36.6% complete and way past hiker midnight

It’s well past hiker midnight, and it’s actually well past real midnight too, so I’m wondering how in the world I’m still awake. Must be all that practice I’ve had over the years of being up late in Brooklyn or something…NYC represent, represent-zent! Maybe I’m up late because I just want to savor every second of real life that I can. (Or maybe because I don’t want the bottle of wine I bought tonight to go to waste). Either way, don’t get me wrong, I’m lovin’ the trail life, but I think what comes along with day and night after day and night of being exposed to the elements is a true appreciation of the little things that regular, modern life has to offer.

Take for example, this motel we’re staying at in lovely Buena Vista, VA. (That’s Buena pronounced like “tuna” by the way, go figure). Anyway, there’s laundry facilities, wi-fi, our room has a kitchenette where we were able to spread out and clean up and the owners are super-friendly folks who are in touch with what hikers need — a clean, dry room with space enough for all of our gear, HBO on the tv and food right nearby (they also run the Subway restaurant next door). Trust me when I say I’m not being facetious here, I really do appreciate all of this stuff in one location! I don’t have to go and filter my water, I don’t have to re-hydrate my food and I don’t smell like a mildewy goat! It’s pretty refreshing.

Out on the trail over the last 10 days, we’ve had a lot of damp, a lot of rain and not a lot of cell service. It’s kind of been a mix of cold San Francisco fog and muggy tropical rainforest, but with less rainbows and no monkeys. I did actually see a rainbow through the trees a few nights ago and it was fantastic! But as far as scenic vistas go, we’ll just have to come back to this section someday since we couldn’t make them out below the layer of cloud we were walking in. And our socks — yeeuuck! Ever accidentally leave your sweaty gym clothes in a plastic bag for a few days? That’s about what we’ve smelled like.

Some good things about the last 100+ miles though have been a.) the rhododendrons have finally come out to bloom, they’re beautiful and are out in full force, b.) we are continuing to up our average daily hiking mileage, and c.) the people just continue to be super awesome – both hikers and locals alike. We even got to stay at our hiker friend Sprout’s home in Catawba, VA! Special thanks go out to Papa Sprout for the delicious breakfast and all the hospitality.

So we continue to rack up the miles, we continue to take lots of photos (when it’s not too wet out), and we continue to learn about ourselves, our strengths and our limitations on a daily basis. There’s really a lot to be done out here when you think about it like that. All I really have to do is keep reminding myself that rain equals water sources and water is the key to life out here. (That and the lovely addition of tetra-pak organic malbec which I’ll be carrying out with me in the a.m.!)

As always, thanks for the support, the comments and the well wishes. And check out the latest page of my photos under the “Click’s Galleries” heading.
~Mel, Melissa, Click

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15 Responses to 36.6% complete and way past hiker midnight

  1. Jim Priestley says:

    You’re a real trooper Mel! Keep it up. Kudos to your dad too. He will be a changed man. For the better of course!

    If it will make you feel any better, we also are suffering from rain, almost every day!

    Keep on Truckin’

    • Mike says:

      Jim – I guess you figured out how to get out of the loop! Don’t know why that happened. You’re right about being changed. On this trip, you can’t help but to develop more patience, tolerance, friendliness, helpfulness, consideration and serious determination (it’s either that or just get off the trail and go home). Thanks for following us!

  2. Val P. says:

    Mel – With this hike being such an intense experience and a big change from your life back in the “real world”, I was wondering if you and your dad dream much at night about being on the trail, or is that something you think will catch up to you later?

    • Mel says:

      We’re not sure yet how our lives will change once we’re back to “normal.” I think things will brush off our shoulders more and we’ll be able to just roll with whatever comes our way. That and we’ll be sure to keep up with the exercise. I don’t have to do it all the time for work, but I’m not sure how sitting at a computer all day will feel after all of this movin’.

  3. SusanS says:

    Hi Melissa,
    I’m beginning to wonder if the two of you are going to be able to come back to “real life”. Or is what you’re living now really “real life”? Your experience is giving not just you and your Dad but me and I’m sure many others much to consider. Be Safe and Happy Hiking! Love, Aunt Susan

    • Mel says:

      Thanks Aunt Susan,
      This trip does facilitate a lot of time for reflection, pondering and meditation. I think “real life” is whatever you make it out to be. Not sure how that will translate when I have to go back to making money and paying bills, but I know it will change some of my motivations for sure!
      xo – Melissa

  4. Gee I really hate to be a pest,but I liked it when you told us how many miles you had walked each time you checked in with us your non-hiking trail fans.

    I mean I am really beat after only walking 2 miles in Parma Park down the road from my small hobby horse farm.

    No way can I remotely relate to the miles you have logged so far.

    Well then I look forward to the next time you check in with another progress report.
    Till then,be safe.

    • Mike says:

      Perry – FYI, we’ve now covered 898.7 miles from Springer Mountain! It’s just a tad over 42% done! You are in no way a pest; posting our mileage is a good idea!

  5. Sherri says:

    No monkeys??? That’s it! Time to come home then

    (I hope you realize I know there are no monkeys….or are there?)

  6. Dilara says:

    Hey Mel! I have been wondering about you guys in all this rain. The flowers have been out here in NYC, making me so happy, but I only see them on the way to and from the train, and I know it can’t possibly compare to what you’re seeing! Enjoy the “real life” every second! It’s the only one that counts! Miss you! xxoxo D

  7. amy wolfe says:

    hey beautiful mama as i write this, bowing down on one knee to the grace of such monumental writings from such an inspiring woman on one heckuva ‘n epic journey! melissa what you and (your dad, hi mike!! )have been and are doing is soo courageous and potent, i love love love the depth that you are expressing and sharing with us!! my head shakes from side to side in awe as i try to wrap my mind around the extent of experiences and teachings your are enduring and graciously receiving!! i can only imagine what it will be like to be physically in your presence after multiple showers and perhaps some flip flops (sans el sockos) possibly in august?!!?!? and see the massive amplification of light from your already brilliant say so much eyes! i’m sunglass shopping right now with my left hand and i-phone and writing with my righthand on the computer preparing for this moment!
    has anyone come out to join u guys on the trail for a section yet??? maybe i can round up some people and roadtrip to meet u guys for a wee little walking adventure?? time is moving so fast, what r some upcoming towns you are excited about?(i know all of them excite you for the sheer luxuries, but maybe there is one more interesting to you for a rendezvous!)
    anyhoo!! sooo much support to you guys from the far reaches of california!! i will try to write more frequently, a challenge for me, kinda like hiking the Appalachian trail, but not quite, but…… nonetheless, my little Everest of sorts……..
    again tho soooooo happy for you and all the groundwork (both literal and symbolically) that you are covering! muah muah muah!!! amy

    • Mel says:

      Wowzers! You’re amazing! Thanks so much for all the support and love. No one has joined us for a section yet – partially since we’ve been in the south and the majority of folks we know are in the north, and partially because most people we know work regular jobs and can’t take the time. It would be a little tough to facilitate a group get together – it’s kind of like you have to pick either a date or a place (but not both) to meet since we’re not 100% sure of where we’ll be at the end of each day. But perhaps when we get a little closer to home it’ll be easier. The place that we’re most looking forward to is Mt. Katahdin in Maine (the end-point)! We’ll talk!

  8. JRae says:

    I so look forward to your postings as I think about you two daily.
    I am glad you are out of the rain now. Wishing good weather!
    Our weather is nice now and I enjoy Saturday morning walks to our
    Farmers’ Market. Local strawberries are in season! They are so good.
    Are you getting fresh fruit and veggies along the way to go with your 16 ounce burgers?

    Happy Trails!

    • Mike says:

      The bad weather has finally broken, and we’re getting some nice sunshine. Thanks for the good wishes! Maybe your thoughts were manifested! We try to get fresh veggies and fruit whenever we get to a town – they don’t keep well in our packs and can be quite heavy (not dehydrated!) Once in a while, we come upon “trail angels” (folks who do helpful things for hikers, like park at a road/trail crossing and give food or drinks to hikers) who have fresh fruit. Last Sunday, we enjoyed some oranges and strawberries! Yum. Another time, we came upon one with bananas! It’s especially nice to get things like that without having to carry them!

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