Wednesday, April 30, 2014

682.9 - HOME

It's been a minute since I last posted and so much has happened!

Coming out of Damascus, we walked a bit on the VA Creeper Trail. I hadn't been back there since I biked it with Amanda. The Creeper is fantastic! The next day we hiked into Grayson Highlands. Grayson Highlands is probably my favorite place on earth.

It's full of "wild" ponies and is home to Virginia's highest point - Mt. Rogers. The ponies were brought to the highlands back in the 70s from Assateague Island. Since then, the ponies have taken over the area and they're FAAABULOUS. I named them all Tina Turner.

Me with Tina.

After Grayson Highlands we hit the 500 mile mark! I WOULD WALK 500 MILES...

We pushed to the famous Partnership shelter. You can actually get pizza delivered to the shelter! We decided to just hitch into Marion instead to have dinner at Macados. We were sitting at the bar and our bartender just so happened to be a former thru-hiker, named Rambunny. She's the fist woman to thru-hike the Trail 3 times... in 3 consecutive years. She was an incredible lady. We sat and chatted with her for a few hours and as we were leaving, she gave us all kisses on the forehead and told us we were going to make it. It's the little things like that that keep you going. Rambunny, hope you read this - it was such an honor to meet you! I'll be looking forward to hearing when you hike it again at 80!

The next day after Partnership was our biggest day to date - we ended at 25.5 miles that day. It was a pretty amazing day. We came across the Lindamood school. It was an old schoolhouse from the turn of the century and inside, we met a couple who had set up the best trail magic we've received the whole trip. Their son had hiked a few years ago, and they had a box full of everything a thru-hiker could need/want/dream of.

The wildlife sightings have really picked up. Lots of deer, a bald eagle! AND SNAKES. Andrew forgot to mention that the AT is full of snakes that want nothing but to kill me. I've seen 800 (4) anacondas (garter snakes) that came at me with their fangs (sat innocently as I screamed and sprinted away).

The last 50 miles went by rather quickly. I was feeling good after a quick stop in Pearisburg so I pulled a 27.1 mile day. I really want that 30! Took it out of me the next day though. I was dragging ass. But now, I'm sitting at my mom's house-turned-hiker hostel. We have 9 hikers (Kristo, Ice Party, Wees, Geared Up, Wingin It, Sisyfis, Sassafras, Hype) staying with us right now as the storms pass through.

This little break was just what I needed and I'm having the best time hanging out with everyone here. We've eaten well and spent our time watching movies and singing songs. Mom and Mike have been amazing. I can't thank them enough. Mom definitely needs to open her own hostel. She would be the best.

Hitting Dragons Tooth and the Homeplace tomorrow, McAfee and Tinker on Friday. It's so amazing to be hiking these hikes again and connecting them all. More soon!

Mail drops/packages/letters:

Kristen Bacon
C/O Rockfish Gap Outfitters
1461 E. Main St.
Waynesboro, VA 22980
ETA May 6, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I'M IN VIRGINIA! AND I'M SO EXCITED. We crossed the TN/VA border yesterday morning around 11am and then ran the last 3.5 miles to Damascus, VA. Damascus is one of the more popular trail towns you come across. The trail cuts right through the middle of town - on the sidewalk!

 TN/VA Border. Snow in mid-April! 8|

Since Hot Springs, I've made a pretty great group of friends. I spend my days hiking with Geared Up and Wingin' It. Geared Up is actually from Portland! He hiked the PCT last year, doing the AT this year, and doing the CDT in 2016 to complete his Triple Crown. There are a lot of Triple Crowners out here - most notably, Shroomer. Shroomer is a self-proclaimed "old hippie" and probably the coolest man I've ever met in my life. He was telling me that the AT is the hardest of the three, physically. The CDT and PCT were created and graded for stock. They will switchback you up a mountain whereas the AT will run you straight up the side of it.

This made me feel better as I am usually withering away and dragging by mile 17ish every day.


I actually caught up to my people yesterday! I got to see Wees, Ice Party, Listen, Squirrel, Napoleon, Jenna, Hype - just everyone I had been hiking with previously, before my little home break. It was so nice seeing all of them again. They pushed ahead today but I decided to take a day off in Damascus and let my body heal a bit before hitting the trail again. I'll catch them again - have to take Ice to a dance party!

I have been averaging about 18 miles/day. We have really picked it up in the last few weeks. Have done a few 20+ mile days and a little bit of night hiking here and there. I don't like night hiking though. I'm usually scared shitless and just basically running. I like the comforts of my sleeping bag once the sun goes down- where I can enjoy my Snickers bar in peace, please and thank you. P sure there are at least 8 candy wrappers floating around in the bottom of my sleeping bag right now~

Other than a few aches and pains, my body is doing okay! I had a swollen ankle in Erwin, TN but things seem to be healing fine. I stayed in Kincora hostel in Hampton, TN - run by the trail-famous, Bob Peoples. He was the sweetest man and looked exactly like Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka so of course, I immediately fell in love.


The hiking has been incredible, the people have been fantastic. We have had a lot of "trail magic" recently. We hitched into one town during one of our big days to have dinner and made some small talk with some other people having dinner in the restaurant. As they were leaving, they put $30 on our table and said, "your next meal is on us."

More trail magic. IT'S LIKE FINDING GOLD.

Just good people doing good things. Good good.

 Wingin' It eating the "HOLY COW!" - 5 patties, 3 buns, 6 pieces of bacon, cheese, a scoop of chili, 2 onion rings - all rolled into one heart attack. And he ordered a side salad. Champ.

The trail can be tough, but I am having such a great time. Whenever I have a down moment, something - or someone - will come along and pick me back up again. Finding the silver lining is key out here.
"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'" - Vonnegut
 Next maildrop - if you'd like to send any letters, postcards, candy, whatever. I love it all.

Kristen Bacon
C/O Woods Hole Hostel
3696 Sugar Run Rd.
Pearisburg, VA 24134
Please hold for AT hiker
ETA April 22, 2014

PS. I am Prom Queen - officially and forever. It's growing on me.

Friday, April 4, 2014


Quick update! Hanging in Hot Springs. Did 18.7 yesterday and 18 today, going to try to push 20 tomorrow! Feeling really good aside from tired feet.

Got to the hostel and found I had received some packages/letters AND IT MADE MY WEEK. I'll be writing back as soon as I can take a zero. Doing my best to catch back up to my friends so it may be a while.

Out of the Smokies! The Smokies challenged me emotionally and physically. Probably the most I've ever been pushed, for that they will always have a special place in my heart.

Side note, saw my first snake and almost quit on the spot.


The Smokies

Letters n things!

Ok signing off. Will hit Erwin, TN in a few days. If you'd like to send anything, maybe Damascus will best. I like letters.

Kristen Bacon
C/O Sundog Outfitter
331 Douglas Dr.
Damascus, VA 24236
Please hold for AT hiker
ETA April 16, 2014

Ps. New trail name (again!) = smiley