Argh!

3 May

Having technical difficulties. Argh! Please stay tuned.

Trail Legs

24 Apr

Something that is often discussed among thru hikers is the concept of “trail legs”. It describes the strong legs of a hiker with hundreds (or thousands) of miles behind her who is able to cruise through 20+ mile days. Trail legs can really only be achieved one way- day after day of hiking endless ups and downs. The result = Priceless. The ability to hike all day long with relative ease is what makes thru hiking doable (and much more enjoyable!)

For Emily and I this past week, and the next couple coming up, are all about rebuilding our trail legs. When we got off the trail in November we were able to hike 20-25 miles a day with few complaints. After 163 zeroes 10-15 miles a day have been more our speed. We have been working hard to find a balance between pushing ourselves to get back in shape, while still listening to our bodies and avoiding injury. Having said that, our first week back we knocked out 94 miles and we are pretty darn proud. Yesterday we were even able to hike 18.5 miles, motivated by the idea of a comfy bed and a hot shower that awaited us in Daleville, VA.

The trail itself has been beautiful- well maintained with very few roots and rocks to trip us up. Spring is definitely in the air and the lower elevations are incredibly green and lush. While the ups and downs have been reasonable, they feel pretty intense on our too-well-rested legs. But, we have kept our heads and slowed our pace resulting in a happy medium of both miles covered and enjoyment of the trail.

Below is a shot of the Guillotine, which we passed through a few days ago.

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Three days

19 Apr

Well we are on day 3 and doing pretty darn OK. We only hiked 2.3 miles our first day out, passing the point of our initial heartbreak. It was there we said a prayer to the trail gods and then quickly moved forward without looking back. We stayed our first night (and all of them since) in shelters by ourselves. It is nice to have the solitude as we get our heads and our bodies back into trail shape.
Day 2 consisted of 10 miles. We crossed over Cold Mountain on a sunny day and enjoyed our hike over a couple of Virginias famous bald mountains. We got to the shelter early and enjoyed a late lunch early dinner, we refer to this as “linner”. This allowed us to hit the hay early in preparation for the next day. However around 1 am we were awakened by a deluge on a tin roof. It sounded as if we were laying on the Tarmac with 747’s taking off ten feet above our heads. Georgy was even taken aback and nestled down close for a bit. We slept through the night in a series of twenty minute naps. As the rain passed over through the night we were still awakened by loud drops of water hitting the roof as it fell from the trees.
Not feeling rested we started our day despite the very strong urge to stay in bed. It was damp and foggy. We finally convinced each other we needed to just bite the bullet and get up. Coffee was a must and it was a good idea. We climbed straight up out of the shelter and over our first peak for the day. Then it was a 4 mile down hill. Our knees were feeling it and we were both quite happy to enjoy a beautiful section of trail that paralleled a babbling creek. We had some lunch by the creek and then set out to finish our day.
This ending was a doozy. We climbed, and climbed. It was our first real climb since being back and we felt every step. Jen let me lead and we kept a nice turtle-like steady pace up and up. Our last 1/2 mile to the shelter was quite vertical. We were very happy when it was time to take the turn onto the side trail that finished our climb for the day.
We feel good about our 15 mile day. It wasn’t easy but we kept a respectable pace and made god time. Tomorrow we head into town for a re-supply and then back out for a quick 2 miles to the next shelter.
I know everyone wants to know about Georgy Bear. He is doing well. He has settled back into trail life and is smiling along with the rest of us. We are all quite happy to be back. While we miss our significant others and our families, the trail feels right. It feels like home.

Packing Madness

15 Apr

It has been a whirlwind two days of packing and planning. Emily and I have tried to fit 3 months of planning, packing and organizing into 48 hours. Luckily everything we learned came back quickly and we are ready to head back out! We are headed out the door in a few minutes back the exact spot we stepped off 163 days ago. With the support of all our friends and families we know we will knock out these last 817 miles. Special thanks to Sue and Bob Moore for being such wonderful hosts. They let us cover their house in gear and food and fed us like kings!

Here are a couple shots of the packing and our last pre-trail meal:

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Starting to feel real

28 Mar

Well, I am going to be honest. When we left the trail back in November we were heart broken. We didn’t want to talk to anyone but each other, and we wanted to just get back to work and bury our heads in the sand. I think we both were quite successful.
We talk every day, and a lot of it has been us alternating who gets to be sad and who gets to be positive. Every day we miss the trail. For a while there our return to the AT was far enough away that it did not seem like it was ever going to happen. We watched fellow hikers post their finishes on Facebook and on their blogs. While we were happy for them every post of a finish invoked waves of nausea and tears. One finisher (who didn’t even do the first 100 miles) had the nerve to tell me that storm Sandy was “annoying”. ANNOYING!!! Those of us that had to leave the trail have many different terms for the storm. All of them far more negative and inappropriate than “annoying”. Jen can attest, I held my composure quite well on my following posts to Facebook. I wanted to verbally assault the guy on the public forum but instead I explained our circumstances objectively while fighting back tears of rage.
Since then things have started to change. We had a 30 day challenge through January that I lost. I will be the “water wench” for the first two weeks of the trail. *sigh* BUT, to be honest I am so happy to get back to the trail that I don’t really care.

Continue reading

69 Zeroes Left…And Counting!

31 Jan

Emily and I are still plugging away in our separate ICUs saving lives (or wiping butts, depending on the night) and taking names.  However, in between shifts we have started researching even better gear and making plans for our return to the trail on April 8th!   You would think that after several months thoughts of the the trail would have been pushed to the back of our minds as the rest of our lives took over.  You would be wrong.   Emily and I talk about how much we miss it every day and even dream of it at night still.

We are also pushing each other to stay in shape from 1,900 miles away.  We currently have a 30-Day Challenge going with the loser having to suffer the ultimate punishment- she must pump the water morning and night for the first 14 days back on the AT.  It was Lucky’s genius idea (though one she may rue if she loses!)   Bear has also stayed in shape, mainly by having to run in feet of snow up to his nose.  He has continued to protect me by sleeping by my side and making sure I stay safe on our neighborhood walks.   I think he may be getting a little too used to his big comfy dog bed and the couches though- the hard shelter floors may be a bit of a shock!

Keep checking in and we will continue to update as we get closer to our April 8th return!IMG_7218

The First 35 Zeroes

5 Dec

Someone asked me yesterday how “post-trail” life was going. It was a fair question, but tough to answer because we aren’t technically “post” trail. We are still “mid-trail” in our hearts and minds. Emily and I have talked a lot lately about how we feel about our decision to get off the AT 35 days ago and return in the spring to finish. While we still agree we made the right decision, the trail calls to us daily and our unfinished business weighs on us. We have had to watch as a few of our trail friends who made it through the storm have trudged on and are less than a week away from summitting Springer. I am incredibly happy for their accomplishment, but I can’t help but wonder how they managed to get through what we couldn’t. What could we have done differently? I know this isn’t a productive line of thought, so hopefully we will use the answers we come up with to ensure we knock out the last 800 miles in a few months!

As far as “mid-trail” life, Emily and I are both back to work. I started a job in a general ICU in Manchester, NH. So far the New England winter hasn’t hit yet, but I have my skis and snowshoes with me for when it does! Bear is loving the cooler weather since his full winter coat has grown in. Emily is in Houston, TX working in a Surgical Trauma ICU. She is enjoying sunnier weather and time with her pup Chille who wasn’t able to come on the trail with us. We both hope to complete these assignments and then see how the trail conditions are in hopes that we can get back sooner rather than later. We will keep you updated on when we will be back!

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Happy, Pretty Feet

5 Nov

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While we are working through all the sudden changes in plans, we wanted you all to know we are not just sitting around. Emily and I ran together 2 of the last 3 days including a great 8 mile trail run this afternoon. To lift our spirits we got pedicures together to enjoy the luxury of being feminine again for a few months!

180 Days

4 Nov

Well, Jen and I have sad news. On Thursday we set out to hike and were hit with a brutal reality. Hurricane Sandy brought winter to Appalachia. Even though it required an AWD to get through the snow to our drop off point, and parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway were closed, that did not stop these two women. We put on our warmest gear, leaving only one layer for something dry at night. We put on socks, then zip lock bags, then socks, and then tennis shoes, in hopes to keep our feet “dry”. We knew they would be cold, we were just hoping that we could keep them from being cold and wet. We grabbed our trekking poles and our packs and set off to hike the mile up the fire road and onto the trail.

The road was relatively easy hiking. We were learning our bodies in our new environment and testing out our foot placement on the ice and snow. It is amazing how much your stride changes when your footing becomes uncertain! In an acceptable amount of time we found the trail. Jen stopped, turned around and looked at me, and without words we gave each other our “Well here we go” looks. At first it didn’t seem too bad. The snow was about 6 inches and it was still a novel feeling. However, that changed in about 20 minutes. Continue reading

Breaking News!

30 Oct

Georgy has been skunked.

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