Asking for your support!

Hi blog community, long time no talk! I hope everyone is staying as happy and healthy as possible during this challenging time. My heart is with those who had to cancel thru-hikes this season; I can’t image how difficult that must have been. Please remain optimistic that this too shall pass and know the trail will always be there. I am so grateful for the support everyone showed me on this blog and I am always here to answer any questions about the trail you may have.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I moved to Asheville, NC after finishing the AT. What a wonderful place to live! It’s been inspiring to see how the community has come together to support and uplift its members during this time. I have been working at a nonprofit, Irene Wortham Center, for almost 8 months now – time flies! Irene Wortham Center is a finalist for a branding development contest giveaway with a local business!  Kudzu Brands is selecting one nonprofit and one business to each receive a $10,000 brand development package.  There are some organizations with wonderful missions in the running! We will have a capital campaign happening in the near future and would greatly benefit from this brand development opportunity and stronger community recognition. 

I would really appreciate your vote and it would awesome if you shared the link with your networks.  Everyone is allowed to vote once per day through May 29th; if you’re so inclined, set a calendar reminder and vote away (and encourage others to do the same)!  We are the top right picture on the voting page. Vote here!

Thank you for your support!

Please be well and continue to get outside safely!

Rocket

What now?

Hello! It’s been about two months since I officially completed my trail adventure, but it’s felt more like six months. The 5 and a half months I spent on trail felt more like two months…anyways, I want to thank everyone who supported me throughout my hike and sent words of encouragement my way. I enjoyed sharing my experience and, though it was challenging to articulate everything I wanted or feel like I could do the trail justice in simple blog posts, I hope you got somewhat of a glimpse into what thru-hiking the AT can entail. The trail is about so much more than the miles. If you have even the slightest inkling of an idea to thru-hike percolating in the back of your mind DON’T IGNORE IT! I am forever grateful to myself for following through with this goal and for everyone who helped me along the way.

I would jump back on trail in a heartbeat if it was feasible, and the time will become right for another long trail eventually, I’m sure of that. The JMT, SHT, and Camino are shorter trails I’m most interested in pursuing in the near future.

About two weeks ago I moved to Asheville, NC, which was top of my list for places I wanted to move post-trail. I am the Development & Marketing Director at a nonprofit here that helps individuals who face developmental and socioeconomic challenges live more independent lives; this is an opportunity I am really excited about. Asheville has a lot to explore and, importantly, the mountains are just a short drive away! I’ve already made my way back to Max Patch and hiked Mount Mitchell since getting here. I think (know) I’m addicted to hiking.

Happy to share more with anyone thinking about going off into the woods for a while…I highly, highly recommend it.

This bed is too comfy?

Here I am laying in a plush, king size hotel bed and I can’t sleep. Figures. Hotels are great for showers and AC, but I’ve found I sleep much better in the woods. Yesterday Plug, Which Way and I pushed 25.7 miles into Manchester Center, VT. I miscalculated my food supply (or might just be eating more) and was a day short, so needed to get into town to resupply rather than waiting until the morning.

I am currently at mile marker 1653; yesterday we passed the 3/4 mark. Less than a quarter of the trail left as we enter into some of the most challenging miles. Even though it had only been about 4 days since my last shower (and longest I’ve gone without a shower is 9 days), coming into town yesterday was the grossest I’ve felt all trail. There has been a pretty tough heat wave, so the humidity and bugs have been a challenge.

We are starting to pass SOBOs (southbound thru-hikers who start in Maine), which makes the end of trail feel within reach. It’s hard to believe this adventure is nearing the end, but I know the last 3 states are some of the most challenging hiking. I try to not take a single day for granted or become complacent that Katahdin is any sort of guarantee. My boots I got back in Front Royal, VA are nearing their last straw, so I am hoping to get a new pair and a new (non-smelly) hiking outfit to last me to Katahdin before I hike out tomorrow.

Physically, the trail continues to wear on people. Even after this many miles, we are still pushing our bodies most every day. Blisters are reforming, we go to bed sore at the end of each day, the heat and humidity zap our energy, rocky terrain means risk of falling, mud makes for wet feet, and the constant flies trying to bury into your hair truly test your sanity. At this point though, the adrenaline and excitement to push through these final 3 states outweighs any physical pain.

Some highlights from CT, MA, and the beginning of VT:

Rabbit came out and hiked with me for 3 days!

Always thankful for the jugs of water trail angels leave along the way. Especially during this recent heat wave!

A picturesque sunset at Goose Island Pond. And the family running the cabin cooked us blueberry pancakes the next morning!

Plug and I invested in some Walmart dresses for town. (Pinoe the soccer ball is alive and well).

The climb up Stratton mountain was a Vermont highlight so far. The fire tower at the top had great views and the 3.4 mile climb was a steady challenge with beautiful terrain: fir trees, pine needles, moss, and sunlight glistening through the branches.

I’m craving some authentic maple syrup, so hopefully VT can provide 🙂

– Rocket

New York has been full of (non-hiking) adventures

My New York adventures started shortly after crossing the New Jersey, New York border! My dad generously offered his house for about twelve stinky hikers to stay at, so we could venture into the city for a couple days. Walking through the city with our packs was quite entertaining.

We got some amazing views from a Brooklyn apartment and we met up with another group of hikers in the city to watch the Women’s World Cup semi match.

Yesterday we headed into Cold Springs to watch the final match and ended up spending the whole day there. We visited the pizza place twice, hung out in a gazebo, and played soccer down by the water. I am now carrying a soccer ball (who thinks it will make it to Katahdin?)

We are now all rocking henna tattoos that we face each other two nights ago at a shelter. Mine is of Taco the dog.

Hiking wise, New York is surprisingly challenging. There are a lot of steep boulder sections and it has been very hot and humid.

Under 800 miles to go…the thought of the trail ending is very daunting.

– Rocket

Slowing down and being fully “here”

Two nights ago I stealth camped 1.5 miles out from Sunrise Mountain, with a plan to leave camp at 4am to catch this sunrise below. The animal (99.99% sure it was a bear) that visited my camp most of the night made waking up early easy. This wasn’t my first time camping alone, but it was my first time bushwhacking to a makeshift campsite, attempting to scare an animal away in the middle of the night, and then hiking out alone in the dark this morning. Boy was it rewarding!

I continue to get better at enjoying the trail as it comes and living in the moment, rather than methodically planning out my days. At the beginning of this journey, I probably would have hiked past this spot yesterday because I felt it was more important to get in miles while there is daylight. That is the exact opposite of my mindset now and I am so proud of myself for getting to this point. Though it still requires a conscious effort, I now consistently wake up, listen to my body, take the blue blazes (side trails to views off the AT), and am not afraid to set up camp after only 8 miles. The trail is about so much more than the miles.

That said, for these final 800ish miles I want to challenge myself with social media. Though I enjoy sharing my journey and appreciate the support, I’m curious how I can further grow from this experience when I completely live in the moment and don’t worry about posting so much on Instagram and Facebook. I will continue to take pictures for my own memory and share important milestones with you all, but don’t be concerned when my activity on these mediums slows down quite a bit😊 I do plan to continue this blog as it has been effective as a reflective tool for me, rather than the more “live” posts that Instagram and Facebook showcase.

Phases of a NJ sunrise with a perfect moon sliver🌙 at Stokes State Scenic Mountain Lookout

I’m looking forward to hopping off trail in a few days to visit friends in NYC. Even though that’s where I was living before the trail, I am expecting this to be quite the culture shock! I already know I will be eager to get back on trail, but am looking forward to seeing friends and letting my body rest a bit.

– Rocket

100 days on trail!

Even though I’m technically off trail today nursing a hurting foot, it’s crazy to think I’ve been on this once in a lifetime journey for 100 days! Time has FLOWN by and I am so very grateful for every second of this experience 🙂 I’m hoping this foot pain is just a minor set back (x-rays showed nothing to worry about!) and I can get back on trail tomorrow, but I’m not going to push it by any means. I want to reach Katahdin too badly to prematurely get back on trail before my foot is ready (even though all I want is to be in the woods hiking).

Oh it turns out I can’t escape hiking even when I’m not supposed to be hiking! As I was ubering back from getting an X-ray to the place I will spend the night, we came across a fallen tree about a mile out. Couldn’t move it. No way around it. No other road. Must hike there. Official rest will start now!

I thank you all back home for your continued support, and it goes without saying that I have had incredible support from the trail community as well! Here are some of the beautiful people I have met along the way. I might remember the views through the 14 states, but I will NEVER forget these faces (plus so many more )!

Onwards to Katahdin!

– Rocket