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Solo, but not alone.

Hiker Steve headed for the NOC

Hiker Steve headed for the NOC

Our adventure so far has been amazing and beautiful and surprising! We started slow, Steve's heart and mind were on the trail, but his body was not cooperating. We tried to take it easy, we took some time off the trail; in town he'd feel better, and then we'd get back to hiking and he would slowly deteriorate.

In Hiawassee we decided to give him a break, he took a shuttle to Franklin while I hiked that section alone. From there he got back on the trail and was met with the same problems.

Steve decided that he was not going to be a thru-hiker. This part of his adventure had ended. I would continue on without my hiker buddy. BUT Steve's adventure has shifted. He went home to load up the car and become a permenant trail angel for the rest of the hike! 

From Bryson City I hiked on while he went home and packed up. From the NOC to Fontana Dam I was met with the coldest, wettest, and grossest days of hiking yet. 

Today I am unexpectedly settled in at Fontana Lodge awaiting the arrival of a new trail buddy to attack the Great Smoky Mountains with tomorrow! 

View of Fontana Lake from the AT

View of Fontana Lake from the AT

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Panoramajama!

ALLTHEPANOS! WIFI in Hiawassee!! Sharing my panos from the trail so far.

Long Creek Falls

Long Creek Falls

view from Preaching Rock

view from Preaching Rock

communal camping at Lance Creek

communal camping at Lance Creek

Blood Mountain

Blood Mountain

Hiker Hostel at Neel Gap

Hiker Hostel at Neel Gap

Mountain Crossing

Mountain Crossing

walking in rain clouds

walking in rain clouds


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Our First AT Nibble

Long Creek Falls

Long Creek Falls

 Our first week on the AT has been an adventure in itself. We were lucky to start hiking in the most beautiful weather you could wish for. Clear, blue sunny skies all day. Spring is evident. The trail is lined with tiny violets. Clumps of yellow and maroon trilliums add a lushness to the moutainside with their triads of variegated leaves. Orange columbines nod their little spurred heads from their delicate stalks. Ferns are starting to wake up, unfurling and yawning; stretching upward from the dark humus blanket that they curled under all winter.

The AT has wrapped me in it's beauty.  Tiny cornflower blue butterflies flit ahead of me. Daily, I rock-hop across some clear rocky stream. The climbs are work, but the views are a reward. I try to capture the bigness of the mountains before me in photos but most of the time I just put the camera down, defeated by the vastness of the landscape and wish that my friends and family could stand beside me and experience it with me.

This first week has had it's challenges too. It has been a slower start than I imagined, but we are both loving the trail, and are ready to see what lies ahead.

View from Blood Mountain

View from Blood Mountain

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a good omen

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We are less than a month away from starting the trail—YES, I said WE! A few weeks ago my husband Steve decided that he wanted to go from supporting my solo hike, to transforming my solo hike into a not-so-solo adventure, and I couldn't be more stoked! Luckily, thesis madness has slowed down. My thesis book is at the printer and the art for the show is framed. I'm still getting ready for my last residency at VCFA, but I can see the light at the end of this MFA tunnel and my focus has shifted to trail prep.

We are getting Steve geared up quick! We've been hiking around to break in his new boots. He is scouring forums for what gear is the best (much more diligently than I ever did), and we are prepping the household to hibernate while we are in hobo mode.


A few days ago, I was practicing my hammock set up and learning new knots, the weather said that a thunderstorm would be coming through that afternoon so I decided to let it roll in on top of me and see how the set up faired. I was doing ok until suddenly the wind picked up. By the time ice chunks started falling from the sky, the wind had ripped all my stakes out of the ground and I had run for cover. The storm knocked out our power and the power for most of the town. We escaped the dark house and joined the rest of the town in one of the restaurants that still had power. Steve glanced in the rear-view as we drove in to see a double rainbow thrown across the storm clouds. We pulled over so I could snap a photo.

I am not a person who thinks there is some inherent meaning in things. I am a person who makes meaning. So for us, this prismatic double arch of refracted sunlight will be a good omen. I have decided this ROY-G-BIV smile is the universe letting me know that this last residency at VCFA will be amazing and our hike will be absolutely epic!

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Jack Kerouac

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

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Squidcam!

 

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Squidcam gave me this sweet iPhone lens and case system to try out on the hike. I'm dreaming of tiny weird mushrooms, interesting bugs, lush moss-scapes for the macro lens and epic vistas on top of flower-specked balds and mountainous landscapes with the wide angle. 

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