A Little Help from my Friends

New and old friends along the trail

No doubt, I would not be able to complete this journey without the help and support from so many family members and friends. People from all parts and times of my life are supporting me in different ways. People I’ve met along the way are also supporting my efforts. Who knew social networks were so important to this endeavor?!?!

Old Friends

Last winter, I put out the call on my social media to request support. I got so.many.offers! People I hadn’t seen in years and those I see all the time offered shuttles, hosting, hiking company, letters, care packages. The outpouring of love and support humble me. Additionally, I have received affirmations from even more people on my social media and here on my blog. No one has expressed any doubts about my ability or drive to complete this epic journey, even though I’ve had some of those thoughts privately.  Thank you to all of you! You make the difficult days easier, enhance the great days as I anticipate telling you about them, and motivate me to continue when I feel like I’ve reached my end.

At least once a week, I receive a care package from someone in my family or a friend. I have letters from others and PMs from still more. All of these communications encourage and inspire me to hike more miles. Last week, I hit my all time high of 109.5 miles, including my highest day with 22 miles. I am astounded and proud!

My daughter and grandson were the first to meet me on the trail. They brought me resupply at the end of my first week and then hiked a short while with me. My grandson was so excited to be “hiking with Gigi!” My daughter also sends me care packages each month. These are full of supplies and goodies I’ve prearranged with her from items I stock-piled last year.

My sister-in-law’s friend lives near the trail. She was very happy to shuttle, host, and hike with me. Her daughter joined in, too!

My older son’s friend from high school hiked several miles with me in Massachusetts. I hadn’t seen Dale since my son got married in 2015. It was so good to catch up with him!

Just last week, a friend from my favorite running club saw my social media post while she was visiting family and knew she was in the same area as me. Right away she messaged me and asked if she could hike with me. Turns out, she was really close to where I was starting the next day! We had a great day hike catching up and talking about all sorts of things hiking or not. Bonus, she brought a day pack for me to use so I could slackpack the 14 miles. Her brother picked us up at the end of our hike and shuttled us back to her car. Super amazing day that we couldn’t have planned better if we had tried.

Several others have provided these same supports. Far too many to list here. And I didn’t remember to get photos with everyone I met up with, either. Thank you to all of my family and old friends who have encouraged and supported me in any way!

New Friends

I also have many new friends that I’ve met along the way. As I mentioned previously, I don’t really have a trail family. Being a flip flopper means there were fewer people starting in my location. My pace means I am slower than most other hikers. However, I have met many section hikers and, now that I’m on my second half, I’m running into several SOBO and flip flop thru-hikers I met up north.

The first section hiker I met frequently along the way was back in MD and PA. Squirrel and Texas (his dog) were on a LASH that was a continuation of several other LASHes on the trail. We hiked a few miles together most weeks in April, and ended up at the same shelters a few times each week, too. He helped me with some gear issues a few times, too. We still keep in touch now that he’s home.

I met Chief around the same time. He was a really fast hiker and finished his whole flip flop in the time it took me to complete the northern section. A few weeks ago he messaged me to offer support and hiking companionship. I’m hoping we can make that happen in the next few weeks. Here we are twinning in orange!

I hiked the first weekend in May with Pinocchio, Blister, and her brother (I forgot his trail name). They were a lot of fun! Here we are at the top of the Stairway to Heaven in NJ.

I met flip flopping friends Fulltilt and Hardway at the end of MA and on into VT.  I caught up to them again in NH when they were slackpacking a few days at the start of the Whites. They were hiking quickly because they were taking about a month off-trail between their sections. Fulltilt caught up to me a few weeks ago but Hardway was waiting for the heat to end before getting back on trail. This is Fulltilt after he caught up to me in VA.

Buttercup and I met up a few times at shelters and hostels in VT and NH. I enjoyed his company when I saw him. Lucky for me, I had a few opportunities to see him since he would go back home sometimes on the weekends. Apologies for the blurry pic. It’s difficult to notice that on the thumbnail on my phone.

Around the same time, I also met Doubletime and his wife (also forgot her trail name). We usually addressed each other by our given names. They were finishing up their thru-hike from last year. We hiked together off and on through VT and NH, as well as met up at shelters and hostels. We still keep in touch, too.

Up at the Maine border, I met section hiker, Genesis, and NOBO thru-hiker Thunderdome. We hiked the Goose Eyes and then Mahoosic Notch together. Thunderdome continued on his way the next morning while Genesis and I took our time getting out of camp and hiked over Mahoosic Arm and Speck together.

In the southern section, I met section hiker Gonzo in Shenandoah National Park. We met at camp one night and talked about our hiking plans for the next day. It was my first 20 miler, but he wasn’t planning to go that far. A few hours later he caught up to me and told me how he had come to the decision to hike with me. We hiked together the next day, too, and still keep in touch.

Recently, I’ve had SOBOs catching up to me. Some of them I met up in ME, others are new friends. I’m also hiking with and around other section hikers. Brandon and I have been hiking around each other for a few weeks now. He hiked thru-hiked the Allegany trail and then continued on the AT. We’ve ended up at the same shelters and hostels a few times. Cowboy is a SOBO thru-hiker that I’ve also run into at a few hostels. Here we all are from last week when we escaped the rain.

Even though these are new friends, I have found camaraderie and support from them, too. They encourage me and offer me different perspectives of life on the trail. Where do you get support for your journeys? Or what support do you offer the adventurers in your life?

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Comments 3

  • ThunderDome : Jun 8th

    Thank you for helping me get through Moosic Notch. If not for your advice on that one part I probably would’ve fallen into one of those deep chasms never to be seen from again. Congratulations on finishing.

  • Kristine Hartlaub : Jun 8th

    Thunderdome!!!! Hope all is well with you and you still get to hike often with your son.

    That was a crazy section! So.much.fun to hike through it with you two! And I thought it was hilarious that you guys scouted the most challenging ways to get past that obstacle when I find an easy path we could walk around. Lol


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