Day 5- Resupply day! 

We left the tears from Bailey Gap where they belonged- in the Gap! We walked a few short miles down along Stony Creek where we met our moms for our first resupply. They greeted us with hot chili, fresh salad and fruit, corn bread, and toys for Ellie to play with!! It was much needed and refreshing! We left feeling renewed and uplifted.

After spending a couple of hours with them, we hugged goodbye and continued up to the VA- WV line. On the Ridge we feasted on fresh new snacks while Ellie played in the leaves and sunshine. The rest of the day was on a beautiful easy ridge with our most rewarding campsite yet- an open bald called Symms Gap. 

We hit a hiker high and had an amazing evening- our best day yet! And to top it off, we had delicious spaghetti for dinner that filled our bellies! 

Day 4- Rocks and Tears

Today was rough… rougher than rough! Our bodies aren’t used to the constant physical demand, we haven’t gotten in a pattern with Ellie’s needs yet, and the terrain was extremely rocky. We saw more Rocks than I ever want to see again. However I believe there are a lot more rocks in our future! The mileage was the highest today, too, at 14.5 miles. 

Snack break- the best part of the day!

When we got to the bottom of the Valley at the end of the day, I expected to see the beloved shelter we had been waiting for. And it wasn’t there. Ellie was upset, I was upset that Ellie was upset, my body wanted to just fall over from soreness! So I stopped in the trail, looked back at Derrick and just cried. I wanted the day to be over! We kept going and half a mile later, the shelter appeared. We stayed at Bailey Gap that night, and hope to never have to sleep in a shelter again! It was filled with mice and was very cold and drafty compared to the cozy tent. 
Tomorrow we get a resupply from our moms, which will be SO uplifting! We need to be renewed after this day! 

Day 3- The Divide!

Today we hiked up to the Eastern Continental Divide at 3,000 feet- the highest we’ve been on the AT yet! The views up at the top were phenomenal as we ridge walked for half the day. The rock features were incredible. It was really windy, but sunny and pleasant in the sun. 

Coming off the Ridge was steep and slow, but pastures greeted us along with the largest oak on the AT in the south- the Keffer Oak. 

We ascended from Route 42 up to Laurel Creek shelter for a 23 degree night! Chilly, but all 3 of us were super cozy in our tent and Ellie stayed toasty in her Patagonia Down Bunting! 12.5 miles all in a days work! 

Day 2- Couch to trail 

So we might have sat around like bums for the last month instead of working out to get ready for the trail. My point is- we’re sore! Hiking legs will come eventually! 

We spent 5 miles of the day up on our first Ridge which was really fun, regardless of the wind! We stopped for a long lunch break and play break at the Audie Murphy Monument. From here we went down down down into a Valley where Ellie played some more, but we were on a mission to get to camp early because the temps are supposed to drop to the low 20’s, so we wanted to be in our warm and cozy tent asap! We arrived to Niday Shelter by 5 and Ellie is squealing with joy as she crawls around the shelter and around camp! An easier 10.5 miles today and a restful evening ahead. Bundling up for the chilly night! 

Day 1- And we’re off! 

Ok so I know it’s day 8 and not day 1. We have a written journal that we’ll transfer to our blog as a day by day entry as we get the time and Internet to do so! 

Photo: Kenton Steryous

It’s finally here! Our life dream of hiking the AT has started! Today was a solid 12.3 miles. A lofty start considering we rolled into camp about 6:30 pm, but we made it and we’re still pumped with adrenaline! Our family and local friends came to send us off in Catawba at Rte 311. Ellie had a rough start with a MASIVE poop in the parking lot. I mean all over everything. But with the help of her Pawpaw, we managed to get all cleaned up. From there we spend the next 9 hours getting to Pickle Branch Shelter. The terrain today was difficult around Dragon’s Tooth, but everything else was smooth. Ellie slept most of the day so who knows if she’ll sleep tonight. It’s warm tonight around 50 degrees. 

Photo: Kenton Steryous

Best part of the day- the BIG open grassy meadows! They’re heaven! 

Ellie’s Gear Picks, Part 2

The second part of Ellie’s Gear Picks includes all of her clothing and layers. Quick note- these layers will change as the seasons change- summer clothing isn’t included here! This cold weather system has worked great so far, but as always, suggestions are welcome!

Diapers: We are excited to use gDiapers on the trail. They have a unique design- a thin cloth outer shell with a detachable plastic pocket that snaps inside. This holds disposable inserts in place. We will be taking 2 cloth covers, 4 plastic liners, and 4 disposable inserts per day. We’re using Seventh Generation disposable wipes, repackaged for 5 per day. We have used cloth at home from day 1 with Ellie, but the thought of washing diapers on the trail was more intimidating than carrying out disposables.

Base Layers: Two sets of Ella’s Wool Base Layer Set. These are made of merino wool and the bottoms are footed. The second set are not only in case a blow out happens, but are also her “pajamas”. This ensures that we are changing her clothes fully every single night to check for ticks(if you have any tips for ticks and babies, PLEASE CONTACT ME!).

Mid layers: Tube pants made from merino wool, also by Ella’s Wool. These pants are DURABLE. And their design grown with the baby and will last for 2-3 seasons and then be ready for another kid to wear. Her mid layer top is a Patagonia Micro D fleece.

Warm hat: Ellie wears an adorable alpaca wool hat also by Ella’s Wool. It ties under her chin so it stays on at night.

T-shirt: Patagonia Capilene Silkweight T-shirt

Bunting: Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bunting. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for Ellie to get cold in this big guy!

Socks: Warrior alpaca wool purchased from We were so impressed with the alpaca wool hat that we went with alpaca socks, too! We only need one pair since her base layers have feet in them.

Shoes: Robeez soft leather sole shoe, also from These are the only shoes that will actually stay on her feet! She’ll switch to something like Keens when she is walking.

Rain Jacket: Patagonia Torrentshell one-piece.

Tip- for anything Patagonia, we try and first get it used, and if that doesn’t work, we look for past season models that have been replaced by new designs.

The countdown is now at 6 days! Let’s go already!



Ellie’s Gear Picks, Part 1

To start out, we have been blown away by the amount of support and encouragement that has flooded our way as we are just 1 week away from starting our family’s big adventure. Your kind words are going to keep us going on a rainy day- thank you!

Ellie hand picked each of these items, so no hating- it’s what the baby wanted! But seriously, if you have suggestions we definitely want to hear them!


Shared Family Gear 

Tent: ZPacks Triplex Tent Cuben Fiber. This tent is designed for 3 people, and it fits our 25 inch pads very comfortably with extra wiggle room for all of us to spread out. It is held up by our trekking poles.

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir 25 inch pad. This sleeping pad is straight luxury! Both Derrick and I have boney hips, so keeping off the ground is important for a good night’s rest. The few minutes it takes each night to blow it up is worth it. Our pads are connected and covered by a Synergy Coupler Sheet(also Therm-a-Rest), which essentially turns 2 pads into 1, creating a double sized bed for the three of us to share. Ellie will sleep between us.

Sleeping Bag: Vela HD Down Quilt by Therm-a-Rest. While Therm-a-Rest isn’t commonly known for their sleeping bags, this quilt fits our needs to a T. It’s a 35 degree double quilt that attaches to the Synergy Coupler Sheet, creating more of a bed feel than sleeping bag feel. It also cuts down on volume significantly and is the same size as 1 standard down sleeping bag of the same warmth rating. Sleep is gold to us with a baby, and this sleep system (so far) has been superior!

Food Bag: Sea to Summit 20 liter E-vent dry bag. Keeps the rain out and is easily able to be hung away from bears at night.

Cook system: Evernew 2.6 liter titanium pot and a MSR Pocket Rocket stove. Our means mainly require just boiling water, and the Pocket Rocket does a great job at boiling water super fast. We plan to all eat out of the same pot at each meal, so the 2.6 liter pot fits our need and is lightweight at 13.6 oz.

Water filtration: Sawyer Squeeze and Sawyer Mini. The squeeze connects to water bottles and filters as you drink. The mini attached to my water bladder(Platypus brand) and filters as you drink. Ellie and I will primarily drink from the water bladder because it’s easy for her to hold and drink from.

Trowel: The Tent Lab. What can I say, it’s 0.6 oz!

Beacon Device: SPOT. A necessity as we hike with a little one! This is not only for emergency purposes, but also will notify family when we are doing great yet have no phone service. A peace of mind for those on and off the trail.

Repair Kit and First Aid Kit: homemade! We put together a basic repair kit specific to our gear. First Aid Kit includes baby Benadryl, band aids, thermometer, alcohol wipes, ointment, and gauze.

Trail Guide: AWOL’s The AT Guide. The most compact, yet packed with important information. Updated every year!

Trekking poles: Leki Jannu for Bekah and Leki Makalu for Derrick. These double as our tent poles- 2 for 1 deal!

Thanks for reading and happy trails! Check back later for Part 2- Ellie’s clothing picks!