What now?

Hello! It’s been about two months since I officially completed my trail adventure, but it’s felt more like six months. The 5 and a half months I spent on trail felt more like two months…anyways, I want to thank everyone who supported me throughout my hike and sent words of encouragement my way. I enjoyed sharing my experience and, though it was challenging to articulate everything I wanted or feel like I could do the trail justice in simple blog posts, I hope you got somewhat of a glimpse into what thru-hiking the AT can entail. The trail is about so much more than the miles. If you have even the slightest inkling of an idea to thru-hike percolating in the back of your mind DON’T IGNORE IT! I am forever grateful to myself for following through with this goal and for everyone who helped me along the way.

I would jump back on trail in a heartbeat if it was feasible, and the time will become right for another long trail eventually, I’m sure of that. The JMT, SHT, and Camino are shorter trails I’m most interested in pursuing in the near future.

About two weeks ago I moved to Asheville, NC, which was top of my list for places I wanted to move post-trail. I am the Development & Marketing Director at a nonprofit here that helps individuals who face developmental and socioeconomic challenges live more independent lives; this is an opportunity I am really excited about. Asheville has a lot to explore and, importantly, the mountains are just a short drive away! I’ve already made my way back to Max Patch and hiked Mount Mitchell since getting here. I think (know) I’m addicted to hiking.

Happy to share more with anyone thinking about going off into the woods for a while…I highly, highly recommend it.

This bed is too comfy?

Here I am laying in a plush, king size hotel bed and I can’t sleep. Figures. Hotels are great for showers and AC, but I’ve found I sleep much better in the woods. Yesterday Plug, Which Way and I pushed 25.7 miles into Manchester Center, VT. I miscalculated my food supply (or might just be eating more) and was a day short, so needed to get into town to resupply rather than waiting until the morning.

I am currently at mile marker 1653; yesterday we passed the 3/4 mark. Less than a quarter of the trail left as we enter into some of the most challenging miles. Even though it had only been about 4 days since my last shower (and longest I’ve gone without a shower is 9 days), coming into town yesterday was the grossest I’ve felt all trail. There has been a pretty tough heat wave, so the humidity and bugs have been a challenge.

We are starting to pass SOBOs (southbound thru-hikers who start in Maine), which makes the end of trail feel within reach. It’s hard to believe this adventure is nearing the end, but I know the last 3 states are some of the most challenging hiking. I try to not take a single day for granted or become complacent that Katahdin is any sort of guarantee. My boots I got back in Front Royal, VA are nearing their last straw, so I am hoping to get a new pair and a new (non-smelly) hiking outfit to last me to Katahdin before I hike out tomorrow.

Physically, the trail continues to wear on people. Even after this many miles, we are still pushing our bodies most every day. Blisters are reforming, we go to bed sore at the end of each day, the heat and humidity zap our energy, rocky terrain means risk of falling, mud makes for wet feet, and the constant flies trying to bury into your hair truly test your sanity. At this point though, the adrenaline and excitement to push through these final 3 states outweighs any physical pain.

Some highlights from CT, MA, and the beginning of VT:

Rabbit came out and hiked with me for 3 days!

Always thankful for the jugs of water trail angels leave along the way. Especially during this recent heat wave!

A picturesque sunset at Goose Island Pond. And the family running the cabin cooked us blueberry pancakes the next morning!

Plug and I invested in some Walmart dresses for town. (Pinoe the soccer ball is alive and well).

The climb up Stratton mountain was a Vermont highlight so far. The fire tower at the top had great views and the 3.4 mile climb was a steady challenge with beautiful terrain: fir trees, pine needles, moss, and sunlight glistening through the branches.

I’m craving some authentic maple syrup, so hopefully VT can provide πŸ™‚

– Rocket

New York has been full of (non-hiking) adventures

My New York adventures started shortly after crossing the New Jersey, New York border! My dad generously offered his house for about twelve stinky hikers to stay at, so we could venture into the city for a couple days. Walking through the city with our packs was quite entertaining.

We got some amazing views from a Brooklyn apartment and we met up with another group of hikers in the city to watch the Women’s World Cup semi match.

Yesterday we headed into Cold Springs to watch the final match and ended up spending the whole day there. We visited the pizza place twice, hung out in a gazebo, and played soccer down by the water. I am now carrying a soccer ball (who thinks it will make it to Katahdin?)

We are now all rocking henna tattoos that we face each other two nights ago at a shelter. Mine is of Taco the dog.

Hiking wise, New York is surprisingly challenging. There are a lot of steep boulder sections and it has been very hot and humid.

Under 800 miles to go…the thought of the trail ending is very daunting.

– Rocket