We hiked out of Neels Gap in a downpour… As hikers watched, they have been asking about us down the road. The night was hit with below freezing temperatures around 15° and we woke to frozen boots (the trail had been a river of water during the storm) and clothes and an amazing winter wonderland. It took a long time to break down camp and dethaw the girls boots to get them on their feet. We took off down the trail a few miles and got off to warm hands and feet in town for the night. A great lesson learned!
Trucking along we continue slow and steady…. We are so grateful to the many trail friends we have met and all of our support back home (family and friends) and new supporters off the trail. I am new to blogging, it is hard to know what to hit as we have already in a short time on the trail encountered, learned, and experienced so much!
I continue to relate to the girls experiences and life lessons I learned 20 years ago on the trail; however, reality is life on the trail with our family is so different. I love having people to share the experiences with and the kids to point out so many wonders that they see around each corner. The hidden hedgehog in the roots of the tree or was it just the roots? Is that jelly on the tree or are they eggs and of what insect?
Challenges and Triumphs
We crossed the first state line from Georgia into North Carolina. The girls continue to sing James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind”. Harper, (The Sparkle Machine) hikes steady and keeps us moving by starting many songs,chants and rhymes. Her voice is always a motivation and other hikers say they hear us through the forest singing. One hiker even did a podcast of the girls singing. (MightyBlueontheAT.com episode 3/11 and 3/14?) They sang for him “Better Place”, which they sang at Kyle’s funeral. A great reminder of Kyle’s continued impact in this world.
We reach the top of Albert Mountain, 100 miles on the AT!. Maya (Horse Power) carried a giant stick to the top in remembrance of carrying gifts and burdens along with us. She used it to show us the importance of making a goal and keeping it, as she didn’t know the rock scrambling that was in front of her to the summit of Albert Mountain. The fire tower was a welcome sight and offered amazing views! Sabina (Baby Bunny) pulled out her journal and wanted to sit at the information sign for an hour to take notes and draw the views. We have also passed a stone tower, that the girls called their castle, and a platform tower… All with amazing views of the mountains we have climbed and so many more to go.
“Hike on!”we say with plenty of sore feet. We continue to doctor blisters, sore ankles and feet as soon as possible to prevent any further injury. Josie (Wild Jay) is constantly checking in with all of us and helps keep us together and taking care of one another.
Flexibility is key! We continue to be flexible with the weather and get off schedule and work to get back on. We seem to be in a pattern of rain every couple of days. We are excited to see new growth on the floor of the forest and know that spring is just around the corner. I remember writing 20 years ago how the rain had soaked my soul and see how it affects the girls mood as well.
One night the girls were all bickering in the tent, Papa Bear and I were exhausted. I stopped them and said you know we don’t have to do this. They stopped and looked at me like I was crazy, “We are hiking to Maine!” they said with conviction. Girls will bicker wherever they are… at home, in the woods or in the tent or in the car. I’m glad they are so excited about their goal at hand.
Wow. Such a testament to nature and experiential education. It is already so much of what I hoped for. The girls senses are opened and they are curious engaged and connected. They have decided on a mystery or question of the day. Why is the fungi purple on one side of the decomposing tree and yellow on the other? What are rime ice, ice needles, and ice flowers? Is it dead or alive; it’s decomposing yet there’s so much life within it. Who has been eating this rhododendron leaf? Who is Benton McKay and why is that trail named after him and what did he discover?
Of course the girls also continue to try to keep up with their education back home, and they are reading their school books, working math problems and studying their spelling lists. Everything is enhanced and supplemented with their time on the trail. One of my daughters struggles with spelling,yet seems to be doing great as she recites her words down the trail. Why did I not think of walking and studying spelling lists before?
We are so grateful for the many people that continue to donate to the nonprofit organizations we have chosen to support. When Maya (Horse Power) heard another hiker talking about their charities the other day she was so glad that people would know the importance of rehoming and relocating horses off the racetrack. They are a huge part of her world and she’s glad that so many are learning about this important issue. Sabina (Baby Bunny) is excited that people are supporting the food bank and says she can’t wait to take her whole class to visit and package food like she has done in the past. Josie and Harper are grateful that their organizations are continuing to be supported as well. Our family is grateful for the support of B-Rad and are excited to continue to support them and work with them as they get so many people outdoors in life impacting and altering experiences such as ours… With much gratitude to all these organizations for all they do we are excited to continue to support them and reach our goals. The other night in the tent, Horse Power said, mom $2000 is your goal… I immediately wondered if I had set this up and she didn’t have ownership (I spent a lot of time with the girls having them choose organizations and set up their goals, so this worried me) and I asked her to tell me more. She said our goal is to raise as much as we can and help. I was so excited to see her investment and dedication to the cause. Their service continues to be a great motivation!
You can continue to donate to each of the nonprofit organizations directly on our support page by clicking on their link. (Please make sure to note “Awaking Dreams” so we can keep track of the money raised through our AT thru-hike). Or you can make a general donation through PayPal our GoFund me, also on our support page. All donations through PayPal and GoFund me will be divided among the organizations and our adventure unless specified.
We also still have T-shirts for sale… I will give you more information about our logo and how to get them in our next post…
For now we are headed upward and onward out of NOC to Fontana Dam. We will do the front country of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as the girls complete their Junior Ranger packets. We will slackpack up to the trail and the girls will have an opportunity to see why the Great Smoky Mountains are so important and protected by our country .