March 28th – Bly Gap, and out of Georgia 

March 28th – Bly Gap, and out of Georgia 

We slept so soundly at the hostel.  At 7:15, we went to the dining room and enjoyed an all-you-can-eat cereal bar.  It may not sound glamorous, and really is not, but cereal with cold milk over it is just something you don’t get very often while on the trail.  We listened to an informative chat by Sir Packs-A-Lot.  He talked about all sorts of trail myths and statistics.  The one thing he said that stuck out to me the most was about all the things one can see just off the trail, if only they will slow down.  He encouraged the wanna be thru hikers to slow down and just enjoy the journey.  I needed to be reminded of this.  

The trail is filled with rocks and roots.  It is so easy to go a mile, even two without really looking up.  We are all trying harder to stop, look, and listen to the nature that surrounds us.

At Dicks Creek Gap, ready to start hiking again.

We had an awesome start to the day, hiking 5.6 miles before lunch!

The weather was beautiful.  After so much rain, we welcome the sun and its warmth!

Before we knew it, we had crossed the Georgia line into North Carolina. 

Now for some trail honesty… This journey is about growing, right? Seven broken people on a journey to come together and heal means that there are going to be moments that are not always pretty.  See that sarcastic and forced smile on mommas face? Well, at this exact moment, we moved out of  Georgia and the glorious honeymoon phase of the adventure, and into North Carolina and the reality of this adventure.  Five of the seven of us engaged in conflict.  The conflict started when we tried to get all of us into the frame of the picture, but it had nothing to do with the picture.  The feelings expressed stem from years of hiding emotions and avoiding them at all cost.  When there are walls and different schedules and activity, this was possible, but out here, straight up unavoidable.  We had to sit and listen to one another, accept differing opinions, ask forgiveness, accept forgiveness, and trust the process of healing.  We are growing and healing… One step at a time!

After dealing with the issues at hand, we made our way to Bly Gap, set up tents, made dinner, and relaxed!  Kole serenaded us with the ukulele… And by 8:30 we are off to sleep.

March 27th – Back to the trail, or not

We all started moving at about 8am.  Everything was wet from all of the rain over the weekend… But we started the process of getting ready to go back to the trail.  Really I wish that time could stand still.  I really enjoyed our time away from the trail, and with friends that are familiar.  

Finding balance between work and rest, between the doing and the being was hard for me.  Laundry must be done, but I just wanted to sit.  Resupplying food bags had to be priority of we were to succeed this week, but again I wanted to focus all attention on my dear friend infront of me.  

It took a couple of hours to sort through everything and pack up all of the packs… Then it was time to go!

The kids had so much fun!!! Seriously, look at those smiles!

Kirsten drove is back to the trail, and as we were pulling in the Dooby Brothers were thumbing a ride into Hiawassee, so Kirsten became an unexpected trail angel, and have them a ride. The trail is filled with all sorts of unexpected twists and turns.

We said farewell and started to put our packs on our backs when a van for the Top of Georgia Hostel pulled in.  We made a split decision, and soon we were all loaded into the van heading to the hostel.  We took the last seven bunks! 

At 4 pm, a shuttle took us to Hiawassee, where we ate at this completely strange all-you-can-eat buffet. 

With full bellies we headed back to the hostel.  As we were getting ready for bed, the lightening and thunder started to fill the night sky.  We were so happy that we were nestled warm and dry in our bunks.

Each day out here is an adventure.  Sometimes we know where we will land and others we do not.  Opportunities to practice flexibility are proving to be valuable to this experience, and it seems that these opportunities will be plentiful.  

Pull March 26th – Zero Day, a time to catch up 

Pull March 26th – Zero Day, a time to catch up 

Breakfast that included bacon and pancakes… Oh the things we miss!!! It was so fun to spend an entire day visiting with our friends.  

We  had a few things that we had to catch up on, and laundry to do, but really we just focused on catching up with our dear friends, making memories, and resting…. I forgot to mention in the previous post the servant love of a friend who washed my dirty aching feet.  Not only did she wash mine, but also the feet of most of the kids.  Ryan hates that stuff… Lol! 

We laughed. We shared. We encouraged one another. We ate. And we even celebrated!!!!  Coy just turned 16!  We sang happy birthday and ate cake together.  

We had a great day, but it went by way too fast!

March 25th – Addis Gap to Dicks Creek Gap and some rest and relaxation

March 25th – Addis Gap to Dicks Creek Gap and some rest and relaxation

Good Morning!!! Bright and early we woke up and got all packed up.  We needed to get stepping because we had plans to get to Dicks Creek and met up with our friends, the Johnson Family.  We were stationed together in Germany and then again at Fort Campbell.  It’s been way too long since we have seen eachother.  

When we arrived at Dicks Creek Gap, we again ran into our friend Aaron and also caught up to Wes.  There was a bit of trail magic.  Fresh fruit is always a blessing!!!

Ryan and fellow veteran, Wes.

While we were waiting for Kirsten to arrive, Kole serenaded everyone with his ukulele, and had everyone listening sign it.  We all thought he was a little weird to carry his instrument with him on the trail, but honestly, it’s so fun to listen to him. 

Just before Kirsten arrived, our trail angel friends, Farmer Jim and his wife, Pat, pulled into the parking lot with lots of yummy treats.  Really, I think I want to be like them when we grow up… Driving around passing out magic to weary hikers, essentially giving them a boat that might just keep them moving toward their dreams, one foot infront on the other.  The trail angels we have met, remind us that there are good people or there in the world.  The opportunity to talk to people face to face is a beautiful experience.  I think this is one of the best parts of being out here… Meeting people and engaging in conversations about life with one another… With eye contact and voices.  I think this is being lost these days.

Kirsten arrived, and it was so much fun to see eachother again!  While we were trying to pack all of our bags into her van, Farmer Jim offered to take three of us to Enota.  Could not have worked out more perfectly!  When our kids met, it was as if our children have known eachother all of their lives!  

And our packages!!! Thanks to the Batson’s, we were able to scrub away the stink, and enjoy a homemade treat!  Thank you!!! We love and miss you guys!

The kids ran around, played ball, jumped on the trampoline, and played all sorts of games!  We talked and talked, and it was as if we had seen eachother only a week ago.  That is one of the benefits of having served in the military… Our friends are all over the world, and our experiences have bonded us together in unique and tight ways!

It was about 11:30, by the time we decided to call it a night!!!

My Dream

My Dream

“Before the deed comes the thought. Before the achievement comes the dream. Every mountain we climb we first climb in our minds.” -Royal Robins

Today is March twenty-seventh. I’ve been in Georgia for two weeks. I’ve been outside in the sun, the rain, the hail, and the snow. I’ve been living the dream. 

Our family had been dreaming of this trip for an entire year. It started out as a “Oh, that would be cool” thing and it quickly turned into watching documentaries, following other people’s blogs, and looking at gear. We hadn’t decided that we were going to attempt a through hike, but we were hooked on the idea. Then the backpacks were bought, clothes were ordered, and the Thru Crew was going to take on the trail.

But… I had my doubts. There was something about packing up and leaving that didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t want to pack up and leave my home again. I’ve done it time and time again, but this was different. I have real friends and family in New Hampshire, ones that weren’t going to move away in two years. It was me who was leaving… for 6 months. I didn’t like it.

The more I thought about it the more my perspective changed. The thought of the adventure and the freedom was amazing. The many people I’d meet on the way and amount of the U.S. I’d be able to see up close and personal made me rethink the way I perceived the trail. It wasn’t leaving home for 6 months, I was finding a new one every night.

So that’s my dream. I get to be with my family and friends I make on the way. I get to share a fire with people of all shapes and sizes. I get to know what the phrase “Home is where your heart is” really means. I hope I never wake up.

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