I spent yesterday in a warm cabin at Uncles Johnny’s staying warm and sharing laughs with Mom and REBOUND. The weather outside was nasty. The temperature was in the 50’s, with the rain and high winds. I was glad to be inside.
Uncle Johnny’s is a famous place on the AT. Unfortunately, Uncle Johnny passed away earlier this year, but his place is still as lively as ever. The first night we were there the partying lasted until 3am. Some of the wedding guests from SYD THE KID and FRY’S wedding were staying there and they were celebrating! This is the wedding that SOULFLOWER flew east for. She met them while on the AT on 2015.
Meet Steve. This little chihuahua has hiked from the beginning of the trail to here, about 300 miles of trail. He is a cute and friendly little guy.
I said goodbye to REBOUND this morning. Her husband came and picked her up to take her back to Arkansas for a week of rest and to wait out the cold weather.
I finely got to met one of my biggest supporters from my thru hike today. Kara aka REBOUND and I met online several years ago as we were both preparing for big hikes and became friends. She is the one who kept me on the trail when I wanted to quit last year during my thru hike. Unfortunately today will be the only day I get to hike with her. She is going home for a week to wait out some cold weather. It has been a really tough season for her. She has had some really cold nights where she has been so cold she couldn’t even sleep. But I feel blessed that I was able to meet her. She seems so awesome and I feel blessed to have met her.
I will be sitting out the next two days and won’t be hiking. The weather looks really bad. Lots of rain moving in and since I don’t have to be out in it I’m choosing to wait it out. I know if I was on trail with SOULFLOWER we would definitely be looking for a dry place to wait it out. I can remember one time while we were on the trail together we did the mileage we had planned over two days in one day just to escape some rain. And ended up taking two zero days to stay dry. Hiking and tenting in the rain is no fun.
Today I hiked south from Erwin to meet REBOUND on the trail. We met up at No Business Ķnob Shelter, a spot I remember taking a snack break with HOOTIE last year. I then turned around with her and followed her back to town.
The views out of Erwin were amazing. The temperature was in the low 50’s when I started at 7:40. I had a 1600 foot climb out of town and I was soon warm. It was mostly cloudy for most of the day with the sun just peaking out occasionally. I ended up hiking almost 12.5 miles for the day.
I met SOULFLOWER and SHORTCUT for breakfast this morning. The visit was way to short, but great to see them again. We all drove to Clingmans Dome (the highest spot of the AT) where we preceded to hike north to Newfound Gap. Both areas have amazing views of the Smokey Mountains.
SHORTCUT– thank you for breakfast. 😊
We started the hike about 10am with temperatures in the low 40’s. I will admit it was pretty chilly, but a short way into the hike I was taking my jacket off.
I ended up hiking with a thru hiker and a section hiker for most of the hike. The time went by fast with conservation about gear, other trails and generally anything related to hiking. It was a very good day to be outside.
A couple of days ago I decided that if I left at 1am this morning I could be at Max Patch trailhead around 11am to get a hike in today before meeting my girlfriends tomorrow. So of we go at 1am.
I have Mom and Berkley with me. That is Mom in the above picture, way on down the trail. The day was beautiful. It was in the 50’s and very sunny, with a steady wind. This is Mom’s kind of weather and she loved it.
It felt great to be back on the trail. I met Ktom, Steve, Grasshopper and Treeker all thru hikers. There were also a few section hikers and many day hikers out enjoying the trail.
My plans for this upcoming week are up in the air. The weather looks HORRIBLE starting Sunday night. Since I don’t have to hike in the rain I just may choose not to.
I’m taking an impromptu trip to meet up with the two women that I summited Katahdin with last year.
SOULFLOWER is heading east from Colorado for a wedding in Tennessee. SHORTCUT and I are driving up from Florida to see her. These two women that I meet on the trail have become great friends.
After a short visit with them I will then head up to Erwin, Tennessee to join REBOUND, who is thru hiking the AT. She attempted to thru hike two years ago and almost made it all the way before her body gave out on her. She had less then 300 miles to go. She was a huge supporter for me during my hike. So I hope to return the favor. She is a very strong woman and I can’t believe she is starting again from the very beginning.
While being on trail was difficult with all the obstacles to trip and fall over, being off trail is not easy either. I had an accident on this morning’s run. As I was running I could see Jim approaching in his truck on his way to work, as I moved to the side of the road as he got closer I stepped in a hole where the pavement had broken off and went down. It was a nasty fall! I managed to shave the skin of my left hand in two spots and scrap up my left knee pretty good. Plus Jim had to witness it. He said it was heart wrenching to see, but he picked me up and got me home.
It has been almost 10 weeks since I completed my thru hike and I have recovered well. Minus my accident this morning. My feet and knees are much better. They are not 100 percent, but they don’t cause me any pain. I am back to my regular walking and running routine.
It took me about 4 weeks to gain back the few pounds I lost on the trail. My eating habits are not as good as before the trail but I am working on getting back to my previous routine. I was gluten free by choice and am trying to get back into that and cut back on the sugar. Sugar is a huge challenge for me. I love chocolate and ice cream!
The recognition and congratulations I’ve gotten from friends and family on finishing the trail have been amazing. The link below is from a local newspaper. I was the cover story!
My Mom and Jim hosted a celebratory party for me for my Appalachian Trail thru hike completion yesterday. It was really awesome. I can’t believe how many people were there. It was pretty hard to make rounds and make sure I spoke to everyone. I’m not usually the center of attention at a party.
I’ve adjusted easily to being back in civilization and going back to work. It’s as if my hike is a very distant accomplishment in the past now. All of my gear has been cleaned and put away.
I went for my first run last week since being back. I took it very slow and just did walk/run intervals. My feet hurt some but not nearly as much as my knees. My knees really bothered me but towards the end of the run they were feeling better. On my second run my knees did much better and I will continue with my runs a few times a week to stay in shape.
I am planning another hike for next August. The Northville-Placid trail in NY. The trail should take less than 2 weeks to complete. It is less than 140 miles. I hope to have some great company on this trail, my Aunt Julie and some of the girls that hiked the AT with me.
AND… drum roll please…
Jim said he would do the Foothills trial again with me!!! Hopefully his shoulder will heal well and we can do that next spring.
I have been home for a week and a half now, and it has been an easy adjustment for me to go from living in the woods for 6 months to being back in civilization. I haven’t had any trouble with depression or adjusting to seeing a lot of people or hearing a lot of noise. I also didn’t have any trouble when I started the trail either, going from civilization to living in the woods. It was all so exciting to me. Plus I started the trail with a woman, CHOCOHOLIC, who taught me all about how to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
I thought I would share some things that I learned while on the trail.
2200 miles is a long ways and the feet get really sore! This was a big issue for me. I didn’t have any problems with blisters during my hike it was just the amount of time that I spent on my feet that really took a toll.
I didn’t like making decisions all by myself. Therefore I prefered to hike with someone else. I think I only was alone for a few weeks on the trail the rest of the time with someone.
Flying first class is awesome! When I left Maine and flipped back down south, Jim bought me a first class plane ticket. Can you imagine going from living in the woods the past three and a half months to flying first class. I sat in first class smelling like a hiker and wearing the dirtiest sneakers imaginable! I also learned how to ride a metro in downtown DC. You have to get on the right color metro headed in the right direction! Who knew?!?!
The people on the trail were awesome! It was a thru hiking community that all supported and looked out for each other. There were couple of exceptions–like for a few weekenders who like to make campfires and stay up late or if it was pouring rain they turned to their 1.75 liter bottle of alcohol. What hiker carries a 1.75 liter bottle of alcohol?!?! A weekender of course!!!
Cashews are a fruit not a nut! There is some much time to think while you are on trail and after walking over thousands of acorns (which is like walking on marbles in case you were wondering) and hundreds of walnuts I began to wonder what a cashew looks like in its shell. This I had to google and found out that a cashew tree products the cashew seed and the cashew apple.
I thought the trail life would be so simple…but I actually had less down time on the trail than I did at home. If I wasn’t walking 10-12 hours a day I was preparing meals, setting up or taking down camp and routinely filtering water. I also wrote my daily blog on my phone which took forever! Whenever I took a day off it was consumed with doing laundry, cleaning and repairing gear, and planning ahead for my next town stop. I had to figure how many days it would take me to get to the next town and how much food I want Jim to send me. Now that I am back home I have so much down time I find that I am bored and long for “that a day long workout”. I’ve been home less that two weeks and I am already ready to go hiking again. Unfortunately there is nothing close to me here in Florida.
I hated hiking in the rain. Especially if I wasn’t headed into town and I would either have to camp out or stay in a shelter. Things just didn’t dry out in the woods overnight.
I learned how to hike in 40 mph winds while hiking over Mount Washington in the whites. I would walk hunched over using my trekking poles to push myself back up if I felt like I was being pushed over by gusts of wind.
My adventure died about 3-4 months in and became a death march. At the end I was just making the miles and not enjoying my time in the woods. My time was running out before I had to be back to work.
I was good about stretching in the beginning of my trip, but soon after it started to decline and soon became non existent. When I got home from my trip I started to have some lower back pain and realized how tight my gluts were. I started stretching again and the lower back pain disappeared.
I learned how to sleep in!!! At home I was always up at 5 am to get a workout in before I had to go to work. When I was hiking the northern half of the trail it was getting light before 5 am so it was great. When I flipped back down south the days were getting shorter and I was no longer so far east, it wasn’t getting light until after 6 am and when I finish the trail it wasn’t light until 7 am. HOOTIE didn’t like to hike in the dark so I learned to sleep in.
I went back to work yesterday. It was like a slap in the face! 😯 I couldn’t even do my first task… Sign in to my computer. I didn’t remember my password. Then that night I am laying in bed wide awake at 1:30 in the morning thinking about work and unable to quiet my mind. How did I survive before the trail?
I went to the grocery store today. Most of you probably think it isn’t a big deal but, I drove there…in my car…that I haven’t driven in 6 months. I think it went well. My husband was in the passenger seat. He didn’t say anything but he opted to drive us home.😄