New FAQs

Oh how the times have changed! Don’t worry folks, I’m alive and much more betterer at camping and the woods are so much less scary than I thought! This trip has taught me a whole bunch about facing fears and finding the strength within yourself to accomplish crazy feats. 

So, from the small amount of time I’ve spent around/talking to friends or fam who want to know about trail life, these are some common questions I’ve come across. 

What do you eat?

Ramen, instant mashed potatoes (sometimes together, that’s called a Rom Bomb), rice, cliff bars, pop tarts, other protein bars, nuts on nuts on nuts, tuna, chicken, tortillas, and Nutella. Turns out (in a shocking turn of events) that your body will start to crave/need fresh food eventually, so I get that when I get into town. My diet’s undergoing a huge change as we speak to include more grains (like quinoa!) and fresh food on the first day after resupplying. 

So, where do you sleep at night?

In a tent. In a campground. There are campgrounds. Where you camp. It’s, I know, it can get complicated but I find my way. 

Ok all silly sarcasm aside, one can either “stealth camp” at an unmarked flat area on the side of the trail where there is probably a fire pit made of stones but maybe not any water, or a shelter that is marked in the guidebook. Shelters might have privys where one can #2 and they will definitely have a picnic table and area to camp. I prefer camping because shelters can get cramped and people tend to snore. 

Do you plan out your day or just go?

Not really! Yeah we mostly just go! Enough planning does happen for resupplying, though. You got to know about how many days it’ll be before you get into a town so you can buy an adequate amount of food. 

When do you get up in the morning?

Mostly with the sun, except for when it’s cloudy or raining. It takes me about an hour to eat/chill/write/pack up every morning regardless of the hour of rising. 

What do you do when it rains?

 Keep hiking. 

I heard about “hiker midnight,” you must go to sleep so early!

 Hah, yeah but no. Nearly everyone is passed out or in their tents by the time the sun sets but I can’t sleep and stay up with my headlamp writing or looking at the stars. 

Have you seen any bears?!

No. 

Are you alone? Or do you see a lot of hikers?

I never feel alone. The hikers are definitely starting to spread out. So at the beginning you’d pass at least 5-10 hikers every day. The shelters are places where hikers accumulate. Only once did we end up at a shelter alone, which was strange. Most hikers plan their hike by making it to a shelter at night. 

That’s another thing – “we.” I am lucky enough to have someone who puts up with my antics and pace. His name is Pineapple and he’s the one in all the photos and we talk a lot or just walk in silence, either way we have fun. We end up alongside other hikers and keep seeing them. It’s exciting to see old faces that you haven’t seen in awhile when everyone ends up catching up to each other. Like the other day! Pineapple and I have been going slower so we got to see Hobo Joe and Gears again! It was amazing! The thing about these beautiful gentlemen is that they’re not as slow or old as they may say to you – they’re really abled bodied hikers – they just take more time off than we do because they have family and friends to see along the trail. 


You meet people, you see them a few nights in a row in the woods or in town, you summit mountains with them, you lose them, then you somehow miraculously find them again. 

So that’s how the cookie crumbles!

Thassit, that’s my life. It’s hard to explain but it’s really not complicated. Even when things get difficult, you keep going. Movement and momentum, motivation – it’s all in abundance out on the Appalachian Trail.

Until next time, xo Wayne

BABY WE BACK! 

That’s right! One beach, lots of cousins/family friends, and five hours of car time later I am back on the Appalachian Trail! 

Today, an awesome thing happened: I hiked down a hill without experiencing excruciating pain!! It’s crazy, I honestly didn’t realize until now just how much pain I was in prior to the week break. 

Did you see a doc?

Nah, man. After doing some thorough internet research, I’ve concluded it was just strained muscles. After 2 days of hiking, I haven’t felt any sort of pain comparable to that which plagued me prior to the break. So no doc for this girl. Plus, I’m eating an apple every day so I should be set right? 

How’d You Get Back?!

In the beautiful new car chaufeurred by my dear cousin Jack! We took a quick 5 hour ride down to Roan Mountain where Pineapple waited with a bummed heel. Ah the woes of pulling muscles. Don’t worry, he’s a boss, he’ll be fine. We hiked two days from Hughes Gap back to 19E. 

Here’s us and Jack! As you can see, we’re havin’ a grrrrreat time

The Art Of Staying Positive

It’s been purty rainy down here in the hills of Tennessee/North Carolina. We were purty damp by the time we arrived at camp and spent the night getting more damp. The rain didn’t stop and my sleeping bag got wet because the wind was blowing directly onto my tent and I slept too close to the sides. My shoes were still damp in the morning. You wanna talk to me about pruned feet? Holy COW the entire SOLE of my foot was white and wrinkled by the end of the day! 

But woah, slow down Sea Biscuit! Rarely can one see a frown on my face. Nay, I am happy as a clam, even if that means being a damp clam. Here are some tactics I use to stay excrutiatingly positive: 

  1. Always look on the briiiiight siiiiiide of life! Yeah, it’s raining now. But the rain will stop eventually. The sun HAS to come out again! And when it does? Take that tent out and DRY it! Bask in the sun! Get repaired! Yesterday blue skies broke through the cloud cover around 3pm, and it was god damned unexpectedly beautiful. Imagine if whatever drama problem you had in your life right now could disappear by 3pm. Dope, right? 
  2. Excersize makes ya happy so don’t you dare stop moving! 
  3. Good humans = good times. Find someone to set up camp with and laugh about how frigid you are, how deeply satisfying it is to put on dry clothes. Find someone to cuddle up with and cook food in the vestibule of your tent with. You’ll stay warmer that way anyway. 
  4. Don’t spend too much time over thinking in the morning. Sure, sometimes it’s definitely nice to get up and smell the flowers and watch the sunrise before starting a day’s hike. But if the sunrise and flowers are covered in fog and it is raining do not stay in your tent too long. That is a recipe for overthinking which leads to an explicit loss of motivation. Just keep hiking, just keep hiking, la la la la doo beep boop ba! 

Hostel Review: Mountain Harbor

Beautiful, easy place to stay. Definitely refreshing! The hostel is cute and cheap – we tented out back to save some cash. I highly recommend this place because of it’s ease and also it’s breakfast. If you’re not staying and just want to do laundry and a shower, the convenience factor is high! If you are staying, GET THE BREAKFAST. Mary and Shannon are amazing women who will feed you ample home cooked dishes and fresh fruit. Aye. Beautiful. 

What’s The Plan Now, Stan?

To HIKE ON! Yes, the time cometh where I am strong, I am knowledgeable, I am so much less afraid that I was three weeks ago. I am not invincible, but I am a hiker god damn it! 

By the looks of it, me and Pineapple should be in Damascus, VA in a week! In the mean time we’re going to hike, avoid thunder storms, be awesome, have fun, and visit with his fam! That’s right, I get another weekend with the dopest Pinkston’s. 


Until the next time,

XoWAYNE 

More Than A Road Trip: A New Way of Loving and Living.

Ever end up somewhere that makes you lose words?

You’re sitting in a car with 5 wonderful people you’ve just met zooming down the winding streets of Nowhere, Tennessee trying not to get hit by on-coming trucks and everyone is screaming along to “Son of a Bitch” by Nathaniel Ratecliffe and the Night Sweats. One girl, she’s got an amazing playlist and keeps the tunes coming. Outside, the hills open up to show the glory of the distant mountains. You can still see tiny snow caps and you know you’re lucky to be in the sunny valley with your friend’s family. You are all laughing because you are alive and happy to see each other. You are in a moment of pure sunshine. You are so full of feeling you think maybe you could cry, but you’re not going to. You do not know how to explain this in the moment. You still don’t even days after the moment has passed. You’re not sure words exist to describe the way you feel. It’s something deeper and fuller than happiness. Something birthed from freedom, from love.

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This is how I got back to my family in Corolla, NC so that I could take a week off from the trail and rest my knees.

Humans are so kind.

It’s cool if you lost your faith in humanity. It’s totally easy to when you’re aimlessly shooting through the world and reading the news. Hey, I’m not calling you a terrible person, or erratic, or pointless. I’m saying that you’re fuzzy and out of focus, and this happens to everyone. It happened to me, too.

Not being mindful or present or focused on what’s in front of you can make “everything” feel pointless. What’s the point if…? Well, exactly. There’s not much of a point when you don’t care about anything in particular.

Alright, I’ll admit that there is an unusually specific attitude of kindness and love surrounding the Appalachian Trail. The love and support started somewhere, and people just kept paying it forward. Trail magic exists. There is love and kindness spread around constantly. Such is the way of the trail! But I’m noticing so much more in the world now because of it, and I feel more open, more solid, more alive, more happy.

I want that for you, too. If this story doesn’t inspire you to believe, to pay kindness forward, then I’ll tell you more. And if you get sick of hearing me gush about how beautiful humans are, then stop reading my blog and go back to your hovel. Or just keep living life. You’re gonna be fine either way.

On Thursday,

I was frantically FaceTiming my best friend and aunt from Hot Springs, NC in hopes that someone would help me because I physically could not hike another mile. I needed a place to stay, somewhere I didn’t have to pay for, somewhere I could stretch out my knees and chill. But Hot Springs? That’s along the western border of NC, hours away from anyone’s residence. No one was answering my calls. I had a very relaxed but bleak outlook on my future.

By 8pm, I had no hike and no help. At least Walkamole shared a beer with me. And boy, it tasted good.

Then two amazing things simultaneously happened: Katrice called me back with the news that Aunt Ginny could put me up in Zionville for a few days AND Pineapple came back from his phone call with his family. Aunt Ginny lived two hours away, but was willing to come pick me up. What a gem! That would be a lovely option. I just didn’t want to be too much of a burden having to get back to the trail, and wasn’t sure how long I would actually need to rest. Then Pineapple turned to me and said,

“Hey Wayne, Quincy said she loves road trips and would come down here to hang out and then bring you back to Richmond or wherever.” What? Put the beer down. Lean forward in disbelief. No freakin’ way.

“Yeah, it’s really no big deal. I think my whole family would come. They love stuff like that. Hey, then you could meet them!” Oh my god. So wait. A new friend’s family would come all the way down from Virginia to hang out and bring my sorry broken butt back to my own family in Richmond (which turned out to be Corolla, because it’s spring break and time to go to the beach). I couldn’t believe it. This is a new level of kindness.

“Oh my gosh, that’d…I mean, that’d be amazing,” I stuttered.

By Saturday, I ended up in a car

full of awesome women and an awesome Pineapple zooming down and around Tennessee/North Carolina in an electric/relaxed state. After meeting the Pinkstons, I can wholeheartedly say my life and attitude has changed. I’m not sure where to begin, though. How to describe their jovial tenderness escapes me. Every minute of the car ride created a new sense of solid happiness inside my heart.

Man, I just can’t stop thinking about it. Seriously, these people are so freaking cool. 

I couldn’t stop thanking them for everything. “Why of course, we’d do anything for a friend of John Russel’s, we wanted to come see him anyway! And just pay it forward, you know?”

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Take a second

wherever you are and take a deep breath. Open your eyes. I’m not begging you to help others, to go five hours out of your way and drive a limping hiker back to her family.

Just look out the passenger window of the car. Turn up the music. Play and song and sing along. Make eye contact with someone you love and smile, because you’re together and you’re alive. Dance. There are happy moments in the middle of every day. Don’t let them pass you by. Don’t let them slip through the cracks.

Not One, but TWO Blogs.

HEY I just love to write, OK?

https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/five-lessons-after-three-weeks-on-the-at/

Here’s a gooshy post about how fulfilled I am out on the trail.

In the mean time? Expect tons of writing because I am stuck off the trail on the beach for a whole week. I know. Woe is me, right?

UGH GET ME BACK IN THE WOODS. Ok no, the beach is pretty cool.

WAIT.

You don’t know what’s going on, do you?

I’m ok, I’m not that broken, I’ll fill you in, it’s just right now the 7 year old and I are going to make a music video.

xoWayne

I Kneed A Break

I’ve had to make a really really difficult decision today. I’m a stubborn girl. I want to keep hiking. This is the best time I’ve had in a long time. This is what I need right now. Every morning feels amazing. I have collapsed from sheer laughter almost every day. Life has taken on new meaning. For the first time, I am constantly excited to be alive. I am drunk on life, on hiking, on living out here in the wilderness with amazing people.

Unfortunately, my body doesn’t fully agree with me.

For the past 50 miles or so (actually, maybe more), it’s felt as if an overweight raccoon is using my tendons as bungee cords and mice are mining for gold in my knees.

Translation: I’m in a lot of pain.

So today when we finally made it to Max Patch, I couldn’t stand anymore. Thing is, it was snowing. That’s right! SNOW. Freaking SNOW. Which meant the shivers were real. The guys were walking/running up and down the street eating snacks to keep their blood flowing.

That’s how I ended up in the trash bag on the side of the road eating crushed cheeze its. I put on all my warm clothes, but Pineapple still tossed his oversized fleece on me, and Walkamole encased me in a trash bag.


Not going to lie, it was extremely warm.

Now here we are in Hot Springs, cleverly avoiding a storm, and I’m still having trouble walking. I don’t know exactly what ails me, but I do know that I need time off. Tonight, I finagle my way through a system of friends and family to find a way to get off-trail for a few days.

No matter! I am strong, I am happy, I am bummed that I have to stay away from the trail. But, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. It’s 5 days now versus the potential of permanent damage.

I’ll take the 5 days.

Smoky The Mountain

No, I didn’t see a bear in the Smoky’s.

Can you freaking believe it? No bears! Not a single one. I thought I was supposed to be getting consumed by these animals out here. That’s what everyone told me before I left, at least! Seriously disappointed. I dunno what I’m going to do – go on living? Keep hiking? So bland.

On that note, actually, I’ve seen an excruciatingly low amount of wildlife. The sad reality is that this is probably due to the massive amount of wildfires. The sheer destruction has been shocking to see. It looks like a horrifyingly real scene from a Tim Burton film. 


This little guy though? He don’t care, he’s out and he’s ready to play.

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On that note, I did experience a blubbering owl outburst one night. What do I mean by that? Oh simply that I was, in a shocking turn of events, actually getting a good night’s sleep in a shelter when all of a sudden an sheer EXPLOSION OF SOUND came from outside. It straight sounded like someone took a shovel and started beating the crap out of an animal. Or like a cat had a serious issue with his significant other. Or like an owl just exploded. So strange. I think everyone was ok, there was no carnage. It was just god damn shocking. 

VIEWS. THE VIEWS. OH MY GOD.

Let’s start with the most positive aspect of the Smoky Mountains: The VIEWS. Holy goodness, they are beautiful (if it’s not foggy as all hell). You want to see some epic skylines, you need to get out there.

  1. The Firetowers are so freakin’ epic. I don’t care if you’re afraid of heights. Climb up it, it’s absolutely worth it. Ok, maybe if you’re terrified you should stay on the ground. This one had no railing on one of the flights, and when you got to the top the walls were rusted, bustling pieces of rickety metal, and the floor was soggy pieces of plywood. BUT IT WAS STILL SO COOL!
  2. Clingman’s Dome – the highest point of the entire A.T! (It’s all down hill from here…sort of) This is another one I sprinted for. Yeah, we were hiking all day but once I dropped pack I ZOOMED off through the day hikers. That’s the thing about this place: there are a crap ton of Day Hikers. This is a place that will truly make you feel like hiker trash. You will be surrounded by comparatively sparkling people who smell nice and have nice cameras and straight backs. They also might have fresh snacks. Things you will probably feel include, but are not limited to:
    • disgusting
    • smelly
    • dirty
    • overwhelmed
    • like you need to get the hell out of this crowd
    • like you never want to enter real life again. Ever.
  3. Camerer Mountain is a MUST see. As Walkamole said, “Everyone was telling me to go up there. I mean, people were literally coming up to me on the trail saying Make sure ya go to Camerer Mountain and then disappearing in the woods…. well maybe just that one guy….” Buzz said so, too. It…god. The walk up is .6 miles, but DO NOT LET THAT DISCOURAGE YOU. YOU NEED TO GO. The vegetation around the winding path starts making you feel like you’re at the beach. It winds up and down, and you start to wonder if it’s going to be worth it. You might even want to turn back. Keep going. Why? Because amidst the encompassing rocks lays a beautiful enclosed gazebo that overlooks 360 degrees of epic skyline.
  4. The edge of the campground at night beholds an epic – I mean EPIC – view of the cities below. It’s kind of shocking, honestly. You’re encased in dense, damp forest as the night falls. You’re tired. You probably want to go to bed. Just, all I can say is wait a little longer. Wait for the sun to set. Walk to the edge of the campground. The city is spread out over the distance and you feel like you’re looking at a lower version of the starry night sky. Or like you’re in an airplane. Except your feet are rooted in the ground and you’re considerably less worried about dying in a plane crash, because you’re not in a plane.

The Tumultuous Weather Patterns

Oye, lardy, what a trip the weather was! Be ready for everything. That’s all I can say. There will be nice days. You are also guaranteed to experience some bullshit. Yes, Day One was awesome. So was Day Three! Look at how nice this is.

So nice, so pleasant, so sunny. We got sunburned on Clingman’s Dome.


But Day Two? Oh my god. Do not get me started on Day Two.

Ok. It was terrible. At least in the morning. See what I mean!!!! Ugh, it…we…how do I explain this. I went to bed after looking out at a beautiful evening cityscape. The stars were out, it was perfecto. I woke up in the middle of the night. Why? Because there was rain hitting my tent. Except it wasn’t really rain, it wasn’t consistent enough. That’s because we were in a cloud. Outside, the world was misty and flowing. The entire morning was foggy and cold and gross. I don’t know if you’ve ever broken down a tent in these conditions, but let me tell you firsthand it is horrible. Your hands freeze. Everything is wet. You can’t move fast. Everything is still wet. You put the wet things into your pack. You eat breakfast on a damp bench. Your friends are still cracking jokes and having fun, though, so you smile as you hunch within your rain jacket. You’re still happy to be out here, and you wait patiently and excitedly for the feeling to re-enter your fingers.

Five hours later and SUNSHINE.

Whatever, Smoky’s. I don’t understand you.

Things Will Resume Being Amazing The Second You Leave

Our last day in the Smoky’s was (pardon my French) really fucking difficult. My knees were seriously not having it, which is a story for another blog post. Point is that I was limping for 5 miles, accompanied by a very patient Pineapple. We trudged slowly through harsh winds, rain, and thunder. We were absolutely absolutely soaked to the core. If rain hadn’t actually gotten inside our jackets, we were sweating enough for it to seem like it had. Our socks were wet. I couldn’t walk properly. We hadn’t eaten much and couldn’t stop for lunch. Our spirits were low.

Then we saw the northern park boundary.

“For the rest of my life, I am never going to forget this. We were in the middle of a bullshit day in the Smoky’s. Now? We literally JUST crossed the boarder and look! The SUN is shining, the BIRDS are chirping. Hell, things are even BLOOMING.” Right after Pineapple finished saying this, we encountered two Day Hikers who asked us where the boarder to the Smoky’s was. We said it wasn’t far. They responded that they’d probably just come back with us since they were doing trail magic.

Pineapple and I laughed out loud.

“Are you SERIOUS?! There’s even TRAIL MAGIC out here!” Guys, he was right. The Smoky Mountains contain the most exquisite display of turmoil and beauty that I’ve seen thus far on this hike.

For now? PEACE OUT SMOKY MOUNTAINS, THIS SQUAD IS ON IT’S WAY TO VIRGINIA.