AT 2022 – Day 14: 18.8 miles (155.2 miles total)

I said I would be ramping up the miles, and here we are. With yesterday’s easy miles and today’s promise of pizza and a hot tub, I decided to go for it. I mentioned towns and services would be getting closer together, and here we are…Caratunck was just over 18 miles away. Let’s go!

I had been hoping to see Hero again, we had great fun last time we hung out, and what would you know, when I climbed up Moxie Bald Mountain he was having coffee on top! I threw down my pack and hung out for a while and told him my plan of hiking to the Northern Outdoors near Caratunk for dinner and hot tub soak (camping on site), and convinced him to come, even though he did 20 miles yesterday. We had a few climbs between us and town, but most of the terrain looked like cruising. 

On we go!

We chat and laugh….Hero has been living in Alaska but has recently moved back to Alabama where he was from. It was good to have company on trail again. 

We hiked and hiked, taking lunch on one of the mountains….it was a steep climb up and down, but when is it not?

His legs were starting to scream at him and I started getting a blister on my little toe, but town!

It was after 6 when we reached the highway, Northern Outdoors was 2 miles down the road. We stuck out thumbs out as we walked, and went to a small pull out where we stopped and gave the road our biggest smile as we hitched. Finally it worked, a couple that was summering up here from Tennessee picked us up; we were their first hitch hikers. Nice folks.

We got out at our destination…a stand-alone little resort…and got a campsite. First order of business: tents up. Then dinner and drinks. I hadn’t had a pizza on trail yet, so I took the opportunity to get my standard pepperoni and mushroom….so cheesy…it was perfect. After dinner I took a short shower and jumped in the hot tub. It was close to closing time,  but even that little bit of hot immersion was divine.

We went to our tents much later than usual, but it was worth it. I have pizza to pack out tomorrow and we’ll have some breakfast at the restaurant before getting on trail. Tomorrow is the mandatory canoe shuttle across the Kennebec River! A major milestone 🙌.

P.S. Please forgive my spelling and grammar errors, I’m in the woods! And know I don’t catch them all.

AT 2022 – Day 13: 17.9 miles (136.4 total)

I feel discombobulated as I hike the first hour of the day. Too much food. I take it slow….but the terrain isn’t slow today. It’s flat and fast. The nobos speed on by. This flat trail is perfect for the town day push.

The forest helped me ease me into the day; a gentle roll of tread held me by the hand, sunlight filtered in through lush leaves, and the birds chirped the day awake.

Earlier Ron had dropped me off at the highway where I hitched in two days ago. I know I’ll be seeing Ron again, he is section hiking the ODT afterall! (Ron’s trail name is Zen Quake…I don’t think I’ve mentioned that before.)

The ease of the terrain lets the brain play. Thoughts wander and flow around topics and ideas…I’m having so many ideas out here… I have this incredible need to learn and grow and evolve continually. Hiking the AT again 20 years later is giving me a good touch point…where I’ve been, where I want to go, and what I want to do. I’m taking lots of notes (again, another useful thing about having a computer in your pocket.)

I listen to music today, it’s amazing how the miles flow…I heard a bunch of new and wonderful songs from one of my favorite podcasts: All Songs Considered. This was one favorites from Yard Act and Elton John, “100% Endurance” – fast forward to 19:10 for the song.

I laughed out loud as I walked on the soft forest floor. Yes! How can you not want to hike forever when you hear a song like that. I love it!

I play lots of good hiking music. I’m loving this song too: SAOKO by ROSALÍA: (my favorite part starts at 1:58. Imagine walking to this beat…

I am Chaco walking too…there were a couple of fords today and I just left them on. They felt so good until I gave my toes a good zing…actually it took me two good zings to where I thought I had certainly gashed something wide open before I put my shoes back on. Yikes!

That could have been really bad!

It’s hard to stop walking, this is legit PCT tread.

But then I do at the Moxie Bald Mountain lean-to. I claim a tent spot and go check out the water. I find Shorty (nobo) napping on a granite slab that stretches into the water: a perfect spot. We chat for a bit, she seems rad, and I go to get my things for a pond-side dinner.

I splash off a bit, just standing in water up to my ankles when a 6″ leach comes swimming over to take my blood. I jump back…can it smell my funk? How did he know to come over? 

I won’t be swimming today. He approached me like a heat-seeking missile. That guy meant business and I don’t want to give him the opportunity. 

I make mac and cheese and struggle to eat it. Maybe I snacked too much, maybe I’m still feeling the food from yesterday. Regardless, it’s a lovely evening on the water.

I lay back for a minute and it feels so delicious that I could stay there forever. That’s a good sign that I should be in my tent before I fall asleep for real.

I start a new book on my phone (World of Wonders by Amiee Nezhukumatathil.)

My eyes close well before dark…

AT 2022 – Day 11: 6.8 miles (118.5 miles total)

Everything is dirty and wet. I am becoming one with the forest floor. Where do I stop and the earth begin? I think you will have to use the smell test.

Town day! 

I’m packed and ready to go by 6am with visions of warm water and clean hair dancing through my head; food can come after I defunk.

I turn to see Bilbo had camped close on the other side of a grove of trees, and here I thought I was stealth…guess not! We start up the next climb (of course there is always a next climb) and my town-legs-to-be power up and soon I can’t see Bilbo behind me anymore. No friends on town days!

I hike full speed ahead, but everything is wet, including the slabs of rock that are sometimes called trail. My feet slide…the tread on my shoes is deteriorating quickly (they weren’t new to start, but I had hoped to get more miles out of them) and I go down. Wooooop! I don’t damage anything, but take the wet slabs a little slower the rest of the morning. I pass nobo after nobo, they smell cleaner the closer I get to the highway. Really! A feral nose can pick up on the soap, detergent, and deodorant of the freshly washed like it was fresh bread. Mmmmm, fresh bread….Ron said he would make some for my stay. Hike faster!

I speed by a shelter, not stopping to sign the register or even say hello to the hikers still packing up.

When I can start to hear the trucks rumbling up the grade, I know I’m close. I pass a large group of hikers and they tell me I just missed the shuttle to Shaws…the hiker hostel in Monson. No matter…I’ll hitch.

The road!! I walk over to a gravel pullout, take off my wet and smelly shoes and put on mu sandals and then stick my thumb out. 10 minutes, nothing. 20 minutes, nothing. I see a car in the small parking lot is leaving, so I jog over and ask the driver if I can pay him 5 dollars to take me into town…it’s only 4ish miles away. Success! I stink up his car and we are off.

First stop: Shaws. I check out the gear store and buy a few things. I’ve desperately wanted a second sports bra…my bra has been wet for a week and I want something dry to put on. I will keep a pair of socks dry and now this bra dry while hiking….camp clothes! Then I pay them $5 for a shower. Ron offered to pick me up from the trailhead, he only lives 10 miles north of the trail, but I wanted to do the hiker thing in town for a while. I see Hero and we make plans for lunch. I tour the hostel…they have a great thing going here! Hikers everywhere… Hero and I walk to the Lakeside for an amazing sandwich and beer on the shore of Lake Hebron. This is living! I hope to hike with Hero after a day off…he’s great fun.

I meet Ron and he whisks me up to Greenville. I claim a room and take another shower, do laundry, eat, chat, eat some more (that fresh bread is amazing!), and relax. Ron made a baked chicken dinner and I turn in early after chatting with Kirk. 

It was a great day for my first town stop…tomorrow will be a zero (no hiking day) as I ready my body for the next miles ahead. 

AT 2022 – Day 10: 13.6 miles (111.7 total)

I take it slow. My back has started to give a few little aches that has me paying attention, and so I move through the world intentionally this morning. Sometimes the mantra I have to repeat to myself is “Gently.” That is today.

The rain will come later, but as I sweat up more rocks and roots I decide I will welcome it. It won’t really matter since my clothes are soaking wet already; it might actually help the smell.

I have this good thing going with the world. We take care of each other, scratch each other’s backs if you will. On a snack break the sun broke through the clouds to give me a quick hello and help dry out my sweatiness. I love it out here.

I take a selfie and note my haggard look. I look rough with bags under my eyes…but no matter. Nature doesn’t judge, I’m free to be me….crows feet and all. 

I go down the other steep side (all sides are steep sides out here), and walk with the threat of rain through the neon moss greens. I don’t drink a ton of water out here. Am I desert acclimatized to the point that my body absorbs the thick humidity through my skin? Feels like it.

Nobos come and go. No one is real talkative today. And then 100. An enterprising hiker made the sign out of sticks: 100 miles from Katahdin! I met both 100-mile markers today: the one celebrated in sticks, and my total mileage. I’m counting everything I walk in this blog total up top, that climb up Katadhin? Counts. The extra 0.2 (both ways) to a camp spot? Counting it…that’s almost half a mile! 

It is a quiet contemplative walk today. I really really like hiking solo. I can do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it. It’s a real asset out here to be comfortable alone. I’d love to see more people enjoy their own company. Don’t get me wrong, I love hiking with friends too…the perfect hike is a mix of the two, so far this trip is winning.

A staircase of tree roots stretched into the sky – a spiderweb of footholds and tripping hazards. I had to pick my foot up just above the eroded tree root or risk a faceplant.

I can do it!

More walking and I cross a few fords that could be dangerous in high water…which makes me a bit relieved to be over them before the heavy rains start…which they do about dusk. 

I look for a hidden spot for camp…by the way, hikers mention “stealth spots” for camping in the comments of the Far Out app all the time. There is nothing “stealth” about a camp spot right off the trail for all to see. Stealth means hidden, and so I stealth for reals and find an amazing waterslide/falls/swimming paradise for my day-end dip. Amazing.

AT 2022 – Day 9: 13.8 miles (98.1 miles total)

It was a 2 cup of coffee morning, and I had enough to make Mary a cup. Sharing is caring.

The woods made a perfect nest, the temps were warm, but not too warm, and the breeze ruffled the leaves in a most delightful melody. We both woke up refreshed.

Mary would be heading home this morning…it was a short visit, but we covered many bases for a friendship that had been on pause for a while, and we made big plans…Hayduke 2026!

We jaunt on down the trail, and before long meet an AT ridgerunner coming our way. The rudgerunners are a resource for hikers, and help keep an eye on trail conditions for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and trail maintenance volunteers. This one stopped and said: “Wait, I know you.” It was Deja-Thru (formerly Critter) who is another badass female hiker. We hadn’t met before, but she recognized me from all the public hiking stuff I’ve done over the years (strange to call myself a public figure…in very small circles at least) and she had met Mary on the AT in 2016 when Mary was doing her winter AT hike. Small world!! Deja-Thru (love the trail name!) was lovely and we talked trail and took some photos. Another hiker pulled up, it was Digger who remembered meeting me on the PCT 16 years ago…wow, it’s trip down memory lane!

After a few more minutes we carry on and ford the Pleasent River…I put on my trusty Chacos for the walk…and wore them the next half mile to the road crossing and my next resupply. I haven’t worn the Chacos yet for any trail miles…usually I wear them for about a third of my miles each day, but with my foot issues I am not rushing into them out of extreme caution. I don’t want to upset the delicate balance of foot and shoe; things seem to be going really well there.

Mary and I are at the road only a few minutes when Ron pulls up again. My trail angel to the rescue! I give him my trash, he gives me food. What a great thing we have going! Rambling Rose passes through too. I met Rambling Rose when I was waiting for Ron at my previous food drop and here he is again. He gave me some hostel tips for the towns ahead. Many thanks RR! It wasn’t long before I was packed up and ready to face the next big climb: Chairback Mountain. Oofta.

We say our goodbyes and I start up. Today is in the 80s and a storm is coming, so it is humid and hot. The sweat is pouring and I keep going, only pausing once or twice in the whole climb to let some hikers pass and to drink some water. The legs are getting much stronger, but they are nowhere near the power I know will be coming after a few more weeks.

Up, up, rocks and roots, up, up, mud and rocks. I run into three guys near what seems the top, but it’s not; I have the boulder wall to climb. After that I top out on some granite slabs and a view of trees and lakes….such a green landscape!

It takes a while for the sweat to stop, and my shirt stays wet for all the humity and lack of breeze. I’m plagued by flies…at least they aren’t biting. I’m still not using bug spray, and am getting a few large welts from the tenacious ones, but overall am doing OK. I have sharp cheddar and summer sausage on a bagel for lunch, and more cherries. Thanks Ron! I’ll be taking a day off and staying with Ron when I reach Monson. He lives a short distance away, and I think it will be fun to relax and talk trail while my body enjoys not hiking for a day. Did I tell you Ron has two sisters who live along the Oregon Desert Trail? One in Christmas Valley and one in Lakeview…two of my trail towns. Now it’s REALLY a small world. 

After lunch I go down the mountain. It’s either up or down out here, and steeeeeep. I take another short break at the next shelter and meet two more sobos and their dog; Smoky is the first dog I’ve seen out here. Then onward. I go slow and listen to some music to help the pace. 

Then there is Third Mountain and Fourth Mountain. Lots of little summits today. On the way down I run into a trail crew. Yes! It is the steepest section of trail yet, and they are in the midst of building some rock stairs. The group is on a break, tools are spread out, and they sit among a grip hoist and comealong….getting those rocks into position is a feat and an art. I am so in awe. I chat with the group for a few minutes….my appreciation flowing out in many thank yous. Working on a trail crew is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs ever…. especially in Maine. If you haven’t volunteered yet for a crew near your favorite home trail, please consider giving them a day or two a year. Our trails need all the love they can get!

Then up, again.

This trail demands 120% of your available effort, and then often you still have to dig deep and find another 10 percent.

I am feeling the long day. The start of a blister and heavy legs give it away. I walk to a small creek before stopping to find camp and there is Bilbo! He passed me and Mary and when we were enjoying coffee time on White Cap a few days ago, I thought he was behind me. We both had our eyes on a small campsite nearby and set up our tents in a cloud of fatigue. 

Now to get horizontal…

AT 2022 – Day 8: 7.5 miles (84.3 total)

I woke up early today….my clock is ever shifting earlier and earlier. Last night it was still light out when I lay down about 7:30, but my back and body felt so good in the position that I had to stay there. Then I realized how tired I was and suddenly I was going to sleep well before sunset. Ah, hiker midnight. So when my body wakes me up at 4:30 and I count that I’ve been sleeping for 9 hours already, I start to make coffee because that seems like the most logical next thing to do.

Speaking of coffee, Mary (Speedstick is looking for a new trail name) and I make some on the summit of White Cap Mountain, a stunning collection of granite rock, short shubberies, and thick mosses. It’s a beautiful start to the day and we gaze at Katahdin over a relaxed morning. 

We don’t have to hike far, just within striking distance of Katahdin Ironworks Road where Ron would be meeting me with my next resupply. I only have a few days left (looong days, I am going to notch up the mileage a bit and see what happens) to my first town stop in Monson. Monson is a huge milestone to the sobo hiker. Us sobos start with some of hardest sections of the whole trail when we are soft and new. Us sobos have been spinning stories about the hostels, showers, food, and resupply available there. Ahhh town, the call is starting to get strong. It’s day 8, and I’ll get to town on day 11 🤞, and not one shower in all that time. Phew.

After our leisurely morning we hike down out of the clouds to a smaller series of mountain climb and descents. We don’t see a lot of hikers today, we are in a quiet spot, but that’s OK. We can focus on catch up with six years of life stories.

We chat the miles away and only stop for water and snacks. We lunch at a shelter and talk with a nobo for a while. He has already hiked the PCT and CDT and was close to getting his triple crown…although he was not very enthusiastic about the AT. Which is a shame. The AT is so unique, it doesn’t always get a fair shake in the trail comparison game. He says: “Green tunnel, not many views, hard terrain with little reward.”

I say: “The AT is amazing and has its place; maybe leave more time between 2,000-mile hikes so you really want it when you get out there.” I didn’t really say that to him, but I was thinking it. Some of these hikers are out 3 years in a row. No wonder you are ready to be done! That’s an incredible amount of hiking in a short amount of time! I had 4 years between the AT and PCT, and 9 years between the PCT and CDT, and now 7 between the CDT and AT. It makes a difference…all the difference when you haven’t had a good long hike in a while.

We carry on and stop early to make camp near a pretty little creek and valley. Mary is hammocking, I haven’t had luck sleeping in them, but she seems to love it. I’ll have to give it another try. Ron (Moak- of Six Moon Designs) gave me a Hennessey Hammock a while back, I should bust that out.

I try and cool down the rash in the creek (it IS looking better, but far from gone) and Mary is brave enough to take a full dip. 

I seem quite silly at dinner when I refuse to leave my screen tent and Mary is out among all the bugs, but she wears the 100% deet, and I’m not ready to go there yet, at least until my skin clears up…so the technique is avoidance.

I’m closing my eyes early again, it just feels so good…

AT 2022 – Day 7: 13.1 miles (78.6 miles total)

It was a quiet night with no more rain, and the waterfall made some lovely white noise to aid our slumber. I found Thank You Laura enjoying a second cup of coffee in a patch of sun. My kind of girl! Savor the last few days!

It is a refreshing day, the storm cleared out the humidity and bugs and left a cool breeze that would stick around all day, perfect hiking weather.

I entered the green tunnel and emerged a short while later at Crawford Pond where I enjoyed a sandy beach snack break. 

Then back up and into the fresh day

The air is so clean after the storm, I feel like I’m purifying as I walk, sweating out the poisons that are bubbling up my skin. The rash seems a smidge better, no bug lotion/spray for me today.

I fall again. That’s twice in two days. 2002 She-ra fell at least once a day too. New rule: no phoning and walking (that was my sin today…there are simply too many obstacles to walk and do anything else without consequences).

I lunch at the next shelter and Bilbo shows up. He met Kool-aid at another road yesterday where they had a resupply drop only to find him sick and throwing up. Bummer! Kool-aid took advantage of a ride supporting a few other hikers and got a hitch into town. That’s one of my Katadhin brothers down (we all climbed Katadhin the same day).

The trail would go up from here, we were getting into the mountainous section of the 100 mile wilderness, and the ups go straight up. More amazing rock works leads us up the climbs, and at the top of the first one I find two Canadians out for a week. We chat and I carry on. I really do love these little interactions. We will never see each other again, but usually we stop and ask about the hike, where we are from, and share any useful tidbits about the respective trails ahead. Not always the nobo thru-hikers though (no-bo means north-bound, as in walking the whole thing from Georgia to Maine). They mean business and are easy to spot. Skinny, tan, small packs, fast pace. The siren call of Katadhin is great…and many rush to the end.

The AT guide is my tool of choice.

Then the next big climb up White Cap. I huff and puff up to the next shelter, Logan Brooke, a charming lean-to perched in a drainage of the mountain. The water source is a cold pool filled by a small waterfall. The forest is covered in mosses and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a knome or troll pop up in the green. It’s that kind of magical forest.

Then I wait, and she doesn’t take long to appear…Speedstick! She came to hike a few days with me! Speedstick is a dear friend who moved to Maine about 6 years ago from Bend, and I haven’t seen her in all that time. She is a fellow triple crowner and has hiked the AT twice, the last time in winter when she was attempting the calendar triple crown. That’s some insane stuff. Imagine these steeps climbs but covered in snow and ice. No thank you. She now lives outside Bangor and comes up to play in this area quite a bit.

We spend the rest of the afternoon and evening playing catch up and it is so wonderful to have her on part of my journey. I feel all warm and fuzzy (and she brought chocolate!).

AT 2022 Day 6: 8 miles (65.5 total)

Tomorrow I’m going to be brave (or stupid) and hike without bug spray. The rash has spread. I think it’s the bug juice because it’s on my neck, hands, and legs…only where I put the lotion or spray (I’ve been using two different kinds which makes it even more confusing to figure out the offending poison). If it was not topical, wouldn’t I have it on my torso and back? Thank goodness I haven’t been spraying my face…

Eight easy miles today felt like a day off. I must be getting stronger, but also am ready to do more miles. But not yet. I have a visitor coming tomorrow…more on that when she gets here!

The morning got started earlier than usual…I wanted to check on Bilbo. He had been so destroyed when we got to camp yesterday that he passed out for the rest of the evening. But, he was up and in much better spirits, ready to give the AT another try. It’s hard to quit a trail when you have to hike to get out…so he’s hiking and hoping to keep going. We got your back Bilbo! 

We hiked together through some flat cruisy trail until Jo Mary Road. Bilbo continued on and I sat under my bug dome to wait for Ron. Ron! So this is a fun story: Ron started section hiking the Oregon Desert Trail last year and we’ve exchanged a number of emails. In this spring’s emails I happened to mention that I’d be hiking a section of the AT this summer, and he said if I was up in Maine that he’d be happy to help….well as it turns out… I jumped at his offer, and when I learned he lived near the 100 mile wilderness, we planned to have him meet me not once, but twice in this 100 miles to make the food carries more manageable. With my 10-mile a day average, that would make my first few weeks infinitely easier. And Ron has hiked everything. He is a triple crowner and then some, up to something like 17,000 miles (I may hit 13,000 on this trip?). He reassured me that it was time for him to start giving back after I said meeting me twice was too much (and I’ll be staying with him when I get to Monson)…having received so much trail magic over the years. Ok, thank you Ron!

We had planned for noon, but I was way early, and he was too. Perfect! We chatted for a bit, he’s been the trail maintainer for the next section of trail that I’ll hike, and knows the area really well. We treat some other hikers that show up to some extra goodies Ron brought, and I enjoyed some homemade bread with tuna salad that he brought me for lunch. Trail angel Ron everybody!

I’ll be meeting him in a few days, so my carry isn’t large…I asked for fruit and veg again….why not? And he even made some hummus for my cucumber and red paper lunch bagels. I’m definitely living large.

There is a storm on the way, so I hike out and try to get to the next shelter before the heavy rain, hail and whatever else comes with big Maine storms.

And wow. Cooper Brook Shelter is a shangri-la of goodness. A waterfall and swimming hole sit right in front of the shelter, and I swim away the heat, and hope to cool down some of that rash. I have a small chunk of soap, so I’ve been hauling water to wash off my poisoned appendages on dry ground and before I go swimming. The rash is even rashier if that is possible, but not too bothersome…so I’ll continue to ignore it, and will hike tomorrow without any bug stuff on…I’m almost sure that is the culprit. 

I’m at the shelter so early! I read and chat with a few other sobos that arrive, Nick and Hero…and really enjoy meeting Thank You Laura who is days away from finishing her nobo hike. Good peeps! I wanted to hike around good peeps and it’s happening 😁.

I’m in the shelter tonight for the first time, and the storm only dropped some rain before the sun came back out. 

Sleep is sweet.

AT 2022 – Day 5: 10.9 miles (57.5 total)

When you can accept what is…the hiking gets easier.

That’s today’s tip, folks. Acceptance.

But first, coffee.

I’m looking out on Jo-Mary Lake at Antlers Campsite at a cloudy yellow and blue sunrise. It’s quite spectacular. I’m camped on a point next to a bunch of Nobo thru-hikers who are giddy with excitement at getting this far. I’m giddy with excitement that my rash hasn’t gotten worse. 

My strange mix of bug bites and rash (caused by bug bites? Or bug spray? Or allergies? Or ???) Has caused me to try and transcend the itch: Don’t scratch, it will be 100% worse if you scratch. Think happy thoughts.

Ok, I gave those bites enough time this morning, time to move on.

2002 She-ra didn’t even have a tent, she slept in shelters and I don’t remember what was done about bugs. Ahhh, the bugs again, they are insistent little buggers. No more talk of bugs.

Right after hiking out this morning I ran into Bilbo. Oh man. He got up and started hiking the wrong way. Bummer, and easy to do out here in a fresh sleep cocoon.

We leap froged each other a bit during the morning (going south) and I stopped in the next shelter for a break. Rick was there again. Rick was the trail maintainer I saw yesterday at the shelter. Turns out he drives four hours from Augusta to volunteer on the AT! Has been doing it since the 1980s, and that puts some things into perspective for me…like those steep stairs from yesterday. The Maine Appalachian Trail Club has been working on buliding stairs in this area for over 30 years 😳. He said, “Imagine what it was like before the stairs. They are a big improvement.” I had been joking with myself earlier that not much has really changed on the AT in 20 years, except maybe they installed some more rocks. Guess I was right. Thanks again volunteers! I know I’ll be saying that a lot on this trip. Imagine the collective work that goes into maintaining a 2,175-mile trail? Arguably the most popular, used, developed trail in the country? With shelters and privys every 5-15 milesish??? Absolutely mind-blowing.

But the walking. The walking is infinitely easier than yesterday. There are even stretches that are rock and root free, and you can actually stride out and cruise. Dreamy.

My gravity filter is AMAZING

I swim for lunch and catch up with Bilbo again at the next shelter. Now he’s got me turned around and I start leading us on a trail back to the shelter that we just came from. Oops…

We hike together and take a break at a sandy beach before getting to the campsite.

We also started flip flopping with a group of girls hiking a section of the AT with their summer camp. Get this, they are hiking a 350ish mile section! For 7 weeks! Amazing. 

I chat with one of the leaders at camp (who gets paid to do this 😍 and is a thru-hiker herself) and it turns out her cousin is Adrian, who thru-hiked the Oregon Desert Trail in 2016, the same year I hiked it. The ODT was his first thru-hike, (daunting!) but he had some expert tutelage from his girlfriend Nikki out there. Both are accomplished runners, and I was thrilled to see Adrian won the Leadville 100 last year, one of ultra-running’s hardest races. His cousin (I didn’t catch her name, I’ll find out today) said after the ODT that he decided to stick with running. Ha! He tried one of the hardest hikes in the country first…although these miles on the AT have been anything but easy. In fact Bilbo is thinking about all the other things he could be doing instead of this. 

Camp! More swimming! Views! 

I meet trail angel Ron tomorrow with my first resupply, and I’ll walk in with one lunch to eat if I need to. I planned the food perfectly!