Monthly Archives: May 2013

Damascus, VA to Pearisburg, VA [630 miles]

damtoperaa

trail6

It is only noon and I’m already at the next shelter after hiking 10 miles. I should keep going, but I have decided to stop for the day. I miss my hiking partners, who I lost in the rain yesterday, so I decide to wait here for them.

I lay out gear to dry, sweep the floor in the shelter and organize everything in my pack.

Then I wait.

The news reaches me before they do.

“You’re Acorn? I have bad news for you. Your friends aren’t going to catch up today. Actually, they are never catching up. They left the AT today to hike the Grand Canyon instead.”

Oh.

I quickly pack my gear and do the only thing I know how to do anymore: I hike north.

It hurts.

I don’t want to believe it. I linger at a stream, rest a little longer on a log and keep looking back.

I am searching for their voices. I am searching for the jingle of dog tags on Jake’s collar as he races to catch me.

I hear only silence.

It is so loud.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to hike alone and not get attached.. But how can you hike with someone for 5 weeks and not grow attached? We share everything on the trail: food, water, laughs, dreams, good times and bad times.

I miss you guys and hope you rock the hell out of the Grand Canyon.
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I just spent the last 2 nights at Wood’s Hole Hostel. I feel renewed and ready to conquer more miles of trail. Thank you, Neville and Michael!!

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Also, thanks to all who have sent postcards, care packages, money and kind words.

It means the world to me.

I gotta run. The white blazes are calling my name.

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Categories: Virginia | 11 Comments

Fragile

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I hear screaming and quickly realize this isn’t normal.

I am near the end of the hiker parade at Trail Days and am armed with a tiny squirt gun, face paint, and a big smile. Seconds before, I was laughing and in a water gun fight with an 8 year old boy, who was waiting on the sidewalk.

The screams are chilling. I spin around in time to see a dented old Cadillac plowing through the hikers. I’m confused.. Is this a joke? Hikers hit the car and are tossed aside. It keeps coming. I leap out of the way and stand paralyzed on the side of the road. The car stops a few yards away and I watch as hikers lift the car up to free a trapped hiker.

Paramedics are already attending to the injured within seconds of the accident. Thank goodness.

I rush into my friend’s arms. Keep me safe. Don’t let go. Life is so fragile.

I am back on the trail already. Today, I glanced at the faded Trail Days bracelet on my wrist. And I thanked the universe that I wasn’t also wearing a hospital ID band as well.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Day in the Life of a Thru-Hiker

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This is what my life is like on the AT:

 

  • Wake up
  • Wish you could go back to sleep
  • Roll out of hammock. Brush teeth. Change into smelly hiking outfit. Splash water on face
  • Pack hammock, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad
  • Eat a healthy breakfast of tortillas smeared with peanut butter and Little Debbie snacks
  • “Camel up” with water at stream
  • Glance at map
  • Hike 5 miles
  • Eat Lunch
  • Hike 10 more miles
  • Take stupid pictures
  • High-five a hiker
  • Carry a conversation with a squirrel
  • Arrive at shelter around 5
  • Collect and sterilize water. Inspect feet. Send SPOT GPS Map update
  • Cook pasta for dinner. Glance at food pack. Consider eating everything in there. Try to control yourself since you still have 3 days before the next town
  • Set up hammock and sleeping bag
  • Sign shelter book. Use cute acorn stamp. Read messages from other hikers who have already been here
  • Chat with smelly hikers. Compare gear. Compare injuries. Discuss weather. Look at the AT guide for upcoming day’s terrain. Ponder how many miles you can hike tomorrow
  • Brush teeth. Try to clean filth off body with a tiny baby wipe. Realize you will always be filthy. Give up
  • Crawl into hammock. Pass out. Dream of walking. Dream of Maine. Dream of finishing. Dream of doing this forever
  • Wake up. Was that a bear????
  • Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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I hit a major milestone recently. I have hiked 500 miles!! I’m still in a stage of disbelief that I’ve hiked so far without any issues or injuries. To tell you the truth, I spent all winter in a stage of constant worry — Now, I’m beginning to realize that worrying is a huge waste of brain power. Center your power on the present day.
(and before you leave mean comments, I didn’t tag the shelter. And it’s chalk)

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I’ve spent the last few days doing a work-for-stay with a few other hikers at a farm/camp in the Virginia mountains. This was exactly what I needed to renew my commitment to this hike. And my love for this amazing miracle called life.

I’ll be enjoying a festival called Trail Days this weekend– I can’t help but feel slightly guilty for not “making miles,” but what is that saying again?

Oh, right…

“Last one to Katahdin wins.”

Categories: Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Erwin, TN to Damascus, VA [467 miles]

erwintodama

trail5

After 35 days of hiking and 464 miles, I spot a sign along the trail.

Is this what I think it is?…

I try to restrain myself until I can see the letters carved into the wood.
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V-I-R-G-I-N-I-A

I stand there in the rain in complete disbelief.

Then, I lose it.

On Sunday, I hiked a marathon day (26 miles) into the longest state of the whole trail. Virginia owns a whopping 544 miles of trail.

Yep, This might take awhile. And I might need some audiobooks and a new pair of shoes.

The stats so far:
States: 4 (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia)
Miles: 467
Showers: 7
Blisters: 4 (healed)
Bears: 0
Nero: 2 (nearly zero milers)
Zero: 3 (zero milers)
Gear updates: 1 (ditched water bladder for bottles)

I have:

-Slept in a barn

-Had mice chew holes in my gear

-Found morel mushrooms

-Watched a hiker cook a pork tenderloin on his first day out of town

-Carried 12 donuts into the woods for other hikers

-Peed standing up and shot snot rockets

-Developed sandpaper skin

-Tried to bathe under waterfalls

-Eaten a sick amount of junk food

-Gotten sick of the people who plan their miles like a military invasion

-Tried a 680 calorie honey bun

-Been a victim of credit card fraud

-Gotten “lost” (the path changes, but nobody bothers to cover up the old blazes. Didn’t really want to bushwhack, but I blindly follow blazes… even if it looks ridiculous.)

-Hiked too many miles in the rain

-Questioned my sanity

-Loved every moment (mostly)

It’s been a little over a month and I am still loving the trail. Although.. It feels like time is flying past and I am just clinging to these moments.

I have met new hikers and said “goodbye” to others.

Time flies. I need to be thankful for my time here. It’s precious.

Laugh more. Worry less. Take more pictures.

PS: Thanks Tina, for the awesome care package! The dried mangoes really helped my morale on a rainy day.

Here are a bunch of random pictures from the last week:

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The AT is moments of fun separated by very long walks.

Categories: Tennessee, Virginia | 7 Comments

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