Friday, June 6, 2014

The first person to ever thru hike the AT

So, I have been doing some research and I have much to tell you all... that will begin soon after this post. In my searching though I found this very cool site about Ed Schaffer and the first thru hike on the Appalachian Trail, with pictures and tales. It even explains how he toughened his feet for the hike, who knew that trick is what I want to know? Check it out below:

http://americanhistory.si.edu/documentsgallery/exhibitions/appalachian_trail_1.html




Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 15 Asheville here I come

After barely sleeping and coughing all night (three of us coughed quite a bit actually) I was thankful to get out of the moldy Budget Inn. I seriously contemplated sleeping on the pavement last night. Oh the things you are reduced to or willing to do. If Fall wasn't so sound a sleep I might have asked him if I could sleep on his hammock outside. This room was much worse than the room we had the first night. It was filled with that stale smoke smell and the mold in the bathroom shower was no joke. I always wear my cocs in the showers at these places. Talk about jumping out of your comfort zone, I usually such a germaphobic person. So over it now. Just still careful but this trip has been great to actually help loosen me up. I am so much more laid back already. Hiking seems to show you how small you are in the world and it allows you to stop trying to control so much in your life and helps you learn to go with the flow. Or at least for me it has. It is amazing to me how much I have changed how I view things in just two weeks. I can understand now the transformation that occurs when you are out here, wish I could continue down this journey right now, but it will have to wait.

Up and said my goodbyes to Sasquatch and Admiral Caboose, I will miss them, two great guys from California. I seem to be in a group of people from Cali. I used to live there once upon a time when I was a kid and was planning a visit this year, now it looks like I will have more friends to see.

Fall and Oats wanted to come with me, so first we headed off for breakfast and some coffee, I just needed to be out of that room for a while. Felt much better once I was, so we just sat at the local McDonald's and put our feet up had some coffee and talked to other hikers. I caught up with the Godfather here and Die Hard. Also, a local who was out last night, he offerred us a place to stay and a ride if we needed one. Another kind gesture, but we were fine and going to just walk up to the Outdoor 76. At most it was only a mile, which is a skip in the park now. We also grabbed a few things from the Dollar General. I wanted something to snack on and food for the trip home tomorrow. I am getting good at saving on food by shopping here. Another change. I am a lot less picky.

We go to Outdoor 76 and I met a bunch of hikers I haven't seen in a few days. It is great to see those familiar faces. I saw Ashley and Corey and we caught up. I also saw a lot of faces from the Top of the Georgia Hostel. I can't remember all their names but it was good to see them too. We went to grab a beer while I waited for Corey  was going to drive me to Asheville to a car rental company out of his way free of charge, this is an hours drive. I LOVE LOVE this place. Please if you hike or go to Franklin, pay them a visit. While enjoying some conversation I looked and realized that Tricks and Aquaman were in the bar too. I was so happy to meet them, Tricks and I have been following and communicating via Instagram and FB. It was good to meet her before I was off trail for a bit. Then Corey came and got me and it was time to go. Fall walked me out, gave me a big hug and kiss, spun me around and we were off. Farewell Franklin it was fun!

Corey and I chatted a lot of business and personal things. The trip went fast, he is a great guy and thanks again man if you are reading this for helping me out, it was a pleasure.

I pick up my rent and on to a hotel somewhere in Asheville, I can't find a hotel I am comfortable in alone before I realize I am not on the better side of town, I quickly find one on priceline and ah.. much better. This place is like a resort compared to the Budget, just what I needed. I had a long bath and relaxed and enjoyed my cozy cushy bed and of course a coke. :)

Another great day! Life is good!



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 14 Part 2

Urgent Care said I had a infected bug bite and I was having an allergic reaction to it, so off to walk to the Pharmacy to get my Rx filled. Inside I saw Easy Day, he was talking to a gentleman who worked their and was helping him with a knee issue. He told me he thru hiked in '79 and that his daughter thru hiked last year, her name was Megandangerpants. WHAT, I said I know her, well I follow her on Insta and we have chatted a few times about the trail. He calls her and I talk to her, how funny! He was super sweet and gave us a ride back to the hotel. TRAIL MAGIC,  again! SO much magic and small acts of kindness out here.

We get to the Budget Inn, Sasquatch and Admiral Caboose have graciously allowed us to stay with them and it is time to get cleaned up to go out with the gang. It is Karoake night! WHOOP WHOOP!

Tarheel '79

Tarheel's car, he made us sit for a pic :)


Sasquatch, Peep show ( can't remember others.. sorry guys, they are hikers I just met)

Right on Sweeps!

Gulliver, Firefox and Odysseus

Fall & Oats, Tiger Djin, Tang, Muscadine, Bennett, Gator, Chuck, Sweeps, Sasquatch, Gulliver, Admiral Caboose, Me

Chuck, DQ, Sweeps, Sasquatch, Admiral Caboose, Me, Fall & Oats, TIger Djin and Tang

Tang belting out Guns and Roses and gets a standing ovation and high fives after


Gulliver, Me, Tesla and Sasquatch

Tiger Djin, throws down some Billy Idol

Chewbacca had Johnny Cash for us


20+ hikers take over the local watering hole known as Mulligans for Karoake night. Some belted their hearts out and others cheered on. This was my last night with the gang and in town. It was celebration time. I bought a round of shots for the group we toasted and headed off to Mixers for some pool and more dancing, juke box music and shenanigans. We walked our selves home, bc this is what we do best and passed out. Needless to say the bonds have been growing and I am going to miss these crazy cats. :) They all rock and I can't wait to come back and hike and do trail magic.

XO and lots of cuddle puddles!

Love,
Brave!


Day 14 Franklin Part 1

I woke up and my arms and legs were covered with a few strewn out bug bites that had been pretty itchy since being on Sassafras Mountain. However, one was more than itchy it was forming a red circle around it and it seemed to be expanding. I was almost sure that it was a biting gnat that caused it and not a tick but it was certainly inflamed. I was excited to see some of our friends coming into the Budget via Ron Haven's pick up at 9 a.m. I saw DQ, Sweeps, Odysseus, Nick ( now Gulliver), Admiral Caboose, Sasquatch, Too Long, Remedy, Gatorade & Hot spitz. I was pretty happy to see every one. I was on the phone and learning that it was going to be another day before I could get out of town and not until tomorrow evening would I even be able to get to Asheville to pick up a car to head home. It looked like I was extending my journey a little longer, I am so sad. :)

In the interim Fall and Oats found out that our room was given away after they told me the day before they don't give away rooms until people check out. Oh well, we packed up and had offers from two fellow hikers who had rooms to stay with them so we weren't too worried. I needed to get over to Outdoor 76 to talk to Corey the owner in person just to make sure I was assured a shuttle ride to Asheville. So we packed up our things, went and hit the dollar general and I got a coffee from
Mc Donalds and we walked back in town to the Outdoor 76. Wow, what a FANTASTIC place. These were the nicest people on the trail without a doubt. They were also known as the foot specialists , so I bought some new kicks because I learned that my shoes were too small and hence why all the blisters and my toe issues. This place was awesome! While fixing your feet and giving you better shoes/insoles they served up cold CRAFT Beers. They had a special room with a bar and walls for the hikers to sign, a tv and restroom and a few tables with chairs and stools, I mean honestly I had my food bag, I was set and could easily stay here happily. Overnights allowed?! Almost everyone showed up or hung out or came in to see them. At one point there were five or six of us hikers sitting around one such specialist learning all about feet, hiking and how injuries occur. Many of us found this very helpful.

Checking in to pick up a parcel and get directions around town, Corey the owner helps out

Remedy signing the wall

Osirus "O" signing the wall

Taste testing the craft beers with Too Long (formerly,Beef Jerky Pie) and Remedy




Muscadine and Tang! Muscadine was eying up this shirt yesterday, he made it his today! You know a hiker likes something when they are willing to up their pack weight with it. :)RAWR RAWR!


 The staff took a look at my bite and said I should have it looked at and before I knew it I was off to have to urgent care on a free shuttle offered by staff. This place was so kind, they gave us several free Shuttles while I was there.

Day 13

I tossed and turned and wasn't feeling great overnight, I was starting with what I could tell was going to be more than just a head cold. Most of camp was still a sleep. We slowly got up and got to breaking down camp. Fall and Oats went to grab us some water while I worked on packing up the inside of the tent, we had this team work thing down. It made life much simpler sharing the duties that otherwise when I was hiking alone would take longer. Fall ate some breakfast with the group,at the fire ring and I worked on filtering some water into my Platypus so I could add some Gatorade and for an extra punch of sugar to get me going I also added some raspberry propel, YUM. We drink so much out here, just water gets boring and you need the sugar and calories.

I told Fall and Oats I wasn't well and I would need to go back to Deep Gap, since it was my easiest way off the trail and I really needed to be getting back to Maryland and it was going to be tough enough to make arrangements from Franklin I could not be on the trail another night as much as I would like to. He volunteered to go with me and double back miles over Standing Indian to the Gap if we could find a ride. Things are never certain out there, but you just move forward and have faith things will work out or you just wing it. Not knowing if we could get a ride from Deep Gap, we knew it looked like a better choice than other places. It was just a matter if anyone would be coming today to that area on the forest service road.

I spoke to some section hikers who agreed that was my best bet since coming from the other direction. We would have had 20 to 26 miles otherwise and more than a days hike. We met up with the boy scouts we had heard about at the shelter they were also heading in that direction and said if they had room they would give us a ride. It didn't sound promising though and they didn't seem to eager to help. We started our climb almost immediately back over the 5,000 foot mountain that would take some time as it was a few miles long. When we got to Standing Indian Mountain because of a clearing and elevation I was able to get a small signal between trees. This is like those commercials "can you hear me now" that is IF the call ever goes through. Well it did and I was able to get a shuttle to come for $50. Shuttles are not cheap. When we got the gap our ride was there and so were three other hikers ready to share it with us, Tiger Djin, Tang and Muscadine. Three super nice guys also going into town and hikers. Tiger Djin is from Chicago and Tang and Muscadine are both from North Carolina. We were dropped at Ron Haven's Budget Inn, OH WHAT a place!

Last major white blaze I saw or noticed before the gap while shedding some tears of sadness to leave the trail, my friends and trail family. What an amazing time! I will be back!






Me, Muscadine and Tang enjoying our ride into town

Tang dancing with the poor mans speaker at the Budget



No words


They only had two rooms left, perfect for the five of us. We unloaded our gear and the first thing I wanted and saw was a COKE, I can't explain the joy of this when I don't normally drink soda, but on the trail there is just something so new and good about it. Very refreshing, literally is the best drink for me when coming to town. Apparently we got lucky on our room it was one of the nicer ones. It didn't have a lot of mold growing we had sheets with wholes in them but no dirt in them. YUP, now I think you are getting the idea of where the word Hikertrash comes from. We are like hobos of the trail, trying to save money because we are essentially homeless, me only for a few weeks but most thru hikers are homeless and have to make their money stretch for 4-6 months. This teaches so many things, but most of all how to appreciate everything life has to offer and yet we still come away knowing that any bad day on the trail is still better than a day in normal life. Crazy as that may sound, it is so true. You would have to try living it to understand.

Today was turning out to be another great day. I caught up with Brett and Adam who were rooming next to  for the night. Hung out with Tiger Djin, Tang and Muscadine who graciously shared beers and pizza from Vinnie's.  Doug Prime and Wild Turkey showed up too. We did laundry and relaxed as I tried to find arrangements to get home, but most of everything was closed so I was going to have to put this on hold until tomorrow. Later we were visited by Brett who dropped some more pizza to us, everyone is so gracious out here. We shared beers and music and good times and I topped the night off with sitting in Fall and Oats hammock outside my dirty hotel room with my beer and pizza and quickly fell a sleep for a bit.

Best rest spot all night, Fell a sleep right here

Monday, April 28, 2014

Day 12


Muscrat shelter to Beech Gap -We didn't go as far as I wanted to go today, but considering scouts had taken over the next shelter and our group/fam was stopping here, this was by far a better choice.



Woke up today with the realization that my journey was coming to an end and this would most likely be my last full day on the trail and that I better take it all in. I picked up a stickpic in Hiawassee, it was one of my deliveries and I could use it with a case that I had gotten for an Ipod 4 (PS: hikers there is an attachment case to use an Ipod 5 in a hiker box at the Top of Georgia Hostel in Hiawasee, take it and order a stickpic and you are set guessing most dont know what it is). So I played around with it this a.m., Fall and Oats and Gator hung out eating and talking we were the last people in camp,this doesn't usually happen but we were just taking it easy today. We had some big miles planned but our legs were feeling so strong and we seemed to be gliding the last few days despite the difficulty. Our bodies were changing and we were just really noticing that we were getting much faster.


our camp site near Muskrat shelter

I was ready and wanted to get moving down the trail so I went ahead so I could play with videoing and my stickpic attachment without Fall and Oats waiting on me. I passed a Sobo seciton hiker and just enjoyed some of the scenery. Even though our elevation was 4400, we were not on the ridge so we were somewhat without views for a bit. I finally sat on a log and waited for Fall and Oats, no sign. I went on again and down a hillside and again waited and waited. Finally he showed up, apparently he forgot his poles and had to go back for them. Off we went. It was a good day, we were both feeling pretty good. He has had a cold and I had a little bit of a sore throat but nothing bad. I was feeling strong so I was happy. We did about 6 miles when we came down to a gap and I saw a lot of cars on this old Forestry Road, trying not to get my hopes up, I told myself it was day hikers, it is a Saturday after all. I then saw a boy scouts trailer and realized that was what it was, scouts weekend. Then I saw a big circle of people waving to my right, TRAIL MAGIC. I started crying, ha.. what! I never cry, but this made me cry,it was burgers, hotdogs, beer, water, cookies and OREOS, oh and bacon too. Yes, I know I should be more excited over Bacon but I wasn't just OREOS. There were easily 20 of us here enjoying trail magic given by Breeze and Windy from the class of 2013 Thru Hikers. It was a great time, Fall and Oats had four beers, ha ha I had one. I knew I would be passed out with any more. I had a hot dog and Oreos oh what joy. Everyone was enjoying and we quickly lost track of time.







Finally about 2:30 we headed onward with much of our hiker fam. Then was the tough climb up to Standing Indian Mountain in the 5,300 feet of elevation roughly. I was climbing and climbing and was going pretty fast and didn't need to stop. We were passing hikers left and right, what was going on? REALLY?! Oreos? No, legs! Finally, I have legs. I didn't have to stop once, no breaks no rest. Went all the way up tossed our packs off at the blue blaze trail head and headed for the views and an open patch of grass! OH it was GORGEOUS. Best views yet!!! I was elated. What an amazing day again! What a life! I am most certainly in love with the trail and its people.

Fall and Oats, DQ, Sam, Sweeps and Odyseus







On top of the Bald on Standing Indian, we enjoyed comradere and hanging out! It is great fun to enjoy these moments together! Video to come. :) See below


Friday, April 25, 2014

Day 11 - my first 15

 bigger miles continue, this was a hard push but we were proud! I pushed 15 miles today, however two were off trail, OH WELL! Live and learn. :)

Woke up with the sun today and the sound of hissing brakes from tractor trailers. Wow, I don't miss any of those sounds at all. I am looking forward to getting back into the wilderness and woods. Sleep is now peaceful there to the sounds of the night. Not sounds of hustle and bustle and everyone rush, rush rushing somewhere... nowhere fast. Really, think about it. Take in every day and every moment it is all that you truly have.
Top of Georgia Hostel, in case you missed it :)



He hated these shorts but later was so happy to have them, I would sing who wears short shorts as we hiked

Halleluiah


I am up and I hear Doggle and Kimber up behind me as she is starting to whimper, this means Doggle walked off without her. She gets so upset if he leaves her, she will start to cry so everyone tries to help console her when they can. It is early a.m. though and most are still sleeping and just starting to move. I lay around a bit to wake up and then Sir Packsalot comes through camp to wake everyone. You have an hour and a1/2 before the shuttle leaves for the trail head, two hours for Hiawassee. The shuttle waits for no one be ready. Free coffee in the house! "Did he say fee coffee?" I think I only really understood that. So off to the house with all the zombies for coffee. Many took part in the big breakfast of home cooked goodies he offers here for $7, we did not. Trying to keep costs down on the trail can be hard when you want to have some good food or a nice bed. Luxuries of home and things you miss. I don't mind sleeping in my tent, I actually prefer it, although I haven't tried staying in a hostel, but imagine a room full of bunk beds you share with oh 8 or more hikers. Sound refreshing? Even if on a bed that is all those other snorers and people, I prefer the comforts of my tent and the little privacy it gives me. I am often up late and don't want to impede on others and I can listen to my music and write, read, turn on my headlamp ..etc;

My home
The bathroom (two here) is a hot commodity, running water, a couch, so many fun things... I talked with the other hikers said bye to many as my days were running short and I didn't know who I would see again until trail days or other visits to the trail. I exchanged numbers and went down to pack up. Beef Jerky Pie and crew were heading off to slack pack the next section of about 15 miles with only water and snacks so easily saving them some serious weight. This can be done for a fee at various points on the trail. They were being picked up at 10. We however needed to run to town for a resupply and hit Blueberry Patch Hostel where I had several packages waiting. It was a quick trip to town, we were given 1/2 to do what we needed and get back to the shuttle or it leaves without us. So I ran to the grocery picked up some goodies for us while Fall and Oats hit the post office to mail off some food, he was carrying way too much, making his bag heavier than necessary. My first purchase, Starbucks, my weakness I haven't had it in t weeks. I only had half before we were dropped at the trail but it was deliciousness that needed partaking in. I also grabbed some summer sausage, I have been craving this with cheese ever since Blue Mountain and rescuing those boys. I also grabbed a tall beer to hike out to camp. We were going to eat good tonight.

Dropped at the trail head about 10:30 a.m. I realized I didn't have my shoes, only my crocs so off to the  Georgia Hostel I went another extra mile for my day. I left them because he has a special place for shoes and I was trying to be sure to catch the shuttle. Oh well. The Germans were hanging out with us a good bit of the time but they started on before I got back except for Bennett and Fall and Oats. So we started up the trail at this time. I was moving very slow and the heat of the day was catching up with us now about11:20. I felt very overheated in that first few miles, miserable, must have been all the hot coffee and no real water, I knew I needed to get hydrated and cool down so I took off some layers and put some water on my bandana on my head to keep me cool and hopefully soon we would be out of the direct sun. I was burning again on my arms. I was so sluggish that Fall and Oats even ran my pack about a mile down the trail while I got water. That is until I realized the water was at the bottom of the mountain I had just climbed and I was already nursing bad blisters I didn't need to climb it all over again and gave up. There would be other water sources and so I waited it out. In the meantime Fall and Oats offered his audio book "walk in the woods" I haven't read it yet, so sure why not. It would take my mind off my tough day, bad feet and over heated just bleh feeling. It def helped and he was able to hike ahead of me. I felt bad I was very slow, so he would hike for a bit and then stop and wait and move on when I got closer or asking if I needed a break. Great friend!! It can be tough on the trail when you don't feel good or are having a bad day. He didn't have to wait but he did. Finally by mid afternoon, lots of water, cooler temps and good eats I was feeling better except for my feet. My blisters now much worse on the back of my feet literally open sores now. I kept trying to re-wrap them. We caught up to the Germans, Ashley and Corey and some other hikers at a water source. I filled up, big mistake, It was even steeper than the first water source, this just wreaked havoc on my blisters, I took my shoes off and re-wrapped them again. We were off again and took a few small snack breaks but today was a big mile day and despite my feet we were going for it. We finally hit a sign for Nantahala Forest, I yelled with excitement this call I have been doing, it is a cross between something almost Indian and Mexican sounding. It helps our groups know where we are or when I am on top of the mountain. I was stoked to be back in Nantahala, this is where I wanted to get to, this was the forest I saw last October, mind you it was the northern end, but little things like this pick your spirit up so much. I was happy and hiking harder now. Then BOOM, NORTH CAROLINA!!! Say what!!! How exciting! I hiked from GA to NC!!!

WHOAH! New state, I hiked from GA to NC! We almost walked right by it. I think I forgot to sign in again, I am so bad at that.





We were coming to a camp at Bly Gap where many our friends were staying for the night which surrounded the twisted tree.


We decided 3 more miles we have this, let's keep going, it was about 5 p.m., we could knock this out. I ate some cliff bar and started up the next series of harder mountains with the largest gain of the day. It was tough but well worth it, we went slow and steady.
 

The views at the top where phenomenal. Then on to camp. I caught up with Ryan I think he is Ghost now but not sure, he was sitting at an overlook ready to watch the sunset and then came Kylie and Millie! Yay, camp and views. Sweet! We went down to find a spot and ran into Sasquatch too! We met Gator he was our camping neighbor and DQ, Texas Jack, Sweeps, Nick, Sam and Odysseus. It was a full camp. I even met a guy from Maryland that I did an overnight with three weeks prior. We met in a Maryland Shelter when I went out with friends for a small section/overnight. What a coincidence, his name is Groundscore now. He remembers me as the girl who gave him a beer, ha, could be worse right? It def could because as I remember it Gnarly Harley was giving me trail names I wasn't fond of and thankfully he was only joking so they never stuck. SO we will leave it as yes it could be worse.

Fall and Oats was kind enough to get camp started and told me I could go back down trail to catch the sunset, most of the camp was doing the same thing. It was beautiful, check out the pics below. Some of the guys had a fire going there too. It is such a community out here even if it is our first night/day meeting, we are all out here sharing the same/similar experiences and it brings you together. After the sunset I went back to camp and we got a fire going and hung out and got to know Gator. He is super cool and had lots of stories for us about when he hiked Kilimanjaro and spent time in Africa as well as some of his concerts he recently had been too. He wasn't going to bear bag, but we ended up saying something that made him change his mind, so we all went off to find a spot to bag and I had to laugh because he came out with the largest headlamp I had ever seen. It looked like he almost had a miners cap with a headlamp attached. It was so bright. He went to throw his line and all you heard was the rock take off and he almost put it right through his tent, then the line wasn't attached to his bag or came off and you just heard boom. LOL We hung out and shared food, ate our summer sausage and he shared some goodies and we shared our beer. YUM! Soon it was time for bed. The moon was gorgeous and right over top of us. No winds, it was a nice cool night. Weather was perfect.





 Camp for the night, we set up our tent just beyond the backpack here against some Mountain Laurel, of course. Elevation 4400 feet tonight.