The prayer I prayed the most when preparing for my thru-hike in 2011 was that I would have great friends, for the whole journey. God answered. I met Bogart, Tag and Coach at the Rainbow Springs shelter, 30 miles into the hike and finished with them on our very last day, 5 1/2 months later. I also met Twisted Turtle and Teeny in Maine. Teeny rejoined us South of Waynesboro, VA later in the hike and walked nearly every day with me for the last 800 miles (she did a flip-flop hike). For great stories and photos of my thru-hike, visit mainetogeorgia.wordpress.com.
We had a really great couple of days hanging out at the Mountain Harbor Hostel (in the town of Roan Mountain, TN) and a couple of nights on the Trail, one of the nights out was New Year's Eve! I made Teeny and Dana's little 30lb pitbull Donut a turtle neck jacket for the hike. Donut and Cooper did a great job modeling! For our first night out, we hiked 9 miles from the hostel to the Overmountain Shelter (photo above). It was an incredibly cold and windy hike over Hump Mountain. Cooper did not even seem to notice! He was rolling in the snowy grass and running back and forth. My Wyoming raised husband did not seem to mind much either. But I'll admit, that was one of the coldest experiences I've had backpacking. There was an added discomfort for me because my glasses kept frosting over! Our last 2 or 3 miles to the shelter were in the dark with Coach and Savannah. Savannah's first backpacking trip and first night hike!
The next day we went back to the hostel from Carvers Gap. On New Year's Eve we did a short 4mi. hike from Erwin, TN to the Curley Maple Gap Shelter (photo below). Teeny packed in a bottle of champagne for everyone to share. We all had a great time hanging out around the fire and stuffing our faces with kielbasa, mac and cheese and lots of candy.
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