Day 70 (Skyland Resort to stealth site near Powell Gap Hollow)

I woke up feeling well rested after my rest day. Also, the weather was beautiful. I found a cooler of trail magic about 9:00am. It was mostly beer but there was some Arnold Parmer tea that I took. It was pretty good. This is the first trail magic I’ve seen since I stayed heading south.

The trail was nice rolling hills (mountains??) staying between 3000 and 4000 feet in elevation all day. I saw a bear a little after lunch time. He took off fast running through the woods. I think I scared him pretty bad. This was my longest day yet with 31.6 miles. I found a great campsite with an awesome view on the top of a mountain.

Day 69 (Zero day at Skyland Resort)

I woke up at Skyland Resort to stormy weather. It was still messy at noon so I decided it was a good day to take my second zero day of the hike.

I spent the day eating, icing my feet, soaking in the tub, watching tv, playing on Facebook, and napping. The weather started to clear around 6:00 this evening. Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day for hiking. 🙂

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Day 68 (Shenandoah National Park to Skyland Resort)

Some days I wake up ready to roll and other days I have trouble getting it in gear. Today was the latter. I slept in until 8:30 but still felt sleepy.

As I was packing up, I saw the first of three bears for the day. I tried to get pictures of all three but they were too fast…..or I was too slow. Either way, there are a lot of bears here!

The weather was perfect most of the day. I stopped by the Panorama Rest Stop on Skyline Dr for water. I decided to sit near the building and eat my lunch. A very nice lady asked me about my hike. She gave me an awesome orange, some nut and fruit bars, and a bottle of ice cold water.

I don’t eat peanuts due to an allergy so as I was leaving I offered the bars to two NOBO thru hikers (Stoke and Double Down). They offered me a fresh peach. We visited for a bit while we ate the food we had just given each other. Then we headed off down the trail in opposite directions.

I had planned to have an early dinner at the Skyland Resort but as I neared, the skies started to darken and look stormy. I also received a text from my sister Laura that warned me of bad weather approaching. I decided to get a room at the resort and I’m so glad I did. The storm was pretty bad. It was good to get cleaned up and sleep with a roof over my head. 🙂

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Special Edition: Your Questions Answered

Answers to a few questions…

When will you finish?

I’m aiming for August 9 but it may be August 16. I’m aiming for a weekend day so friends can join me for some of it. I will try to camp at Three Forks the night before Springer and invite everyone to join me. Also, people can join me for the .9 mile trek up Springer if camping and 4 miles are too much.

When will you be at specific places on the trail?

Sorry but this is really hard to predict more than a week in advance. It would be easier to predict if I were in front of a computer with the guide and a calendar open. However, on a smart phone and with a tired mind…

Why a Flip-flop hike?

I wanted to finish my hike on the southern end in case I ran out of time and needed to go back to work for fall semester. This would allow me to finish up on weekends during the fall.

My starting date at the end of Spring semester was too early to start at Katahdin and do a SOBO hike due to snow. The ATC has been encouraging the flip flop hikes this year to even out trail use. I have been able to enjoy meeting others on the trail without experiencing the over crowding that occurs from those starting at Springer in the Spring.

Why travel alone?

There are a few people with which I would have liked to have shared this adventure. However, they could not take the time away from their families and/or their work. I could have waited but that would have increased the possibility of it never happening.

Most of the people I’ve met on the trail are also solo. I have not been scared once. I love sleeping in my tent in the middle of nowhere by myself. It is very empowering.

I also enjoy my solo trail miles. I have the freedom to start and stop hiking each day whenever I want. I do get lonely at times, especially as a SOBO. I have yet to meet another SOBO hiker. However, I do enjoy short interactions with the NOBO hikers in the south.

Day 67 (Mountain Home Cabbin to Shenandoah National Park)

My alarm went off at 6:00 this morning. Lisa was going to make breakfast for Rattlesnake and me at 6:30 so we could get on the trail early. However, we woke to a thunderstorm. I took my time eating the whole grain pancakes with fresh raspberries and bananas (yum!) and then packing up so that the storm had time to pass.

I didn’t start hiking until 9:00. It rained most of the morning and stayed overcast all day. I had a little cell coverage early in the day so I was able to receive a couple of happy birthday messages. However, I didn’t have coverage the rest of the day until I found my campsite this evening.

Thank you so much for all the well wishes. I’m feeling very loved and very lucky to have you all in my life. Also, thank you so much for following along with my adventure. Your “likes” and comments are a huge encouragement for me. 🙂

There were lots of flowers and berries today but no views because of the weather. I made it to the Elkwallow Wayside Store before they closed so I was able to do a little shopping and eat a birthday dinner.

I hiked a few miles after dinner until I found a good spot to camp. Since then I’ve been enjoying your FB posts. Thanks again. 🙂

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Day 66 (Buzzard Hill to the Mountain Home Cabbin)

I started hiking at 7:00. It was perfect hiking weather although it warmed up a bit in the afternoon. I’m adjusting to the warmer southern weather. The biggest adjustment had been to the views or the lack of views. After hiking in the north east the past few weeks, I have become spoiled with awesome views.

The section of the trail I hiked today had almost no views……”The Green Tunnel”. However, there are a lot of cool mushrooms, wildflowers, and butterflies to enjoy. I had one butterfly that flew in front of me for about 10 minutes. There is still an abundance of berries, too.

I typically don’t stay in hostels very often and after staying in a hotel a couple of nights ago, it was way too soon for a hostel stay. However, Superman (hiked with him in New York) sent me a message saying I should stay at the Mountain Home Cabbin with Lisa and Scott…..and when Superman tells you to do something, you should listen. 😉

It ended up the hostel was perfectly located at the end of my planned daily mileage so it became my goal for the day. The hostel is in a very small cabin (cabbin) that was built in the 1780s on a larger plantation. Scott and Lisa are in the process of renovating the big house. I really enjoyed getting to know Lisa but missed meeting Scott.

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Day 65 (Outside of Harpers Ferry to stealth site near Buzzard Hill)

I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the tarp of my tent. I checked the weather and the rain was supposed to stop in an hour. So I went back to sleep and woke up an hour later to blue skies and sunshine.

I started hiking south at 8:00. The morning sun has been to my right for 63 days but now the morning sun is to my left. One nice thing about the trail today is all the wild berries: raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. I ate so many berries, my scat may look like bear scat now. Haha.

I met several NOBOs during the day but no SOBOs. I crossed the WV/Virginia border in the early afternoon. A little later, I went by the NOBO 1000 mile mark. This is the 1000 miles to go mark for me. I hiked from Hogpen Gap to the NOC (99 miles) in April of this year. If I’m cutting it close on time, I will skip that section… maybe 901 miles from that point on the trail.

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Day 64 (Harpers Ferry to stealth site just outside of town)

I started hiking at 7:00… 7:00 PM that is. Today was travel day. It was great to be at a hotel attached to the airport. My flight was at 7:00 AM so I got up around 5:00 so I would have time to eat and pack my pack so that it would fit in the overhead bin on the plane. The hotel didn’t have laundry so I washed my clothes as best I could in the tub and hung them to dry last night.

My flight had a layover in Detroit. The flight to Detroit was very pleasant. I sat next to a very nice woman named Emily. I asked her if I smelled and she said no. The plane wasn’t full so I could have moved but she said I was okay. 🙂

64 days later....I still look the same on the outside.

64 days later….I still look the same on the outside.

In Detroit, I ate a huge breakfast. I lost track of time and almost missed my connecting flight. I made it just in time. Once in DC, I took the subway and then the MARC trail to Brunswick, MD. I had arranged for a trail angel to pick me up there via a Women’s Appalachian Trail Facebook group. It worked out great. I was able to get to the ATC to pick up my resupply before they closed at 5. If I hadn’t made it by 5, I would have had to pay to stay in town for the night.

I ate dinner in town and then started hiking. It seemed surreal to be hiking Southbound in WV in only a little over 24 hours after coming off the trail from Katahdin. I only hiked a few miles before I found a nice spot for my tent. Easy recovery day.

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