In 2014 my husband, three kids ages 15, 13 and 11, and myself hiked the Appalachian Trail. Our hike took us 175 days.
To share the story of our family thru-hike and to help us fund it, we produced a video series while hiking called: Beyond our Boundaries: A Family Adventure on the Appalachian Trail.
At the beginning of August, in Vermont, I got off the trail with a foot injury that I hoped would heal with a couple weeks of rest. It didn't and I got off the trail permanently in the middle of August at Glencliff, NH. My family continued without me and I supported them with our vehicle.
Our family thru-hike changed our family is ways we could not anticipate. The intensity of our adventure, emotionally and physically, revealed both positive and negatives in our individual characters and family culture.
It was an experience of contrasts, so beautiful and painful. Days of joy and days of suffering, experiencing deep connection and loneliness, excitement and boredom.
This is a personal journal of that adventure.
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Day 79 - VA 56 Tye River to Dripping Rock, BRP 9.6
A long, hot day.
There was some weird animal in the woods last night at our campsite that kept me awake with a screechy, squeaky noise. I've never heard it before and it freaked me out a bit.
Started the day with a 3,000 ft climb up to Three Ridges Mountain. It was hot already. We were so tired from hiking that we didn't even care about the overlooks.
We were expecting an easier hike after Three Ridges Mountain but the guide was deceptive and the trail was really rocky, though "relatively" flat. By 3pm we had only hiked 9 miles!
We ate a late lunch with Loon, who we have been leap frogging all day, at Maupin Field Shelter. At Reeds Gap there was trail magic, more soda. So divine on a hot day.
At 5pm we stopped for water at a stream and met section hikers going south who warned us the water was a slow trickle, was not dependable right now, at Dripping Rock, our intended destination.
After our experience at Salt Log Gap we don't want to go without water again so we tanked up and carried all that weight for the last 2 miles.
We get to Dripping Rock and true to its name the rock is dripping and the water is just fine! There is plenty of water here. I don't know what those section hikers were talking about. Section hikers.
It was so hot this afternoon. We were dripping sweat and even Padawan was stripped down to her sports bra (she usually prefers her long sleeved top to protect her from the bugs). Some of us experienced nasty crotch chaffing in this heat.
By the time we got to camp at 7pm we were exhausted from the heat, sore from the chaffing, and @toesalad was especially tired from carrying pounds of extra water.
My camera display died again from being carried against my sweaty body. This is both frustrating as heck and disgusting.
We are too tired to make supper tonight. But thankfully there are familiar faces here - Pending, Botany, Yellowbeard, Lazer Cat, & Patch. Cheese Squeeze and other food bag goodies were shared around the fire. Shared food, shared memories. Hanging out with other thru-hikers has redeemed the day.
I think everyone is going to bed happy and restored from the campfire.
Day 78 - Hog Gap Camp to VA 56 Tye River
Today was a long day and the 3,000 ft descent down from The Priest to VA 56 was tiring at the end of the day, that's for sure.
The day was beautiful but the weather is heating up and we were hot at midday.
The morning was fairly easy hiking, a lovely morning really, rolling terrain and nice trail. We met up with Loon and interviewed him on video. We're always happy to see Loon.
We hiked through another Salt Log Gap. This one at a road crossing, USFS 63, and there was trail magic soda, always a welcome treat on a warm day.
We were making really good time today so we stopped for a midday nap. @toesalad is still recovering from being dehydrated a few nights ago, when he expended a ton of energy and water looking for water, to no avail. He seems more tired since that experience and like his body needs more rest. I'm always ready for a midday rest.
This was my second nap on the trail in two and a half months of hiking. I take naps on a semi-regular basis in my normal life, once or twice every couple week, whenever my body needs an afternoon rest. Not having that option on the trail has been both mentally and physically difficult. Some days it seems like every fiber of my being longs to have an afternoon nap, and we walk on, but today we rested.
Ironically, I didn't sleep but I did enjoy the reprieve. Because of the bugs, which weren't bad in that spot, but definitely bothersome if you're trying rest, Padawan, @toesalad and I set up our tents. We're experienced now so that job only took a few minutes. Padawan enjoyed the quiet time in her tent but Otter found the break boring.
We decided to have our big meal at 3pm, at the end of our siesta. That allowed us to hike through late afternoon and early evening till dusk. And just snack during the afternoon and evening before bed. It's nice to mix things up a bit.
The hike up to The Priest was buggy. The shelter area at the top of the mountain was unappealing and the log book, which has a hiker confession theme (Priest Mountain) was more ribald than necessary.
We left the shelter and hiked the 3,000 ft down to VA 56. It was difficult and tiring. We got our water for the night from Cripple Creek. We're not in wilderness in this part of VA, not the wilderness we're used to at least, and the water from a mountain creek seems safer, less chance of all manner of contaminants, than the river at the bottom of the valley.
There is no campsite here, we've pitched our tents so they aren't visible from the road but there's nothing stealth about our site. Camping across the suspension bridge seems more prudent but we couldn't find the space.
I don't like being so close to the road and to houses and the accompanying guard dogs. There are loud dogs in this neighborhood. I miss the woods.