Day 50: Zero in Damascus, Virginia
Day 51: Damascus to Pond campsite, 12.1 miles
Day 52: Pond campsite to Stealth campsite near VA 600, 11.9 miles
Day 53: VA 600 campsite to Stealth campsite near Bearpen trail, 11.4 miles
Day 54: Bearpen campsite to Trimpi shelter, 18 miles
Day 55: Trimpi shelter to Partnership shelter, 10.6 miles
Day 56: Partnership shelter to Relax Inn in Atkins, VA, 11.7 miles
Day 57: Relax Inn to Knot Maul Branch shelter, 13.9 miles
Day 58: Knot Maul Branch shelter to Chesnut Knob shelter, 9.1 miles
Day 59: Chestnut Knob Shelter to Fort Bastion Laurel Creek, 14.8 miles
Day 60: Laurel Creek to VA 608, 20.2. miles
Day 61: VA 608 to USFS 103, Woods Hole Hostel, 18.6 miles
Day 62: Zero day at Woods Hole
Day 63: Zero day at Days Inn, Christiansburg VA
Day 64-Day 66: Zero days at Virginia Beach
The first part of this phase was amazing! We had a wonderful break in weather. The buds starting appearing and the sun was shining. We had recovered from our crazy 20 mile day in the storm experience (you can find this day explained in our last blog post) and were reunited with our friends Cheeze-it and Ramen Shaman in Damascus! Another storm hit us on Day 58 though, and we realized we hadn’t quite recovered mentally from the last time we were caught unawares in cold, stormy weather. Now, we are enjoying a vacation from our adventure in Virginia Beach and are feeling renewed physically and mentally. This phase of our trail experience was the most social yet, and we are dedicating this blog post to our trail friends who have become our trail family. We’ll attempt to tell you a little bit about this phase while introducing you to some people who have become important in our journey of the Appalachian trail.
The Priest: (Icicle) We first met The Priest in the Smokies. Our first impression was of a quiet, intense man. He was covered in beautiful tattoos, has a lean build, eyes that pierce, and dark hair. He rescued our tablet, which Quailman had left in a shelter in the Smokies. We exchanged a beer for the service of carrying a couple of pounds for miles to return it to us. After that, we didn’t see him for a few days. But here and there we encountered him and learned a little more about him each time. He has a soft, firm voice. In that voice, we learned he was in fact going to become a Priest, hence his trail name. Being from New York, Quailman and The Priest had quite a few things in common and exchanged stories about delicious food and interesting places they had both been too. We started seeing the Priest almost every day and I especially enjoyed just being around him. He has a certain calm presence that’s nice to simply exist in. Cheeze-it, a fellow trail family friend, noticed he wore a ring and asked if he was married. We didn’t know religion he ascribed to, so it was a possibility. It turns out it was a rosary ring with little bumps to help keep track of rosaries said. Quailman and I have a lot of respect for him. His dedication is admirable and he only speaks of religion in a personal context or if asked. It’s changed the more rigid stance I had towards religion. He’s a good man and he will do amazing things in his priesthood. We’ve come to think of the Priest as part of our trail family. One of our favorite moments was when The Priest showed up at Fort Bastion. We were slackpacking for the first time thanks to a trail friend’s father and didn’t know if we would see him that night. He can do big miles if he chooses while we tend to be more on the moderate side of miles. We were sad we might not see him again, but knew that is part of the trail. Your trail family is constantly evolving and there’s an ebb and flow to how groups form along the way. When we entered Fort Bastion in the back of pickup truck, we spotted him! Fort Bastion is run by a man known as “TruBrit”. He owns a big piece of land about a half mile off the trail. Right now, there’s a giant tarp tee-pee with a fire pit in it, a portapotty, and a motor home he lives in. He claims to have hiked 150,000 miles, to have been in British special forces for 25 years, and to have given up all of his wealth 3 times over. We aren’t sure how much of this is true if truth be told. He’s maybe 60 years old. If you assume he started hiking around the age of 10, he would have had to hike 3,000 miles a year. That is a little hard to believe. Well, we hop out of the pickup truck and there was the Priest! He was standing among other tents set up there. “We are so happy you are here!” The Priest responds, “Well, I asked for a sign. I looked down and there was literally a sign with a number for Fort Bastion. It’s rare signs are so literal.” We all chuckle and are grateful he decided to hang out with us again that night. We’ve decided he will be the main character in a Class of 2014 Comic Year book we plan on creating. I mean, come on. A Priest in the making from the dark streets of New York covered in tattoos. It’s going to be an awesome comic book. He will clearly be fighting demons, or other Northbound hikers.
Cowgirl and Radioman: (Quailman) We met Cowgirl and Radioman briefly in Damascus as they shared a hostel room Ramen Shaman and Cheez-it, who we had been spending the day with. They were both ex-military and knew each other in service before the trail. We really met them, though, when we ran into Cowgirl’s dog, Cooper, approximately a half mile away from their campsite on the trail. Ramen Shaman grabbed the running dog and leashed him. Oh, he’s a miniature pincher and has a big personality. At that time, he was a lost miniature pincher with a big personality. Having wrangled in the wandering dog, we found Radioman and Cowgirl camped next to a little pond the trail skirted and decided this would be a cool place to camp too. There, we learned that Radioman got his name from his small hand-held radio he carried with him on the trail. It had a battery you could crank with a hand crank to charge. It was actually very cool to have some music playing while we hung out in camp since neither of us carry an iPod or any other music device. They are both very nice and we really enjoy their company. Radioman knows a ton about feet and how to make them feel better. He’s earned a reputation to the point where hikers come up to him and ask him what to do for their foot ailment. He always has an answer. He also always has a flask of good whiskey or a few cups of wine, which is always shared. He happily shared his flask with the group during the storm at Chestnut Knob. While camping at Trent’s Grocery he passed around some cups of wine he had with him. This is an awesome and rare treat on the trail. Then there is Cowgirl, who is an incredibly nice person and even paid for a bunch of thru hiker’s meals at a restaurant we all stopped at in Atkins! It was called “The Barn” and offered a country-style buffet. It was tiny, but the promise of a buffet drew us all in like moths to a light bulb. We got up to pay after strategically eating everything we could. There, we found that Cowgirl had paid for our meals! Thanks Cowgirl!
Batman: (Quailman) Yup, the comic book character. He gets his name from the t-shirts he wears with the Batman logo on them, in addition to his fruit bat tattoo. We met Batman in Damascus when he stumbled into the Blue Blaze Cafe around 10pm the night we arrived. He had just pulled a 41 mile day to get into town, and looked it. We knew we’d be friends when, instead of finding a place to stay for the night, he made his first order of business ordering a craft beer (of which they had quite a few at the Blue Blaze, only the second place to have them along the trail). We ran into Batman again at Trimpi shelter when he offered us a cup of coffee in the morning. Not normal hiker coffee, which normally consists of instant coffee in a single-serving packet, but a real, hand-ground, filter cup of serious coffee. As far as we were concerned, at this point Batman was equal to or greater than God. On top of that, he’s hilarious. We would run into Batman almost every night from that point forward and get to know him well. He was with us during the great “There-Is-Nowhere-To-Use-The-Bathroom” crisis at Trent’s Grocery. Trent’s, a little gas station that offers tenting in its horse fields for hikers, offered one bathroom that broke down moments after our arrival. As it was in a field, this made it hard to find a place to do our business. Batman wasn’t phased though. He simply brought out a case of PBR and made the best of the situation. In truth, the situation, minus the bathroom-less field, was fine. Ramen Shaman’s Father, Mason or Grandpa Kibble, had bought hamburgers from the grill before it had closed and they were delicious. We saw Batman again the next day at Wood’s Hole Hostel. I was having a particularly bad mental day (one of the reasons we are in Virginia Beach). After explaining my feelings to the group, Batman had us all in tears laughing with his “tell it like it is” style of humor. It helped an incredible amount, and I thank Batman for it. Icicle held back tears as she hugged him goodbye at Wood’s Hole Hostel since we weren’t sure if we would see him again anytime soon. He most definitely became part of our trail family.
Cheez-It, Ramen Shaman, and Leaf litter: (Icicle) Cheez-It and Ramen Shaman are the trail family we are closest to out here. Leaf litter is their adorable Australian Shepard. I first interacted with Cheez-It online. We had found each others blogs and chatted here and there before hitting the trail in February. We only started one day apart, but we didn’t actually meet them until a week or two into our hike. We traveled through the Smokies with them and that really solidified our friendship. They were amazingly supportive while I was sick and never made me feel bad for being a walking snot germ. We were sad when we ended up being separated by a few days. Our paces were a little different and they had to take a couple of extra zeros for Ramen Shamans knee and Leaf litter getting sick. Well, for Phase Friends, we have been with them every day! It’s been such a great boost to be with trail family who knew what it was like to be in intense cold. We really missed them for the week and half or so we were mostly hiking alone. During the first part of our reuniting, we traveled through the Grayson Highlands, a beautiful park famous for having wild ponies. Cheez-It was really worried Leaf litter would ruin our experience by scaring the ponies away. Since she kept saying this in one form or another, to stop herself, she declared she would buy us each a beer every time she said she was worried about the ponies being scared away. So we decided it was best to encourage the worry by saying things like, “The whole reason we hiked the trail was to see the ponies. It would be too bad if we never saw them.” “My whole life I’ve always wanted to see wild ponies”. We have a lot of fun with each other, so much fun, we are now in Virginia Beach with them. At the end of Phase Friends, you’ll notice we have 5 zero days.
(Quailman) When we reached Wood’s Hole Hostel, I hit a bad mental day. I was fed up with being ripped off by hostels, the worst being the one we currently were staying at, and the cold weather. It turns out that we had not really recovered mentally from the storm we experienced during our first 20 mile day. When this new storm hit us on Chestnut Knob Shelter, we found ourselves even more drained and mentally exhausted than before. The weather had called for rain, and it was rain that we were expecting. We began to climb the mountain of the day and halfway up, we began to be pelted by sleet. Icicle and I looked at each other and frowned. This was feeling similar to the other storm we had encountered going over Mt. Roan. When we reached the cleared top, it was snowing and the wind was howling. It was also cold. Winter cold. The kind of cold that we thought we were done with. Luckily, the shelter was fully enclosed, so some of the wind was mitigated. We did some musical beds to make sure there was room for Cheez-it, Ramen Shaman, Grandpa Kibble, and Leaf Litter, since we didn’t want them sleeping out in the cold or on the floor. However, it was still very cold that night, and some of the wind still managed to bring the temperature in the shelter down to about 26. It was another stormy, cold, wintry night when we thought there wouldn’t be any more. This, compounded with the disappointment of Wood’s Hole, set off the very bad day for me. To add to that, Icicle took a pretty bad fall that day. A stick got caught in between her feet in that way that only sticks can infuriatingly do, and she went face-down into the ground. She landed in the same position you see chalk outlines in for victims in movie. A moment after she fell, after making sure she was ok, we started to laugh. We had been pushing very hard to try and keep a schedule that we had made for ourselves. Sound familiar? We had fallen back into putting stress on ourselves again, and had managed to suck the fun out of hiking that day once again. Icicle started to laugh first, and it was Cheez-it who said “What are we doing?” After stopping and laughing for a bit, we resolved that it didn’t matter how many miles we did that day, or how many miles we did any day. It was more important that we had fun, so that’s what we resolved to do. The rest of the day went better. Unfortunately, she hit her knee pretty hard and it began to bother her. That night, it had swollen up and locked up during her sleep, which worried me. We decided it would be best for her to take it easy and not let a small thing become a big thing. That said, with the cold, my bad mental day, and Icicle’s knee, we determined it might be a good time to mix things up a little bit. Luckily, Cheez-it had just recently been contacted by a University in Williamsburg about entering the PhD program there. We all decided it was time to take a vacation from our adventure and head to Williamsburg. Then we noticed Virginia Beach was only about an hour from Williamsburg and that settled it. As I type this, I am sitting in a hotel overlooking the beach, while Raman Shaman hands me a hard apple cider in a towel and Leaf Litter is sleeping next to me. Pretty great vacation and it’s pretty great that Raman Shaman and Cheez-it came with us. Also, they are very good at finding hotel deals. After sitting in the back of the car for about half an hour, they had gotten us a beachfront hotel with a pool and gym for less than the hostel price per person. Now, after 3 days of relaxation on the beach, the five of us are ready and excited to be back on the trail again. Although I think Leaf Litter is excited for anything.
Day 39: Uncle Johnny’s to Indian Grave Gap campsite, 8.8 miles
Day 40: Indian Grave Gap campsite to stealth camp, 13.1 miles
Day 41: stealth camp to Overmountain shelter, 19.7 miles (20 w blue blaze to shelter)
Day 42: unexpected zero at overmountain shelter
Day 43: Overmountain shelter to Mountain Harbor B&B, 8.7 miles
Day 44: Mountain Harbor B&B to upper laurel fork campsite, 13.2 miles
Day 45: Upper laurel Fork campsite to Hiker Haven Hostel in Hampton, TN, 14.7 miles
Day 46: Hiker Haven hostel to Watuga Lake Shelter, 7.6 miles
Day 47: Watuga Lake shelter to Iron Mountain shelter, 14 miles
Day 48: iron mountain shelter to abingdon shelter, 15.9 miles
Day 49: abingdon shelter to Damascas Virginia, 9.9 miles
Favorite state: Tennessee
Favorite food: burgers
Favorite trailmates: Cheeze it and Ramen Shaman, we have been reunited!
Favorite town: Damascus, Virginia
Favorite hostel: Blueberry Patch in Hiawassee, Georgia
Least Favorite Food: oatmeal creme pies, had way too many in one week, now ruined
Least Favorite Weather: Rain in temperatures between 33-40 degrees with wind above 25 mph
Least Favorite Mile: The last infinite mile of the day
Most painful body part: Feet
Most frequent complaint: “I’m hungry”
Most awesome husband ever: Quailman
Most awesome wife ever: Icicle
Total whiteblaze miles: 467.1
We made it to Virginia! This is the first state we really feel like we have walked to. Most of the time, our total miles completed or state crossings have just kind of occurred for us. The day to day of hiking up and down mountains is our focus and the bigger goals we cross, like mile 400, are hard for our brains to grasp. But when we crossed the state line from Tenessee into Virginia, it felt exactly as if we had come that far. We felt like we earned that state crossing and it was exhilirating and rewarding. We are apparently somewhat of a purist couple. This means we don’t yellow or blueblaze. We didn’t set out on ‘being purist’, nor care how others hike. Its just the way we do it and enjoy most. Yellow blazing is driving a part of the trail, which is actually quite common. Blue blazing is taking a different path that will meet back up with the white blazed Appalachian trail, sometimes easier and sometimes harder. Everyone we have met has been happy with their choices and no one actually cares how others hike, at least no one we have interacted with. That seems to be more of an online culture thing while out here, everyone is very supportive of each other. One of our favorite parts of the trail is interacting with so many awesome people and we are pretty excited we got to see Ramen Shaman and Cheez-it again! We are currently concocting a little hiker feast using a grill at one of the hostels here in Damascus. Yum 😀
Trail magic with “Leap Frog Cafe” (Icicle)
When we left Erwin, TN on day 39, we came upon our first significant trail magic! Since we started early, we always miss the giant hiker feeds at road crossings. We have found one set of coolers our whole time out here, which was amazing enough for us. We actually don’t mind this. Part of our reason to leave early was to miss the giant crowds that start in March and April and the ensuing hoardes of trail magic. Leap Frog Cafe was a most welcome surprise. We came upon a giant tarp set up and a man grilling underneath it. Our eyes immediately grazed over all the food. Fruit, hot dogs, chile, homemade fries, and chips. Fresh Grounds quickly introduced himself and explained it all to us. He was the man behind this magnificent oasis. We helped ourselves to all of the food we just listed. We were planning on pushing on that day. Fresh Grounds then told us that if we stayed he would make us breakfast. We had to think for about 2 seconds before unpacking and setting up our tent. A few other hikers were there too and we all hung out revelling in our full bellies. The next morning, we were in heaven. 4 egg omelets loaded with veggies and cheese and banana pancakes! This was special.
Physical limits (Icicle)
You’ll notice we have a 20 mile day on day 41. This was not a planned occurance. The day started out pleasant enough. Rain was in the forecast and we lucked out for the first half of our day. We ascended most of Roan Mountain cheery and fully enjoying the 5ish mile climb to 6, 212 feet. Almost to the top, we started having to skirt these thick sheets of ice. We hadn’t seen snow and ice in days, so we were surprised. It quickly dissappeared though and we didn’t think much about it. We finally get to the top and find the parking lot totally deserted. This is one of those mountains you can drive to the top. Roan mountain is part of a series of balds, someone told us the longest consecutive balds in the world. It’s always an eerie feeling when coming upon empty parking lots and unused facilities. It’s also pretty cool to know you’re there when others aren’t. This is when the day started to become a series of unfortunate events. As we crested Roan Mountain, the temperature dropped and rain started to become heavier. Feeling the temperature drop at this elevation makes me feel like I’m part of a horror movie and a ghost just entered the room. We both looked at each other and decided it was time to book it off the mountain. We start walk-running and make it about a quarter of a mile until we both stop in our tracks, mouths agape. “What the…” The sentence trails off as I try to figure out how we navigate the GIANT SHEET OF NEVER-ENDING ICE. The thick ice covers the entire trail. Our speedy hike now turns to a crawl as we try with all of our might to not fall. Somehow, we make it off of the mile of ice hell. It really was a mile. We can tell these things using our handy dandy guide which has markers with mileage. We high five each other in a moment of relief. Then the rain comes down even harder. The trail suddenly turns into a gushing stream. Our moment of success is quickly crushed as our bodies become soaked from the calf down. After a few miles of this, the sun is setting, the rain turns to sleet, and we start getting very cold. Our goal is the next shelter, now a mile away or so. “Yay! A mile left!” Right on cue, the 30 mph winds start and the sun begins to set. We run-walk to the shelter, relieved when its in sight. We’ve gone 18 miles so far, are exhausted, our hands numb, and the umbles (stumbling, mumbling, grumbling, and fumbling) of mild hypothermia are starting to hit me. But I know my limits at this point with all of our winter backpacking and I know I can still get warm and be okay. Then the worst thing ever happens. The shelter is old, rickety, and right on a high ridgeline. The wind is howling right into it. Now my stomach fills with the butterflies of slight panic. I realize we have to go another two miles, night hiking, to reach the next shelter which is professed to be a reconverted barn and totally enclosed. Quailman then says, “I’ve been holding it for an hour. I really have to poop.” My heart sinks more because now we have to stay on this ridgeline even longer. When you’re cold and wet, this is a really not good thing. Quailman does his business, comes back, and has the fumbles as he tries to get his pack together. He’s miserable and now his butt is numb. “We have to keep going.” “I know”. I feel my body and mind making the choice to survive. My insides feel like they’ve turned into iron and a determination overcomes both of us. We dawn our headlamps, barely seeing anything but the now sleet and a few inches of ground. We hike so fast, I never catch my breath. I remember hearing about a meditation that can create warmth and distract myself with trying a butchered version of that. I become far more excited when we come upon the sign for the shelter, some indesernable time later. “We made it! Holy crap!” We run-walk to the shelter, strip off our soaked clothing, and put on nice, warm, heavenly camp clothes. I violently shiver in my sleeping bag, but eventually it subsides until blessed warmth takes over. The barn is an oasis. We sleep close to each other on the barn floor. We did 20 miles that day.
Love Tennessee! (Icicle)
Only a few days after the Roan mountain adventure day, we are hiking in beautiful, sunny, glorious weather! Through a beautiful and glorious state, TENNESSEE! We loved Tennessee. We passed so many beautiful waterfalls, lakes, and rivers, which have been missing from the trail thus far. It was warm enough to appreciate dunking our heads into the refreshing waterfalls. We took tons of breaks and enjoyed the weather finally being nice to us. It’s the best feeling when you can stop for lunch and just enjoy the warmth of the sun on your face. As we were both sweating profusely, I was struck with awe and stopped in my tracks. “Do you realize how amazing our bodies are? They can thermoregulate in the extreme cold and in the heat. And can do this without practice. We were shivering like crazy a few days ago and now we are sweating like crazy.” This may seem like an obvious thought, but we are quickly learning that to us, knowledge without experience is empty. Actually experiencing what you know to be true turns the knowledge into something else, a type of understanding + knowledge that we feel you cannot gain from googling or just reading about it. We stood for a moment, basking in the awe of our physical selves and truly absorbing this idea, this bit of knowledge we had now truly and fully experienced. This type of knowledge + experience sinks into your bones. We felt so whole and full of appreciation for the range of experiences out here. We felt lucky to have this time for our brains to “defrag” as a fellow hiker, Animal Planet, put so well. We set up our tent on this warm, beautiful day right next to a waterfall. It was very peaceful and calm.
Realizing self imposed rules (Quailman)
Being out in the woods, we have had a lot of time to remove ourselves from societal restraints that normally dominate our life. We also have a ton of time to think about these constraints and what they mean. Things that range from timed lunch breaks to the way we wear clothing as uniforms. What’s great about being out here is the ability to drop all of these restraints. However, sometimes we find that some of the vestages of society go deeper than we thought. Recently, we have been very focused on our milage. We were comparing ourselves to other’s miles, and trying to determine how many miles we have to do to raise our average to a certain number. Then, every day, we’d set a crazy goal and rush for it. Many times we wouldn’t make it and be down on ourselves that night, or be down during the day as we felt like we weren’t going fast enough. Then, one day, we were sitting on a log and it started to dawn on us: none of the rules we were trying to follow were actually being imposed on us by external forces. Everything we were stressing out over was self-imposed. All of it. The speed, miles, and timing. Everything. We actually started to laugh. We had no real rules, and all of the stress we were feeling was totally our own fault. We have become so trained to set and meet very specific goals all the time that, even in a place where you can adjust your plans every few seconds, we stressed when we didn’t meet the goals we set before we knew if they were realistic or not. We actually laughed when we thought about it more. It was like we had found the last, very deep, tendrals of societal stresses and forced them out. Since then, we have been much more liberal with our plans and milages, and have been much happier.
Taking care of ourselves (Quailman)
We hike for around ten hours on a normal day. Once that’s done, we have camp chores like setting up the tent and cooking dinner. This usually leaves little to no time before dark and us pretty exhaused. It’s hard to remeber that we need to be treating our bodies like they have been exercising all day, every day. This is something that Icicle pointed out the other day, and is something that we have been paying more attention to recently. Especially after its became an ordeal to stand up after sitting for more than a minute. One of the things we are making it a point to do every day is stretching. Seems pretty obvious now that we’re doing it, but it was easy to get wrapped up in hiking and camping and not make the time for something simple like stretching. Its made a huge diference so far! I don’t feel like my leg muscles are rigid even after just a few days of stretching. Another thing we are taking the time to do are foot massages. Our feet are getting beat up every day. Like, really beat up. Taking the time to take care of them has already made a huge difference. We also have noticed that our feet have toughened up quite a bit. We were at a bench near a lake the other day. We took off our shoes there and put our bare feet on the gravel. It felt amazing! The best way to describe the feeling is “tickle-pain”. It was a feeling that you wanted to stop and not want to stop at the same time. It was crazy! Then we put our feet into the cold lake and were immeadiatley in foot heaven. Another thing we’ve been talking about is including more vegetables and healthier foods into our diet. Luckily, my parent’s started us off on the right foot with an awesome care package full of healthy goodies. We’re also thinking of grabbing some dried vegetables and other healthy foods to bring with us on the trail. Overall, we realized we’ll be out here for a long time still, and need to pay more attention to our whole body, not just nom noming honey buns.
Thanks for showing interest in helping us out along the way! The support we have from our family, friends, and our online community has been amazing and inspiring. Here is a list of places we are sure we are going to pass on the AT. If you send a drop to any of these places, they will hold it until we get there for us. Oftentimes, proiority mail is your best bet in terms of guarenteed delivery dates (two days) and you can stuff as much as you want into a box for a flat rate.
To send a package to a business for us, use this format:
Kristin and Eric Ingellis
C/O [Name of business]
[Town], [State] [Zip code]
Please hold for AT Thru-Hiker
Make sure to include our names and the “c/o”.
The next place we are staying is the Hikers Haven in Hampton, Tennessee. We should be there around April 1st. The address is:
Kristin and Eric Ingellis
C/O Hikers Haven
703/707 Hwy 321
Hampton, TN 37658
Please hold for AT Thru-Hiker
ETA April 1st
After that we’ll be going through Damascus, Virginia around April 4th. The trail goes right through the town so you could send to an outfitter that does maildrops. Their address is:
Kristin and Eric Ingellis
C/O Mt. Rogers Outfitters
P.O. Box 546
110 W Laurel Ave
Damascus, VA 24236
Please hold for AT Thru-Hiker
ETA April 4th
Another place we will certainly be staying is the Woods Hole Hostel:
Kristin and Eric Ingellis
C/O Woods Hole Hostel
3696 Sugar Run Rd
Pearisburg, VA 24134
ETA April 15th
The types of stuff we need/want are listed below! We don’t need replacement gear yet, but when we do, we will let you know. Probably in the next email /post about maildrops after we pass woods hole hostel.
-homemade brownies, cookies, bread, other homemade delicious things!
-candy of various kinds: almond snickers, dark chocolate covered almonds
-dried veggies we can put in our meals ( https://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/mobile/home.asp?cat=19&#page-78)
-pictures, notes, letters, inspirational quotes
– emergen-c packets
Lots of love,
Icicle and Quailman
Day 34: Campsite near lookout tower to Jerry Cabin Shelter, 18.1 miles
Day 35: Jerry Cabin Shelter to Hogback Ridge Shelter, 14.7 miles
Day 36: Hogback Ridge Shelter to Spivey gap campsite 15.8 miles
Day 37: Spivey gap campsite to Uncle Johnny’s Hostel in Erwin, TN, 10.7 miles
Day 38: Zero Day at Uncle Johnny’s Hostel in Erwin, TN
Our mileage has been increasing! We feel healthy and strong. Today we decided to zero to avoid the cold and give our bodies a chance to rest. We’ve recieved a lot of similar questions from family, friends, section hikers, and our supportive online community while we have been hiking away. We will do our best to answer them here!
Question 1: How is it being in a relationship on the trail?
Icicle = Awesome! It seems that whatever type of couple you are off the trail is probably what you are going to be like on the trail. We rarely argue, are best friends, and love spending time with each other off the trail and so it’s the same on trail. Spending 24 hours together for over a month has only brought us closer together and we are so happy we have 5 more months like this left. A whole lifetime isn’t even enough. So that’s us on the trail. Simply put, we enjoy each others company.
Quailman = Amazing. Being together for this adventure makes the experience so much better. It really amplifies it. Being best friends with Icicle in addition to being married means I have the one person I would want most on the trail with me. It also means I get to share every experience, making them even more amazing.
Question 2: I’ve noticed you’ve done x amount of miles. How will you make it to Maine on time?
Icicle = It’s all about the average. We should average something like 15 miles per day by the end of the trip. So as our miles increase, the average will rise. We are right on track for finishing in six months total!
Quailman= We’ll walk normal for about 5 and a half months and then just sprint the rest. Or use skateboards.
Question 3: What do you eat?
Quailman and Icicle = Here’s a sample of a typical trail day and a sample of a typical town stay for one person.
Trail Day (most days are trail days)
8 am, First breakfast: Two honey buns and coffee mixed with hot chocolate plus creamer
930 am, Second breakfast: A whole bag of dark chocolate covered almonds
11 am, “11sies”: Clif bar and handful of dried fruit
1 pm, lunch: tuna on tortilla and fritos
230 pm, afteroon snack: almond snickers
4 pm, second afternoon snack: ziplock bag of cheez its and handful of dried fruit
4-7pm: probably should eat but we are almost to camp where we can make dinner so we keep hiking instead
730pm, glorious dinner: snack on anything left over from the day then whole box of mac and cheese with single serve spam
Town Day (every 4-6 days or so)
Arrive usually around lunchtime
Lunch: Big salad, fried pickles, Burger, Fries, locally brewed beer of some kind
Snack: Naked Green machine Juice, bananas, strawberries
Dinner: Pizza, icecream
Question 4: What is the best, worst, weirdest, and/or grossest things you’ve experienced so far?
Icicle= One of the best things is getting to see everything in slow motion. We have been watching the leaves on the groud slowly decompose and become soil. Have you ever seen how snow leaves tree limbs? We get to see them slowly shed the snow. At home, it kind of ‘just happens’. One day there are leaves on the ground and then its soil, one day there is snow and then the trees are bare. We love watching this all happen since we are outside 24 hours a day. It’s beautiful to witness.
Quailman= Weirdest thing I think we’ve experienced so far was a case of mistaken gear theft. We were at a shelter having lunch and a couple of women came up hiking the opposite direction. They began asking a few normal questions, like “when did you start?” and “how far are you going?” We had only started to answer when one woman began talking over us about her thru hike attempt, current plans, plans for the future, and her about to get high. Which she then did while we watched, somewhat stunned. After a brief disscussion with her hiking partner regarding not wanting to hike a few hundred feet for water, they packed up their things and our water bladder and moved on. It was, of course, an accident. They simply thought it was theirs and we didn’t realize it was ours until too late. Moral of the story? Keep your gear separate from the gear of high hikers.
Question 5: What animals have you seen? Bears! Wild things?
Icicle= One snake, tons of birds! Birds are so funn and interesting! We love birds now. No bears, but it has been winter.
Quailman= Really loud and absurd-sounding birds. This ranges from birds that sound like arcade games being played to birds that make a long, monotone yell. If I was going to write the sound out, it would be something like “Waoooooooooooooooow”. Birds are weird.