“You should be running around, chasing tail.” (CT gear post)

The Colorado Trail approacheth! We’ll be getting on either Tuesday or Wednesday this week.

As a fair warning, this will be a very detailed post about all of the gear I’m bringing with for this trip, so it’ll be boring AF for most of y’all.

I’m super hella slow at buying new gear because of limited funds (hellooooooo grad student stipend), but every once in a while I make the big plunge. I’ve been thinking about investing in a new sleeping pad for like two years now, and it’s already worth it!

I went from the 20 oz Thermarest Women’s Prolite Plus to the much smaller (in both weight and size) Thermarest Neoair Xlite.


I got the regular 12 oz size, which appears to be all that REI carries in store and I was too much of a procrastinator to order the 8 oz small ahead of time. The regular, which is the yellow pad, is long enough that my legs and feet will actually be on it though *luxury*


Anyways, on to the gear list. I trust that you lazy bastards who are interested enough will be able to figure out which item in the pictures corresponds to each item in the lists because there is no particular rhyme or reason to the list order.


ULA Circuit pack, Mountain Hardware small pack cover, trash compactor bag (you pack your fears and, yes, rain is my fear)



Six Moons Lunar Solo tent w/ stuff sack, Tyvek footprint, 6 stakes from an old REI tent w/ stuff sack, Western Mountaineering 20 degree bag w/ stuff sack and plastic trash bag liner, silk sleeping bag liner, Thermarest Neoair Xlite w/ stuff sack, crappy Walmart camp shoes, Frogg Toggs rain jacket



Jetboil stove, small fuel canister, small Bic lighter, Light My Fire spork ($10 says it’ll break in half on this trip), 1L Smart Water Bottle, 2.5L Platypus bladder, Sawyer Squeeze filter, large Zpacks stuff sack


Hiking clothes:

Asics running shorts, Under Armour tank top, Nike bra, Brooks long sleeve half zip shirt, one sleeve of an old running shirt to cover up my tattoo, New Balance Leadville trail runners (so fuckin sad they don’t make these anymore) with Sole inserts, buff, hat


Camp clothes:

Patagonia synthetic puffy jacket, Patagonia down vest, Terramar wool long sleeve shirt, Nike running tights, Terramar wool tights (with a crotch hole cause they’re men’s lol), Patagonia wool hat, Mountain Hardwear gloves, Darn Tuff socks (2), medium Zpacks stuff sack



Petzl headlamp, disposable camera, CT databook, paperback, external battery w/ cord, compass, earbuds, iPod Shuffle w/ cord, iPhone w/ cord (not pictured)


Toiletries/first aid:

Glasses w/ case, comb, athletic tape, duct tape, bandaids, toothpaste, floss, super glue, chapstick, ibuprofen, toothbrush, sunscreen, TP and hand sanitizer in a ziploc, all in a janky years old bag


Also not pictured are my beloved Leki trekking poles, which smell like ass and kept growing mold in Florida.

My base weight (i.e., weight of gear that’s being carried not including any food or water) came in at a respectable 17.4 pounds, which I think is about a pound and a half lighter than my JMT base weight. Huzzah!

Next time you hear from me, I’ll hopefully have successfully hiked 230 miles.


“I spend more nights on the floor, than in my own bed.” (SoCal Part 1)

Two years later, it’s time to dust off this little blogaroonio of mine. I honestly haven’t really done anything noteworthy outdoors since my last post anyways until recently, so y’all weren’t missing much.

Starting in March of this year though, I got to play in the snow in Logan Canyon…


…and went down the Dirty Devil in a packraft (check out the dead cows in the second pic)…


…and had my brain fry for two days doing the Fish & Owl loop in southern Utah…


…and paddled a short stretch of the Suwannee River, free glamping site included (stole your pics Erica!).


I meant to throw up some posts about all of those trips, but laziness got in the way #sorrynotsorry

So, being the lucky duck that I am, I get to spend the summer in California, nearish LA. Living in a place where there are decent trails within a 15 minute drive has reminded me why Florida cannot be my permanent home (don’t worry though, Gainesville is still my current address), and I will never move back to the Midwest.

So far I’ve hiked and/or ran in both the Chino Hills and Santiago Oaks areas. It’s pretty insane to be in the middle of one of the most densely populated parts of the country yet completely surrounded by wilderness.


But the REAL topic of this post is the hike up Mt Baldy that I did this past weekend, which was just the ass kicker I was hoping for.

The San Gabriels is a pretty extensive mountain range that runs east-west and is just north of Los Angeles, with Mt Baldy (aka Mt San Antonio) being the highest point in the range, at just over 10,000 feet.

There are a bunch of ways to get up to the summit and back down, using a variety of parking lots and trails and also a ski lift that can be ridden during the summer for $20 (lol fuck that I’d rather hike).


I chose to do the classic route by 1) starting at the Manker Flats campground trailhead

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 9.03.13 PM

[Map from here]

2) passing San Antonio Falls


3) hiking up the fireroad to the Notch restaurant and ski area


4) following the ridge using Devil’s Backbone trail


5) stumbling (cause holy shit I’m not acclimated in any way to that kind of elevation) up the last couple of ridiculously steep uphills


6) to the summit


and 6) then all of that in reverse for a total of almost 13 miles and 4,000 feet of elevation gain.


I kind of actually wanted to make it a loop and hike back down on the more interesting/steep/isolated Ski Hut trail but, because I had at most one functioning brain cell by the summit, realized I would probably get lost in the woods and die.

This trail was one of the most highly trafficked I’ve been on, up there with Angel’s Landing and Mt Whitney. While it is super crucial for me to camp with other people in order to have a good time in the woods, I much prefer hiking alone. I kind of hate being surrounded by strangers, having to step off trail to let them pass and overhear their stupid conversations and let them see me looking like a weak bitch hauling my ass up Devil’s Backbone.

Still totally 100% worth it though. Those beautiful vistas that I’ve come to associate with the western U.S., arid scrabbly scree mountainsides, blue skies and gusty raging winds, that junipery pine smell…mmmmmm so good.


And I’ve only barely scratched the surface of available wilderness in this area for sure.

All of this outdoorsing is my lame last-minute attempt at getting in some training for…*drum roll*…the Colorado Trail! I’m going to be doing the southern half of the CT with my friend Amanda (for the entire trip) and my famous, hardcore JMT partner Joan (for the last six days) in July. So stayed tuned for some more rambling about pre-trip prep, gear posts, and trip recaps!

Oh, and major kudos to this kid for just casually carrying a 20 pound dumbbell while hiking down the Baldy fireroad.


“You look ugly when you paddle.”

Florida is bomb AF so far. Here is a short list of reasons.

I’ve seen my favorite (probably) band…


…twice. UMPHREY’S!


Gainesville has a hashing kennel (GATRH3 here). Because it’s small, they only have trails once or twice a month so I’ve only been to one trail. They’re SERIOUS about shiggy here; we went through swampy streams and everyone’s tutus were getting caught up on thorns and there was post-trail itchiness from chiggers.


Thanks to Craigslist, I somehow managed to find the best roommate ever (yay Jordin!). We also have somehow not managed to take a pic together, so this is the third roommate, Violet.


Jordin and I go out and tear up downtown G’ville on the reg. So magical!

We took a wee trip to St. Aug also.

IMG_5366 IMG_5368 IMG_5369

Tailgating in SEC territory is insane. I already knew that, but tailgating a UF game with a UT alumnus makes it even more hilarious.


Life is pretty damn awesome right now, and filled to the brim with fun stuff. I’m finally living somewhere that doesn’t make me hate everything (*cough* Utah).


UF has an amazing outdoor rec club called OAR. (Their website’s interface is really legit for planning trips)

They run tons of trips all over the southeast, and some further than that. A couple people went to Guatemala this month, and that’s apparently not unusual. The trips are all really cheap because they’re run at cost, i.e., the club doesn’t make any money from them.

Because I haven’t been canoeing in like four years (travesty!), I jumped on a paddling trip in northern Florida in August. A half dozen of us did two days on the north Withlacoochee River. It was 27 miles from just over the border in Georgia to where the river meets up with the Suwanee River.

IMG_5409 IMG_5420 IMG_5421 IMG_5441

The most unique, notable natural features in Florida are the springs. People have been insisting that I see the springs since long before I got here. Basically, there are places where water shoots out of the ground and forms a pool, usually adjacent to a river. There is the clearest picture I have showing where the clear, cold spring water meets up with more turbid, warmer river water.


It’s incredible how clear and cold and blue (or green) the springs are. There were a bunch of springs along this stretch of the Withlacoochee.


It was so good to be paddling again. While backpacking is my one true love, canoeing is an activity that elicits tons of nostalgia. It was how I first was introduced to the outdoors and will therefore always hold a special spot in my heart. Having a paddle in my hands just felt so right.

The people who went were awesome too. We found some jars full of (graveyard) dirt and paper bags with names written on them, and Nelson correctly guessed that they were voodoo.


There was a boat trapped up in a tree.


Then, this past weekend, some of us floated the Santa Fe River at Ginnie Springs. Because the property is privately owned, BEER! There are three big springs along the river, and we had a massive feast halfway through the float. I’m gonna take anyone who visits here, so come visit me bitches.

Erica Group (3) Santa Fe (2) Kristina (2)










Thanks to Noah and Erica for these pics, because I took exactly zero. Woops.

I still occasionally think about my recent failed AT thruhike. Sometimes this happens unexpectedly and out of nowhere, and sometimes it’s instigated by a conversation about the outdoors or a thruhiker posting something on FB. I’ll experience a period of intense disappointment and pain, a feeling of failure that runs deep and hurts my heart. Though the frequency of these events has decreased, their intensity doesn’t seem to have. I’m trying to forgive myself and move on. This is so much harder than it should be.

I’m reminded of the AT when I think about how soft and weak my body has become. I haven’t been able to get back into a regular workout routine yet, as much I yearn for that, because my back is still not quite healed. That will hopefully happen soon (hope hope hope seems like all I’ve been doing and it’s not getting me anywhere) and I’ll be able to get back into some sort of shape.

It’s hard to rebuild that foundation from square one, which is a process I’ve had to go through way too many times. The process is always accompanied by endless frustration. This frustration will be especially strong this time because I should be on the AT in New Hampshire or Maine right now, in the most amazing shape of my life and about to end a significant, glorious journey. Instead I’m in Florida, trying to be as distracted as possible by this new place. And not think about my failure.

“Let peace brood over this carcass.” (AT2015 mile 434.6)

As my friend David wisely pointed out, it’s much harder to know when to quit. There are plenty of motivational posters out there encouraging us to keep trying, to hack away at whatever goal we have until our fingers or bodies or brains are bleeding from the effort. Don’t give up because only losers quit.

But it’s just as important to be capable of gracefully letting some things go. Those things that no longer fit into our lives, that are not making us happy, that are not worth pursuing. Those things that are just no longer right.

As much as it breaks my heart to admit it, this thruhike was no longer right.

I had three false starts attempting to get back on trail. The first, a few days after falling, was the nightmarish hike over Pond Mountain. I detailed a plan for my second attempt in the same post. This happened about a month after the first; I hiked a mile and a half north from Daleville, VA, sobbed on the phone to my mother for an ungodly length of time, and then got back into my car and drove four hours back to Knoxville in defeat.

The third, and final, false start came a month after the second. I returned to Wautaga Lake, where I had left off after Pond Mountain, with Wes and a couple of our friends. The intention was for them to hike out with me the first day, spend the night in the woods, and then they would retrace their steps back to the lake on the second day while I continued on northward. That first night, I stayed awake in my tent for hours after everyone had gone to sleep with the somewhat sudden realization that what I was intending on doing was not what I wanted to be doing. I hiked back to the lake with them the next morning.

One of the most important components of a thruhike for me is the community. And doing Virginia in August and then Katahdin to Harpers Ferry starting in September would have meant being completely and absolutely alone (besides section hikers, which don’t count). I don’t like to be alone in the woods, and it would be hard to cope with the difficulties and celebrate the joys of this adventure without anyone else.

I also didn’t want to flip flop, with Katahdin being just another step in the journey instead of the concluding step. Two months sitting around in Knoxville required burning through money, of which I had started with just the right amount for a thruhike. And dealing with the awful cold weather that I was bound to run into would have resulted in a special kind of suffering, and possibly have kept me from finishing anyways.

And, possibly the most important long-term factor, my injuries. Even after two months of convalescence, my ribs and left foot were still not completely healed. If I had continued on from Wautaga Lake, there would have been the ever-present uncertainty of if I would heal while on trail. It seemed quite probable that spending a quarter of year doing intense physical activity and being calorie-deficit every day would result in lingering, lifelong problems, of which am I doing my very best to prevent.

I don’t have to justify to anyone why I’m done with the Appalachian Trail this year. But I want this record of why this is necessary later on. For those dark moments late at night when I’ll worry that I squandered this opportunity and regret not trying to squeak out a thruhike. I also want to explain to everyone who’s been following along what happened and why.

I didn’t want to thruhike the AT just to say that I finished it. This is one of those occasions where a cliche is very apt; it’s about the journey, not the destination. A thruhike is supposed to be vibrant and fun and bizarre, and most moments should be enjoyed. Though it is difficult by its very nature, it should not be a miserable slog to be gotten over with. That’s what my thruhike would have become if I had decided to keep going. And THAT’S NOT THE FUCKING POINT.

Choosing to quit was made even harder in the context of my first month on trail. I was having such a good time. The trail, the weather, the other hikers, the miles, my body, were all way better than I expected. And I knew I could finish. When randos asked if I was “really going to do the whole thing?!”, I was able to respond affirmatively with all my confidence. It was this nearly perfect, beautiful thing that was broken. That I broke in one single, stupid moment.

And then I had to sit around in a fog of rage and pain and hopelessness for the worst two months of my life. Thinking about where I should have been on trail and how great my life would have been. Beating myself up over falling, which was likely a semi-conscious attempt at punishing myself for making a mistake. It was definitely the worst.

Though I will always feel like a failure for being unable to complete an AT thruhike for a second time, quitting was right.

And now I’ve taken that crucial step of moving on. I’m resuming my graduate work a semester earlier than expected and I moved down to Gainesville this week. The newness of everything, the city, the school, my lab space, newly joined labmates, is giving me desperately needed hope and distraction. And I’m very excited to keep working on my PhD, which I loved before I got on trail and didn’t even really need a break from.

This blog will probably continue to limp on in some form or another. My body is getting close enough to being fully healed that I should be able to resume workouts soon. There’s also tons of awesome outdoors shit to do down here and I have a few possible cool plans in the works.

I want to close this on an optimistic note. Around the time I decided I was done with this thruhike attempt, I was thinking about giving up totally on all long-distance hiking endeavors. I obviously wasn’t suited to it, and it was just resulting in a lot of preventable heartbreaking failure. I should try to find something I’m actually good at (haha, as if that is a possibility) instead. Then, when I was talking to my mom about my decision, she almost immediately said that I will do it. Some day, I will successfully finish. And in that moment, I realized that she was absolutely right. This is not the sort of goal, and activity, that you can just give up on. It gets in your blood and holds on tight and doesn’t let go.

So I’m not done. I’m going on a lengthy hiatus while focusing primarily on finishing my PhD. But I’m always preparing for long-distance hikes by working out and being on my feet as often as possible and slowly acquiring and testing new gear. This is a long-term passion that requires plenty of persistence and time, and no way in hell am I done with it. Even my embarrassing setbacks will not keep me from this thing that I love.

ETA: Just to make it clear to everyone who has read or is reading this post, I didn’t WANT to quit my thruhike. Every day I wish I were still on trail and I miss it deeply. The circumstances that resulted from falling forced me to quit, and this was a decision that was really hard for me to make and happened over a long period of time. If I hadn’t fallen, I’m certain I would still be out there enjoying it all.

“Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.” (AT2015 mile 427.1)

*breathe in* *breathe out*


This is going to be long on words and feelings, and short on pictures and snark, so not really the typical fun bullshitting.

First, a quick chronological summary of what has happened since my last post. I spent two nights at the hostel in Hampton, which is referred to as the castle hostel, though it looks nothing at all like a castle. Here’s my puffy hand after spending two days at the hostel.

 The morning of the third day, I optimistically returned to the trail and limped/suffered through seven miles (one back to the trail and six on trail) over Pond Mountain. I ran into Pinecone and Rock Licker and sobbingly admitted to both them and myself that there was no way in hell I could keep going.

I returned to Hampton, defeated, where one of my friends picked me up and drove me to Knoxville. I’ve been convalescing here since then. For those of you not keeping track, that means four weeks have passed, and single-digit miles have been hiked, since I fell.

Accurately describing the emotions that I’ve experienced since then is a difficult task. I continually try to remind myself to be grateful that my injuries are fairly mild; I really should have broken some bones and there is some likelihood that I could have died. But my injuries happened to be ones that heal within weeks, not months.

This gratefulness tends to be overwhelmed by a bevy of negative emotions. I’m disappointed that it’s taking so long for my stupid fucking body to heal, though I should have expected it because my body has always been slow to recover from injuries. This is peak hiking season, and I’m increasingly frustrated as each long, hot day slips by that I’m stuck in my boyfriend’s apartment not getting in any miles. I’ve expended significant mental energy trying not to determine what mile I’d be at if I hadn’t fallen and ignoring all AT-related posts on my Facebook feed.

I’ve also been mentally beating myself up for falling. I’ve always been hard on myself ever since I recognized that I’m entirely responsible for my actions and no one else is to blame when I do something stupid. And this was stupid. I made a mistake that was completely preventable because I was careless. Shortly after I got back, one of my friends told me to be gentle with myself, which is hard for me to do. Forgiving myself is a long, slow process and I don’t imagine that I’ll ever not regret the moment I stepped out on that waterfall.

(For the record, I wasn’t playing on the waterfall or anything quite that stupid. This was the water source for the shelter, but getting water required walking out on rocks slippery from rain and there were no handholds.)

Dealing with the pain has also not been easy. While I was optimistic about the extent of my injuries in the beginning, I hurt myself more than I wanted to admit. My boyfriend was shocked that I’d managed to hike at all based on my condition when I showed up in Knoxville. Even just sitting was uncomfortable for the first couple weeks, and I was pretty crabby. This was amplified by exhaustion because I was only able to sleep for erratic, limited periods of time. I was reminded of the fall every time I moved.

Let’s just say that I’ve paid dearly for my mistake, both physically and mentally.

But everything got better every day, incrementally if slowly, and I’m nearly better. This was the first time I’ve had a rib injury, which are notorious for being painful and slow to heal, but the pain has finally died down to a dull ache. My hand and foot are both very close to 100%. Simple tasks such as bending over, walking down stairs, turning door knobs, and standing up no longer hurt. The night I fell, putting on dry pants was such a struggle that I almost had to ask the other hikers at the shelter to pull my pants over my ass for me; dressing myself is, thank goodness, no longer a problem.

This was also the first time I’ve had a lot of time in which to do whatever (as long as it didn’t involve moving) since I was a kid. I binged on OITNB and Pretty Little Liars and watched almost every rom com on Netflix, probably exceeding my lifetime TV quota, spent hours scrolling through my newsfeeds and watching cat videos, and even read Deliverance while in Hampton. I don’t like doing nothing, so at least I can be certain of that.

 I’m beyond ready to return to the trail. I was so incredibly happy before this mess happened and I want to get back to that. I’m making peace with this setback and trying to appreciate how lucky I am that I’ll be able to continue this journey.

This is my plan from here on out. Because I started pretty late in the first place, and taking this many zeros has put me even further behind, I’m going to have to do a flip flop. This generally means doing something other than hiking the entire trail in one direction continuously, which is how thruhikes are typically done. The most common flip flop is to hike from Springer in Georgia north to Harper’s Ferry, WV, which is about the halfway point, then jumping up to the northern terminus in Maine and hiking back south to Harper’s Ferry.

My flip flop is going to be a little more complicated because I don’t want to do that. I’m going to skip about 300 miles in VA and get back on at Daleville, VA on Sunday. If I picked it back up in Hampton where I got hurt, there would be basically no other thruhikers and the social experience is one of the primary reasons I’m doing this. I’m hoping to catch up to at least some of the people I know (though I just found out that Postman, my hiking partner, has decided to get off booooooooo). I’ll hike north from there, hopefully to Katahdin (the northern terminus), then afterwards jump back down and do those 300 miles I missed in VA. I say “hopefully” because Katahdin technically closes on October 15 and there’s a possibility I won’t make that. If so, I’ll have to do another flip flop, but I’m not going to worry about that unless it becomes more certain.

This is all non-ideal, but part of hiking this trail is trying to learn how to chill the fuck out and go with the flow. The consequences of my fall provide me an opportunity to do this. I get really upset when my plans have to change due to uncontrollable factors, which is exactly what has happened. Even though I am upset about the flip flop, there’s really no need to because I’m still able to continue my thruhike and have plenty of fun, and that’s what I want to focus on.

I lastly want to thank everyone who’s helped me through this. My friends in Knoxville have been great at keeping my mind off of the pain and thinking of fun things to do (like always). Also, when I sent them a message about needing a ride from Hampton to Knoxville, three of them offered. Within five minutes. On a Thursday afternoon. How fucking awesome is that? Special shoutout to Marisa for actually picking me up. And winning the costume contest at the Pride Fest party…

 My parents have been really great. My mom and I talked a lot the first few days, which were the hardest, and I really needed that. And of course Wes, my bf, who let me crash at his apartment unexpectedly for almost a month and has gracefully dealt with my bitchiness and been his generally awesome self. I’m lucky to have so many supportive, helpful, wonderful people in my life.

 Speaking of fun things, in the midst of recovery I went to Bonnaroo. It was about as awesome as it usually is. The bands that I was looking forward to (My Morning Jacket, Twenty One Pilots, Shakey Graves, Moon Taxi) were as great as I was expecting, and we saw some excellent bands (Jungle, Flying Lotus, Woods, Jamie xx) that were new to me. 


 I’m really excited, and slightly nervous, about getting back on trail. Let the adventure continue!

“Pinball machine of hatred and death.” (AT 2015 mile 421.2) 

Being the dumbass that I am, I managed to fall down a waterfall yesterday. 

I am a lucky dumbass though. After falling down at least five rock ledges, each probably 2-4 feet tall, I slid to a stop minus one shoe and the Platypus bladder I’d been intending on filling up. I took inventory and there was some soreness and I was having some trouble breathing, but it didn’t seem like anything was broken. 

This was at Laurel Fork shelter. I struggled back up the hill and to the shelter. The three other thruhikers that were staying there, Silverback, Mamba, and Hero, did everything they could to help me out. Thank goodness they were there, though I’m sure they were frustrated with my stubbornness at wanting to take care of myself without their help whenever possible. 

So, my plans for this next section will have to change. I managed to limp the two miles to the hostel in Hampton this morning. My left foot and left elbow are pretty sore, as is my back, and I have quite the array of bruises and scratches. But, by some sort of trail miracle, I’m alive and nothing is broken. I’m going to hang out here until tomorrow morning at least and monitor the healing process. I’m optimistic for a quick recovery while simultaneously pissed that I was so careless as to let this happen. Wet rocks are slippery, folks. 

At least I got my first shiner out of it.  


“CCP.” (AT2015 mile 393.8) 

When I left Hot Springs two years ago, it was with a new hiking partner. This time I left alone, without my hiking partner.   This was sadness to leave Postman behind while he took a zero to hang out with his cousin. It shortly turned into sadness about having to stop every 30 seconds to try to not shart. 

Thanks to the beer, peach malt liquor, and moonshine for that. Yes, it was real moonshine, not that shit from the liquor store. 

This was the view back to Hot Springs.  

 It was a super beautiful day, even with the sharting problem.   So on this section, I had to choose between doing fewer miles or more miles than I wanted to. I was inspired from hanging out with some big mile hikers (Yogi + Kimchi and Texas Poo) who pull out 20s like it ain’t no big thang, so I ended up choosing more, which resulted in an accidental 23 mile day. That’s what happens when you decide to hike 7 extra miles at 4pm after getting the BEST French fries ever at this hostel.   It was totally worth it. And I don’t even like French fries. 

I also saw this rattlesnake that evening while booking it to the shelter. Bro was enormous.   Some pics from Hot Springs to Erwin.                I climbed over my first fence stile, which I hate…  …and got shit on by a bird. What a jerk.   In Erwin, I stayed at Uncle Johnny’s hostel and caught up with Texas Poo, who’s working on finishing his Triple Crown. 

The day out of Erwin, I met up with Kimchi and Yogi, my two favorite people, at our first really real trail magic (thanks Brother Tom!). We spent the next three days hard chilling and being pissed about the rain and section hikers setting up their tent in the shelter.                         I run the entire gamut of human emotion pretty much every day out here, and it blows my mind. One moment it’s raining and I don’t know if I’m on the second to last or last hill and the woods smells like Pizza Hut and I feel like punching everything. Then the next I realize it’s not really raining anymore and there’s a patch of legit blue sky and I’m actually on the last hill and I’m incredibly content and grateful. This roller coaster of emotion is definitely part of why I love this so much; I feel so much more strongly and authentically. 

But anyways, I’m currently finishing up a zero and nero in Knoxville, which included an Indian buffet amongst a shit ton of other food.     I have about ten and a half days in this next section before Bonnaroo. I should be getting out about 200 miles in that time if everything goes well, so wish me luck. Or don’t, it’s whatever. 

“Collecting brain lint.” (AT2015 mile 274.4) 

This is gonna be short and sweet cause I’d rather go take a soak. Made it to Hot Springs, NC. 

I mostly only took pictures on the day we hiked with a new friend, Kimchee, and an old friend we met on like day three, who’s now being called Yogi. It was an awesome, hard day that ended with summiting Max Patch and rain all night while we were cozy in a shelter.  

             Got three Snickers bars at Standing Bear hostel. Someone warned me about expiration dates there.  

 Oh! And we actually got a view from Charlie’s Bunion, and I got a view of Rock Licker taking a pee.  


“Small house, big porch.” (AT2015 mile 207.3) 

Waiting for three weeks to take my first zero was not the best idea ever. BTW, a zero is a day in which no miles are hiked. It just sort of happened this way, due to logistics. 

It seems like everyone around me is falling apart, including myself. It’s mostly just that my body is really tired, but also I had sore ankles today, which has happened exactly never. 

We pushed hard through this fucking brutal section though. Almost 100 miles in seven days, with no neros, the two intense climbs out of the NOC and Fontana, and two 15s and one 16. Like champs!   Okay, but let’s start at the beginning. Franklin, NC treated us well. We had Yeti beer at Outdoor 76, Life Saver caught up with us, and we slept on REAL beds at Gooder Grove. This is a new hostel opened up by this chill dude named Colin. He’s in the process of turning his garage/basement into a bunkroom.       There was rain for the first time on our day out of Franklin, which happened to be my first 15. Postman and I were ONE MILE from the shelter when it just started pouring. We got soaked. It was beautiful all day before that, though… …as was the next morning during a quick hike into the NOC, during which I caught up with #1.     The bubble we’d been in kind of coalesced at the NOC, with the addition of Happy, Fury, Crash, and Glider. (Postman didn’t make it into the picture 😟) We’d all stayed in bunks (or on the floor) at the NOC, drinking beer and making a ruckus until long after hiker midnight (9pm, when it gets dark enough to justify sleeping). 

All I remember from the NOC to Fontana was running from the rain. Actually running. Imagine a buff dude in an action movie running from an explosion.  


And this weird shrine.  
Fontana was mostly disappointing except for some trail magic beer. Thank disc golfing dudes with the cute dog!  

Then we finally got to the Smokies (da Smockies!). Beautiful day passing military guys with 80 pound packs.  

I’m remembering a surprising number of details from two years ago. Like the exact shelter and the exact spot where a guy I’d been hiking with got yelled at by a ridge runner for attempting to graffiti his name (which was Snafu).  

I’ve totally run out of steam finishing this shit up, so here’s Rocky Top, a fake candid hiker evening, Snow as a lunch lady, a handicapped privy, and no view from Clingman’s. Mostly a whole lot of WTF.  

Last thing, injury roundup! Woo fun yay not. My knee has been quite good, basically not sore at all. Probably because I started taking ibuprofen this week, but I’m hoping to wean off of it this next section. I tore my feet up hiking in wet socks and shoes into the NOC. No blisters at all, just tender red skin, which I’ve dealt with before. I taped them up for a few days and it seems to be all healed up now. Oh, and also some ass chafing (TMI, whatever, don’t care) and a partially torn off half a big toenail (kicked a door, so dumb, then pushed it back into place and have been taping it). That is to say, my body has been holding up real well, and that’s not sarcastic at all. 

Sorry if the formatting of these posts have been wonky, the WordPress app is kind of a jerk. 

Gatlinburg, where I’m zeroing, is such a trip.  


“Georgia wolf danger?” (AT2015 mile 109.8) 

Tuesday was border day! Otherwise known as cinco de drinko to you poor people trapped in the real world.   One down, thirteen to go. 

North Carolina has been easy cruising so far. Even Courthouse Bald right after the border, which I was warned about by several different people, was really NBD. 

Albert Mountain was the other little bitch of a climb, but the views!     Been hitting some 12s since my last post and my body has been fantastic. I haven’t had a single blister, and my knee has been cooperating. 

We’ve had a little bubble going since Top of Georgia. I’m still hiking with Postman, and we’ve been seeing Lone Ranger, Life Saver, Smoky, Fireman, and two section hiking UF undergrads, who I definitely hit up for advice about Gainesville. The latter were hiker trashing it up with us while waiting for the hostel owner to pick us up.   Life Saver attempted to give me the unfortunate second trail name of Bullet. I shut that down hard. 

Some views and other miscellaneous pics.               That last one is a funny misspelling. 

I’m hanging out at Outdoor 76, an awesome outfitter in Franklin, NC that specializes in helping AT hikers out with shoe problems. They’re amazing, and they have craft beer in the store. Double win! 

I’m planning on hitting up some bigger miles this next week to get to Gatlinburg next weekend. Nerrrrrvous! Hopefully Postman will be able to accompany me, but his awful blisters might require a zero when I hike on tomorrow. 

I’m really loving every day, every mile, and every hiker out here.