Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill! (Or at Least We Will Be)
So Who Are Jack and Jill?
In this case, Jack is my long-haired, 90-pound hiking partner and German Shepherd mix. Jill is me (not my real name or trail name).
How We Met
Jack and I met while I was on my way to a weekend long course with three coworkers and their three dogs, all crammed in one car. We stopped at the dollar store to meet up with our last coworker, which is where we ran into Jack.
Jack was a stray dog. The amazing employees at the store were taking care of him for two months, since he first showed up. He was nicknamed “the guardian of the dumpster.” Believe it or not, as tempting as that name was to keep, he responded well to Jack, so we went with it. We knew we couldn’t leave him there and the local shelters were all closed.
So we added one more fur body to our clown car for the weekend and three years later, Jack is still a part of my clown car. (Unfortunately we never found his owners.)
Getting to Know Jack
Jack, I think, is an Oklahoma native. We guesstimate his age to be about five and think there may be some border collie, among other breeds, in him too.
Jack has some weird quirks. He loves loud motors. The first time he heard a weed wacker it was a bit scary. He now knows only the vacuum is an acceptable loud play toy. His favorite toy is my cat’s electronic mouse on a string (very light weight for backpacking, total win for me). For some reason he can never seem to cross a stream gracefully, no matter the size. He is shy around new people, but will demand pats once getting to know you.
His current stomping grounds are: our backyard (a hay farm), the Wichita Mountains, and the Ouachita Mountains. Jack has his own gear for hiking and is vet-approved to thru!
Getting to Know Jill
I’m a 30-year-old Wisconsin native, living in Oklahoma and working as a wildlife rehabilitator. Basically, I take care of sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife. Jack is my first dog, but not my only animal kid. I also have a corn snake and unfortunately very recently lost my cat to cancer.
Working in Virginia was where my love of backpacking and hiking began. I learned most of my backpacking knowledge through the internet, so there have been many, many, many learning experiences in the past.
I am excited to walk the Virginia trails again, this time with my hiking partner, Jack. By the end of the month I’m leaving my job and starting a very long, costly, difficult, and exciting trip with my dog. Thankfully, my boyfriend, family, and friends are all very supportive of the trip.
Why Are We Doing a Thru?
It’s of no surprise that a thru-hike was my idea and it has been for the past five years. To answer the number one question asked: There is no one special reason why I am doing this. There are 1,000 little reasons to go for it, but just as many not to. I liked the idea and wanted to do it.
Before meeting Jack I was planning to do the North Country Trail, but afterward my priorities shifted. I was actually prepared to postpone my thru until a much later, undetermined, date.
Since getting to know Jack I actually found out he is an amazing hiking dog, and realized maybe a thru wasn’t off the table. That was two years ago. Now I’m excited that we are finally at a point where a thru is entirely possible. This February we will be headed NOBO on the AT, skipping Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Baxter State Park altogether. (Those are the main areas that do not allow dogs.) We hope to complete it in six to eight months.
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