As planned when I started the trail, I am on my way home for a couple weeks. If all goes well I’ll be back on trail before May.
Caroline is continuing on without me and entered the Smokies today because I could not talk her into interrupting her AT hiking for a sidequest to Colorado to hike the Rockies, nor did her constant whining (like my 9 year old) of things like “Don’t leave me!! Don’t go!” change the situation.
I hope she finds cool people to hike with, or catches up to the Fellowship. Maybe a little slowly. Stopping to chat with everyone on trail for great lengths of time. Finding wonderful hostels to stay at for a few days. Staying out of the rain and cold. Taking all the time in the world to stop and pet every dog. Talking to all the snakes. Foraging all the mushrooms. And ramps. And maybe decides to go hit a beach for a week 🏖️ 🏖️ 🏖️
My plan is to do as much walking and hiking as possible during my hiatus. I’ll be resuming at Fontana mile 166 when I return, and hiking solo for a while. At some point when I’m sure I’ve got my trail legs back and can match miles, I may jump forward to rejoin Caroline and come back at a later date to do my skipped miles.
The AT was more magical than I had expected. There is a saying “The trail will provide”, and boy did it. Early on I lost a pole tip, and that same day Caroline found one in the trail. I lost that one, and she found another. And another. Hiker boxes are amazing, take what you need, leave what you don’t. And somehow the things we needed invariably were found in a hiker box.
And the people that just showed up constantly who were willing to help us out with food, a ride, information or advice. They are everywhere. Shout out to Miss Janet who somehow manages to be everywhere helping everyone all at once. All the trail angels who fed us in Georgia and North Carolina. The couple passing thru the rural gap road who drove us to Franklin, well out of their way. Solace for rescuing us from Burger King. Stone Legs who saw us about to walk a few miles for AYCE Chinese, and gave us a ride. The lady next door to us in Hiawassee with the adorable dog who gave us rides around town. The first guy who picked us up hitching. On and on.
I am usually someone who needs to make travel plans well in advance, but left it up to the universe to help me get home when it was time. I met Adam (Vulcan) last night, and today he drove me from Fontana to Asheville airport, with a brief stop for pancakes and a less brief rerouting backwards and around when the highway was closed due to wind, entertaining me with stories of all his travel adventures. Thank you.
The last month has been such an adventure. Caroline and I casually knew each other before, and I figured we’d match miles for a couple weeks and then separate as we each settled into our different hiking style. Instead we found we made a pretty good team, gave each other our trail names, and we both cried when I left this morning. We survived rain, snow, cold, heat, mud, impossibly steep ascents, my lack of prep with my gear, treacherous rocks, roots designed for twisting ankles, Loud Obnoxious Man, bruises, digging cat holes, a rainy cold zero day at the Sheeter, a wide variety of sore body parts, whining, a scarcity of showers, the threat of noro, my exploding stove, hitchhiking, The Dragon, riding in the back of a pickup, carrying thirty pound backpacks 166+ miles, a few falls, a bunkhouse at the NOC, privies without privacy, unexpectedly seeing each other’s asses (the trail needs wider trees 🤷🏼‍♀️) and sometimes a little more, laughing fits from seeing each other’s asses, long and frequent discussions about poop, relearning how to walk every morning, spontaneously driving twenty something hours across multiple states, an eclipse that did not bring rapture, and ingesting all the edible plants and mushrooms Forager found along the trail.
Despite threatening multiple times a day (and sometimes multiple times an hour) to turn around and go back to Springer, we stayed the course NOBO, Georgia to Maine.
And it has been a blast.
Would do again

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