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Day 65 – mile 987.6 to Blackburn AT Center

Today was a very crazy cool AT day. We got up early again to beat the heat since we had a lot of small but challenging climbs to do in The Roller Coaster. Things started off fine and we got through about 5 miles of it by 9:30 or so. We then unexpectedly hit some trail magic at a little dirt road.


Trail angels

These folks were awesome. They made us hot dogs and hamburgers for breakfast. Score! The lady in the picture, Trail Mamma – her husband did a thru-hike in 2012 and they drove 9 hours from their home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, just to do some trail magic this year. Wow… To make it even cooler, years ago her husband was in a serious car accident and broke his neck and the doctors said he either wouldn’t live or would be a quadriplegic. He recovered and went on to not only walk, but to do his thru-hike. So cool. Then not only did they make us food, but they “slack packed” our backpacks about 6 miles up the trail to the Bears Den Hostel. So we got to hike those 6 miles of the Coaster without a backpack. It felt like we were flying. Continue reading

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hi y’all! We finished the Smokies a few days ago and we are both feeling pretty good right now. Going into the Park, we knew that it would be a tough challenge. Leaving the Park, I feel like we rocked it.

Overall, the Park should be on everyone’s “must visit” list. The vistas are gorgeous and accessible. And, the variety of trees, plants, and wildlife is pretty incredible. The spring wildflowers are in full bloom. There are mini irises, Jacob’s Ladders, wild bleeding hearts, violets, buttercups and more. We hiked through dark pine forests and light airy meadows, just greening deciduous areas and the ever-present rhododendron tunnel. We saw some huge wild deer and everyday we scattered hundreds of baby grasshoppers as we walked the trail. No bears though!

The only downside to the AT in GSMNP is that the trails are pretty chewed up from overuse and the occasional horse.

The most surprising (pleasant) part of the Park for me was the mandatory shelter overnights. Since Joel and I haven’t spent any time in shelters, we haven’t had a chance to socialize with many people at the end if the day. In the Smokies, we got loads of socialization which was pretty cool. We met lots of other hikers (section hikers, weekend hikers, and of course thrus). Everyone has a story to tell and it was a great way to pass a few cold evening hours. The other cool thing about the shelters is that they all have stone fireplaces. Most nights an enterprising older gentleman ( of which there were always a few) started a fire to get the shelters a bit warmer.

We had great sunny weather and blew through the Park in 4 days. I think this area of the world would be high on my list to re-visit at some point. Dayna–someday we should plan a rafting trip down here. I think you would love it.

I still haven’t taken a lot of pictures mostly because I keep my phone in my pack. However, today in Hot Springs, I remedied that situation by buying an “almost” fanny-pack. It is as close to a fanny-pack as I will ever let my diva-princess self get.

As for our mental state, I think it is safe to say we are both feeling strong and ready to hit Virginia.

Thank you to everyone who had been praying for us and rooting for us. It keeps us going during those tough moments. And, keep the blog comments coming. They give us something to chat about during the many trail hours we log.

Georgia on my Mind

Hi everyone!

I’m sorry I’m not as dedicated as Joel at updating the AT Blog. Instead I thought I’d post capsule updates as things occur to me. Since we just crossed the state line from Georgia to North Carolina, now seems like a good time.

Amicalola State Park lost power, so there was some negative foreboding on our first night. It was cold and gusty, but my dad built a fire in the awesome stone fireplace and we kept up good spirits.


The foreboding didn’t last long. We had a great first day and night. And the 6 days we spent in Georgia were pretty great.

Georgia was tougher than I expected. The elevation changes are much
more difficult than Pennsylvania. But, the scenery certainly made up for the tired legs. There were a lot of soft trails with big pine trees and gentle streams. As well as the all too often chute right up the side of a mountain.

I’ve always thought of myself as coming from the mountains, but Georgia really has mountains. And they go in as far as the eye can see.

Most importantly after a brutal winter in the northeast, Georgia showed so much life just ready to pop. We saw some flora not typical of the northeast (I’m sure my mom will correct me if I’m wrong). Lots of trillium–the only picture I’ve taken.