From Hiker Trash to Trail Angels to Zero Heroes and Back Again

BigFoot and I (now Micro) began our journey on The AT March 22nd. We expected to be to Damascus by this time, but here I am updating from Erwin 7 weeks and 341 miles later.

We had a wonderful first two weeks on The Trail, but we knew something was wrong at mile 100. BigFoot was feeling some serious pain in his heel. We hobbled our way into Winding Stair Gap and hitched directly to Shoney’s for some all you can eat therapy.


Our friend Wiggles, a 2011 thru-hiker, lives nearby and came to pick us up. She showed us some wonderful hospitality and graciously put us up for what turned into four zeros.

During our time in the Franklin area, we decided it would be fun to camp. Wiggles took us to Yellow Mountain. The mountain was intended to be a housing development site, gated entry and all. Despite spending countless dollars and attempting to drill for water 11 times, the mountain turned up dry and the houses were never built. Still, you need a code to get to the top. Luckily, she had it and we had a wonderful night camping in the firetower.


On Easter Sunday BigFoot, Wiggles, and I decided to spend this zero in the best way possible – we became Trail Angels for the day. We came with deviled eggs, colored hard boiled eggs, Peeps and other Easter candy, bacon, chicken quarters, and sodas. Many of our hiker friends were moving on, and we were lucky to show them some hospitality.



After four zeros, Wiggles took us back to Winding Stair Gap, and we tried to continue hiking. But BigFoot still had strong pains in his foot. We hiked the 25 miles from Winding Stair to The NOC in five long days.

Well, plan B. It’s always nice to have family you can count on. After a burger at the NOC, we grabbed a six pack and made a sign. We hoped to find a ride to BigFoot’s cousin in Chattanooga to get some medical attention.

Within half an hour, we had a ride – in a 35′ RV. With a former Olympian kayaker. Life is hilarious.


Within a couple days, we saw a doctor who confirmed our suspicion of Achilles Tendonitis. BigFoot was given a prescription anti-inflammatory and an orthopedic boot.

While we were glad the mystery was solved, we were very fearful that our trip was coming to a close much quicker than anticipated.

But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, add vodka, and drink it on the nearest beach. So we rented a car and did just that.

From Chattanooga, we drove about 10 hours south to the Tampa area. We found Fort De Soto park, pitched our tent, and swam with the dolphins. This is how you zero in style…


After two days of beach life, the itch to travel didn’t leave us. So we hit the road and visited a friend 10 hours away in New Orleans. It was both of our first time in the city so we did what tourists do – got drunk on Bourbon Street.


In a week with a rental car, we drove almost the entire length of The AT. And, though we had a blast, all 11 days off we were dreaming of our return to The Trail.

Well, we returned to Chattanooga, returned the car, and were graciously driven back to the NOC. We started out slow, trying to baby the injury as well as possible.

BigFoot with his big boot! Glad it's working - weigh the extra 3ish lbs!!

BigFoot with his big boot! Glad it’s working – worth the extra 3ish lbs!!

And, really to our surprise, it worked!!! We hiked from the NOC to Fontana Dam in four days making new friends along the way. We had a fun stay at The Hilton and were very excited to make our way through The Smokies.



We had quite a wild adventure there and a magical day on Max Patch. We fell in love with Hot Springs and The Laughing Heart Hostel. We made new friends and are trying to catch up with the original crew.

Four happy Appalachian Trials bloggers loving Max Patch!!

Four happy Appalachian Trials bloggers loving Max Patch!!

Long story short – we’re back and thrilled to be here!!!



Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • slovakiasteph : Jun 3rd

    I met ya’ll at the spring before Vandeventer and again at the shelter! Found your blog rather randomly– when it said you were from Indy, thought I should check. Also found the other Hoosier from our group that night, double-check, on trailjournals. Good luck with your hike!


What Do You Think?