Congratulations to me

Sunday October 29, 2017

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.

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Banner at my 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.

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Me and my brother, Aric.

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.

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Mom and Harley

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.

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Denise and 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.

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Things I learned during my Appalachin Trail Thru Hike

Sunday October 22, 2017

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!

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Photo taken from back home. Out on the boat with Jim and Berkley.

I thought I would share some things that I learned while on the trail.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?!?!
  4. 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!!!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 did like to hike in the dark so I learned to sleep in.

 

I DID IT!!!

Wednesday October 11, 2017

Coopeer Gap to Springer Mountain the Southern termunis of the AT, 12.3 miles

Total Mileage 2189.8

I did it!!! I hiked the whole Appalachian Trail in 172 days. If I had to be honest when I started the trail I didn’t think I would finish the whole thing. I didn’t think I wanted it bad enough to hike almost 22 hundred miles. I know I definitly wanted to finish the northern half and after finishing that I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there and flip back down south. I hated hiking in New England the terrian was very rugged and with a pack on your back it takes the fun out of it.

Jim dropped HOOTIE and I off at Cooper Gap at 9 am and were off to becoming thru hikers this day. The day was beautiful, but a little to warm for hiking.

We met Jim and Berkley 1 mile from the top of Springer Mountain and they hike the remaining mile with me.

Today I am grateful for all of my friends and family that helped me finish the trail.

Another Riddle

Tuesday October 10, 2017

Dicks Creek Gap to Unicoi Gap, GA 16.7 miles

Total Mileage 2178.6

Today it is Humid! We have 5 climbs today and shortly into the first climb I am soaking wet from sweat not rain. It is warm today.

I have another riddle for you guys…

You are in a downstairs room with 3 light switches that go to 3 light bulbs upstairs. How do you figure out which light switch goes to each bulb upstairs by only making one trip upstairs?

Today I am thankful for the jokes HOOTIE tells me along the trail. It helps to pass the time when you are just trying to finish up miles.

Tomorrow will be my last day on the trail. Tomorrow I will finish. Tomorrow I will be an Appalachian Trail thru hiker!

Embrace the rain

Monday October 9, 2017

Neel Gap to Cooper Gap 19.1 miles

Total Mileage 2161.9

It looked like we were going to have a break in the weather until about noon, but it started to rain on us about 10:30am. I didn’t even put on my raincoat. It was pretty humid and I just started a climb. If I would have put on the raincoat I would have been sweating so bad I would have been wet anyway. So I just embraced the rain and continued on.

We hike straight through today without out stopping for a lunch break. HOOTIE had some leftover pizza that he ate while hiking and I just had snacks. This was the first time I hike so far without taking a break. I do remember hiking a 12 mile day in the rain back in NY with out taking a break, but I finished that day close to noon. This day I didn’t finish until about 2:45pm.

I definitely have a problem with my phone so no pictures today. The photo above was taken by HOOTIE of Blood Mountain Shelter.

Today day I am thankful to be so close to the end. I only have 2 more days of hiking.

Jim’s back!

Saturday October 7, 2017

Unicoi Gap, GA to Neel Gap, GA 21.2 miles

Total mileage 2132.7

I have breakfast from the ExxonMobil station across the street from the Budget Inn in Hiawassee where I stayed the night last night. I bought a chocolate milk, 440 calories and a muffin 600 calories! I had a breakfast totaling 1040 calories. How does a muffin even contain 600 calories. It’s no wonder the general population is overweight.

Our weather today was pretty nasty compared to the past few days. It was foggy, misting/raining and just plain ugly. But at least it was a slackpack. This area was hit pretty good by Hurricane Irma and there were reports of 160 down trees on the trail. We have been going under, over and around downed trees since Tennessee /North Carolina, but Georgia has had the most downed so far. It has also had the most trail clean up done.

I still have 4 more days of hiking to finish the trail and Hurricaine/tropical storm Nate to deal with. The weather calls for 100% chance of rain for tomorrow. I have a short 10 mile day planned. Hopefully it won’t take longer than 4 hours to complete.

My men (Jim and Berkley) picked me up today. I won’t be separated from them any longer. They will be with me until the end of the trail and I will go home with them.

Today I am thankful for being with my family again!

2100 Miles

Friday October 6, 2017 Deep Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap Hiawassee, GA 16.7 miles Total mileage 2111.5 SHORTCUT, who I summited Katahdin with drove up from Florida to hike with me today, but unfortunately I messed things up by changing our hike for today. She missed a couple of sections on her northbound 2017 thru-hike and wanted to fill them in. So we only got to spend last night together. It was so great to see her again. I only got to hike with her for the last 3 days of her northbound hike, but she was a blast. SOULFLOWER and I had so many laughs when she joined us. HOOTIE bought me some trail magic this morning while our shuttle driver had to stop for gas. He has gotten me addicted to peanut butter M&M’S! 😋 Before we separate and go in different directions. Pictured below HOOTIE, SHORTCUT and ME. I didn’t have that great of a day today. I fell twice and said so very adult words as well as shot the trail with my middle finger!⚠️ There was so many down trees to go around and so many limbs on the trail that I kept tripping over thanks to Hurricane Irma. The trail kinda of got the better of me. We passed into GA today and only have a 9.9 mile section in NC to finish. And only 79.2 miles to finish the whole trail!

Today in am thankful for… The little things!

Less than 100 miles to go!

Thursday October 5, 2017

Winding Stair Gap to Deep Gap 24.4 miles slackpacking

Total mileage 2094.8

I officially have less than 100 miles to go! Woo-hoo!

We are jumping around on the trail and doing longer mile sections because of an approaching storm and the potential for a lot of rain. Jim is coming up on Saturday to slackpack us the rest of the way to Springer Mountain in GA. We will do the shorter miles sections on the rainy days with his help.

Today was a challenge for me with the big miles. We didn’t get on the trail until 9am and had a 5:30pm pickup time. I would have to average 3 mph all day to make it. I didn’t make it! I was 20 minutes late, but our shuttle driver was even later. So it all worked out.

There were so many sections of trail that have been burned in the recent fires last fall.

Today I am thankful for my SAFTEY on the trail. With the fast pace I was trying to maintain I am more likely to have a fall and I didn’t have any.