Thursday, May 31, 2007

Figgy and Her Figs!

Valley Fig Growers

My parents named me Lauren, but out on the trail, I'm known as "Figgy." Why? You can read this story behind our trail names.

As a Type 1 diabetic, I've been eating figs as part of my daily diet to boost my blood sugar whenever it gets low. My conscience began nagging as I was throwing out several plastic containers each week. So, I began looking for ways to buy mission figs in bulk. Not only did I find a company who sold them in bulk, I also found the best figs I've ever tasted! Valley Fig Growers have been my source of figs in Los Angeles, so I didn't think twice about who my source for figs on the trail would be.

On the A.T. I've been consuming about 15 figs each day to keep my blood sugars up and my energy levels strong. I love numbers, so naturally I calculated my fig needs for the entire stretch of our 2,174 mile trail.

Lauren's Fig Consumption (15 figs/day equals...):
45-50 lbs/entire trip

Wow! That's a lot of figs. So, I wrote to Mike Emigh, Valley Fig's President, and told him our thru-hiking story. He was happy to hear from me, and gladly wanted to sponsor our trip by delivering all of our fig needs for the entire trip to Maine! I couldn't have been more delighted! Every 3 weeks I look forward to picking up my 5 pound box of mission figs from our resupply point.

Have you ever tried a fig? Many people haven't, and most just think of the Fig Newton Bars. What I like best about Vally Fig's figs is that they are, big and PLUMP! One of their figs picks me up, where as other kinds take two. The skin is firm and intact. The taste is jammy - almost like maple syrup on pancakes.

So, thank you Valley Fig for your support - I'm enjoying every step, hiking strong, and staying healthy much to your help!

Update from Damascus, VA

Onward To Virginia!

This morning we crossed the TN/VA border and shortly after arrived in Damascus, VA. That means at mile 459.5 we've completed over 20% of the Applachian Trail, although it is quite humbling to look at the map and see how much hard work (and how much more adventure!) we have ahead of us.

Virginia will be our longest state, composing nearly 1/4 of the entire trail, so we expect to be in this beautiful state for the whole month of June.

View Back Over Wautauga Lake

The last 2.5 days between the Kincora and Damascus have been extremely difficult, although the challenges have been almost entirely self-imposed. The last 50 miles of terrain and weather have been some of the most favorable of the trip - the mildly rolling ups and downs have earned it the name of the "Damascus Highway."

Laurel Forks Falls

Our first challenge was due to logistical errors, since we're still new to resupplying on a long journey. When we arrived at the Kincora hostel the complimentary shuttle was leaving soon, so we took it into town to buy a few groceries before checking the packages we'd received. Later we found out we had 3 priority mail packages waiting for us - and only 2 days to the next town!

Even after repacking one box to mail ahead, our packs were laden with approximately 12 days of food. We hesitated to mail more, because we will be arriving at the intermediary post offices shortly and have been experiencing slow delivery times to these rural towns. Still, each of our packs were loaded beyond their reasonable comfort levels, probably pushing 32-35lbs, which is significant without any frame or hip belt on our packs.

Secondly, my attitude (Ben) has been quite awful, which only compounded the problem of our heavy burdens. I was grumbling things in my head, sometimes out loud, "What the hell am I carrying two weeks of dark chocolate for, when we can buy this in any town!" It wasn't pretty. I was miserable to be with for most of the last segment, and I give Lauren a lot of credit for not complaining once about her equally heavy pack -- and maybe more impressively for putting up with me.

I am looking forward to a fresh start when we depart from Damascus tomorrow, and to eating as much of our load as possible before we leave!

Photos Uploaded

The TN/VA State Border

We've crossed the TN/VA border this morning and dropped into the town of Damascus, Virginia.

Using the internet at the library, I see that Kevin has uploaded several hundred photos from the memory card I mailed him, which are now posted at our Flickr site. Thank you Kevin, for your technical support!

Spending the rest of the day today and tomorrow here in Damascus. Hope to post more when we get some more computer time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Onward to Damascus

(Phone message transcribed by Bethany)

This is an update from Monday May 28, 2007. The last three days since Erwin have been spectacular.

Point The Umbrella Into the Wind

Lauren and I enjoyed some of the most beautiful country we’ve seen so far this trip. We got to experience the amazing above tree line views from the Roan Mountain Highlands. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the rhododendron and rugged terrain of Tennessee.

Little Hump Mountain

Today we are taking a zero day at the Kincora Hostel, which is an amazing place. We decided to push ourselves yesterday and hike 24 miles in order to arrive here yesterday evening. Today we have done nothing but sit back, read National Geographic, and prop our feet up. The Kincora hostel is one of the amazing places on the trail because Bob and Pat Peoples are motivated solely by helping hikers. They have a log cabin and property approximately .2 miles away from the trail where hikers have access to shower, laundry, and a bunk, but in our case, a private room for only $4 a night! They even offer a complimentary shuttle into town.

Welcome to the Kincora

We are regrouped and are looking forward to the next stretch into Damascus, Virginia. We’ll be leaving Tuesday morning to head there. We’ve accomplished most of what is described as the rugged terrain of the south, so things should be a little smoother in Virginia. We continue to feel very strong and are still enjoying the views along each mile. Sometimes in the morning I [Ben] wake up in a bad mood not looking forward to hiking all the miles in the day, but after about 5 miles I’m doing a lot better and we have a good time.

I’m really excited to get to Damascus. We should be there in about three days. It should be a little less of a circus and it has the reputation of being the friendliest town on the trail so we’re looking forward to experiencing that and finding out what that means. Between here and there we’re looking forward to 50 miles of great hiking and some views of Lake Wautaga. The rhododendrons are about to bloom so we’re headed into the Grayson Highlands in peak season which should be beautiful. We hope to post some more pictures and stories from Damascus.

Until then,
Over and Out.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Update - Erwin, Tennessee

Nolichuckey River Valley

This morning as we descended into the Nolichucky River Valley, we were treated with views of mountains shrouded in fog and blooming Mountain Laurel backlit by the early morning sunshine. Erwin, in Unicoi County Tennessee, lived up to it's name since "Unicoi" is a Cherokee word representing fog-veiled mountains.

We hiked 6.2 miles into town this morning, a "nero day" (near zero), and are enjoying sitting down for a bit.

Unnamed Bald

The four days of hiking since Hot Springs have been sunny with ample shade and beautifully green. We've enjoyed open balds on the summits, a few rocky exposed ridges and lush rhododendron thickets in the drainages. Wildlife has not been as visible, maybe because we've been in proximity to another hiker with his dog. We were threatened with rain and thunderstorms yesterday, but it held off for us, although some hikers a few miles behind us experienced downpours and even some hail.

Once in town we unfortunately discovered that our "bounce box" (priority mail box that we forward to ourselves with repair kit/maps/etc) never made it to Erwin. We last saw it in Hot Springs and were hoping it would meet us here. Hopefully it will show up eventually and can be forwarded to Damascus, VA.

We were considering staying at the legendary Miss Janet's House (Excellent Podcast Interview) where we'd mailed a package to ourselves, but after scoping it out we're having second thoughts - $20 each for a bunk in what amounts to a lively hiker fraternity house. We met some very nice people there, but could probably get a clean room at the Holiday Inn Express for the same price.

There's also Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel which is right on the trail and has clean cabins for $30 or bunks for $12.5o and we have some friends staying there who we passed this morning on our way into town.

Then there's the other option... Take burritos to go from Erwin Burrito along with some dessert from the Choo Choo Cafe, and then walk on a few miles to the next campsite. We just recently had four days off, including two nights at Elmer's Sunnybank Inn, so we're feeling good and we'll be at the Kincora Hostel in a few days anyway.

Oh, the difficult decisions of being a thru-hiker. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Typical Day In Our Thru-Hiker Kitchen

Tomorrow Night's Dinner

So what are we eating on the trail to power our attitudes and legs for 20 miles a day?

Back home we've done a lot of experimenting with living foods and have found that they work well for my diabetes and that we're both energetic and in peak shape. We've been eating "raw" for nearly 2 years now - raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains and greens.

Well, after 3 weeks on the trail, our appetites have definitely ramped up and our bodies now know these miles are a daily ritual, not just a fluke. We've gotten to the point when we sit down to eat, we don't want to stop. So sometimes we aren't so picky about what form the calories come. But Ben and I have noticed a big difference in our hunger, cravings and appetites on our diet compared to what a more typical thru-hiker is experiencing.

It's been our plan to include as many living foods as possible on our thru-hike. We believe that food which comes straight from the earth, eaten in its simplest form, gives the most nutrition, energy and life force to our bodies. So, what exactly fills our food bags?

Pemmican Bar

Breakfast: Dried fruits and nuts, or meal bar that combines them - such as Larabar.
Lunch and Snacks: Energy-packed concentrated meal bars with whole grains, fruit, honey, nuts - Such as Bear Valley's Pemmican or MealPack Bars - and then more figs!
Dinner: Sprouts, soaked overnight, mixed with instant dried hummus or other powdered carbohydrate. And don't forget the Texas Pete.
Dessert: (Most Important!) Dark chocolate & countless spoonfulls of almond butter or PB.

At dinner we've been eating a combination of 4 different types of sprouts. I specifically chose ones that are complete proteins when eaten together, that sprout quickly (less than 2 days), and can be found easily in towns without health food stores.

We really feel satisfied so far and do not experience AYCE (all-you-can-eat) cravings for meat, bread, and just TONS of food, like many other hikers on a more standard backpacking diet. It's been amazing, really. We know one hiker who was coming into town today to eat some burritos and an entire pizza!

So while we're at home we prefer fresh, uncooked foods - and while we're on the trail we're doing the best that we can.

Thank You Times a Billion!

The Tracks North of Erwin, TN

We're at Mile 338.7 right now, in the town of Erwin, TN. Many of the steps it took to get here are because of YOU. Here's a short version of what and who we're grateful for!

  • If you've left comments on our site--we receive them all, read them all, and feel encouraged and refreshed when we leave town!
  • If you've sent us an email--we love catching up and feel strengthened by your words!
  • Mom and Dad Carr for sending mail drops and countless trips to TJ's and Whole Foods.
  • Mom and Dad Thompson for the calling card, sewing help and logistical help.
  • Locals who pick up dirty, smelly hikers sticking out our thumbs to get a ride into town.
  • Matt A. for all you did for Trail Days!
  • Elmer, Sunny & the Sunnybank Inn Crew!
  • The US Postal Service.
  • BETHANY!!!

One Regret...


Although there aren't too many downsides to spending the entire summer hiking the Appalchian Trail, on my hike into town this morning, it painfully set in that I will be missing one of the highlights of my year.

Beginning in March and April my inbox is usually bloated with a flurry of trash-talking and trip planning, in anticipation of the last weekend in May, the annual Kings Canyon Memorial Day trip.

For the last four years a few college friends and I have hiked into the same pristine spot where we spend the long weekend catching up and soaking in the beauty of California's Sierra Nevada. This time I won't be there. That sinks.

Have fun in paradise gentlemen, and pour our a little for me.

(Pictured Above: Typically the weather is warm and 80 degrees in late May. On our 2006 trip, Ben H. and I took the long way around, attempting to climb over 11,978' Glen Pass, but turned back and took the normal trail when the traverse was icy and a snowstorm moved in.)

Do You Speak Humanese?

A surprise gift from Chef Ito

After our last dinner before leaving LA, at our favorite restaurant, Au Lac, Chef Ito filled a Chinese to-go container with his famous raw pistachio bread for our hike. It took a ton of willpower to wait 1 week, but it sure paid off. During the first week of our hike, I rationed out the round little mounds of deliciousness so that Ben and I could enjoy them for 3 full days! Every ingredient -- Raisins, pistachios, onions, cinnamon -- that makes Ito's pistachio bread special popped after hiking 17 and 18-mile days... it's taking me back!

Thank you, Ito, for your kind, generous spirit! Thank you for all the ways you speak love into everything that you do. Thank you for sharing your friends with us--bringing people together from all backgrounds. Thank you for the peace you pass on in your hugs. Thank you for your servant heart. Thank you for your vision to create a "classroom" where Humanese is the main language, modeled by you!

Ben and I have dedicated several last miles-of-the-day to "De La Mamma" and "Chocolate Ecstasy"!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Insanity that was Trail Days

Lauren Leads the Class of 2007

The highlight of the weekend was the A.T. Thru-hiker parade on Saturday. It was basically a fun spirited water-baloon and squirt-gun fight between the townsfolk, spectators and hikers which all past, current and hopeful hikers marched behind their respective banners. Lauren led the charge, carrying the 2007 banner.

Our Ride to Trail Days, Matt, turned out to be a great guy from D.C. / Northern Virginia, who is attending his second one. He was planning to thru-hike himself this year, but was unable do to do so because of conflicts. Matt found our journal and itinerary (this site) through a Google search and contacted us with a message at Elmer's before we arrived there. His motivation to drive 2 hours each way to pick us up - in addition to the 5 hour drive down from D.C.? He wanted to help out some hikers in a way that he hopes his hike.

We camped out in a thicket, carefully avoiding the poison ivy, on the fringes of Riff-Raff Village. Other settlements we were near included Mellowville, Tent City, the Swamp, Quiet Town and Ewok Village. We've never been to Burning Man, but I'm sure these two festivals have some overlap.

Trail Days Parade

I'm not sure how many people turned out for Trail Days this year, but the above photo pictures the tail end of the parade. A projected 25,000 could have attended this weekend, (Damascus is a town of 1,000) but I don't know. It felt like 10,000 - 15,000 might have been here.

As expected, we experienced a bit of overload and are itching to get back on the trail. Tomorrow Matt will give us a ride back to Hot Springs, where we will stay at Elmer's one more night and then head out on the trail Monday morning.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Update from Lauren - Hot Springs, N.C.

Max Patch Bald

Ben and I arrived in Hot Springs, NC early this morning after a 3 mile descent from the mountains.

Our first stop was the Smoky Mountain Diner in town, and we sipped cup after cup of coffee as we sat in our booth catching up on 3 days of journaling. Our server, Patsy, was used to taking care of thru-hikers and gave us a warm southern welcome.

Directly across the street is our hostel. Elmer's Sunnybank Inn is a white Victorian house from 1840, and richly decorated inside with old antiques, ecclectic library and unique furniture. He caters to vegans and vegetarians, and we are in for a delight tonight with a 4-course dinner prepared by Elmer and his kitchen staff. He has a nice yard with a garden where we were able to spread out our belongings and organize some food boxes for the next 3 weeks.

Tomorrow we get ready for Trail Days, the largest thru-hiker gathering in the country. This year it takes place May 18-20 in Damascus, VA. There will be free food, lots of equipment and gear vendors, guest speakers, talent shows, eating contests and free food, and the famous thru-hiker parade on Saturday morning.

From the sounds of it we're not sure if we will love or hate it, but we're certainly looking forward to a 3 day break before getting back to the mountains on Monday, May 21.

Somehow a former thru-hiker from D.C. (Hi Matt!) found our itinerary on the internet (maybe here or at ?) and called Elmer's before we arrived with a message that he'd like to come pick us up and drive us to Damascus. How cool!

That's all we know for now. Lauren and Ben.

The Great Smoky Mountains Revisited

Clear Day in the Smokies

Last time I was in the Smokies was on a spring break trip in 2000. I carried a 6.5 pound backpack, 3 pound boots, 5 pound tent, water filter and more. I covered about 25 miles in 3 days and when I was done my feet hurt so badly with blisters and bruises I could hardly walk.

This time around my load was a fraction of the weight, we covered all 72 miles of the A.T. in approximately the same amount of time and my companion was a lot better looking -- no offense Dave!

It was powerful to visit the section of the A.T. where I had met my first "Southbounder" (a person walking from Maine to Georgia) and to relive a time when I had first aspired to do a thru-hike.

Passing Time

Life on the trail is great, but some days it's a struggle to make late-day miles with a positive attitude. So, how do Ben and I pass those tough miles?

  • Eating a snack--even picking it out of our teeth takes time after the food is gone.
  • Make up a word and then make up it's definition. ('Roundlet': a chorus that one repeats only three times or less)
  • Telling childhood stories to each other.
  • Praying for family and friends.
  • Figuring out resupply or town logistics.
  • Naming all the unsweetened cereals. (Cheerios, Special K, Total, etc..)
  • Creating the most dignified sounding names. (Charles Edward Bennington, the First)
  • Dedicating our last mile... (Last night was dedicated to PB and S'mores)
  • Making up lame backpacker pick-up lines. (If I was heading South and then I met you...)
  • Counting every 25 steps when going up hills.
  • Finding the letters of the alphabet in nature.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Trail Names

The Appalachian Trail is known as a social trail, much more than it's counterparts the Pacific Crest Trail or the Continental Divide Trail. As a part of this culture, trail names are often adopted that highlight someone's personality, memorable event or quirk. They can be practical too, since there could be six people hiking all named Mike.

After 2 weeks of hiking Lauren and I were not sure we even wanted trail names, but if you don't have one you take your chances with someone else picking one for you, or you end up with a name like "Just Jeff." During the long hours of hiking we've been bouncing around some different ones, and on Sunday we settled on some.

Clingman's Dome

After summiting the highest peak of the entire Trail (Clingmans Dome 6,643'), we decided to unveil our trail names to our hiking friends Nuclear and Amtrak. Drum roll... So now Lauren is known on the trail as "Figgy" which alludes to her blood sugar boosting power-food which she carries at all times. Ben is known as "Stitch" because the majority of the gear we carry was sewn at home: our backpacks, tarp, quilt, pants, jacket, insulating hats, fleece mittens, waterproof/breathable mitts.

Standing Bear Farm, Hampton TN

Anyway, that's the latest news from the trail. We're doing well and having a fun time with our clean clothes, clean bodies, a pantry of junk food and hot coffee at Standing Bear Farm in Tennessee.

Great Smokies and Great People

Entering the Smokies

Well, we made it through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park this morning. It was a spectacular stretch of 70+ miles with some amazing scenery, beautiful bald summits, dizzying ridgewalks, green mosses and thick coniferous forests. It was also really hard.

The terrain was not particularly difficult since much of the trail is graded for horses, but emotionally we were taxed, and the distances we covered were on the ambitious side. Because staying in or next to shelters is mandatory, and the distances between is 6-8 miles, our days could be either much too short or a bit too long. We opted to go long, and paid the price with three days in a row over 20+ miles.

An Adolescent Bear

We saw quite a bit of wildlife, particularly in the early morning hours between 6am and 8am, when we're literally breaking cobwebs across the trail. In the Smokies we saw 3 more bear, one enormous wild turkey and the usual deer and snakes.

Ben's knee held up well, but by compensating for the I.T. band, Ben developed a painful shin splint mentioned earlier that made the late day miles a considerable chore. Lauren has been super supportive, and carrying more than her share of the food to help out.

We met some great people in the Smokies


Nuclear was a vital part of our trip through the Smokies. He's had some amazing life experiences and is now retired and hiking the trail, finishing by August, so he's smokin! Besides encouragement & conversation he helped us immensely with some AquaMira (water purification drops) and "vitamin I" (ibuprofin) for the inflamation in Ben's shin splint.

Ben, Lauren and Zealand

We met Tom and his adorable daughter Zealand from Texas at Newfound Gap, halfway through the Smokies. They let us use their cell phone to call our mothers on Sunday, but we're not sure if the calls went through with reception (so Happy Mother's Day!).

We're also meeting some more northbound thru-hikers as we catch up to the tail end of the bubble: Rider, Amtrack, Pittsburgh and Pipi (fellow Ray-Way pack carriers), Rider, Dirt, Snail and Turtle, Nuclear, Midget Momma, Colocho, Downhill, Raindrop...

Right now we're taking an afternoon rest at Standing Bear Farm, 3 miles north of the park, where Curtis runs an amazing hiker hostel on an old hillybilly homestead. The accomodations are rustic, quirky and quaint - perfect for a thru-hiker needing a shower, laundry, snacks and a bunk.


This afternoon we're headed toward Hot Springs, covering 33 miles by Thursday morning, where we hope to get a hitch up to Trail Days in Damascus VA for the largest yearly gathering of thru-hikers. We expect to have a nice 3-4 days off this upcoming weekend and then take the trail at a bit slower pace afterward.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Doing Well at Fontana Dam

This morning Lauren and I dropped into Fontana Dam and phoned for the $2 shuttle to take us over to Fontana Village for our resupply.

Fontana Village is the city/camp that was built in the 1940s during the construction of the Dam, to harness power for WWII efforts. Specifically the dam was built to power the Alcoa production of Aluminum in the area. Fontana Dam is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, located at the southern boundary of the park.

Resting at Fontana Village

Fontana Dam is also where we mailed another box of food as well as the destination of our first "bounce box" -- a box with extra tent stakes, sunscreen and lotions, repair kit and other things that we may only occasionally need. Since we did not need anything from our bounce box, we just changed the destination address and forwarded it to Hot Springs, N.C. for free, where we'll have access to it in a few weeks.

Crossing the Fontana Dam

To this point we've had the trail to ourselves, except for the occasional day hiker. We seem to be approaching a pack of northbounders where many zero days at the "Fontana Hilton" -- a shelter by the dam that is actually a double-wide trailer with running water nearby and a garbage can.

Lauren is rocking this trail and makes it look easy. On cooler mornings she starts the day in lightweight tights and I am not exaggerating when I say that I can see veins in her calves showing through them! Yesterday she carried more than her share of food to help me rest my leg, making her pack the same weight as mine -- around 25lbs with 7 days of food.

I'm not having too hard of a time with the trail either, but despite our light loads, my low-impact training on the bicycle has not translated well to the thousands of daily footfalls. My I.T. band recovered well with our zero day, but I am showing signs of a shin splint in my right leg. Fortunately this type of injury is not serious and I'll be able to walk through it in the next week or two.

On the trip so far, we've had incredible weather and have only needed to pitch our tarp 3 times. All of the other nights we've slept out under the stars on our groundsheet listening to a chorus of songbirds.

The Smoky Mountains are notorious for poorly behaved bears (and poorly behaved people who habituate those bears with human food!) so regulations are quite tightly mandated and enforced. Through the Smokies you are required to stay at the shelters only (think mice, snoring, hard floors and 10 other people... ?). Rather than dwelling on the negatives, we are hoping that it won't be too bad and that we're able to meet some interesting fellow hikers.

We're doing well mentally, are communicating well, and Lauren is already saying things like "I can't wait to hike the trail again." Smokies, here we come.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Zero Day

Welcome Thru-Hikers

(Phone Message Transcribed by Bethany)

Hello! It’s Tuesday evening, May 8th. Lauren and I are enjoying our time here at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. It’s a beautiful rafting, kayaking, hiking and biking center here on the river in North Carolina. We hiked a relatively short day today, but it was quite steep. We’ve ascended maybe 3000 feet from the gorge. Although it was short I ended up inflaming my I.T. band in my right knee which is not good. Out of responsibility and planning for the rest of the hike, we have decided to take a complete day of rest tomorrow, which is called a zero day in hiker’s terms.

Tomorrow we are planning on doing laundry, hanging out by the river to watch some professional kayakers and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Enjoying the N.O.C.

Typically Lauren and I enjoy pushing ourselves, so it does take quite a bit of self control to make this decision. We are going to adjust our itinerary accordingly, so we should be getting ready to start at the Smokey Mountains later this weekend. We’re looking forward to that! That’s about it for now.

Over and Out

Monday, May 7, 2007

Carelessness Causes Concern

We had a little less than restful evening in Franklin than we had hoped, but everything worked out!

Summit Photos at Haven's Budget Inn

After a great dinner at the Prime Steakhouse AYCE (all-you-can-eat) buffet, we came back to find our door unlocked. We didn't think much of it, but became concerned when I couldn't find my drivers license, debit card, and $200 plus a couple clothing items.

We handled the setback pretty well, keeping focused on the perspective of the whole summer, but weren't looking forward to canceling the bank card and trying to get another license. Although we're expecting chilly nights this week, at least the clothing could be reordered and wasn't something I custom we'd made back home. After some calls to our parents last night for help with contact info for bank, DMV and gear manufacturers, we turned in for a slightly restless night of sleep.

The good news: This morning Lauren retraced her steps to the grocery store and recovered the ID/valuables where she left them, and we found my clothing items hidden in some linens.

Well, that was a bit more town excitement than we were hoping for, but now we're ready to hitch back to the trail and get back in the flow of our journey. I am also certain we'll be even more careful with our gear lifelines than we already were.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Some Vital Stats from Our First Week

A few quick stats:
A.T. Miles Completed: 106.6
States Completed: 1 (Georgia)
Current Location: Franklin, N.C., Winding Stair Gap
Days on the trail: 7
Blisters: 0
Bear sightings: 4 (Over two days)
Wildflowers: Countless! (Violets, Azaleas...)
Days in the Rain: 2.5
Figs eaten: 2.3 lbs (Lauren's power food, more to come)
Trail Names Received: 0
Hikers Feeling Good: 2

Fears Overcome:
Putting on wet clothes in the morning to dry them out while hiking, Hiked all day in the rain with wet feet, Hitch-hiked into our first trail town.

Good teamwork, Lauren's stable blood sugars, Having fun

Short Day and Afternoon in Franklin, N.C.

GA / NC state Line

We are doing well and crossed the GA/NC state border yesterday.

Rain Gear

The last 2.5 days have been hiking in the rain, and we've been making steady progress, so we decided to take a short afternoon and evening layover in Franklin, NC. Our longest day yet was yesterday, where we walked 21 miles under our umbrellas. We stayed dry and positive.

Ben's feet have a few hotspots, so it feels good to be dry for awhile. We're enjoying a night at the Haven's Motel Budget Inn, which caters to thru-hikers, and of course the shower, bed, and night out to a restaurant.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Wild Flowers and Open Trails

(Phone Message Transcribed by Bethany)

The Walasi-Yi Center

Good Morning! It's Wednesday, May 2, 2007. It's about 11am here. We rolled into the Walasi-Yi Center at Neel’s Gap. We’re having a blast and and are just amazed that we are finally doing this. We’ve got about 30 miles of the Appalachian trail under our belt so far, and we're doing great. The weather is warm and sunny and the skies have been blue. The trees are budding green, and new life abounds.

Wild Flame Azalea Trees

We are making great progress as we are enjoying the wildflowers in bloom during the season. Things couldn’t be better. We just re-supplied with seven days of food as we get ready for our next destination, the Nantahala Outdoor Center. We are going to be leaving here shortly.

Climbing Blood Mountain

As far as thru hikers go, we haven't seen too many. There are less registered hikers than normal this year. We signed in at the register at the Walasi-Yi and our numbers are 570 and 571, which is about a few hundred less than usual. We’ve had the trail to ourselves and we’ve been enjoying every bit of it. I had no idea that Georgia would be so beautiful. We’ve been taking some great pictures of the trail, and I hope to post some of those the next time we have an internet access.

Alright everyone thanks for your interest and support! We look forward to relaying some more details as they come. I guess that’s about it for now. Talk to you later.

Over and Out.

And We're Off

(Phone Message Transcribed by Bethany)

Hi there! This is Ben and Lauren calling from Amicalola Falls State Park. It’s about 6:40 am here and we are just starting our journey. It’s great weather here so far. Lauren’s parents dropped us off at the lodge to send us off. We’re looking forward to reaching Springer and getting our trip underway.

Alright, talk to you later.

Over and Out.