But Baby It’s Cold Outside…

Left Erwin on May 4th, on Skye Stalker’s birthday,  with a plan to do at least 13 miles a day to get to Damascus,  VA to make it to trail days.  Trail days is generally a three day hiker bash of current and former hikers. It has been compared to Woodstock for hikers.  Prior to leaving Erwin,  we sent home more things that we were carrying in our pack to lighten up load.  We sent home most of our cold weather gear,  which turned out to be premature.  The day we left Erwin and several days following,  the temperature had been around 30-40 degrees. 

By the time we left Erwin there was a stench I could not decipher,  whether it be my pack or camp shoes.  Turns out through further research that the putrid smell was indeed my camp shoes. 

On our way to camp, we passed a campsite where a local drunk had been hanging around,  drinking vodka,  with other thru hikers-Carlos.  While Carlos seemed like fun,  we decided to continue our trek on to meet up with the rest of our trail family. 

We went to bed cold and hungry that night because it was windy and rainy,  and we didn’t want to go outside and cook.  We didn’t want to cook in our tent either and make our current home seem like a scene from a Breaking Bad episode.  We settled for Slim Jim’s and Gummi peach rings for dinner. 

The next morning we woke up to the sound of our neighbors and Carlos talking and drinking vodka at like 9:30 AM, a hole in our now second tent (we think Skye Stalker’s harness got caught and ripped it) ,  and a cold wintery mix of weather.  Carlos had migrated from the previous camp to ours and was trying to convince others to go on a joy ride with him and drink vodka.  He already convinced another thru hiker-Sharknado. 

I should have known by the start of the day it could have been a spin off of Alexander’s Horrible,  No Good,  Very Bad day.  Before leaving camp we did the traditional camp chores with the addition of calling L.L.BEAN for a new tent,  and trying to devise a plan to get rid of my putrid camp shoes.  While Snorlax was on the phone with L.L.Bean,  I flagged down Carlos who had been driving up and down the mountain road in a PT cruiser.  He drove this thing all over the place like a Nascar driver heating up the tires but much slower and likely not the same purpose.  Carlos being polite as he is,  not only agreed to get rid of my putrid camp shoes,  but also offered vodka to me – all not even before 10:30 AM.  I politely declined. 

Once we left camp we made it half a mile up (straight up) the mountain,  in the cold,  snowy/rain mixture before Princess Skye Stalker decided she just didn’t feel like hiking today.  So Princess Skye Stalker went back down the mountain and went back to our last camp spot and laid down.  A common saying on the trail is hike your own hike.  Well,  when you are hiking with your pup,  it’s hike your dog’s hike.  I ended up carrying the 50 pound Skye Stalker (and her pack) up part of the mountain until she decided she was ready to hike.  We only did about 5 miles that day and thought we had lost our trail family until Damascus. 

Luckily we were able to catch up with them but due to cold and crappy weather,  our miles didn’t catch up to original plan to hike into trail days. 

The next day our motivation started off strong but went down quick – not for any bad reason but for the same reason which ironically keeps us going some days-Trail magic!  Waves (a 2015 thru hiker) and his friends Carolyn,  Alison,  Dave (and Leland not pictured) provided us with some sweet trail magic and as always,  great company. 

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While at trail magic,  we received an update on our favorite local (who may indeed be loco) Carlos.  Fellow hikers shared that Carlos showed up to one of the hostels with his intoxicated side kick Sharknado.  They had still been cruising around on the bender in the PT cruiser.  They stopped in at the hostel and not too long after they had been there,  the boys in blue paid a visit.  In an attempt to blend in,  Carlos had grabbed some trekking poles and started walking.  He didn’t make it too far before he was being held at gunpoint. 

The officer allegedly knew Carlos because he had said,  “God Dammit Carlos we been friends for too long,  don’t make me do this”

In the midst of all of this,  the owner of the hostel came out and said,  “entertainment is free here at Uncle Johnny’s”

Carlos and Sharknado were later arrested for Grand theft auto.  Apparently the PT cruiser wasn’t theirs.  I may never know if my putrid camp shoes made it to the trash or not.  If not,  then I feel really bad for the owner of that PT cruiser. 

Because our miles didn’t go as planned,  we needed to hitch into one of the smaller towns to pick up more food.  We hitched a ride in the bed of someone’s pick up truck which was fun. 

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The guy also gave us a ride to the beer store.  While waiting for our friends in the store,  the driver informed me he had 3 DUI’s in the past… Little did we know he had an open beer in the front too and it was his idea to go to the store to get more!  We made it back to the trail safely,  but he made a point to tell us at least 3 times to be safe.  I really think it was him we needed to worry about. 

That same day we ended up backtracking – which I know we say we never do.  However, a section hiker had fallen on the rocks so Veto and I went back to help.  We are happy to report she is OK now and it was worth the backtracking. 

We stayed at barn converted into a shelter one night. 

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It had a great view.  (That’s just Veto frocklicling in the background)

While we were there,  there was another dog there that the owner had leashed and kept barking at Skye.  She eventually put the dog in the tent.  However,  the dog ripped through her tent to get to Skye Stalker. Let’s just say things were OK but it got awkward after. 

Skye Stalker met Murphy the dog which had been popular on the Internet for awhile.  There was a story which went viral saying the dog was rescued in the trail – long story short – it was not but she’s still super cute. 

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Since our last update we have stayed at a hostel for the first time. 

We have gone over 400 miles.  We are officially done with North Carolina and Tennessee and entered Virginia. 

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We did make it to trail days but we got a ride in and went back to where we left off hiking after.  Trail days was fun-Skye got a complimentary check up and she is awesome.  Stubborn some days but awesome.  A friendly tip from the vet to help pack on extra carbs for Skye Stalker – baby food. 

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We went to hiker prom at trail days-our duds were from a thrift store.  We were covered in denim seeing as though we haven’t been able to wear it for weeks now. 

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We got a lot of gear repaired for free and an awesome foot wash from the One Way Ministry.  Steve was the man who did the foot washing and also did a prayer for us!

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Thank you to Game Warden’s dad,  Dean for the dog treats.  Skye Stalker loves them. 

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Thanks to our awesome neighbors at trail days who provided us with some awesome meals. 

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We did graduate from dumpster beer to trash bag beer at trail days.

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At some point,  and I do not know how or when,  I managed to develop poison ivy.  Like a lot.  I have it on my feet,  my legs and my butt cheeks (yes – that is right). Hiking and sleeping have been somewhat challenging with the presence of constant itching,  blisters,  and ooze. Nothing says through sickness and health like your husband putting calamine lotion on your butt. 

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Skye Stalker got a new collar because hers kept falling off. 

Snorlax and I are down about 10 pounds each.  Skye Stalker about 7  pounds. 

We both got new camp shoes,  and both upgraded from the mini Sawyer squeeze water filter to the big squeeze (much better!)

We have seen some pretty big snakes

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We bathed in a river for the first time

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One of our new favorite recipes on the trail is what I like to call poor man’s pad Thai.  It is chili Ramen,  peanut butter and peanuts. 

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We hiked through a cow pasture one day which was really cool.  However,  Skye stepped in poop and when we had to lift her over the barbed wire fence,  Snorlax managed to get cow poop on him. 

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I saw two Cubs recently which really startled me to say the least.  The first I just heard a noise in a bush and looked over to see the Cubs head pop up but soon ran away.  I immediately grabbed Skye Stalker and picked up some speed,  leaving Snorlax behind (not on purpose).  I started making more noise along the trail and soon after I heard something in the tree and looked up to see a bear going down the tree like a fireman down a fire pole- and let me tell you that fire was lit right under my tush. 
I did not get a picture because that was the last thing in my mind.  We did manage to make it close to 20 miles that day and I’d like to thank those baby bears for that. 

Right now we have managed to get out of the “hiker bubble”.  Many hikers skipped miles after trail days.  I’m proud to say that we didn’t and even though we didn’t get to hike there initially,  we eventually hiked back to Damascus. 

I do apologize for the delay in updates as we have had limited time and technical resources.  I’d like to thank you all for the continous support,  and thanks again for those who have donated to us on our page.  This post was longer and more scattered than usual due to the time between posts but I hope you all still enjoy it.

Happy trails to you until the next post!

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