January 30, 2011

De Ca-Boose

Well, I'm sure you are all dying to know how the weekend camping / hiking trip went. It was a blast! Brock, Mimi & I had to head down on Friday after work to meet Mike, Papa, Mel, Jordan & Mo. It was about a 3 hour ride to Amicalola Falls State Park, GA - and we had all of the camping gear except for what Mike & Papa had been carrying, so we ended up setting up camp in the dark. No worries though, the boys are pros at setting up camping gear. Friday night it was about 23 degrees outside - just in case you don't know, that's well below freezing - and we nearly froze. We slept scattered around 2 camp grounds [4 tents total] and quickly decided on Saturday morning that all of the yougins would pile into the 4 man tent [that was 6 of us total...but it worked well, we slept head-to-toe in a row & were nice and toasty all night long!]. 

Saturday we all ate breakfast together & broke out in our groups for a day of hiking.

Jordan, Mo & Mel waiting on breakfast

Mike, Brock & I wanted to hike all the way to the top of Springer Mt., 7.3 miles away from our campground &  the actual start to the AT. (: We made it to the top in right at 3 hours [the sign at the bottom suggests 6 hours each way - ppsshhh]. Brock carried a day pack & Mike carried his brand-spankin'-new fanny hip pack while I trudged along in my pack that I'll be carrying on the trail. I did it mainly to see what it would be like hiking that far with a pack that was decently full - let's just say that it was a great practice run. While my pack wasn't as heavy as it is going to be, it was nice to know what it'll be like to have something attached to my body for miles and miles of walking. Mike said that eventually you don't even realize it's there - that it sort of becomes a natural extension of yourself. 

Brock, Mike & Me gettin' ready for our hike

over half way in 1.5 hours!

the plaque and the first blaze of the trail for northbound hikers

the plaque for the Southern Terminus 

Mike, Me & Brock at the top! The next time we're here we'll be starting our northbound trek!  

I'm sure you've heard me mention trail names in the past. If not, everyone on the trail has a trail name that you go by---that other hikers know you by. Mine came easily...you ready for this?!


I quite literally trudged a good 200 - 300 ft behind the boys for most of the hike. Let me just say that I am A-OK with this. [Side note: at one point the boys were up ahead, within sight of course, as we passed a lady slightly older than us sitting on a rock in full hiking gear studying some maps. The boys fairly skipped past her...and here I came, about 200 feet back, carrying my full pack just trucking along---she looked up & quite concernedly said "Hi...um, are you with those guys?!" I smiled because I'm sure she was thinking, "What jerks to leave this poor girl who is carrying all of their stuff so far behind." Then I answered that "I sure am, I'm just bringing up the Ca-Boose!" She responded that she was glad - I truly think she was worried about me - and that I had a nice pack...] Anyway, I told the boys that I am like the Little Engine That Could - while it may take me all day to get where we're going, I can go all day. I know I don't have the speed that they have, but I do have endurance...which may do more for me in the long run! After my name came along we decided that our group is going to be The Run Away Train - Mike is The Conductor & Brock is Engine One. 

Enough rambling. Here are some thoughts that I jotted down in my journal about the hike & weekend:
  • my shoes were too small [glad to have figured this out early]
  • my joints HURT at the end of the day. I'm sure they'll get used to walking up and down mountains - just not in one day / night. [but I now know that I am fully capable of carrying 1/5 my body weight for miles and miles)
  • the trial is beautiful. SO beautiful even in the dead of winter. It is also so peaceful in the quiet spurts between our random ramblings with each other.
  • I can't believe in just 6 [short] weeks we'll be coming back, only this time to walk to Virginia. CRAZY!
  • While I was super tired (and sore) - it was so rewarding! I've been told that this experience will be one of the toughest things I'll ever do, but also one of the most rewarding. Bring it on!
  • My 15 degree bag isn't going to work. [bummer - because we just bought that sucker ... but it was too short! and i was cold!] We're gonna have to try to sell it & buy something different. 

January 27, 2011

comin' right along...

Update from the trail [from Mike & his papa]: Tuesday - after a huge breakfast at the Coach House, the boys headed out. They arrived about 4 hours later at Neels Gap - the starting point of their 4 day mini-trip. I got word that it rained on them all day.  Hey, at least Mike got to test out our rain gear...he said it works wonderfully! Being wet, the boys hiked for about 5 miles and bedded down in a shelter for the night. They woke up to two inches of snow on Wednesday and a 12 mile hike. [So not only were they wet...they were cold!] I haven't spoken with Mike today, but I'm hoping they got in a full day of dry hiking! 

Meanwhile, back on the homestead - I'm gettin' ready for the camping / hiking extravaganza this weekend:

My stuff that's gotta all fit in my pack
Clothes for 2 days, sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries [which consists of only the bare necessities]

my pack ready to swallow up all my stuff

All stuffed. Yes, I'm sure you notice that my sleeping bag is packed horizontally across the pack about 3/4 of the way up. Oh well, I had a really hard time stuffing my clothes in the bag with everything else. [I'm trying to figure out what the perfect clothes for this chilly / warm January weather is, so I've packed a few extra things to figure out what is good & what I'll like in March]. Practice will make perfect! 

On another note:
We have our very first sponsor for our trip! Thanks to the Appalachian Trail Blog we realized that we could ask companies to sponsor us [aka provide free product for us on the trail!] 

Minute Rice gets the award for being our VERY FIRST sponsor! 
They were kind enough to send us two whole cases of rice for the trail...

YUM! We can't wait to get on the trail and eat all of this yummy rice! (: A HUGE thanks to Minute Rice!

PS--If you or someone you know has a product (food or gear) that you would be willing to donate to our trip - let me know!! (: 

January 24, 2011

plans for the trip

We just talked to Brock last night [now] two nights ago - who is going to be joining us in May to finish the trail & decided that we needed to figure out our whereabouts for when he joins us. I discovered the Appalachian Trail Hike 2010 blog [way back when we started planning our trip] and have studied it over and over. Their start date is so similar to ours that we're hoping to mirror their trip, well actually we hope to be a few days ahead of where they were when we come off the trail for Mel's graduation celebration. These guys took a break for their own college graduations, so we figured we could certainly take a break to celebrate Mel & then head back [only after a cruise with the Martins of course...a vacation from our vacation, if you will (:]. Anyway, Mike & I decided that we hope to be in Waynesboro, VA - at the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park [approximately 852.5 miles from the start at Springer Mt., GA]. This means we'll be over 1/3 of the way to Mr. Katahdin [in just 6 weeks!]. 

I am currently working on a list of "Must See" towns ... we're hoping to take "zero days" [aka no hiking days] in about 10 towns along the way. These will have two purposes: rest, obviously -- hopefully somewhere to get clean & wash our clothes & mail drops! I will be posting these towns [with sending instructions] just in case you find it somewhere deep down in your hearts to send us stuff - which we'll greatly appreciate & most likely need! So, if you or any of your family live on or near the trail and would be willing to have us, please let me know! [any time past VA there will be at least 3 of us...really hungry & very stinky!]

Another fun aspect of this trip is going be getting home. You know, since we'll be 2,179 miles from home with no car. We know that flying will be out-of-the-question-too-expensive, so we've decided to hop on a bus from Portland, ME and head to Boston. I've always wanted to see Boston, and since we'll be passin' right by...why not now?! (: [I'll finish the trail even if it's only to see Boston on the way home! haha] Then, we'll catch the train from Boston home - it'll deliver us right to Greenville and we won't have to pay extra for our bags [or what little of a bag we'll be carrying]. Looks like we'll be having an adventure on our way home from our adventure!

On another note - real life - well, the present life we are living - Mike & his Papa leave tomorrow for the mini-trip! I can't wait to hear how it's going to be...they're getting to try out all of our new gear [I'll get to join Friday after work for a weekend escapade!]. Good stuff (:

D day countdown: 47 days

January 19, 2011

Painting, Working, Hiking! Oh, my!

Currently, my life is dominated by paint. Some Most evenings after work [either working all day, or part of the day] I stay at the office to help Mike paint. We actually have a great system. He cuts, I roll. While he cuts, I do the trim on the doors [which is painstakingly slow...and I still have 19 to do, just in the hallway!] We are getting it done though. We're almost finished with "phase 1" -- 9 patient rooms / bathrooms. The next phase is the long hallway that wraps the building [hopefully to be completed this weekend], and the last phase is the patient waiting room. Our goal was to be finished by Jan. 31 - which would mean painting for a little less than a month...but it looks like we're going to be pushed back a week because of the upcoming camping / hiking trip!

I have no before & after shots because we are painting the walls the same color as they were before...just in a satin finish instead of a flat finish. You can tell a difference when looking at it, but it's not worth documenting.

Our upcoming "mini-trip" - the countdown is on! Mike and his Papa leave next Tuesday! They'll be hiking / camping for four days until the rest of us [the girls] can get off school / work to join! I am super pumped! Since we'll be camping for the weekend at the Amicalola Falls State Park, I'm going to get a chance to [attempt] a 16 mile hike in a day. I haven't decided if I'm going to stuff my pack full to try to simulate what it will really be like or if I'm just going to go at it - to get a feel for 16 miles [the latter will probably win because I'm sure I'll be toting my camera & documenting!] I'll keep you posted!

As a side note, I've been able to start working out at the new GHS Family YMCA [the old Livninside out] - it's been wonderful! To have a full gym of equipment again! And classes! And the movie room! Ahhhh...I am in heaven (:

January 13, 2011

"D"eparture day countdown is on!

"D"eparture day [from now on known as D-day] is exactly 2 months from today. Woah! What?!?! You mean I only have 2 measly months left of comfort? Of warmth? Of good food? Of a bed to sleep in? Of a job?

What are my thoughts on these mere 59 days that we have left in good ole [currently snow covered] Simpsonville? First - I am thinking of all that we have left to do. Sure, we've made the BIG move, transferred the majority of our stuff to a storage unit, quit or put in our notices at work, and of course, geared up. However, we still have lots of stuff to take care of: insurance - health & car, saving as much money as possible to pay for this adventure so we don't have to dip into savings, really finishing gearing up, picking a few towns for mail drops [in case anyone wants to send us stuff...hint, hint!], learning to eat only oatmeal, nuts, dried fruits, and such...to name a few.

People ask "How are you preparing for this?" My best answer is: We aren't. I couldn't possibly prepare myself for walking approximately 2,179 miles while toting a large, heavy small sized child on my back, the complete and utter silence that is sure to engulf us daily, the beauty & creativity that God is going to show us, the people we'll meet, the hunger, cold, and fatigue that I'm sure we're going to feel more days than not. Sure, we're picking a few towns for mail drops and deciding on the Must-See-Towns that we must see...but that's about it. 

Am I okay giving it all [the aforementioned things] up? Uh, yea! One of the things I am most looking forward to is being homeless. Not because I think it'll be "cool" or "radical" to be homeless. I just can't wait for the simplicity of literally carrying everything on my back for 6 months. If I can't carry it, I don't need it. 

I do keep praying for warmth (: [and if possible, no snow blowing in on us - pelting us from every direction]. But hey, we're starting in March...in the mountains of Georgia. I guess I should start preparing myself for snow, and probably lots of it. 

I am currently reading A Walk in the Woods [Bill Bryson] & it is HYSTERICAL! I love it. I tell Mike frequently that I hope our experiences rival this man's in hilarity. I'm quite sure we'll have our fair share of them. 
         Here's a passage from the book: "Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception. The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know. Planetary scale is your little secret. Life takes on a neat simplicity too. Time ceases to have any meaning. When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again, you get up, and everything in between is just in between. It's quite wonderful, really." BRING.IT.ON. 

PS--I wanna throw out a HUGE "Congrats" to my little sister & her fiance!! (: Whooohooo! Love to you both, Haley & Kendall! 

January 11, 2011


Our first snow day of the year brought about much playing (red-neck style of course), hot chocolate, great friends, and lots of frozen fingers & toes! 

my feet prints in the snow

i love this lantern. it provided one of my favorite pictures of the day when it was raining one day 

my car has never seen this much snow!

our home (: [with the Martins]

the Martin's house! so pretty! 

the view down the street

BD's mom sledding with us! 

Megan, Kayla & Me 
sweet, sweet friends! 

my parents house

Carson - my sweet little brother 

Mike & Sully dog

me jumpin' off the ramp in the back yard being pulled by the 4-wheeler

mikey waiting for his turn 
[i think this is super cute...he looks like a little kid]

Happy to be celebrating a *Snow Day* 

January 10, 2011

farewell 2K10

The end of the year brought about celebrating Melanie's birthday, a ski trip to West Virginia with Carson's youth group, and a trip to the lake to ring in the New Year! 

Mimi makin' Mel's red velvet gingerbread birthday cake

The final product! So cute! 

b-day presents for Melbug!

friends celebrating Mel's birthday!

the beautiful barn outside my window

i loved the old truck covered in snow

Carson comin' down the mountain! He did AWESOME for his first ski trip! 

Carson & Mike hikin' up the mountain after the lift closed down due to a power outage (yea - that sounds bad, but they were able to get everyone off the lift safely)

Mike shreddin' one of the (three) blacks

my handsome skier 

Me, Delaney, Carson, Mike 
ski buddies

sweet baby David! (and his papa Matt)

Em & David 

Mikey & David

Carson & Me on the dock at the lake 

Papa Martin & his pups

January 7, 2011

big adventures coming soon!

Many of you know [or perhaps you don't know] that Mike &I are getting ready to thru-hike the AT [or Appalachian Trial for all you city dwelling, non-out-doorsy people]. We've been gearing up for about 2 months now...and boy, it is expensive! Not only was our "old" gear not warm enough, it was way too heavy. When you're carrying everything on your back for approximately 2,179 miles it must be manageable, preferably light. We've now upgraded / downsized to sleeping bags that weigh under 1.5 pounds, rain gear that is literally as light as a feather, and camping cookery that is sure to help our waist lines. None-the-less, we are pumped! After much [MUCH] thought & prayer, we've decided to take time away from our jobs, families, friends, and the normal humdrum of life to do this. Hey, we'll only be at this stage in our lives once--no kiddos, no house payment, no car payments, no nothing...except a small amount of stuff that fit into a storage unit that my dad is so graciously letting us use for free.

So, we've packed up all of our stuff [we actually did this over the Christmas holidays -- if you look closely at any pictures from our house you can see boxes and little-to-no furniture!] and moved in with the Martin's. They have a room above their garage that they have [also] so graciously let us move into rent free. We're excited to have some down time with the 'rents - lots of movies, dinners, lounging around the house dates, etc. to look forward to.

Another big change for us is that Mike is no longer working his regular job. His last day was the day before the Christmas holidays. He jokes that he is now a blue-collar 2nd shift worker because right now he's "painting for cash." My uncle is paying us to paint his doctor office - so Mike's job [and really my 2nd job] starts around 5, after the patients and staff have gone home for the evening. So far we've been painting for about 6-8 hours a day. Knockin' it out! *I will say, having 2 jobs again is wearing me out quickly!

Right now we're kind of in the waiting stage. We've made the BIG move, gotten most of our gear [we're lacking small things now], planned a section-hike in January to get a feel for it, and started preparing ourselves [I tell myself every single day that my warm, cozy life won't be warm and cozy again until about June when we'll be hiking through the New England states].

Oh yea! Our good friend Brock Cooke is going hike about 2/3 of the trail with us! Our plan is to come home in May for about a week to celebrate Melanie's graduation from PC. At that point, Brock is going to drive back with us to pick up where-ever-it-is that we will be. Hopefully some point in Northern Virginia...or maybe to West Virginia.

So, that's what we Martin's are up to for now! Stay tuned - pictures of gear, snip-its about our section-hike in January, and our thoughts / fears / prayers / feelings about our journey will be coming soon!

January 6, 2011

a white Chistmas & 24th birthday for me!

after all of the family Christmas festivities Mike & I headed home...

 mmmmm I sure do love the snow!

what a punk!

There was also a HUGE pile of snow at the bottom of the door & even some inside from his attempts to hit me while I was trying to snap a picture of him!

Happy Birthday to MEEEEE!!!!  
Mike got me a pack for our upcoming trip for my birthday!
He was stuffing it with all of our clean laundry to show me how it would feel completely loaded.

our 2nd "ha-partment" covered in snow!
this was the view on the way out of town for my birthday trip to Pretty Place!

Gorgeousness on the way to Pretty Place...a true Winter Wonderland! (:
All for me on my birthday!

Mike took me up here for the first birthday that we spent together (I turned 18) - this was the 7th birthday that we've been together. Man, I'm gettin' old!

Mike (and his "solar-shields") and me

Mike & me in the shadow of the cross

"In the shadow of Your cross, I will live for all my days
How could I forget the price You paid
In the shelter of Your love I will give You all my praise
In the shadow of Your cross I will stay..." [joel engle]

Snow angels in the soccer field - only I was dumb enough to plop down in the deep snow! It got all in my clothes - up my shirt, down my pants, in my socks..everywhere! But hey, I made a real snow angel on my real birthday!

We celebrated my birthday with dinner at Honey's house (meatloaf = my favorite! yumm)  - including both side of our families. It's always a treat to have everyone together - especially when we're celebrating my a birthday!

Happy birthday to me!! (: Can ya tell how much I LOVE my birthday!?