On The Trail

Trail journals
Today is day 18 on the trail, and I love it. I traveled with the first group I was with for about a week until we hit fifty miles. At fifty miles, Mom and I celebrated in a cool little Germantown in Helen, Georgia with two queen beds and hot food galore. I don’t think we even showered before heading to La Cabana, a fantastic hiker friendly restaurant. I achieved my goal of eating myself sick that afternoon thanks to our waiter Miguel who gave us three rounds of chips and queso.
After dinner I ran into two Cali brothers and their two dogs who I had actually seen at the summit of Springer Mountain my first afternoon starting on the 17th. They took me to this pizza joint called Pies and Pints where I also formally met James, Jay, and GG (who calls herself GG for Gone Girl). GG is a mom who has a son as old as I am and she’s here on the trail seeking not adventure but enlightenment. She’s given me more confidence in my abilities in the past week than anyone. She reminds me everyday to not sweat the small things, only look to myself for approval, and always seek adventure. Jay is a traveler and James is a husband and father of three. They are both really eccentric and talkative, it’s fun.
We have all stuck together for the most part over the last ten or so days; it’s comforting to know I have people who care about me and my journey here on the trail. The Cali brothers Dirty J and Bones have already hiked the Pacific Crest Trail together, and I love seeing how excited they are to be thru hiking again. Part of me is jealous of them, but the other part of me thanks the trail for providing great people. I’m hiking with brothers and two dogs, two things I wasn’t looking forward to missing out on.
The miles haven’t been too rough; typically we hike about ten miles each day with the exception of a nero (near zero) and an eighteen mile day practically running to Franklin for some hot food. It’s nice because most times we don’t start hiking until ten or eleven and only hike to five or six in the evening. My daily schedule is something along these lines for those wondering-
I get up with the sun (most days) and chill in bed until I’m hungry enough to make a hot breakfast like mash potatoes or oatmeal with hot coffee or tea. Then I pack up my backpack and get out of my tent to stretch, apply the miracle joint relaxer TigerBalm, and greet my group good morning. By then we all have sat around a minute and eaten so we tear down our tents and get moving.
Getting started is always the toughest part of the day; the cold stiffens your joints so much over night, so it’s majorly important to stretch at least for me. Once my body is warmed up it gets easier to climb. After two weeks I did start to feel my muscles getting stronger, or feeling my “trail legs” coming in as everyone told me they would.
I eat all day long. I think that’s one of my favorite things about the trail is that I have tremendous hiker hunger and can eat all the food I want all day long and it never shows, I just keep getting hungry. Ramen noodles, peanut butter crackers, Paydays, Snickers, cheesy potatoes, quesadillas- it’s great. Food also takes up most of our conversations while hiking as well, just like I was told.
When we get to camp we pitch tents, make food as the sun sets, then build a fire. Bones is a musician and writes his own music; he plays his little guitar, Jay plays his harmonica, and James is on the beat with his cooking pot. After hiking so many miles with aching muscles, it is so relaxing to listen to them play. It reminds me of growing up listening to my brother play his acoustic around the house, it makes me smile.
A couple days ago we reached North Carolina and passed one hundred miles so we hitched into Franklin, North Carolina to celebrate. Franklin welcomes thru hikers with open arms. The church provides all you can eat pancake breakfast, the people will take you where you need to go, there’s hiker hangouts with free food, and there are multiple hiker outfitters and resupply spots as well. If you ever thru hike, do not miss Franklin!
The trail is surrounded and supported by such generous and loving people willing to help us out with whatever we need to aid us in our journey to Maine. Humanity has hope, there’s so many good people around. This trip has overwhelmed me as people have welcomed us into their cars and homes even though we are filthy and smell and have two dogs. This past evening we were following the trail, and it passed through the Nantahala Outdoor Center at mile 136.
We didn’t make it in time to get food from the restaurant, but we did meet a man named Matt who invited the four of us, James and I, Dirty J and Bones and their two dogs Kira and Ras to stay at his house. He made us a pizza and we ate chips and salsa and queso while we visited with him. He taught me a lot about the trail and he allowed all of us a hot shower and warm beds. I appreciate him a whole lot. Everyone always told me the trail provides.
Now we’re eating a hot breakfast with hot non instant coffee watching the freezing cold rain pour down. Hopefully it will stop soon because I really hate setting my tent up in the rain haha. Hope you guys are enjoying my blogs and continue to let me know what you would like to hear more of about the trail! Peace

Comments 11

  1. Love you abbey mae!!! You are such a strong woman, keep doing you! You inspire me so much! You were made for this!

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  3. Love your communication. Prayers and thoughts with you every day. Your blog is wonderful. Keep it up. Ma

  4. Tiger balm is the BEST!
    The guy beating on his cooking pot is funny. I guess I should have sent you some spoons to clank. Lol
    I also know how you feel about listening to an acoustic guitar, JM taught me that when he stayed with us for awhile. I look forward to all the pics and blogs you post. You ROCK Abs!!

  5. Hi Abbey Mae! I’m one of your mom’s students and she was telling us about her adventures out there two weeks ago with you. I hiked in 2013 and my dad started out with me – it’s always nice to have a familiar face when you’re getting started. I was a flip-flopper (started in Harpers Ferry, went to Katahdin, took a day to drive back to Harpers Ferry, went south from there) and when I flipped, I had a really tough time leaving my trail family – they had all just finished and I had another 1,000 miles to go! My dad came out (again) and hiked 100 miles with me (again) and it was one of the keys that helped me finish.

    I see that you’re probably in the Smokies right now – great job! You’re making awesome time. Once you pass Newfound Gap (from which it is entirely possible to hitchhike down to Gatlinburg, the challenge is getting a ride back up the mountain, but persistence is key as I’m sure you’ve figured out!), make sure to take the 0.1 side trail to Charlies Bunion. Missed it on my first hike, but have since gone to visit, and the views are some of the best in the Smokies along the AT, in my opinion.

    When you get to Hot Springs, be sure to stay at Laughing Heart hostel. Give them your name – they are expecting you, and there is a free bunk there in the ladies’ bunk room with your name on it. As I’m sure you’ve seen in AWOL, shower & towel are included – hooray for the small pleasures in life!

    Looking forward to following along with your adventures! Hike your own hike, girl, and enjoy this wonderful time in your life.

    Breitside, 2013
    WV –> ME
    WV –> NC
    GA –> NC

  6. Hi, Abbey! My husband Steve and I chatted briefly with you today (Thursday, April 13) at Clingmans Dome in the Smokies. I just wanted to say how much we admire your courage, tenacity, and adventurous spirit and will be telling our young adult daughters about you as a way to encourage and honor those same qualities in them. Best wishes for happy trails!

    Rachel and Steve (Marengo, Illinois–visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

  7. You ROCK Abbey! While I love seeing your pictures on fb and insta, I just love checking in on your blog to hear your voice. You are doing it! Following your dreams and living your truth. Thank you for sharing the good and the struggles. So proud of you! xoxo

  8. Hello dear. I wish you a blessed Easter! I miss you, but so glad you’re on this journey of body, mind, and spirit. Much love! Ma

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