We've survived our first month in the wilderness and even though we have aches and pains and we haven't yet perfected our sleeping patterns and we have a new challenge of climbs and descents everyday, we can honestly say we love it out here.
Physical Changes & Challenges
It only took a week or so before we could notice a difference in our bodies ability to tackle the mountains, we've still got a long way to go before we fully develop our hiker legs but it's cool to feel the muscle growth and increase in stamina. In the beginning of our hike an 8 mile day would wipe us out, but now we do 12-15 mile days and feel considerably better.
Blisters are a real issue out here and Tom has had the worst of them, which is actually only 4 and they're now healed up, but they were big ones; almost the size of quarters! I've had 2 that are in the healing process now, I guess it's all part of strengthening our feet.
Tom had some knee problems in the beginning, his joints were really bothering him on the downhills but he has gotten himself a knee brace and is doing much better. My knees are just starting to hurt now but I think it's just a matter of strengthening the muscles in them.
Our feet hurt after every day and we should try to find some gel insoles, but for now we just sleep off all our aches and pains and they seem to feel better by the morning... We've been getting close to 10 hours of rest per night so that gives us plenty of time to rejuvenate! ... If only we could actually sleep the whole night through.
Trail life is a crazy thing, we meet new people every single day and every one of them is a part of this amazing trail community. Everyone looks out for each other and are willing to help wherever needed and nobody even knows each other's names! People are given trail names out here, and their alias usually comes from something that has happened along the way. Every trail name comes with a bit of a story and the stories are endless out here. It's like a prefect mini society out in the woods. We became a part of this community the minute we stepped onto the trail, and it was only our second night here when we met our "tramily" (trail family). Out here we don't have things distracting us from real life and the most entertainment we can find is from talking to a stranger at camp, so needless to say we became pretty close with people right from the beginning especially since we all have the same objective -Maine-
There are 5 of us in our tramily plus an adopted member:
Xena the warrior, medic, kennel master, illustrator, author, princess hahah... And in the beginning she had her noble steed dog Noah (he had to go home before the Smokies). Xena got her name from our friend Hawk who was out for a trial hike (he is planning to complete the trail next year).. She got her name because she was carrying her pack plus Noah's pack which all weighed in at about 50lbs and she was passing Hawk on the trail so he named her Xena the Warrior Princess... And we just add things to it as we please.. She's not just a pretty face. ;)
Recon is our salesman tramily member, he could sell you anything... He's also a vet, he fought in Iraq... But what he actually enjoys doing is after we're all set up in camp, he'll go off on a side trail on a mini adventure to see what he can find and one time he found us the most amazingly beautiful cliff lookout and now we know that if he says he's found something spectacular, even if it's another mile out of our way, we should go check it out. And that's why he got the trail name Recon.
Shade just recently got her trail name, though she's been throwing shade since the beginning (throwing shade is basically a way of saying she gives a lot of sassy and sarcastic remarks). Shades likes our younger sassy sister who isn't afraid to speak her mind ... Or complain about how bad her feet hurt ;)
Hillbilly has been adopted into our tramily, though he isn't on the trail anymore with us (he had some family matters that he had to leave the trail for) he plans to jump ahead and start slow again and maybe we will catch up, he's not planning on doing a thru-hike anymore but he still wants to hike a good chunk of the trail. His name is Billy, I'm not sure who named him Hillbilly but it sure fits him well!
Trail Magic/God's Provisions
Trail magic is a hikers greatest dream, it mostly entails random acts of kindness by strangers involving food and beverages for hungry and thirsty hikers.
Our first experience with trail magic was from the First Baptist Westminster Church, they were parked at Dicks Creek right by the mouth of the trail as we were passing through. They had pop and Gatorade in a cooler and bars, snacks and homemade cookies! We were so thankful for that, it was so great.
At Stecoah Gap a man pulled up while we were taking a break and he pulled out a bunch of bananas from his car and we each got one, fruit is one of the many craved things while on the trail and that gave us the energy boost to climb Jacobs Ladder which has been one of the steepest climbs so far.
While we were in the smokies we ran out of fuel for our stove and had to cook on a fire (which they don't really want you to do in the smokies), but we only had to do it once because the morning after a couple that was just out for one night told us they couldn't take their fuel canister on the plane home with them so they were leaving it for anyone who wanted it! Score!
Then that same day while taking a break at Clingmans Dome a man came out of the gift shop and dropped a paper bag down beside us and we looked in and found 6 great smoky mountain granola bars and 2 chocolate bars! We thanked him as he left and he said "Now just finish" so now we have to finish the trail!
While we were at Newfound Gap waiting for Billy to pick us up a man was driving out of the parking lot and asked Tom to come over to his truck and he gave us 3 big pieces of homemade jerky! It was so delicious... People in the south sure know how to make jerky.
Tidbits of Info
Together Tom and I are called "The Tom & Robyn Show" but Tom is now named Silverback because the silver side of his sleeping pad came off all over his back... And the name fits him well because he also storms up mountains like a gorilla... It's hard to keep up sometimes! And me, well I don't have a trail name yet, but I'm not too worried about it, it will come!
Hiker hunger is so real out here... We ate a normal amount of food for the first couple of weeks out here but soon our bodies started wanting more and more food and now it's hard to stay full. And we talk about food a lot! Mostly about what we want to eat when we get to town or what we miss eating back home... The food we have to eat on the trail isn't horrible but there isn't much variety. We mostly crave fresh fruit and veggies.
We've been lucky and have gotten five showers so far and have gotten to do our laundry twice in a machine and one time we did a partial load in a sink. Otherwise we just wash up in the creeks and do some laundry in a ziplock bag. So needless to say, WE STINK! But so does everyone else on the trail.
So that's our one month update! We hope you're enjoying our video updates, we love all the support and feedback we are getting, it helps us not feel so homesick!
Keep on praying for us cause it's working! God has really blessed us with this adventure and He continues blessing us everyday along the trail!