Bittersweet Update

Sorry for going dark for the last two weeks. A lot has changed in the time since I last posted and I hope that I can bring you up to speed on everything in this post.

I’ll get the bitter part out of the way first. Shortly after getting back on trail, I developed a hip injury and was forced to come back to Atlanta and put this dream of mine on hold for the foreseeable future. In short, the injury is know as bursitis and is an overuse injury. What likely happened is that I injured my hip before coming off of trail in June for the weddings and then when I got back on trail it got extremely aggravated by the extreme increase in activity. Right now I am on a few supplements, am seeing an awesome chiropractor and am doing my best to stretch and do light activity but nothing like what I need to be able to do on trail.

Now for the fun stuff.

I walked 1156.4 miles. I spent almost exactly 3 months In the woods, I walked farther than I ever thought possible. I discovered things about myself that I never thought I would. I learned what it means to lean into things that you are passionate about regardless of how hard it is. I grew more than I know how to put it into words and it wouldn’t have been possible without this trail. I am so blessed to have had this time to focus on chasing this dream.

I can’t even begin to thank everyone on here that has read along with me and supported me. I am so glad that I got to share this journey with so many amazing people.

I want to give you a final update on Holt’s House and the incredible resources that we were able to help provide to that amazing ministry. When I started this journey I was hoping to raise $1 for every mile I was planning on walking. Over all we have now raised more than $3,000 dollars, far surpassing my wildest dreams. Every single person that donated played a vital role in this success. As a result of everyone’s generosity, Chris and Abby have been able to purchase hundreds of books and a few laptops with software for English class for a few of the boys. Again, I want to say thank you to everyone for making this possible.

Final thoughts:

No, I didn’t make it to Katahdin. Yes, I accomplished more than I ever thought I would. I am so proud of myself for everything I accomplished and I can’t wait to keep chasing this dream over the years as I have time.

Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat.

Holt’s House of Hope Update!!

In the first half of my hike I set out to raise funds for Holt’s House of Hope – Please see that page of my blog for more information.  My goal was to raise at least $2,189.00 or the same number of dollars for miles I would walk.  It’s so humbling and exciting to say that in the first half of my hike all of you out there made it possible for me to raise $3,234.78.  Isn’t that incredible and amazing.  It was so much greater than anything I had hoped for.  This has allowed Holt’s House to purchase so much on their wish list.  If you recall, here’s what they wished for…

“A learning center that would provide access to learning materials, books, technology resources, language learning software, and other opportunities that do not currently exist in this area. Needs in this area include adding hopefully 2 laptops to the learning center (approx. $400 each), purchasing books from their Amazon wish list (ranging from approx. $5 to $20 each), as well as Rosetta Stone language software (approx $150 each).”

Well they were able to purchase a Rosetta Stone immediately and use that on an office table for the boys to start using.  When more donations came in they were able to purchase the laptops and start ordering books.  Then they were able to purchase tables, chairs and stools.  Yesterday the learning center opened!!!  I am just blown away that you made this possible.  It is also so like God to help motivate me towards my goal by having the Holt’s House Update come out yesterday, my last day before starting my 2nd half of the trail.  And today I’m able to tell you, my first day back on the trail.

Here is the update and the pictures!!

Holt's House 1

This is the original Rosetta Stone ordered and the picture I got by text in May.

Holt's House 2

This was the staff starting to learn a few days ago before the actual library opened.

And NOW… Here’s the Learning Library open for business as of yesterday!!!

Holt's House 3

And a few more pictures because it’s so exciting.

Holt's House 6Holt's House 7

Here is the link to the Facebook post if you want to see it or comment on the post directly.  And please feel free to share the post so others can learn about Holt’s House too!  https://www.facebook.com/1935817403310609/posts/2543128565912820/

Your faith and giving made this possible.  I am just so grateful!  Thank you so very much!!

I’m Back to “I’ll Be Back In 5…”

I am back on trail as of today!!  I’m starting in Carlisle, PA and heading north as fast as I can walk with Mt. Katahdin in my sights – not literally – but that’s where I am headed.  Please see all the details on “My Progress” page of my wonderful and adventure filled time off the trail May 27th until today.  I ask for your prayers as I head north.  I have 1,060 miles to go and the entire way until I am within 100 miles of the finish will be without visitors or interruptions.  That’s way different than how I hiked the first half of the trail.    I’m excited to start again and blog more.  I am going to post about Holt’s House in just a minute so stand by…

Rain in MD

When it rains, it never stops raining.

Yesterday I walked 25 miles and roughly 20 of those miles were in the pouring rain. It’s really pretty much the worst and it just makes everything soaked, like the take a long shower with clothes on kind of soaked. On a cool note I did see the original al Washington Monument! Other than lots of rain, Maryland doesn’t have a whole lot to offer, no great views, and mainly just rocky, ridge walking. On to PA today!

Halfway

Halfway there!!

What an amazing journey it’s been so far, I’m in awe of the things I’ve seen, the people I’ve met and the growth I’ve witnessed in my own life over the past 2.5 months. There is almost nothing that I regret about the first half of the trail except my attitude towards Virginia. The only other thing I would change is how much I blogged. I realize that I was not very good at it and I’m gonna work on that!

In the next few weeks, I will see 4 states as I move from WV to Maryland to Pennsylvania. I’ll be updating much more frequently and here are some things I recently did and a few things I will be looking forward to:

1. I hit the 1000 mile mark

2. I finished VA.

3. I finished WV.

4. I saw Washington DC for the first time ever, in the pouring rain, and with some amazing company.

5. I will finish MD either tomorrow or the next day.

6. I get to see my mom in a few weeks when I am somewhere in Northern PA. She is meeting me for a few days and I am so excited.

7. I’ll finish PA and NJ

8. I’ll come off trail for about 12 days to attend 2 separate weddings and see a bunch of family and friends in Atlanta and Virginia.

9. After the weddings will be roughly a month and a few weeks of no support. It will be a long test for me but at the end of it I’ll be in ME and I will get to finish this amazing journey the same way I started it, with my dad!

10. I like round numbers so this is just here to remind everyone of how incredible your support is and I can’t wait to share the top half of this trail with you.

Until next time!

Safest Sign on Trail

A quick update, this is a sign I saw about 3 days after posting this picture. The crown has been past to these three signs.

For some hilarious reason the AT signs in this part of Virginia have become more and more secure. This one is absolutely the most secure. You mind as well pull the whole post out of the ground.

It has a total of 22 nails holding it to the wood. If that isn’t overkill I don’t know what is.

This is going to be stereotypical but I would bet any amount of money that this sign was put up by the same kind of guy that when he has finished wrapping a Christmas Christmas present decides that it isn’t secure enough so he adds another piece of tape, and another, and another, till he realizes that he has used the whole role of tape on accident.

The VA Triple Crown

So I wanted to share a pretty cool thing that I just got to do this past week! There are 3 famous views in Virginia, they are referred to as the Triple Crown of Virginia.

From South to North, they are:

Dragon’s Tooth

Mcafee Knob

Tinker Cliffs

These vistas can all be accessed in one day but due to the amount of time I spent on Mcafee Knob I wasn’t able to get to Tinker Cliffs until the morning!

It sure was an awesome day and I got to hold with a new friend I made named Sharkbait (ooh ha ha).

Am I almost done with Virginia?

No. I’m not even close.😂

This past week has been full of new adventures, from shuttles to torrential downpours. Virginia has already proven that it’s going to be the toughest state mentally by far. Something about more than 500 miles in one state is just extremely disheartening. It’s hard to feel like I’m gaining any ground because I still have so much more of Virginia left, and I’ve only been here for a week. Terrain-wise Virginia has been very nice. Most of the trail in Virginia is on top of the ridge, this means that there aren’t many big climbs anymore which is really nice but at the same time there is hardly any water. The shelters are usually the best bet for water. So far I’ve also seen the most section hikers on trail so far in Virginia.

Trail life is honestly really fun and my day usually consists of waking up when it gets too bright to sleep. Then I eat a small breakfast usually oatmeal or a power bar or some morning just some candy. After I break down camp and get back on trail I usually don’t stop again till I’ve done about 8 miles. Then I’ll have a snack and fill up my water bottle if there is a source where I stopped. Most days I listen to a lot of music and a little bit of an audiobook and then there are plenty of times that I just walk with nothing on, it’s nice to fully escape from the real world for a bit.

I was talking to my roommate back at home and we both agreed that becoming slightly introverted isn’t the worst thing in the world!

This past week I’ve stayed in two different hostels, Woods Hole Hostel and Holy Family Hostel.

Woods Hole was incredibly fun and just an altogether different experience. The owners of Woods Hole have put a ton of work into updating the facilities at the hostel while still maintaining the incredible quirky atmosphere and the eclectic style that they are known for. Most nights at Woods Hole there is a family style dinner which everyone is invited to. It is such amazing homemade food and everyone just hangs out and eats for like an hour and a half. Woods Hole is where I waited out the absolute deluge that hit us on Sunday night. It’s also where I woke up on Monday and looked out the window to see that it was dumping snow. The weather sure has been weird this year.

After my stay at Woods Hole, I made it to Pearisburg to pick up a food resupply and that is when I stayed at the Holy Family Hostel. At most of these places there is a staff that works there. This hostel is donation based and doesn’t have a staff other than a church member that takes care of the facilities. So yesterday I actually helped them fix the hot water heater and in return I didn’t have to give a donation. The hot shower was worth the work!

Now it is on to Daleville!

It’s Been a Minute!

Hey everyone!! Sorry it’s been a while!

Since March 23 I have finished my 3rd State, started my 4th, stayed at a few hostels and made some really incredible friends.

I want to go ahead and thank everyone that has been involved in helping me raise funds for Holt’s House of Hope. It’s such an amazing ministry and it’s incredible that we are able to assist them in such an awesome new part of their community.

The amount of support that I have received on this journey has far surpassed anything I expected and I am beyond grateful for everyone walking in this journey with me so far!

Instead of trying to write a really long blog post I am just going to promise that I will post more often from now on! For the past two weeks, I will just post a ton of pictures and tell you a few cool things!

-About 3 days before Easter I got off trail and was treated to some incredible views, incredible food and absolutely amazing company when the Smith’s hosted me. It was such an amazing two days and I pretty much fell in love with that section of the trail. It was some of the best views, the most incredible weather and just all around an amazing few days of hiking and spending time with friends!

-About a week ago I was walking on trail in Tennessee and a small brown dog started following me. I thought this was pretty funny and the dog had a collar and seemed pretty well behaved. So this turned from something cool into something pretty frustrating because the dog absolutely refused to stop following me. He ended up hiking with me for about 13 miles and seemed like he had no intentions of leaving my side. So at this point my two options were, leave the dog or find it’s owner. Obviously I decided to find its owner but this proved much more difficult than I expected. All I had was the phone number on his collar and absolutely no cell service. So to fix this I had to walk 4 miles off trail down a mountain road till a guy on his way to work offered me a ride and to pay for my lunch. He then took me to Bobs Dairyland and I made a call and found the dog’s owner, the next part of this journey was trying to get back to trail! After all of the commotion this dog and I caused at Bob’s Dairyland, one of the customers offered to take me back to the trail after picking up her husband from a section hike he was on. So after all of that I had walked about 27 miles on trail and about 5 miles off trail. It was a long day and I definitely slept really well that night!

-Lastly, this past weekend, I was treated to 2 days in a hotel and a slack pack day with a ton of ponies when my family came up to Atkins, Va. It ended up snowing the days that I was off trail so it worked perfectly. Spending time with them was the absolute best thing for me and it has definitely helped me mentally prepare for the next 500 miles in Virginia. The next thing to look forward to is a night with Gigee when she drives up to Maine in about 2 weeks.

Alright! That about does it for my updates about the last few weeks!! I will try to blog a bunch here in the next few!

It’s Been A Month – Stats for March

Thank you to everyone who has donated to Holt’s House.  I will get to see the list of donors this week and start making my thank you videos.  If you are new to my blog and reading this for the first time, check out my Holt’s House tab and learn all about this great place and why I am walking to fund their learning center.  If you donate, I will make you a personal thank you video while I am walking on the trail so you can share in my journey!

Day 32 – 3-31  Today marks the end of another month on the trail.  The end of my first full month on the trail.  I have been out 32 total days and covered 400 miles.  Seems like a huge accomplishment already.  So here’s some stats for my hike so far…

Nights in a tent = 11

Nights in a shelter = 11

Nights in a hostel = 6

Nights in a house = 4 (Thanks Nana and Mr. Smith)

Days hiking in rain = 6

Days hiking in snow = 10

20+ mile days = 6

30+ mile days = 0

Zero days = 3

Showers taken = 13

Bears seen = 0 – and let’s keep is that way!

Total miles on trail = 400!

Grid February and March

And here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come…

Monday night – sleeping at mile 450

Tuesday – completing my 2nd and 3rd states.  North Carolina and Tennessee make up 384.7 miles of the AT.  I will be done and walk across the state line and into Virginia.  Together with a sliver of West Virginia, Virginia spans 554.1 miles, the longest state on the trail.  It is a state without severe elevations changes like what I have been hiking in.  This makes hiking bigger miles and covering more ground possible.

Thursday – My Mom, Dad, and sister, Skyler, are coming to visit me.  I will still hike Thursday and Friday but get to stay in a hotel and see them.  I am hoping that while they are here and I take Saturday off, I can update my days on trail, tell you about some fun adventures and share some great pictures.

Thank you for all the support!!!