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Adventures of Life


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A woman’s world on the AT

Coming out here, to the AT, I was nervous.   I was alone with my dog headed into the great unknown.
The trail is your teacher.  No matter how much you know or what plan to gain from it, it is the trail which guides and provides for you.

I came onto the trail with a decent amount of trail knowledge already tucked into my back pocket.   I understood how to make camp, hang a bear bag, cook food and respect leave no trace (LNT).
What I didn’t bring with me was a bottle of mace, a big knife, or an ego. 

The first week was a learning curve as I rediscovered what legs can do (lots and lots of walking) and that it is possible to meet people and in the course of a day know you’ll be friends for a long time to come.  In the same respect I’ve also met people and realized it was fine if they kept on walking.

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As a person on the trail I feel no less equipped than any other person.   There is a common phrase,  hike your own hike (HYOH), which is repeated over and over again as a mantra.  People can provide ideas, information, and experiences but it is up to you to accept them, or leave them, and move forward.  Here are a few things which apply to me as a hiker, and a woman.  MEN there may be more info than you are interested in knowing, than again it may provide you with a good conversation piece.

When it comes to hiking alone.  Go. Do it.  You will meet amazing individuals who will fill the space and you will no longer be “alone”.  These remarkable people will become your “trail family” or contacts throughout your time on the trail.  When predefined groups enter the trail they often interact amongst themselves and don’t reach far to make new connections

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Trail buddies for life!

When you meet these wonderful folks on the trail do yourself and them a favor, don’t shake hands.  During the first week on trail I offended more people by opting out of handshakes and here is why I opted out; having just left a privy I was headed for my tent to snag my hand sanitizer when someone asked for direction to the water source.  I rattled them off quickly and was going to continue on when he introduced himself and offered a hand.  I started to extend mine when I suddenly realized I hadn’t sanitized yet and withdrew my hand rapidly while explaining, “sorry, I just hit up the privy and haven’t cleaned up yet.”
The response was all I needed to know never shake a hikers hand. “That’s ok!”

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There's a reason some privys are not to be used...

I don’t touch hands with other hikers, I don’t reach into offered food bags, and I don’t accept food unless I’ve seen them pouring food from it.  An elbow is the closest thing you’ll get to a fist bump from me.

The “trail diet” is a fascinating thing.  You eat what you see, and anything else which crosses your path, bugs, dirt, etc.  You will be counting calories but in a whole new way.  When I pick an item up and the calories for a single serving are below 150 I tend to reconsider eating it.  I want items where the calories are over 200 and I can make a hearty meal with over 1,200 calories.  Despite this style of dieting I have dropped 30 pounds in the past 6 weeks.  Town days are a thing of gluttony, double servings of pretty much any meal I order and ice cream is a must.

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Thanks for the birthday snack fest!

Now onto the good stuff!

Peeing in the woods isn’t all bad.  I won’t lie,  men have a distinct advantage when it comes to peeing in the woods UNLESS you are willing to step outside your comfort zone and give the Pstyle a go.   I swear by this female urinary device. 

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Pstyle storage. Easily accessible. And cleaned after every use.

There are numerous ones out there but I have heard this one has advantages, the urine doesn’t back up so it’s not a guessing game whether it is empty. BUT don’t think it’s all peaches and cream.  This thing takes practice, some say best done at home, than again necessity pushes you to be more accurate.   I have days which I label my 85% accuracy days.  Yup,  we all have a learning curve. These are laundry days.  Days where I was in a rush or didn’t focus on the task at hand and ended up “leaking”.  It’s ok, in my mind those days are few and far between. 
The convience to be able to stand on the side of a mountain and take a moment to enjoy a “vista piss” and not worry about exposing myself to a crew above makes every learning curve worth it.  Or the day I’d reached a mountain top before the rest of my group and sidled up behind a tree.  Having just rinsed off the Pstyle I hear a cry “did I catch you pissing?! Because if I did you just made my day!” Glad his day was made…

Women, I know you are all thinking about the frustrations or concerns regarding menstruation while on the trail.   Really it’s nothing.  Yes it may require a little extra time to clean up but truth be told it’s simple.  Options have changed and we are better informed.  It is up to you how you want to manage while hiking, using either, pads, tampons, or the ever increasing in popularity, menstrual cup. 
I hear concerns from women about how to pack out used items.  Ziploc bags.  Everyone has their own way, cover the bag in duct tape to strengthen it and keep items out of sight.  Some use a coffee bag to store their ziplocs in, and toss a coffee bean in the bottom to cover perceived odors. Personally I don’t want to carry anything out and find the menstrual cup to be highly effective. 
The concern about cleanliness and this are no different than any other situation, if your hands are in that area, you want them clean to start.  Take time to plan your day accordingly, give yourself extra time at lunch to take care of business.  Personally I opt out of using privys as I find the woods to be more sanitary. 

If you want to go out and enjoy the trail go and do it.  Become one with nature! You will define your adventures!

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After a day of "slacking" it was important to see if I could convict people I'd built up lots of glute muscle!

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The Great Smoky Mountains a photo journey

The Smokies were incredible, met new and wonderful people, hiked without my companion and side kick, No Shame, for a week, and enjoyed the beauty of a section of trail like no other!

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Clingman's Dome in the fog. Happy with a little trail magic, a banana and coke!

I first need to send a shout out to the wonderful trail angels who picked me and my hiking buddy up at Clingman’s Dome.  We’d just come off the trail after 4 days of serious and difficult hiking, the air was cold and the rain was biting, and I couldn’t zip my rain coat tight enough to contain the stench!  Despite our foul odor you loaded us up in your car and dropped us off at our hotel with an invite to dinner, after we showered.  My evening out with you was fabulous.  The food was great and much appreciated but talking with you was the best.  I will leave you unnamed as we don’t want to blow your cover and interfere with your witness protection. 

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Part of our "Fellowship" entering into the GSMNF

The GSMNF was full of trail magic.  You have heard of one wonderful couple but without the assistance and support of other “trail angels” this section of the trail would not have been as enjoyable!

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Shuckstack Fire tower

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Looking out from Shuckstack to Fontana Damn

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The start to the "enchanted forest" a carpet of Spring Beauty and old fallen trees

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Misty morning hike from Mollies Ridge Shelter

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Shelters in the Smokies have fireplaces in them

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Last couple miles up Thunderhead Mountain

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A break in the clouds atop Thunderhead Mountain

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Derrick Knob Shelter sunset

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The terrain changed and the woods turned green with moss

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The terrain changed and the woods turned green with moss

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Beauty left over from the year before

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Riding the trolley in Gatlainburg, we won't talk about the 4 miles walked to get to the post office...

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Trail angel Michaela! Thanks for helping us get back to Clingman's Dome

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Clingman's Dome tourist picture

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View of where we'd been from Clingman's Dome

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Things just kept changing from green to green

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200 miles done!

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Walked through moss covered trees for days!

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There is no reason to be upset when this is your morning view

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There were some cold nights in the Smokies

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The moss took over!

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The little things

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Awesome trail magic at Newfound Gap! Thank you ladies!

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New discovery! How can this be so right?!

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It's true, less than 2000 miles to go!

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Lunch time view from Icewater Spring Shelter

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The new meal! Tuna with Cheetos!

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Charlie's Bunion

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And yet they let me out there to play...

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Ridge line walk. 100+ foot drops to either side.

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What every hiker should look like!

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Silver birch

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Beautiful skeletal trees

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Plane crash site in park

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A peaceful resting place. Dead bird trail side.

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Sunrise at Crosby Shelter

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Goats Beard making breakfast

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Crosby Shelter sunrise

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Painted Trillium

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Another overlook to lose yourself in

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Davenport Gap Shelter, the only one with bear cage, happy to say I didn't stay there.

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But I did visit briefly

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The only sign to let you know you left the Smokies! Sorry SOBO'S no big greeting for your trip through.

This section of the trail was beautiful, cold, physically challenging, and inspiring.

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Thanks for the family visit on trail, with a dry place to sleep, more food than I knew what to do with (but it all found a home in my belly) and a place to get my girl back!

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Happy to be back with me but still having anxiety attacks about me brushing my teeth!

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We can't be seperated! Photo credit goes to fellow thru hiker Moonlight

Sunrise on Max Patch

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And some spiders are best found in the bathroom.  I don’t want to find this one in my tent.


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The Appalachian Trail provides for the hiker

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Today is filled with excitement!  I have made it one month on the trail! I am still excited by the prospect of what is around the next bend or the view from the next rise.  To celebrate my time on the trail I spent a moment and flipped through my AWOL trail guide,  using a pencil to mark up the pages with notes on my journey.  As days pass you fall into the routine; wake up, pack up your gear, poop, make breakfast, pee,  hit the trail,  eat, hike, hike, eat, pee, eat, set up camp, pee, eat, pee, and sleep,  It’s hard to pick out the moment you saw an incredible view or paused to take a picture of a snail on the trail.  These are memories I want to keep fresh.

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Spencer Field's amazing privy

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Max Patch sunset being viewed by "No Shame"

A quick idea of what I’ve accomplished in the past month:
-Crossed into 3 of the 14 states the AT travels through

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Yup, we're doing it!

-Hiked more than 200 miles

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Made it 200 miles!

-Have less than 2000 miles to reach Katahdin, Maine

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1,972 left to go!

-Summited the highest peak on the AT, Clingmans Dome, 6,655′

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Tourist moments

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Clingmans ' Dome

-Completed a 17 mile slack pack

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-Made it up a 3000′ elevation gain in 6 miles

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-Crossed through the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest

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-Guided a raft trip down the Nantahala

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-Combined some interesting food, seen even odder combinaions made

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Tuna with mayo and cheetos!

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The German "snack"

-Experienced amazing “trail magic”

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Am living life and enjoying every second of it! So happy to have celebrated my birthday on the trail!

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Mom sent gluten free cookies and candles, my trail family sang to me!