I’m trying to make up sometime and catch friend that had a 25 mile lead on me. That’s lead to some back to back long days. Hopefully just one more to go. I thought at first it was just me because I had done these two heel buster days in a row.
However, there is a sure fire way to know it’s not just you who was exhausted by the trail. If everyone is tucked away and asleep by 8pm at the Shelter- you know it was a rough day for everyone. We’re in this together.
All kinds of weather, all kinds of terrain, 5% done with the Appalachian Trail! This is the hardest I have ever worked to be 5% done with something. I’m pretty proud of myself for getting here. Taking a moment to take in the views and then I have to keep trucking.
Leo and I have been hustling, well hustling as fast as we’re able. We were doing about 12 miles a day, but have been sidelined for a couple days by snow, ice, and gale force winds.
A group of hikers had come down from the mountain and found Leo and I huddled in our tent. I hadn’t had service in a couple days so I was unaware of how cold it had gotten and how much worse it was going to get. As, snow and sleet accumulated on my tent Leo and I had barried ourselves further into our sleeping bags. When I heard the mass of hikers outside my tent I scuddled out to gather more information about the situation. They talked me into packing up all my gear quickly and getting Leo and I down to safety. I’m glad I listened to them. Reports are coming in of people being snowed in, passes that are too icy to go through, and people having to be helicoptered off of mountain tops.
While it was the right call to come down, it’s also put us a bit behind schedule. I’ll have to be making some big days to make up a fraction of the time. Leo is leaving the trail for two weeks today (my heart is breaking as this will be our longest separation) but that means I might be able to go a little faster and a little further than I have been. Leo has a habit of locking on to 20lbs logs and digging his paws in, which means I’m climbing a mountain with a 50lbs backpack and dragging a 70lbs weight plate. I’ll be in season ready when this is all done– for whatever season comes up.
Other than falling behind on schedule one of the reasons I didn’t want to come down is it is costly to stay in hostels, and only the most disciplined Hiker can pass up a hot meal, coffee, and a beer when in town. I have been living off my savings since the attack in August and they are quite depleted. People keep asking how they can help us accomplish our goal of they hiking the Appalachian Trail. We’d really appreciate some help so we aren’t afraid to catch a shuttle when the weather is dangerous, food for Leo, updates to gear (had to splurge on long underwear for the Smokies), or staying in a hostel when some R&R is required.
At this point other than words of encouragement this would be the most helpful to keep us on the trail.
Also, big shout out to the handful of people who have already sent us donations, cookies, and resupply package. We appreciate it. This is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s also one of the most rewarding. Thanks for believing in us and keeping us moving .
The Trail Name selection is critical on the Appalachian Trail. It’s how people will identify you for half a year and it gives them a mini story before they even meet you. A potential Name was finally suggested that I can get down with:
It is a brutal final push out of Georgia with devastating start to North Carolina. Leo and I are just past mile 80 on the Appalachian trail and out of Georgia. In our second state and we’ll be weaving back and forth between North Carolina and Tennessee for a few weeks. I’m really proud of us we have kept pushing when others have quit. It’s not easy out here but if you were ever looking for the final push to drop all those. I’ll shut liea you tel yourself about yourself the trail is the place to do it. We’re going to keep chipping a way at it.
It is storming today. Not just a little rain. Nah.
Leo and I were approaching more or less the last kind of real stop you can make for about a week. I had been calling the Top of Georgia Hostel for a few days desperate for a bed. I finally reached them yesterday and they informed me that the hostel was sold out for the storm.
I wanted to let Leo have a break and I was disgustingly dirty and in desperate need of a shower. Even though I knew we couldn’t stay at the hostel I walked to it, because… well I didn’t know what else to do. Once I was there I just started crying. The idea of moving on in this storm felt like it’d be too much. We haven’t had a break this past week and we just needed a moment of rest.
We have received so much advice but little help on the trail it was amazing to find someone create some true Trail Magic for us. Someone gave up their spot in the bunks so we could stay.
I’m really grateful for this opportunity to recharge our batteries. We just needed a break and someone gave it to us.
The other day I strolled into a campsite with Leo to take a break and eat before we moved on. The girl who had camped next to me the night before said, in the kind of tone you reserve for a toddler who has successfully pooped in the potty for the first time, “oooooooh you made it here. Wow. Good for you. I didn’t think you’d make it this far.”
“Well we’re taking a break and the going on. Are you camping here?”
“Yep. Sat down for a break and never got back up so I thought I’d camp here. You’ll probably do the same.”
I poured out kibble for Leo and started making my pasta side. While waiting for the water to boil I looked over my trail guide book, and tried to make small talk with her.
“Woof. Tomorrow looks like it’ll be rough too.”
She looked off in the distance and responded, “no tomorrow should be pretty easy.”
“Oh, hmmmm. I mean this Blood Mountain says it’s the highest mountain in Georgia on the Appalachian Trail. That looks pretty rough to me.”
“You’ll just go to the summit tomorrow. You’ll climb Blood Mountain the next morning.”
I leaned over to Leo and whispered to him, “if we do anything tomorrow it’s going to be taking our asses over Blood Mountain.”
Coyly turning back to her I giggled and said, “oh. Okay. Thanks for letting me know. I didn’t know we couldn’t do Blood Mountain tomorrow.”
We did Blood Mountain the next day. And when I tell hikers coming through that story they know exactly who I am talking about even though none of us know her name.