Hiked the Appalachian Trail, check


Hello All, 

We are here in beautiful New Hampshire and I’ve just finished all the long 2189+ miles of the AT. I am overjoyed by the hard distance we have walked and very relieved that I didn’t hurt myself on the way. We are excited to continue on through Maine to finish the trail to Mt. Katahdin, about another 300 miles. 

It’s been a wonderful journey in many ways. I am continually amazed that everyday people like us from all over the globe are exploring our vast country on foot in many different ways. We have experienced nature in all its cold/heat fluctuations, bugs-in-the-eyes frustrations, and the forever tripfull roots and rocks that are the norm on the trail. 
And we got to kiss that rock that broke her kneecap last year a very fitting FU farewell. Very satisfying to hike beyond that stupid rock. The White Mountains are hard and gorgeous, and these rocks could take us down, but the views have been amazing. 

I really love it out here.  We are immersed in a mostly green tunnel with splendid unexpected colors of every spectrum. 

Hey all, Iron Maiden here. (We met 3 AT goddesses on the trail and they told me to forsake my new trail name in favor of the old- how could I refuse?)

IPA sets a high bar, both in blog posts and in hiking- but I will do my utmost to match him!

We were both excited when we completed the Southern leg of our journey- it was incredibly satisfying to hike up towards the very first white blaze we saw over a year ago. The last day in Virginia I did my first night hike, cowboy camped on a mountain top, and woke up to a stunning sunrise that photos and descriptions won’t ever do justice to.


We were fortunate enough to get to visit some of my dearest friends who reside in Virginia before we made our way up to NH. Thank you all for the love, good food, good rest, and great company!

Along with the trepidation I had about re-visiting my rock came the overwhelming excitement to be back in the White Mountains. The terrain is treacherous, the weather unpredictable, and the views spectacular. We have had phenomenally great weather and have been able to appreciate the views from nearly every mountain top we’ve summited.


And, just in case you missed it, IPA completed the entire Appalachian Trail! 


Not only has he walked the entire AT, but he is going to keep hiking north with me as I aim to finish at Katahdin! We can’t wait to tackle some of the toughest miles the trail has to offer, and to enjoy the wilderness and majesty that makes Maine so renowned. 

Thank you all for the love, support, and words of encouragement. It’s amazing to be here and we aren’t taking it for granted.

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Return of the Hike: Appalachian Trail Part Deux

Hello All,

Iron Maiden now Wounded Knee here, checking in after an exceptionally long hiatus, both from blogging and hiking. As a short re-cap, IPA and I had hiked into the majestic and strenuous White Mountains of New Hampshire late summer last year. Just a few days before tackling Mount Washington “a big boulder jumped up and bit my knee” as IPA says. To be more specific, I managed to slip and fall on my knee and in doing so I fractured as well as dislocated my right patella. Luckily IPA was cool, calm, and collected and was able to put my knee cap back in place. We slowly made our way to one of the huts where the “croo” was extremely accommodating and let me rest, use frozen vegetables to ice my knee (which I idly daydreamed about consuming once they thawed), and then spend the night there. A trail friend Hoff also had a bum knee, so the next day we participated in the First Annual Hicker Hiker Hobble 5 Miler down the mountain. It was a humbling experience. I was overwhelmed with support that final day.  I had trail friends and hikers I’d never met offer help or first aid, the croo offered to hike my gear out and ship it to me, and a family friend picked us up off the trail and delivered us to family in Pennsylvania. As much as I was mourning the end of my thru hike, I was proud to be able to (gingerly) hike off the trail the following day with my pack on. I couldn’t have done it without IPA, or the support I received from everyone we encountered. The trail community and the families and friends who support our hiking journeys made it worth it, it was a good reminder of how much I can take for granted.

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Just prior to the First Annual Hicker Hiker Hobble 5 Miler. Hoff and I sport our snazzy knee braces before the festivities begin.

Perhaps the best news is, the trail is still here! On May 10th IPA and I started hiking from Amicalola Falls in Georgia and began the AT again from the Southern terminus at Springer Mountain. As of now our goal is to complete the 1,200 miles of so of the trail that I didn’t hike last year.

Once again it has been such a privilege and amazing experience to be back on the trail. I can not recommend hiking in Georgia in the spring enough. Everything you encounter is bursting with life, verdant foliage surrounds you and the variety of flowers is astounding. We have founds all manner of fascinating insects that we had not encountered before, and being able to take in the minute creatures of the trail is something I would never have expected to enjoy so much. While we have glimpsed some of the larger residents of the forests, the sheer multitude of creatures keeps us occupied.

Lately we have been traveling along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, and at any given time could be in either state or traipsing along in both. We had amazing weather (mostly!) in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and did manage to catch a few glimpses of black bears! The rain we did receive did give us the opportunity to see how the park earned its name, and I found the clouds moving up and amongst the pine trees to be one of the most breathtaking views we have seen. We have also been able to climb to the summit of a few balds (mountain tops with little or no trees, either naturally or from past farming/cattle lands that had been cleared)- and to have a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains beyond the tall grasses and wildflowers is also stunning.

I think the biggest difference in our hike thus far compared to last year is the socializing and downtime. When we hopped on the trail last year most of the other hikers had 800 miles under their belts and were lean, unclean, hiking machines. This year we were able to ease back into our hiking rhythm along with others who were going through the same growing pains. Seeing familiar faces and developing friendships with the other hikers has been an unexpected bonus to starting at Springer. Without the pressure of trying to complete the entire trail in a year we have been more willing to take time off to attend toga parties, take zero days, and experience the small towns along the trail. In Nantahala we took a ducky ride down the river in Class II and III rapids. In Gatlinburg we ogled the multitude of tourists, and tried quite a few free samples of moonshine (guess where the toga party happened!).  In Hot Springs we soaked in the hot mineral water (not actually in a spring though, so that was a bit of a surprise).  We have been keeping our eyes open for other side trips and have taken the time to enjoy the small towns we are lucky enough to visit on the trail.

As of now we are over 300 miles in to our current journey, and I am incredibly glad to be back on the trail. Once again it has been better than I can describe, and we’re excited for what is to come!

Hello Everyone,  IPA here.

As Wounded Knee has described, we are very excited about being back on the trail again this year. It is a workout everyday as we hike up and down, then up again and down again (seemingly ad infinitum) over these beautiful mountains. It feels wonderful knowing that we’re getting in the best shape of our lives as we marvel at the stunning foliage in every shade of green that exists. Most of the time we are walking through green tunnels of lush forests following the well trodden path of the Appalachian Trail. Sometimes the forests will open up giving us views of mountain streams, quiet meadows or rounded mountaintops gradually fading in the distance. It is truly incredible and hard to convey what we’re going through with words and a few of our iphone pics. I encourage everyone with a little time and patience to come out and try it for a few weeks.

Our journey this year should take us about four months or so. It is very nice this year to have a more relaxed pace and not have to worry so much about doing so many miles each day since we have over a thousand miles already done. I’m looking forward to seeing New Hampshire again and strolling the White Mountains. I’m sure we will give that one boulder (that bit Iron Maiden’s knee) a good kicking when we see it. Also looking forward to hiking through Maine again, so remote and rugged and beautiful.

Here’s a few pics from Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Enjoy!

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I love the trail shots!

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One of the many eft’s we see on rainy days.

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All kinds of flowers distract our attentions everyday. It’s really tough being a hiker our here.

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Sporting her new hiking dress.

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If you try and look around the forest while walking, you will usually trip. We stare at the ground way too much out here!

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I love the fallen trees and how their roots get to be on display. Quite impressive.

Sweet Summer Soreness and Striking Scenery

I.P.A. 

Hello All,

We finally dragged ourselves into Scoville Memorial Library, apparently the oldest library in the U.S. here in Salisbury, Connecticut, established in 1803.  We are doing well here on our 69th day since we started the trail on May 16th, 2015. We’ve hiked over 690 miles now, almost a third of the mileage on these wonderful and mystic mountains.

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It’s been quite an experience out here on the trail, the longest camping experience I’ve ever had. Though it is a bit strange to wake up sore every morning for over two months straight. The feet and legs take a pounding every day in this forced but of course voluntary daily workout. We are not trying to push too many miles per day though, knowing we are subject to the fitness of our bodies. A daily average lately has been 10 – 15 miles per day and we are glad we haven’t hurt ourselves as of yet.

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We’ve strolled (panting and sweating like pigs sometimes) through several states since we updated last; left beautiful Virginia, through West Virginia, Maryland, a very rocky Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. We’ll be walking into Massachusetts later today. Each state has it’s charms and difficulties; seeing all the small towns that I would have otherwise just driven right by has been rewarding. Lots of quaint little houses, businesses and taverns with cold refreshments (“What’s the best I.P.A. you have?) With beautiful rivers and bridges, views of many historical sites from past conflicts among rolling mountains, rustic railroad tracks and old paths people have been traversing for hundreds of years, the trail has shown me a rare part of America that is valuable for me.

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This trip is also bringing back my faith in humanity as we are meeting many kind people who usually want to help us in some way, seeing the heavy packs on our back. Whether offering us drinks or snacks, ready to offer us a ride into town if needed, or advise on what to expect up ahead on the trail, the people out here have been amazing. Out here, you try and look everyone you pass in the eyes and say hello. Quite different than the way we all act passing each other on a busy city street, looking downward and indifferent.

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We are adapting well to trail life with it’s little routines. Wake up early with the birds and sunrise, pack up the hammocks and gear, hike and snack (gorge) most of the day, swat the endless plague of mosquitoes and gnats (some of these gnats are true kamikaze sadists — aiming straight for the eyeballs while you are precariously trying to balance yourself on wet, slippery rocks, hands preoccupied on trekking poles going downhill !!), admire the raw nature of the woods and fields we cross, filter water from the many streams we cross, find a place to camp for the night, cook our simple meals (again, gorge) and asleep usually by soon after darkness. We’ve had some cold nights and hot days but mostly the weather has been very pleasant – part of our strategy of picking this time of year. It is an experience I would advise most everyone should take in their lives. Gets you away from the modern difficulties of materialism and endless comforts we all take for granted.

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I look forward to the upcoming challenges of the Green and White mountains of New Hampshire and Maine – some true elevations for the Appalachia! We miss and love you all. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

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Iron Maiden

Hey everyone,

I would apologize for the lack of updates- except that I think part of the experience that I have most enjoyed has been the added separation from technology. While I try to post some quick photos or updates on Facebook, I think that being able to be away from all of the glow-boxes (phones, computers, televisions…) has given me a greater appreciation for the beauty and pleasures the trail has to offer. Stepping away from the veritable onslaught of advertisements, news, and propaganda has let me re-discover the joy of just being. Every day offers us stunning views, hilarious antics of chipmunks or other woodland residents (including my wonderful hiking companion), and the chance to appreciate cool drinks from mountain springs and refreshing breezes. Living so simply has given me the opportunity to reflect on what is really necessary in day to day life, and to appreciate how much I have. This includes all of you and all of the love and support that we have received, so thank you!

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I think IPA did an excellent job of describing our experiences thus far. The trail has been challenging, but all together wonderful and rewarding. A trail angel recently asked what our favorite part of the trail has been so far, and my immediate reaction was to say the people. We have met genuinely kind and caring individuals- as well as inspiring ones. Encountering such positive and strong people is a good reminder of how to act, and how lucky I am to meet them. I also have to say that my appreciation and respect for my hiking companion (Incredibly Patient Associate) has increased as our mileage has. I feel incredibly grateful to have such a patient and good natured companion to hike with.

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To be punny- the trail has it’s ups and downs. For every buggy day where we are fishing gnats from our eyes or desperately trying to wipe away the never ending stream of perspiration there are trail angels who are leaving water along dry sections of trail, or the pleasant surprise of a hiker friendly cafe where we can indulge in beer and bar snacks. We are keeping pace with some of the other thru-hikers and it is a pleasure to see familiar faces along the trail and to share conversations and meals.

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The first couple of months have been amazing, I am excited for what the rest of the trail has in store for us!  Love you all!

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* edit- as I (Iron Maiden) was plodding, panting and perspiring up Mt. Everett (MA!) I realized IPA had blogged about us sweating like pigs, and our porcine friends don’t particularly perspire. So to be more practical, I perspire profusely as a primarily naked primate can. 🙂

Ohh, M stands for Miles?! Not meters!

Hey Everybody,

Okay, so we were aware that this year the Appalachian Trail is 2,189.2 miles long – but in a way I think I am learning that having heard/read/thought about it is very different from knowing what it is we were undertaking. As of now we are on Day 18 of our Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike, and approximately 160 miles in and I think I have a better grasp on just what it is that we are endeavoring to accomplish.  It is hard to truly describe how much we have encountered and experienced in our first couple weeks on the trail, but luckily between the two of us we do have some photos to help!

Hey, How do you ride a Harley up here?!?

Hey, How do you ride a Harley up here?!?

First off, I think that our plan to tackle the trail in a non-traditional route has been right for us. By flip-flopping and starting in Virginia we have had the benefit of gorgeous weather thus far (though it looks like the rain we have been missing may have caught up to us…) as well as relatively easy terrain. While moving from 14 feet above sea level to climbing mountains with a hefty pack on our backs has taken some effort and pain, we are able to break in our legs and feet before the going gets really tough. This has also allowed me to take advantage of some friends for trail magic, as well as family friends from scouting and scuba!  My friend Andrew allowed me to leave my beloved truck with him for the duration of our adventure, and after a week on the trail we were near another college friend of mine who allowed us to crash and re-supply with her beautiful family (thank you Andrew, Avie and Rodney!!!). As of now we are enjoying the remainder of our zero (miles) day in Front Royal with Scott and Kathy and their beautiful family, who I had never had the pleasure of meeting before but were so kind as to open their home and hearts to two temporarily smelly hikers.

Our first white blaze- and contemplation of the journey ahead?

Our first white blaze- and contemplation of the journey ahead?

We started the journey about mid-day on May 16th, as Andrew was kind enough to drop us off at the trail close to Buena Vista, Virginia.  While very convenient logistically, the immediate 2,000 foot elevation gain as we started the trail was a terribly stark reminder of why you want your pack to be as light as possible (mine was not- as evidenced by the hulking bag as seen above). However we were gifted with a gorgeous bald on top of Cole Mountain, and it was only around 6 miles to the first camp site we stayed at. Our first week I think that we managed to get a wonderful overview of the trail and a taste of what the rest of our journey has in store for us.  We jumped from a 6 mile day, to an 8 mile day, to 10 miles and then took a nero (near zero mile) day where we did 4 miles and retired to a gorgeous campsite to hang out, read and relax a bit. We made up for our relaxing day by waking up at 4 am the next morning to get a bit of a pre-dawn hike in, as well as to tackle the Three Ridges Mountain.  Waking up so early had the benefit of giving us wonderfully cool weather and less crowded trails as we made the steep climb from around 1,700 feet to 4,000 feet- and if the climb hadn’t been enough to wake us up the note on the trail warning about rattle snakes certainly did the trick!

On top of Three Ridges Mountain!

On top of Three Ridges Mountain!

In our first couple of weeks we did manage to come up with Trail Names for one another.  It was day 2 when Colby had been hiking behind me and presumably had seen enough of my flat Iron Mike to come up with the name Iron Maiden to match. I imagine most people will associate it with the band (though neither of us has listened to much Iron Maiden), though it took me a few days of going by Iron Maiden to recall that it was also the name of a (perhaps fictional) torture device… hmmm.  In turn I was not coming up with anything terribly clever or original for Colby- but he had a Founder’s Brewery sticker on one of his trekking poles and I found that thinking of various possibilities for the acronym IPA to be rather amusing.  While it is his favorite type of beer (Indian Pale Ale), he had a lot of knee pain the first week and so Ibuprofen, Pain Again or Internal Pain and Agony both seemed appropriate. Thus we adopted the trail names.

Iron Mike- thanks to the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada, Florida

Iron Mike- thanks to the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada, Florida

Since hopping on the trail we have stealth camped three times (camped outside of the camping spots that are developed for hikers, typically near the shelters or huts)- while the privacy and quiet can be extremely pleasant, the ease of knowing that there will be decent places to hang around the shelters (as well as available water sources) does make them ideal.

A picturesque camping spot- where we nero'd

A picturesque camping spot- where we nero’d

We experienced one somewhat rainy day our first week (and a deluge a few days ago!) but otherwise the weather has amazing. Even the rainy day was incredibly beautiful. Being so high up the clouds descended and left an opaque curtain of mist in the woods.

Misty Mountain Hop- or Hike

Misty Mountain Hop- or Hike

We have also seen a ton of the local fauna and flora.  Tons of spring wild flowers that I have no idea what they might be, but they are stunning and occasionally you catch a whiff of them on the breeze. We have seen one rattlesnake (which I did not realize was right beside the trail until it gave me a rattle!) and multiple other snakes of various sizes, from inches to perhaps as long as 6 feet. We’ve also encountered many unwary deer, some of which have strolled beside our camp or watched us as we filtered our water while seeming rather disgruntled that we were in their favorite watering hole. One day we saw 12 red efts, or red-spotted newts, alongside or on the trail itself.

Colby said that "Eft Again" would be a good trail name, too bad we all ready had names!

Colby said that “Eft Again” would be a good trail name, too bad we already had trail names!


Trekking Poles- they also double as Rattlesnake Detection Poles!

Trekking Poles- they also double as Rattlesnake Detection Poles!

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As of now we have begun to tackle 10-13 mile days more regularly, pacing about 30 minute miles. During the first week I think we both experienced our own aches and pains. Colby (IPA) had some knee pain from all the steep down hills. I was experiencing discomfort mostly from my hip straps, and the bottoms of my feet hurt from the many heavy steps each day. Now I think that while we may still get sore or tired, the same aches have diminished and all in all we are feeling stronger and more comfortable hiking day after day.

I’ve begun to notice that we have our own routine much like life before the trail, but now it is focused around the necessities of hiking. Making and breaking camp, filtering water, planning shelter stops and towns for re-supplying food.  Life has condensed to the green tunnel that is the A.T. While of course it is wonderful to hear about friends and family, our lack of phone signal tends to keep us out of touch with the rest of the world. It has been wonderful to wake up and plan each day as it comes and to decide where to hike based on our energy and desires day to day.

Thanks to everyone for all of the support and assistance- it has been wonderful knowing that we have so many supporters and people rooting for us!

 Hey everyone, Colby (I.P.A.) here.                                                                                              Alyssa (Iron Maiden) has delightfully detailed out our first couple of weeks out here on the trail. I just wanted to add a couple of my own thoughts. I’ve realized after a couple of days out here that a mile on a mountain is unlike any other mile I’ve ever walked in my life before. Now, to be clear, the trail is very well marked and easy to follow, I even sent my stupid compass home. And the people out here are amazingly nice and most everyone is courteous and helpful.

Climbing these mountains on days one and two were not that bad physically (even though we started going straight up); a little soreness creeping into our legs and shoulders and such, but not too excruciating (of course under my breath I’m cursing every ounce I’m carrying on my back that I don’t think I need to keep me alive). After days three through seven, however, I was kind of asking myself why I decided to Interview the Pain Angel again. I was hurting. If any of you fine folks ever want to experience what it is like on a mountain with a heavy pack on days three through seven, I’ve thought of a home remedy you can try out.

First, get yourself one of those big jumbo treadmills, you know, the kind Arnold Schwarzenegger would use. Make sure it does crazy inclines and declines. Mess up the fabric that you’ll be walking on and set the program to be chaotic and trip-mind-full. Next, set the treadmill next to ten flights of stairs in a enclosed stairwell. Have a demolition crew tear up the stairs so that they are all Uneven. Add boulders, rocks, gravel, sticks, leaves and mud to the stairs. Take out the hand rails. Next add rain, flies, mosquitoes, ticks, millipedes, snakes and spiders – make the temperature around 85F. Let the environment stew for a couple of decades.

Now comes the fun part; lay down and give a good friend or a spouse who is in, you know, that kind of mood, a small hammer. Have them lovingly beat you all across your body with it, making sure they focus on your legs, knees, shoulders and feet. Throw on some socks with tiny glass shards (you know, for blisters) and some good shoes. Get a heavy backpack on; (for all my diving friends out there – get a BCD with tank and weights- make sure it weighs 40 – 50 lbs. ; Everyone starts out with too much crap). Now gently walk two parts treadmill to one part flight of stairs for the next 8 to 12 hours. Doesn’t this all sound like a ball of fun!!

But the views are fantastic!! The luxurious foliage of these forests have changed my definitions of green. It is spectacular and worth every ache in my bones. To get fresh mountain stream water through my filter every day and know that I can live here in the wild is sensational. To sleep well in my hammock at night listening to the insects and creatures out here is a privilege. Our bodies are getting stronger day by day and our minds are adapting quite well I would say.

We are looking forward to the next 2000 miles. I am happy. We are happy. It is a privilege to be out here.

Mistic

Natural Mystic

Hitting the Trail!

We successfully made the drive up to Virginia from Florida and are looking to hop on the trail later today!  I lucked out and realized that some of my closest friends from college are extremely close to the trail, so I was able to visit with my friend Andrew and will hopefully see a former room-mate in a week or so! As wonderful as it has been to hang out we have been getting itchy feet being in town (and spending money, since town and money seem to go hand in hand) so we will head out today for a short (but mostly uphill) first day on the trail!

Thanks to everyone for all of the support, whether it has been well-wishes, donations, or promises of mail drops!  We’re both excited to tackle this adventure, and Colby is pleased that as of now his pack is lighter than mine. I will try and keep the blog updated with some frequency once we are out there!

From a day hike in Colorado

From a day hike in Colorado

Test Hike at Withlacoochee State Forest Florida!

I know, where have the blog posts been? I promise more are coming!  Who would have thought that the process of becoming jobless and homeless in a (somewhat) organized fashion would take so much time and effort?  Just a quick update; we are alive and well and very close to hitting the trail!  Jobs- finished. Apartment- cleared out and cleaned up. Cats- less upset than they were… Us- well, and nearly done with all of the madness that goes with packing up to go hike in the woods for 6 months.

As an excuse to post pictures of us and talk about Colby (since he is generously allowing me to gab about him on the internet for the purpose of sharing our adventures with everyone) I just wanted to share some pictures from our recent test hike.  We are currently home-basing near Crystal River Florida where my family is (and where the cat brats are residing for the duration of our thru-hike). Since we are now nearly fully equipped for the hike (I hope…) we were able to load the backpacks with all of our gear (except for a fully loaded food bag) and take a jaunt in order to see how everything feels.

Your eyes do not deceive you. We were totally rocking a hiking kilt and skirt!

Your eyes do not deceive you. We were totally rocking a hiking kilt and skirt!

I think we both have been enjoying our time in central Florida, the foliage is very different from the Keys and seems almost prehistoric with the gigantic palms and various other plants. The trail at Withlacoochee State Forest was easy to follow, but seemed like it hasn’t had many visitors so we had the loop all to ourselves.  Well, ourselves, the ticks and the ravenous deer flies. I may go from sporting the skirt to the ever-fashionable look of pants tucked into socks. Either way, here are some of the photos I took during our hike!

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise

The trail, orange blaze on the right

The trail, orange blaze on the right

Lucky for me Colby assumed the position of

Lucky for me Colby assumed the position of “web walker”- he went first and managed to spot most webs, rather than discovering them with his face.

Saved by the Croc. All I'm sayin'.

Saved by the Croc. All I’m sayin’.

I am mildly obsessed with trees covered in Spanish Moss...

I am mildly obsessed with old trees and Spanish Moss…

Majestical sky spider. Or at least that is what I thought of it at the time.

Majestical sky spider. Or at least that is what I thought of it at the time.

Totally obsessed with Spanish Moss. And with my camera's

Totally obsessed with Spanish Moss. And with my camera’s “magic” setting. You’ve been warned.

I will be trying to update with some regularity now that our time can be dedicated to thru-hiking full-time. If there is anything in particular anyone wants to know, or if anyone has any comments/ critiques/ concerns please let me know!

Why I am Leaving Paradise to Hike the Appalachian Trail

A short intro before this post, which I am thrilled to say was posted on Appalachian Trials website!
I read the book Appalachian Trials a number of months ago, and a unique aspect that sets it apart from the multitude of other trail journals and personal stories of thru-hikers is that Zach Davis (the author, Trail Name- Badger)  takes the approach of preparing future hikers for the psychological aspects of walking in the woods for six months. While reading about other hikers personal struggles (everything from physical, to emotional, to mental) has made me more aware of some of what I am getting myself in to, this book was created with the intent of preparing you for the hike. Originally my thought about the psychology of hiking was along the lines of “Hiking/Running is mental, and we’re all insane” (which I am not discounting) but Davis/Badger really delved into the subject, and think that I am in a better position to complete my thru hike because I read it. (Okay, shameless plugging done- but I do recommend it for any other thru-curious folks out there!)

The cover of Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis (Badger). I need to figure out a good summit pose!

The cover of Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis (Badger). I need to figure out a good summit pose! See more at http://www.AppalachianTrials.com

One of his strategies was to take the time to honestly ask yourself 1) Why you want to hike the AT 2) What you think you will get out of hiking the AT and 3) How it will affect you if you quit.  So, as my first blog post on the Appalachian Trials site I decided to publicize my list (also a strategy for success, as I hope my [2.6] dedicated readers will remind me why I am doing this if my constitution seems to be wavering in a few months!).
Here it is!

Paradise Lost Left

What could possess me to give up my fabulous job, excellent friends, and tropical home in the Florida Keys to haul a pack up and down mountains for six months? I can assure you that it isn’t because life here is in any way dissatisfying. Being a scuba bum in the Keys? Yes, please! I think it has to do with what brought me here in the first place, that nagging desire to do what feels right, even if it is contrary to what most people do or what is expected of you. A few years ago I felt the need to put off getting “a real job” and flee to the warm South to indulge in a new life. Now I am genuinely putting off a real job (er, any job) and instead am planning to take a 6 month hiatus to test myself and embark on a new adventure, hiking the Appalachian Trail.

My Appalachian Trials Lists

Despite reading Appalachian Trials months ago, and fully agreeing that outlining my goals and reasons for hiking the Appalachian Trail will increase my odds of success, I have yet to do so. While I was able to persuade myself to put my lists on the back burner because I had gear to research, books I was anxious to read, and plots to hatch, I think the honest reason was because I was a bit scared. After a year of dreaming of the trail, months of planning, and what seems like ages of reigning in the excitement I have become mildly obsessed, and entirely committed. Which means that if I were to publish this list and then fail, it would be devastating. But living in fear is a poor life plan. So here goes, time to throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, explore, dream, discover! (Mark Twain, paraphrased).

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…

I am ready for a change of pace and a change of scenery.

It’s time to get to know myself and who I want to be.

This feels like the next adventure I need to take (and because doing what I really want can be the hardest decisions I  make, and too often I put them off).

I want time to live simply, simply enjoy life, and live mindfully.

It’s time to learn to love myself wholly.

I need time to figure out what to do next.

The time is right to take on an epic challenge.

I’d like to renew faith in myself and my fellow humans.

It’s a great way to defeat my blerch.

I’d like to prove that great challenges can be accomplished while maintaining core values (for me, my vegan lifestyle).

It’s time to figure out my passions and priorities.

When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will…

Have accomplished something great (and crazy!).

Have new perspectives on life and myself.

Now have memories and stories to last a lifetime.

Have re-connected with nature.

Be more aware of what I want in life.

Have renewed faith in myself and others.

Possess a sense of confidence and accomplishment I lacked before.

Feel comfortable being true to my self (and my own weirdness)

Be a vegan Level 3, at least. (give yourself a brownie point if you got the Simpsons reference!)

If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…

Be immensely disappointed in myself and feel like a failure.

Have let down all the people who supported me.

Continue to give up on other dreams.

Have spent a lot of time and money to fail.

Not be the person I want to be (and can be).

Have deprived myself of the experiences only the AT could give me.

Be ashamed.

Face people who believe I failed because I’m a vegan.

Feel miserable until I conquer this goal.

Miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

In conclusion…

I am thrilled, and simultaneously somewhat terrified to be exposing my hopes and dreams to the world, but mostly excited. This is the hike of a lifetime, and now at least these lists are off my chest (because soon enough there will be plenty of weight on my back!)  Thank you all for taking the time to read my list!