Christmas 2020I wanted to send out Merry Chistmas wishes to all my friends and family and I think it is about time for an update on…well, what I have been up to lately. But first we woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland for Christmas morning. This is a first for me.Currently I am back doing what I love…hiking. I am in North Carolina spending time with my Mom for the holidays, but more on that later.
If you don’t already know, I spent the summer traveling out west. It was amazing and you can read all about it in the previous blog posts. As my trip was coming to an end I realized that I would need to go back to work. On the last day of my 4.5 month trip, at the end of October, I sent in a resume for a temporary dental hygiene position. Why temporary…, because I really don’t want to have the commitment of having to go to work 52 weeks a year. I would like to do some substantial travel in the coming years. Anyway, after submitting the resume they called me less than a half hour later and sent up an interview. I was shocked to get a call so soon after sending in the resume. The interview was scheduled for a few days after I got home and a few days after that I was back to work again. It all happened so fast, and the best part is the office is awesome and it is only temporary!Mom and I have been spending the our time together enjoying the outdoors. We have been driving back roads and hiking trails. We set out on our first adventure and of course it involved a dirt road, it seems that most trailheads are deep in the woods. But this dirt road had an added twist. There was a ford involved with some quick moving water flowing over it. As we approached it I thought I would just hop out and make sure it wasn’t to deep and looked ok to cross it in Mom’s truck. But Mom was just chatting away non stop like she usually does (I can assure you it is so hard to get your own words in when she gets going) and before I know it, I realize she is not going to stop. She just barrels right through it like she does this every day!?!? Meanwhile I am sitting next to her with my eyes about to pop out of my head in shock! And she is still chatting away like you can do anything in a truck! Luckly we made it through with out any problems. The dirt road was well graded and the few ice filled pot holes were easily avoided with Mom’s confident truck driving skills.We arrive at the trailhead around 1pm with blue skies and the temperatures in the mid 40’s. It is a beautiful day, although upon enter the woods with the thick rhododendron trees covering the trail, it seemed really cold and the trail is lined with ice. We carefully make our way down the trail to our destination Big Laural Falls.
Big Laural Falls
While on trail we meet another hiker and she tells us about Mooney Falls, another waterfall just a short ways up the road from the trailhead we are parked at. The waterfall is practally road side so we decide to go see that since we are so close.
Snowman on top of Wayah Bald
We spend the whole week getting outside and enjoying nature until Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve came with all day rain which turned into evening snow.Wishing everyone the best for a Happy New Year.“The only thing that stands between you and what you want from life is simply will to pursue it and the faith to believe it is possible.”-unknown author
Wednesday August 22, 2018
15 Miles Total Mileage 130
We decided last night that if it wasn’t raining in the morning we would head out early. If it was raining we would stay in bed and hide from the rain. I was awake at 4:54am and it wasn’t raining so I got those sleepyheads up and at it. We were off at 6:10 am headed down the trail. We soon caught SOULFLOWER and SHORTCUT still in bed at 8:30. They were just taking it easy and had decided to take 3 days to finish up. They were shocked to see us! We got them up and moving.
Me, waiting for SOULFLOWER and SHORTCUT to finish packing up after sleeping in. This lean-to had a chair in it that I took advantage of.
We were making great time today and at noon we had reached our destination for the day and decided to go another 4 miles to the next shelter. Now we will only have 8 miles to complete tomorrow.
We arrive at the shelter and it is surrounded on one side with flowers and I noticed a hummingbird flying around the flowers.
The trail was overgrown and even though it wasn’t raining hard it got the overgrowth wet and that is what really makes your socks and shoes wet and uncomfortable. We didn’t have much sun today so there is no way my shoes will be dry by tomorrow morning.
There were no really good spots to camp tonight so we were all were staying in the lean-to.
Thursday August 23, 2018
8 Miles Total Mileage 138
I guess there was a lot going on throughout the night and I slept through it all! It seems I was the only one that slept great. SHORTCUT got up to go to the bathroom 3 times and was so cold she was having a hard time sleeping. Amy was cold and hasn’t slept that great on her sleeping pad the whole trip. She was the first one up and starting to pack up. SOULFLOWER said she couldn’t sleep and was up until 1am. Plus there was a mouse in the house eating something and making a bunch of noise. At first SOULFLOWER thought it was Aunt Julie eating a midnight snack, but when she sat up to investigate she realized it was a mouse. She was shining her light trying to find out where it was but couldn’t see it. It was over by me somewhere. Aunt Julie also had a hard time sleeping because of all the noise and she was cold. And me…I just slept toasty warm through it all!
Yucky muddy trail.
I did later discover that there was indeed a mouse and he ate a hole through a mesh in my pack to get to a bar wrapper that I missed putting in my bear hang. Oops!
We were off early to finish up the trail. A few of us took a short side trail to a waterfall. This is where I ate my breakfast this morning.
We completed the 8 miles by 11am and my Uncle Brian came and picked us up. Then he took us for ice cream! A perfect way to end the trail. Thank you Uncle Brian.
The Katahdin girls.
I did enjoy the trail plus I had the best company. I can’t wait to get together with these girls again.
The trail was pretty flat with lots of tree cover so we didn’t get much sun. There were a good number of blowdowns that we had to go over, around or under. As well as plenty of roots, rocks and muddy areas to slow you down. I also have the most mosquito bites o think I have ever had.
Tuesday August 21, 2018
13 Miles Total Milage 115
We left the motel at 8am this morning. The motel owner was gracious enough to give us a ride back to the trailhead. Although the ride was in the back of a pick up truck. It was pretty chilly.
I’ve been pretty hungry on this trip. Yesterday I made a few purchases for breakfast this morning. I started with a fresh peach, a very large blueberry muffin and finished it off with a chocolate milk. I was full and ready to hit the trail.
We were off to a good pace and didn’t stop until noon for lunch. SOULFLOWER and SHORTCUT where thinking about pressing on further than the planned stop for the day because of the forecasted rain for tomorrow. It could be an all day rain. Their plan was to hike the mileage we had planned for the last three days in two days and be in a nice dry and warm hotel room tomorrow night.
Note left by SHORTCUT and SUNFLOWER.
When we got to our planned stop and Aunt Julie took off her boots and I saw the blister I am glad we stopped here. It is really bad and bloody looking. Plus this spot is really nice. It is right on the Cold River. We were able to sit at the waters edge and soak our feet for a while.
Aunt Julie’s little toe.
This is the toe next to the little toe. A totally different blister.
Julie and I lay down early and Amy goes for a walk up the trail! Like she didn’t get enough walking. And this isn’t the first time she did this. She went for another walk one night when we finished up early.
Scary suspension bridge.
We had to cross a suspension bridge with a see through metal grate at the bottom. I was not fond of it but managed to make it across.
Aunt Julie coming across the scary suspension bridge.
I managed to loose my bear line tonight. I picked out a branch and on my third attempt to get the line over the branch my rock bag went flying into a neighboring tree and I knew immediately that I was in trouble. After giving it a yank…yup its stuck!!! I managed to save enough line for maybe a small clothes line, but I will have to make a new rock bag and buy a new line. Although I didn’t have all my line to begin with. I got part of it stuck in a tree on the AT, but I still had enough to hang a bag. Now that is no longer the case.
Me, in bed resting.
Sunday August 19, 2018
14 Miles Total Mileage 91
We were up before it was light out using our headlights to pack up. We camped in a grassy area without tree cover so we had a bit of condensation in our tents. I just used my bandana to clean most of it up. We planned to leave at 6am but didn’t get out until 6:15am. Which is pretty good for a group of 3.
The trail today was pretty woodsy and hard to follow in some areas. I really had to pay attention and make sure I was staying on the trail.
SOULFLOWER and SHORTCUT were meeting us back on the trail today and would spend the night at the lean-to with us. Then we would all hike into the town of Long Lake tomorrow. I’m looking forward to a town day. Shower, laundry and food are the highlights for me.
SOULFLOWER and SHORTCUT waiting on us. They just came out of town and walked in 4 miles.
Amy and Aunt Julie behind her.
I haven’t had much cell phone service along this trail but at this lean-to I had service and was able to talk to Jim. I miss you, Babydoll.😘
Saturday August 18, 2018
11 Miles Total Milage 76
Our camp spot this evening.
We had mice in the lean-to early last night. I think they realized that we didn’t have anything for them and they left us alone the rest of the night.
The girls all packed up and ready to go.
I heard a tree or tree limb fall during the night and I hoped that what I heard was not a bear getting to our food. The food bag was still in the tree the next morning undisturbed.
The trail this morning was a mud bog.
I woke up at 5am and tried to remain quite so the other girls could sleep, but the other Amy said good morning to me at 530. She is a morning person also.
Amy leading the way across a temporary bridge.
As I am laying here starting the next days blog before heading out for the day it sounds like it is still raining or it may be water dripping from the trees. If it is just water dripping from the trees it sounds like a lot of water. I could hear it raining off and on throughout the night. The rain was not forecasted to totally move out until 1pm today.🙁
Aunt Julie made it across safely.
Have I mentioned I HATE putting wet socks and shoes on! That’s up there with setting up your tent in the rain. Most of my low points on the trail involve wet weather.
Aunt Julie’s boots sitting in the sun somewhat drying out.
We started out with rain jackets on and didn’t remove them until we stopped for the day at 1pm. We stayed mostly dry except for our feet. They were wet to begin with and stayed wet because of the wet overgrowth next to the trail. There were some boggy areas but the trail was mostly flat and easy walking.
Shortly after stopping for the day the sun came out and I was able to dry my socks and shoes.😀
We relaxed in camp and made mileage plans for the rest of the trail. We are now over half way.
Friday August 17, 2018
11 Miles Total Milage 64 miles
Morning view at 5:40am.
Today was very ugly. The forecast was for all day rain. We were up at 5 am to get an early start. SHORTCUT and I left camp 40 minutes later to hike as many miles as we could before the rain started.
The rain was forecasted to start around 7 but didn’t start until 930. Rain really motivates SHORTCUT and she soon left me behind. I have to say it was pretty miserable, but I just put my headphones in and listened to an audio book to distract me. I arrived at the shelter at noon glad to be done for the day. Aunt Julie and Amy rolled in about 45 minutes later but they left about 35 minutes after us.
The trail was really muddy in many areas and very overgrown. It was not a fun day. Especially when the torrential downpour started. Although there were some beautiful lake views I would have enjoyed them much more if it wasn’t raining.
SHORTCUT decided to push on to the next lean-to since we arrived so early. Tomorrow she will hike into town and meet up with SOULFLOWER and get dried out. While we camp out and hope the weather is better.
Once Amy and Aunt Julie both got their boots and socks off they both had a new blister. They both popped them and will have to shove their feet into dirty wet socks and boots today so their both hoping that the blisters don’t get infected. They both have antibacterial cream and bandaids on but those can come off with things being so wet.
I enjoyed the time just hanging out with the girls in the lean to. We hung up a clothes line and tried to dry things out. We will definitely be putting on wet socks and shoes which is no fun, but our clothes have dried out.
Thursday August 16, 2018
SOULFLOWER ended the day with a bad blister. It was the same area that ended her hike on the Colorado Trail. So she was going to decide what to do in the morning. Upon waking we talked and came to the decision to give the area some rest. She traveled up trail a ways and will rest for a few days then meet us back on trail on Sunday.
While walking out of town I passed this old tavern built in 1860. And there was also a carriage and ice cutter on display.
Today was beautiful. The trail was nice and only overgrown in limited areas. The temperature wasn’t to high and there were very few spider webs. We also had a really nice spot for lunch. We stopped at a small creek and took the time to soak our feet while eating lunch.
Our camp tonight was a lean-to on Spruce Lake. It’s a pretty amazing view. Upon arrival I took a bandana bath in the lake with a tiny bit of soap. Then set up my tent and said a prayer that it didn’t rain. Rain was in the forcast.
Aunt Julie got her first blister today. She tripped over the dog about 1.5 weeks ago and thought she broke her big toe. It’s not broken but it is swollen and very sore. So she has been walking with a different gait that has caused a blister.
Aunt Julie and Amy relaxing in the lean-to.
View from Spruce Lake Lean-to.
Wednesday August 15, 2018
15 miles Total Miles completed 40
We were shocked to see SHORTCUT walk into to camp at 630pm last night. She got help for PARKING LOT who got sick and needed to get off trail then was back on trail trying to catch us and boy did she have a story to tell about all of her adventures while she was separated from us.
We spent the night in the lean to and didn’t have any mice issues at all. That is always a big worry when staying in them.
SHORTCUT and I hit the trail early before the rest of the group. SHORTCUT wanted to get to the motel as early as possible because she was going to have a lot to do since PARKING LOT decided to go home. She would have to go through resupply boxes that have been shipped and get them mailed back to Florida.
The trail today was overgrown and swampy in areas. It was not a great hiking day for me. I was leading the way and there were so many spider webs on the trail it was really frustrating me. Plus all those wet areas also make for a lot of mosquitos! I have big bites all over my legs.
SHORTCUT hiking through the overgrown trail.
There were a couple of suspension bridges that we crossed today. One of them had a few boards missing from the crosswalk.
We arrive at the motel and this is what we see next to the office door. Apparently you just pick up you key and if you need a room for the night without a reservation. We had reservations so our keys were waiting on us with our names on them.
Tuesday August 14, 2018
With rain gear on we head out and down the trail.
A light rain started yesterday at 4pm and rained until 11 am today. It wasn’t to bad since it was a light rain, but later the rain poured down on us before we made it to the lean to and continued to rain until 5pm.. We could hear thunder but could still see some blue sky so we though we would be ok. Well we weren’t!😥
We were headed to a lean to but didn’t make it before the rain started. We got poured on for about a half hour. A lean to never looked so good. We were all happy to get out of the rain.
The crew filtering water to make it safe to drink.
We lost SHORTCUT and PARKING LOT yesterday and they never made it to camp last night. I got a text today the PARKING LOT was not well. I think they took a road into town. Hopefully they will be there when we get there.
AMY and BEELINE.
We have crossed many streams and walked around few lakes today, but didn’t get many pictures since the weather wasn’t all that nice.