Days 32 to 44: My only regret about Cheese is not buying it

Spivey Gap to Mt Rogers Visitor Center

Mile 532

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote a post. The initial novelty of hiking has definitely worn off. My ankle frequently decides it doesn’t want to hold me and Bertha (my pack) up. Falling is no longer just a clumsy thing that happens here and there – it hurts a lot. Dr. Toast informed me this morning that I just need a new ankle, that’s all. For me, now more than ever having that unshakeable mindset is what keeps me going. And the views. That excitement never gets old. Mountains make me very happy.

Right after Erwin we had an little estrogen fest for a few days. There were 6 girls in the same spot. We out numbered the guys. This never happens on the AT! So we hiked together for a few days.

Barn parties are the best way to avoid big, scary storms.

Barn parties are the best way to avoid big, scary storms. Also they’re super fun with awesome people. AT community >>>

On our 17.2 mile day, Toast and I decided to take a side trail to Hampton to get Subway for dinner! It was the best decision! We did some solid miles to get to Damascus. I’m very happy to be doing the milage I had hoped to be doing by this point!

I'm already missing my favourite weirdo.

I’m already missing my favourite weirdo.

Stan and I started at Springer on February 25th and she left us on April 2nd. She hitched to Damascus while we hiked to meet her. She is one of my closest friends from back home, it feels so strange to be out here without her.

Since Damascus Toast, Pen-Dexter and I have been with a bubble of ~8 hikers. The community out here is something that will forever amaze me. Everyone just looks out for each other. The day we hit the 500 mile mark everyone was in cloud 9 at the shelter – it was awesome to get to celebrate that milestone with so many great folks!

The day we hit 500 miles was my favourite – it started out with sleet and snow. It turned Mount Rogers into a winter wonderland. Everything looks 100 times more beautiful covered in a glittery layer of snow. And right as I thought it couldn’t get any better I climbed over a rocky scramble in the Grayson Highlands and saw the ponies in the distance. It was one of my happiest moments.

So much joy.

So much joy.

We are currently hiding out from some bad weather in Marion, VA. Funny story: I set up my tent in the sidewalk outside of our room so it could dry. The wind was WILD so I even staked in the gravel. All of a sudden Pen Dexter goes “someone’s tent is blowing away” and sure enough by the time I made it out the door my tent was on the other side of the parkinglot on it way to the gas station next door. I ran ano caught it thankfully and even got some cheering from strangers in a vehicle as I carried my tent like a kite back to our room. This is my life now.

In other news, I’m sick of eating garbage. So my new goal is to be as healthy as I can be with the budget that I have. That means no more Poptarts. That was a short lived favourite. My biggest cravings on the trail are cheeseburgers, apples and peach Snapple. My average speed is ~2.5 miles/hour and I average ~17 miles/day. And as of right now I have crushed ~25% of the trail! LIFE IS SO GOOD!

BONUS:

Since Noro had completely clouded my mind I didn’t really talk about my experience up until Erwin in my last post so here’s a little recap incase you’re interested:

We left Gatlinburg on St Paddy’s day and wore tiny green hats to be all festive and stuff! It was super fun. We also saw the most beautiful view that day. Charlie’s Bunion to Peck’s Corner Shelter may have been my favourite section of the Smokies.

The cheesiest Kraft Dinner with the BEST view.

The cheesiest Kraft Dinner with the BEST view.

The day we left the Smokies. I saw the coolest thing I have ever seen – a big bird flew right in front of me with a green snake in its talons. In that moment as my feet were aching in my worn out boots I thought “well at least I’m better off than the snake!” Later that day we made it to Standing Bear. That was such an interesting experience. All 3 of us had mail there (I got new shoes!!!) I left my trusty old Patties with Lumpy – they are going to have flowers growing out of them!!

My poor old Patties.

My poor old Patties.

 

Well... Max Patch sure was beautiful even in a snowstorm.

Well… Max Patch sure was beautiful even in a snowstorm.

Hot Springs was my favourite town to visit. The tavern had the best food. I ate beef stew, grilled cheese, and salad. It was exactly what I wanted. We stayed at the Laughing Heart Hostel and were spoiled with free fruit and COTTON! Hiking out of Hot Springs was the hardest thing. The climb was challenging and knowing Hot Springs was behind us made me sad. I sprained my ankle that day and have been battling with it since. Hiking is fun! We crushed our first 20+mile day after a cozy night with Team Sardines. It was the following day that Noro took my squad down.

Back to Reality!

Tomorrow we head back to the trail. The plan is to hit Bland, VA by Thursday. I’m already excited for the subway I will eat hah

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