Daleville to north of the Shenandoah National Park

(Finally in the sunshine on Mother’s Day!! It made Sunshine’s day!)

Virginia holds more trail miles than any other state (about 550 miles). I think our advance planning of slack-packing the Shenandoah over Easter with family worked out to our advantage as it broke up some of the miles of VA. I remember Virginia being a challenge during my 1999 thru-hike

The trail is tough and the girls are truly rocking it!!! We met a man on the trail from England who said he had watched plenty of YouTube videos and followed blogs and thought the AT should be “doable” by anyone. When we met him, he couldn’t believe how hard it was and he was struggling to stay on the trail. The trail becomes a mental game once you are physically in shape and have overcome the initial shock to the body. As with everything in life we have a good days and bad days but as the trail stretches long, hunger sets in, and miles are repetitive. We get exhausted and question our mission. The girls have stayed strong and motivated with the goal at hand. Their charities continue to encourage them and be an additional motivation. (Go to the support page to donate). It’s nice to be on the trail as a family and share in the challenges, triumphs and the every day wonders you find on the trail. I remember at times in 1999 thinking I must be crazy to do this; of course these same thoughts return as I must be crazy to have my whole family out here. But then we are met with a new day full of excitement and I know the benefits of lessons learned and amazing experiences they’re having far outweigh anything we could ever provide our children elsewhere. I am so proud of all of us as we hike on northward.

We are so blessed and fortunate to have so many wonderful family and friends supporting and helping us along the way. Returning to the Shenandoah brought us back to family and our van. We were able to continue slackpacking and finish a few of the miles that we had not completed during Easter week and move onward.

Trail side camp

Rhododendrons are finally in bloom and we are loving the tunnels covered in flowers.

Road crossing

Camping and playing in fog and trees

Rainy days continue

Saving a salamander from the middle of trail. We often pause to make sure the little creatures in the middle of the trail are not hit by our feet or the feet that follow. We pass on cautions for the little ones in the middle of the trail to those behind us in the line (these are usually millipedes 😊)

Playing on the James River. The pirates in a canoe passed soon after. ☠️ The girls had so much fun rock hopping, singing and dancing for the passerby’s.

Moths and small critters make our day. The girls eyes have become so in tune with nature as they observe all the tiny wonders we encounter.

James River bridge on Mother’s Day. Another rainy day … but we were treated with some sunshine as we summited the hill.

Having family in the area is such a treat! We were able to see some wonderful sites in Virginia and especially Charlottesville that we would not have seen from the trail. Crabtree Falls is one of the highest falls in Virginia and a favorite of ours. It’s too bad the trail does not actually pass the falls, but the couple mile side trip was definitely worth it!

Author: Jamie “Sunshine”

To awaken to a beautiful dream one day become reality is the day millions of us wait and hope for. Setting goals and pushing ourselves to the limit, we have all challenged ourselves and our systems of life to see our goals in action. In March of 2019, waking a long envisioned dream, our family of 6 will set out on the 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail (AT). The trail covers 14 states and will take 6 months to complete. This dream began over 20 years ago, in 1999 when I set up the Awaking Dreams Fund with the National Brain Injury Association in my brother, Kyle’s name. I raised over $10,000 and set out and completed a thru-hike of the AT. Five years after that my husband, sister and I set out on a thru-paddle of the Connecticut River and raised money for Casa Colinas, a rehabilitation hospital that facilitated outdoor adventures for their patients. My brother, Kyle fought his battle for 20 years and passed away in February of 2017. We will continue to hike in his honor and his name attempting to complete the trail on his birthday. However, this adventure will be of a different caliber, as Chris and I will set out with our four daughters ages 5, 7, 10 &12. I have envisioned this hike since my thru-hike in 1999 when I traveled with a father and his two sons for a few days. The boys were ages 9 & 11. They were adventurous, excited, connected to nature and so curious and educated about the natural world around us. I have long hoped for such an amazing experience for my girls. We have done a great deal of planning, preparing, and talking . . Now is the Time!

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