Wednesday, April 27, 2011

zero days are good for the soul

so i hope everybody back home in mississippi, alabama, and tennessee is okay! i've seen some of the footage of the rough weather that y'all are having. we're getting some of that tonight, so swayze and i are staying off the trail until tomorrow morning. my budget didn't account for tornados.

yesterday was awesome. :) we had a tiny hike into a parking lot that was roughly eleven miles from the town that i was supposed to resupply in. i had planned on maybe getting to the town early, resupplying, and then getting a ride back to the trail to camp last night, but we had absolutely no cell phone reception when we got to the parking lot. boo that, haha. so a guy that i've met on the trail and i started walking into town. we had just enough cell phone reception to send and receive texts, but not make phone calls, so he sent his mama a text message and she called the hotel that provided shuttle services into town. they came to pick us up, and i'll be danged if it wasn't miss janet that was driving the bus!!! :) that might not mean a lot to y'all, but i was starstruck! hahaha... miss janet is pretty much famous on the AT and whiteblaze. when one of the guys got dropped off at the place he was staying, he was like, "bye miss janet!" and i was like, "are you THE miss janet?" i got her autograph and a picture with her and she even gave swayze dog treats! :) she also fussed at us about how we were going about hitchhiking the whole wrong way. she said the three rules of hitchhiking are:

1) stop walking. if you're walking, that means you're okay and you don't need help.
2) get to a place where people can pull over. even if they want to, if they can't get to you, you're screwed.
3) smile and act happy. no one wants to pick up a freak.

also! it turns out that the people who gave us the lemon cookies and root beer the other day is actually a guy named taylor who is slackpacking the whole way to maine and his wife is meeting him at trailheads and driving him to an rv every night. they are SO nice! he came and found us at the hotel last night and drove me to the vet clinic that was three miles up the road so i could get swayze some tick medicine and then took me to mcdonalds. it might not've been a homemade or five guys burger, but i finally got that cheeseburger and sweet tea. :) he's also offered to pick us up in the morning to drive us to the trailhead.

and today has been wonderful. zero days, man. i think it's just what i've needed. granted, i probably shouldn't take many in towns because towns are expensive, but even swayze seems to feel better. i've had a nap and two hot showers within the last twenty-four hours. it kind of sucks because almost all day today the weather was pretty (it's starting to look pretty rough here now), and in the back of my mind i was thinking the whole time, "man. you're not getting any miles in today. you should be hiking. what're you doing?" but hopefully i'll feel better in the long run for doing it. i've heard it said, "start out slow, and then go slower." well... you can't get much slower than 0.

and for those of y'all who've been asking... i will let y'all know where i'll be soon, i promise! (just so y'all know.. i will only be posting WHEN i will be places on facebook and only my friends will be able to see it... just to deter any creepers.) i will say that my list has changed... i'm no longer asking for ground coffee. that was dumb. i don't feel like waking up in the morning and boiling water and filtering coffee. i'm slow enough as it is at breaking camp. if the whole wide world depended on me to break camp in less than fifteen minutes, we'd all be screwed. i've not built a fire since i started, so i no longer need dryer lint, hahaha. and i think i hate peanut butter now so i've taken that off the list. (nutella is still a go, though. ;D) snickers are always welcome in any shape or size. they're pretty much payment between hikers. ("i'll trade you a couple of snickers for some hot water for my oatmeal.") but i think i've sworn off oatmeal, too, so i don't need any of that.

thank y'all so much for all y'all's support thus far. i love y'all and miss y'all. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

oh, those prayers

roarrr. y'all pray for swayze please. her pack is rubbing her and she's really tired. i gave her some pain meds tonight, but i'm out of duct tape and athletic tape just isn't cutting it. maybe i'll trade somebody a few feet of duct tape for a few snickers tomorrow.

happy easter, y'all. today was a gorgeous hiking day. it was hot and i got sunburned but i'll take sunshine over rain anyday. i'm exhausted, though. since swayze's having trouble with her pack, i let her slackpack (go without a pack) a few times on the uphills. i'm sure she loved it, but i weighed MY pack the other day at the hostel and it weighed 43 lbs. adding her pack to mine today probably put me in the neighborhood of 50. needless to say, i'll be knocking myself out with a hydrocodone here in a few minutes. i'm too tired to even eat tonight.

thank all y'all for any prayers y'all are sending our way. you know, it's absolutely amazing, but all of my prayers have been answered on this trip thus far. God rocks. :) in reverse order, i was really prayin' there'd be a trail angel in the parking lot when i came off a mountain today. a trail angel is anyone who helps a hiker out, whether it's food or shelter or a ride into town. swayze and i came down the mountain today and there was a couple sitting in a car. they rolled the windows down and asked if we needed a ride into town, but i don't really need a resupply just yet and i'm still kinda skeptical of hitching (even though just about everybody on the trail does it), so i told them i was fine, thanked them, then swayze and i sat down in the shade to have lunch. right as they were leaving, the lady called out to me and offered me some lemon cookies and half a root beer. yes, ma'am... i'll take that. swayze was a fan as well. :)

one of my absolute pet peeves is a sparsely-marked trail. yesterday we pretty much hiked alone all day, and when we got to the last four miles or so, the blazes became few and far between. i was tired and hungry and all i could think of was, "Lord, just show me a blaze. let me know i'm goin in the right direction." and sure enough, every time i'd ask, there would be a blaze soon after. also last night, i was praying that there'd either be a familiar face or no one at all at the shelter. when i got there, there were two people from our "group" and two new people. i breathed a huge sigh of relief. the same exact thing happened again tonight. when i got to the campsite, it was just me and a guy i haven't seen yet. i specifically asked for someone in our group to show up, and not half an hour later, i heard a familar voice.

there've also been two instances where it's poured down rain at night and i've laid there in my tent and said, "God, just please let it be gone by daylight," and it quits at sunrise. :)

so whatever y'all have been praying, keep doing it 'cause it's working. thank y'all so much. maybe we should start working on a big, fat, juicy hamburger with lettuce and tomato and pickles and ketchup with a really ginormous glass of sweet tea and some salt & vinegar chips. at this point, that'd basically be heaven on earth.

Friday, April 22, 2011

ohhh hostels :)

swayze and i are doing well! i had my first shower today since monday night. good thing, too, 'cause i pretty much smelled like death. a few of us put all our laundry together to make a full load so i've actually got clean clothes to boot! i wasn't real sure how to handle the whole town thing at first, what with swayze and all, but the people here at neels gap have been amazingly dog-friendly.

i can't do the hostel thing too often. it put me out $20 tonight. that'll really add up as i get closer to maine. i just stayed tonight 'cause we've had to deal with rain these last three days and it was actually really cold and windy today as we hiked over blood mountain. i feel so bad for swayze. :( i couldn't find her raincoat before i left for the trail and she hates being cold so i rigged her a raincoat out of the footprint of my tent. i'll have to find her something better, though, soon.

i haven't seen any bears yet, but some coyotes came way too close to our camp the other night.

the group i'm with is pretty awesome. :) they all seem to like swayze and til, a german guy who's section hiking, gave her like half of his bag of beef jerky the other day for lunch. vicky and rich have been extremely nice to me, giving me some of their filtered water and letting me use their cell phone. another guy who's hikin' with us, james, picked up swayze's collar that i'd accidentally dropped halfway up a mountain and didn't realize until we were at the top.

and in other news, i pooped in the woods for the first time ever.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

just a walk in the woods...

started today! ::) daddy drove me to US42 this morning and hiked the .9 miles to springer w/me. swayze's doing awesome. we made it to hawk mountain shelter tonight... we caught up with and passed two groups of people today. my confidence has been greatly increased thwse last eight hours. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

there's no place like home

i've been home for a whole six days and it's been absolutely amazing. the weather has been gorgeous, despite the tornadoes that we had friday (except that i really like bad weather, so i even enjoyed those, too... minus all the damage that was done). i've been able to spend time with my mama and my daddy and my awesome friends.

and as much as i hate that the opportunity arose, i got to witness one of the most heart-warming, patriotic events i've ever seen. ssgt. jason rogers, a marine from brandon, ms, was killed in action a week and a half ago in afghanistan. westboro "baptist church" had posted on its website that they were going to show up and picket the funeral. within twenty-four hours of their announcement, the news had spread like wildfire on facebook and hundreds of people had pledged to show up and, along with the patriot guard riders, stand between the family and the westboro hate group (because that's really all they are). it made my heart so happy yesterday to see all of those people out there paying their final respects to a hometown hero.

and it makes me even happier to say that westboro didn't even show up. i've heard it's because they don't show up to funerals where they're not going to get media coverage. and our news stations didn't mention westboro one bit. if this is the case, and they didn't show up because they were told that they wouldn't get any coverage, then it infuriates me to think of all the funerals that they *do* show up to because that probably means they were guaranteed media coverage. if you don't give these people the attention that they ask for, they will stop! i'm just glad that the family didn't have to deal with them yesterday. no one should have to deal with them.

so perhaps i'll hit the road tomorrow. that's the plan, anyways. my daddy's gonna take me to georgia and then i reckon he'll drop me off at springer tuesday morning. i'm gonna skip the approach trail (all the super-purists out there just had a heart attack) and i told my daddy to bring his hikin' shoes if he wanted to do the first little bit with me. it'll only be two miles. he's still young enough to make it. ;)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

oh hey there antibiotics

so i was supposed to leave for georgia today, but it just absolutely wasn't meant to be. my friend katie, who was driving back to charleston from california and was going to swing by jackson to pick me up, somehow contracted pneumonia and was put on breathing treatments so had to be driven back to charleston herself. and as if that wasn't a big enough sign that i wasn't meant to leave today, i came down with a fever of 101.2* yesterday and felt like crappp. i still felt pretty poopy today, so this morning i was at MEA when they opened at 8:30. turns out, i have strep throat. they gave me a butt shot there at the clinic this morning and a prescription for an antibiotic and three days' worth of lortab with one refill for that hit-by-train feelin' i've got. the refill should come in handy on the trail.

i'm kind of glad i haven't left yet. i don't feel ready. i still haven't practiced my bear-bagging skillz and i still need to set my tent up with the rainfly all tied out. i need to finish buying my food and i still probably need another pair of shorts. plus, there's apparently some pretty nasty weather that's supposed to roll in here in the next few days and that would put me starting the AT on a rainy day. i know, i know. no rain, no pain, no maine, but still. i'd like to start out on a good weather day if possible. :)

maybe i'll leave tomorrow. my dad volunteered to take me to springer if the need be.

i took swayze to the vet the other day. she wasn't due for her vaccinations until july, but i didn't want to have to worry about finding a vet on the trail and she needed her bordatella booster if i'm going to be boarding her through the smokies. she also got a shot for a six-month heartworm preventative. that's cool... that's one less thing i have to worry about carrying &/or having shipped to myself while we're on the trail. the vet also said that if swayze was hiking with me, she could stand to gain a few pounds. she's been enjoying that. :) peanut butter on crackers, extra dog food, etc.

i'll be taking my cell phone with me on the trail. we bought a solar-powered cell phone charger off amazon the other day for like $30. it's also got an AM/FM radio and a weather radio. i'd rather be able to play mumford & sons and old crow on the trail, but since i don't have an ipod, i'll take what i can get.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

four energy drinks, a cop, and a pay phone...

arrrr. the drive back to mississippi suckedddd. i didn't leave charleston until right at two. i always do that. i procrastinate leaving a place if i really like being there. home. bristol. and apparently charleston. i stopped by starbucks before i left, and everybody there made me cry. tears fell for twenty miles up 26.

the drive took approximately twelve hours for eight hundred some-odd miles and five stops, only four of which were planned. the fifth one involved being stopped by a cop less than thirty miles from jackson who felt the need to let me know that the back end of my truck was wider than the front end and that i should keep an eye on my lanes. he was really nice about it, so i didn't feel the need to inform him that the reason i was iffy about keepin' it between the lines was because i was nodding off as i passed him. i just said, "yes, sir, thank you, sorry," and kept on goin'. i freakin' love mississippi cops. they never *knock on wood* write me tickets. i think it's the wink. just kidding.

my cell phone battery lasted just long enough for me to call my mama right before birmingham to find out what kind of weather i was headed into. there was crazy awesome lightning, but i basically wanted to know if it was gonna be raining the whole way in. turns out, i was headed into tornado warning territory. excellent. we just all slowed to thirty and used our flashers for a dozen miles or so. right before my battery died, i received a text from bank of america that my debit card had been temporarily suspended because of "curious activity" on my account. dear bank of america: south carolina and georgia are next door neighbors. it's completely possible to travel amongst the two states in less than twelve hours, so please refrain from putting accounts on hold if there's spending going on that close to each other. ya poops.

so because i couldn't use my debit card, and my cell phone was dead, and all of my chargers were packed into the back of a 16' moving van, i actually had the privelege of using a pay phone tonight. i know, right? i was surprised they still had those, too. i was almost worried about catching something from it, but i figure it was probably last used about eight years ago and any germs that were living on it then are probably dead by now. so i call bank of america and verify my email address, blah blah blah, and the guy says that he'll put a temporary travel notice on my account. i told him he might want to make it more than temporary because within the next few months i'll be traveling a lot. he asked me to list each state, and bless his heart, i think he lost count when i got to pennsylvania. he then just asked for a general route, "so will you be going from south carolina to new york city?" and i said, "nope. georgia to maine."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

my time in chucktown is winding down...

dear springer mountain, 
i will see you friday, april 15th. 
your secret admirer, 
angie (who, i suppose, is not so secret anymore)

this is so surreal. i've got less than forty-eight hours left in charleston, sc. i'm going to pack up my things and haul them back to mississippi and then one of my friends will drive me to georgia and drop me off at the foot of a mountain and then i'll walk to maine. i'll walk to maine? that doesn't even seem halfway realistic to me. which is why it's so awesome. :) 

i bought my stove yesterday... it basically looks like the coleman equivalent to the msr pocket rocket, except that it may be a bit larger and it doesn't come with its own cool plastic carrying case. i also bought an emergency blanket and hand warmers. just in case. and because they were on clearance. i figured it was smarter to buy a pack of hand warmers, which came with 3 sets, for $1.50 than it was to buy just a single pair of foot warmers for the same price. i figured if my feet really get all that cold, i can substitute out hand warmers for feet warmers. tomayto, tomahto. i still have to buy a poop shovel. 

what else have i bought recently? oh! i swung by the military surplus store and bought a fleece. he cut me a deal on it. $25 instead of $40. it doesn't have pit zips, but i've worn kelly's and it's super comfy. if anything, i can use it at a pillow if it gets too warm to wear in camp at night. i also bought antibacterial hand junk and a sponge for the condensation for the tent. 

i've gone out the last two nights in a row with really awesome people each time. when my friends have introduced me to people these past couple of days, i've been "the person who is going to hike the appalachian trail," like i'm some sort of awesome or something? my friend josh said he's been telling people that his friend is going to hike the AT and when they ask, "the whole thing?", he replied, "yeah, you think i'd be friends with somebody who'd just hike half of it?" i know this sounds so mushy and crap, but it makes me and my heart so happy to know that all of these people have so much faith in me and my abilities. it's so amazing that i have so many people who are so dad-gum so supportive. :)

i will definitely miss everybody here. i sort of feel like i've just started really turning over new leaves in charleston as of recently. i think i can honestly say i will miss chucktown. the people more than the place, but it's the thought that counts, right? too bad i can't afford to live here. otherwise, i just might come back. maybe. 

tomorrow (today) is my last day at work. i've gotta be at work in three hours, forty-five minutes. then i'll work until 3:30 and then kelly and i will go pick up the van and load my stuff into it. i really just need her help for the washer & dryer since it's so God-awful heavy. i can load the rest of the stuff by myself. it just might take a while. i can't believe i'll be heading home to mississippi in just over twenty-four hours. 

i will miss everybody.

p.s. swayze loves her backpack. 

p.s.s. swayze loves powdered donuts more. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

i feel like the mama of a kindergardener...

i worked on packing some of swayze's meals today. it's kind of frustrating because a 7# bag of dog food at target is $12 and change and the 15.5# bag of dog food is right at $18. but if i were to try and buy in bulk and ship it, it'd work out being about the same if i just bought the smaller bag elsewhere. boo that. she wore her backpack a little bit more around the house tonight, though. it was filled this time, and it took her some getting used to... she wasn't used to being so wide and walked into the wall and scared herself. ;D i feel like i need to take some pictures of the fit and ask some people on whiteblaze if they think it fits her ok and what i can do to adjust it better... she's just shaped so weird! i should go to bed... work in the morning. blahhh. oh yeah! powerball tonight! i'll be a millionaire in the morning!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

productivity rocks!

there's no other word to describe today other than amazing. i called an eye doctor yesterday and scheduled an appointment for today, so i started the day off with a doctor's appointment. he fussed at me for wearing my contacts at night. oops. i've been wanting a pair of glasses for a few years now, but i'm not the kind of person who can look at a pair and say, "hey, these look good on me." maybe my face is shaped weird. and i don't like the idea of taking my contacts out at night 'cause if a boogie man broke in or the house caught on fire... well... i don't want to have to put my eyeballs in to see things before i can react. shrug.

so after i went to the eye doc, i came home and fed swayze and took her out. then i decided to go to the military surplus store and get my bear bagging rope. i bought 100' of 550 paracord for a little over $8. i'm not sure what i'll do with the other half, since you only need about 50' for bear bagging. then i went to dick's and bought a magnesium fire starter and a carabiner for the rope. then i dropped by starbucks to get my tips and to get breakfast 'cause by then i was starvin' marvin.

and thennnnn blake sent me a text to see what i was doing today, so i called him to see if he wanted to go to west ashley to get swayze fitted for her backpack! except that i forgot that the stove people were coming to fix the oven and that kelly had asked me to be at the house for their appointment so that if the guys came in twos, they wouldn't be all scary 'n' junk. 'cause it'd be a two on two kinda thing. so blake came over to the house while the guy was there fixin' the oven, and then joshua called! he's already in erwin! that gives me hope that i might be able to make it to damascus for trail days. i hope, i hope, i hope.

but then blake and i took swayze to half moon outfitters to see about getting her fitted for her ruffwear approach pack. they only had a small and a large, and she needed a medium. i'd seen a medium at the bike shop over in mt. pleasant a few weeks ago, and it turns out that they're getting out of the whole hiking thing, so the guy told me he'd give me 30% off the dog stuff!! so i got a $75 pack and a $20 leash for $79! deal of the day!!! oh, and i bought my sleeping pad at half moon today, so that's one more thing i can cross of my list. bear bagging, backpacks, and sleeping pads, oh my!

then, since blake works somewhere that sells crocs, we dropped by the store and i figured out which size i will need, and he's going to use his discount to get them for me on friday. :) then we came back to the house and french pressed some casi ceilo. after blake left, kelly fixed supper and i finished adjusting swayze's pack on her. then i semi-demonstrated how to bear bag in the living room using the stair rail as a tree branch.

my mama seems to like the whole "spot" idea. apparently, it offers $100k worth of an insurance policy, should they have to air lift you out of a crevice 'cause you fell down and broke your toe. but blake told me about an app called "everytrail" today, and i think it might be an alright substitute. granted, it won't come with an insurance policy, but it's a gps tracking device and if i keep my phone turned on... who knows. we'll see what happens.

i am so excited!!!!!!!

SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit, Orange/Black

Sunday, April 3, 2011

i quit (next week)!

i turned in my notice today! it's only a one-week notice, but we'll see how things go. i'm so excited. i practiced learning how to tie knots the other night. i looked at my mail-drop schedule last night. i haven't gotten it figured out just yet, but if anybody is reading this and would like to send me mail while i'm out (ie cookies, cornbread, etc.), i'll post my tentative mail drop schedule so y'all can do just that. ;) this is so crazy. i'm going to hike the appalachian trail. with my dog. pray to God i hope i finish. 
Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons of the heart on the Appalachian Trail.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


my pre-trail jitters are kicking in. i think my last day of work will be next sunday. i keep thinking, "am i really prepared for this? do i really know enough?" but then i think to myself, "hell, grandma gatewood hiked the trail with a rucksack and pair of keds... quit overanalyzing everything!"

on one hand, i think that it's just really simple to get out and hike and that we've overcomplicated things with technology and everything. then on the other hand, i think that people used to ride around without seatbelts and thought they were fine. maybe that's apples to oranges, though.

i'm extremely excited, though, because i learned how to tie the knot to secure securely tie out my rainfly last night. :) i think i might go make a drysack purchase today and go practice bear bagging in the backyard.

big sigh. still in shock. :)