Quarter Way Thru: So much more to do!

Hooray! As of  this week we are one quarter of the way thru the trail! A royal 600 miles down… and I rather not say how much more to go. To say the first 25% has been a steep learning curve would be an understatement, it’s been like climbing half dome- the sheer rock face way.

With these learning moments come hilarity, confusion and downright foolishness. Things that no amount of YouTubing or googling could prepare you for- which is amazing, there’s nothing like living it. However I’m going to try and recount some of my top moments on trail from the first 500ish miles, and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes, or at least give you a chortle from a nice air conditioned room.


My favourite memory: Hiawassee is an awesome trail town that is really set up to ease hikers in. Whether it’s your first time or fifth thru hike, they make you feel really special. In fact, when we got into town, the Mayor was grilling hot dogs and burgers for us! Absolute guests of honour. The hiking around is nice and beautiful, you’re still full of life and excited for your adventure. It really is all diamonds and roses here.

My regrets: Georgia really set us up. The first week of march was a balmy 65 degrees  F (16 c) every day. Even the tornado. Really makes you feel like winter is done and dusted; you’re safe, maybe you’ve even sent home your winter gear…PSYCH. Read more on that later…

My regrets for Georgia are mainly not slowing down and enjoying the moment. Everything is a frantic blur of excitement and hiking and the state is really over before you know it. Which is a real shame because you only get to start your first thru hike once! Being new and inexperienced can be dangerous, but it can also be incredibly fun!? Learning a new thing every day, meeting people from all walks of life, making mistakes; all these things make every day so exciting.

North Carolina

My favourite memory: Entering our home state was an incredibly emotional experience. It made me remember what we’ve left behind to come out here, but also how beautiful it is back in NC. Our old life in Asheville and our new existence on trail managed to coincide as we took a zero in town and saw old friends. We also took advantage of people wanting to support us and had some banana bread and tea hand delivered to us on Max patch! What luxury! It was nice to be reminded that there are people at home cheering us on through every step of the trail.

My regrets: I didn’t pack a heated blanket. For real, it got really really cold while we were out there! When it dropped down to 4 degrees F I really began to question what I’d signed up for. You research the best sleeping bag, pads, tents and gloves, but when they get put to the test like that? All this internet talk seems like absolute drivel. My positive takeaway was that NC taught me to be uncomfortable; the line between danger and discomfort is a thin one and is sometimes a balancing act, but it’s one that must sometimes be walked on a thru hike.


My favourite moment: Though it pains me to put the Great Smoky Mountains NP in Tennessee not North Carolina I’m going to have to. We got off trail for a wedding around Roan mountain, so we didn’t get to experience everyone else’s favourite part of TN so far (We are however planning to return to that section in the fall!)

The Smokies were drop dead gorgeous. Yeah, we’ve been to them before, but there was something different about living in them for week. The word Shaconage meaning ‘Land of Blue Smoke’ is the Cherokee word for the Great Smoky Mountains, and it’s a perfect description. I did find this song about them a couple years back while I was at the Dolly Parton stampede that kind of explains the feeling better than I ever could.

That reminds me, I’m practically working as a tourist bureau worker for Pigeon Forge while I’m on trail. God, I love that place. As an international alien in America, it’s like the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood sign and Myrtle beach raised a child just outside the Smokies. For people watching, and dinner shows it is A++.

My regrets: I didn’t practice digging more holes for the bathroom. Tennessee has no privies. I don’t know how I missed this. Whenever I read any blogs now all I see is ‘REMINDER, THERE ARE NO PRIVIES IN TENNESSEE’. Maybe I couldn’t read what I didn’t want to see. At about the 400 mile mark your trail bowels kick in too-you can get struck with an urge at any time. Prepare to dig. Fast. I’ve gotten a lot closer with my tramily now that every day involves someone throwing their bag off and sprinting into the woods without warning.



My favourite memory: Virginia is still very young on our thru. We’re only 150 miles into it’s 550 mile length. I’m okay with that because so far it’s been fantastic! Spring is springing, the sun is warming and the terrain is flattening out. Though towns have been more infrequent, the people are even nicer. It may just be me becoming more comfortable in trail towns, but so many people are opening their doors and businesses to accommodate us. All that is asked of us is some politeness and a show of gratuity. Which really isn’t a lot.

A prime example, after talking to a gentleman about how much I enjoyed the town we were in, and how I’d never caught and skinned a rabbit in my entire life *shudder to even think about me trying* he gifted me an eighty dollar knife just in case I ever had the urge to try. It was my welcome to America gift and I hadn’t the heart to tell him I’ve lived here for 4 years. I immediately sent it home, because I’m more likely to burst my air mattress than do anything useful with it.

My regrets: Not taking up yoga at the age of 5. This seems to be the point of the trail where everyone’s body is slowly falling apart. Random pains and aches are catching up with everybody. Which, of course they will? We’re hiking 600 miles, you can’t really physically prepare for that, apart from hiking another 600 miles. However, rest time is becoming as important as hiking time; getting off your feet and relaxing seem to be the key to getting further down trail. Just because you can hike 30 miles in a day, doesn’t mean you should! I’ve seen hikers in a better shape than me get off trail because they’ve pushed their body too hard. Showing some love and eating well seems to be the key to get through Virginia so far. Im never going to eat the 6000 calories I burn each day, but no one can stop me from trying. Especially the lady at the Chinese buffet. Try me again!

So I hope the next quarter is even better than this one with even more learning curves. As spring turns to summer, and Virginia turns to West Virginia, hopefully I’ll turn into an even better hiker.

To read a deeper insight into our time on trail, read our hiking buddy Pinky’s take on our first month of trail!

Slinky Section

’Troutville is the dream destination to celebrate a birthday!’

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