Monday, April 25, 2005

New pictures are in

I just got seven new pictures of our girl from her dad today. They are in the same photo set on flickr. You can always access the current pictures from the link in the "Links" section on the right. Here are a couple of samples that I think she'd really like.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Snow Day

Yes! Even on the trail we get snow days! This morning I woke up to snow in the air. As the morning wore on, the snow got thicker and began to come in horizontally. The temperature in Erwin, TN(1700ft elevation) was 30degrees with a wind chill of 23degrees. If I were on the trail, I would be at about 4000ft and thus a ton colder! So, I have to suffer with a day in the Hotel room! It has been nice, despite my complaining about having to take the day off!

There are a few reasons I wanted to post today! The first reason being as a helpful note to possible future thru-hikers. There are many things mentioned on the trail, take all of them with a grain of salt. I have heard so many horror stories of people, places, and events and have found things the complete opposite! For Example, I was told of a place here in Erwin, TN called Uncle Johnies Hostel. People on the trail told me the owner was only interested in how much he could charge people for a night's stay. I stopped there today and the owner was super friendly! It was a really nice place as well! The quarters were a little cramped compared to my room at the Holiday Inn Express, but it is a hostel and the rates were not as bad as people made it sound. You get a bunk in the hostel for $12-13. Most Hostels along the trail cost $15 at least in the south! I will give a better idea of hostels in the north when I get there! So, my advice to future thru-hikers is to always check things out for yourself! Weather, people, mood can all play into people's experiences.

Another reason for posting today was because I am extremely bored having zero days, but they are very necessary. I am able to hit the miles and hit them hard upon my return to the trail! The body does need the rest despite what some people think! Even just taking short days among the long days is necessary.

One last reason for my posting is to tell everyone the flora and fauna I have seen. The first day on the trail, I scared up a deer. I have since scared up a couple more. One night, "Montana", "Three Cats", and myself had a deer snorting and stomping the ground at us. That was kind of wild. I have seen salamanders, a bunny, butterflies, variety of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, bat, and bugs! In regards to the flora, there have been beautiful fields of flowers on the mountain tops at points. The past few days, I have come across wild iris, trillium of a variety of colors, some yellow flower, as well as dandelions! The views have been boring and gorgeous. It just depends on the location and the terrain! It does seem as though the trail is getting easier, but tomorrow I head back out to jump up in elevation again. We hit Roan High Knob in a couple of days which takes us up to 6200ft. Currently, I am at 1700ft. So, there is a bit of climbing from here! I have adopted the saying: "When in doubt, go up!" They miss only a few mountain tops out here on the trail!

So, that is all for the next 10days! I hope to be to Damascus by the first part of May, but we will see what happens! Montana and I are pushing along well these days, but sometimes our pace leaves us with blisters and pain thus breaking us down for the next day! It is just a matter of one foot in front of the other!

Take care to all my loved ones. Happy birthday to my Grandpa(April 19), my friend, Renee(April 21), my aunt, Trish(April 22), and my friend, Michael(April 29). I hope everyone has/had beautiful birthdays. Mine was a great day at Dollywood and beyond! Happy Trails and I look forward to many more miles of walking!

As always, my husband is constantly on my mind. I love you, Mike, and long for the day you get to join me on my adventure. This is a trip that could not happen without you! Thank you!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Trail Life is Hard!

So, I am in a town again! Word on the trail is there is a snow storm headed for Tennessee. Montana and I made it off the trail after a quick 17mile day and got a room at the Holiday Inn Express! We thought briefly about the hostel, but then read about Hot Tub and a free pint of Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream and said oh yeah we are going to the Holiday Inn Express! Got in around 2pm and had a wonderful shower! Warm water felt great after hiking all morning in my shorts! The morning was beautiful, but it has gotten down right cold this afternoon! Got a ride to the grocery store and then one back to the hotel after having some pizza! Life on the trail is great!

Last night was amazing and frightening all in one! I was hauling butt in the morning with the intention of stopping and napping at the Bald Mountain Shelter. I had my stuff laid out when Montana, Pied Piper, and Goat Boy all pulled in talking of the pending storms and how many thru-hikers got off the trail at Sam's Gap. The thunder began rolling in and before you know it, we had hail! It was almost as big as the hail that damaged my car last June! I just sat there and laughed and pulled out my sleeping bag! We had 9 of us in the shelter last night after a short 10mile day! We all had fun just chatting and reading and hanging out! Thunder storm rolled in during the evening that had me almost climbing over Montana and hiding in the corner of the shelter! It scared the daylights out of me which doesn't usually happen! I had to laugh at myself! The night was unusually warm though and the morning was perfect for hiking into town!

Weather forecast not looking good for tomorrow and Montana is pushing to stay in town! I enjoy his company and thus will end up here for a second night! These zero days drive me crazy though, but being safe is more important. Not looking to die on the trail, so will stay here and stuff my face and relax while zoning out on civilization! Good company in the hotel here! Looks like tons of hikers coming off the trail for the weather! The hotel says they might as well be a hostel tonight since there are more hikers than anyone else! How fun it shall be the next couple of days!

Still doing well and have actually been enjoying myself on the trail! Today was the first day back hiking with Montana after losing him 2 days ago. He has been going slow for blisters and I have been powering through things! I think I am ahead of schedule, but not sure what this weather stop will do for my schedule! The 20milers seem easy these days depending on the terrain and the weather. Out of here there is some huge elevation gains, so I think the days will be a little shorter. I know the pace will be a little slower than this morning!

Take care everyone and know I am thinking of everyone daily! Today there were large thoughts of Od Duhu and Mike! Actually, Mike ends up on my mind all the time! I am sure Montana is tired of hearing about him! I love you Mike and hope that you continue to do well with your race schedule. I am proud of you for your placements in the first 2 of the season. Take care of yourself and know I am thinking of you daily and racing to the end so that I can get to you!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dad's experience

Here is the note that Kasey's dad sent me about his short excursion with her including some of his tips on how to survive out there:

The AT is no walk in the woods! I am not the "sharpest knife in the drawer" according to Kasey, but I learn quickly. I learned much from my 2 days on the AT. The trail was planned out to go across as many mountain peaks as possible. This requires much UP and DOWN hiking. Minimize weight as much as possible. Walking is not beneficial to prepare yourself physically for the rigors of the AT. Pushing yourself up and down steep hills will help. Plenty of water is least 4 quarts a day will help keep the leg cramps/fatigue to minimum. The "family" experience of thru hikers is incredible. They support and watch out for each other all along the trail. Our 2 days in Pigeon Forge (Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, brewery, hot tub, etc) were great fun! Kasey was refreshed and ready to hike on Thursday morning, even though the temperature was 20 degrees and an inch of snow on the ground at Clingman Dome. Kasey is on an incredible journey. She is a very strong woman. I am extremely proud of her. Pictures will follow when developed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Moving Right Along

So, Here I am taking my 2nd zero day since being on the trail. I am in Hot Springs, NC, where we arrived early enough for breakfast yesterday and have all day today off! For those interested, Gatlinburg was a busy time and not really a day off for relaxation. I did enjoy Dollywood, but found myself rushing to put things back together before heading back to the trail! Maybe should have taken an extra day there! Oh well! It felt good to get back on the trail.

I believe the last time I wrote, I was hiking with "One Thing" and staying in Helen, GA. Since then, I lost "one thing" and picked up "Montana" after getting into North Carolina! One thing about coming north into North Carolina is that you get kind of slapped in the face with the terrain. I don't think they believe in bypassing anything. We went straight up and straight back down! It was crazy! "Montana" plans on plowing over every knob and putting up Walmarts with the idea that all trails lead to Walmart!

It has been an exciting time since picking up "Montana"! We have done some pretty crazy miles, but when we don't then we get in early to a shelter and die of boredom. So, we press on until we about die of hiking! The day that I started hiking with him, we did 20miles and followed it with a 24mile day! That was crazy! "Montana" lucked out after the 24mile day as he took a zero day at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, while I hiked 7miles with my father.
Speaking of my father, he did not believe me when I told him the terrain was going to be rough, I guess! He made it 2 days and then spent time trying to recover in time for Dollywood!

Upon returning to the trail from Gatlinburg, we picked up some more people to add to our happy family! Last night I stayed in a Cabin along the French Broad River with "montana", "Three Cats", and "Iron Foot". I was excited to see "iron foot" again as he was a guy that I played leap frog with in the begin as well as "one thing". Actually, "one thing" is back on the trail as well! I thought he had seriously injured his knees around Franklin, but he has been doing some crazy miles and caught "Montana" and I at the Icewater Springs Shelter.

So, on the whole, things have been going well. I have been enjoying annoying "Montana" with my energy. We will get into camp in the evening and I am talking of situps and taking a jog! His feet are hurting with blisters and he is pretty tired usually. Last night as we walked back to the cabin, I was doing cartwheels, and he said he was going to crush my toes if I do it again!

It is funny how on the trail you just meet people and hang out with them for a while and it seems like you have known them forever. Yesterday coming into Hot Springs, "Montana", "Three Cats", and myself hit the first restaurant (or Rest and Rant as Montana would say) we found and got ourselves some breakfast. As I walked into the Smokey Mountain Diner, "Black Helmet", "Lobster Boy", and "Bootleg" all greeted me with a warm hello! It is great hiking your own hike as you end up coming into a town and finding people that you have not seen for a while! What a family it really is out here! I hope it continues as I hear people stop talking as they get further north due to just being ready to be done with the trail!

Anyway, stay tuned for many more stories from the trail! The next place may be Damascus, VA. I am not sure from day to day where I will end up! Out here, I have been just following the fun people I have met. So, until I come off for Dana's wedding, I will probably be at the mercy of "Montana", "Three Cats", and "Iron Foot"! Take care everyone and know I think of ya'all every day!

To my husband, I thank you for your continuous love and support. I miss you tons and think of you daily. Everyone out here has probably heard at least a little something about you! You are my sunshine!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Today is Kasey's (peeps') Birthday and to celebrate she is taking her first zero day. That is a day with zero trail miles logged. She made it to Clingman's Dome fairly early yesterday where her dad picked her up and threw her into the shower because she stinks after being on the trail so long. She is hopefully going to be spending some quality time at Dollywood today, but there may be rain in which case she'll check out "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" museum both of which are premier attractions in the entertainment capital of the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, TN. Tomorrow she'll be hauled back up to Clingman's Dome and given a swift kick in the rear and told to get hiking. :)

This all means that she is now back on schedule. She was able to put in a couple of 20+ mile days to make it to where she met her dad the first time. He was supposed to hike with her to Clingman's dome, but the weight of his pack(Hint: Don't carry a 15 pound shovel) and the lack of switchbacks going straight up and down those mountains didn't agree with his legs. He hitched a ride back into town after a couple of days and then couldn't walk the next day. Hopefully we'll get a more complete story(and maybe some pictures) from him when he gets home.

If you have her phone number give her a call today and wish her a very happy birthday. This is one of the few times when the outside world will be able to contact her.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

First photos from the Trail

The guy(William "Bill" Hoyt) that peeps hitched a ride with on April 1 took some pictures of her and her friends and sent them to me via Email. I have posted them to my account and started a photo set that I'll use for the whole trip.


Snow Storms and Hiking

So, I catch the shuttle out of Helen, GA at 8:45am yesterday back to the AT. They drop us off and up the hill about 7 of us go! I was in the lead, but got passed by "One Thing" eventually. The further up the mountain I went, the worse the weather got. By the time I was 0.5 miles from the peak of Tray Mountain, I had red legs and the snow had blown such that ice crystals were forming on my leg hairs. So, I stopped and put on both layers of pants and that warmed me up! "One Thing" and I made it to the top of Tray Mountain and stopped at the Shelter. I wanted to get out my camera because I figured nobody would believe me if I said we had snow storms.

Once I was all set, I looked at One thing because he seemed a little apprehensive about hiking in the snow by himself or letting me hike by myself in the snow for fear of getting lost. He told me it was fine with him if I felt safe enough to take off hiking without him. So, I said goodbye and headed off on the trail. It was pretty easy to follow the trail despite the blowing snow. The terrain was rough and the day was getting late, but I was enjoying the snow, especially when the mountains would block the wind! I have some great photos from yesterday. As the day wore on and I found myself getting colder and people kept passing me talking of going into town, I began to think they had the right idea.

When Dark Helmet and Lobster Boy passed me in the last little bit to the shelter and said cricket, Lisa, sheeba, and they were all headed into town, I said I had to go in with them. So, I made my way to the road where I met up with Bootleg who was trying to catch a ride as well as Dark Helmet and Lobster Boy. They got a ride first and by then there were 4 more hikers out of the mountains. I rode into Hiawassee with Lisa, Sheeba, Cricket, and another guy. The other guy headed to the Blueberry Patch and I headed into town with the others. All four of us got a room together at the Holiday Inn Express and did some laundry, showered, and then went for dinner. It was kind of a surreal night. This group of hikers is tons of fun. We were up until midnight laughing, joking, and drinking beer. It was tons of fun! I think they may be taking a 0 day today and then back out on the trail tomorrow. Although, Sheeba sounded like she wanted to be back on the trail so they may head out today. We will see what happens.

Currently, the sun is out and I am waiting for the 9am shuttle to come take me back to the mountains. I have a semi long day but it will pale in comparison to yesterday as the sun is out and I am not doing 16miles with fierce winds! :) The forecast looks iffy for the next week though. I look forward to what it throws my way! Looks like thunderstorms around the time I meet up with my father, so I hope he is prepared for that! It is wicked out here on the AT in the thunderstorms. Lets hope for no lightening strikes nearby during those days!

Take care everyone and know that I am making good choices and staying safe! My love goes out to everyone!

Friday, April 01, 2005

More weather delays, but plenty of friends

I got a call from Kasey today, she is doing well, but the weather still isn't cooperating. I also got a short call from her on Wednesday when she was chowing down on Pizza at Neels Gap. She found a library with internet access and sent me the letter below. I will try to hack into her account on our computer at home to find her username and password so she'll be able to post on her own in the future.

Hello my love! I know I only spoke to you the other day, but I made my way into a town for the night since they were calling for thundershowers and possibly snow above 3500 ft. I read the blog and tried to post to it, but it cannot find my account for some reason. I will probably give you a call since I am in a town. "One Thing" + I checked into the Helenbrau Hotel/Inn in Helen, GA for the night. He came down the trail behind me today and told me all the things nearby this inn and made it sound tons better than the shelter in thunderstorms. My knee and feet were killing me, so I said what the heck. This time of year they have shuttles running from the parking lot at Unicoi Gap into either Helen or Hiawassee. We actually had a man and his son from South Carolina take us into town. They had come out here just to do some trail magic and found nobody yesterday, so they checked out of their hotel today and checked the lot for thru hikers. They seemed nice. I was thankful I was not alone and could have taken a shuttle if I so desired. We are in a room next door to "Wookie", "Cold Feet", + another guy whose name is too hard to pronounce. I did receive my trail name today! :) I am Peeps! Those people in my family who caused this trail name should be proud of themselves! I did make a few people happy with my peeps on the trail though! :) Tons of interesting people out here and so many trail angels. If you want to check out "one thing" and "wookie", both have journals at One thing is listed as one thing whereas wookie is under Benjamin Ward. I just met wookie today as well as the other two next door to me. One thing I have been playing leap frog with since I started the trail. The hills are not as bad as they were in the beginning. I did have the people at Neels Gap shake down my pack and I sent home probably all the stuff you told me not to take. My pack is a lot lighter now, but the raincover is not keeping things dry! I am going to see about getting a new one in town here, but we will see what happens. What would be nice is if it would just stop raining. We are suppose to see a break in the clouds tomorrow afternoon. Pushing for a 13 mile day tomorrow. I still have not called my father to let him know I am a day behind and may be even further than that. He may not get to hike too much with me or we may not get to do Dollywood. We will see what happens. Coming out today to a city, puts me a little further behind, but I will check out the maps and see what I can do. Helen, GA is a funking little town. It is a tourist trap as one person put it, but cute. It is done in Bavarian style. All the buildings are Bavarian and there are cute little shops. Your parents would enjoy this place, I think!
Well, I am still doing fine although I was ready to come home yesterday when my knee was blazing in the morning during the thunderstorm hike. Luckily, good people help keep me on the trail. I have met some wonderfully interesting people. I am alone hiking during the daytime with passings from other hikers, but at night in the shelters(which I have only stayed in one) there are about 10-20 people! I'm probably going to pass up One Thing here soon! I usually leave early in the morning while he is still drinking his coffee and eating his breakfast, but not far down the trail he has caught me in the past. Today, I had to wait for him to come into Unicoi Gap. He was only 5-10 minutes behind me, but still! He never caught me until then! :)