A Message In a Baggie

Messages while on the Appalachian Trail sometimes appear few and far between. Then again, sometimes messages are more frequent than we realize if we know how to spot them.

Cellular service has been unattainable in southwest Virginia but over the past few days we have received messages in less modern ways.  On Day 43, Chief and I took a zero day and stayed at the Lazy Fox Inn in Damascus Virginia. Damascus is a quiet little town, population less than 1,000, except during Trail Days .  This festival brings in 20,000 hikers, artisans, and visitors the third weekend each May.  We arrived the weekend after Trail Days and stayed at the B&B owned and operated by 90-year old Miss Ginny.  Our room looked like something at your grandmother’s house with lots of knick-knacks and a claw foot bathtub complete with Epsom salts. Miss Ginny told us where she hides the key to the house in case she had to go out. The next morning she made a huge breakfast with some amazing cheesy grits and homemade biscuits. Miss Ginny’s message to us was that we would complete the entire trail and she wanted us to send to her a note when we finished. She said that she would remember us and we have no doubt that is true.

We hiked to a campsite later that evening and in the middle of the night had an unwelcome message from a bear!  He seemed to be telling the campers that we were invading his domain by snorting and growling and pounding on the ground. No one dared exit their tent but there was much talk about it the next morning.  Thankfully we were all protected!

One message wasn’t even for us rather we had the pleasure of being the messenger.  As we were hiking the trail, another hiker was approaching from the opposite direction. He stopped to chat and told us he was from Mississippi and that his wife was picking him up at the next crossroad. He asked where we were from and when we said Ohio he told us that he had been born in Newark. The man said he knew the location of Marion,  Bucyrus and Shelby. That sparked a further comment from Chief that he had been on the police force there.  The man said that he had served in the Navy about forty years ago with someone from Shelby, Bruce F.  Just so happens that we have been friends with Bruce and his wife, Cindy, for  many years. Our girls grew up together and we went to the same church for years. The hiker told us his name and asked if we would let Bruce know he would like to speak with him.  As soon as we had cell service, Chief contacted Bruce and delivered the message. Bruce knew who the hiker was as soon as we mentioned Mississippi and said he had been thinking the past couple years about making a contact.

Day 45 was especially difficult as we hiked the rocky paths to and from Mt. Rogers.  The day was sunny which made traversing the trail hotter than we’ve normally experienced on a mountain.  We also hiked through the Grayson Highlands State Park and encountered the wild ponies on more than one occasion.  At one location four ponies were grazing in the woods, including one all brown foal that wasn’t very old.  As we walked along the trail, Chief spotted a yellow piece of paper in a baggie that had been strategically placed next to an A.T. marker.  On the note was written, “Chief and Toad”.  Now hikers will sometimes leave messages for other hikers but we couldn’t imagine who or why a note would be left for us.  It turned out this message was from Tara, an accountant friend we know from Columbus, Ohio that has been following our blog.  Tara’s note said that she had travelled to the Grayson Highlands.  She must have been out hiking the area and knew that we weren’t far behind.  Tara’s message came as a great surprise and was a source of encouragement to us on a day we were challenged both emotionally and physically!

We are truly grateful for the simple ways the Lord has provided for our needs.  Those messages of His love are worth sharing.  On Day 46 we were hiking a 19-miler and passed a trail volunteer who gave to us a banana.  Fresh fruit is such a luxury on the trail and we enjoyed it immensely!  We also met a ridge runner who gave us a message about a motel we had planned to use in two days.  He said we would be better served by catching a shuttle bus into Marion, Virginia the next day.  We heeded that message and woke early on Day 47 to hike the ten miles to the pick-up point.  On our way, we met a day-hiker named Sly who blessed us with a Snickers candy bar and said she would give us a ride to town if we didn’t make the shuttle.  That nourishment was needed and propelled us faster toward the pick-up point.  We couldn’t have been one minute later after hiking those ten miles because the bus arrived just as we were getting to the pick-up point!  God sent a message that he understands all of our needs.  There is no limit to God’s communication with us if we will only listen with our heart.

Until our next message, Chief and Toad

 

 

 

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When the Trail Throws a Curve

It’s been nice to hear from several Appalachian Trail hikers, soon-to-be hikers, and HISOs (hiker in spirit only).  We hope you all enjoy our stories and will share your hiking experiences as well.  Our internet access in eastern Tennessee has been sporadic the past couple weeks and several followers have wondered about a new post.  Thanks for your patience — we never want to disappoint you!

In this post, we wanted to share with you some stories of when the trail has thrown us a curve.  This is an unexpected event, with no prior warning, that may be positive, negative, or just plain weird.

In a prior post, we shared about the other Chief we had met on the trail.  We referred to him as Chief 2 Feathers for clarification purposes and he is section hiking the A.T. over a period of years.  Chief 2F had spent a few days with some friends so we lost track of him for a while.  On Day 29, Chief 2F found us in Hot Springs, N.C.  This was a very nice surprise because we like Chief 2F.  We scheduled to meet for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant where Chief 2F told us that he was leaving the trail for this year.  An unexpected family situation and a tough couple days of hiking had forced him to call it quits.  Chief 2F is one hiker with whom we genuinely bonded on the A.T. and we were sad that he wasn’t continuing.  Over dinner, we reminisced about our days of hiking together and planned to meet again in the future off the trail.  When we parted Chief 2F wouldn’t say goodbye, rather he said, “See you…”.  Funny how a friendship can begin on the A.T.

On Day 30, we slackpacked out of Hot Springs and had prepared ourselves for a long day’s hike.  Let’s pause for…

Hiker Lingo:  Slackpacking — paying someone to deliver your backpack to your next location, leaving the hiker to navigate the trail with only a light-weight daypack.

Some hiking purists don’t believe in slackpacking, but even elite hikers take advantage of slackpacking to conserve energy.  Hiking without an extra 25-35 lbs. on your back allows your legs to move faster and keeps pressure off the feet!  We felt free and easy on the trail until Chief suddenly saw a huge snake actually on the walking path. The snake wouldn’t move so we had to pass it in the brush without creating a disturbance.  From that moment we were reminded how important it is to watch for snakes as many a hiker has stepped or nearly stepped on a rattlesnake.

Days 31 and 32 were spent climbing some of the toughest but most beautiful mountains in Tennessee, Big Butt and Big Bald (ironically this could describe me and Chief — LOL)… Anyhow Big Butt was some of the rockiest terrain we have navigated.  Big Bald is covered with grasses instead of trees and offered a breathtaking 360 degree view of the surrounding majestic mountains — an unexpected but wonderful surprise.

Not so wonderful, Chief has really been struggling with a sore left shoulder.  Not one to complain, he probably needs to see a chiropractor or doctor and needs to reduce weight in his pack.  My problem is a nasty case of poison ivy.  It’s not the little bubble poison ivy like I’ve experienced in Ohio, this is huge welts with monster bubbles.  I picked up some herbal soap at one of the outfitters and it is helping to relieve the itch and remove toxins.  I fear that for the entire hike I will be relegated to wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts as a proactive measure.

We do hate missing church on the trail, but on Sunday, Day 35 another hiker, Brother Timothy, passed us hiking.  We have seen Brother Timothy on a few occasions.  He is a young man from Chicago who says he is hiking the A.T. to share God’s love and speak His truth to whomever will listen.  On this particular day, Brother Timothy was wearing only a T-shirt and his underwear in addition to his hiking shoes.   As he passed, I could hear the King James Version Bible on tape coming from his pack.  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Blessed are those that hike only in their underwear, for they shall not chafe.  (Disclaimer — that last sentence isn’t in scripture, just a thought to a weird curve we’ve experienced on the trail…) It reminded us of The Gnome — another hiker with a long white beard who wears brightly-colored purple tights.

On Day 36 we were looking forward to a hike up Roan Mountain in Tennessee.  The A.T. thru-hiker book promised a majestic view atop one of the tallest mountains.  As we began the arduous climb a soft misty rain came down, which was welcome on this warm day.  It quickly turned dark and the mist became a downpour that lasted for more than four hours.  By the time we reached the mountain’s summit, lightening was cracking around us and water was flowing down the trail in currents like the French Broad River.  We felt like salmon trying to swim upstream, navigating rocks and tree roots.  Unfortunately Roan Mountain also boasts some of the coldest temperatures on the Appalachian Trail.  It became apparent that tenting was out of the question and we needed to make it to a shelter before dark to escape the wet cold storm.  The shelter was another mile hike and by the time we arrived there were seven other hikers claiming space in the shelter.   The only place left to roll out a sleeping bag was on the floor.  With no private area, I asked the men in the loft if I could have ten minutes of privacy and quickly changed into dry clothes there.   Both Chief and I promptly got into our sleeping bags and shivered for three hours before we started to warm.  About 11 p.m. I realized that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom.  I woke Chief thinking he would go with me into the woods and watch for bear and snakes in the dark.    He sleepily said, “Don’t go far,” and hunkered back down into his sleeping sack.  So I put on my headlamp and prayed for a safe solo journey to the “ladies room”.  This was only our second night in a shelter and for good reason.  The snoring is awful (and I’m not even talking about Chief).  When I was able to finally fall asleep, I suddenly awoke at 4 a.m. to a mouse crawling on top of my head!!!  It is a moment like that when I think about the perfectly good house with indoor plumbing we have in Ohio and no vermin squeaking and playing pat-a-cake on my head during the night.

Morning couldn’t come soon enough and we hiked down Roan Mountain sixteen  miles and headed straight to the nearest hostel, Mountain Harbor B&B.  We planned to pitch the tent and get a shower for $10.  The owner said they also had a nice room with a king-sized bed and a bath for $125.  I must have been an emotional mess because Chief took one look at me and said, “We’ll take the room.”  The beautiful room in the old farmhouse held a wrought iron bed with a lovely handmade quilt.  The bathroom was immaculate, smelled of jasmine and had plenty of fluffy towels, hot water and soap.  I shampooed four times to make sure there were no remnants of mice.  The bed was amazingly comfortable and Chief and I agreed it was the best night’s sleep we had in the past 37 days.  We awoke in the morning to the fragrance of fresh coffee and Miss Mary’s homemade breakfast of egg croissants, sausage gravy and biscuits, fried potatoes, fresh fruit, French toast with honey pecan topping, and raspberry sweet rolls.  This place was truly an unexpected but magnificent find!

On Day 38 we left the B&B well rested and well fed.  We were told by another hiker, O2, to take a curve that is off the A.T.  The curve led to a magnificent waterfall about 150′ high.  It was a spectacular sight!  We probably would have missed this had we not been open to the curve.

Chief was able to get an appointment with a chiropractor who is also a hiker.  After a spinal adjustment, Chief was feeling better but then fell TWICE on the trail landing both times on that shoulder.  Those incidents, however, didn’t seem to negatively impact his legs.  Over the past week our daily mileage has steadily increased to a high point of hiking 22.7 miles on Day 41.  Today is our 42nd day on the Appalachian Trail and we arrived in Damascus, Virginia– Mile 469.  So three states are completed (Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee) and a multitude of curves are yet to experience.

Until next post,  Chief and Toad

 

 

For Better or Worse

First, we would like to welcome the new followers of the blog, especially those folks from the bus tour trip to Newfound Gap near Gatlinburg.  It was a pleasure to speak with you about our thru-hike!  We sincerely hope you enjoy the posts about our adventure.

Chief and I will celebrate 35 years of wedded bliss this summer.  He has been telling people that for this milestone anniversary he is providing me with a six-month “vacation” in fourteen different states, “eating out” every day and experiencing nature’s scenery up close and personal.  Of course Chief gets a kick out of this hugely exaggerated anniversary description of our Appalachian Trail hike and gets a sarcastic eye-roll from me.  Several folks have wondered how a couple can spend time together 24/7 without conflicts.  Well you can’t.  We thought we should honestly share some of what the first month of our A.T. hike has been like for our relationship.

If you know Chief then you aren’t surprised to learn that he is a planner.  Everything about this hike is researched, scheduled, calculated, and tabulated.  He keeps track of trail elevations, miles hiked per hour and how much down time is used.  My style is a bit different — more along the line of whatever happens today just roll with it.  That style difference has led to some consternation and a suggestion from me such as, “Can’t you just give it a break and let it go for one day?”  Of course there is no right or wrong way–well, I think my way is better but for purposes of this article we will let it drop right there.

We had planned to shuttle fifteen miles from the A.T. into Gatlinburg, Tennessee on Day 23 to resupply and shower.  When we arrived at our pickup destination at Newfound Gap, I called the shuttle service only to be told they cancelled us to take a better fare.  I was incredibly angry and disappointed, but Chief took the lead to find a solution.  Another hiker, Cricket, was dropped off by his Cousin Bill and Aunt Rose from Durham, North Carolina.  Chief asked Bill if he would drive us into Gatlinburg and he agreed to shuttle us and our friend Sunshine, but Bill wouldn’t take any money for doing so.

The next day we had arranged a shuttle back to the trail with a man named Herbert.  Herbert is a colorful local character with a thick Tennessee accent who made us “gis” how old he was.  I “gissed” 60 and Chief added five years, but we both missed Herbert’s actual age of 71.  Herbert could sure tell tales about people he’s driven and he talked the entire drive back to the trail.  We heard that folks in those parts “just want 10-12 acres they can grow some ‘bacca and butcher couple hogs”.  Herbert told us about his wife, Georgia, who “is kin to Dolly Parton — they was third cousins,” he shared.  He and Georgia had been married nearly 50 years, but she had passed away a year ago.  Herbert spoke of her as though she was waiting at home with his lunch lovingly prepared.  It was evident how much he missed her, and it reminded me to be appreciative of the time we have together.  So…

On Day 25, I stabbed Chief with my pocketknife.  You should know that this incident was neither premeditated nor serious.  Not having any other uses for my brand new Leatherman pocket knife, I was using it to cut an apple in half for lunch.  At the same time I handed half the apple toward Chief, he was reaching a hand toward me.  He stuck his finger right into the point of my pocketknife.  Instinctively, Chief yelped, but the wound didn’t even bleed until he forcefully squeezed one tiny drop of blood from the microscopic hole.  Technically this accident could be construed as being his fault but we let it drop right there.

Days 26 and 27 were exhausting as Chief led us to hike for 17.6 miles and 15 miles respectively.  He believes we need to increase our daily miles by pushing our strength and endurance.  I have a slightly different perspective on that type of reasoning and words were exchanged in exuberance.  Nothing positive came from that exchange so we let it drop right there.  Truth is, Chief may be right.  Nevertheless we are hiking on dry trails that are less rocky than Georgia and seeing more green as trees leaf out and the mountain woods spring to vibrant life.

Mothers’ Day is Day 28 so Chief is giving us a day off tomorrow.  We had to hike 12 miles to get to Hot Springs North Carolina, but we enjoyed a hot mineral spa bath and fresh peach apricot smoothie.  Did I mention my husband is amazing?!  I better let any remaining conflict drop right here.

That’s the way marriage works.  Sometimes you just agree to disagree and let things drop.  The details and opinions are not as important as the relationship.  We know there will be disagreements on this journey, just like in everyday life and we make it work for better or worse.  We have hiked 275 miles so far with 1,905 more to Maine.  That’s a lot of togetherness, but Chief knows that I love him, and now he also knows that I have a very sharp pocketknife.

In Unison, Chief and Toad

 

How Much Is That Doggie in The Window

Having now been on the Appalachian Trail for three weeks, we have witnessed more than a few spectacles — people and places that attract attention or that are unusual to us.  Sometimes we just stare in wonder or disbelief (depending on the situation)…

On Day 19 we hiked to Fontana Dam in North Carolina.  This large, beautiful lake attracts visitors and sportsmen alike and we were amazed at the clear deep blue water.  The sunlight glistening off this large body of water was visually refreshing even though we were incredibly tired and dirty.  We were blessed to get a room at the Fontana Lodge because they were totally booked due to a Mini Cooper convention that weekend.  Imagine the sight of 700 Mini Cooper cars and their passionate owners who come to drive an 11-mile stretch of North Carolina highway that sports nearly 400 curves.  It ticked off the hikers that all the rooms at the Lodge were booked because the hikers walk more than eleven miles and carry backpacks that are nearly as big as a Mini Cooper (chuckle).  We felt rather guilty that we got a shower and a king-sized bed for the night while other hikers stayed at the “Fontana Hilton”, the sarcastic name for the not-so-nice hiker shelter.  Nevertheless, we laundered clothes and enjoyed an ice cream cone from the General Store in preparation of entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park the next day.

Day 20 was a gorgeous sunny morning as we began our walk across Fontana Dam and into the Smokies.  We are required to each have a thru-hiker permit that cost $20.  The permit gives us seven days to hike through the Smokies.  We dropped our permits in the lockbox and ascended the first hill. A few minutes later, a ridge runner told us there had been a bear attack the night before.  Evidently two hikers had left their tent for a short time when a bear smelled food and took off with their backpacks–one of which held a new cell phone.  The ridge runner told us to be sure and sleep in the shelter to avoid bears getting close, which we did that night.  Before we tell you about the shelter experience, we met up again with Sunshine, a twenty-something gal from Memphis.  We had met Sunshine our first week hiking but had lost contact with her during the torrential rains.  She is an experienced hiker but is attempting a solo thru-hike of the A.T.  She is looking forward to meeting her husband in a week in Hot Springs N.C. as they haven’t seen each other in three weeks.  This day on the trail we witnessed some hikers who stopped  for lunch but were also smoking a bit more than cigarettes.  We know that some hikers are inclined to the “party-side” of the culture but it is not done discreetly on the trail.  While taking our own break, a hiker came up and asked us about the bear in the tree 50 yards back.  He said we had walked right by it and that it was a spectacle– an estimated 450 lbs!  Later on in the evening, we were hiking with Sunshine and we saw three young deer coming to graze in the clearing in the woods.  We kept hiking and the trail wound around to where the deer were eating.  Two ran away but one just walked on the trail in front of us.  We arrived at the shelter late in the evening and The temperature had already dropped into the 40’s.  Chief talked to a young man that is attempting to hike the entire trail in 60 days.  This young man was a spectacle in his own right, having hiked 180 miles in three days!  The same distance had taken us nearly three weeks.  Most of the sleeping spots in the shelter were taken.  The shelter has two rows of boards so you either sleep on the top or on the bottom row. There is only enough room for each person’s sleeping bag and you sleep right next to a new “friend”.  We were able to finagle two spots together on the bottom row and Sunshine slept on the top row.  I slept next to a girl named Tinkerbell, who didn’t flutter quietly, rather snored like a lumberjack all night long.  On the other side of Chief slept Kristin, a young girl from New Hampshire who started the trail with us in April.  Her phone alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and nearly everyone in the shelter woke up except Kristin.    After ten minutes, Chief nudged her and she turned it off and slept another four hours.

We couldn’t wait to leave the shelter and hit the trail on Day 21 even though we planned a 15-mile hike.  The cool morning quickly heated up and we stopped early on to take off coats, hats, and gloves.  A hiker we met yesterday, Honeybee, said she got her name with a surreal incident she had in her tent with a bee.  We wonder if the bee was attracted to the vibrant tattoo sleeve on her left arm or her sweet child-like demeanor.   Anyhow, she said she took a video of the bee and all was well.  Honeybee prefers to hike in a short skirt when the weather gets warm.  Needless to say, she always has a young male hiker following her, for the  witty conversation of course.  The other spectacle of this day was a hiker named Sterling, a good ole boy from Georgia, who interacted with the wild turkeys on top of Siler’s Bald.  We never saw the turkeys but we heard them.

So in three weeks of hiking we have covered nearly 200 miles.  Our feet are terribly sore but we are in good spirits and have even lost a few pounds (that is a positive consequence).  Another milestone came on Day 22 when we reached Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail at 6,643′.  The observation deck on Clingmans Dome straddles the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee, as does a bit of the trail for the next hundred miles.  We were sitting by the trail enjoying a snack and watching the many visitors walking up to the observation deck.  One man heard Chief say that he wished there was a Coke machine nearby.  The man, whom we now lovingly refer to as the Good Samaritan,  told Chief he would give him a Coke from his car.  Chief walked down to the parking lot, all the while telling the Good Samaritan about our “Hike for John”.  The Good Samaritan gave to Chief six cans of icy cold drinks and said he would donate to the Gurneys.  God bless him!  During that time I watched several tourists pass the sign for the Appalachian Trail and listened to their comments.

Woman to her boyfriend:  “I could hike this trail if it was more level and not so  rocky.”

Man to his wife:  “This trail goes from Georgia to Pennsylvania.”  (Actually it goes to Maine)

Several people came over to talk to Chief and me asking questions about thru-hiking the trail.  “Do you have a gun?” asked one lady.  I said no (I have one but not with us)   “Where do you get food?”  I answered Wal-Mart, just like you (but I wanted to say that I fired my hiking stick from a crossbow, taking down a large buck that I field dressed before taking it back to the shelter to process.) “Have you seen any bears?”  Not yet (but evidently they are around on the trees and we are too blind or ignorant to see them!)  But the biggest revelation came when a man and woman with six kids came up to us and said, “So OLD people CAN hike the trail.”  It was then that we realized we were the biggest spectacle of all.  Until next stop…

Happy Tales,  Chief and Toad

 

A Rose By Any Other Name

First, we welcome several new friends from Virginia and thank the many followers of the blog that have sent comments and well wishes our way.  We truly wish we could respond to each of you individually but just know that we eagerly read and GREATLY appreciate your kind words and continued support.

A friend from Ohio, Dale F., asked if we could share some stories about folks we’ve met on the Appalachian Trail and their trail names. We are happy to comply with that request since there are lots of colorful characters you should get to know.

In the last post, we told you about young Jeff whom we just met up with again today. Jeff still doesn’t have a trail name that he likes so we are calling him Doc because he has an extensive first aid kit including a snakebite kit. That kit could have come in handy today as we passed a point on the trail with a handwritten note taped to a log that read, “Rattlesnake 25 ft ahead”. The note was dated yesterday and fortunately we neither saw or heard that slithering threat.

On Day 15 we met Shaggy and Scooby on the A.T.  Shaggy is in his early twenties with long curly hair held back with a colorful buff and he sports a  fairly long beard. He has some very colorful ink on his right lower leg and a goofy laugh that he shares often.  His sidekick, Scooby, is a loveable female German Shepherd that carries her own backpack of food. A few days after we met the pair, Shaggy made a difficult decision to send Scooby home because she was struggling with sore paws and legs. We’ve seen several hikers with dogs but we certainly miss Scooby.  Shaggy is such a kind soul that he wanted to donate to our “Hike for John”, as have several other hikers we’ve met.

On this date, our path surprisingly  intersected with the Bartram Trail, which encompasses about 100 miles in western North Carolina.  Be sure to check out the page on our website about William Bartram to find the significance of the Bartram Trail for Chief.

We are at a point in our hike that we see many of the same hikers every few days. Most of those folks who are serious about a NOBO hike are still on the trail. Let’s pause for some…

Hiker lingo– NOBO – northbound; SOBO – southbound;  YOYO – hiking one direction the entire way then turning around to hike the other way (that’s crazy x2)!

We met Re-calc on sunny Day 16 as we left Wayah Bald Lookout.  Wayah is the Cherokee word for wolf and we have heard the howling on the chilly mountain nights.  In his mid-sixties, Re-calc hails from a small town near Kansas City and is retired from the pharmaceutical field.  Re-calc said he got his trail name from getting lost and climbing the wrong mountain, not once, but twice.  While training for his hike, Re-calc said he couldn’t find a bag of sand to weigh down his backpack so he used a bag of manure (really!?!?). He said this day he needed some company and hiked with us for the day, helping to push us to a record 16-mile day.  Obviously he is fast but not too good with directions.  Re-calc said that he saw the two bear cubs on the day we went through that area but didn’t get a photo because he was running for safety.   A section hiker we met the next day, Driver, was able to obtain a coveted photo of the twin cubs.  Driver is from Medina, Ohio and on a two week hike before he returns to his truck driving position.  Re-calc asked Driver if he was a Michigan State fan.  To an Ohio State fan that is a blasphemous question!  Like we shared, Re-calc isn’t too good with directions.

Section Hiker – someone who hikes portions of the trail for weeks or months over a period of time/years.

Imagine our surprise to discover another Chief on the Appalachian Trail.  For purposes of clarification we will call him Chief 2 Feathers as he has been given variations of the trail name as he section hiked for several years.  Chief 2F is age 59 and retired as an EMT/Fire chief.  He hails from Virginia but spent most of his life in Connecticut as evidenced by a thick New England accent.  What we find most remarkable is that Chief 2F had open heart surgery last September and has been training in rehab with his backpack since January.  He was released by his cardiologist to hike a large portion of the trail and he hasn’t looked back.  He scales the mountain trails and skims over treacherous rock paths faster than we can follow.  Chief 2F’s goal is to complete all sections of the A.T. within a ten year span.  In addition to all the normal gear, Chief 2F also carries a guitar in his backpack and he joyfully shares his repertoire of Christian and folk songs at night in camp.

On day 18, we were hiking toward a stretch of North Carolina road where we noticed a quaint picnic area.  Chief said he wished there was a Coke machine because it would have been a perfect venue to enjoy a refreshing drink.  Not five minutes passed when a car pulled up and two trail angels, Mouse and Georgia, got out with some trail magic.

Trail Magic – unexpected food and drinks shared with any hiker passing by, typically that which is most craved but not available to hikers.

Mouse and Georgia are a young couple from Atlanta who just completed a six-week section hike.  They came back to share trail magic with other hikers and supplied a cooler of soft drinks (Yes, Chief got his icy cold Coke), chips, PB&J sandwiches, apples, oranges, and homemade chocolate covered peanuts.  May God bless them and all of our new friends on the A.T.  There is no pretense or positions on the trail.  Each person can be exactly the person God created them to be and enjoy the sweetness of the name of their choosing.

Talk With You Soon,  Chief and Toad