Day 7- Woods Hole 

It was hard getting back on the trail after relaxing for so long at Angel’s Rest! Bekah walked to Food Lion this morning and we cooked eggs, sausage, and avocados for breakfast with an apple on the side. However, we heard rumor that there is another amazing hostel coming up today, so we’re going there too! 

We heard you just can’t pass this one up, and everybody is right! It’s called Woods Hole and it’s an incredible old farm that’s still running and just half a mile off the trail. Well worth the extra steps! We got a private room upstairs and enjoyed showers, homemade pizza and salad and ice cream for dinner. It was all home made from scratch- it made Bekah miss the kitchen! 

We had our first rain today on the trail, but the terrain was easy and we had a great overhanging rock to take a break under. Ellie didn’t really mind the rain, I think it made her sleep more in the pack! 

After sleeping in warm beds for the second night in a row, it was actually nice getting back on the trail after we did some yoga with Neville at the hostel. We feel refreshed and happy Ellie got to get out a lot over the past couple of days and meet new friends! 

Day 6- Hostels and showers

After a great morning at Symms Gap, we continued on easy Ridge line trail to Rice Fields Shelter, another bald along the Ridge. From there the trail descended to Pearisburg, VA. The descent really took a toll on Derrick’s knees! We arrived early afternoon at Cross Ave. where we were met with our first trail magic! Little Bear who thru hiked last year had food, snacks, drinks, supplies, and lots of encouragement! She loved Ellie and all three of us ate a spread of fresh fruit, veggies, and chicken nuggets! It was amazing! 

We said goodbye to Little Bear and went to our first Hostel- Angels Rest Hiker Haven. Here we were greeted by Booboo and Yogi(her dog) as Yogi ran and warmly greeted us! The hostel host, The Natural, also thru hiked last year and he was fun to talk to about all things natural! Both were great and fun company as we ate BBQ, salad, and ice cream together that evening. 

At the hostel we were able to take much needed showers, do laundry, and even borrow clothes while ours were in the wash! We had a private room with a big bed which was a nice change from our pads on the ground. Later in the evening, Boomstick joined us and told us tales of the early March snow storm in the Smokies. We loved our first hostel stay! 

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!