Socked In

After leaving Virginia, I headed to Hampton, Tennessee. I had planned to stay at the Hiker Haven in town, and I met a trail angel called Peakseeker who offered to drop me off. I had called the hostel from the Vandeventer Shelter to make sure they were still open this time of year. They said, “Oh, um….yeah…we’re closing down, but you can stay…we should have hot water…” They said someone would pick me up. When I called them from the road, they said no one could pick me up, so Peakseeker drove me. When we got there, we couldn’t figure out where the hostel was because it was a shed behind an internet cafe. The guy running the place put a floor lamp in the shed and told me I would have to drag it into the shower if I wanted to see in there. When I asked if someone could take me back to the trail in the morning, he said, “You’re a pretty girl; you can hitch.” Peakseeker gave me a funny look and offered to take me to Kincora because Hiker Haven was giving him the willies. I gladly accepted his offer.

When we got to Kincora, Bob Peoples spoiled me rotten. He immediately offered to drive me back to the trail in the morning because I had left off about ten miles back. I said, “Cool, thanks, Bob Peoples,” and then Peakseeker took me out for pizza. The next morning, Bob and I had a nice visit while he drove me to the trail. I slackpacked the ten miles back to his place, and then I stopped there for lunch. When I pulled out a fruit pie, Jack, who helps out at Bob’s place, said, “Put that away! I have a hot meal ready for you!” He gave me spaghetti, garlic bread, and a salad. Just because. Salt of the earth, I tell you. Jack also took one look at my poles and shouted, “Bob! Get me a hammer and some vice grips!” and replaced my pole tips for me right there. Star treatment.

Bob had warned me it was going to snow in a few days, but no one thought it would stick. Well, a few days later,  I woke up to a tent buried in snow and hiked off the mountain through two-foot snow drifts. As I walked with Knee Deep and Took, the wind was icy, blowing snow in our faces. Took’s beard was covered in icicles when we finally found a Jeep to give us a ride off the mountain, after it pulled two other Jeeps out of some snow drifts. It had taken us five hours to go five miles, and I was really discouraged, thinking there’s no way I would finish my hike if I would have to trudge through snow for the last three weeks.

We took a zero day in Erwin, staying at a trail angel’s house. We ran into some other SOBOs at the grocery store, and they said the trail had been socked in. So we waited until the next day to hike out. Most of the snow had melted, so we were able to hike out, but there were still some really snowy sections that were slow and soaked my feet. I was feeling really down again. But then we had some really dry, sunny hiking, and I felt better. When we got to town, I threw away my shoes because they were falling apart, and I got new shoes, waterproof socks, and water-resistant gaiters.


This happened so my feet could stay dry in town.


Cuddle time at the trail angel's house in Erwin.

Soon I will be in the Smokies, and I’m hopeful the weather will be good. My plan now is to hike on good days and sit it out when snow is coming down.  I’ve got less than 300 miles left, and I’m ready to be done. I had another setback today, and a former thru hiker who runs a business in town overheard me talking about it. She was so nice and gave me a pep talk. I feel like I’m at the mercy of the weather right now, but I’m taking it one day at a time and inching my way toward the finish line. If you’re the praying kind, please pray for good weather! Thanks bunches of oats.


Wet feet will turn into this. No bueno.

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