Friday, May 27, 2005


Although it feels weird and I have a burning to get out and walk, I think it is good for me to have this time off from the trail. It is a little disruptive to the flow and the people with whom I was hiking, but I am getting nutrients I don't normally get on the trail as well as good sleep! This will give me an idea of how life will be after the trail as well. Lucky for me, I live in Colorado where if I am itching to hike I have mountains to climb!
Today, I woke up, used the flush toilet device versus the bushes, and went back to my sleeping bag. The hard part of civilization is no more breakfast in bed. Hardcore hiker taught me the joy of breakfast in bed on the trail. Basically, you retrieve your food bag and remain in your sleeping bag while eating breakfast. It is a nice feeling, and I tried to get breakfast in bed from Dana & Darrell this morning, but it did not work.
One thing I have been learning up here is that things are really expensive compared to the Trail towns and the south. I looked at buying broccoli yesterday at Kroger and it was crazy priced way too high for my liking. Dinner out in downtown AnnArbor last night was extremely expensive as well. Mike and I could have eaten for the price I paid just for my food. Granted, I am eating more these days, but I had an appetizer, plate meal, dessert, and 2 beers and it was $35. I suppose that does not seem unreal to many living in the real world on a normal basis, but on the trail, there are many restaurants that serve healthy portions for good prices. I think the most I have spent on food in a trail town thus far has been $20. Usually, there are all you can eat(AYCE) buffets which many thru-hikers try to close down. I think it was because the place we went to last night was an Irish Pub in downtown AnnArbor. It was nice to hang out with friends.
Still looking forward to getting back to the trail. My itching for the trail is as strong this far away from the trail as it is when I take days off along the trail. I think I will be reducing days off along the trail as I travel north. We will see. Trail lore has it the New England States lack the Southern Hospitality we are experiencing right now. We will see. I was also told Virginia was flat!
Stay tuned for news on the wedding and my travels back to the trail as well as my 2weeks with my mother-in-law. I look forward to those meeting me along the trail and am eager to return to my adventures. Everyday, I feel the changes the trail is providing in my life and hope to embrace the many to come. I love my family and friends greatly and look forward to the celebration of my friend, Dana's marriage to Darrell.
Thank you all for the continued support and love. It makes the trail much easier to endure at times. I also thank those looking over my husband while I am out here. He is my lifeline and without him, I would be lost. During the marriage of Dana & Darrell, I will be thinking of my own marriage and how lucky I am to have such a wonderful man to support me on this crazy journey of self discovery. Thank you my love! You are with me always despite the distance. I love you lots!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Greyhound Adventures

So, as many of you know, I took a 24hour bus ride on Greyhound from Waynesboro, VA to AnnArbor, MI for my friend, Dana's wedding. Now many of you may be wondering why I interrupted my trail experience for this wedding when I am not exactly in the wedding. It is because it is my friend, Dana.
Anyway, the trip on the bus was long and exhausting and I can't wait to take my mother-in-law back with me on the return trip. It is a lot of stress wondering where they are not going to let you go any further due to your ticket having a future date on it, but it was never questioned along my journey.
The first bus was from Waynesboro to Washington DC. As I departed Waynesboro, I wept a little to be leaving my friends and family from the trail not to mention the wonderful people who helped get me on the bus (Woody and Irma). Then I settled in for the long haul and finished my book by the time I reached DC. After DC, I travelled through Pennsylvania and could see ridgelines and I wondered if those were ridgelines where my friends would be upon my return from Michigan. That made me cry all over again. Trying to make myself happy wasn't working to stop the tears either. As I thought of my friends and family that I would see over the Memorial Day weekend, I also began to cry. Life seemed to go in slow motion and seemed almost surreal at that point. I had to try my hardest not to cry the whole way home to Michigan. Upon arriving in Michigan and travelling from Detroit to AnnArbor, I again began to cry because soon enough I would be visiting with my friends and see my family. It felt so weird. What do I say to them? Will they be asking me all sorts of questions from the trail? With my emotions on the fritz would I just start bawling when I saw them? How about those friends I left on the trail...Would I see them again? So, much worry for such simple things. MY heart beat rapidly as I approached AnnArbor. Thank Goodness Dana was not there right away to get me from the bus because if she had been standing outside the bus when I got off, I know I would have lost it and again cried my little heart out. It was bad enough that I reported my fragile state of mind and then began crying right there. How could someone who has hiked 850miles be such a blubbering baby? The tears did not last long despite being just below the surface and ready to spill at any moment. Dana and I ran some errands and then got some breakfast. I ate all of my meal and half of Dana's. Guess I still have an appetite.
Going back to the greyhound trip itself, there were not too many weird people until I got to Cleveland, OH. As we were approaching Cleveland, I was laying with my head towards the aisle and almost had it kicked in by the guy behind me putting his foot on my armrest. He apologized and then began to talk to me about my destination. From there, he started telling me how beautiful I am and it went down hill from there. He asked me if I was married and whether I would ever cheat on my husband. I told him as long as it was him, I sure would! HAHAHAHA! No! I did not say that. I told him I would never cheat on my husband! He just kept telling me how pretty I was and patting my head. I was glad to get off the bus and find somewhere away from him to sit and wait for the bus to take me to Detroit.
In that seat inside the bus station; however, I had another guy strike up conversation with me. He was not as bad as the other guy, but you could tell there was something mentally wrong with him. We talked about the buses and he told me he was headed to Vermont and I told him I was headed to Michigan. We talked about our jobs and he then went into talking about mental facilities and high strung communities. He was going to apply for dual citizenship with Canada because his great grandfather was Canadian, and once in Canada this guy had a bad experience with the people and so he wants to be able to tell them where to stuff their attitude or something like that. It was weird how quickly the topic changed as we conversed and he kept asking me if I got it. The bathroom was my refuge from this guy.
During my encounters with these 2 guys, I thought of Montana's coaching me on how to safely hitch a ride. He told me to just hang out by a gas station or some store and just watch the people to find the one who looks safe and ask them for a ride. I decided after this experience, I am just a magnet for weirdos and will not be hitching by myself. Despite my ability to read the safe from the unsafe, I am a magnet for the looney bin escapies. So, no hitching for me unless with other people!
On the whole, the experience was a decent trip and I look forward to taking the bus back the trail. Oh no! I am calling the trail my home. I really have flipped my lid! At least on the return trip, I will have my mother-in-law along for company. Maybe the weirdos will stay away if there are 2 of us! Can't wait to find out!

Hospitality in the Valley

I have been in many trail towns along the Appalachian Trail, but none have been as friendly as Waynesboro up to this point. Sure most of them have been super friendly, but Waynesboro was full of wonderful people. I hope thru-hikers do not ever give Waynesboro a reason to dislike us.
It began with the list of Trail Angels (people who volunteer their time to provide support for thru-hikers) at the information center. The volunteer there, called an older gentleman to pick us (Hardcore Hiker, Mad Cow, and me) up from the trail and take us into the New Hostel in Waynesboro. Unfortunately, the hostel did not open until 5pm and we got in around 3:30pm. SO, the gentleman offerred to take us anywhere else we desired. We went to the post office and picked up packages before deciding to head for Weasies Kitchen for the Pancake challenge. This gentleman dropped us off and gave us his phone number to call him when we were done and he would pick us back up and take us to the hostel. We didn't even have to call him, he just showed up as we were finishing up and took us to the hostel.
The Grace Lutheran Church in Waynesboro had just opened their church in the evening to house thru-hikers for free. We three were the first guests along with another hiker, Hikerx05. Irma and Woody were the spearheaders of this project and thus the volunteers there to greet us at the door and give us the tour along with the rules. They were great people and we sat for a long period of time chatting with them about the trail and life in general. At one point Irma went and got movies from the library incase we wanted to watch anything that evening. None of us ended up watching TV, but it is the thought that counts. The pastor stopped in and invited us to Vespers as to kick off the Hostel's opening night. It was a nice little service.
The next day, while doing errands, we ran into Tulip & Cheerios (2 hikers doing the trail as continuous day hikes) at the laundromat and they offered us a ride to the outfitters which was about a half mile from the laundromat. They took us there after taking Hardcore Hiker back to CVS to exchange her watch. We were extremely grateful to them as well.
At the Outfitters, Hardcore and I were talking to a guy in line at the checkout and he eventually offerred to pay for Hardcores boot gaiters she was waiting to pay for. We could not believe our fortune that day.
On Wednesday morning, Irma volunteered Woody to go with me to the Greyhound stop in Waynesboro and see about getting me on a bus despite what the Verona, VA gentleman had said about not being able to exchange my ticket. Woody stayed with me until the bus arrived and was sure they were going to let me ride. Then he told the bus driver to take good care of me.
All this friendliness and care from people who hardly knew us. I felt truly blessed and a little sad leaving these great people. Irma agreed to mail my bounce box up the trail for me and I left her with money for that as well as a donation to the church for their hostel services. It was truly a great visit and I hope the Hostel is able to keep going. Best of Luck to the town of Waynesboro. It was truly Hospitality in the Valley as their sign said!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

New photos

I finally got the new photos online and have put them into two sets. Click on the photos to view the entire sets. The first set is of the trip down with the stop at Jack Daniels and the rain day spent with my(Mike's) parents.

The second set is pretty much the rest of the memory card and takes us from the start of the trail through to Gatlinburg and the day spent at Dollywood.

I tried to keep them all in order, but some may have gotten out of order while uploading. I'll see if I can sort through them in the coming days. In the mean time you can tell by the name of the file where it should be in the order. Also, note that I had to scale the pictures by about 50% resolution and compress them a little so that they stayed in my upload limit. If anybody would like the full size version of any photo please let me know and I can either post it somewhere or Email it to you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hiker Friendly Towns

Another trail town. This one is pretty sweet but spread out! I am in Waynesboro and a few days early! Do not worry friends and family joining me on the trail, I am ahead of schedule right now, but the wedding is putting me right back on schedule. I am going to try to move up my greyhound departure from this town, but am not sure if it will work or not! I may just show up at the bus stop tomorrow morning and see if they will take my May 27 ticket! Waynesboro, VA is a wonderful little place full of friendly people. However, the town itself is spread out a bit and hard to get around! So, I am thinking I will make it to Ann Arbor a little earlier and play around there. We will see what happens.
So, in regards to the trail, I spent an evening by myself in a shelter while people were off for Trail Days and it renewed my sense of self! I hiked the next day and caught up with the people I was talking to outside my hotel in Pearisburg and stayed in a shelter with them. Met up with Montana for dinner in Daleville, where I attempted to find internet connection and make Ann Arbor travel arrangements. Not a Hiker Friendly town! While pushing through from Daleville to Waynesboro, I met Hardcore Hiker and she and I created an itinerary for the next few days push into Waynesboro. So, we actually ended up pushing each other into Waynesboro as we were looking forward to the pancake challenge. Both of us failed miserably, but I do know that I truly do not like pancakes. Almost 9 pancakes was enough for me, but I did get my moneys worth! Met a hiker named Mad Cow who helped push us into Waynesboro as well! He was entertaining and made the day pass by quickly! Hardcore has been a great person to hike with and would actually be someone I could probably hike the rest of the trail with if it weren't for all the other people I am looking forward to meeting up with along the trail (i.e., renee&david, millie, susan, my aunts, my husband, and my mommy).
Trail life has been grand again and I am renewed with my love of the journey! I feel more secure with myself and am looking forward to my future adventures! Take care and love to all!

Virginia Blues / Bipolar Day

So, the Virginia Blues hit this lone little hiker back towards the middle of May! It was an odd sort of day. I started out from a shelter where I had spent the previous night with a southbound flip flop hiker who shared his trail knowledge of where I was headed. The morning was a little long and wore me down as I miscalculated the distance by 2 miles. When I got to the shelter for lunch, I did a little dance around on some blue blaze trails trying to find water before returning to the trail where I had come from. After a good break and removal of my superfeet insoles, I was ready for another 15miles up a ridgeline. I was not looking forward to climbing up the ridge in the heat of the day, so the clouds came along and gave me reprieve from the sun! Then, as I approached the top of the ridge, the thunder began. I was in my own little patch of sunshine as I traversed the ridge heading towards the storm cloud. The raindrops began and I started singing various rain related songs. As I moved along, I found myself singing and dancing in the rain. My life felt grand at that moment and the rain never came down very hard on me. I passed up a free bunk house offering a shower and phone use to keep moving towards Pearisburg, VA. At the last shelter before Pearisburg, I met a new group of thru-hikers and learned they were headed to the same campsite I was planning on for the night. After chatting with them during their dinner, I set off again for the campsite. About 10minutes after leaving them, I began crying nonstop. I tried to think happy thoughts and sing again, but the only songs that came to my mind were ones that made me think of my husband. I tried not to think of "my husband," but even thinking his name made me cry hard! At that point, I was determined to get off the trail and be done with this insanity! I just wanted to be normal! So, on I plugged into Pearisburg, VA arriving in the dark to a hotel only 1/4 mile off the trail. Once securely in my room, I broke down into tears again. After collecting myself a little, I called my husband but he was running. So, I called my mommy and let it all out! Only 3days earlier, I had been telling my mother how great things were on the trail! She was the one who told me there would be days like that day! It was a great help to just talk to familiar people and hear a friendly voice.
The next day, I got done what I needed to do in town and then sat infront of my hotel room and met a few more hikers who were procrastinating from getting on the trail. There were other hikers around who were meeting family, friends, or heading back to Damascus, VA for Trail Days. As I watched those people, I got sad and would have to retreat into my room for a quick cry! After a while, I just stayed in my room occasionally looking out my door to see if anyone I knew was coming into the hotel. No luck!
Finally, it was time for me to head back out on the trail, and I was ready to bolt. I was suppose to do only 7miles to the first shelter that day, but I was going stir crazy in the hotel room the night before and ended up with a 19mile day instead! Throughout the day, I would think of my husband and again bawl like a big old baby. Was I really going to make it all the way to Maine? In Pearisburg, my husband had told me he would not pick me up from the airport nor let me in the house if I were to return at this point. I joked that I would find my way around his not letting me in, but knew in my heart I would be way too disappointed in myself for not finishing my journey. So, here I was back on the trail a mess and crossing tons of roads hoping nobody would catch me crying. That night, I was not alone and that was a good thing for my emotional rollercoaster ride. I met some section hikers who had too much food and thus helped fill my belly and raise my spirits. That evening, I joked about rearranging my schedule to fit theirs so I could be fed every night they were out. Unfortunately, one of the guy's watch alarm went off at 5am and I was really looking forward to sleeping in the next morning. So, I took off on the trail alone the next day wondering what I would discover!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Moving right along

It has been awhile since I've posted. That is mostly because that hasn't been any major news recently, but also because I've been lazy. I have heard from Kasey via the phone a couple of times since she hit Virginia. She has backed off her mileage a little so that she doesn't overshoot the bus stop she needs to hit for her trip back to Michigan for Dana's wedding. Many of the other thru hikers deserted the trail the other week to head down to Trail Days in Damascus. Kasey decided not to go and was left a little lonely for a few days. She had been hiking with and around a pretty solid group of friends for so long this loneliness hit her as a bit of a shock. That coupled with her slower pace and I think that she started to get bored out there. After the trip to Michigan she'll be picking up my mom who plans to hike with her for up to a couple of weeks. Completing most if not all of Shenandoah National Park. Keep looking this week as I'm hoping to get some more pictures posted to the flickr site. I'll post a notice with some samples here when they are ready. Mike

Monday, May 02, 2005

New State

Well, It has been an adventure since the last post! Where was I last? Oh yeah! Erwin, TN! So, we left there in cloudy skies with a chill in the air! It got sunnier as we moved on during the day but not real warm! Good day for hiking! It was a somewhat short day since we got going a little later in the day! Also, we were trying to save ourselves for the next day when we would shoot for 22miles over Roan High Knob!

Roan High Knob is another high point along the trail! It sits at 6200ft or so! Due to the snow we waited out in Erwin, the knob was slushy and icy. It was kind of interesting, but I did it in my shorts, which means I am either real tough or real ignorant! Based on how I felt by the time I made it to Overmountain Shelter, I would say I am ignorant. I was so cold and tired all I could do was just stare at the place. Of course it did not help that we got there to find about 20people already in the barn shelter and they had put up their tents inside the shelter! We knew of about 10more people coming to the shelter that night and Montana and I had to squeeze into a spot between a couple of tents. When Pied Piper showed up, we squeezed him in as well! It was tight sleeping that night, but at least we were warm! We used Pied Piper's tarp to cover our bags and that helped hold in the heat! The shelter was neat other than the people who had to sprawl all over! The other downer of the shelter was these guys who were section hikers and decided to wake up in the morning after snoring all night and smoke first a cigarette and then some marijuana! Annoying jerks! I left rather quickly that morning!

Upon my departure from Overmountain Shelter, I had some more balds to cross. Oh that reminds me of the day before crossing out of Carver's Gap! We crossed 2 balds there and about blew away! I was walking slanted and had to make sure I had at least 3 points of contact at all times! Yes! Trekking poles are becoming my friends! It was crazy and a lot of work! Anyway, the next day as I was crossing yet a few more balds, I was passed by Montana and happened to look behind me and get scared by the big black cloud chasing me! Montana and I decided to head for Roan and get lunch while we watched the storm pass. We found information on Buck's Place just a mile off the trail! We headed there and took a 3 hour break for lunch! It was great! We then got back on the trail and hiked another 8-10miles before setting up camp!

From there, we headed into Dennis Cove Road where we planned to do our resupply and stay over night! One night turned into 2 nights due to us being afraid of a little rain! Actually, we woke up in the morning to heavy rain and decided just to rest before pushing ourselves into Damascus in 2 days! It was a nice relaxing location at the Laurel Fork Lodge where we had a cabin to ourselves. Some people I had been playing leapfrog with from the beginning moved to Laurel Fork Lodge from Kencora Hostel! It was neat to hang out and chat with them! So, it all worked out well!

The rain did not let up for the following day and we headed out anyway! Laurel Fork gorge area was really neat! We enjoyed our hiking that day! It was a bit of a change compared to everything we had seen up to that point! We are getting tired of people telling us about the trail and them being wrong in our book. Maybe us western-ers are just use to more challenging things, who knows! We did 24miles that day and thought we would have the shelter to ourselves. It ended up being 5 of us in a shelter that holds 8, so it wasn't too bad! Got cold during the evening though! Wonderful terrain as we found we had done about a 3-3.5mile pace for the day!

So, I am in Damascus, VA! Pretty exciting to be in yet another state! Not exactly as I imagined the town, but it is quaint all the same. They are preparing for Trail Days here in a week. I do not plan on returning for the celebration. It sounds like a big party with a bunch of hikers drinking! Get enough of that on the trail at certain stops as it is these days! We will see how things are going at that point though! Montana and I pushed 26miles yesterday and got into Damascus around 5pm. It was a quick day and we were not as tired as we have been on other 20mile days! Again, the terrain was conducive to the pace! Last night, we had italian for dinner and then walked all over town as though we had been in town for days! It was crazy! Looking to head out tomorrow depending on our moods. We do have another night in our little hostel location if we so desire. I think we are both ready to go though. It will be a late start and we hope to have a good breakfast first. Then we are going to slow down the pace to try not to burn out through Virginia. It is going to be a long hike, but we have enjoyed it so far!

I hope all is well along the home front. I am thinking of everyone constantly! Looking for post cards to send but nothing much here in Damascus, VA. Thank you mommy for the drops along the way! I helped feed a local guy today with the cheese crackers. Maybe Montana will send me the photo he took of me with my new townie friend. Today, I also helped a head start school put together a sand and water table. Most places allow you a work for stay type deal! The school offered me lunch but it was scarey looking food, so I kindly declined! It gave me something to do on my day off the trail! Anyway, take care all! Like I said, I think of everyone often and love everyone lots!

Of course, my thoughts are always on my husband. I hope you are doing well my love and taking good care of yourself! I look forward to when I get to see you and hug you and just plain cuddle with you! There isn't anyone out here to cuddle with...mostly because I am not THAT close with the people out here! I love you lots my beautiful beaming beacon of god light!