We've been out here for 2 months so far, (more like 10 weeks because this is late) yet it feels like we just started, like it was only yesterday that we dragged ourselves up the approach trail, exhausted and bewildered. But yet again it somehow feels like this life is so natural and regular for us. It feels as though we were made for trail life, as if just the concept of near homelessness is where we belong.
Physical Changes & Challenges
The mere thought of ever getting to do a 20 mile day was intimidating before these recent weeks. Just thinking about it discouraged me, our 12-15 miles seemed far and hard enough, there was no way I could add more miles and still be able to move afterwards... But our bodies have the ability to surprise us with their true capabilities. Slowly we have been adding extra miles on our days, building our stamina and strength so when we jumped up a few miles towards 20 we were excited to feel alright by the end of the day... And so we kept rolling with the big miles. We balanced our big days out with shorter days and our bodies began adjusting. And then we did a 25 mile day... Pushed it a little too far... That was the day Silverback developed shin splints. We've learnt our lesson though, no more giant mileage days for a while... Our bodies can handle 15-18 miles a day now with no serious aches or pains.
Silverbacks shin is doing much better, he still wears a tenser bandage around it to keep everything in place, sometime he says that he can feel something moving around in there.
I should probably buy some knee braces, my knees are always aching but I hope I can somehow strengthen them... We don't bend our knees too often hiking all day so maybe I should do some squats?
Before coming out here Silverback and I both had put on about 10lbs each for the trip. Silverback weighed 165lbs and I weighed 115lbs. We weighed ourselves again in town and Silverback now weighs 150lbs and I now weigh 113lbs.... Of pure muscle!
As you have seen in our videos we have gotten some blisters... Our feet just keep getting tougher blister by blister but man do they suck! Our heels are pretty much leather now and our toes aren't far behind. And somebody mentioned that we will need pedicures when we finish... We can't do that! And ruin what we've worked so hard for!? Our feet will forever be hobbit feet after this, we hope.
We're still loving our little community of hikers, we're in a "bubble" as we call it, where we have an idea of which hikers are up ahead of us and which ones are behind and there's just a bunch of us all within a few days of each other. We found out that we are only a week or two behind the main bubble which is we're guessing around 1000 people spread out over 300 miles maybe. We're still always meeting fresh faces as well, which keeps things interesting!
In the last week there has been at least 5 people that we know of that have quit the trail.. The Virginia Blues are taking people down!
Even though we haven't hiked with our tramily all together in about 570 miles, we're still tight knit... For a while we kept leap frogging with Shade and Xena. We would stop in town and they would catch up or visa versa. We would leave town at different times and we kept doing that until we left Damascus without them and Xena ended up staying there for a week because she got sick. Shade caught up to us in Pearisburg when we were off trail for a week because of Silverbacks shin. Recon finally got back on trail and met up with Xena and then Xena tripped and jammed her trekking pole into her shoulder and now she is off trail for 2 weeks!Recon is only about 60 miles behind us now... Our tramily just keeps getting whipped around but we're determined to be a tramily and to make it to Katahdin together!
Trail Magic/God's Provisions
Let me tell you about the magic we have had in the woods...
May 29th - We found two buckets in the woods tied to a tree. They each had tons of snacks and supplies in them, it was a great surprise to find!
May 31st - On our way up Jane Bald an 80 year old couple stopped us and asked if we were thru-hiking and when we said we were they pulled treat bags out of their day packs! And they got our names and are going to check in the magazine at the end of the year to see if we make it!
June 11th - We passed an old school house that had trail magic in it from a church. There was so much stuff! Snacks, ice cold drinks in a cooler, hygiene supplies and first aid supplies. And it was a super cool old school house!
June 18th - During our week in Pearisburg at The Holy Family Hostel the church that is right beside the hostel had a mission trip staying overnight and we got invited to their dinner and breakfast the next day! Both meals were all we could eat and they were so delicious!
June 22nd - We went to "The Captains" which is a guys home that he opens to hikers to camp on his property and he has a fridge full of cold sodas! We stayed there the night and combined Silverback and I probably drank about 7 sodas.
June 25th - We got to a road after about 8 miles and found cold water and Coke! Silverback and I aren't really Coke drinkers but I had myself one and he had 2!
Seeing animals on the trail is magic enough for me. On average Silverback and I see about 2 deer a day and we have seen many fawns too! The doe usually flicks her tail up and takes off running and then if you look closely you can see a fawn where she ran from and it stands completely still hoping to stay hidden; so cute!
One time I was walking up a hill and Silverback was ahead of me and I looked to my left and there was a doe and her fawn just lying in the woods watching me walk by.. I wanted to take a picture but I didn't want to disturb them, they looked so peaceful lying there so I just watched them for a minute, thanked God for the sight then kept going on my way.
Trail magic is the best treat to find, but I like the little things God shows us even more.
Tidbits of Info
In Pearisburg a man came to stay at the hostel with his wife. His wife was supporting him as he hiked the trail. They were both ex-military, they had been involved with the army for 25 years and the man is a colonel. It was interesting because he talked about how the trail has been the hardest thing he has ever had to do, physically and mentally. We just thought that was really significant because that kind of puts the challenges of the trail in perspective. This guy has been in hardcore military training and has fought in the war and he still thinks this trail is harder...
It's been a bad acorn and berry season for the Bears so there have been a lot of shelters that have been closed due to problem bear activity. Last night a hiker we were camping with went into the woods a bit and came back with a torn up backpack that he found. It was clear a bear had taken it from some unlucky hiker and ripped it up looking for food. At about 2am I woke up and could hear a bear outside the tent digging around at the backpack, he was grunting and snorting and sniffing around the campsite. It's kind of freaky but to be honest I have woken up a good handful or more times to a bear in camp, they don't ever seem to bother us though.
Confessions of a Thru-Hiker
• Poopin' in the woods is actually kinda nice.
• If we had a choice between paying for a shower or buying food we will always choose food.. Even if it's been 2 weeks since we've showered.
• Snot rockets are an everyday event.
• We have both farted so badly in the tent that the other one has gagged. (Hiker food gives you gas)
• Bugs land in our food... Extra protein?
• We are drenched in sweat everyday, right through our clothes.
• We smell very vinegary most of the time.
• We can smell day-hikers. (They smell nice and clean... Who knows what they're smelling...)