Day #5-Big miles, plenty of smiles; Miles Hiked: 19.6

Today was my first high mileage day, but there was a hamburger stop at mile 9, so all was well. But first was a great view from Chimney Rocks!In the middle of the day, we decided to make the trek to Timbers Restaurant where we charged devices and dined on hamburgers.The afternoon brought beautiful mountain laurel and the nicest shelter I’ve ever seen-it even had board games!How many frogs do you see??More tomorrow as the rain rolls in.

Day #4-Friends from all places, Miles Hiked: 8.3

Today was a lovely “nero” (near zero miles) day with our UMC trail angel. Honey Legz and I were both craving some piano, and Marie was kind enough to connect us with the grand at Grace UMC. Thanks Marie!From there it was back to lounging with the kitties and relaxing before my friends Daniel and Kyler arrived to hike a section with me.How many hikers can you fit in one truck? Six!

After being dropped off at the PA/MD border we crossed the Mason Dixon line and officially entered the North. After 8 miles of night hiking it was off to bed where the rain started. Some poor other hikers didn’t put up their rain flys and were awakened by a downpour at 4 am. Thankfully, our bunch was snug and dry in the shelter. More adventures to come in Pennsylvania!

Day 3-Goodbye Maryland and UMC trail magic; Miles hiked: 16.1

Today was a march towards the Maryland/Pennsylvania border and my first UMC trail magic.

The beginning part of the day was a bit rough between the bugs coming out and the rocks of the mid-Atlantic beginning.However, as it goes on the Appalachian Trail, the sun came out and my day turned around. I got to walk with some new friends through some beautiful farmland and past the highest point in Maryland: High Rock.The hiker I’ve been hanging around the past few days and I are now enjoying showers, dinner, and laundry with an amazing UMC trail angel who rescued us from the trail today. Thank you for your hospitality! Ps-they have cats!

Day 2-Sunsets and new friends; Miles hiked: 14.3

Today was full of surprises! After waking up to a sunrise I watched from the warmth of my sleeping bag, I set out for day 2 of my adventure.From there it was a nice morning walk to a backpacking campground with showers, bathrooms, and a plug for phone charging-what luxury! While taking a hearty 3 hour siesta at the backpacking site, I reconnected with a hiker from the hostel last night. We parted ways knowing that he was faster and assuming we’d never see each other again, but only a few miles later we ran into each other again at some roadside trail magic (did I mention I passed an interstate??).Long story short, the hiker and I continued on together and have decided to camp tonight at a beautiful overlook and push some miles into town tomorrow.Thanks to the wonderful ministry I am serving with on my walk, we have a UMC trail angel picking several of us up tomorrow evening! All hikers in this crew are happy to receive the hospitality and word that I’m a trail chaplain is officially out. Happy trails!

Day 1-Hello AT; Miles hiked: 10.1

Today I enjoyed a waffle breakfast with my new hiking buddies at Teahorse before heading off to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (main admin office for the trail), a huge milestone for thru-hikers.

At the ATC, I checked in, bought my AT passport to stamp at hostels along the way, and had my picture taken for the official AT record book. I am the 207th flip-flopper to pass through the ATC this year!

After the ATC and one last water stop, it was off to take my first steps on the trail. Another hiker and I crossed the Potomac together and entered the state of Maryland. After lunch I met several more thru hikers and section hikers alike-and this nifty looking bug!The last attraction of the day was one of Maryland’s many historic monuments-Gathland State Park where I met even more hikers. Well…it’s almost “hiker midnight,” more adventures tomorrow!

Day 0-the trail to the trail; Miles hiked: 0.0

Well friends, after 6 months of prayer and preparation, the day had finally arrived to get going! ”Twas a long day of flying and metroing and walking, but Father was so incredibly faithful through all of it.

For starters, I flew from good ‘ole Rocky Top TYS to Washington Reagan. When I finally arrived at DCA after some travel shenanigans, the box that I’d used to check my pack was truly a sight for sore eyes-praise Him!

From there I drug my pack through the DC metro (that got some looks), enjoyed lunch with a friend from Vanderbilt, and headed out for a stroll past the monuments on the National Mall.After an impromptu nap under a shade tree (in true thru hiker spirit), it was time to head to Union Station to catch an Amtrak train to Harpers Ferry.

In the line to board the train, another thru hiker headed back to the trail instantly recognized my gear and pulled me into line with her-my first hiking buddy! Any anxiety I had about connecting with people on the AT was instantly dispelled and my new buddy and I have been enjoying Teahorse Hostel in Harpers Ferry and the kids menu at the restaurant across the street.Several of us here at Teahorse are headed to the same shelter-let the adventures in ministry begin!