Within a little over a week’s time, we have experienced much on the trail. We’ve had a few hold ups due to weather (disclaimer to the family, especially the mothers: not to worry, as we are still expecting to be home by Thanksgiving). We have also crushed some of our biggest mileage days so far. As October has come to a close, we have witnessed the season go from fall, to winter, to fall fiercely fighting back. For the rest of October, there has been reuniting with old trail family, making new trail family, multiple state lines crossed, three zero days, hostels and work for stays, and simply, living the dream of trail life.
Day 139 – October 23 – Checked out of the hostel at 10am, walked to a local outfitter where we had our package forwarded, it still hadn’t arrived. We walked to Mojo’s to kill time, wait on package, and chill somewhere with wifi. Soon after, it started downpouring, so the delayed package was actually a good thing, because we had planned to pick it up and hike onward. It rained the rest of the day. We decided to zero. We left Mojo’s at 4pm, walked in the rain to “The Place”, a free church ran hostel. Justin went and picked up the package that did finally arrive. Hooray for a long sleeved shirt for me and new socks and calf compression sleeves for Justin! Chick-fil-A Rooster, Mary Poppins, and Rare were at the hostel, we all went and grabbed dinner together. Ended up being a not too shabby improv zero day. Mileage Completed: 1 (trail goes through town), AT Mile #1720.7, Campsite: The Place, Damascus
Day 140 – October 24 – Back on the trail! Yesterday’s rain really made the fall colors pop today, super pretty! Crossed into TN, state #12. New mileage record, almost a 30. Got to camp and were rushed to set up before dark. Very cold night. Start time: 8:40am, End time: 6pm, Mileage Completed: 29.2, AT Mile #: 1749.9, Campsite: Stealth tenting
Day 141 – October 25 – Late start this morning, I’m blaming it on the cold and wet conditions. Very cold, overcast, chilly wind, but some of the most vibrant mixture and variety of colors I’ve yet to see on the trail. Passed Laurel Falls. Temps were in the upper 30s/low 40s all day. Made it to a resort .4 mile off trail that has a bunkhouse for hikers, so we are staying here, out of the cold tonight. Got in at dark. Tired. Start time: 10:25am, End time: 6:25pm, Mileage Completed: 21.5, AT Mile #1771.4, Campsite: Black Bear Resort
Day 142 – October 26 – Stayed warm in the bunkhouse last night! Walked .4 back to the trail this am. Pretty day, streams, waterfalls, and sunshine. Decided to stop for the day at a church building right off the trail along a road crossing. It had a water spigot, so we didn’t have to filter water (which is a pretty big win), and we set the tent up on the back porch (makes for a dry tent in the am). It was really nice to be done hiking, have camp set up, and be done eating, all by dark. Start time: 9:40am, End time: 5:15pm, Mileage Completed: 21.4, AT Mile #1792.8, Campsite: Stealth tenting at a church building
Day 143 – October 27 – Big day! Left before the sun came up. Briefly crossed into NC, state #13, our second to last state. The trail runs pretty close to the border of NC and TN, doing a little back and forth between states. Did our first 30 mile day!!! Also hit 1800 miles today. Climbed Humpback Mountain, Little Hump Mountain, and Roan Mountain. Some truly beautiful views today, sunshine, great weather! Completely out of food, so we were in high gear to get to a hostel to order food for dinner before dark (owner wouldn’t drive us to pick up food after dark). Walked about a mile down some old, creepy woods roads from the trail to get to this “hostel”, which was really a lady’s home with a spare bedroom with three twin beds. We met two section hikers, Tsuga, her pup, Aurora, and her friend whose name I cannot seem to remember (oops), who are also at the hostel for the night. They had to stay in the hostel “pup shed” for the night. We were just glad there were other people there. Start time: 6:40am, End time: 5pm, Mileage Completed: 30, AT Mile #1822.8, Campsite: Greasy Creek Hostel
Day 144 – October 28 – Found ourselves in a bit of a prediciment this morning. We were 24 miles from the next town, out of food, with incoming incliment weather unsafe for hiking (without winter gear), for the next two-ish days. We didn’t want to be stuck or snowed in at this, let’s call it “interesting” hostel, literally up in the mountains. Tsuga and her friend arranged a shuttle to pick us up and take us into Erwin, which they paid for, thank you!!! Made it to Uncle Johnny’s hostel, did a work for stay. A lot of the trail family are here, coming in to get out of bad weather, rain, and dropping temps. We all did some major damage at the local pizza buffet, no mileage today, but significant calories conquered. Mileage: 0, Campsite: Uncle Johnny’s Hostel, Erwin
Day 145 – October 29 – Another zero due to weather – rain, sleet, snow, below freezing, high wind. The preacher of the local congregation gave us a ride to church service this morning, and Tsuga joined us. After service, we were given a ride and a $20 bill for another pizza buffet destruction, a huge thank you to the local Erwin church for their kindness and being so welcoming! Did another work for stay at the hostel, then did some serious ‘Netflix and chill’. Weather is looking pretty grim out there, glad to be inside, eating microwaved smores 😂 Really hoping it clears out, ready to be back on the trail. Mileage completed: 0, Campsite: Uncle Johnny’s Hostel
Day 146 – October 30 – A man from yesterday’s church service, Charles, picked Justin, myself, and Tsuga up from the hostel, treated us to the best greasy spoon place around for breakfast, and drove us back up into the mountains where we had left off. A huge thank you to Charles! The trail had definitely changed a bit since we left it. A chilly start, sunny day, snow started to clear as we hiked into lower elevation. A slightly rough day for me, I think due to a combo of things: snowy, rocky terrain in areas, carrying four days of food/pack heaviness, two prior zero days, and the coldness of the day. Officially hiked into Erwin and are back at the hostel. Start time: 9:30am, End time: 5:55pm, Mileage Completed: 24.3, AT Mile #1847.1, Campsite: Uncle Johnny’s Hostel
Day 147 – October 31 – Happy Halloween from the trail! I’ve been eating enough candy the past 5 months to tie me over for the next 5 years of Halloweens. Left Erwin and 1673 feet in elevation and climbed up to Little Bald at 5220 feet. Ended a little earlier today. We got to the shelter and decided to stay there instead of pitching the tent on snowy/muddy ground. It was a beautiful day! Met section hiker, Smokey, had some good campfire conversations tonight. And Tsuga made it too! Start time: 9:20am, End time: 3:35pm, Mileage Completed: 16.8, AT Mile #1863.9, Campsite: Bald Mountain Shelter
It has been quite an end to our last full month on the trail! With less than a month to go, Justin and I are excited and looking forward to coming home to time with family, but we are also sad to see this journey coming closer to it’s end. But…we still have a few hundred miles to go!!! And, hello November! Prayers for good weather, safe conditions, and making it home in time for the local Turkey Trot!
Please comment with any questions or feedback and thank you for following our journey!