Friday, March 28, 2008

...more Week 1

Sis called Mom last night with an update. She and Dustan have walked about 31 miles so far. They were at Neel's Gap (click here to see a map) and that they have seen many beautiful vistas along the way. Dustan has shin splits and pretty horrible blisters but they are plugging on through. They caught a ride into town for a cheeseburger and to give their feet a rest. She also mentioned that Trail is doing really well as the 3rd hiker.

UPDATE: This is Goose Creek Cabin. The man that took them here had just dropped his daughter and son-in-law off at Springer and was taking a pit stop on his way home. He and his wife love Jesus and they were AWESOME. 

All cleaned up and ready to eat a cheeseburger. Unfortunately, they ate dinner with a man who loved to talk about himself and is a member of every outdoor volunteer club in the nation. 

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Journey Begins..

Hey everyone. This is Stacy (aka Sis) checking in to let everyone know that Bets and Dustan have been successfully dropped off at Springer Mountain. We drove almost 4 hours on Monday through Tennessee into Georgia, stopping only to get fuel for their camp stove and some extra long Slim Jims. See Left: Dustan getting fuel in the background. The drop-off destination was much more remote than any of us thought it would be. (2 hours of country roads, 7 miles of narrow gravel road straight up a mountain- in my sports car!) You can't tell from the pictures but it was snowing and COLD. There were about 5 other hikers in the lot where we stopped but I'm not sure if they were through-hikers or not. They just saw Trail with her pack and said "That's hardcore, man". Music to my sister's ears, I'm sure. Ha.

They were so excited and as you can see, Trail was geared up as well. Betsy called Mom yesterday from the top of a ridge in Georgia. They had hiked 8 miles and it was 24 degrees on their first night. They slept well though and were toasty in their sleeping bags. In a couple of weeks, Mike and I will meet them at the mouth of the Great Smokies to pick up Trail. She'll be staying with us in Knoxville for a few weeks while they hike that section of the AT then we'll meet them again in Max Patch, NC to give her back. I'll will update with any information I have along the way and will pass along any comments that are left to them when we see each other in a couple of weeks. Thanks for everyone who is praying for their safety and sharing the excitement of their trek!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Our Last Day of Civilization

This morning Mom, Dustan, Trail and I set out for Knoxville, TN.  The Jeep was loaded down with our huuuuge backpacks (his is weighing in at 50 and mine is around 41.8), Trail's pack (weighing 9.7) and extra bags of Trail's high energy dogfood.  

We had to do 2 maildrops for Trail's food.  One in Franklin, NC and one in Erwin, TN.  She has to consume roughly 5 cups/2000 calories per day to avoid losing muscle tissue.  I've heard that there are people that take their dogs on the trail but don't feed them enough and you run into some pretty emaciated dogs.  We have an emergency cell so I can make a call to PETA. :)

Today we will spend Easter here with sis and Mike, and her culinary skill has produced everything from chicken salad to coconut creme pie to tomato chutney to quiche.  This is the kind of caloric send-off we've been getting from everyone who hosts us.  It might not hurt us to get down to the muscle tissue-burning phase of weight loss!

Tomorrow morning sis will drive us from Knoxville to the trail head in Springer Mountain.  I'm scared to even Google the weather in northern Georgia....

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When the going gets cold...

...the cold keep going.

There's nothing like waking up in a tent with a bursting bladder only to discover your boots are freezing, the rain is falling, and the wind won't let it touch the ground. Pretty much the only option is to stomp around in your boots, do some jumping jacks and just keep hiking.

This is the thing about hiking in winter months. Maybe you don't think of March as being winter any more than you'd imagine feet of snow in Georgia. But on the AT, weather is crazy. It changes quickly and it precipitates constantly. Those who begin their thru-hike any earlier than March 1st are guaranteed some snow. This is one of the reason's we are very content with our new start date of March 24th.

Back in January, Dustan and his pal Justin Honaker decided to take a little joy-hike up to Mount Rogers. They literally picked the coldest night of the year. Without getting in to their reasoning (or lack thereof) they didn't take a tent. They opted instead for a shelter that didn't keep out the snow, and ended up sleeping halfway inside their backpacks.

I love these frozen-faced smiles...

I think we have most all of our gear. There are a few things that we need for the summer months that we'll probably pick up along the way, closer to Damascus. Like a long, broomstick skirt for me. I've read they are really convenient for women on the trail because they're lightweight, great for going into towns, and quick-drying. We also need insect repellant (like heavy-duty cancer-causing DEET for mosquito and black fly epidemics) and some sunscreen. When it comes to sharing toiletries, the only brand Dust and I can agree on is Burt's Bees, so I'm on the lookout. We're getting ready for our AT night on Monday and Dustan is going to give a little sleeping bag demo. I think he was inspired by his January travels!

Ok, more to come...

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gearing Up - literally

Hey everyone!

Thanks for visiting our little portal on the internet. This is where we'll be blogging about our journey on the Appalachian Trail.

Monday, March 24th, 2008 will begin the long walk from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Katahdin in Maine.

If you are in the Southwest Virginia area, you're invited to an informal presentation of our plans to thru-hike the AT. It's Monday, March 17th at Lebanon Community Fellowship Church from 7-9pm. We'll be giving some general facts about the Trail and our specific thru-hike, we'll bring our gear for you to check out, and we'll answer all your questions about food planning, packing firearms, cell phone service and how to have a good attitude when sleeping in a soggy tent.

In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions about my (Betsy's) trail name, I'd love to hear them! Dustan's is "Brahma Bull" - a nickname given to him by Bruce Hornsby back in Williamsburg. It can be shortened to "The Bull" or just "Hey, Bull!" - and he really likes it. I don't really have any good nicknames or ideas, so throw in your two cents if you have them.

We'd love to see you on the 17th!

Happy Trails,

Dustan & Betsy
Cleveland, VA 2008