100+ miles and Our First State Line!

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.

Education

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?

Service

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 .

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Springer Mountain to Neels Gap – Blood Mountain Cabins

Here we are three days in… The girls have made it 31+ miles not including all the side trips to water, camping sites, the water falls, and amazing views. The rocks and roots of Georgia are well ingrained in my memory from 20 years ago and are felt in all of our feet. We had a great start in the rain and a second very rainy day. Yesterday we had a beautiful sunny day and made it more than 14 miles! They did have the motivation of a dry cabin to sleep in😊. Among the girls favorite has been stream and creek crossings, meeting other thru-hikers, and hiking on the rocks!

Everyone has decided on their trail names… We have Papa Bear, Sunshine, Horse Power, The Sparkle Machine, Wild Jay, and Baby Bunny. They are in great spirits and continue to impress me with their stamina, determination, and excitement to continue on. We say we are slow and steady. We take many breaks and continue to rotate around packs and gears to make it work best for all. We are a team and continue to help out the weakest link. One of us has been under the weather but is starting to be more herself again and looks forward to the days to come. We had our first birthday celebration and a box of Girl Scout cookies even made it to the trail!

We made it up and over Blood Mountain, which The girls renamed dead man’s hill!

We feel so fortunate to be out in nature and on this amazing adventure and have the support of so many family and friends. The girls continue to keep the organizations they are sponsoring as a motivation as they know they are making a difference one step at a time. With much gratitude to all those who follow and continue to support us!!

Amicalola Falls State Park

The beginning! It’s finally here… After years of envisioning and months and months of planning we are ready to begin our adventure on the Appalachian Trail. We arrived at Amicalola Falls State Park late last night and spent today finalizing our packs, dropping off of our car and preparing to start hiking in the morning. Today we registered with the rangers and are now official thru- hikers. We were given some basic trail notes and a leave no trace class (ask the girls to teach you the visual top seven principles of leave no trace) and are all set to go. The girls are feeling “nervous, scared and excited”. More posts will follow but I wanted to give you some background on the previous months of planning and preparing.

-Awaking Dreams has raised $873 for the Redwood Empire Foodbank, $803 for CARMA, $408 for the B-Rad foundation, $293 for the Sonoma wildlife rescue, $220 for the Appalachian wildlife refuge, and collected over 365 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls!

– All girls got haircuts and three donated at least 10 inches to “Locks of Love”

-32 mail drops have been packed organized and ready to be mailed with food, meals, academic materials, and all the necessities We spent seven months dehydrating fruit, beans, veggies, and putting together meals. Thank you to local farmers for sharing their extra produce Thank you to my sister for helping pack all the boxes and all the family members for keeping them together and mailing them! Yes it definitely takes a village😊

– We drove all the way across the country in three days stopping in LA to drop off a dog; Petroglyph national monument where we got to see many bunnies!; Cadillac Ranch in Texas with all the old Cadillacs sticking out of the ground; and generally made great use of our pop top 2003 eurovan camper “dragonfly”.

I can’t believe this day is finally here! We will be trying to post at least once a week in the coming months….

The Dream

Awaking Dreams

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, we 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 close to $30,000 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!

There are three main goals of our adventure on the AT. They are Education, Service, and Experience.

Education:  After I hiked the AT, I went on to work with students participating in wilderness character education.  I also received my teaching credential and wrote my master’s thesis on the importance and need for more wilderness education that could easily incorporate educational standards and core concepts.  The girls’ education will continue through their currents school as an independent study program. There will be unmatched teachable moments and educational wonders around each turn. I will detail the amazement and educational inspiration found on some of our training hikes in a blog.

Service:  Learning that the world is so much bigger than you think as you step one foot in front of the other to the next state line; yet at the same time small enough that each one of us CAN make a difference; is part of the educational experience found on the AT.  On the trail you learn so much about the importance of human connection and how the world can take care of you when least expect it (“Trail Angles” are part of the AT). As part of this lesson we will use service as a motivation and means to show how we can make a difference all while hiking the trail. (More details below)

ExperienceMy 1999 thru-hike was adventurous, life-impacting and one of the greatest mental and physical challenges of my life. I learned many life lessons and spent time sharing these with schools and community groups after my hike in 1999. One of the most important lesson was to “Put Time In.” Hiking the trail is not taking time off but “putting time in.”  I cannot imagine a way to be more present or connected with my family. I also know we will find a greater connection to our earth than we could through any other experience.

We look forward to connecting with you, reaching our goals and making a difference! To help us awaken this goal send donations to “Awaking Dreams” PO Box 735, Sebastopol, CA 95473.  See the back of this page for more details.

With gratitude for your support,

Jamie, Chris, Maya, Harper, Josie, and Sabina Malone

Service: (cont.)

I have long hoped to start a non-profit that emphasizes the importance of and opens opportunities to the outdoors for those at-risk, in need, and facing terminal or life altering illnesses (such as my brother’s). I encountered a non-profit that was started in memory of a loved one, with a mission that correlates with my goal, so Chris and I will hike in support of the B-Rad foundation. I honor their mission of health, adventure, and stewardship.  Our family hopes to work with them in the future and continue to build the Awaking Dreams mission. B-Rad is also an organization that our family will continue to be part of through their stewardship initiatives when we return from the trail.

Alongside my interests and passions, Maya, Harper, Josie, and Sabina each chose a charity that they are passionate about to support for their thru-hike.  Sabina chose food and will support the local foodbank- The Redwood Empire Foodbank.  Food plays a vital element on the trail, which will be so apparent to Sabina as she hikes and bring a connection to the foodbank fundraiser. –  Josie chose to collect 2000 pairs of shoes for “Soles for Souls,” as she knows the importance shoes have in her life, and will especially have when she is hiking. Harper chose to focus on wildlife and its correlation to the health of our planet.  Her goal is to raise $2000 to divide between the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue and The Appalachian Wildlife Rescue, located in the Appalachian Mountains.  Maya’s goal is to raise $2000 for CARMA, an organization that rehabilitates and rehomes thoroughbred horses off the race track.  Horses are Maya’s passion; this is an organization that she will be able to visit and become involved with, as it is located on a track that she has frequented.

How fortunate we are when we have the food we need, shoes on our feet, a healthy environment, and healthy animals that support our passions and lifestyles.

Now comes the time where you can help awaken lives and dreams. To directly support any of the groups we are walking for, you can write a check made out to the organization with “Awaking Dreams” in the memo.  To support hike logistics or a specific need we have you can write a check to Jamie Malone “Awaking Dreams” and note specifically want you would like your donation to sponsor in the memo.  Or you can just send a check to Jamie Malone “Awaking Dreams” and we will divide it between all of our efforts. Please send all donations to Jamie Malone “Awaking Dreams” PO Box 735, Sebastopol, CA 95473.  You can also contact me at Sunshine.awaking.dreams@gmail.com.  Our blog “awaking-dreams.com” will be launched soon and we hope you will visit it as we embark on this amazing journey.

We need your help to accomplish the goal at hand and to show our girls that one person can make a difference! Please help us reach these goals.