The sun slowly slides behind a distant western ridge, its purple, pink, and orange glow still lingering in the evening sky. The colors bleed into one another, making it impossible to discern where one begins and another ends. As I lean back against the moss covered trunk of a downed tree, I can feel the warmth from the fire on my face. The flames dance from side to side with the ebb and flow of a crisp spring breeze. I take another sip of fresh pressed coffee from my mug, savoring its rich, dark, earthy tones; savoring this moment as well. The stillness is intoxicating. The crackle of the fire, the wind in the trees, and the soothnig hoot of an owl nearby all add to the sense of peace that is gently infiltrating my body and mind. I let out a deep, long breath and my eyes slowly close. It's as if every muscle in my body exhales with me. After another sip of coffee, steam slowly rises from the opening in the lid. My eyes follow it upwards, and I now notice the half full moon directly above me and the handful of stars that have begun making their heavenly positions known. The branches of the trees are raised and outstretched like arms, praising and welcoming the darkening night sky. A better script for the day's end could not have been written by even the most talented of playwrites nor produced on the grandest of movie screens. There is no substitue for nature. Creation cannot be outdone. I sit in humble awe with the crackle of the fire, the wind in the trees, and the soothing hoot of an owl nearby. I am blessed to be a witness.
We walked into the nice little moutnain town of Damascus, VA yesterday afternoon and are enjoying a relaxing morning of coffee shop conversations and errand running before getting back on the trail latter today. Things are going really well for Lola and I. Since leaving Hot Springs, NC, we've had only two days of rain. We seem to be getting more and more into the groove of trail life and our bodies getting into trail shape. Last week, in six days we hiked a little over 113 miles! Feelin' good, lovin' the adventure, excited about what's ahead. We have to make sure and give a shout out to Patrick (Laura's cousin) and Frances who met us when we crossed the Nolichucky River and let us hang out with them for a night. Thanks you two for running us around so that we could resupply and for the amazing dinner. Patrick grilled us steaks, and then even went a little further and had breakfast for us in the morning before droppnig us off at the trailhead! I'm pretty sure we have eaten more steak in the last month than we had in the last year. Thanks again guys! And thanks everybody for the comments and encouragement. It's awesome to hear from you all when we get into towns. Much love, many blessings, and happy hiking!!
After 23 days and about 280 miles on the trail, we made it to Hot Springs, NC and are taking a needed break. Our friend Donny who lives in Asheville came and picked us up and is letting us hang out and take a break at his place. It feels great to get clean, have some good food, sleep in a bed, and hang out with a friend. For those of you who don't know him, Donny is a fun guy to hang out with and a great host as well. Last night he treated us to a minor league baseball game, and he had a little surpirse activity for us up his sleeve. A friend of Donny's works for the local baseball team, and so the two of them arranged for Laura and I to do a little "crowd participation." I'll let the video explain the rest. I think my head is still spinning! It's been an amazing trip so far. Thanks for all the hospitality Donny, and for the sweet shirt!
Oh where to begin?!?!?!?! First off, thank you all so much for the many words of encouragement and comments on the blog. It's a real treat to hear from you guys and gals when we are able to get on a computer. I know it's been a while since our last post, so I'll try my best to recap the past couple of weeks. Here it goes... The day after leaving Neels Gap, we had a nice surpirse in the form of Jonathan Hall(Bess Depriest's brother) meeting us along the trail and spending a night with us on top of Rocky Mtn. Not only was his company awesome, he brought 7 steaks with him and cooked them for us that night. WOW!!! Steaks on the trail!!! I think the infamous "trail appetite" kicked in, because I had 4 of them. Jonathan, you have attained legendary status in our minds. We cannot say thank you enough.
The next morning we woke up to some pretty terrible weather. High winds, rain, and hail. By mid day we were completely soaked, but we pushed on and hiked a little over 15 miles to make it to The Blueberry Patch Hostel outside of Hiawassee, GA. It's operated by a former thu-hiker and his wife out of their home, and it was awesome. They took us in all wet and muddy and smelling lovely I'm sure, and gave us a bed, hot shower, and then did our laundry for us. We were in disbelief. Then in the morning, they fed us a breakfast of eggs, pancakes, sausage, biscuits, gravy, and homemade blueberry syrup. At this point I considered giving up the dream of thru-hiking and instead adopting the new dream of living with Gary and Lennie!! Not really, but, wow, what great folks!
Fast forward to today... It's our 21st day on the trail and we just walked out of the northern egde of Smoky Mountain National Park. We spent the last 5 days traversing the park and it was absolutely unbelieveable. The mountains were magnificent, stretching out like endless ocean waves. There were miles and miles of ridge-walks, postcard views from rocky peaks, another powerful storm with lightning and hail and everything else, and for stretches we were hiking in two and a half feet of snow!! If I knew how to insert a "face in the sun, arms open wide, arched-back yell from the top of my lungs" link on this blog, I'd put it right here. We're both still letting it all sink in.
Overwhelmingly overwhelmed so far! As of today, we've walked 247.2 miles, and as I look at my guidebook, it tells me there's only 1940.7 to go. Life is good! Thanks so much to everyone for the comments. We feel truely blessed to have you all in our lives. We'll post more pictures and hopefully some video as soon as we are able. Much love, many blessings, and happy hiking . . . Sunrise Over Sea & Lola
P.S. Oh yea, we got trail names. Laura's (Lola) was inspired by Isa Finegold and mine (Sunrise Over Sea) by my tatoo.