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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Take your shirt off, Twist it round your head, Spin it like a Helicopter

We are in North Carolina!

Franklin, North Carolina to be exact. Yesterday we passed the 100 mile mark on the trail! Only 2079 to go...

Today also marks 2 weeks since we started and we are feeling very accliamated to life on the trail. After we left the hostel at Neels Gap, we hiked three days to Hiawassee, Georgia, slept in a real bed at a wonderful hostel called the Blueberry Patch and woke up to a hot breakfast: cheese biscuits, sawmill gravy, sausage, pancakes with blueberry syrup, orange juice and fresh brewed coffee. (I realize that i spend a lot of time going into detail about the meals at these hostels, but they are worth going into detail about after 3-4 days of dehydrated meals!)

We hit the trail that afternoon and made it to a shelter just after dark. Set up our hammocks in the dark, cooked and ate dinner in the dark (in the privy as a matter of fact so as not to wake up the folks sleeping in the shelter) and hung our bear bag in the dark. Woke up to rain and soaking wet gear a few hours later... (top of the to-do list: get better tarps, with more coverage, for our hammocks.) The forcast for the day was thunderstorms, so we ended up just hanging out at the shelter all day and letting our stuff dry. There were quite a few others with the same idea.
So we kept warm by creating a make shift tetherball court and tetherball tournament and we made a big potluck dinner that night out of stovetop, mashed potatoes and zuccini! AND there were a couple guys from Michigan who had a deck of cards, so of course there was Euchre.

Then the weather cleared up and we had a couple big mile days and here we are in Franklin, North Carolina.

Before I wrap up, I need to explain a phenomena out here on the AT called "Trail Magic." Trail Magic is any stroke of good luck or unexpected act of kindness experienced while hiking. It appears most often in the form of hot food at a trail head or fresh apples where the trail crosses a road, but can be anything. Here for example, the morning we hiked up and over 'Kelly Knob' it was very windy and spitting rain with 40 degree temps and when we came to the road at the bottom of the mountain, Nancy and Cheryl (and their husbands) had a big pot of chili and a cooler full of pepsi and were dishing it out for us before we even crossed the road. They also gave us a ride into town (10 miles up the road). Trail Magic.

There are so many people on or around the trail that will give the shirt off their back to a complete stranger, and ask nothing in return. There are a lot of good people in this world. Its a cool thing to remember after spending the last 5 years in a line of work that tells you the opposite.

Anyway, we're going to hang out here in Franklin today and eat a giant hamburger and maybe buy a tarp. We're only about a week and a half away from Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains! (where it apparently snows into April...)

Thanks for all of the comments! Love Jess & Mal

ps Go Butler!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Today is our first zero day. Well, "Nero" day----i think we're going to hike out a mile or so and pitch our hammocks after a long day of rest today. Last night, we hiked into the Mountain Crossings Hiker Hostel in Neels Gap. What an oasis! We heard that they fill the bunks on a first come first serve basis, so when we finally descended Blood Mountain (the highest elevation on the AT in Georgia) around 6:30, we were'nt sure there would be a spot for us.
There were 3 beds left and dinner was to be served in a few minutes. For dinner? Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, rice, rolls, pasta salad, pineapple upside down cake, brownies and sweet tea. It'd only been four days that we'd been eating freeze dried food, but we stuffed ourselves like it'd been months. We got a shower, washed our clothing and slept on a real mattress and stayed up late around a campfire.

Anyway, the first 4 days were great. We've been hiking in the best weather (60 and sunny) and have some pretty good mileage under our belts already (38 miles!) and have already met dozens of really awesome people.

Here's the wrap:
On the first day we hiked the access trail at Amicalola Falls state park. The first mile was an 800 step staircase....
Our second night we camped at the Hawk Mountain shelter with over 30 thru & section hikers.
Day three we hiked 12 miles & climbed Ramrock mountain and because the shelter was too far for us to reach that day, we picthed our hammocks on the ridge overlooking the row of mountains that we had climbed up and down that day
Yesterday, we ran into a guy celebrating his 81st birthday by summiting Big Cedar Mountain, we hiked up Blood Mountain and then back down to the Hiker Hostel for a little R&R.

It's kind of like when we take a picture of an incredible mountian vista and what shows up on the camera screen really has no resemblence; its hard to really describe a day-in-the-life here. It's good though, life is good. And we'll post the pictures anyway : )

Thanks for your messages!
Thinking about you always

Jess & Mal (and Angie)

Monday, March 8, 2010

T Minus 7 Days

We're one week from departure. Our packs are pretty near complete and carefully displayed on our living room floor for your viewing pleasure. Our non-refundable bus tickets are purchased and our 2 weeks of notice have been given to our managers at there's no turning back now!