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!

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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!!!

Holt’s House Library

So you just heard about my hike…  Thanks for stopping by.   Please read my past posts, check out my progress and come back often to see how I’m doing.

Are you ready to flood Holt’s House of Hope with donations, I am.  Here is the link to donate directly to the library.

http://holtshouseofhope.com/library/

Scroll down and find the Appalachian Trail logo and my little shout out and select the yellow donate button.  Then follow the process – select the donation type, enter payment info and you are all set.

Chris and Abby will be able to track donations so I can give you updates on how close we are to our goal of raising $2,189.00

I am so excited to use my hike to provide for their needs and blessed you would consider helping me do this.

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Holt's House Donation Button

An official Zero

Everybody needs an off day sometimes!!

Yesterday I was supposed to leave and hike some more but I decided I needed a FULL day of rest. So I stayed one extra night in Hot Springs and am headed back on trail today. It’s been an amazing time here and this is such a fun little town! I’ve eaten at every restaurant in town and they are all spectacular. They next few stops in my plan are next Thursday for a night with Mr. Smith and the Thursday after that I get to see my family again after a month on trail! I’m really excited about these next two weeks I’m ready for lots of long days and lots of growth! The trail has become routine now and I’m excited everyday about the new things I’ll learn or understand everyday.

Updates since Sunday

Sunday Funday! On what should be a day of rest day we (Mush, Gandalf, Mumbles, Toasty Toes and Myself) did 20! Putting the smokies behind us and moving on towards happier trails with less ice! An 18.4 mile average through the smokies feels really good 🙂

Probably going to take it easy for a bit to make sure I don’t go too crazy. I definitely have been taking my time though. I spend almost no time in the shelters except to eat lunch and dinner and sleep. Other than that I try to stay out in the wilderness and try to soak up as much of this experience as I can.

On Monday we set off with big plans and that all changed when we spent wayyy too long at a hiker hostel for our resupply. It was fun to meet new people and just relax. For a bit. We stopped at the first shelter after the smokies for a 10.5 mile day.Planning for 23 tomorrow then a short walk into Hot Springs for a Nero and then back on trail on Thursday Morning.

Tuesday was a long 23 mile day with some snow at the end. We did Max Patch which is a super cool Bald on the trail and then took our time. I’ve been hiking with some really awesome people and I’m feeling much more comfortable on trail in this new life than I was early on.

Wednesday we walked 3 miles and were in hot springs. We’ve been her for a day now and it’s been amazing. The diner in hot springs specializes in hiker sized meals and I have been there twice and once to the local tavern for a huge burger. Showers are amazing and so are the people we are hanging out with at the hostel. The WiFi has been basically non existent but it’s been ok because I have such great company I don’t ever need my phone. I’m taking a bit of time today to myself so that I can decompress a bit. Sitting in the library using a computer is nice but it feels weird to not be on trail. Our group is waiting for a buddy to get his new shoes in the mail and if they come in today we may leave depending on the time but I’m kinda excited to maybe just take a full zero and maybe hit the actual hot springs with some friends.

You learn out here real quick that plans are never set in stone and them at you should always be ready to adapt!

Snow days

Sorry. I meant ice, not snow.

Saturday morning I woke up for no reason at about 3:30 and a buddy that I have been hiking with was also up. We decided that it was only 4.5 to Clingman’s Dome. So we quietly packed up and hiked up to the highest point on the AT for sunrise.

After that there was too much daylight to just do another 12 miles so we decided to do another 18.5 to the shelter past the one we were going to stay in originally. On the way down it was absolutely horrible. I kid you not (see pictures) it was like hiking in a frozen creek bed. There was no grip at all. So I basically slid and fell 7 miles down a mountain. If it sounds fun I can assure you that it wasn’t! Haha. In between the Dome and the shelter is Newfound Gap. This is one of the most popular spots in the park as it services some impressive views by day hike and also is the shuttle point to and from Gatlinburg for anyone on trail.

At newfound gap, my other buddy and I were the incredibly grateful recipients of some trail magic. A college guy from University of Cincinnati that completed the trail last year had decided to drive down for the day to do some trail magic. It was an amazing first trail magic experience. He brought a ton of food and we ended up taking all of it after talking for about 30 minutes. He was heading back to school and didn’t want all the leftovers. So my friend and I carried out a bag of chips, some apples, some cookies, granola, cuties, and doughnuts. I can’t even explain how amazing fresh fruit tasted.

After Newfound Gap I took my time and headed the next 10 miles to the shelter for the night.

We only have 24 miles left in the smokies and some of us are very tempted to knock it out tomorrow. Either way I’ll be in store for a great zero in Hot Springs, NC on Wednesday!!

I also added a picture of the sunset from my night hike.