Quality Time with the Walking Dead…


4/17 – Day 53
While crashed on the couch I meet Shelly, who is in first grade. She does not seem too disturbed to see a somewhat smelly, unshaven and bearded stranger sleeping on her couch. We start talking about things that are important to a first grader and end up on the topic of the deliciousness of blue berries.
Later Jason or Bird comes in and is not surprised at all by another person sleeping in the house. He tells me that is what his mom does, she takes in strays. He is a very smart and witty kid and funny as well. The term stray seems to fit well with thru hikers although I think Chevy (the dog) was a little put out by it… 🙂
Today Camaro is doing another slack pack of 10 miles and I decide to go with her. Holy Begeebers will drop us off at one trail head and we will leave the van at another. I continue to be concerned about Camaro’s injury, achilles tendinitis in both of her feet, which seems to be pretty common on the trail. I know it is painful for her to hike even without a pack and she has full intentions of hiking out of here in the next day or so.
I cannot help but think of her as another one of my kids, not trying to patronize, but she is capable of making her own decisions and I am here to support and help…and of course pray for her as well.
It is nice to get on the trail again, as usual, and we get to share more of our stories with each other to pass the time. We are hiking this section as southbounders so we run into several Nobos. I get to meet Blue Moon and he mentions that he lost his sleeping pad (we see a section hiker at the next shelter who found it and I am going to catch him in Pearisburg and get it back to him on Friday.
We finish the hike just as it is getting dark and walk back to the van and drive back to Holy Begeebers (Shannon’s) house. I’m able to get in touch with our group of hikers and they are in Pearisburg, which is about 30 miles away and they will head back out in the morning.
Holy Begeebers is excited about everything AT now and is going to hike a 5 mile day with us tomorrow.
4/18 – Day 54
Everyone wanted to sleep in so I lounge on the couch until about 9:00. Zack hit the trail early and I go pick up Smuggles at his motel. While we are gone Holy Beegeebers makes a big breakfast for all of us, she is excited about hitting the trail. 
We drop VANIMAL off at our stopping point and get ready to drive around to the trail head, where we will start our hike. I leave a note on the van window…when hikers see VANIMAL they are expecting some trail magic and I don’t like to disappoint…so we place some sodas in the stream to stay cold. While driving to where we will start our hike, Smuggles and Holy Beegeebers are having a rap singing contest, and they are both really good rappers and funny to boot!
We get to the next gap and find Zhivago sitting at the gap, he is getting off the trail and headed home. I first met Zhivago in Georgia and I have seen him off and on. We hit the trail and Chevy takes off at a full run, she is obviously excited to be back in the mountains. We start off at a leisurely pace and get a mile in when HBG (Holy Beegeebers) needs a rest. Right now is not the right time for her introduction to the AT so while Smuggles, Camaro and Chevy keep going we head back to her car.

Hiking with Trail Angel Holy Beegeebers

As we are walking back we meet Snow Frog, Boo Boo, and Can’t Wait. They are headed to the gap where the van is parked and we tell them we will be set up for trail magic. We get back to the van and get set up just in time for our three Canadians to come rolling in. This was the 600 mile mark for Camaro and Chevy.
Hikers start to roll in and we start to feed them. HBG is enjoying the trail magic and thinking of ways she can do some magic in the future…I think she is hooked on hikers and the trail!
We see Zack coming down the road and happy to see him! Later Smooth Sailing and Roswell come strolling in. Zack and Smuggles have decided that they will adjust their pace to hike with Camaro and I’m relieved that she will have some friendly faces with her tomorrow.
We wrap up our trail magic and Zack joins us to head back to HBG’s casa, I have invited her family and our crew to dinner my treat for all the love and hospitality we have received! We decide on Outback (even though we have two vegetarians) and actually have to drive into West Virginia to get there.
After a big dinner we head home, Smuggles is a very funny guy and he entertains the kids on the drive up as well as the drive down.
Camaro, Zack and Smuggles work out a plan to get into Pearisburg by Monday, leaving tomorrow which is Friday. I am headed up to Pearisburg in the early afternoon to check on a few other hikers that I have heard have injuries.
The trio will do a 5 mile hike, with Camaro carrying her gear, and then stay with HBG tonight then head out for 25 miles over the next couple of days into Pearisburg. Unfortunately, the weather is not the best and they will see some rain. I plan to meet them in Pearisburg on Monday and assess the situation. Smuggles will get off the trail and ride with me, he was not thru hiking, just out for a few months and then headed home in a week. 
4/19 – Day 55
I get into Pearisburg and head over to pick up Pack Rat, Nickelodeon, and Car Jacker. All three are having some type of below the knee injury and need a lift to the hospital.
More tendinitis, some shin splints that are now minor fractures, and one case of plantar fasciitis. 
I see some new faces at the motel but mostly familiar faces: Tarzan, Coffee Pot, Hoosier, Sparks, Caribou, Dove Tail, Mot, Pumpkin Pie, Dirty Mike, Rash and Gummy Bear. Hugs are passed all around and I bounce around the rooms visiting with everyone.
We all go to dinner at the Mexican restaurant across the street, it is ok and I have not really had good Mexican food in awhile…of course the company is great!
I have plans to do some trail magic in the morning and meet up with my old hiking crew (affectionately known as the Donner Party)…I have estimated where they will be and I’m hoping I’m right. I invite Nickelodeon and Pack Rat to ride along, injured hikers do not like to spend time in town for two reasons: first, it costs money and second it’s pretty boring! I crash in the van to avoid the cost of room and sleep soundly.
4/20 – Day 56
We get on the road around 9:00 after saying good bye to hikers hitting the trail. The weather has turned cold again but it’s sunny and no longer raining. We have picked a spot to do some magic and I’m pretty certain I will catch my group. We set up on a little gravel side road right off the main road, the trail passes between two pieces of private propriety and seems like one of the sections where they had to buy land to continue the trail.
We get our first hiker about 30 minutes later, his name is The Dude and he actually started on January 5th but had to get off the trail for 3 weeks. We feed him then he hikes on, we are the first trail magic he has experienced.
I take a hike up to the shelter to post a sign in case any hikers are stopping for lunch and it is a pleasant walk through open pastures of rolling green hills which turn into the woods and criss crosses several streams (or maybe the same one). The shelter is really nice and I sign the registry, post my sign and then head back to the van. I had passed section hiker named Camel on the way up and told him about the trail magic at the van…I catch him just as he reaches the van.
Pack Rat and Nickelodeon are really getting into the whole trail magic thing and serve their fellow hikers graciously. We don’t discriminate at the van…if you are hiking we will share the magic!

Nickelodeon makes a special sandwich

We have a Boy Scott leader come in before his troop and offer him a Mountain Dew and a seat. He joins us for. Few minutes then signs the van and makes a $20 contribution…that is an expensive Dew! 🙂
Around 4:00 or so Witch Doctor actually manages to sneak in and surprises us, we really were not paying attention since we could see hikers from about 50 yards away.
My bubble is here and I’m excited, everyone starts rolling in and it is a fun reunion! It’s actually been a week since I had seen them last! We break out the rest of the food and everyone digs in! It is like a swarm of locust descending upon a corn field! I fill them in on what is happening down the trail and with other hikers and they share stories from the trail. It’s funny how much hikers will eat Nd what they will eat (which is just about anything! We have sandwiches, pudding cups, yogurt, cereal, juice, chips, salads, dips, cookies, fruit and candy…they eat any and all! As I am getting things ready to pack up I’ll say, “I have two slices of turkey and a piece of cheese…someone needs to eat it!” And of course it gets consumed, but not before dipping it in the guacamole dip!

Witch Doctor relaxes during trail magic

We make plans to meet next weekend, Wide Load and Moose has family meeting them and I have been invited to join in. 
We clean up and load up and head back to town, the boys really enjoyed their day of trail magic and we are going to celebrate another hiker’s birthday tonight, Z is in town and turning 28. We hit the little Mexican place and I buy dinner for the bubble I affectionately call “The Kids”.

Celebrating Z’s 28th Birthday

I stay the night with Hoosier and let Pack Rat have the van so he can save some money. Tomorrow we will hit up a little more trail magic and I believe Coffee Pot will join us for the day. 
4/21 – Day 57
Hoosier and I visit in the morning, he prays for us then hits the trail. I grab a shower and start to gather my current crew. I had a text message from Shutter Bug and she believes she will be in Damascus on Tuesday, she is taking it easy and her ankle is holding up. I’m really thinking about going back to see her (even though it gets me precariously close to Tennessee!) I will discuss it with whatever crew I have at the time!
Coffee Pot, Pack Rat and Nickelodeon load up and we are going to head a little south this time…I have left my boots at HBG’s and they are going to bring them out, this will also give me the opportunity to check on Camaro.
We set up just past Woods Hole Hostel and wait for our hikers, I walk down to the hostel and introduce myself to the owners, they are very cool and it is one of the nicest hostels I have seen. They raise chickens, bees and goats and she is a massage therapist and does yoga with the hikers.
Our first hiker in is Old English and he enjoys a little repast before heading to the hostel. Later we see Dirty Bird, who is on her 10 year anniversary thru hike, and looking good for her second one. Camaro and Chevy come rolling in and they are looking pretty good. We start getting them fed just as Joe the Hiker strolls in!
Smuggles and Zach come rolling in and we get a visit from the Berry family, Holy Beegeebers gets to say one final good bye! Chevy is limping again so Smuggles comes to the rescue!

Smuggles to the rescue

We all decide to stay at Woods Hole Hostel, it is really nice and the owners organically farm and raise chickens etc. While we are there Camaro gets sick with a fever and we decide to stay another day.
I shuttle around some hikers and run some errands into Pearisburg. Coffee Pot cooks us some dinner and I crash in my van.
4/22 – Day 58
Camaro is feeling better and we spend a lazy day at Woods Hole. I shuttle more hikers around and we plan are next day. Camaro, Smuggles and Zach are going to hike into Pearisburg the next day, doing a light 10 mile day. Chevy will be in the van with me.
There is a weird vibe at the hostel and everyone is ready to leave…
4/23 – Day 59
We head into Pearisburg, some hiking and some in the van. I got to meet Witch Doctor’s parents and they signed the van.
Smuggles and I make plans to head to Damascus to surprise Shutter Bug who we hear will be arriving and taking a zero. 
All of the kids head out onto the trail in different groups of injured hikers, all planning low mileage days, after Damascus I will head back north to catch up with the northern bubble. Coffee Pot and I make pancakes for breakfast and I say good bye to the Walking Dead (a common name for a bubble of hikers getting back on the trail after injuries or illness).
4/24 – Day 60
We get to Damascus and park in front of the Blue Blaze Cafe and first person we see is G, we exchange hugs and ask about Shutter Bug who we find out is in the library. Smuggles walks over to surprise her and I hang with G.
We have a great reunion with Shutter Bug who is very surprised to see us! We grab a late lunch at the Blue Blaze and then head over to visit Fidget and Dotcom, my Texas friends. They invite us for a nice light dinner of cornbread and beans and insist that we stay the night.
We stay up and visit for awhile, as always we share stories of the trail. It is time to call it a night and I sleep well in a comfortable bed.
4/25 – Day 61
In morning Dotcom fixes us pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup, I get teased for asking for “real” store bought syrup…the maple is just too strong for me!
Smuggles and I say our good byes and we head north. We are going to stop north of Roanoke and hike up to McAfee Knob, which is one of the most photographed parts of the trail. We arrive in the early afternoon and Smuggles loads his pack with sodas and a few beers to share some magic at the knob. We head up for what should be an easy 8 mile day and it is a pretty, sunny day.

Smuggles and I on McAfee Knob

Smuggles enjoys a cold beverage on McAfee Knob

We see a few tourist hikers but no thru hikers until we get up to the knob. We share the drinks and take some photos and enjoy the view and the day. Smuggles is getting off the trail today and will met a friend in Lexington so we hike back to the van so we can drive into town. We meet his friend Scott in town and have a nice dinner. I say my good byes to Smuggles and then go in search for a dog friendly place to stay.
4/26 – Day 62
I actually sleep in and take my time getting ready, I am meeting up with the northern bubble and will also meet Chris and Cassandra’s parents. I pack up and head out to Thunder Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway, a very scenic drive.
The first hiker in is Witch Doctor followed closely by Ayce and Passover…I crank up my new generator and make a few grill cheese sandwiches as the rest of the hikers roll in. We are joined by Moose and Wideload’s parents and they have brought a feast!
We spend most of the afternoon hanging out, eating, enjoying the sun and each others company. This northern bubble is breaking up a little, Lazer Death Kill is a day behind and Moose and Wideload are getting off the trail for a zero day (I will be hanging with them and then heading south to check on my other hikers…The Walking Dead bubble).
Those hiking on pack up and head out, we load the vehicles and head into Lexington VA for a night and day of zero miles.

The Whole Gang: Dave, Deb, Ellen, Wideload, Moose, Long Spoon, Tail Lights, Passover, Ember, Nomad, Manchild, Witch Doctor and Ayce



Hoi Polloi…


I’ll save you the trouble of googling my title, it basically means: “the common people”. That is what we are out here on the trail, and I’m not just talking about the fact that most of us smell, always hungry and walking north (not to mention shaggy, wrinkled, tired and joyful).

No…what makes us the common people, our commonality, is that we are all seeking something out here that we can’t seem to find anywhere else.

The ages on the trail are mostly divided into two age groups, under 25 and over 50. You will see some other ages scattered in between these ages but not too much. So basically you have either not started your “career” or you have just ended your “career” at times I truly envoy the under 25, that they would come out here to gets some answers first and experience the magic that God has placed on this trail before letting the world drag them into complacency of American life.

So what are we all searching for? Answers, spirituality, God, freedom? Yes and no and maybe…but we are all searching on the trail. When I have these conversations with hikers it does seem to focus on what is next and the magic of the trail is helping them figure these things out.

I know for me, I am trying to figure out the same thing. I often believe I could be perfectly content to continue to drive along these mountain roads in aid to hikers (although it doesn’t pay well) but honestly I miss my students soooo much, they are the ones who bring joy to my life. As much as the freedom of the trail calls me I know I will go home to Austin and my kids!

Shaggy Ponies and Beads…


4/10 – Day 46
We get a good early start and I have a van load of injured hikers, our merry band is nicknamed “Captain Nomad and the Rangers” or “Nomad and the Gimps”, we get to Elk Garden Pass and I anxiously wait for the group so I can jump back on the trail with my friends. I will hike thru the Grayson Highlands, a part of the trail I was looking forward to seeing. I am excited to hit the trail again even if it is only for a day and a half!

We got lots of hikers in for our lunch set up and although we see a lot of familiar faces, as we pace our bubble of hikers, we see a few new faces as well. My extended family of hikers is growing and we now greet each other with hugs…despite the smell!

I get on the trail with my buddies and they let me set the pace, when you are on the Nomad Train, you are not moving too quickly! We get into Grayson Highland State Park and we are all excited to see the wild ponies. It is a beautiful spring day and the sun is shinning…it is one of the nicest days I have experienced on the trail.
Tom (Long Spoon formally Dry Spot) keeps joking about saving his wild pony that he calls Gaylord. As we approach the first shelter about 4 miles in we see several ponies down in a field. Tom is already down there as we drop our packs and head down…he is feeding “Gaylord”. The ponies are used to humans and probably used to being fed, so two of them come walking up…we pet and feed them then they start licking the salt off our arms and legs. It is weird but not an unpleasant feeling to be licked by a wild pony, in fact it’s somewhat therapeutic.

We walk up to the shelter and Camaro is there alone, her Achilles’ tendon is hurting and she doesn’t want to push on…we have already decided to go to the next shelter just over 5 miles further down trail. She doesn’t want us to leave, and I know how she feels, we are like a small family and like to be together.

Cassandra (Wide Load), EJ (Pass Over) and I hit the trail followed a little later by Alex (Ember) and Chris (Moose). I enjoy the late afternoon hike and we stop for some pictures.

We hike a little further past Wise Shelter and find camp sites by a loud stream. We cook our dinner and the rest of the gang comes rolling in, including Camaro! We eat and talk, I see the stars clearly for the first time since starting the trail. We all hit the sack and I am enjoying my tent with my summer bag and not cold at all…tomorrow I have a 7 mile hike to where my van will be parked, we will continue the trail magic then I will drive Joe the Hiker to an airport, stop back in Damascus to pick up shoes I ordered for Witch Doctor then meet up with Ayce and his girlfriend on Friday…it was certainly nice to not have to worry about anything but hiking for one whole day!!

4/11 – Day 47
We get a good start in the morning and it is another beautiful day, these are the prettiest days i have had on the trail! we have a pretty easy 7 miles and we are taking our time and walking an easy pace. Cassandra and I head out early knowing they will all catch up with us. its nice to just hike and talk and i mention how this would be a great park to take some students hiking so they can experience part of the trail. a few miles in the rest of the group catches up and we have a nice hike down to the gap to meet the van. When we get down the van is not there…they start joking that my crew has mutinied and drove off in the van, in reality they just went for ice!

After feeding some more hikers we load up and head back to Damascus to drop Chickadee off, Shutter Bug is coming with us…it is hard for her to watch the hikers come down off the mountain and not to be able to hike out with them. I know this is difficult, I stopped hiking willingly, obeying God’s will, and I am envious every time I see them. I can only imagine how much harder it is when you were forced off the trail by an injury.
Shutter Bug has decided to go back to Erwin, where she got off the trail and rest for a few more days before hiking again. As much as I miss my navigator I am praying that she is healed and can start her hike again.

We drop her off at Uncle Johnny’s and we see some hikers that we have not seen in weeks. These are the hikers who got stuck in Gatlinburg by snow and then later stuck between Hot Springs and Erwin with a stomach virus that was going around. I meet up with Brad (Gyro) again who I had not seen since Fontana the day before entering the Smokies, I realize that this is where I would have been if I would have zeroed another day like Brad.

Joe the Hiker and I stop in Johnson City for dinner then I drive him to the airport. I head back to Damascus and stay the night with my new friends Fidget and Dot Com, who graciously invited me into there home. We stay up late talking about the people and magic of the trail then call it a night.

4/12 – Day 48
I get an early start and head back into the mountains to pick up the remainder of my merry crew, they camped up by the Highlands and we had hard rain so I am hoping they are fine. I stop at Mojo’s for a smoothie and run into Kensey and Chin Strap, who I have not seen since the smokies. Kensey has decided to get off the trail and go to Veterinarian School, she is going to drop out in Atkins on Wednesday and is wondering if I can meet her and give her a ride into Marion. I’m picking up Joe the Hiker on Tuesday and taking him back to the same area so I tell her it will not be a problem.

I get my smoothie, buy some cinnamon rolls for my crew and start driving thru the rain to pick them up, they are all sleeping in the big tent I bought to shelter hikers from the rain when they stop for food, this past night would be an excellent test of how well it holds up.

They are comfy and warm in the tent and get treated to cinnamon rolls in “bed”, then we break down the tent and camp, back up the van and head into Marion. I text Ayce in town and he meets us for lunch, his girlfriend will be arriving tonight, but a lot of the flights have been delayed or canceled due to storms and he is anxious to whether or not she will make it in.

We see some hikers walking thru town and go out to greet them and find out that most of our gang will be hitting Mount Rogers Visitor Center in a little bit so we drive the 6 miles up the road to meet them, Ayce has not seen them in about a week and looks forward to greeting them.
We park and see most of our group headed our way, I am able to give Witch Doctor his new shoes and then we talk about getting everyone into town…I don’t have enough room so Chris and Cassandra make their own way in. Everyone gets food and then restock and I start shuttling hikers back to the visitor’s center where they are camping near the trail. I end up making three trips and on the last one I bring up some apple pie, ice cream and Promise Land Midnight chocolate milk (if you haven’t tried it you really need to).

During all this hiker chaos, Ayce is not sure that his girlfriend is going to make it past DC and I lend him my computer so he can try to make other flight arrangements. I tell him that if we have to we will rent a car and take a road trip to pick her up, the prospect actually gets me excited but he is able to make the flight arrangements. I’m a little bummed so he promises me we will make a road trip together in the future…I am holding him to that one!

After I’m done shuttling, Ayce and I go to dinner then head back to his motel to watch a movie on the computer which now does not work, I will return it when I’m back in Johnson City. I don’t want to waste money on a room so I crash in the van for the night.

4/13 – Day 49
I’m normally always up with the sun these days and this morning is no exception. I go into town to do some laundry, buy more supplies and organize parts of the van. When not in a trail town I get some funny looks in a van that is covered with over 50 signatures. After wrapping up the laundry I go up to Mount Rogers Visitor Center to pick up G where she stayed the night and then we head back to meet up with Ayce and his girlfriend Maria. We all decided to go to the trail head and see if we catch our group going thru Atkins. We decide to have lunch at The Barn, a little dive off the trail, we leave a note on a tree to meet us at the barn. Now the funny thing here is that Ayce got his trail name for a popular hiker acronym and one we all look for when we get to towns…AYCE: All You Can Eat. When he made the sign he used his trail name so the group would know it was us, it read: “COME TO THE BARN – AYCE” we thought it was funny that any hiker coming thru who didn’t know Ayce would assume that The Barn was an all you can eat restaurant!
We enjoy lunch with our friends again and G and I get ready to leave. A few other hikers come in and we say hi, Car Jacker needs new shoes and asks for a ride into Marion, we take him to a shoe store then back to the trail. We then head back to Damascus and stay with Crazy Larry, he has been really good to me.

4/14 – Day 50
We run into Crow in Damascus, he had hitched in from Hampton, his shoes are just about completely worn out so I give him the boots I had been hiking in which should last him another 500 miles. He needs to get back to Hampton so we give him a ride and decide to set up our magic on Dennis Cove Rd, we I had been about a week or so ago.

We drop Crow off at the trail head and now I’m back in Tennessee, I can’t seem to escape this State! I have out a 1000 miles on VANIMAL and I can’t seem to stay north of the TN/VA line!

After feeding some hikers and shuttling a few around, we stay at Kincora Hostel ran by Bob Peoples, we meet some new hikers: Dumbledore, Grasshopper, Chef, Meadow Flapjack, And Northern. We hang around and talk and then call it a night. I had heard that two hikers I had not seen in almost a month are at another Hostel 11 miles south and I put a message through to them saying hi and that I would call in the morning.

4/15 – Day 51
It’s a nice morning and I’m feeling like some activity, so I walk and trail run down past Laurel Falls and into Hampton for about 4.5 miles on the trail. It is a fantastic run and I am thinking about one of my favorite John Denver song, I wish I could share with you what it is like out here but as the lyrics go…”If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you a day just like today” sounds a little sappy but I really get where he probably was when writing that song. This trail is a gift daily, whether it is raining or the sun is shinning…the people, the trail…it can be so comforting and I feel l have found serenity.

Northern drives VANIMAL down to Hampton to go to the post office and pick me up after my run. When we get back up to Kincora we are just hanging out and in walks Heart Rock, I had not seen him since Sassafras Shelter just north of NOC. He is hanging with another hiker named Tall Boy, who ends every sentence with “Bo!” …like…”Shoot Yah bo!” Heart Rock and I catch up, he has heard about what I am doing and thinks it is cool, every thru hiker has plans to come back and do trial magic…it is just a natural transgression from hiker to server.

I call Scotty at the other Hostel and he puts me through too Heart Burns and Sugar Gnome. Sugar Gnome was the first actually thru hiker I met on the approach trail and I met Heart Burns my second day of hiking…I have not seen either of them since Franklin when I was sick with vertigo. I pick them up at Brown’s grocery and we head to Arby’s for lunch. Today my trail magic will be about serving these two and I take them to a store to resupply and then up to Kincora Hostel, where they will stay the night. Both are having some knee problems but they are pushing through! We pack up the van and head to Johnson City to pick up my generator, resupply and get ready for some trail magic the next day. We will stick around this area for one more day and then pick up Joe the Hiker at the airport. I had also gotten a call from Camaro, she has tendinitis in both feet and Chevy is limping, after picking up Joe we will go get Them as well.

I treat G to a nice dinner at Chili’s and make friends with the serving staff. I talk to the hostess about being on the trail and pursuing dreams, she says she always wanted to work as a dive instructor or something in the industry but is reluctant to follow her dreams, I try to encourage her and get her email so I can keep in touch. The one thing the trail has taught me for sure is to dream and then pursue those dreams…that’s what everyone out here is doing!

4/16 – Day 52
Another early start, we are going to hit a gap a few days up trail from Hampton and where we were set up on Sunday. I was here a week or so ago and it is a good location.

We get a few last minute things and head into the mountains. We had the idea yesterday of making bead bracelets to hand out to hikers. We are using small plastic colored beads and then painting a white blaze on a larger wooden bead. Yup…it’s art and craft time on the trail!

We set up at Low Gap and about 30 minutes later we get our first hiker, he sees us from up above and literally runs down the mountain to get to us! His name is Maineiac3, he had two other friends that used the same trail name before him. He is hiking with four other that are doing what they call the “Damascusathon” trying to reach Damascus today (they had done 11 miles to our spot and had 15 to go!

Shortly after in comes Movie Star, Duffle Miner, Jean Genie, and Rainbow Braid. They hang out, eat some food and our the first to get our new white blaze bracelets. Shortly after they leave a lone hiker walks in named Cody Coyote. He is doing a yo-yo, which is basically walking 2180 miles and then turning around and walking back. He did a southbound last year got to Mount Springer on March 12th, stood there, then literally starting walking back north!

We get a few more hikers in: Northern, Meadow Flapjack, Steak and Shake. They are our last costumers and they eat their fill!

What we are starting to notice out here is that there are two big bubbles of hikers, my group who are steadily making it thru Virginia and the bubble that got stuck in the smokies and/or sick between Hot Springs and Erwin. Everything else is small groups walking between the bubbles (of course there could be more out there, especially south of Erwin but I have no way of knowing).

I don’t think we will see any more hikers today and we will organize the van and head for the airport to pick up Joe. I talked to Camaro today and told her I would pick her up this evening. G has decided to hang in Damascus so she can get back on the trail and Fidget and Dot Com are gracious enough to let her stay with them. A few days back when I was staying there myself they had said that they wanted to use there house for ministry and provide a place to stay for injured hikers, looks like they will start this year!

We run into Little Engine and Timber who are from Austin. They actually met working as lifeguards at Rattan Creek pool, the pool in my neighborhood!

I drive to Bland and meet the trail angel that Camaro is staying with, HolyBegeebers and her husband. We visit for awhile, discuss the truth of monkey heads in jars and then I’m allowed to crash on the couch. I love the trail and the communities that surround it!

So tomorrow I will get all my hikers where they need to go and then it will be just me…and of course Chevy!!








Sunny Days in Damascus…


4/03 – Day 39
Not much to report today, pretty much just taking care of business. Went into town and got the van into my name and paid Grym. Shutter Bug and I head in to Walmart to get more supplies for doing trail magic, we plan on meeting our gang just before Hampton TN where we will all stay for the night.

We have started having hikers sign the van, the goal is to have it covered in signatures by Maine…hopefully you will just barely see any paint!

4/04 – Day 40
We get a good early start and say good bye to Uncle Johnny’s and head up into the mountains. The weather prediction for the day is 100% chance of rain and we are hoping we are properly equipped to take care of the hikers.

We are going to set up at a road crossing on Dennis Cove road about 4 miles outside of Hampton and are excited as it is the first trail magic out of the van. We have sandwich supplies, fruit, soda, pudding cups and other munchies. After some trial and error on our navigating abilities we get to our designation and it is raining pretty good and probably about 45 degrees. We impatiently wait for our first hikers.

After sitting for about an 1/2 hour we see a hiker coming down in all black rain gear, there is a little bit of red bandana visible on his forehead and I recognize Ayce, who I have not seen in several days and does not know I have changed my trail status. I can see Ayce peering wearily at this sketchy looking van with the windows fogged up…I open the door and yell out, “Ayce!!” He looks closer and replies back questionably, “Nomad?!” And heads for the van.

He is excited to see us and says he heard “trumors” (what rumors are called on the trail) that somebody had bought a van or something. I explained to him my story and that God led me off the trail and he gives me a hug. I am very happy to see Ayce again!

He is happy to get out of the rain and dry off some, when you are hiking in the rain you usually cannot even stop to eat simply because everything will get wet. We feed him a couple of sandwiches, chips, soda…pretty much 2 of everything we had. Ayce is not stopping in Hampton, he is meeting his girlfriend in a week and is pushing on. We wish him well and he heads back out into the rain.

Only Chris and Cassandra really know that I am out hear in a van, and next we see Tom (who I give the new name of long spoon when he gets into the van). Other hikers in our group start coming in and we see Tail Lights, who we have not seen in several days. Pretty soon we have about 8 wet, cold and hungry hikers stuffed in the van eating and getting warm!

Camaro leaves Chevy with us (she is soaked and tired) and then they all decide to slack pack (hike without a pack) the last 4 miles into town, the rain has turned into sleet as they leave. We will meet them there after we have taken care of any additional hikers.

We get Chevy dried and wrap her in my sleeping bag liner to get warm them head down to Hampton. I pick up some pizzas and we all have first dinner. After we get settled into the Hostel I drive everyone to different fast food places for dinner. We get to meet Zach for the first time and drop him at the subway.

Once everyone has eaten second dinner we hang out at the hostel, we have an early celebration for Shutter Bugs birthday…i had made a cake by stacking an assortment of Little Debbie snack cakes in a pyramid. Later we sit around and play UNO (Camaro tells us she is the reigning Canadian champion…or something like that…)

4/05 – Day 41
The next morning Cassandra and I make a big breakfast for everyone and then they hit the trail.

We pick up Zach at the grocery store, his knee is messed up and he decides to ride with us in the van. The 3 of us head to Johnson City to get more supplies and food for the van and Zach tells me he is an artist and will paint the tire cover for me (see earlier post for a pic).

After picking up all our supplies, we make our plans for hitting 2 gaps for trail magic and get for the night…we stay up late watching the new flat screen tv in the motel.

4/06 – Day 42
We get up early, make some fruit salad for our trail magic (fruit is always craved on the trail) and head for our first gap. We set up for a “snack” since it is too early for lunch and reunite with our hikers, we hang out for a few stragglers then head to our next designation to set up for lunch.

It is a beautiful day and we set up our pavilion for shade. We have lots of good food as the hikers start to roll in. Everyone hangs out for about 2 hours eating, visiting and enjoying the sunshine…then they are back on the trail. As we are getting ready to break camp we get a few stragglers…Gummy Bear, who I have not seen since Erwin and new to me hikers Rash and Larry Boy (named after a character on Veggie Tales). We feed them well and en head into Damascus for the night.

We stay with Crazy Larry, reunite with Ayce over dinner and hang out at the laundry mat then call it a night.

4/07, 4/08, 4/09 – Days 43, 44, 45

These days go by quickly and is mostly just hangin’ in Damascus, eating good food, running people to the grocery store for re-supplies and just enjoying the weather. I hook up with Joe the Hiker and make plans to pick him up on the trail and take him to the airport to see his daughter win an award, then I will pick him back up later the following week.
I meet some fellow Texans that have moved to Damascus to retire and had hike last year. It is great to visit with some peeps from back home and Dot Com and I both grew up in the same little city of Garland. They invite us over later and we test out my new grill in the front yard of their house…it was a great evening.

I have made plans with the gang to meet them on the trial and hike for 17 miles through the Grayson Highlands, this is the part of Virginia where the wild horses roam. I am excited to get back on the trail and hike.

The next morning our hikers head out after lunch at Dairy King (not a typo) and we head back to Johnson City for more supplies. I also pick up 3 more injured hikers: Snuggles, Chickadee and G.

We will head out in the morning, do some more trail magic and I will get back on the trail for a day and a half.

The pics of are of rain day in the van, grilling at Fidget and Dot Com’s house, the quilt that Dot made with each hikers signature sewn in by hand…








The Magic of the AT

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Non Dated Entry:
Generally, my blog has been running on a day by day post. Today I’m wanting to do something a little different and talk a little bit about the trail, the hikers and the people who live along the trail. I have heard descriptions about this before getting out here and honestly it is hard to explain the sub culture of the AT to someone who simply is not out here…but I will try.

The best way I can describe the AT is that it is simply a magical place. Although the trail is beautiful, that is not what I am describing as magical…it really is the people and the way your attitude changes out here. I truly believe that almost everyone who gets on the trail becomes a better person. Honestly, I see what God’s Kingdom on Earth is supposed to be. Here among smelly, dirty, unshaven and exhausted hikers I meet some of the most Godly people I have ever met (and I am not referring to Christians). Allow me to explain that a little clearer…Christ was the ultimate servant, any follower knows this, but I am meeting non believers out here that humbly serve others without a second thought.

I have seen hungry hikers (and thru hikers are always hungry) share their food with another hiker that they do not even know. I have seen hikers, who after walking 18 miles through the mountains will gather everyone’s water containers and hike a half mile to get water for everyone at a shelter. I have seen hikers give gear to other hikers to help keep them warm. I have seen them slow their pace to hike and encourage other hikers.

People who live along the trail or in “trail towns” are very hiker friendly. They will turn around and pick up a hiker hitchhiking to get back to the trail head. They will leave food or drinks on the trail (called trail magic) for hikers. On Easter, someone walk up a mile of the trail and hid candy filled Easter eggs! They will invite tired or sick hikers into their homes and care for them or just invite them in for a meal and/or shower. They will take a hikers laundry (some pretty smelly stuff) and do it for the hiker.

A lot of the Hostels along the trail are ran as ministries, like the Blueberry Patch outside of Hiaweesee. The owners, Gary and Linney, will give you a place to stay, do your laundry let you take a hot shower and feed you an awesome breakfast…for free (although donations are accepted). Mother Marian’s makes you feel like part of the family. Uncle Johnny’s will help you any way they can…Crazy Larry in Damascus did my laundry, made me breakfast and gave me a hand made metal cross that he says is imperfect but made perfect by the perfect man who died upon it.

Crazy Larry told me a little bit about his story…when he first hit the trail he was running from the law with warrants for his arrest. He got out to the trail and was caught up by the beauty and began to realize that all this beauty was not by chance and that there had to be a Creator. Larry gave his life to Christ on the trail and went back to face the courts. He turned himself in, pleaded guilty and told the truth about his crime. The judge was surprised by his honesty. Now he opens his home to hikers and tries to help however he can.

I have made friends out here that even though I have only known for a few weeks I know that I have friends for life. I have a new friend who has been traveling with me doing trail magic due to her injured ankle. We pick up an artist named Zach, who paints a beautiful mountain scene on the van’s spare tire cover…a painting that would have cost hundreds he does as part of his own trail magic.

The trail is magical…it is beautiful in so many ways. The trail and mountains, the small towns along the way, the hikers and the everyday people supporting the hikers. The volunteers that maintain the trail and shelters. I really can’t describe my feelings about being out here, but I see God daily on the trail, in the towns and in the faces of those I serve and who serve me. If ever you desire the chance to see people at their best then get on the AT, either as a hiker or doing some trail magic, it will change your perspective on life. I personally invite anyone to come join me on my journey to Maine, serving and loving the people along the way, sharing joy, happiness and God’s beautiful world. I’m serious…come join me if you can!

Enjoy the pics of us doing trail magic, and hikers doing what they need to do to make it (like standing in a laundry mat in your boxers as you wash all your other clothes! Pictures complements of Shutter Bug, my partner in crime along the AT.












Say Hello to Gina…

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4/01 – Days 37
Monday morning was really nice and we decide on an easy day of 12 miles. Chris, Cassandra and I leave Uncle Johnny’s around 10:00 and Camaro and Chevy will follow soon after. It is a pretty day, about 66 degrees and just a little overcast. The walk up to the first Shelter is about 5 miles and we set an easy pace. I’m in a really good mood after a nice Easter weekend and allow some distance between us. I am praying and talking to God and just feeling really open to being led…like I said a great day.

I’m thinking about my life and where I want to go/be/do and hoping for some direction, I came out here praying that God would lead me in one direction or another and I was going to hike north until something was revealed. I have always known in my heart that I was a servant I just wasn’t sure where I was supposed to be serving…

As I continue to hike I start to hear that I am no longer supposed to be hiking, I fear that despair is descending on me again and I immediately pray for my spirits to be lifted…even though I am not feeling down at all. I continue to hear the same message and now I tried to listen to it more clearly. As I approach the shelter clarity strikes me and I know I need to pray. I sit down, and there are a few people hanging around. Crow is sitting a few feet from me and Chris and Cassandra are just kindling hanging around basically waiting on me. I tell them to go on and that I have some praying to do and that either way they will see me again. I know that they know what I am going to do and they hike on. Everyone else has left and it is just Crow and me. I asked him if he is a spiritual man and he says he believes in a higher power but does not know how to clearly define it. I tell him I am a Christ follower and ask if I can sure my new revelation that had been placed upon me.

I tell him what has happened and that I am led to leave the trail and serve, I will still continue north but as a servant not as a hiker. He thinks that is really cool and wishes me the best. I ask him if there is anything he needs and he hesitates. He has just ruined his hiking socks that day so I give him a pair of mine. He lost his gloves a day or so ago so I give him mine. I also give him a warm mid layer and some money to re-supply as he is broke.

He is very appreciative as he was going to have a few bad days coming up with out the extra gear I share with him. I pop open the 2 gatorades I was carrying and we have a hiker’s toast.

As I ready to leave some section hikers come in and I share my story again, they think it sounds like a great idea and we agree to grab dinner in town. I then start back down the trail, back tracking for the first time in 350 miles.

I am so happy and fulfilled that tears are flowing freely and my steps are light as feathers. I see Camaro on the way up and I tell her the news…she is both happy for me and sad that we will not be continuing on together, I give her a hug and start back down the trail.

I have changed my status, no longer am I a thru hiker…I am now a Trail Angel, still headed for Maine.

4/02 – Day 38
You are probably wondering what a trail angel is…basically, it is a local person to a certain section of the trail that is willing to help hikers in need. I am taking it to another level, I’m going to continue north to Maine but be a trail angel along the way as well as providing trail magic as I go.

I know that now I will need to get some wheels and Grim (runs Uncle Johnny’s) offers to sell me his old 1990 Dodge van (he has been letting me use it to drive people into town).

It is actually the perfect vehicle for what I need to do and really fits the the thru hiker motif.

I get up with the plan to meet Chris, Cassandra and Camaro and of course Chevy and do my first actual trail magic by providing them lunch on the trail. I see Shutter Bug walking around (she is giving an ankle injury a chance to heal) and ask if she wants to join me. We head up to Walmart for lunch supplies and split the tab. I had asked two brothers who were staying with me in the cabin to let them know we would be coming up there (they were slack packing south today so would pass them). The plan was to meet at Iron Mountain Gap, but as we are driving up there Chris calls and tells me they are already there. I tell them to go on to the next gap and we would meet them there (another 4 miles).

The next gap is Greasy Creek Gap and we can only drive as far as the Greasy Creek Hostel (actually the owner calls it a “friendly”) we park and are told we have an almost .75 mile hike to the trail. We walk up a narrow, wet cart path, I’m in crocs and Shutter Bug is in flip flops and socks. It is tough going avoiding the run off of melting snow and carrying about 4 grocery bags each and we are not even sure where the trail crosses our path.

I decide to leave her with the food and hike further up to see if I can find the trail. I go up a side trail a little ways and see some hikers! It is Joe the Hiker and Hoosier and another friend of theirs. Joe is a believer in a similar situation as me and Hoosier is a retired pastor being the Body upon the trail.

Joe goes back with me and helps me with the food and we start to get things set up. Shutter Bug is telling Hoosier about her ankle and he takes her aside to pray for her…it is a wonderful thing!

They take off on down the trail and in a few minutes we see Chris headed our way, with Cassandra, Camaro and Chevy right behind…I see Chevy first and call her name and she come running up, tail wagging to greet me!

We help them prepare a lunch of hoagie style sandwiches, salad and snacks. We have avocados, carrots, spinach, strawberries, grapes, Oreos, chips, pudding cups and I think that is it. As they are eating Manchild, Trail Mover and Sandman come down the trail to join us. A few more hikers come in and finish off the meal.

I tell them of my plan to buy the van and continue north as a trail angel. Chris already liked the van idea and they are glad to see me with clarity and following where I am led, they will miss me hiking but are exciting for what I am going to do. We say goodbye and they head on down the trail.

Shutter Bug and I chalk it up as a big success for our first trail magic and we have a good conversation on the way back and stop for lunch. I start some of the steps to buy the van and will plan on heading out in the next day or two.

I am still Nomad on the trail, but now I am doing what I have always been led to do…love and serve others.

The blog will continue, the adventure will continue God has just added a new twist.

In Christ with love…Nomad


Say hello to Gina!


God + AT = Magic

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To my Brother and Sisters in Christ…

Pray for me, pray for confirmation. God is making some changes and I’m pretty stoked…

Philippians 2:1-4
If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

More to come…the adventure continues…

Easter in Erwin


3/27 – Day 32

Today wasn’t a great day…physically I was fine…the weather, although still cold with snow on the ground, wasn’t too bad. I just was mentally down in the dumps and it made hiking the 10.7 miles out of Hot Springs a little miserable. Hiking with Chris and Cassandra was a bonus and they were sympathetic to my mood.

Everyone else was ahead of us and I was looking forward to a reunion at the shelter, when we get there we find Crow, Roswell, Cricket, and Yay Blaze but no one else… They have all moved on to a gap a few more miles down the trail to camp. This shelter is full (counting me) and does not really have good camping so Chris and Cassandra head on down to join the others. I’m still not big on setting up my tent in the cold and snow and really not mentally up to any more miles so I stay behind. It’s weird not to be with the group I have been hiking with for the last 10 days.

I have been in several shelters with Crow, an interesting guy that is native Hawaiian and has been on and off the trail for a couple of years. The rest of the crew here I have met in different towns but don’t really know.

However, I am an extrovert so I start chatting everyone up and we start discussing ways to get into Erwin TN for Easter Sunday, which will require a 20 mile day for me. It’s going to be another cold night and I’m planning 15 miles tomorrow, the weather is supposed to start improving. I am hoping for a nice day to lift my spirits…

I am honestly sick of winter conditions and today was the first day I mentally considered getting off the trail! I am tired of getting in my sleeping bag immediately so I can get warm and dreading getting out of it each morning! I am tired of sleeping with my water bladder and filter in my sleeping bag so they don’t freeze over night. I am tired of only being warm when I am moving, of plowing through snow and slush that soaks my feet. I’m tired of putting on frozen boots in the morning and then trudging on until they are wet again and finally I’m tired of temperatures that never get above the high 30’s!

OK…that was my rant for today…thanks for letting me vent!

I will be praying tonight for God to refresh, lift and revive my spirits so I can continue my journey with Him. It has been 32 days with 27 of them spent on the trail. In the next day or two I will hit the 300 mile marker…hoping I will be able to continue onward to Maine.

3/28 – Day 33

I woke this morning in much better spirits, it was still a cold morning at 22 degrees, but the sun was rising. I cooked my oatmeal and hit the trail with the plan of a 15 mile day. The first 7 miles are uneventful and I roll thru them without issue or concern. Crow catches me just before the first shelter where I stop for a quick lunch. I sign the register and see that Chris and Cassandra left me a note saying they miss me…it made my morning. At this point I start thinking I can skip the next shelter and probably catch them at the last one which would make for an over 20 mile day. Looking at the guide, I should have one big climb then easy ridge running all the way in…WRONG!

The climb is thru an ankle deep snow drift and even though others have plowed thru it, the climb is still long and tough. When I get to the “ridge running” I am actually climbing up and down the summit. It was a constant up 20 or so feet and then down, then back up…the summit/ridge was very rocky and at times I’m climbing with my hands and feet. This part of the trail slows me down and is frustrating, but great views.

I make it down to the next shelter and it is almost full but they have a nice fire going…I’m tempted to stay, it’s about 4:30 and I would have to go another 6 miles. Crow is there and tells me I just missed everyone, so I decide to push on. I would rather see my friends again then warm my feet by a fire!

There are some minor climbs and I go over a really nice bald, then hit a very steep and slushy down hill, it runs for several miles and now my feet are completely drenched! I keep going and going and end up with another climb. Finally I hear some peeps and see Jared at the top of the trail. Jack sees me and they all start yelling “Nomad”!!

Jack and Jared run down and give me a hug and then I say hi to the rest of the group. The shelter is full so I set up my tent across from Chris and Cassandra. I cook my dinner and listen to the talk about plans to get to Erwin (another 34 miles) and some would like to get there for Easter (today is Thursday).

Some of the hikers have heard that the next big bald, about 17 miles down the trail, is covered in 5 foot drifts and hikers are unable to get thru. There is a gap about 11 miles away where I can drop out and get to a little cafe and then to Erwin. Right now I am considering this option…even though I did my longest day today 21.3 miles and my spirits are good, I’m sick of the snow and the cold! We will see how I feel in the morning…

3/29 – Day 34
Got a decent start in the morning, I didn’t sleep too well in my tent since I was on a slope and kept slipping off my sleeping pad.

The first 3 miles was great and I made good time, then I hit a climb and the ankle deep snow begins…and continues. My friends start to catch and pass me, Golem, Dry Spot and Witch Doctor wait for me while stripping off layers and Golem makes me a “friendship” knot for my back…that actually made my morning! We hike another 5 miles thru the snow to the next shelter for lunch. I am beat and my feet are wet, cold and hurting…did I mention I had to put on frozen boots this morning?

As I’m hiking down to Sam’s Gap I see hand posted signs for a small Hostel called Mother Marian and I take pic so I have the number handy. I get down to Sam’s Gap and a light snow starts again…I decide I’m done! I give Marian’s a call and get picked up by Bobby and head to the Hostel. Basically I’m staying as a guest in their house…it was awesome! After a good hot shower Bobby fixes me 2 grill cheese sandwiches with a bowl of chicken noodle soup, delicious and followed by homemade ice cream and brownies…I am pleasantly stuffed!

Later Gummy Bear, Tarzan and Coffee Pot come in and we visit for awhile. They are eating peanut butter and trying to figure out dinner…so I have Bobby fix them some grill cheese sandwiches for dinner.

I head up to my private bedroom but stop in the main room and visit with Mother Marian, she is a sweet and pleasant woman that makes you feel like your part of the family. She loves having hikers and looks forward to expanding her Hostel. The Commander, a retired Navy man, is soft spoken and friendly and reminds me a little of my father who was a Navy man as well.

3/30 – Day 35
I sleep well, grab a shower and Bobby fixes me a great breakfast, he is a very good cook and a friendly young man. He gives me a ride into Erwin and I learn a little more of his story. He takes me to several places in town so I can figure out where to stay…all my friends are coming down today and I’m trying to make arrangements. I decide on Uncle Johnny’s Hostel, it is hiker and pet friendly and right off the trail. I get a haircut, pick up some drinks for the crew and rent a small cabin that sleeps 4.

I hang around and chat with some other hikers and run into a couple I have not seen since the 2nd day on the trail. I can see the trail from outside the hostel and watch for my crew to come down. As they come strolling in I lead them to my cabin and get them a drink. When Chris and Cassandra come down I meet them at the trail with a Mountain Dew.

We get a shuttle into town for dinner, resupplies and laundry. At the laundry mat I meet and talk to Joe the Hiker, we have very similar stories and he is from Lake Jackson TX, just south of Houston. Now we all sit at the hostel, packing food, telling stories off the trail and watching a VHS movie on our 19 inch tv.

Tomorrow a local church is picking us at the hostel for Easter Service, which is really nice. I spoke with the pastor on the phone this morning and he seemed really nice.

3/31 – Day 36
Happy Easter! I’m up early with the sun as always and I can tell the others all seem to be awake as well. Chevy wakes up and climbs up on the bottom of my bunk, she is so funny she will lay on the bunk with her legs stiff and shooting straight up in the air.

In awhile I will get up and get ready for church this morning.
The local church was really nice and everyone was very friendly and treated us warmly. The sermon was good and really covered the true point of Easter. Some of the children sang “the bible tells me so” it was very cute.

After getting back to the hostel we are ready for lunch, Jarryd has some friends hanging out and they drive me in to Hardee’s with an order for about 10 hungry hikers…Hardee’s was not prepared for our order!

After lunch, Golem, Dry Spot, Tail Lights, Ayce, Manchild, and Witch Doctor (Jack, Tom, Skyler, Andrew, Kyle, and Jarryd) hit the trail…the rest of us will go out tomorrow. We are just relaxing in our cabin as other hikers (Passover, Ember, and Shutterbug) come into the hostel. The hostel runs a morning and afternoon shuttle and we are not hungry enough to go into town, which would normally leave us without a ride…then Grim (runs the hostel) gives me the keys to his personal van and announces that “Nomad’s crew” has there own plan. I didn’t realize I had a crew or such notoriety!

We head into town and the only thing we can really find that is open is a Huddle House which is basically a Waffle House. I picked up Ember and Passover at there motel and have Coffee Pot, Chris, Cassandra (Wide Load), Camaro, and Shutterbug already in the van…the Good Times Shuttle is rolling.

It’s raining now as we make our plans for tomorrow. Once again we all talk about slowing down some yet it has been the bad weather that keeps pushing us into longer days. We have 4 days to our next stop and should leave North Carolina for good (the trail has basically been running the Tennessee/North Carolina border for the last 100 miles or so).

By the way…still no Daisies!!



















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