When we last left Adventure Girl, she was readying herself for her re-entry to the off-trail world. Stepping off the trail somewhere near Great Barrington, MA, she journeyed back to GA to fulfill obligations regarding her soon-to-start college career.
Once she accomplished her obligations within the confines of buildings, roads and comfortable bedding, she would step back onto the AT, picking up right where she stepped off. Though more miles are behind Adventure Girl, she still faces 660 miles remaining ahead of her.
During her ride back to the Atlanta airport, where she would board a plane and head north, I spoke to Adventure Girl by phone.
“Good morning, Adventure Girl! Thanks for taking my call.”
“Sure Aunt Lenore.”
“I want you to know, many people are reading my blog, if only to stay up to date on where you are and how you are doing. So many people are cheering you on, Adventure Girl. We are all so proud of you.”
Adventure Girl chuckles, as if laughing it off. “Thanks.”
“So. I asked my readers if they had any questions for you. Not surprisingly, they did have questions.”
Question: A friend of mine knows a couple named, Neville and Michael. Apparently, Neville’s grandmother had a house along the Appalachian Trail, and she would welcome hikers into her home and give them supplies, etc. The grandmother died, and Neville and Michael have taken it over. I thought I saw Neville in the video and would love to know if Adventure Girl stayed there and how Neville/Micheal are doing.
Adventure Girl’s Response: Yup that was them actually. I think they are doing well, or at least they were when I was there. It was Neville’s grandfather that started the project. He built steps and set things up in such a way to help the hikers. The day he finished his personal project, he went to bed and forgot to take his heart medicine. He died in his sleep. Although his wife was never into the project, she felt the need to continue in his memory. Neville would visit her grandparents along with her sister. At the age of 21, Neville stayed to help her grandmother and the hikers. She actually met her husband Michael, as he thru hiked the AT, stopping at their cabin along his way.
Question: Tell us about the water situation. You’ve mentioned you’ve come across jugs near the shelters, but some of the jugs were empty. Who leaves the jugs of water?
Adventure Girl’s Response: The water jugs are supplied by Trail Magic – folks that leave random things for hikers.
Question: Generally speaking, how do you get water?
Adventure Girl’s Response: Creeks, streams, springs, rivers and if I’m desperate – swamps. The swamp water tastes really bad. Once, I found a creek. It looked like good water, so I figured I’d use it. But, as I walked along the creek, I found the source of the creek – a swamp. It was gross. (She has droplets she puts in the water to make it safe to drink.)
Question: Did you see any gardens of the Garden State (New Jersey)?
Adventure Girl’s Response: No, I didn’t see any gardens. But I did see a ton of swamps.
Question: Do you use insect repellant?
Adventure Girl’s Response: No, I don’t bother with insect repellant. As long as I am hiking, the bugs don’t bother me too much. When I stop it can be annoying, unless I am on a ridge or some place where there is a strong breeze. The wind blows the bugs away. When I set up my tent, that acts as my safe haven and bug free zone.
Question: Do you use a poncho during rainy weather?
Adventure Girl’s Response: When it was colder, I used my rain jacket and rain pants. But, no, now that the weather is warmer, I don’t use any covering.
Question: How much does your pack weigh?
Adventure Girl’s Response: With food and water the weight is between 27 and 28 lbs.
Question: What food did you most enjoy while home?
Adventure Girl’s Response: Fruits and vegetables.
Question: Raw or cooked?
Adventure Girl’s Response: Both.
Question: What’s a best day on the trail?
Adventure Girl’s Response: A best day is when the sun is shining, the weather is warm and there is a cool breeze.
With no other official questions, Adventure Girl and I spend the rest of the time chatting. I did ask her if she enjoyed her trip back home, but she said did not get a chance to enjoy a day of rest. She was home to do work – preparing for college and restocking supplies. I could hear the disappointment (and exhaustion) in her voice.
I asked her if she was excited to return to the trail. “Not really. It’s not fun anymore.” She tells me. “It’s a job.”
I remind her of how far she has traveled. And, I told her about all the people that are cheering for her and her journey. She sighs, “I know. I hear that alot. But, they are encouraging me from the comfort of their house. There not waking up and hiking every day.”
After 1,000+ miles, Adventure Girl’s motivation seems to be waning. “But, I started this hike, and I don’t want to quit at this point, you know?” She continues. “Still, it is really hard.”
Adding to the no-fun factor are her two hiking friends: one who is running into scheduling conflicts and delays, and one who is becoming a bit too interested in Adventure Girl. With less than 700 miles remaining, Adventure Girl feels the need to cut her ties with the one whose feelings Adventure Girl is not ready to reciprocate.
Before Adventure Girl and I ended the interview, I asked her about her day ahead, the flight and her plans after she landed. Though much of the day would involve traveling – flying back to New York and driving back to Massachusetts, Adventure Girl hoped to get back on the trail late in the day, alone and without an agenda. Since beginning her journey, Adventure Girl has started each and every day with an agenda. But for once – for once – she’d like to get on the trail and just hike – just hike as long as she wants, stopping wherever she wants to stop, when she wants to stop.
The last SPOT update I received had Adventure Girl located in NW Pittsfield, MA. As the journey becomes tougher for Adventure Girl, I hope she allows the AT to lead her to Mount Katahdin. And, I hope she finds a great deal of trail magic to brighten her days.