The 1st Annual MacKaye-Avery Awards

Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the 1st Annual Awards! Tonight, we will be presenting awards to the “Best of the Best” on the Appalachian Trail. Miles to Go and I had much time to deliberate and discuss our monthly overviews from the trail and decide on our favorite state, favorite mountain, best trail town, and so on. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. We apologize for not having a mind-blowing and entertaining opening number for you all, but due to budget constraints as a first-year production, we had to make some cuts.Image

We’ll start off with a few facts before we get to the main awards section of the night.

MONTH 3 wins a few awards this year. We did the most miles that month and of course also the highest percentage of the trail completed and average mileage per day. Interestingly enough, we also took the most ZERO days during the third month of our thru-hike. In that month, we hiked from just south of Three Ridges Mountain in Virginia to Sunrise Mountain in New Jersey. Let’s compare the numbers.

Just south of the Shenandoahs. Where we started in our third month...

Just south of the Shenandoahs. Where we started in our third month…

...and where we ended. Sunrise Mountain In NJ

…and where we ended. Sunrise Mountain In NJ


Month 1: 375.8 (Springer Mountain, GA to Roan Mountain, TN)

Month 2: 454.5 (Roan Mountain, TN to just south of Three Ridges Mountain, VA)

MONTH 3: 492.8 (just south of Three Ridges Mountain, VA to Sunrise Mountain, NJ)

Month 4: 438.2 (Sunrise Mountain, NJ to Grafton Turnpike, NH)

Month 5: 424.6 (Grafton Turnpike, NH to Katahdin, ME)


Month 1: 12.1

Month 2: 15.2

MONTH 3: 15.9

Month 4: 14.6

Month 5: 14.6


Month 1: 17%

Month 2: 21%

MONTH 3: 22.5%

Month 4: 20%

Month 5: 19.5%


Month 1: Three

Month 2: Two

Month 3: Five

Month 4: Three

Month 5: One

SPECIAL MENTION: Our longest mileage day was 26.1 miles on June 5 from Boiling Springs, PA to Duncannon, PA.

Let’s move on to the individual “Day” Awards.


Day 42: Thomas Knob Shelter to Hurricane Mountain Shelter, April 25

Ponies arrived to help us celebrate 500 miles!

Ponies arrived to help us celebrate 500 miles!

Wise Shelter.

Wise Shelter.

One of my favorite moments on our hike.

One of my favorite moments on our hike.


Day 134: Carlo Col Shelter to Speck Pond Shelter, July 26

As we entered Maine we came upon a beautiful sunset. The night before our most difficult day of hiking.

As we entered Maine we came upon a beautiful sunset. The night before our most difficult day of hiking.


Day 103: Mt. Algo Shelter to Pine Swamp Brook Shelter, June 25

Connecticut: our low-point on the trail.

Connecticut: our low-point on the trail.


Day 152: Abol Pines to The Birches, August 13

Almost there!

Almost there!


Flash Gordon: Gummi Bears. Although they weren’t as enticing near the end of the trail, they remained a true and tried trail food when I needed to add a little fruity flavor to my diet. Starburst came in a close second.

Trail-tested. Flash Gordon approved.

Trail-tested. Flash Gordon approved.

Miles to Go: Little Debbies. Hands down. Top 3 LD faves: oatmeal creme pies, honey buns, and apple danishes. We did the math and it’s safe to say that Miles to Go consumed over 1,000 Little Debbies over the course of our thru-hike!

Yes she does. Thousands of them.

Yes she does. Thousands of them.


Miles kept a tally of our wildlife sightings. What did we see the most of on the AT? Squirrels, chipmunks, and newts. It was cicada season this year as well. While we may not have seen all of them, they would win if this was based on noise alone.

We saw a lot of red-spotted newts.

We saw tons of newts.


It was tough to narrow down to just five names, but here are our favorites from the AT. In order of appearance, from south to north, the winners.

CHUNKY GAL TRAIL, North Carolina

If this trail was indeed named after a “chunky gal,” then there must be a pretty good reason as to why she has an entire trail named after her.


“I like Big Butt and I cannot lie, you other hikers can’t deny…”


Brushy was a favorite of ours, not only because she showed up more than a few times along the trail, but because we also wrote a song that carries a tune so unforgettable, it will always remain a favorite.


Named after one of the most famous bands in the world, yes. Also, the least enticing name for a water source that I’ve ever heard. We didn’t want metal in our drinking water, so we moved on to the next source.


I’m sorry, but I want to know who thought that this was a good idea for a stream. Regardless, everyone had a good chuckle over it.

FAVORITE CAMPING SPOT: Cheoah Bald, North Carolina.

We had the bald all to our selves on a beautiful, clear night.

We had the bald all to our selves on a beautiful, clear night.

IMG_0744 IMG_0747

FAVORITE SHELTER: Bryant Ridge Shelter, Virginia

You may think that we would have chosen the Fontana Hilton just outside of the Smokies, but as awesome as that shelter was, I have to go with Bryant Ridge for several reasons. First off, it was actually in the woods, which the Hilton is not. The design allowed for several hikers to sleep in comfort, plenty of space to hang wet gear, a covered picnic table, and plenty of benches to sit on inside.

Bryant Ridge Shelter

Bryant Ridge Shelter


I think this winner can speak for itself.

Our winner by a landslide.

Our winner, by a landslide.

FAVORITE TRAIL TOWN: Damascus, Virginia

We loved Damascus. Not only because of the wonderful Hikers Inn, variety of breakfast choices, happy hour at the Blue Blaze Cafe, and the close proximity of everything, but for one other reason. When you reach Damascus, you’ve just crossed into Virginia. You’ve hiked through three states and you’re approaching the 500 mile mark. We were happy to be there and so was everyone else. We saw so many thru-hikers there; people we had we hadn’t seen since Hot Springs and others we met for the first time. For the two days that we were there, we all hung out all over town: in the laundromat, the Blue Blaze, the inn, and under the bridge. We felt like real hikers and while not everyone would make it, at that point we had made it far enough really understand that we were all connected now by our determination to make it that far. As much as I loved Damascus as a town, it was the point that other thru-hikers weren’t just people we saw on the trail. They were now our friends.


Just a little light reading in Damascus.

Just a little light reading in Damascus.


This was an easy one for us to choose. We had heard from the majority of past thru-hikers that Maine was their favorite state and we knew of course how beautiful it is here. But, we wanted to wait and see for ourselves as thru-hikers. Maine won in the end because of its all-around beauty, abundance of streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes, remoteness, and so many mountains that we could call our favorites. There are several reasons that we are proud to live in Maine, and the mountains of the AT in our state are one of them.

On top of Baldpate

On top of Baldpate

The Saddleback Range

The Saddleback Range

Contemplating the end of a thru-hike with Katahdin in the distance.

Contemplating the end of a thru-hike with Katahdin in the distance.

And there you have it, folks. The long-awaited 1st Annual MacKaye-Avery Awards. We’re pleased with the results and we hope you are too.

Until next year…


One thought on “The 1st Annual MacKaye-Avery Awards

  1. Barbara 'Mamaw B" Allen says:

    I’ve told you many times and here it is again, I am so proud of both of you. It was such a pleasure to meet you and to follow you on the trail thru your journals. One more award from me: “The best AT Trail Journal Award”. I tell everyone if they really want to read a good thru hiker’s journal to read yours. Thanks for providing me a few chuckles with my breakfast this morning. 🙂 Good luck and love to both of you.

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