Sorry I’m Not Home Right Now I’m Walking In The Spiderwebs

While there may be a song for almost every emotion or action you experience on the trail… On the trail it is not always as glamorous as the original musician may have made it. For example,  when Gwen Stefani was singing about walking through spiderwebs,  for some reason I don’t really think she was hiking daily for hours and walking through literal spider webs or the hanging silks of caterpillars.  Just a guess. 

We are a little over two months in on our adventure. We started in Georgia in early spring,  where things were still hibernating and the trees were bare.  We are now entering summer,  the trees are coated in greens and vibrant colors of the flowers which have now blossomed and have reached Virginia.  The temperature keeps getting hotter and we are now seeing more signs that us thru hikers aren’t the only wild ones out there.   When we started we had things in our pack like copious amounts of  soap.. Which we realized is not really realistic out here.  The weight of our packs have fluctuated.  What we drop in weight with gear,  it is then replaced with food. 

For the first time in our lives we can live like the fat kids we have always had living deep down inside of us. The more calories – the better!  Calories are our friends.  Jumbo Iced honey buns that have like 680 calories are the new favorite Breakfast.  Cheese is like a staple at every grocery trip.  The last grocery trip I think we left with about 22 cheese sticks,  plus a pack of cheese slices.  There have been times where you could catch a hiker eating from a block of cheese like it was a candy bar.

We value our food.  I recently dropped a sliced tomato on the ground and still ate it.  Snorlax recently ate an ant that happened to get in his food. 

Also found in our packs recently – beetles and bees.  It was quite the surprise when I went to go grab the toilet paper from Snorlax’s bag the other day and a bee flew out of the toilet paper bag.  A few days later,  as I was fumbling through my bag for something a beetle walked out of it.  Our friends recently carried a caterpillar around with them for a day.  We sometimes jump a little,  or make a little shriek.  However,  for the most part we just shrug a little,  laugh, and just brush it off like no big deal because this is our life. 

As we continue to hike through all the farm lands,  it has added additional questions. What initially started as,
“is that dirt or a tan? ” has now become, ” is that dirt,  a tan,  or poop? ”

Whether it is the weekend or not is usually determined by the increase of hikers coming from the opposite direction,  with small packs.  The big reveal that someone is not a thru hiker: the smell.  We generally can’t smell each other because we all smell.  You will know when a non thru hiker comes through because you can smell the scent of clean linen,  deodorant and fresh shampoo/soap. When a day hiker walks by its like walking into a Yankee Candle store or passing by the fragrance kiosk in a department store. 

We have made it over 600 miles and are over 1/4 way home! We are finally starting to feel a little bit faster and our feet hurt.  We are getting ready to retire the oboz sawtooth hiking shoes we started the trail with.  We had another pair at home that our family will be sending us. 

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We have bugs entering our eyes,  mouth and nose at least 5-7 times a week while hiking .  I was recently so tired and making a wrap in the dark that I accidentally left the plastic  on the cheese and took a bite. 

And while it may not be as dramatic as Samuel L. Jackson’s,  Snakes on a Plane movie,  we are seeing snakes everywhere now. 

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The snake pictured above on the bridge hung around our campsite all night.  It went up to the tree from the bridge railing and slept in the tree near us all night.  We were anxious,  imagining a scene from a safari movie where the snakes would just be dropping from the trees. 

We went to Bland, VA to get mail and more food recently and ended up staying the night because it was late. We ended up camping outside a motel because they were booked.
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Virginia has brought us multiple prime spots for swimming or at least dipping in to cool and rinse off.  And with the temperature increasing,  those water holes are key. 

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We camped at Dismal falls recently which was amazing.  We have been hiking in rain for what seems like weeks. When we had our first glimpse of sunshine with no interrupted rain storms,  we decided to start hiking late one day and soak up some rays and let things dry at Dismal falls. 

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All you can eat buffets are slowly sneaking into our routine when we stop in town.  While in Pearisburg,  VA we visited an all you can eat Asian buffet.  While Snorlax and I like to believe we excel in many areas of life,  the buffet category needs a little work.  Some of the fellow hikers there the same day had about 7+ plates.  Snorlax and I had about 3-4 plates each.  However,  I was able to finish three different four ounce cups of ice cream… Because everyone knows you can always make room for ice cream. Also,  it is key that I eat as much ice cream I can along the trail in preparation for the half gallon ice cream challenge which takes place when we reach the halfway point on the trail.  The half gallon ice cream challenge is essentially eating a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting.  The prize? Aside from being the closet thing  to an ice cream master, and having a bloated stomach-you get a wooden spoon.  We are actually out here not for the great views and connection with nature,  but for ice cream. 

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Skye Stalker has her pack back!  She has been running around like crazy chasing chipmunks and Squirrels and the chaffing has healed.   The leash is being used a little bit more now because she seems to have gotten too used to her freedom. We have experienced first hand why some say if you give them an inch,  they take a mile.  While having her out here has been great,  it can also be a challenge.  Trying to keep her basic  training she had at home and now trying to relate that to our new home in the wild is something we are trying to work on.  In Maine (our home state)  we don’t have many poisonous things and so trying to teach her to not be too snoopy can be hard.  However –  she is doing well,  we are just trying to be more cautious of these things before it’s too late. 

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Game Warden’s dad,  Dean,  visited and joined us for about 12 miles of the hike.  This was his first time hiking and he did great.  We had great weather,  great terrain (minus the mud), and great views.  We celebrated with Mexican food and margaritas.  He also brought Princess Skye Stalker some more treats! 

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As we get ready to depart Pearisburg and hit the trail,  we will be missing a big piece of our trail family.  Veto will be leaving the trail and heading home.  It was his personal choice.  While we would love for him to stay,  we support him and will miss him.  He did say he would try to visit and still do some sections with us.  (So Veto- keep those legs moving and remember that the hikers appetite may not be the same so try to avoid the 680 calorie honey buns.  We will take care of Game Warden for you!)

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Some statistics say that about 72% of  people drop off the trail.  All have various reasons – money,  injury,  personal issues,  family emergencies.  As of right now,  we know of about 7 people who have decided to leave, and some who are thinking of it. Hopefully the ones who didn’t want to leave will get that chance to come back and finish.  As we go further,  our pace and goals change and the people you are used to hiking with change. There are friends you haven’t seen for a few weeks and out here it seems like forever.  Where at home if you haven’t seen a friend for a few weeks it’s not so abnormal. 

While Snorlax, and I (and even Skye Stalker)  have had our days where we just don’t want to hike,  we aren’t done hiking. We have had our share of some bad luck – including our bank account recently being hacked.  Trying to take care of financial matters can be difficult in the woods! We just keep trekking. Not even a crappy hotel stay where the shower barely drains and the dryer I’d broke can keep us away…

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We are walking home,  slowly but surely.  Thanks again for the continous support! 

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