Week 20 – Elkton to Buena Vista, VA
Things are changing. The weather is getting worse. Trail family members are coming and going. But we’re still making our way south, heading to Georgia. We’re about to meet one of the best trail angels ever, and we get to gallivant around in the woods, slackpacking some more.
Day 134 (8:26am – 4:48pm, 21.7 miles, 30 degrees)
We woke this morning after another cold night. Ratatouille and I were still settling down from the rough conversation we had the previous night, as we packed our belongings and got on our way. The sun was shining bright as we made our way, one by one, down the trail. While the temperature gauge read 30 degrees, as long as we were in the sun, we were warm enough as we trotted down the trail.
After only 3 miles of hiking, we officially crossed the 900 miles mark! Only 900 miles left to go! We’re getting so close!
Back and forth we went as we crossed Skyline road again, and again. But each time we crossed provided a gorgeous view! Up and down and up and down the mountains we trudged. Occasionally I would catch up with Ratatouille, Legolas, Skooch or Flicker, but for the most part, I was on my own today.
While the mountain peaks were not high today, the climbs felt endless. As I was trudging up a never ending mountain, muttering under my breath about all the switchbacks, I heard something off to my right. I looked up from my somewhat trans-like trudging to see a medium size black bear watching me, as if he was wondering which way I was going.
“Hey black bear.” I hollered as he started to head away from me. “Please keep running my friend.”
The bear trotted away, up and over the peak. Realizing the trail most likely wraps around the mountain peak to the other side, the same direction the bear just head, I spent the next ¼ mile talking to the invisible black bear, just so there were no surprises around any of the bends. The Shenandoahs have certainly proven themselves as bear country so far!
After a mile or so of walking, realizing the bear and I were not going to cross paths again today, I gave up my conversation with the invisible bear and continued along my way. As the day grew old, and the sun started to settle by the horizon, I made my finally climb for the day up Blackrock Mountain. It was truly stunning!
A little under one mile later, I arrived at the Blackrock Hut. I will be spending the night in the shelter again tonight, since it is supposed to drop into the teens once more. Flicker and Legolas joined me for the night as we all snuggled into our sleeping bags. Ratatouille and Skooch tented nearby and we all did our best to stay warm through the old winter night.
Day 135 (9:22am – 3:26pm, 13.5 miles, 29 degrees)
We made it through the cold night, but not easily. I found myself shivering through the night, even with all of my layers on! This is not good! I’m no longer sure that my sleeping bag will be warm enough for me to survive through these colder than normal winter temperatures! But until I reach town, there’s really nothing I can do. Without the funds to buy a new bag, there’s really nothing I can do! I’m going to have to make this work! I just hope it doesn’t get much colder!
We dragged ourselves out of our sleeping bags, finally braving the nipping cold, and started our individual morning routines. Once packed, one by one we made the climb from the shelter back up to the AT and continued our journey south. At least the sun is out again today! We have one more night out here and then we take a warm break in Waynesboro, VA.
The day started off fairly cold, but as the sun rose in the sky, the temperatures crept a little higher. We only had a few small mountains to climb today, but the views still did not disappoint.
We made our final climb and said goodbye to the Shenandoah National Park as we made our descent to our destination for the night; Calf Mountain Shelter. Even the forests looked cold as Once again, the temperatures plummeted.
As the night drew near, the AT started to climb! Climb? I thought we were done with that for the day! Nope! Climb I must. A simple couple hundred foot climb can feel like thousands of feet at the end of a long day. Especially when you think you have completed your last climb for the day, only for another mountain to spring up in front of you, laughing at you as you stumble across every rock. Up and up I went. Where the heck is the shelter! Finally the blue trail emerged and I made my way to my home for the night.
I was the first to arrive today, so I started to unpack my gear. Ratatouille was the next, followed quickly by Legolas. Skooch rolled in when the sun had dropped. Shortly after, two weekend hikers, Kelly and her son Corbin, joined us for the night. They quickly got a fire going, much to our surprise since we thought there was still a fire ban. Apparently, a ranger had informed them that morning, that fires were now allowed in pits only. We were elated! It had been so cold and we weren’t even allowed to start fires to stay warm! This was the best trail magic in a long time! We all gathered around the fire and chatted until we had to pry ourselves away to climb into our sleeping bags once more. Kelly and Corbin, wherever you are, thank you so much for building us that fantastic fire and keeping us warm! It’s little things like that that keep us going!
Tomorrow we’ll head to Waynesboro and all 5 of us will share a nice warm hotel room! I can’t wait! But tonight, I shiver myself to sleep once more.
Day 136 (8am – 11:06am, 11.4 miles, 25 degrees)
Surviving another night in the cold, even though some of us were whimpering and shivering through the night, we woke with the sun and raced to gather our belongings and hit the trail! The faster we packed and went through our routines, the quicker we could get to town and a nice HOT shower! We were frozen to the core. None of us could wait any longer. Warmth was only 11.4 miles away!
Ratatouille, Legolas and I managed to get going at the same time and were off as fast as we could be. We meandered our way along the mountain side, clinging to the edge, climbing up and down the small mountains. As we reached the second mountain, Little Calf Mountain, I had to stop and let my critters stretch their legs. They were only out for a quick picture before they retreated to the warmth of my pack once more. Lucky little buggers!
After the quick photo shoot, and a moment to take in the gorgeous view, we were back to the races, heading for town. Our gradual descent to town was interrupted by a few small peaks, but we continued to run through the trees as the little town began to emerge before us. In the final miles, we reached a major highway and a busy road. One by one we walked the busy road until the Colony House Motel appeared. We were finally here! We quickly got our room and unpacked our gear, now in the warmth and comfort of a tiny motel room. We each took a shower as we waited for Skooch and Flicker to arrive.
As I was just getting out of my cozy, warm, shower, Skooch had arrived. “Dori. I met a trail angel on the way here. I hope you don’t mind that I brought him home with me.” She said with a huge grin ear to ear.
“Not at all!”
As we awaited the trail angels return, Legolas had managed to wrangle a local cat into our room!
The caretaker of the motel had several feral cats roaming the area, and this was one of them. All of us snuggled and pet the little critter as he lounged on the bed, king of the castle.
As we discussed dinner plans, there was a knock at the door. It was the trial angel, Bill! Skooch opened the door as this tall man with a frog hat entered the room carrying a full crock pot! He had made a stew for us! He placed it on the table and chatted with us for a long time. What a wonderful man! Legolas dubbed him Rana, which is a genus of frogs, she explained to us.
We texted Flicker the news, telling her about our new friend, and getting her pizza order as well. While the stew was delicious, a pizza for each of us was also required.
As we chatted and ate stew, it was time for me to make a very difficult call. The last few nights had made it clear to me that my 35 degree bag was not going to cut it. If I was not able to get a better sleeping bag, I would have to get off trail, or freeze! I had two thoughts; 1) see if my parents could help, 2) reach out through social media, begging for assistance. Neither of those two options were optimum, but I had no choice.
I snuck away for a bit and called my mom, chatting and updating her on my adventures.
“How are you doing out there?” She asked. “Are you staying warm?”
“Well,” I replied with a quiver in my voice and a heavy heart. “Not really.”
I preceded to tell her about how cold it has been, how I’ve shivered myself to sleep the last several nights, and how the weather forecast was looking worse in the near future. My heart was at my feet as I told her I was being forced with the fact that I may have to get off trail because of the cold. I was devastated!
“Would a colder sleeping bag help?” My mother asked.
“Yes but I don’t have the money for a new bag.” I was doing everything I could to hold back the tears. I could not believe my dream of thru-hiking the AT was crumbling before my eyes. I was getting so close to the end and Mother Nature was forcing me off!
“Hang on a minute,” she said as she went rummaging through some papers. After a few minutes, she returned. “Can you get to an outfitters today?”
“I think so, but why?” I asked.
“I can help you. I want you to go when we get off the phone and get a new sleeping bag that will keep you warm enough.” I could no longer hold back the tears. My nights had been so miserable, and dangerous recently, and I did not think I would be able to get a bag that would keep me warm enough. Without my parents help, this dream would come to an end. There was no way I could thank her enough! I cried on the phone as I thanked her continuously. After sobbing for a while, we finally got off the phone.
When I returned to the others, Rana had stepped out for a little while, so I explained the scenario to them. I asked Ratatouille if she would be willing to go with me and help me pick out a good bag. She was more than happy to assist. Now I just needed to find a ride. A few calls later and I had a ride that was willing to take us to the local outfitters! Just as I was setting up a time with the kind gentleman, Rana returned.
“I can drive you two to the outfitters,” he commented with a bright smile across his face.
“Maybe the guy you’re talking to can take the rest of us to the grocery store,” Skooch hollered.
I made the quick change and we were all set.
Off we went , Legolas and Skooch heading to the grocery store while me, Ratatouille, and Rana head for the outfitters. I chatted with one of the store associates for over an hour. Rana, in his infinite patience, walked through the store, chatting with us about gear until finally, I had a new bag. I left with a Northface 15 degree sleeping bag, something that should definitely keep me warm enough!
As we were leaving the outfitters, Rana offered to take us to the grocery store as well. What an amazing trail angel! We graciously thanked him and hurried through the store as quickly as we could. By the time we were done and returned to the hotel, Flicker had arrived! Rana spent some more time chatting with us as we solidified our dinner plans. Once decisions were made, we ordered our pizza and started to look at the weather for the days ahead.
The weather was not looking good. The next day was going to be beautiful, but the day after that called for snow, sleet, and incredibly cold temperatures. Rana informed us of a friend of his that owned several cabins and suggested we give him a call. Once again Rana came through for us! We quickly made arrangements with Chris at Royal Cabins and scheduled to get a ride for the following day.
Our game plan for tomorrow was to have one person take our gear to the Royal Cabins, then return to the hotel and we would all slackpack to the Cabins. Then the following day, we would zero as the snow fell outside. Skooch and I would go with a caretaker from the motel to the post office and get dropped off at the trail head after the rest of the crew started for the day. And . . . Break! Good game plan!
With that, Rana bid us farewell for the night. He would be back the following day to drive us if needed and to pick up the crock pot. After a little while the pizza arrived and we all gorged ourselves for the night.
Today has been a log day. A lot has happened and I now have a new, warm sleeping bag. Tomorrow I’ll ship my old sleeping bag back to my love. With an enormous weight now lifted from my shoulders, I was able to sleep, warm and sound, in the motel bed.
Day 137 (9:44am – 5:20pm, 19.1 miles, 50 degrees)
We are all eager to get going this morning and are excited for slackpacking. We all separated our gear into bags going to the cabin and gear we were taking with us for our slackpacking adventure. Ratatouille volunteered to go with the local trail angel to deposit our gear at the cabin while Skooch and I collected the packages we needed to send out at the post office. Flicker and Legolas made their way to the trail head as the rest of us parted temporarily to complete our separate tasks.
One of the caretakers at the motel offered to drive Skooch and I to the post office so we did one last check of the motel room before we hit the road. After our quick side trip to the post office, we were off to the trail head. We thanked our trail angel and took a few quick pictures before we, too, we’re on our way.
After thanking our trail angel for the generous ride, Skooch and I hit the trail. What a beautiful day! The sun was shining and it was the warmest it has been in a long time! We danced down the trail as we chatted about life and got to know each other little better.
We continued along the trial as it began to fall and rise before our feet. Before our big climb, Skooch and I decided to stop at the Paul C Wolfe Shelter for a quick snack break. Skooch called Chris at the Royal Cabins to make sure our gear had arrived safely as Ratatouille came trotting down the trail. She stopped briefly to chat with us and then continued along her way. Skooch and I followed quickly behind her.
We still had much farther to go, so we didn’t dawdle long. Once we summited Humpback mountain, the rest was mostly down hill. Down the mountain we ran, beginning to race the clock until we neared Reeds Gap. As we came up toward the road, there was Flicker in the distance! The four of us gathered together and made the decision to call for a ride to the Royal Cabins. The sun was falling, darkness was beginning to set in, and the temperatures were dropping once more.
We were not able to reach Chris, but Rana, our amazing trail angel, came to our rescue once more. He happily picked us up and dropped us off at the Royal Cabins before the rain really started to come down. But where was Legolas?
She was ahead of all of us and only had a little father to go. She should be here soon. We got the cabin and settled in for the night. But after 30 minutes, Legolas still did not show. Now we were worried! The temperatures had really plummeted and the weather was started to turn for the worse. She has to get here soon!
Ratatouille left the cabin to search the surrounding area as Rana left in his truck to see if he could find her on the trail. I was texting everyone, trying to help track her down as well. Nothing. After another harrowing 30 minutes or so, I got the text; Rana had found her off trail and was bringing her back to us. Thank God!
My heart finally rested, now knowing our hiking buddy was safe, and we eagerly awaited her arrival. Shortly, Ratatouille returned from her search and we told her the good news. Phew! Everyone was ok.
Once Rana and Legolas returned, we all had tons of question. Where did Rana find her? What happened? How did she get off trail? Was she ok? Legolas explained the ordeal as we all sat like wide eyed children listening to a riveting story tale. Apparently, when she arrived at the location where she needed to turn to get to the Royal Cabin, the trails were not well marked. As darkness descended on her, she was not able to find the right way and was attempting to get back into the AT. Rana, knowing the area well, had an idea where she would be, and had run up the side trail he suspected she had turned on to. He was right! Rana has now reached an all new level of trail angel! We all could not thank him enough! Not only for everything he has done for us, but for finding, and saving, our friend from spending a dangerously cold night outside!
Now warm and safe, we all chatted for the evening as Rana provided more food and stories. After several hours of enjoying each others company, it was time to retire for the evening. Rana bid us farewell one last time and we each made our way to our warm and comfortable beds.
What a day today has been! We covered some great mileage, just in time to wait out a nasty winter storm. Tomorrow we’ll get the fireplace going and enjoy a zero in this beautiful cabin as we watch the snow fall from the window. Thank God we all made it here safe tonight!
Day 138 (time – doesn’t matter, 0 miles, freezing degrees)
We woke from our peaceful slumber this morning with snow gentle falling outside our warm cabin windows. Slowly we all rose from our beds and gathered in the living room, ready to get a fire started in the fireplace.
With Legolas in control of the movies for a little while, we decided to watch Lord of the Rings! As we watched I turned to Legolas and said, “I’ve been thinking about how you got your trail name. If I am to be completely honest with myself, I would have to say, Gimli is the character that closest resembles my personality.”
Her eyes lit up as she exclaimed, “Gimli! Everyone I hiked with had picked a character to fit them, but I never had a Gimli!”
So at last, Legolas and Gimli had found one another!
“Let’s see if everyone else here can figure out which character I am from this movie,” I said to Legolas.
Ratatouille was the first to figure out my character, followed quickly by Flicker. But Skooch was at a loss. Eventually, we told her I was Gimli. I am not sure she was convinced.
As the snow continued to fall outside and night started to draw near, we learned that a cabin near by had ping pong, air hockey, and fooseball. Chris, the caretaker of the Royal Cabins, had left it open for our use.
“Wanna go play?” Ratatouille asked me.
We played a little of each game. Ratatouille killing me at ping pong and me beating her at air hockey. Lastly, we turned to fooseball; the game that closest resembled soccer, the sport that caused us to meet in college. Game on!
One goal after the next, the competition was steep! But eventually, I took the lead which lead to me taking the win. The game was well fought by both parties. What a great time!
All played out, Ratatouille and I made our way back to the cabin, still laughing from the fun that was had. We spent the remainder of our evening in the warmth of the cabin as the sleet and freezing rain fell outside. Tomorrow, we’ll hit the trail once more, but with somewhat more mild weather conditions.
Day 139 (9:40am – 5:40pm, 15.6 miles, 42 degrees)
Today the weather report calls for sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures. Perfect! We woke early, gathered our belongings and waited for Chris, the caretaker, to arrive to take us to the trail head. It was a short drive down the road, but we had to pile into the back of his pick up truck. We got real cozy as off we went, bumping down the road.
Once we arrived, we all clambered out of his pick up and thanked him for everything he did for us over the past day or so. With one last pic, we were on our way.
Off we went one more time. Today, we will be taking on The Priest; a 3,000 foot climb over roughly 4 miles. As all five of us made our way down the trail, we came upon a man with his dog. He introduced himself as First Aid and his dog’s name was Charlie Bear. We said our hellos then quickly made our way down the trail. Maybe we’ll see him again at the shelter tonight.
Before we could begin our climb up The Priest, first we had to climb a smaller mountain, then descend a few thousand feet, just to head right back up the mountain once more. But before we made our descent, Skooch wanted to take a quick picture of us at the top, looking at The Priest from a distance.
Down and down we went. One switchback after the next. It felt like we were part of an M. C. Escher drawing as we continuously climbed down the never ending mountain.
Up and up we went, now making our way up the never ending switchbacks. The good news was, once we reached the top, that would be the end of our trek for the day. Not too shabby! We plodded on, spreading out as our staminas varied and our paces differed. Eventually, one by one, we made our way into The Priest Shelter; our resting place for the night. I quickly set up my sleeping pad and bag in the shelter as we all claimed our stake for the night. As we were going through our nightly routines, in walked First Aid and Charlie Bear! We got to know our new friends as we chatted until we could no longer stand the cold. Tonight will prove to be another freezing night! But tomorrow, we’ll be in Buena Vista with a warm motel room and beds.
Day 140 (8:49am – 2:30pm, 14.4 miles, 30 degrees)
My gosh is it cold this morning! I did NOT want to crawl out of my warm and snuggly sleeping bag! But the sooner I get to Hog Camp, the sooner I can get to Buena Vista and be warm!
Each one of us this morning had he same idea. Get up, get out, get moving, ASAP! So we quickly went through our routines and off we ran!
Since we had gotten to know First Aid and Charlie Bear, we asked if he wanted to join us at the motel. He was happy to join us. We now had two more trail family members! The more the merrier!
Each one of us made our way as fast as humanly possible through the woods. We all became dispersed through the trail, our paces putting miles between us.
By lunch time, I was completely alone. Ratatouille and Skooch were somewhere ahead of me. Legolas, First Aid and Charlie Bear, and Flicker were somewhere behind me. I decided stopping at a shelter for lunch would be a good idea. It was not too far off the trail. Perhaps I’ll see the others go by!
I stopped and dropped my pack at the Seeley-Woodworth Shelter and began cooking up some Ramen for lunch. What a great way to warm up, but with a nice, hot, lunch.
I sat and enjoyed my meal as I started to hear an odd, barking sound in the distance. Wait a minute. That’s not just one bark, but several. Then I realized they were coming from all around me. Maybe there’s some coyotes tracking something near by. I sat and listened as I watched the trail for any of my trailmates. The barks drew closer. And closer. And closer yet! Now the hair was starting to go up on the back of my neck. Are they hunting me!? Are these bear dogs or coyotes? How close are they!
As these questions were racing through my mind. The sounds grew too close for comfort and I sprang up as quickly as I could, my knife in one hand and a trekking pole in the other, as I jumped on top of the picnic table, doing my best to see my attackers. If I’m going down, I’m at least taking a few with me! I spun around and around as the barks continued to close in. I never did see any of my trailmates make their way down the trail. I could see nothing approaching but the sounds were painfully close by now. Suddenly, something white ran, top speed, down the trail, heading north. I could not make out what it was; a coyote or a dog. But that was it for me. I didn’t care. Now was my chance. The barks started to grow farther away as I raced to clean up and pack my gear. With not a moment to spare, I was running down the trail as fast as my little legs could carry me, heading south, away from the barks! I hope whoever behind me is ok!
I raced down the trail, and just when I thought I was safe, the barks started to grow louder once more! They were coming back up the trail in my direction! Oh my God, I’m going to get hit from behind! I flew down the trail, racing for the next mountain ridge. Don’t trip! Don’t fall! My heart pounded as I placed one foot carefully, but quickly, in front of the other. I’m almost there! A quick glance over my shoulder, with one hand ready for my knife. Nothing. Ok I can make it!
As I approached the next mountain ridge, the barking became louder and louder, closer and closer. A few more steps and I was on the next ridge. I only hope they won’t follow!
Another peak over my shoulder. Nothing! I raced down the trail, my legs growing weak. I can’t keep this pace up much longer. But I don’t know if they will follow. As I struggled up the mountain about as fast as I could, the barks grew fainter and fainter. After a while, I realized, I was safe. Whatever that was, had stayed on that ridge. With no signal, I could not warn the others. I hope they make it through ok. That was the most fear I ever experienced on the trail!
I slowed my pace and continued, alone, down the trail. Ice hung in the trees like a thin glass coat. Too tired to go farther, I took a short break. I don’t have too much farther to go. I’ll just take a short snack break here. A branch lay on the ground before me with chunks of ice that had broken around it. Boy is it cold today!
As I sat on my pack, munching on my snacks, I checked my phone to see if I had service. As soon as I switched off the airplane mode, my phone started to vibrate. Several texts came through from Legolas and Skooch. They were waiting for me in a car. They had gotten a ride to town. I quickly texted them back.
Am I too late?
We can wait, how far away are you?
20 minutes! I can run the last mile to get picked up. Heck I just ran a few miles from whatever was hunting me! Why not.
Once again, I quickly packed my gear and took off down the trail. Leaping over rocks and downed trees, I ran through the woods. The minutes ticked by but I was keeping a great pace. I am not stopping! I’m getting there!
I rounded the final ridge and sprinted down my final descent. There was the car waiting! Whohoooo! As I made my way to the car, I saw First Aid and Charlie Bear, Skooch, and Legolas. Apparently, Legolas and First Aid and Charlie Bear had passed me during lunch. They did not hear the coyotes. But Flicker was still miles behind me. We sent her the information to get a ride and were off. She was still hours behind us. But she’s a strong hiker and she has the information to get herself a ride to the motel. She should be fine.
Marcia, the wonderful trail angel that picked us up, dropped us off at the Buena Vista Motel. We checked in, split into two rooms, and claimed our beds for the night. A few of us tried texting Flicker through the remainder of the day. We got a few replies, but they were not looking good. She was battling the cold and moving slow! Now we were worried about her! But there was nothing we could do! We told Marcia about Flicker and had her on the look out, waiting for a text from Flicker. The night was growing near. Still no Flicker. And we had not heard from her in a while!
Legolas and I decided to make our way across the street for a quick bite of dinner. We were both very concerned about Flicker and were desperately trying to reach her. We ordered our food and turned around. There she was! Flicker was sitting at a table with an older couple!
“Flicker!” I exclaimed, overcome with joy seeing her safe and warm. “We were so worried! I’m so glad you’re here! What happened?”
She had tears in her eyes as I placed one arm understandingly around her as she described the torment she endured. She was weak, tired, cold and hungry. She had made it to the road several hours after us, but as night descended, and she reached the road, she had no signal. With no way of getting out a text, she was scared and upset, thinking she would have to spend a very cold night alone outside. Just then, the older couple arrived and drove her to town.
They introduced themselves to us and pulled us aside. They were insistent that she get off the trail immediately! They were not going to let her out of their site until she had a plane ticket home. We understood completely and agreed. She had not been doing well and tonight’s close call was close enough. We comforted her as she made the call to her parents. Tickets were purchased. Plans were made. Today would be Flickers last day on the trail.
My heart sank. I was now on my own. Ratatouille had decided to get off trail in Buena Vista as well, and the rest of my trail family would get off trail in Daleville. I officially had no one to hike with after Daleville! And my heart broke watching Flicker go through all the emotions any of us would go through, needing to make a tough decision to get off the trail. With not a soul to hike with, I may be faced with the same tough decision soon.
“Flicker,” I said softly, “if I could get off the trail right now, I would too. Don’t worry, you can get back on when the weather improves. Everything will work out.” What I said was true, after all. It was miserable out here in these temperatures! But I had no way to financially get off the trail. I had to keep going, or abandon my dreams forever. If I had a flexible job, or the money to do it, I, too, would wait out the cold and return in the spring.
She sobbed a little as we hugged and consoled her. We promised the older couple she had a warm bed waiting for her and we would take incredibly good care of her. They were not satisfied until we gave them our contact information and pointed at where we were staying; just across that street. Finally satisfied, wearily, they turned her over to our good care. We thanked them continuously for returning our friend to us and taking such good care of her. These two wonderful people were the biggest trail angels I had yet to meet on the trail! Without them, we may not have seen our friend Flicker again! They were the true definition of angels!
They insisted on driving us across the street to the motel and bid us farewell, but only after reminding Flicker to let them know if she needed anything. Now warm, cozy, and amongst friends, Flicker was able to come to terms with delaying her finish of the AT. She will be back! She will finish! She is a strong hiker! She will be a completed SOBO thru-hiker!
We all snuggled into our beds, all of us mulling over the events that occurred today and what lay ahead. I have no idea what I will do after Daleville! But for now, I won’t worry. I’ll enjoy my trip until then with the remainder of my trail family.
This ends a very emotional portion of my journey. From this day forth, I hike solo. Yes, I will be with First Aid and Charlie Bear, Skooch, and Legolas, but Ratatouille, my trail sister, who has been with me from day one, will no longer hike by my side. Flicker, someone I have come to know as a firm member of my hiking family, will also be moving on. I am sad to see them both go, but look forward to what lays ahead. I wish them both the best of luck and hope they continue to enjoy their AT adventure sometime in the near future. What lies ahead? Read more in the next entry! Until then. . .
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