The Kallin Family is an inspiration. More than just the fact that they are thru-hiking the A.T. as a family (a family which includes Robin Hood, age 9 and Cartwheel, she just turned 8 and they have reached the half way point to Maine); I am in awe of their love for each other and radiant joy and youthfulness, all five of them. The fifth family member is Orion, a 6 year old Springer/Lab mix. Mr. and Mrs. Kallin: Dave "All In" and Emily "Mama Bear" said they had not seen Orion play the entire hike as they saw him play with Cooper. (Cooper will bring the puppy out in any boy dog about his size!) I mistook Mama Bear for being 10 years younger than her age and we laughed as she reminded me that Robin Hood is almost 10 and she couldn't possibly be in her early 20s (see her pic below!).
Follow the Kallin Family on their journey from Georgia to Maine at: http://kallinfamily.com/
I met up with the Kallins as they were just finishing their half gallon challenge at the Pine Grove Furnace General Store. Needless to say, everyone was sprawled out on the picnic tables. Robin Hood ate 3/4 of the half gallon, which is better than what I could put down back in 2011! Cooper and I hiked with them over to the lake and waited while the whole family (except Orion, he was content laying on the grass) jumped in the lake. It started raining and we decided to eat under the covered porch of the bath house. I brought them some trail magic in the form of lettuce, tomatoes, feta, watermelon and kielbasa. (Mama Bear grows all of her family's food in her garden and the salad was a hit.) Ginger and Gilligan were also with us. They are a thru-hiking newly-weds on a mission out of a backpack to spread the love of God. I was impressed as everyone ate the food I brought, and their own pasta side concoctions, only about a half hour after the ice cream challenge.
Follow Ginger and Gilligan's nobo thru hike at: http://missionoutofabackpack.blogspot.com/
I spent the night with the gang at a tent site a bit north of the lake. We hiked up the hill in the dark, Cartwheel's first night hike. Everyone set up their tents and the kids played with some sparklers. For hikers we got to bed very late, 10pm. The Kallins let the kids sleep in til about 7am and we were on the Trail by about 7:30. They needed to get the show on the road because today they are hiking 18 miles to Boiling Springs to pick up a box before the post office closes. Sound crazy? An 8 and 9 year old hoofing it over mountains on a rocky 2,200 mile long trail...day after day, most days around 18 miles? Nope, it's really not that crazy when you spend some time with the Kallins. It is their normal. The kids are doing such a great job and are genuine thru-hikers in manner and speech. Their ongoing accomplishment carries a message for us all: if we walk as joyous children, free of jaded thoughts, free of judgement, filled with curiosity towards the things we discover and new people we meet, we too can accomplish our goals. As a lover of God I will add- when we walk through life as children who know who our Father is and trust that He will take care of our needs, just as Emily and Dave so lovingly care for their kids and dog, we too can accomplish great things that make our Father proud and further the goodness He pours into the world.
Now on to building Orion's pack. I will mail it to them a bit down the Trail.
Powder River, Cooper and I went on a short hike this weekend with two friends from Baltimore. It was our friend Lee's very first backpacking trip! We drove up through Gettysburg around 5pm on Friday. We decided to scrap our plans of cooking in the woods and instead ate at the Lincoln Dinner. After eating we drove up the ridge via a gravel road in Caledonia State Park to have a shorter walk to the quaint Quarry Gap Shelters. There was a group of guys already there, a college reunion tradition for them to hike together every year. Powder River and Lee played a riveting game of checkers. The "Innkeeper" of the Quarry Gap Shelter takes great pride in maintaining this place and keeps it equipped with a few games and hanging seasonal flowers! I met him on my thru-hike in 2011, he was just hanging out at the shelter as I was walking by midday. This is a great place to take friends to show them an exception to AT shelters. Most are NOT quaint or very well taken care of! Cooper posed for some pictures in the morning. He did a great job test driving the new Groundbird Gear hiking harness pack system!
Saturday held true to the weather report and was very cold. We relocated one of our vehicles about 12 trail miles South of Caledonia to Old Forge Rd. Our friends enjoyed seeing The Tumbling Run Shelters just up the hill from our parking spot. They have signs on each one: "snoring" and "non-snoring." And there is an Ent tree. We hiked to the Rocky Mountain Shelters that night. Christian had steaks marinating in a ziplock in his pack all day and they were a real treat, cooked in foil on campfire embers! A trail culinary first for me and Powder River. It flurried a bit and was a good night to test my new zero degree sleeping bag by Feathered Friends! Cooper enjoyed snuggling with me! I'm still working on developing a good sleep solution for him in cold weather. In the morning we made coffee and oatmeal and hiked our remaining 5 miles back to Caledonia. A very cold, windy ridge walk! All in all it was a fun trip with our friends! Capped with another fun expedition into Gettysburg, a happening place this month as we remember the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. We ate at the Appalachian Brewery and viewed the Cyclorama, a giant battlefield painting from 1884 that engulfs you in it's circle.
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