Music That Keeps Me Walking

Eilen Jewell “Dusty Boxcar Wall”
Eric Church “Faster Than My Angels Can Fly”
Zac Brown Band “No Hurry”
Pat Green “Carry On”
Ryan Bingham “Tell Mama I Miss Her So”
Luke Bryan “Doin’ My Thing”
Jessica Harp “Follow That Train”
The Band “The Shape I’m In”
Robert Earl Keen “I Gotta Go”
Leann Rimes “One Way Ticket”
Sugarland “Operation Working Vacation”
Mumford and Sons “Roll Away Your Stone”
Pistol Annies “Run Daddy Run”
Dierks Bentley “Up On The Ridge”
Hank Williams III “87 Southbound”

Rant and Rave

Let’s get one thing straight, there is a reason people say “hike your own hike”. I am going to let you know that this post will be completely honest. Let’s start with day hikers and weekenders. Stop judging me because I didn’t go a half mile off the A.T. to look at another fire tower. I’m hiking 2,000 plus miles. I can stop and stare at your local tower or pass it by. Your “you don’t stop to look at anything???” comment is judgmental and all wrong. I look at what I want to look at when I want to look at it, it’s my choice. Also, yes, I am female (thanks for noticing) and who cares that I am alone? Stop playing mom and telling me to be careful. I have a mom already. And, P.S. she’s amazing. While we are on the subject of these kinds of hikers, please note, right of way is always uphill. Please be courteous and step to the side.

Thru-hikers and section hikers: stop complaining about how everyone else hikes. I am tired of hearing complaints that so and so likes to run from shelter to shelter, or that anything over 20 miles is too much, or anything below 25 is unacceptable. Everyone has an opinion. Aren’t those things like your rear end anyway??? We all have ’em! What works for one thru-hikers journey won’t work for another. Someone aqua blazed? Who cares?! This person is a purist and wont miss an inch of trail? Good for them! There is no one way to hike the A.T. Therefore, enough already. Hike your own hike, and give everyone else a break with the judgements.

Rant done.


The Aqua Blaze That Wasn’t

Made it to waynesboro by hiking 21 miles in 8 hours. I got to Rockfish Gap at 3pm on the dot. Right when I said I would meet the wonderful Lynn, who with her husband George, took me in for a few days. Six degree this separation: Lynn and George are the in-laws to my friend’s brother. They were amazing trail angels and I cannot thank them enough.

So amazing in fact, they let Steps and I borrow their canoe to aqua blaze through the Shenandoah’s. Aqua blazing is taking the South River instead of hiking. Why do this? Well, I was excited about being in the water for a few days, a change of pace, a new adventure, not having to carry my food, giving my pack that is breaking a rest, trying out my new tent from my Sponsor Wiggy’s, making up lost time….so many reasons.

Things started off great, I had bought heavy duty contractor trash bags. Nothing was getting through those suckers!!! There was beer, good food, sunscreen had been applied and me with my years of experience sat in the back and was ready to lead.

Well, having not used your arms in this extent for months at a time, can really be a challenge. Also, trying to teach Steps how to canoe on the fly wasn’t probably the best idea, canoeing is hard to learn in an hour. Despite this, things were going great. Until we hit our first low spot on the river. We had to walk the canoe on some very low water. The river isn’t the cleanest ever, either. There were tires, lawn chairs and lots of other assorted trash….it was the dumping ground of Virginia, or at least, that’s what it looked like.

We went pretty quickly through the first 10 miles. Then, we hit a monster rapid. Class 2 for sure. In an attempt to avoid one rock we nailed into another huge one and the canoe tipped over. Luckily, we could stand up because the water was so low, However the boat was so full we couldn’t get back in and the current was VERY strong. We managed to tip it again and watched as some of our belongings floated down river. Steps had nailed her foot pretty hard and my shin was on fire from scraping on some rocks.

Getting the canoe to the shore took a great deal of strength and effort. We assessed the damage as quickly as possible and then Steps realized she lost her debit card…it was in a ziplock bag. Among the lost items was also our hiking shoes….my right one and her left one.

We threw everything back into the canoe and began our search for our missing items. We passed a few people and asked if they saw our items. Their response? Yeah, I saw some trash floating by. Yes, people, trash. That’s our stuff. One man informed us he drank one of our water bottles because it was unopened. So thoughtful!

Thank goodness the first thing we did find was Steps’ debit card. We never found our shoes….but after we made it to Elkton, we called it. That was enough adventure for one day. The full assessment? Trash bags don’t keep packs dry, as a matter of fact, rain does less damage on the trail to one’s pack and we are way better on or feet. Back to the trail!!!

Things Are Changing

Everywhere around me people are leaving the trail. Simply put, this scares the heck outta me. The odds are always against us. The ride to the approach trail consisted of the shuttler informing the four of us in the car that only one of us would make it the whole way.

I recently found myself at a bed and breakfast for a free hiker lunch. Sitting on the table was “Appalachian Trials” by Zach Davis. I began reading and instantly realized I was meant to sit there and read that book. He talks about the Virginia blues…or what it really is, hiking the A.T. and coming out of the honeymoon phase. For most people at this point the A.T. is no longer fun. Actually, it resembles work. Wake up at 6, pack up your house, eat breakfast, walk, snack, walk, lunch, walk, snack, walk, set up your house, dinner, bed by 9:30.

I was starting to feel like I was getting tired of that life and then the book by Davis put it all into perspective. Not sure what the reason was, but, I felt rejuvenated and at that moment I knew come hell or high water I am making it to Katahdin. feeling that way, completely changed the next two days, I was on a high and nothing stopped me. On the second day, I did 21 miles in 8 hours to meet my ride exactly at 3pm, for a rest in waynesboro. Life is good.

Life and Death Just Off the A.T.

Forwarning, this post is not for children. I know some awesome kids follow along, parents, please read first and then decide if they can read this post.

During a short stop in Daleville I witnessed a very tough event. After leaving the outfitter elated at getting a lighter, warmer sleeping bag, my friend Steps and I made our way to the grocery store. Upon arrival, we saw a car parked and a small crowd on the drivers side. A woman lay on the ground, her head was practically blue and there was foam coming out of her mouth. There was people attempting CPR while a siren could be heard from a distance. The ambulance arrived shortly and she was put into the back of the ambulance. I watched as her rigid and blue fingers disappeared behind the doors. I cannot say if the woman was dead, but she looked gone, and the whole situation felt so strange and foreign to me. I have never seen anything like that. I’ve been to many funerals, unfortunately, and she looked so similar to those I’ve seen that had passed days before. I suppose I am sharing this experience for two reasons. One, I didn’t film it, I felt as though that would be incredibly disrespectful. Two, every moment is irreplaceable. I sincerely felt the finality of mortality right then. The life and experience I am leading is a complete gift. So is yours. Tell someone you love today how much you appreciate them and really take the time to enjoy them. These are all the thoughts that crossed my mind, because you never know. Anything can happen.

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner

Randomly, I made a short day into one of the best thus far. I got to Wind Rock and this couple Happy Trout and Jungle Cat were talking about going the 5 miles to mountain lake to see it and have dinner. What is mountain lake? Only one of two naturally made lakes in Virginia that also was the location of the film Dirty Dancing!!!

We managed to get a ride in and out, which is always a matter of sheer luck. The lake was beautiful!! Strange thing, the lake is on a fault line and completely dried up in 2008. It continues to refill and dry out every year, though it has yet to get back to its full glory. It was pretty awesome to see spots from the movie and see the different memorabilia. The hotel was gorgeous, serious luxury. Best of all, though we were obviously thru-hikers, we were treated just like everyone else. The dinner though pricey, was amazing. Steak, salad, bread, asparagus, rice, beer, gourmet onion rings, coffee and dreamsicle cheesecake. Divine.

To top off the day: made it back to Wind Rock in time to catch the sunset. That’s one way to turn the Virginia Blues into a phenomenal day!