I want to give a shout-out to the Windsor Park Elementary students and staff. Thank you so much for the posters you made with words of support. It was all amazing things to say and definitely helped me get over some real tough mountain climbs. All the other hikers reading them appreciated the support as well. You all are so kind and thoughtful.
4/25/21 (11.3 miles, 317.3 cumulative): My parents came to the trail to be the best trail angels!! And they brought the dogs. It was amazing. My Dad smoked a whole ham and made sammies for everyone, while my mom made her legendary banana bread. There was also chocolate milk, Gatorades, fresh fruit, brownies, cow tails, and starbursts. It was fantastic. Everyone loved it and loved my parents. The dogs, Cole and Luna, made the trip as well. They were loved by everyone. I think Cole wanted to stay with me on trail though.
Once I arrived to the shelter that afternoon, everyone was talking about how amazing the food was and that they all loved my parents for bringing the food. There were quite a few people who came up to me saying they would’ve ran out of food, if my parents hadn’t been there. So they were literally lifesavers for us through hikers. I think we all dreamed about my Mom’s banana bread and my Dad’s smoked ham sandwiches for days afterwards.
5/1/21 (11.8 miles, 386.1 cumulative): So we hit Carver’s Gap today, and began the Roan Highlands. It was flooded with day hikers. And, oh my gosh, day hikers are the worst! They take up the trail and walk sooo slow. And they don’t let me pass even when I’m stepping on their heels. Most of them didn’t say ‘hi’ or even smile at me. Barely any of them had trail dogs I could pet. They all smelled amazing. And they didn’t even offer me any free snacks! It’s like don’t you care to feed the animals at the zoo.
I guess I’m just ready to return back to the woods with the rest of the savages.
I ended up cowboy camping for the first time. Cowboy camping is sleeping under the stars in just your sleeping bag. We were camping out at an old barn that was previously used at the shelter. It was a pretty great set up, except for the 30 middle schoolers who also decided to camp there that night.
5/3/21(17 miles, 413.7 cumulative): Ended up staying at trail friend’s hostel last night. It was in the basement of his house, right on the edge of a hill with a great view of the ridge line we hiked the day before. Plus, he built the whole thing himself. It was incredible. We were his first group to stay there too since he just opened it up a couple weeks ago. I would share pictures, but I didn’t take any. So here’s their Facebook page instead.
The next day I felt amazing. My feet have been accumulating a lot of pain the last few days, but somehow they feel great. I was booking miles while catching lots of cool waterfalls and rivers. Something about genuine people providing incredible hospitality and care to us hikers that rejuvenated the body and soul to keep hiking. Maybe it was the 3 cups of coffee I had too.
Made it to the 400 mile marker today too 😁
5/4/21: (14.9 miles, 428.6 cumulative): The rain that didn’t really come yesterday, finally arrived today. It was actually pretty fun. There were a lot of slippery rock climbs along with beautiful views of waterfalls and rivers. Also, the trail is usually more open because most people try to avoid hiking in the rain.
I pushed it into Boots Off hostel to try and get new shoes. My feet have been killing me the last few days. I think I might be developing tendinitis in my right heel. But I can still hike, so no problem. The town here doesn’t have a shoe store. So I’m guess I’m pushing through to Damascus, VA for new shoes. Luckily the hike to Damascus doesn’t look too bad. I’m going to rest up here a bit before I head out.
There has been a huge norovirus bubble that I’ve been hiking through the last few days. Everyone had been warning about norovirus getting spread throughout the upcoming hostels and shelters. The group of girls I was hiking with, nearly all got it and had to stop hiking. They had taken a zero at a hostel while the boys and I kept hiking. It does not sound like a fun time. All the girls seem to be doing better now though.
Oh yea, almost forgot, I got my first COVID vaccine in Erwin, TN. One of the easiest things I’ve done on trail.