Mile Marker’s First Two Weeks
Wow! It’s already been over two weeks on the trail – I started from Springer on March 10th. My apologies for not updating this sooner, I’ve been using Instagram and Facebook to regularly update folks, usually via photographs. I’ll try to update this weekly but it all depends on Internet access and whether my phone holds up against the elements – I’ve already had a scare with getting it wet.
So, how do I sum up the last two weeks? I’ll first start with a list of what I’ve done:
1. I’ve hiked 207 miles.
2. I’ve hiked 191 of those miles with a buddy I’ve met on the trail, who goes by the trail name “Cookie Monster”.
3. I’ve adopted a new trail name, “Mile Marker”, due to my new habit of writing down the mileage left to go above my tattoo on my heel, which, if you haven’t seen it, states simply “Miles To Go”.
4. I’ve devoured an average of 4000 calories a day, mostly consisting of ramen, chips, pop tarts, protein bars, and cookies. All fuel for the fire.
5. I’ve taken two “Zero Days”, which is where you get off trail to rest and hike zero miles for the day. I’m currently in a motel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – a bizarre mashup of self proclaimed hillbilly heaven, free moonshine tastings, and a strip overflowing with carnival type attractions for the tourists here on vacation.
6. I’ve seen no bears.
7. I’ve witnessed spectacular vistas in the Smoky Mountains, blundered through rain and sleet for 6 hours at a time, and put in up to 23 miles a day.
8. I’ve met amazing people on and off the trail. As cheesy at it sounds, this experience is definitely restoring some of my faith in humanity.
Thankfully, all of my research and hounding my fellow employees at REI for advice paid off! All of my gear is performing extremely well. I’ve needed no additional gear and have only pitched a few very minor items, like the pot stabilizer for my stove setup (it balances just fine on its own). Of course, there has been a learning curve with some of my new stuff (coughPACKCOVERcough…that blew off on a windy summit without me even noticing, luckily a fellow hiker picked it up and returned it to me).
The bad stuff? Well, you don’t hike through the mountains for 200 miles without some stuff going wrong…
1. Mice have chewed through an outer pocket in my backpack to get to pretzels I forgot about, and thought a bit of my wool hat would be good for dessert too.
2. I’ve smelled really bad most of the time. Total showers taken = 4 in 18 days.
3. I’ve been struggling a bit with Achilles’ tendon soreness, especially on high mileage days.
4. The aforementioned pack cover incident.
Other than that it has been everything I could ever wish for, and more. This is truly shaping up to be a soul-enriching journey and is just what I was looking for.
I will continue to update via photographs – I find they better capture the experience than my words I laboriously type out on this iPhone ever could, especially with the last minute investment I made in a nice camera that I could carry in my pack.
You can follow me on Instagram @andrewcrepp, or if you don’t have instagram you can still see the pictures at instagram.com/andrewcrepp/.
Thanks for following along! Stay tuned as I make my way through the Smoky Mountains and North Carolina.
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