I used to spend hours watching the squirrels in central park and thinking about what great pets they would make.

I think it was the squirrels that made me into a vegetarian, actually. When I was a kid, my dad used to zap them in his garage with some sort of electric flooring. It made me really sad, and I said to him, “Dad, if I were a squirrel, would you zap me?” And his response was, “Absolutely.” Which I have to hand it to him for being honest about. It was around then that I started feeling sorry for animals and having a really hard time eating them.

Well, I’m at the Standing Bear Farm in Tennessee, where a one-toothed man (not kidding) caught on to how I love the cute and cuddly, and went inside to return with his pet squirrel. So I got to hold it, and it sat on my shoulder and climbed up on top of my head. I have video to prove it, which I’ll really have to figure out how to get on this site, and will soon.

But there you go, one more thing crossed off my bucket list, cuddle with a squirrel!

Time To Go Again

Well it’s 7:30 in the morning, I’m just grabbing some coffee and doughnuts and hitting the trail. Gatlinburg has been a very interesting place to stay. It’s like a mini Vegas. 3D movie theaters and a Ripley’s Believe it or not Museum. Plus 1000 little shops. It’s kind of crazy.

A bunch of the hikers and I went out for food and drinks last night. It was really fun. This guy from Ireland was a blast, we danced a couple of songs and I had to insist time after time that having another drink when I have to get up at 7 to go hiking just wasn’t something I was interested in. Some of these hikers can really put them down. We’ll see how they do on the trail today.

Like I said before, it’s been going really well. I spend a lot of my time on the trail thinking very happy thoughts and writing haikus. Here’s a few of them:

Ode to Montana-For teaching me to layer-And to mind the bear

Ode to Glacier  Park-For making me a hiker- Strong legs and thick skin

Ode to my homeland-For teaching me what bugs are-This shit is nothing

Ode to my fine feet – You little guys impress me – My apologies

Ode to my Jesse-For knowing I’m a nutcase-And loving me still

Ode to my fam’ly-For never ending support-And pep talk phone calls

Those are the kinds of things I think of when I hike. I also think a lot about numbers, since I’m kind of a numbers person. I make weekly goals, monthly goals, 3 day goals, and hourly goals. It really keeps my mind occupied.

There are some really amazing people out here. Some of the ones I’ve been seeing a lot are starting to feel like close friends. Especially Shenanigans (a man from Scotland), Bam and Maximus (two young guys from Texas), John (a man from Buffalo, NY, who had his kayak stolen in Brainerd, MN of all places. So he teases me about my hometown an aweful lot), Gator (A south bound hiker finishing the end of his hike going north), and Tide Walker (a really sweet young woman from Alabama). I don’t know if I’ll be around them the whole time, but I’ve really enjoyed seeing them all the last couple of weeks.

There are record breakers out there hiking as well. A man called Nature Boy trying to break the speed record going 40 miles a day, an 88 year old man going for the age record, and a guy who only has 8% vision. Which is unbelievable, because the trail is rocky and steep. There are often roots and rocks sticking out all over the place. The grade is so stupid steep, that sometimes there are stairs, and sometimes the steps are three feet apart. It’s hard enough with great vision. So I’m impressed. There are also some youngins on the trail. Goldilocks (age 15) and Forrest (age 13), they’re hiking with an older man who’s a good friend of the family. They’re great too, so positive and happy about all the little things.

My favorite day was day 4. When Kat and I realized around mile 15 or so, that if we hiked 5 more miles, we could make it to a cute little German town. That perked us right up, and we pulled a 20 mile day to arrive at a cheap hotel and go out for burgers, a veggie burger in my case, and German beer. I’m a sucker for German towns, with the cute buildings, the Bavarian cream doughnuts, and the tuba music blasting down town. Don’t know why, but I adore it! And a really nice guy recognized us as through hikers as soon as we limped into the bar and bought us our drinks. He had just hiked the whole trail himself, so his enthusiasm and advice was very encouraging.

Having Jess and Luke hike was awesome! Jess has such a high spirit for hiking and being outside. There were lots of laughs, especially remembering some of the things she did when she was younger. I recalled a joke she told me once, “What’s the difference between a girl from Upsala and a cow?” “Two hundred pounds and a mustache!” She didn’t remember telling that one 14 years ago, but was glad I did.

So, I guess that’s enough info for now, sorry to give everyone a small novel to read. But life is good. I miss Jesse, but we’ve been able to keep in touch pretty well. I feel behind on talking to everyone else though. Which makes me feel like a bit of a jerk. Hopefully, I’ll get caught up soon.

Guess it’s time to go hiking.

So Far So Good

I apologize for my lack of frequent blogging. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought to come across computers.

Things are going great. I’ve been hiking really good mileage for just beginning, my biggest day being 23. I made it 204 miles in 14 days. Which isn’t great, but good for a start.

I lost Kat a little earlier than I anticipated. She hurt her ankle on day 7 and got off trail. It’s been hard to adjust to all the alone time, but I’ll make it just the same. I’m just now starting to feel like I’m making good friends out here. When a few people I haven’t seen in a few days made it into Gatlinburg (the tackiest place on earth), where I’m taking my first 0 day today, it felt like a family reunion or something. I was happy as hell to see their faces.

I’d love to give more detail, but there is a long wait of people who want to use the computer. So maybe later tonight, or early tomorrow morning I can report back proper.

Just to sum it all up for now, life is good and I’m going to Katahdin! Thanks for all the support.

I wrote some haiku poems the other day that I will share with ya’ll, in case you wanted to know just how crazy I am from spending so much time in my head. That’ll have to be tomorrow though. Don’t hold your breath or anything, they aren’t amazing.

I think, perhaps, I’ll go hiking today

So this is it. I’m at the Hiker’s Hostel in Dahlonega, GA. Already, I feel glad for the kindness of strangers and intrigued to see what kind of things I haven’t put enough thought into.

I wanted to document my expectations at the last chance before I start so I can look back later and see how ridiculous they all were. So, here are a few of those.

*I’m going to be hungry for 4.5 months. I think I could probably eat a half-gallon at the half way point (the half-gallon challenge)without a wink of difficulty.

*There are going to be a bunch of geardos. That’s my new word for people who are really into cutting edge gear. I have more of an “anything will do” mentality, but I’m sporting some serious goodies, thanks to backpackers magazine. So, gear talk, is probably something I need to get used to.

*I’m about to get my ass whooped! I walked up a tiny hill to the hostel today and actually said, “this is difficult” in a sad-but-true tone. But I’ve kicked my own bum before, and I know it’s something I can do.

*My positive attitude is going to be my saving grace, and when that starts to fail me, I know a few people I can call to help me tune back into it.

*I expect Virginia to be the hardest part psychologically speaking. After Kat leaves and I spend 30 days walking through the same state, I might wonder what the hell I’m doing out here.

*The men are going to outnumber us ladies 4 to 1. Or maybe more, and they are going to be stinky.

*For whatever reason, I think Northern New England, particularly the Green Mountains in VT, is going to be my favorite.

*The hammock is going to take the cake in the tent versus hammock dispute.

*This is going to be the greatest thing I’ve ever done!