Tuesday, May 24, 2011

update! yay!

whew... where to even start?

i'm taking a zero today because i somehow hurt my right foot. i stepped on a rock right in the middle of my arch a few weeks ago and now it's hurting on top of my foot. i could hardly walk the other day and my foot's all swollen so i'm taking the day to overdose on vitamin i (ibuprofen), ice it, and rest it. zeroes make me so antsy sometimes, though, because i think to myself, "i should be out there hiking. i could be doing miles right now." except that right now, it's pouring down rain, so i'm glad i'm not out in it. 

i thought from the beginning that i would hate the smokeys. turns out, i only hated the stuff south of clingman's dome. my first day in the smokeys included a 17 mile hike out of fontana dam. there were hardly any views after the shuckstack tower and i never, ever thought i'd make it to the shelter that i'd planned on making it to. that first day in the smokeys was the first day that i had to pull my cell phone out and listen to music to get me in a better mood. everything north of clingman's dome was absolutely amazing. i tried ordering pizza from the newfound gap parking lot, but they wouldn't deliver. :( what kind of pizza place doesn't deliver 15 miles out? shame on them, haha.

i would have run out of food in the smokeys had it not been for a group of three hikers from florida that we met. they gave me four of their nature's valley oats 'n' honey bars and that lasted me until i got to standing bear. i walked out of the smokeys and the only food i had on me was an empty nutella jar, a box of hashbrowns, and one packet of instant coffee. everything was just so expensive at fontana! i couldn't justify spending that much money on food, so i didn't. i bought the bare necessities, but i guess i didn't get enough. they wanted $4.57 for a box of pop tarts!! anyways... i won't run out of food again.

i completed the smokeys in four days exactly, then made it to standing bear farm to wait on my cousin and pick up my dog. my cousin, cecelia, from alabama drove in and picked up our group (minus one) and drove us all to trail days. in the three and a half years that i lived in bristol, i never went to trail days in damascus. i never knew it was a set weekend (the weekend after mother's day) and by the time it rolled around, i was always working. it was SO MUCH FUN. there were drum circles every night and we went to a bar that had karoke the first night we were in town. hahahah... there was the token drunk local that was trying to dance with everybody, so i entertained him and then so did cecelia. it was awesome. there were so many vendors there and i finally got a sno-cone! i've been wanting a sno-cone for over a year... no one in charleston had them! so i got a pineapple one and shared it with swayze. then the hiker parade was on saturday and it was basically a big, huge water fight between the hikers and the locals. nick drove jolie over, too, and we had an awesome little visit. oh!! ANDDD we got to eat at the AYCE (all you can eat) shoney's breakfast buffet! i'd been dreaming about THAT for a few weeks, too. fresh fruit and french toast and biscuits and hashbrowns... mmmmm. :) ANDDD we stopped by starbucks and i got to see roxanne and she made me the most delicious frappuccino that i'd been thinking about for days on end while i was hiking... i'd been thinking about a half strawberry, half orange mango creme sweetened with coconut instead of classic and made with breve instead of whole milk for the longest time.

just as a side note... i originally figured that my food cravings on the trail would be mainly junk food for the fat and calories, but it's been completely the opposite. i crave fresh fruit in the mornings (especially oranges) and i think about ceasar salad like there's no tomorrow.

anyways, after the trail days weekend, cecelia came back and hiked with us until hot springs. it was really crappy weather the entire time. :( it was cold and rainy and we all got soaked. i woke up in the shelter one morning and it hadn't quit raining the entire night, so after i put on my rain jacket to go use the tree, i just started packing up. i didn't want to dry off and get back in my sleeping bag and take a zero at the shelter in the rain, so swayze and i hiked nonstop from the shelter into hot springs, nc. it was an 18-mile day and we did it in 6 hours. i stopped once for water because i'd run dry, but if we stopped at all, we almost got hypothermic because it was so cold. i felt so bad for swayze but we made it into town and stayed at elmer's and got warm and dry and had good meals and met great people. i tell y'all what... the hiking community is amazing.

i took a zero the next day in hot springs because the weather was still crappy and it was my cousin's last day in town. we went to the... well... the hot springs... that the town is famous for and spent an hour just hanging out in a hot tub. just what the hiker doctor ordered. :) i went to the post office and picked up a package that my friend aj had said would be waiting on me. it made me so happy to open a box and realize that i haven't been forgotten by the "real" world. i love hiking and i love the people that i've met, but i almost feel disconnected from my friends and family members because my cell phone is a piece of crap and doesn't work and i haven't gotten internet access nearly as often as i thought i would when i first started out. anyway... the salt 'n' vinegar chips and m&ms hit the spot, and the toilet paper made me giggle. :) and swayze loved her treats as well.

i also bit the bullet and bought a new pack in hot springs. the coleman pack that i got just didn't cut it. it was functional but not practical. it'd be alright for a weekend pack, but when you wear something for days on end, you want it to be comfortable, and it was killing my shoulders and was off balance. i love my new pack so much.

thank God i'm not on the trail right now... it was hailing here just now.

i guess i'll try and upload some pictures and see where that gets me. the shuttle leaves for the AYCE pizza & salad buffet in two hours and i'm not ABOUT to miss that. :) also, i am going to work on a finalized mail drop plan for the first half of the trip (up until harper's ferry, wv) today. it's just been really hard between not having any internet connection and not knowing my hiking pace and not having a cell phone to really update anything at all.

i miss y'all and love y'all a ton. keep the prayers comin' and i'll see y'all soon enough. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


i feel like there's so much to update! i've been having cell phone issues and i've not really been in any position to have computer access for a while. plus there was trail days in damascus and hiking with my cousin and getting to see nick and jolie and roxanne for a bit. i also got a new pack today!!! the cheap pack i started out with just wasn't cutting it as far as comfort goes, so i requested an early birthday present from my parents today and bought an osprey 65l. so excited! i will try to keep the updates more regular, for my sake and memory as well as y'all's, but for now i gotta say my goodbyes to my cousin and then hit the mountain. thank God for sunshine! =)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

gsmnp should be reported for illegal hazing activities

to sum up the last little bit... i've learned that if you make ramen noodles and then add instant mashed potatoes to it and a little more hot water, then cover it in a few ketchup packets, it actually makes a heck of a carb-loaded meal. also, the kennel came and picked swayze up (since she can't go into the smokies) and she started cryin' and it almost made me cry. when we got to the fontana dam shelter the other night, the shelter was nearly full so we all just decided to cowboy camp (just sleeping bags under the stars, no tent) by the fire. it was awesome. :)

i do believe i'll be in damascus this upcoming weekend for trail days! :) my awesome cousin volunteered to drop by wherever we are and pick us up and take us. i would love to see as many bristol people as i can, so drop by and come see us! i won't have a car, but maybe i can convince my cousin we need a coffee date at starbucks or something.

i don't think i like the smokies. or maybe it's just because yesterday was my longest day yet and it included the monster uphill to shuckstack fire tower. yesterday was the first day where i actually got grumpy and felt like a two year old. i was tired and the shelters felt more and more spread out ........

Monday, May 2, 2011

i crave ketchup.

this upcoming tuesday will make two weeks that i've been on the trail. i may not be as far along as i'd like to be, but i'll take it because i haven't had any injuries other than some minor blisters, a few bruised toenails, and a case of sunburn. some of these people out here try and do big miles from the get go and end up blowing their knees out and having to pull off the trail within the first week. there was a kid that came all the way over here from tiawan and he slipped and messed his knee up on the first day out and had to go back home. and just tonight, we had to go pick up a guy that we met three days ago at the hospital because he sliced his knee to the bone. four stitches inside, seven out, and he's off the trail just like that.

a lot of things change when you live in the woods for right at two weeks. the number one thing i can think of right now is how you view grocery stores. walking into a grocery store is SO overwhelming... knowing you can have any food in the store that you want almost seems too good to be true. and i'm so aware of prices and weights. generic poptarts are only $1.25ish, whereas name brand can be upwards of $2 a box. and the other day i wanted some fig newtons, but the only generic pack they had was a two pound pack. they had it advertised on the pack as "2 pounds!" like it was a good thing or something. i don't know a single person who would willingly carry two pounds of fig newtons. ounces make pounds.

my "hiker hunger" hasn't really set in just yet. apparently, when you're in the woods, you get cravings like a pregnant woman and your appetite increases tenfold. the only thing i've been craving in the woods thus far has been ketchup. i stocked up on plenty of that from wendy's tonight so i'll have it when i fix my hashbrowns sometimme this week. maybe i'll add it to my fake mashed potatoes as well.

i'm having a really great time out here. yesterday, i did some of my first ever night hiking. had the trail not been as well-blazed as it was, it might've been a little unnerving, but it was really awesome. when we got done, it was neat to just sit down and look up at the stars and know that i had nowhere to be and nothing i needed to be doing.

i'm also meeting some really awesome people. i met ranger and slow snail, a mother and daughter from vermont. the mother fell coming off blood mountain and really hurt her knee, but instead of packing up and going home, they're taking their time and doing just a few miles a day. i met a guy named dwight from alabama. he reminded me so much of mr. tommy. :) he and i got to talkin' SEC football and he was telling me that he loves it when the players get so into the game that they cry. he told me if i ever get the chance, i should watch the ole miss vs. alabama game where it was neck and neck until the last minute where alabama held the lead and archie manning cried. as he described the game to me, he teared up and didn't apologize for it. :) his family is all accounted for from the tornadoes except for his mother in a nursing home. y'all please pray for dwight and slow snail. dwight's wife picked him up this morning (he was only section hiking), so he should have some news about his mama, but everybody affected by the alabama storms still needs so much prayer. and yesterday we did some of our first rock scrambling (having to use all fours to climb), and i don't know how slow snail will safely be able to manage with her bum knee.

i haven't really gotten a firm trail name yet... till and miss janet both called me patrick ("hey look... it's patrick and swayze") so i signed a few log books as patrick, but then tonight "our" group of four were standing around in the parking lot just havin' a good ol' time and they called me giggles 'cause i tend to laugh... a lot. so we'll see... maybe i'll give it some more time?

andddd i finally found a raincoat/jacket for swayze tonight. i'm so excited that she won't be cold anymore and that i won't have to share my fleece. :)