That 12 day stretch

WE MADE IT TO VIRGINIA! It’s so unbelievable that we have gone almost 500 miles on this crazy trail. Today we crossed the Tennessee/ Virginia Border and are in Damascus, VA. This is definitely a trail milestone, and honestly not many people get here. We are so stoked to be here! Apparently they say if you get to Damascus by Trail Days (big hiker fest May 15-17) you’re on track to make it to the end– whoo! 

Since my phone was dead, many pics are screen shots from Lightning Bug’s Instagram 

 
This week we felt great. We did 12 freaking days without a shower, laundry, or seeing a real town. In Elk River we got a hearty lunch but that was it. This was our longest stretch by far and it definitely felt like it. The showers we took today were the best of the trail, by far! 

Despite not showering, this week was one of the BEST! We feel like we have hit our stride with trail life. We feel at home on the trail, we are bonding with our trail family, and we are covering good miles everyday. We most certainly have our trail legs, too!! Earlier in the week we hiked out of our campsite at Elk River and didn’t get too far before we found a bunch of our trail friends having a CINCO DE MAYO party, Hiker de Mayo, in the woods. They were equipped with a piรฑata, enough tequila for a frat house, and lots of food! We had a great time together, but no one was moving too fast the next day…

   
   

 
That week we mostly hiked and camped with our trail pals, Spaghettie (sic) and El Mundo, and the four of us are kind of a little crew. Great guys, really easy to be around, so nice and lots of fun. Here is a picture of us and them with a wonderful lady, JENNY, who did Mother’s Day trail magic and gave us hot dogs and candy and all kinds of treats! 

  
This week there was as much fun as there was hiking. One day we hiked about three miles before finding a lake. We got there around 12… And left around 8. LOL. We had a little impromptu beach party, and it was so fun! Lots of friends contributed hot dogs, beer and treats. We grilled out, played card games, swam, laughed a lot, and definitely got REALLY sun burned, oops! #worthit 

   
   

    

We also got some fantastic scenery, as always this week. There were lots of waterfalls and it was so lush and gorgeous.  

    

   

 
Overall we are loving trail life as much as ever. We are definitely feeling like thru hikers now!  

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Full Moon NIGHT HIKEย 

Right now we are grabbing some early dinner in the tiny town of Elk Park, NC. The diner is also an antique store, the town coffee shop, AND ice cream shop. It is a small but charming place! We are charging up our phones, stuffing our faces and updating our blog before heading back into the woods. This will be our longest stretch (10 days) without a shower, laundry or whatever, but the weather has been amazing so it’s fine! 

Our stop in Erwin, TN was one of our favorites! We had a really relaxing first day, and we got the best cabin available at Uncle Johnny’s! They built it for the owners mother in law but she is not always there and so they rent it when she isn’t. It was like having a tiny Tennessee home for a few days and we loved it! We cooked our own food and had our own shower! Yay! Also the first night we did not share with anyone so it was nice and quiet. The second night we took in all our lost boys (Gentleman, Spaghetti and el Mundo) because it stormed. 

   
        
After too much fun and a longer zero stop than anticipated (always) we headed out. We had an incredible week of weather and the views were so great!! It was a really beautiful stretch. Lots of balds and beautiful spots. I think it has been my favorite so far!! This week we hiked with Spaghetti and el Mundo a lot, as well as Iron Jen and Muskrat, Toasty, Downhill, and Light Bulb! All our faves โค๏ธ

There were two highlights of the week. First was when we came upon a domesticated pig that was now living in the wood on Unaka Mountain!! She was SO CUTE and friendly and Lightning Bug, and Toasty, and I named her Truffle and hung out way too long. I am basically in love and want this pig as my pet. 

   
  
Sadly though we had to leave her. Lots of other people also met her and named her LOL 

The scenery was also incredible. Lots of high elevation and spruce and pine forests. They are so magical!  Pictures don’t do them justice. 

  
   

The same day we met Truffle we had a MAGICAL camp out. It was a big group of hikers and one of the guys plays fiddle and brought his along. Another guy made a campfire and so we had a fantastic fire and fiddle music. Then me and an older guy named Free Bird sang Country Roads Take Me Home while Fiddler played and it was a big highlight of the trip. Such a free and fun and beautiful evening. 

Finally, there was the NIGHT HIKE! The evening of the music we figured out the next day was a full moon, and so I decided that me, Lightning Bug, Spaghetti and El Mundo would night hike with the full moon. Everyone was down and so we made a plan! 

The next morning we woke up early and summited ROAN mountain, which was gorgeous, and then at the top took a nap in a glorious pine forest. Needles were so soft we didn’t even need sleeping pads and we just cowboy camped! We woke up around 6:30 and made dinner and El Mundo made coffee. We got ready and headed out around 8:00! It was so cool walking down the gorgeous pine forest mountain at dusk, and then the rest of the hike (we did 10 miles) was stunning balds and in and out of forest and then rocky climbs. Half the time the moon was so bright we didn’t even need headlamps!! We had a snack in a beautiful field and around 1:00am we found a campsite and crashed for the night! The night hike was SO COOL words and pics (pics we sadly don’t have) can’t describe! We had a great time with our friends, too! Oh also technically that is our longest mileage day, 18.6 miles!!! 

We hitched into Elk Park, NC for our resupply box and found the diner and had tasty food ๐Ÿ˜„ and some cool local kids kept us company, and it’s been a fun visit 

   
 This week has definitely been the best so far. Great weather, great scenery, great people!! 

Hiker Truthsย 

This last stretch from Hot Springs, NC to Erwin, TN was honestly pretty uneventful. We did about 70 miles in under five full days, and felt really proud about that. We are increasing our miles and are now doing way more 15+ mile days and hope to increase even more this next week. Currently having so much fun zeroing in Erwin with our trail friends Hands, El Mundo, Spaghetti, Light Bulb, and Sloth. Lots of other friends are in town and we hope to meet up later. 

Since this week was pretty standard (some glorious days, some rainy days, beautiful miles and wonderful trail family) we thought we would use this blog post to post “trail truths”, or , lessons we learned the first MONTH on the trail. Here you go (and some are crowd sourced from the group today)…

TRAIL TRUTHS:

  • nothing is waterproof 
  • Wearing the same outfit for a month makes you feel like a cartoon character
  • Soon, your tent and sleeping bag are way more comfortable and give you a better nights sleep than a hotel 
  • Boys always smell and snore, especially the old ones 
  • Don’t use your knife as your bear bag weight. Georgia will have it forever. 
  • There is ALWAYS one more up hill
  • The weather report is a lie 
  • The elevation profile is a lie 
  • Trail family is like real family in some ways. You love them, but sometimes you need space 
  • The simple things have never felt so important 
  • Life without an outlook calendar (or knowledge of the date for that matter) is pretty incredible
  • There are bad days. Days you question your sanity, and days you want to quit 
  • The good days outweigh those bad days by exponential numbers, in quality and quantity. 
  • The trail is truly like the longest and biggest game of telephone you have ever played 
  • It is hard to start calling your girlfriend by her trail name, but once you get used to it it’s even harder to call her by her REAL name
  • There are ALL KINDS of people on the trail. All kinds 
  • Don’t resupply at outfitters. Dollar General and Walmart are your friends, for this time only
  • It’s great to dive head-first into nature (not literally though, Ex. The Gentleman)
  • Dry socks are of the UTMOST importance
  • You can never have enough snacks. Ever.

Finally, sometimes you just need to relax and color pictures of kittens with your friends: 

   

We enter our fifth or sixth week (no one really knows) when we leave here tomorrow. We are still so loving this adventure and looking forward to all it has to offer after our first month!!!  

Trail Familyย 

Woah!! It’s been a crazy blur since we left Gatlinburg, and we are nearing the 300 mile mark, which is hard to believe. I seriously don’t even understand that has happened, it doesn’t seem real! 

Anyway, about a week ago we hitch-hiked out of Gatlinburg  with Gentleman and Sloth and once again hit the trail. We were so happy all our stuff (and ourselves) were dry. We found all our pals also getting back to trail, and for a moment we were all happy, then it started pouring AGAIN!! With no choice but to hit the trail with the crew, we did! 

 
That day we got drenched and the Smokies were not kind. Luckily it cleared at least a little for us to get awesome misty views from a place called Charlies  Bunion!     

   
 

 We ate lunch there with the Gentleman, then we made it to the shelter and to our amazement had a shelter spot!! Thank GOODNESS!! We camped with all our friends and felt better. The next day it was on and off raining again, and lots of Great Smoky views. Honestly it all blends together.  

   
     
Finally it was our last day in the Smokies and it was SUNNY, WARM and glorious!! We hiked with all our friends to a little side trail up to Mt. Cammerer lookout tower for an amazing 360 view of everything we had not really been able to see! We had some beers and snacks that Fire Devil had packed in and it was GREAT!  

             

We ended the day walking through a beautiful lush low elevation with waterfalls!! We were with our friends Tots and Splash, and we got to Standing Bear Farm, where we had a pizza and and hung out until late around a fire! The next morning we left later than expected, due to lots of friends rolling in, having a big breakfast and playing some games. It was a good day, until we headed out and the DOWNPOUR began! This was the most soaked we have gotten yet, and it was pretty miserable! It started fun, but soon was wet and cold and muddy and BLAH!! For the first time we considered if we should give up and go home, because NOTHING about this was even remotely fun. Finally we got to the shelter and had only done half the miles we wanted, unfortunately. But we were greeted by friendly faces, encouragement and some whiskey, so our evening turned right around! 

Oh also during the height of the storm we hiked by this creepy space station thing and were convinced the aliens were coming for us  

  
The next day was sunny and gorgeous and we got the best view yet of the trail!! We spent the day hiking with Sloth, and met up with Fire Devil and Buttercup at different times. The view from Max Patch was incredible, and we had a wonderful break up there!!! 

 

  

  

  

  

  

 

From there we did a short few miles to the shelter and had another evening among our favorite pals, including Sloth, Splash, Tots, Fire Devil and Buttercup. Gentleman was a few days ahead or “in the future” as we all call it, and we hoped to see him again! That night we all decided to get a cabin together in the next town, Hot Springs, and make TACOS! This group is becoming our little trail family ๐Ÿ™‚ we all were chanting this as were hiking, and getting excited about the best day in town! 

The next day we hiked mostly with buttercup and had some great, honest conversations. It was really lovely. When else in life do you get NINE solid hours of getting to know someone all at once?? It’s very cool. We all camped at a shelter just 3 miles outside of town and made plans for the taco party. The next morning we all woke up early and got into town, where we met up with Gentleman, Muscrat, Iron Jen and Mr. Ambitious, who had left us notes along the trail to get into town sooner haha  


We all had breakfast together and saw so many hikers, and it was lovely!! Then we did all our “Nero” day things: laundry, resupply, coffee, check internet etc. that evening we had the long awaited TACO PARTY and it was everything we imagined and more. SO MUCH FUN!!

   
             
   Sharing a cabin with 8 smelly hikers who ate beans and cheese all night was a bit crazy, but we all survived. A few of the crew got a little too drunk (NOT me or Lightning Bug, who are realizing that we have a few beers and switch to water, and are drastically different than we were a few years back…) and in the morning it was clear everyone needed some non-group time, after ALL the group time. Even though trail family is great and we all love each other, sometimes space is needed. Also since the cabin was on Moonbow’s credit card we were extra on edge about drunken conduct and making sure it got cleaned SPOTLESSS ๐Ÿ˜

Me and Lightning Bug left the group and SOAKED for an HOUR in the Hot Springs Spa. It was AMAZING. AMAZING. So relaxing and so needed. Then we got coffee and found our trail dad LIGHTBULB and were so happy!!!! We had lunch with him and were so happy to catch up. He had been really sick but is feeling way better which we were glad to hear. Now we are in the Hot Springs Public Library with Gentleman, blogging and relaxing and getting ready to leave town. “Neros” always turn into longer days and are never long enough…. 

Biggest news is that yesterday marked exactly ONE MONTH ON THE TRAIL for Moonbow and Lightning Bug. We are hitting the 300 mile mark this week and should be in Virginia within a few weeks. CRAZY!! We are starting to feel the pangs of homesickness and missing our friends and family, but trucking on, and hoping people will VISIT US!! ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€

Talking about Poop With Strangers

This week has brought so much trail happiness and also so much trail TRIAL! It’s definitely been an exciting and challenging last few days. 

We left Fontana Dam and headed into Great Smoky Mountain National Park! It was a TOUGH climb up to the higher elevation we would we spending the week at, but super fun. Day one was 80 degrees, sunny and lovely. We got some fantastic views and met some animal trail friends! 

 

That day we only did 7 miles, up to a nice little campsite in the Park. We camped with our new trail friend Sloth, and some other people who sadly were getting off the trail because they felt it was too busy with other people :/ 

The next day we hiked through more sun, and beautiful views, to Spence Field Shelter. The Smokies have a rule (unlike the rest of the trail) that you HAVE to sleep in the shelter provided if you are one of the first people there, unless a section hiker shows up, you have to give it up to them. There are many rules in the Smokies, mostly to help avoid bear encounters, as it is the most concentrated bear population in the country. Lots of people are kind of assholes about it, to be honest, and can’t just follow them and respect the park rules. It makes me really mad to see people ignoring the rules but I can’t do much about it unfortunately. ANYWAY! That evening we had so much fun laughing around the fire with two of our trails friends, SLOTH (who we met a few days ago coming into Fontana, and who gets his name because he walks in the same slow pace no matter if he goes uphill or downhill), and THE GENTLEMAN (who we met coming out of Franklin and who got his name because he took other people’s trash and a shovel off the highest and hardest peak in Georgia because he didn’t want litter up there). Both of these guys are great and we are enjoying hanging with them this week, taking on the Smokies together!! They even learned my signature move: 

  

The Smokies decided that all we got were two good days. The next  morning we awoke to crazy wind and rain. It was pretty misty the rest of that day, and the climbs were TOUGH! We were lucky to get some views in the morning but soon all visibility was lost in the fog:

   

  

    

The last three miles of that day (Monday) were RAIN, RAIN, RAIN. And it was cold. And there was no visibility whatsoever. By the time we got to the shelter we were SOAKED and shivering and frankly not super happy. All the fellow hikers felt the same, and the shelter was packed with …unhappy campers ๐Ÿ˜‚we set up our tents, made our food, and hung our bear bag all with numb hands and not feeling all too happy. It was definitely one of the worst camping nights we have had, ever! The wind was rocking the tent all night and the rain was crazy! In the morning we had puddles in our tent but thanks GOODNESS our Big Agnes Air Core mattresses keep us warm and dry. Moonbow has a down sleeping bag so it’s important it stays dry!! We packed up all of our cold wet stuff, made breakfast inside the shelter, and hit the road. Everyone was bailing the crap weather for GATLINBURG and we needed to resupply anyway so we decided to get into town and dry out. GENTLEMAN and SLOTH were taking a zero day there, and Lightning Bug was not feeling well, so we decided to all split a room and we also took a zero! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

So we hiked 14 miles from Siler’s Bald shelter, up Clingmans Dome (the highest point on the AT!!), and to a gap where we could hitch a ride into town. The miles were SO. MUDDY. And the fog was insanely thick. We gave up attempting to stay dry and were caked in mud by the end of the day. 

 

After the long climb up Clingmans in which we had ZERO view, we started downhill and or spirits were lifted as we found ourselves walking through a magical rain forest of moss, water and old trees. It was stunning!! 

 

We finally arrived at Newfound Gap, where The Gentleman was waiting to hitch hike with us.   

 The sun had finally come out a bit, too!! A former thru hiker picked us up and took us directly to a buffet in Gatlinburg. We had a ton of food and stayed until it closed, and Sloth met us later, too! We all split a room for crazy cheap at a motel and started trying to dry our things out!! The room looked like a tornado hit:

 

  

  

 

Our zero day in Gatlinburg was honestly really fun. We woke up late, got a breakfast buffet, went to the outdoor center, got Starbucks (YUM!), got our resupply, and of course hung out with all our hiker friends, which gets me to the title of this post! 

The AT is amazing because you have an instant bond with every hiker. Some you certainly mesh with more than others, but when you do mesh you stick together for a while and it’s awesome. Sloth pointed out that we are all basically strangers, and it’s kind of true!! But it doesn’t feel that way. But when else in life do you meet someone (or a group) and IMMEDIETLY share a living space, run all your errands together, share all your meals, and share the same journey… And over share all the same stuff, like your popping habits and preferences in the woods? Our group spent a good 45 minutes today talking about poop and all other kinds of stuff you would not discuss with boys you have only know 3 days. But this is the AT and it’s different and amazing. 

Later in the evening some of our other friends, two girls SPLASH and TOTS came over and we pigged out on snacks and cookies and  cereal and laughed so much Moonbow cried. We did Splash’s “Cutie Challenge” which was to see who could eat a Cutie clementine  the fastest. Sloth won in like three seconds and Moonbow lost, taking two minutes because she was cracking up and crying from laughter

 

We wilล‚ hit the trail again early tomorrow and have a really fantastic week of some gorgeous  stretches coming up. We are super excited to be coming up on one MONTH on the trail, and this week we passed the 200 mile mark!! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ 

Franklin to Fontana aka A O RIVERRRR!

Another week has passed on the trail, and this one was for sure the toughest so far. We headed out of Franklin, NC on Sunday and hit the trail again from Winding Stair Gap. We always start right back where we left off. Some people definitely do not, but a common saying on the trail is “hike your own hike” so we try not to pass judgment ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

The first day back on the trail rewarded us with incredible view of the BALDS in North Carolina. BALDS are exactly what they sound like; mountains that are bald, or without trees. So the views are fantastic. The best view was a little side trail up Siler Bald. Dropping out packs and running up there was so worth it. It was a 360 view of mountains, and Fontana Dam, our end of the week destination, far in the distance. 

 
This week we spent a lot of time with our pals GI JANE and MOOSHOO, the couple who have the dog, Luna. They are such great people, and we are loving their company on the trail. (Right now they are a day behind us, and we are hoping they catch up to us in Fontana so we can all hang out tonight) we hiked with them a lot of that first day, and we hiked up Wayah Bald, atop which was another incredible view aaaaaaand TRAIL MAGIC! The four of us found another group of people with a small fire, tons of Easter candy (it was Easter Sunday!!) and Bacon!! We ended up making BACON S’MORES over the fire, and it was the best choice ever. We found our other trail friend, Light Bulb, up there as well, and enjoyed the fire with our little trail family. 

   

We just love Light Bulb. He is the nicest man you could ever meet, and we have adopted him as our trail dad and protector. He told us if anyone gives us trouble to let him know.  And as we got to know him we found he used to be in the Army AND is a retired federal prison guard, so we feel excellent about this choice of trail protector. Parents, don’t worry about us!!  Light Bulb has two daughters around our ages, and is really proud of both of them and talks about them often. He is also from Oklahoma, so the three of us have made a little group, “team flatlands” (Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma) and feel especially proud when we kick ass on these hills!! 

Anyway, that second night we camped with Mooshoo, GI Jane, and Luna at a site just off the trail. Another trail friend, Bearded Crab, was also there, and he had gone 8 miles out of his way getting lost, so he was not having a great day. We all shared a campfire and ate dinner together and it was really great!! Here is a pic of us with MOOSHOO, GI JANE, and LUNA on top of Wayah Bald: 

  
The next day we did Wesser Bald and some other miles (sometimes it all runs together) and ended at Wesser Shelter. It was rainy and pretty gross all day, and it was hard to find a good campsite, as we got there late :/ we had dinner with Light Bulb and waited out the rain, and then as soon as there was a break we ran to our tents! After we were all snug inside our little tent homes I had to pee, but it had started raining again… So, I found a new use for my nalgene: 

   

The next morning we began a long descent into the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where we had some packages!! We did about 7.5 miles, pretty much all downhill, which is harder and more frustrating than uphill, believe it or not. Your knees and feet HATE you!! When we got to the NOC we had so many happy surprises. We got packages from Olson parents, Adrienne and Daniel (some close friends from KC that we love) and Moonbow’s best friend Laura. We barely had to resupply we got so many goodies!!!  

We also found Mooshoo and GI Jane again and had lunch (and delicious beers) with them. Mooshoo treated us to lunch, which was so nice!!  It was such a nice rest and beautiful day, and we enjoyed seeing all our friends. It was also so hard to leave such a happy place full of friends, delicious food and beer, but we knew we had to push on. The next like… Three days were completely uphill, so we just got a few miles of it out of the way and camped with Lightbulb and some guy named Ben who was too cool for a trail name, at a place called Grassy Gap. Lightbulb is also awesome because he helps us get our slow selves moving on mornings we camp together. He hollers over to our tent to make sure we are awake (as he is already leaving camp LOL) and this is super helpful to get us out of camp before like.. 11 am! 
Oh Moonbow also got a sweet new hat she had been wanting for a long time and feels so fly on the trail: 

 
Just call me pataguchhi. Anyway…  

The rest of the week was one long, painful uphill. It was just about 30 miles in two days and all I remember is hills, climbs, sweat, a few tears and more hills. On Wednesday we didn’t get as far as we needed and were in a bit of a bind with camping. We ended up camping on a forest service road off a gap/ road where camping was not technically allowed. We read not to camp near roads for safety reasons and when we were alone there Moonbow was really nervous. However, within half an hour an older guy (retired teacher from OHIO!), Stretch, showed up, and then Lightbulb, too! A few others rolled in later As well, so we were happy! 

Two of the people camped with us and kind of on the same schedule as us are a couple who remind us SO MUCH of a couple on the show Portlandia, Cath and Dave. We can barely remember their real names because we call them this. As a result, we ended that evening giggling in our tent, watching sketches of Dave and Cath (and then just googling Carrie Brownstein…) until the phone died. The funniest sketch is by far when Cath and Dav go to the river, and as a result we quoted it the next two days, as a way to keep our spirits up. We yelled AYE OH RIVER many times, which is their signal to one another. It has become a little trail inside joke, and spirit lifter: 

http://youtu.be/AOgTW67B8Cw
Also, there was no water, but an incredibly kind local lady brought water and bananas!! She must know hikers end up there on these tough days. She also parked her car by the entrance to the forest service road to protect us all, and slept there! Seriously, the kindness of people around here is almost unbelievable!! The same lady helped Lightbulb To print his GSMNP permit by meeting him the next day and letting him print it at her home! So kind!! 

  
The next morning we got up at the same time as LightBulb and got an early start for a killer 14 mile day. It was by far the hardest yet. Uphills like you would not believe. No switch backs. Seemingly endless uphill. Then, steep, cruel downhills. Moonbow shed a few tears. There were many stops to rest feet, soak in water and gain the energy to keep going. Finally, FINALLY, we got into Fontana Village. We were so ready for a break. We ate a HUGE meal at the lodge. Fried green tomatoes, friend trout, fried chicken. Two desserts. AMAZING. 

 

We were not going to zero here Friday (today) but we saw a crappy forecast of big time storms, and our feet were NUMB so we got our room for tonight too and are relaxing HARD. This morning we had breakfast with some random hiker friends we were waiting at restaurant with (Spagetti and El Mundo) and then were joined by Lightbulb! We had a super tasty breakfast and tons Of coffee. After, we planned our week In the Smokies and organized our gear. Currently doing laundry, have resupplied, and are sitting on the porch of the general store and waiting for our clothes to be CLEAN and DRY! 

It was a great and challenging week overall. We had some great times with trail friends, new and old. We are constantly meeting new people. In some ways the trail reminds us of college, but it’s like college with hindsight we did not have then. There are different groups, and definitely some party crews, the “cool kids” who are drunk most of the time and bring box wine and edibles on the trail, sometimes instead of water.. We aren’t really bonding with those guys… Instead we are enjoying intergenerational company (like lightbulb, a guy named short bus and many other cool older retired guys, who never make us feel like young girls or any less capable than them, which is incredible),  and getting to know other people our age who are a bit more tame and into the trail for the journey, and  not for the party (like GI Jane and Mooshoo- those guys are so genuine and fantastic!) 

There are all kinds of people on the trail, and we are definitely learning who we connect with and who we don’t. Overall, this week as one incredible challenge, but so worth it. It tested our dedication to the trail, and at some points our sanity ๐Ÿ™‚ 

We head into the smokies tomorrow, and will be stopping again in about 8 days, so look for An update then!! 

–Moonbow and lightning bug   

ZERO DAY!ย 

We are wrapping up our first official zero day here in Franklin, NC. We had such a great (and surprisingly busy) time here! We stayed at a motel with all our new trail pals, and the first day just vegged out! Friday evening we all walked to a local sports bar, Mulligans, and ate a ton of unhealthy food and had some drinks. It was about 12-15 of us over the course of the night and it was so fantastic laughing with all those amazing people and sharing stories of our journey. We can’t express enough how incredible the trail community is. Here is a picture of us with our original crew of trail companions from the first week: 

 

After a fun evening all of us headed home for sleep. We are used to sleeping by like.. 8:00 so being out until nearly 10:30 was just crazy! 

This morning (Saturday) we woke up at 6:30 to get free bus to a local church that does ALL YOU CAN EAT, FREE pancakes and bacon for the first month or so that people usually start the trail (so mid March to mid April). It was such incredible hospitality, and the pancakes were fluffy and perfect.

The rest of the day was errands, errands, errands (and some fun). We ran into pals all over town, and enjoyed comparing notes on busy “rest” day plans. We reapplied some snacks, spent time at gear shop getting some new things we need and learning from hiking veterans / locals. The store, Outdoor 76 hosted a free hiker LUNCH of hotdogs And we enjoyed so much food there, too!! We also got to hang out with one of our favorite new trail friends, Luna the dog:  

 

After many errands and prepping our next week or so of travels we are back to relaxing, finally. We just put away a huge pizza by ourselves, and have no regrets, and we will say goodbye to all those calories tomorrow:  

Now it’s Time for some FaceTime dates with some pals, and then packing up our bags to head out first thing tomorrow (after we hit up the free breakfast again, of course) 

Our next weeks will take us through more of beautiful North Carolina and Tenessee, including Great Smokey Mountain National Park, which we are stoked for. 

Thanks for reading about our journey, and look for another post in about a week or so, when we are in GATLINBURG (oh boy) 

–Moonbow and Lightning Bug