Hiking to Beer

5/24/15  –  Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company  –  16 miles

Today was deemed a tough day. We woke up to a pretty good climb leaving The Priest Shelter. The trail was again very busy with both weekenders and thru hikers. This left me vulnerable at various pee times throughout the day. I am pretty sure every Boy Scout Troop ever is currently hiking a section of the AT; hopefully none of them saw my ass. I have yet to see a Girl Scout Troop, which I find very sad. What are they out doing?

After lunch we had another huge climb to summit “Three Ridges”. I found this section very demeaning. Not only was it three different climbs right after the other, I passed a group of cute, hip looking chicks that were all giggley, and smelled good. I however felt like a train wreck and smelled like shit. I could not help but compare myself to them. Ugg! Every time I caught up to the boys (Roub, Hot Sauce, and Darwin) they were just getting ready to take off again from a break. Ugg Again! I secretly longed for a day of make-up and shaved legs.

Along the way today we met a hiker by the name of “Checkers” who gave us her number to call when we hit Pennsylvania. She insisted to the boys that the rocks were not that bad. I assumed she was just used to them since she lived there. I feel very Negative Nancy like.

Instead of a fourteen-mile day the boys decided to tack on two more miles to the day. These two extra miles would land us at a trailhead five miles away from Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company. They made it seem I was part of the decision but really it was already decided. I found myself trudging along their trail dust powered only by the sweet screams of the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl helped divert my mind from my throbbing feet and achy muscles. Adding miles to an already planned day always fucks with me both mentally and physically.

Always the last one to camp these days, I was still coming down the trail when Darwin secured a hitch to the brewery. A young couple with their dog were finishing up a weekend hike and lucky for us, were heading down to the brewery. We piled in their car and answered a ton of their questions on the way. It was so good to have a conversation with a non-hiker! It really puts in perceptive what exactly I am doing out here. My confidence was given a total boost in this short ride to the brewery. Suck it giggley girls, I’m a bad ass!

Once at the brewery, I invited the couple to join our table and we discussed jobs, trail life, gear, and the outside world. Someone then anonymously bought us all around of drinks which made us all feel like rock stars. We enjoyed the coupes company until finally they had to leave. I collected their address to add to my list of friends to send postcards too the rest of our journey. It was interesting to be on the other side of “The Conversation”. Usually it’s Darwin and I asking others about their adventures and being oooed and awed by someone else’s stories. I wish I could really make them understand how easily they could do a thru hike or whatever other adventure they sought. It is just making those first few steps that are the hardest.

After we ate burgers and the boys had a few beers, we crossed the lawn of the brewery to a few camping spots. Most of the good spots had already been take so walked a bit further to find a huge house in a clearing. Not being warned by anyone that someone lived that close to the brewery, we were shocked to find it. Living in shelters and tents for months at a time it seems so stupid that someone would ever need a house or rather “mansion” like this. OVERCOMSUMPTION! After bumbling around for a few minutes we decided to risk it and pitch in the farthest part of the yard. The mansion currently looks empty and we are hoping that it stays that way. I captured a picture of this absurd contrast, a mansion in the background of hobo tents.

The staff at the brewery here has promised us breakfast in the morning and a ride back to trail for only five bucks. Woo Hoo! Overall I have to say those last two miles were worth it for good conversation, burgers, beers and the promise of breakfast. I can’t wait to get the story on this house tomorrow morning!


The Return to Trail

5/18/15  –  Random Campsite  –  12 miles

Today I felt great! I was sad to leave Mamma Roub after spending most of the week with her but not once did I find myself dreading the miles. I feel refreshed. We met new people today never once seeing any hikers we’ve met before. This really made me ponder just how many people are on the trail. I know there are tons out there we will never meet.

We came across our first trail swimming hole. I only stuck in my feet while Roub, Cruise Control, and Darwin swam out a bit. I could only laugh at them as they complained about the chilly water. We explored “Brant Shelter” a three-story shelter and one of the biggest on the AT. We ate a snack there and checked out the log book before pushing on. It was very tempting to stay at Brant but after living the life of luxury at Roub’s house for the last week, we all felt sleeping on a dirt floor was best.

After leaving Brant we had a few big ups but I did not fear, now that I have my IPod! I felt like I flew over the miles while jamming to Pink. Oh how I longed for my tunes! I was pretty sweaty when I arrived at our campsite for the night but was surprised at how good I felt. I could have totally done a few more miles today.

Now lying in the tent, I feel a bit tired and itchy from fresh mosquito bites but over all I feel changed from the last week. After having a week of slack-packing, a few zeros, Trail Days Fun, home cooking, soft beds, and family life, I feel the need for trail again. I hit my lowest low last week too. After feeling so at home at Roub’s house and after Davinci (Darwin’s Cousin) came out to visit and told me stories of Bowie (our Black Lab), I was extremely homesick. I had yet to feel that close to leaving trail and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I keep running that old saying in my head, once you hit rock bottom you can only go up and that is where I am at now, up.

Note: Uncle Tornado Tim the Lizard King of Detroit has hiked on while we were at Trail Days in order to get more miles in before his brother’s wedding. We have every intention of hiking again with him down the trail. SuperMoon stayed with Mamma Roub a little longer today in order to get her tent fixed. It doesn’t seem she was able to catch up with us today.


A ZipLine to Soda

5/6/15   – Bailey’s Gap Shelter  –  15miles

Today was a really good day on trail. We took lots of snack breaks in beautiful spots. We lunched at a shelter while the sun was streaming through the trees and a nap was had too. Naps are truly wonderful.

We stopped at a place called “Captains” which was described in the trail guide in such a way it was a major topic of discussion and wonder for us. The guide mentioned it had a zip-line and sure enough, right off the trail was a zip-line that took you over a small river. Once across, we were greeted by two collie mixes and a few other hikers we’d been leap frogging with. “Captain” actually allows hikers to camp in his yard, which includes a luxury fire pit (with Dura flame starter logs at the ready), huge picnic tables and a fridge full of free soda. We played with the dogs for a while and Roub and I downed some soda. Although we found the place very tempting, we decided to push on. We were bummed to never meet “Captain.”

After a steep and sweaty climb from Captain’s, we came to a surprisingly empty shelter just in time to watch a brief rainstorm pass over. After lounging for a bit Tornado Tim the Lizard King and Cruise Control arrived with stories of bear sightings; a momma bear and two cubs.

Tomorrow we will be five miles away from Mountain Lake Resort, which is where Dirty Dancing was filmed! Fontana Dam reminded me so much of Dirty Dancing but I never would have expected to be so close to the actual filming location. It’s weird how much I have thought of this movie while hiking the AT. Roub has promised me that there is even a building at Mountain Lake dedicated to memorabilia from the film! EEEEEEE! We all have high hopes of hitching in tomorrow for brunch. I can only hope their food is named after things related to the movie. Surely they have a “Swayze Burger.”

Overall, the trail was pretty quiet today. We may have left the bubble of hikers we’ve been in since leaving Pearisburg, VA as most of them zeroed there. We are holding out for a zero at Roub’s house in a few days and maybe a day of slack packing. I can only hope the next few days are as beautiful and quiet like today.

Random Songs Stuck In My Head: Boot Scooting’ Boogie – Brooks & Dunn

Whatta Man – Salt N Peppa

In The Still of the Night – The Five Satins

yes sir

A Cold Day on the CDT

Section Hike Done By: Darwin & Snuggles 

April 10th 2016 – Continental Divide Trail – Cuba, NM Section

Over the weekend we decided to head over to Cuba, New Mexico to meet up with our good friends Geared Up & Cowgirl, who were currently Thru-Hiking the Continental Divide Trail  (CDT). We had never been on the CDT and since it covers 770 miles of New Mexico it is practically our backyard.  We had been dying to hike some sections of another National Scenic Trail and we were more than happy to accept an invitation to hike it.

We drove about one hour West from our home base in Albuquerque to meet them at their base camp in Cuba, NM at a small RV Park. Unlike hiking the AT and PCT, Cowgirl had arranged for friends and family to follow her along the way to act as support. Some sections she and Geared Up carried full packs and camped on the trail. Most days however, they would hike big miles to a trailhead and be picked up and taken back to their RV for a shower, hot meal, and a soft bed. Hiking in luxury!

Since we needed to get into hiking shape for our return to the AT in June, we decided to dust off our hiker legs. We were going to do a small 15 mile section with them, hiking South back towards The Los Pinos Trailhead. Once we arrived at the RV Park, we hung out while eating a few donuts and then loaded up in the truck to venture to the trailhead. Uncle Sparky (Cowgirl’s Uncle) was our chauffeur and dropped us off in a remote part of the San Pedro Parks Wilderness.

For the first handful of miles we chatted about random happenings in the world, gear, and our future return to the AT as we easily hiked along a very smooth dirt trail. We hiked along barbed wire fencing marking the wilderness boundary line and laughed as Jerry (Cowgirl’s dog) attempted to cross the barbed wire to the other side. As we climbed higher in elevation through the beautiful Aspen Groves, leftover snow from winter storms started to speckle the forest around us. The temperature started to drop from the wonderful 70° in Cuba to what now felt like the low 40s and before we knew it we were post-holing in knee-deep snow. At first there was much laughter as we tried to keep our balance when sinking into the frozen snow and had a good laugh watching Jerry try to hop from hole to hole that had been left behind by Cowgirl’s tracks.

We stopped off for lunch at a somewhat flat spot and tried to regain the feeling in our toes. We took off our boots and wrung out the frigid water trapped in our socks. Stopping only for a short time, we began to get cold and realized that we had to keep moving to warm back up. We continued to climb in elevation and slowly navigated though the frozen mess loosing the trail completely at times.  Coming to a widened section of trail we stopped to discuss how suddenly tried, wet, and COLD we felt. None of us were dressed for these conditions and we were fighting a loosing battle. With a trail that was continually disappearing into a white abyss and every mile getting worse with snow pack, we decided to turn around. We determined we had maybe hiked only 7.5 miles (it felt like so much more at the time).

After backtracking the 7.5 miles back down to the trailhead we had started at, we were relieved to see Uncle Sparky waiting with the truck. Cowgirl thankfully had a moment of signal on our way back down to inform him of our change of plans. We road back to Cowgirl’s RV in Cuba while warming up from the heater that was blasting inside the truck. When we got back we warmed up, devoured another donut or two and said or goodbyes to our Thru-Hiker pals.

Even though it didn’t go as planned we had the most amazing, tough, cold, wet, and crazy day hike we had ever done thanks to Geared Up and Cowgirl.

img_0120Cowgirl and Geared Up

img_0171Spring had not quite come to the high New Mexico forrest yet.

img_0167Gotta love Trail Badges. So Symbolic…

img_0175Our 1st signs that there was still some snow left at higher altitudes.

img_0174Wacky carving in an Aspen tree. Nature’s Pin-up

img_0169Tall Trees, Blue Skies, and More Snow…

img_0170When the trees opened up you could faintly see the Colorado Rockies capped with snow off in the distance.

img_0177When the trail started to turn on us… Snuggles post-holing up to her knees in what winter had left behind atop the mountain.


The Lizard King

4/30/15   –  Random Campsite  – (Accidental 18.6 miles)

The trail was beautiful today! We are starting to see a change of landscape. We had a few ups but nothing to huge. We hiked across a huge open field for about two miles with beautiful three-sixty views. The sky was a perfect blue with white puffy clouds only complimented more by the green grass.

We lunched with a few veteran hikers by the name of Mad Dog, Wondering Bill, and Pilgrim. These fellows are in their 50’s and 60’s and completed a thru hike in 2006 meeting each other while on trail. They now meet every year to hike a section of the trail. We picked their brains with tons of trail questions. Their words of wisdom: “Take it all town by town and remember that it is all a mental game”.

We arrived at camp early and ready to get settled in before an on coming rain cloud caught up with us. Darwin went to inspect our water situation after the guide told us water could be questionable at this spot. After about thirty minutes, he returned with empty bottles and very pissed off. Water was a no go here. This led to our extra miles for the day. We left a note for other hikers informing them of the water issue and carried on.

At this point it started to sprinkle and as we got closer to our new destination it was full on rain. We ended up camping a little past the shelter as it was already packed with rowdy hikers we had been trying to avoid.

Darwin and I pitched our tent under a few Rhododendrons. As the rain slacked off, Roub and Tornado Tim arrived at camp. After dinner by an amazing fire, Roub attempted to hang his bear bag only to get his line hopelessly stuck. As I bore witness to many failed attempts by the three of them to remove the line, the rain started up again. This led Tornado Tim to a rash decision, he was going to climb the tree. Tim half climbed half shimmied up the partly dead tree in the dark while it was raining. From our prospective on the ground, Tornado Tim took on the appearance of a lizard; apparently he had done similar stunts like this before. As we watched in awe, Tim removed the line. We now refer to him as Tornado Tim the Lizard King….. Long live The King!