Phyllis sent the following update to Moultrie News on April 13th. She’s planning to be in Damascus, VA in about 1 month, but will send an update as soon as possible. Moultrie staff edited and corrected typos for easier reading.
Phyllis’ update from the trail, Sunday April 13:
I want to update you all on the trip. Please forgive the typos; I am doing this on my phone because we don’t have access to computers. Sometimes we go for days without communication because we are so deep in the woods.
The trail is brutal and I have seen so many hikers leave the trail- most of them so tired and a lot with injuries. Retread hiked 50 miles and loved it, but some of the trail was so rugged and narrow he had stress fractures to his feet. I cried like a baby when I had to leave him in Georgia but it was the right decision for him.
Rule of thumb is: if you can make it to North Carolina, you have a good chance to make it to Katahdin.
Yesterday (April 12), I hiked by a young lady from Atlanta. Her trail name is diva and she is an EMT from Atlanta ( probably late 20′s). She was sitting on a log crying. I stopped, along with several other hikers, to help her but she said she her hike was over because she fractured a bone in her foot. I gave her a hug; we all cried with her but there was nothing we could do but hike on. She called for help and everyone I hiked with was really careful about where we stepped after that.
A hike can end so quickly with just one wrong step. The trail has lots of narrow trails with tree roots and loose rocks; I have almost twisted my ankle many times. Yesterday (April 12), we hiked up Albert mountain (4865 feet); it was so scary because I had to put my hiking poles on the back of my pack and climb using my hands. A couple of hikers had panic attacks but made it to the top. The view was amazing and you actually forget how hard the hike was once you saw the view.
I meet hikers, camp with them, then don’t see them for a few days and then hear they left the trail. I am seeing fewer and fewer hikers on the trail. I met a father/son hiker team and their packs were over 60lbs each when I started in Georgia. They quit after the first night. My pack is one of the lightest on the trail and I am still trying to lighten it. Climbing up the side of a mountain with drops of thousands of feet to the bottom is so hard to do with a heavy pack.
I sent my stove home the first week and gave up coffee. I am eating summer sausage, breads and lots of tuna in the shelf stable packets. I have not lost weight but have lost inches. I’m finally getting my trail legs.
I am hiking 12 miles a day now and have found a great group of folks to hike with. Everyone hikes their own hike during the day and camps together at night near a shelter. We start early in the morning, usually around 7:30, hike all day to the next shelter and usually get into camp around 6:00. We set up our tents, replenish our water, eat, and go to sleep as soon as it is dark.
I have not slept in a shelter since they are noisy dirty and full of mice! Lots of young hikers like to use shelters. It took me a while to get comfortable hanging my food in a bear bag from a tree, but if you have anything in your tent: food, toothpaste, etc., the bears will tear your tent up to get it…and they can smell food from a long way!
We had a lesson in animals from an expert at a hostel the other night in Georgia. He said if you step out of your tent at night to pee and you see red eyes: it is a bear, green eyes: it is a deer, blue eyes: it is a bear cub and yellow eyes: it is a wolf, big cat or other dangerous animal. I have seen three snakes on the trail but they slither away when they see you.
I love the trail but it has been really cold at night- sometimes dipping to 20′s at 4:00 in the morning. My biggest challenge is sleeping, which makes for a tiring day when you spend so many hours hiking. Folks along the trail are wonderful.We have run into trail angels; These are folks that love to hike, have thruhiked or attempted to thruhike, and understand how important it is to have food. They park their car at a gap off the trail and greet hikers to provide food or sodas.
This is the most difficult challenge I have ever had, but I love it. Staying healthy is so important. I ran out of food yesterday (since I eat like a horse) and my fellow hikers reached in their bags and shared their food. It really is like a big family. We hiked into town last night (April 12). We are in Franklin NC and are spending the night to resupply and get showers….we really needed showers! I am excited about getting back on the trail and getting more miles in. I should be in Damascus, VA for trail day by May 15.