Coming home

4/20/15

We’re bad at the AT…

So it’s rained almost everyday since we got here but during both thunderstorms we both go running. Example at the Cheese Factory we knew it was coming so we shared a tent. Tonight my tent is set up outside but because of my ankle I haven’t been sleeping so I’m sitting in the car avoiding the rain outside I see lightening and grab my stuff and resolve to sleep in the car. At the second lightning flash Fargo comes out of her tent and joins me in the car… Hike to Maine they said, no pain, no rain, no Maine they said… They never said thunder and lightening! :) I’m only kidding here! It’s been great with the car!
Fargo went back to her tent until 6:20am then we packed up camp and headed out. We drove up to Robinsville and Fargo made an appointment to get what appears to be poison ivy on her mouth looked at. We are currently drying out our stuff at the top of the dam. Then we will go back to Robinsville for Fargos appointment and hopefully her box will come and we will head to Gainesville to drop off the car. Then tomorrow it’s off to Damascus to hike out.
4/24/15
I have officially decided that backpacking over mountains isn’t for me, I make no apologizes for this what so ever. I came, I saw, I backpacked, I hiked (which I really enjoy) I did some trail magic, I drove The Dragon 3 times (mostly on accident) I hiked in the rain, I hike in the sun shine, I hiked with Fargo, I hiked with others, and I hiked alone. I have no regrets! Hiking has been a blast, I plan to continue to hike but no more long distance backpacking. I’m coming home, my bus ticket is purchased and I’m comfortable with my decision. I have applied for my job back and should get my exact job back once my background check clears. I wouldn’t change anything about my hike, I met some kick ass people and hiked over mountains carrying 35-42 pounds on my back. I’ve lost two toenails (1 more probably soon) my feet have swelled 2 whole sizes. I made the decision to go home when I felt incredibly mentally clear, it wasn’t a bad day, we hiked in sunshine and had an amazing view. I found a saying that I hear a lot it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey. My journey began on November 12th 2013, and will continue for a life time. I plan to continue to blog about hiking to healthy but without the AT. My next adventure to the AT will be to section or day hike further north a little bit, but not for a while, because after deciding to go home I carelessly picked up my back and messed up my back, everything below my knee is tingly so that needs to be taken care of as soon as I have insurance again. I have met the kindest people on the trail and I’ve also encountered my fair share of A-holes. I have been an emotional wreck at times, for those on the receiving end of that emotion thank you for listening and helping me process everything, I don’t think I could have done this much without your constant support. Even being here for a month has changed me, I realize how important the people in my life are and that work can no longer be my number one priority. I love my job but I need to be less involved when I’m not at work. Like I said earlier I have no regrets, when I went home in the beginning I wouldn’t have felt like that had I not come back, I’m not conventional in the way I did this and that’s ok with me! :)
I’m excited about my future and all that it will bring. I’m excited about being healthy with my wife and getting outside this summer with her! 
   

          

Missing toenails

Roan Mountain State Park

4/16/15
We set up our tents in the rain moments after we had finished drying them out in a bathroom. It was frustrating but seems to be what always happens to us. The rain persisted most of the day but we met some great section hikers the roundabouts! It didn’t rain overnight which is like a Christmas Miracle these days! We got up made breakfast had some coffee, two of my toenails finally fell off which is a relief and I hope with the new shoes the blisters don’t come back. After we broke camp and hiked out of Carver gap to just over Jane Bald. It was nothing but a cloud walk, windy and wet. Overall it was a great hike but no views to report! After hiking the balds we made our way to Fontana to stay for a couple of days. Fargo is waiting on a box from home and we plan to do some hiking in the Smokies tomorrow. We are looking to try to find a place to park the car for a couple of days so we can camp for free on the AT more.
4/17/15
Last night the Fast and the Furious took over Fontana, people racing on the opposite side of the river and filling parking lots with there cars with hoods open checking out what everyone had. This was annoying because we were trying to sleep while they were racing, and it was really loud. This mornings agenda is to make our final arrangements to get onto the AT on Tuesday and figure out where we are going to camp, tonight. I had a really weird and vivid dream last night that makes me thankful for all I have and want to go home. I won’t be going home! So we decided to stay at Fontana again tonight after checking out other places in the area, we will be moving campsites tomorrow. We went into Robinsville today to use an ATM and round out my food for getting back on trail. While there I picked up some cheap snickers bunnies, root beer, ice cream, and spoons, we had cups and we would be crossing the AT so we decided to do a little trail magic. We met several hikers and gave them root beer floats (who wouldn’t want that?) and the bunnies. It was good to talk to other hikers and give something back. Trail magic has been wonderful to me, I have been pulled out of two tight spots by people passing by and even gotten some much needed help from my fellow hikers. I will be forever thankful for all of them.
Adrenaline rush
Today I drove the dragons tail, it is a crazy road that is 11 miles long and has 318 curves in it… Back story, Fargo and I are at the general store in Fontana using the wifi when a hiker asks for a ride to the trail, about 2 miles away, we said of course. On the way we were talking about all the cars in the area and how they are loud and they clean there cars all the time. The hiker informs us that there is a road called the dragons tail and that we should go drive it. The way he explains it it sounds like a short climb up a mountain, 11 miles and 318 scary and really cool curves later I do some research and find out people come from all over the world to drive this beast because it doesn’t have any cross traffic the whole way because it runs along the Smoky Mountain National Park. Once down it with Fargo throughly scared we find out that the only way back is to either drive around the Smokies or back the way we came. We opted to go back the way we came this time knowing how far it was and how fun. Fargo took the second time much better, she was worried about gas the first time I guess. We’re driving a Ford Focus going through these curves with cars that have foreign license plates and little Mini Coopers and such! It was a blast, though I don’t know that I would do it again.

 No pictures today they will come when I have better service  

 

 

All over the place.

The Hampton’s Campground

4/13/15
Today we stayed in the Hampton’s Campground, in Hampton TN, it is right on a major highway but everyone here is super friendly. We had our first fire since the Cheese Factory and it is lovely. We made hotdogs we purchased at Dollar General and then Spanish rice on our cook stove. We saw the historic downtown Elizabethton and I fell in love with a duck that I named Hank who had a broken wing. Silly I know but I spent 45 minutes watching him before I realized that Katey had left. We drove up to the dam and sat for a little while and tomorrow we plan to day hike a bit and have lunch on the AT, I’m a little worried about bears because there are posting everywhere that bears are very active in the area and that some idiot has fed them so they know hikers and campers equal food. 
Things I miss:
1) my wife
2) chairs 
3) temperature controlled environments
4) my wife
5) my cat and the comfort she brings me
6) clean clothes 
7) cotton (silly I know but it breathes better and feels better on your skin)
8) my job
9) my family
10) a schedule, most people come out here looking to get away from the schedules of life, I do not!
   

        
 

4/14/15
Still unsure on the AT
I’m still not sure what to do about my hike. We hiked up part of the AT today in Hampton and it was nice but I don’t like the fight my body puts up. I’m use to my body working with me since I started to prepare for this hike and now I feel like it’s working against me. I expected to feel like I did when I started working out, sore but in a really good way, out here I feel like I’m fighting with my body to get from point a to point b. Right now I haven’t spent any more money then expected to this point except on a bill that came from my biopsy right before we left, which is being paid off in payments monthly. I could hike on and make it all the way from Damascus to Maine but I’m still unsure that’s what I want to do. I’m not particularly home sick or even sore at the end of the day just exhausted. The thing that I keep thinking is there was nothing wrong with my life pre AT why would I come out here and screw it all up? 
In my preparation for the AT not once did it cross my mind that I could fail, not once did I think I would go home before Maine, not once did I doubt that my body was capable of doing this. The shock was getting here and finding out that I can fail and that is overwhelming.
I found myself on the AT sitting on a rock half way up a climb just admiring the view 30 minutes later I realized I should keep hiking on, that’s something to try and get your head around, yes hike at your own pace but remember the next resupplying is 50 miles away so you better do it before you run out of food. Hike at your own pace but you can’t stop until you’re on flat ground to set up your tent. Hike at your own pace but better make sure you make it to the next water source. When I read the book A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson the first time I was mad and I was mad because I thought I was reading a book by a man who had hike the entire AT turns out he ended up in the same spot we’re in right now, in a car hiking sections. Now we are listening to his book again when we are going from trail head to trailhead and he puts it all so well about what it is like to slog up a mountain with a pack on your back.
  

       

Roan Mountain State Park
After being on the AT for a bit Katey and I talked a lot about what it means to be here and how I backed off of the AT in December long before I ever left. After our conversation I saw two posts my brother made on Facebook one that made me want to run into the mountains for as long as I can and the other made me want to run home and hold my wife tight forever. I texted him about this and he responded by saying (I’m paraphrasing) hike on this is your dream but if you truly don’t want to be there then come home, he’ll support me either way. It was nice to hear that so I decided I have to remember my body has done some really amazing things and I have done some pretty terrible things to it but it always gets me through. This will be my mantra until I feel like I have accomplished something on the AT and that it hasn’t beaten me down. Once I feel that way I will either continue hiking or come home once I feel like the AT hasn’t had the last laugh I will make that decision. Damascus or bust at this point. 
Thank you everyone to putting up with my up and down emotions throughout this hike, it has been a heck of a ride so far.
Roan Mountain pictures
   

                 

Elizabethton

Elizabethton

It took us hours to get here and even longer to find a camp site. First we found a camp ground that didn’t appear to have any people running it and only one RV staying there so that was out. Then we found an RV park next to the highway and that was a bust again, now it’s dark. We find a beautiful camp ground by a dam and river that was perfect except we couldn’t camp in tents there because of bears. We ended up calling another camp ground then man was shocked we were tent camping and hadn’t yet found a campground he said they were closed still but due to our situation they would let us stay. We ended up at a beautiful camping site next to a small stream of water coming off a pound. It’s called Blackberry Blossom, they have a country store and they provide all kinds of stuff for showering. It was a little creepy being here without any other campers but waking up this morning not having slept in the car was a win. 
Yesterday we saw the Highland ponies at Greyson Highland State Park. The ponies are wild but friendly, you can walk right by and they don’t spook. Other people were feeding them apples and carrots despite the park saying not too. One of them came right up to us and once she realized we didn’t have anything for her she went on her way. We saw one new foal but her and her mom were constantly surrounded by people so we let them be. My sister put it well, you wouldn’t go out into the wilderness and feed bears you probably shouldn’t feed the ponies. We watched on little girl get the top of her head bit twice and of course her mom blamed the horse. There were plenty of signs saying don’t feed them and that they bite and kick, some people are just stupid. Did I secretly wish I had a carrot in my pocket for the horse that approached us, you bet, but only because she came up to us. 
Today we plan to explore Elizabethton and hike a little on the AT. We found the section it crosses last night so we will be able to get on and off really easily. Right now we are slowly making it back to Georgia to return the car on the 21st and head for Damascus.
   

                 

Buena Vista

Buena Vista 

We are currently camped in Buena Vista, VA we have elected to stay here for a couple days to cut down on fuel costs. The park we are staying at is really nice and super hiker friendly. You can camp for 5 dollars per person per day. The lady at the desk charged us 5 dollars total for two people for two days. That’s $2.50 well spent. We went for a very short hike to Indian Rocks where Fargo fell and slid down some rocks she has a cut on her finger and some road rash on her butt. When we got back to camp to go to sleep there was a rescue squad forming by the river. We kept our distance and stayed by our tents as the night progressed more and more volunteer rescue folks showed up. Then the helicopter came and started circling with a giant spot light over head looking in the river. They left around 1am. I thought they found the person but as of this morning the search is back on. A man was trying to get to an island last night by rock hoping and fell in I guess. So this morning it’s a hoping place again with police and rescue squads. :( 
   

       

Plan whiplash

Plan whiplash

So we have had a thousand plans so far and everything keeps changing. For those that are at home I realization I just had was that for you when you leave for work I have one plan and when come home it has changed and it seems really fast. For us the days are long so we have nothing but time to think and plan, hence all the changing. 
The newest plan.
We have bus tickets to Bristol TN, we have a shuttle from Bristol to Damascus arranged and we will be keeping the car until then and continuing to do small day hikes in the mean time.
Today we spent the day getting to Damascus to make arrangements and such and then ended up lost on a mountain road for a few hours it was scary. We encountered a lot of fog on the mountains and we were on tiny roads. We saw a black snake, a bear (maybe), a raccoon, an opossum and a man without a shirt carrying a chainsaw in at 9:30pm. With the exception of birds this is the only wildlife I have seen so far. Over all today was another great day.
Things I have learned:
1) I need to be a better listener. I’m good at listening to some people and really bad at others, this is not something that I have done while on the trail but more something that I’ve been thinking about today.
2) I want to be a better person.
I know that sounds silly, I mean who doesn’t want to be a better person, right? But I feel like there’s so much more to it, I want to be a more active participant in my life. Less taking things as they come and more making stuff happen. I saved the money for this trip and lost 100 pounds I can do more than hike the AT after this.
3) I want to be more optimistic about things and people. I don’t want to judge right away I want to look for the silver lining in things.
4) I want to be a better wife, the above will do that but I also want to be better about the little things, I want to clean more, I want to be sweeter, I want to be more open, I want to spend more time together away from the TV and phones. I want to prioritize Holly and my family over work!
We spent the night in the car in the Walmart parking lot the sleep wasn’t great but it was sleep. Now we are headed further north following the AT.
   

   

Plan whiplash

Plan whiplash

So we have had a thousand plans so far and everything keeps changing. For those that are at home I realization I just had was that for you when you leave for work I have one plan and when come home it has changed and it seems really fast. For us the days are long so we have nothing but time to think and plan, hence all the changing. 
The newest plan.
We have bus tickets to Bristol TN, we have a shuttle from Bristol to Damascus arranged and we will be keeping the car until then and continuing to do small day hikes in the mean time.
Today we spent the day getting to Damascus to make arrangements and such and then ended up lost on a mountain road for a few hours it was scary. We encountered a lot of fog on the mountains and we were in tiny roads. We saw a black snake, a bear (maybe), a raccoon, and an opossum. With the exception of birds this is the only wildlife I have seen so far. Over all today was another great day.