Category Archives: Post Thru-Hike

Iceland Preview (I got a GoPro!)

I’m a few days back from Iceland and truly, there are more words than could fit in this blog post to describe the experience. If you’re contemplating a trip to Iceland…DO IT…and do it now.

If you need more convincing, then I suggest you take a look at the short preview video I made of our 10 day trip. And by “we” I am referencing my dad. We took a 10 day road trip around the Ring Road leaving in late May and returning this past Monday. I’m working on a longer video of our entire trip, but I hope this can hold you all over for now.

Iceland 2016 Preview


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Stratton to Caratunk: Our 2014 Section Hike

It may be September, but it is certainly still summer up here in Maine. It’s been a beautiful summer weather-wise, and only a couple of short hot spells. One was at the end of last week, so we hit up our neighborhood beach and have taken every advantage of the three ice cream places within two miles of our apartment this summer. A rainstorm cooled things off on Saturday evening and it seems to have ushered in the very beginnings of fall with it. Today was the first time I began to notice the feel and taste of fall, which I am very much looking forward to here in Portland. There’s nothing like the onset of fall, a crisp smell in the air, and the changing leaves on the trees. We go apple-picking, eat hot, fresh homemade pumpkin bread, and drink gallons of local apple cider. Not to mention, I can wear hoodies everyday, watch Downton Abbey, and cozy up in my L.L. Bean moccasin slippers around the apartment. While I love the long, hot days of summer, I prefer the milder and calmer times of fall.

While things may be calmer than they were this summer, I can’t say that we are lounging around on weekends watching TV. Not just because we don’t have cable, but because we are still very busy. Miles recently began a job at Deering High School in Portland as an education technician and is also the freshman boys soccer coach and goalkeeping coach for the entire boys soccer program. The pieces are really falling together for him, which is very exciting. In January, he will be starting his masters program at University of Southern Maine and will continue to work as an ed. tech. and do his student-teaching at Deering as well.

Fall is the busiest time of year for my photography business, Tandem Studios. It is so cool to see our business grow each year. This is our third fall season and we receive more and more inquiries with each year. Our annual fall mini sessions filled up in less than 24 hours and I have at least one photo session every weekend up until the end of October! I even have a family session in Jackson, New Hampshire in the White Mountains in a few weeks. I’m really looking forward to heading down there and maybe have some time to do a hike or two in the Whites. I also recently became approved to be a stock photographer on and am continually looking for photography opportunities in the area. I shot my first wedding as the main shooter a few weeks ago and am shooting another one this coming weekend. It’s truly an exciting and evolving time in my life and I can’t wait for what these next few months hold.

A few captures from my first wedding as a main shooter. Little Ossipee Pond, Maine.

A few captures from my first wedding as a main shooter. Little Ossipee Pond, Maine.

It was a beautiful day for a rustic/vintage pond-side camp wedding!

It was a beautiful day for a rustic/vintage pond-side camp wedding!

But before I lead you all on my month-by-month plan for the remainder of the year, let’s back-track a bit to early August.

We were both in the wedding. Do we look different than we did a year ago?!

We were both in the wedding. Do we look different than we did a year ago?!

My family and I.

My family and I.

After a super fun weekend at my sister’s wedding on Alamoosook Lake in Orland, we headed back to South Portland for a few days to work and prepare for our 37-mile, 4 day section hike. Since this was most likely the only time we would get on the trail this year, we had to make the most of our trip. We loaded up on a bunch of trail magic food and drinks and filled our own food bags up with the junk food we hadn’t eaten in almost a year. The best part about our hike was that we were meeting up with Phys Ed! He set out in June to finish his thru-hike from last year starting in New York and it happened to be perfect timing to meet up with him at the road into Stratton and head north together for a few days.

Miles went up early on that Thursday to do some trail magic for hikers at the road into Stratton while I worked until the afternoon and then drove up to Caratunk. We parked my car in Caratunk where we would end our section hike and then Miles drove over from Stratton, picked me up, and then drove back to stay in Wyman Township at his family friend’s ski cabin where we stayed last year. Miles was able to help out several hikers that afternoon with some sandwiches, soda, PBRs, fruit, resupply items, and a trash dump to lighten their loads. He gave some rides into town before heading over to Caratunk around the Bigelow Range to pick me up.

As I was heading up on 295 from Portland, I got caught in a major traffic jam in Augusta. I went about two miles in over 45 minutes due to a six-car accident up the road. I was afraid it was going to put us way behind, but I know for a fact that two thru-hikers were very happy I was delayed. As I was nearing the trailhead parking lot, I was cruising along the winding road along the Kennebec listening to NPR. I came up over a hill and saw two guys hitchhiking on my side of the road. My first thought was that they couldn’t be thru-hikers because they were too far off the trail. I wasn’t going to pick them up, but as I passed them, I noticed their hiking poles and knew immediately that they were in fact thru-hikers. I made the quick decision to stop for them, following my gut feeling. I’ve never picked up hitchhikers of any kind before, but I knew the culture around picking up thru-hikers along the trail was totally safe. The two guys piled in my car, gear, stench, and all. Ahhh…nothing like the thru-hiker stench to bring you back to the good ol’ days. But really, I didn’t mind it at all. Nearing the end of their thru-hike, Windscreen and Deep Blue were ever grateful for the ride back to the trail. The guy taking them back to the trailhead had overshot by more than a few miles, so they had been stuck trying to hitch for about an hour before I stopped for them. Caratunk is basically in the middle of nowhere and most people passing through are on their way to The Forks or Canada, which isn’t very far from there.

Miles showed up at the same time as us to the parking lot and thankfully he brought the cooler of food with him. We gave Windscreen and Deep Blue some food and beers along with a couple of other thru-hikers who showed up on their way to the infamously trashy Pleasant Pond Lean-To where we camped last year. Probably my favorite moment with them besides sharing trail stories from this year and last year was when Miles mentioned Québécois, which refers to Canadians that are from Quebec. Deep Blue thought he was talking about a muskrat rustling around in the woods. We all had a chuckle at that one.

After bidding adieu to our fellow thru-hikers, we headed back down about an hour to Stratton. I had a restless night of sleep as every logging truck that drove by in the night shook the entire cabin. Oh well. It wasn’t like I was going to sleep that well while we were camping anyways. I never really did sleep through an entire night out on the trail. The anticipation of backpacking once more was certainly building as daylight drew nearer.

I couldn’t wait.

To be continued…

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Summer in Vacationland

There’s a reason us Mainers stay put in the summer. Summer in Maine is THE BEST. No kidding here. Especially when you live a two-minute walk from the beach. Summer continues to be a busy season for us and we are fast approaching my sister’s wedding this Saturday.

Back in late June, we were fortunate enough to do some trail magic for YOLO, a section hiker from Germany that we met last year in Virginia. He ended in Harpers Ferry last year and thought he would finish his Appalachian Trail journey there for good. But, after some time away from the trail and keeping up with our journey north, he decided to come back and hike again this year. He made it into Maine, and will finish the last 250ish miles next year. Miles picked YOLO up in Oquossoc and drove him back to Portland to stay a couple of nights with us before he headed to Boston to fly back to Germany. Miles bought some snacks and drinks for hikers he came across, but he only saw YOLO. I was heading back from Hoboken that day, so I saw YOLO later that night. The next day, Miles and YOLO hung out while I was at work and then we met up later at a bar for the Germany vs. Algeria World Cup game. It was great that we were able to watch Germany play as YOLO is of course a fan, as is Miles. Afterwards, we went to a new Sicilian pizza place/beer garden called Slab in downtown Portland. Miles and YOLO enjoyed some German beer while I opted for an American stout. While our time with YOLO was short, we so enjoyed being able to spend time with him off-trail and help him out on his section hike. We hope to see him again next year when he returns to finish his hike: destination Katahdin.

Other summer activities have included going to the beach, training for the Maine Half-Marathon, suffering from bronchitis and sinusitis simultaneously (that would be me!), celebrating two wonderful friends’ wedding, and running 5Ks.

Miles, my parents, and I at the DMB show.

Miles, my parents, and I at the DMB show.

Attempting to be fresh at our friends' wedding.

Attempting to be fresh at our friends’ wedding.

Miles as the chauffeur for my sister's bachelorette party. And yes, I'm wearing cat ears.

Miles as the chauffeur for my sister’s bachelorette party. And yes, I’m wearing cat ears.

As our one-and-only summer vacation plans roll into place, I’m excited to say that we’re doing a 4-day section hike on the AT next week!!! As our one-year anniversary of entering Maine just passed on the 25th and our one-year anniversary since the end of our hike is approaching, we couldn’t not hike the AT this summer. I bought some new hiking poles since my thru-hike ones are worn down and stuck in the collapsed position. I also purchased some new Darn Tough socks. My other ones never recovered from our hike…but I think I’ll keep them anyways. 🙂 We both got some new trail runners as well earlier this summer. Miles bought the same pair of Oboz he had gotten in DC last May and I went with the updated model of the Brooks Cascadia. Other than that, all of our other gear we can re-use from our thru-hike. We are also super excited that we will be able to hike with our friend, Phys Ed as well! He was one of our favorite people we met on the trail and for those of you who don’t remember, Phys Ed had to get off trail in New York. But, he got back on this year and is now in Maine. We hope to do some trail magic the day before we start our section hike and to let Phys Ed stay with us for a day or two in Portland before we bring him back to the trail.

So…any guesses as to where we’ll be doing our section-hike next week???

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The first of what I hope to be many posts that tell the story of our hike through photos. More specifically, these are photos from my camera that I couldn’t upload to the blog during our hike, so some of these these will present new and different aspects of our hike that haven’t been shown before. Enjoy!

GEORGIA: MARCH 14 – MARCH 22, 2013

78.6 MILES

The very beginning.

The very beginning.

Moments before we set out on the Approach Trail.

Moments before we set out on the Approach Trail.

The very first white blaze on Springer Mountain. The beginning of a journey.

The very first white blaze on Springer Mountain. The beginning of a journey.

Miles at the start.

Miles at the start.

The beginning of the AT on Springer Mountain.

The beginning of the AT on Springer Mountain.

Our first day on the AT.

Our first day on the AT.

Sunrise at Hawk Mountain Shelter.

Sunrise at Hawk Mountain Shelter.

Breakfast at Hawk Mountain Shelter.

Breakfast at Hawk Mountain Shelter.

Our second day on the trail.

Our second day on the trail.

Checking out the view.

Checking out the view.

Trail magic at Woody Gap.

Trail magic at Woody Gap.

The mountains of Georgia.

The mountains of Georgia.

Deep Gap Shelter

Deep Gap Shelter

At our first state line as we head out of Georgia and into North Carolina.

At our first state line as we head out of Georgia and into North Carolina.

North Carolina/Georgia

North Carolina/Georgia

Blister surgery.

Blister surgery.

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Where We’ve Been

I’m a terrible blogger. I haven’t written a post in almost 2 months. I’ve thought about writing many, many times, but never actually sat down at my computer to do it. Currently, I’m putting off the inevitable cleaning of the apartment. There’s nothing like overcoming procrastination by procrastinating on other tasks.

Life the past two months has consisted of many things:

1. Many, many photo shoots. I’ve done many portrait sessions and a couple of bridal showers and it looks like we will be entering a busy summer at Tandem Studios! I know I’ve said it before, but I truly love what I do, so it’s been so exciting for my sister and I to see our business grow with each year.








2. Lots of Louie time. I continue to take care of my nephew, Louie, two days a week. He’s almost 20 months old and learning new things just about everyday. He talks all of the time! Whether you understand his language or not is a different story, but among his favorite words are ball, firetruck, dog, and kitty. He’s learning to share and not to throw things that aren’t balls. That last one is proving to be a tough one. 🙂 He can shoot (and make!) baskets and give his cats and dogs a hug. My point being, Louie is an awesome kid to hang out with.




3. Bridal Shower & Dave Matthews Band Weekend x2. I was fortunate enough to be one of the hosts for both my best friend’s and my sister Elissa’s bridal showers on back-to-back weekends. Not to mention, Miles and I attended a Dave Matthews Band concert during both weekends as well. My best friend Sarah lives near Saratoga Springs, New York, so we headed out for the weekend and went to the concert in Saratoga on Saturday night with Sarah and her fiancé, Chris. My no-shame thru-hiker self most definitely came in handy that night when the bathroom lines were so long, I knew it would be about a half-hour before I could even enter a stall. I found a nice tree, as did many others, and just did what I had done countless times on the AT. No shame. And I got out just in time before the security guards started stopping people from relieving themselves. I’m sorry. But if you’re not going to provide enough bathrooms for concertgoers at your events, then yes, I am going to pee behind your trees as humans and animals have been doing for centuries.

Anyways, we couldn’t have had a more perfect shower for Sarah on a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon complete with a crepe and mimosa bar. Pinterest ideas were in full action.


And the next weekend we enjoyed seeing our first Dave Matthews Band show in Bangor, Maine. They haven’t played a show in Maine for 17 years, so it was great to be able to enjoy the show with my parents. And then it was time for my sister’s shower in Bucksport. Another hot, sunny Sunday and another awesome shower.

4. Dirigo Bound. We were most literally Dirigo Bound a couple of weeks ago when we headed up to Dirigo High School in Dixfield to do a presentation to a freshman English class. Their teacher, Karolyn, incorporates the Appalachian Trail as part of their curriculum. She had been following my blog during our hike and last fall asked us to come into her class to speak with her students. They usually go out on a service learning project at the end of the year on the AT, but being pregnant, Karolyn knew that they wouldn’t be able to do that this year, so it was great that we could come in and talk to the students and show them our video. As we headed out the door that morning at 5:30, I thought about bringing our AT map hanging on the back of our apartment door. I decided not to bring it and it was definitely not necessary, as Karolyn had a HUGE map of the AT hanging on the wall.

We really enjoyed being able to talk to students again, as we hadn’t done a presentation about our hike since December. It sure makes you want to hike again. The kids were quiet, but they did prepare some great questions for the Q&A at the end. Sometimes, you can be unsure of how you have made an impact on your audience; however, the unknown was answered when we received a large envelope stuffed in our tiny mailbox last week Inside the envelope was a thank-you letter written by each student in Karolyn’s class! I was so impressed with their writing and thoughtfulness. I want to pull a few of my favorite quotes from the class to show just how cool these kids are:

“All of your stories and pictures were very interesting and I could have gladly sat there all day and never got bored.”

“All-in-all your presentation gave me hope. I feel more inspired to do something meaningful in my life.”

“Since you came, I’ve actually talked to my parents about hiking the whole trail. I’m going to ‘hike my own hike.’

“Miles, you are going to make a rockin’ history teacher!”

“Thanks for everything. I think it’s super cool of you two to come speak to our class.Thanks for filling my head with knowledge about the AT.”

“First off, I just wanted to let you guys know how much you inspired me to not give up and finish what I start. My favorite part of your whole presentation is the point where you wanted to stop but then you found the passion again and finished it…Thank you for teaching me to never give up.”

Not to mention one kid wrote, “Dear Miles Per Hour and Flash Gordon,” which made me laugh out loud and one girl signed her letter, “Your Fangirl.” Awesome!

Karolyn, we just want to say thank you so much for allowing us to come in to speak to your class and for having your students write letters to us. Reading 18 letters first and foremost made me want to speak to students about the AT as my job (oh how I wish!) and to thru-hike again VERY, VERY soon. Like, within the next two years. The positive effect the trail has had on our lives is like nothing else we have experienced. It has connected us with people all over the world and close to home. At this point, I can’t imagine not thru-hiking again. We were able to inspire a few young souls, but their thoughtful thank-you letters have inspired me to continue “inspiring.” Thank you, Ms. Buotte’s 9th grade English class!

Those are the main highlights of life, but a few notes from the past week as well. My sister, Elissa, and I ran the Sea Dogs Father’s Day 5K this morning. It was sunny and 70 degrees and we finished the race inside Hadlock Field. A very well organized and fun race! I reached my goal of an 8:00 minute mile average…well it was technically 8:01, but I think that’s close enough. And after much debate over the past couple months as to whether I wanted to train for another marathon this summer, I decided that I’m going to stick with my original thinking two years ago and focus on shorter races. I plan on doing at least two more 5Ks this summer and have decided to run the Maine Half-Marathon on October 5th right here in Portland. I ran the marathon in 2011 and 2012, but actually ran my first half in 2010 during my senior year of college. I enjoy the shorter, more intense training of shorter races versus 20 mile marathon-training runs. Half-marathon training begins tomorrow…my 25th birthday! What better way to start out your mid-20s than the official start of race training! Well, maybe dinner with my family and some gelato would be nice as well.

And is there really a better way to end my 24th year of life than watching the Season 4 finale of Game of Thrones!? Nope. Nothing could be better than that.

The Starks know what's up.

The Starks know what’s up.

At a friend's wedding in Castine on Memorial Day weekend.

At a friend’s wedding in Castine on Memorial Day weekend.


Post Bridge the Gap 5K in April with my sister, Elissa, my dad, and best friend, Hayley.


Dave Matthews Band in Bangor.


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One Year Trailiversary

One year ago on this date, we set out on the craziest, most awesome, and challenging adventure we’ve had yet in our young lives. It was tough. It was long. It was wet. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail was an all-encompassing journey over mountains, through valleys, above the clouds, and under many a welcoming roof. We laughed a lot and cried but a little. We ate terribly and learned to hike over 20 miles a day. We fought through thunderstorms, mosquitos, raging streams, steep climbs, even steeper descents, rain, rain, and more rain. We challenged our bodies, mostly our legs, and our mental and emotional limits. We pushed those limits more than once. Some days, fatigue overrode enthusiasm, defeat reigned above enjoyment, but we came out the other end of trail on top of the most beautiful mountain, champions of ourselves and a trail that is now home.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the trail lately, so today I opened up my journal and read my first entry.

Amicalola Fall State Park to Springer Mountain Shelter

9 miles (.2 on the AT)


We survived our first day. We only did .2 of the AT and the first part was on the Approach Trail. The 600 or so steps up to the falls were tough, but they didn’t take too long. That was the toughest part of the day. The rest wasn’t bad at all I don’t think. We did well and it only took us 5 hours, 20 minutes to hike to the shelter. My knees hurt and also my legs in general. My arches hurt some too, but the inserts help. I feel a blister coming on on my left foot, but I will do my best to prevent it. I’m tired but I think that’s good. Overall, I feel good and don’t regret our decision to thru-hike. I’ve already met a lot of nice thru-hikers from all over: New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Florida. Looking forward to the warmer weather tomorrow and in the days to come.

Our first white blaze.

Our first white blaze.

Well, geeze Lindsey, I sure hope you wouldn’t regret your decision to thru-hike after only one day! It was a short entry compared to entries later on, but I remember our first day like it was yesterday. I remember the mild temperature, the pure excitement of everyone, and meeting Pumpkin Head and Sunshine on that first day, who both finished the trail as well. We met some characters along the way and had a windy, chilly night atop Springer Mountain. Seeing that first white blaze was when our journey truly felt real. It was no longer a dream, it was the beginning of our journey, one year in the making. I did get a blister on my left foot on the third day heading into Neels Gap and those inserts were awful later on…and the Keens too. Never again. The steps were a cake walk compared to other climbs we did later on, but on your very first day with a full pack, it’s not as easy as one might think.

Reflecting on what we experienced along the AT, I can truly see myself as a different person. I’m way more confident and find myself more at ease in meeting new people than I ever was before we thru-hiked. I know first hand that I’m more capable physically and mentally than I thought I was a year ago. 5 months of hiking will prove that to anyone. I do my best to never forget how amazing a hot shower feels or how easy it is to access to clean water and hot food. When I have to walk to my car in the rain for 30 seconds and I accidentally step into a huge puddle, I don’t get upset. I’ve got about 10 pairs of dry shoes and more socks than I count waiting to change into. Before we left on our hike our dear friend, Mamaw B, gave us a piece of advice that I still carry with me to this day. She told us not to let the things that we could not change on the trail, like the rain or trail conditions, affect us negatively. We can’t change it, so just learn to embrace it and keep on hiking. Just as everyone thought spring was around the corner here in Maine, we were hit with more snow, ice, and cold weather. While I look forward to spring, I’m going to embrace the cold and snow rather than curse it. We’re going skiing next weekend and there’s still time to enjoy some snowshoeing. I’m still able to run outside, I just have to throw on a few more layers. We have heat and plenty of blankets in our apartment to stay warm. Before we know it, everyone will be complaining about the heat. Instead, I’ll remember Mamaw’s advice and run down the street and jump in the ocean instead and sleep outside when our apartment is sweltering hot.

With Mamaw B in Gatlinburg.

With Mamaw B in Gatlinburg.

Another step from where I found myself a year ago is that I know now how I want to live my life. The last time we saw fellow thru-hiker, White Out was in the 100 Mile Wilderness just past White Cap. It was a rainy, windy day and we stopped to eat a snack before deciding to move on to the next shelter in the pouring rain. White-Out said the most powerful statement I heard on our entire hike, and it was stuck with me ever since. He said that he learned that thru-hiking wasn’t about trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, but how you want to live your life. That is exactly how I feel today, one year from the start. I’m still figuring things out, and aren’t we all throughout our entire lives? But, I have a clearer vision of how I want to live my life than I ever have before. I know that I never want to give up the traveler’s spirit. I know that I want to be my own boss. I want to seek out greater and greater challenges. I want to learn more patience and acceptance. I always want to be a learner, but also a teacher to others. I want to give more than I receive. What I want to do with my life isn’t simple and I don’t think it ever will be for me. But, how I want to live is easier to define. To travel, to write, to photograph and most importantly, to document. Not knowing what my life would be like in a month, 6 months, or a year used to be stressful. Now I see my future as open as it has ever been and it truly is exciting. Will I be hiking again in a year? Will I be traveling across Europe? Or will I be in Portland training for my first triathlon? I don’t know. The trail taught me to be okay with that.

I have many answers yet unknown in my life, but I do know that the trail has morphed my very being and has ever-changed the adventure that is my future.


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The Stench Lives On

It rained today. I wore my raincoat to work, of course. This raincoat is the same one that I wore on the trail from Damascus to Katahdin. I washed it thoroughly when I returned home. Twice. Yet, the hiker stench remained.

At first, I couldn’t imagine wearing it in public. I realized, “so that’s what I smelled like while on the trail.”

When I donned my raincoat this morning, the nose-wrinkling stench didn’t in fact wrinkle my nose. It was the smell of a thru-hiker, a person that I became last year and always will be. A stench so pungent, that I couldn’t possibly think of anything else but the trail. This coat took me through one of the rainiest seasons of thru-hiking ever. It traveled almost 2,000 miles and made the climb up Katahdin. Imagine what 2,000 miles of rain, sweat, dirt, blood, mud, and Little Debbie’s smells like. That’s my coat. So, instead of cursing said raincoat today I decided to embrace the smell. It’s a scent more than stench; the thru-hiker scent.

Maybe I should wash it again. It could be a normal raincoat again if I really tried. Maybe I should just buy a new one. What do the patrons of the grocery store or my neighborhood cafe think when they smell me before they see me? Maybe it’s time to retire this coat. Intense body odor isn’t really acceptable in public locations these days, is it?


But let’s be honest. I’m proud of that nasty raincoat. Nah. I think I’ll keep the coat, stench and all.

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Dirigo Bound Inspires!

One of our close trail friends, Phys. Ed, emailed us last night to let us know that we are famous! Well, about as famous as we can hope.  🙂

In a post on the Appalachian Trials website yesterday, the video I created about our thru-hike was featured in a post titled, “If These Videos Don’t Inspire You to Thru-Hike, Then Nothing Will.” Check it out here. It certainly made my day seeing that post. It’s quite exciting that we can continue to inspire future thru-hikers beyond 2013 with our video. Appalachian Trials, by Zach Davis, is a book that we both read before beginning our thru-hike. It’s the best book out there to prepare you for the trail and the website is also an incredible resource for thru-hikers.

Dirigo Bound AT

And definitely check out the other videos as well; they’re all inspiring! I don’t know how many times I watched ManCub and KitFox’s video before we left on our hike last year. It’s definitely my favorite.

I’m not sure if there’s a reason that Dirigo Bound is first on the list, but let’s just say it’s a good thing…

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I’m Writing a Book…Wait, What?

For some reason, admitting to that simple fact is strange. Mostly because I’ve never written a book before in my life, I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg in regards to my knowledge on publishing, and to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out if our story is even remotely interesting enough to be published as a hiking memoir.

It’s a daunting task. But then again, so was our thru-hike.

Flashback to our visit to the ATC Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV

Flashback to our visit to the ATC Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV

Two months had passed in 2014 and I had barely made any progress in my attempts to begin writing a book. While I was behind in my writing goals, I was ahead of myself in other areas of my life that I have been working to improve. Since I began running on my own during my freshman year in college, I always found myself out of shape in the winter. It’s really hard to motivate myself to run outside when it’s 10 degrees, so I would stay inside, go to the gym a few days a week, and get back into shape once the temperature warmed up in late March or so. This year, however, I sucked it up and took on the cold. My sister and I are running a 5K on April 6th in Bucksport, so since early January, we’ve been running, lifting, and going to the gym 6 days a week. I’ve retired from marathons for the time being, but I’m contemplating doing the Maine Half-Marathon in October again this year.

Miles and I have been eating as healthy as ever. Miles has eliminated pretty much all of the “bad” snacks that infested our cupboards. We’ve cut down significantly on our carbohydrate consumption, which used to make up the majority of our diet. I don’t remember the last time I had pasta, which I used to eat multiple times a week, we’ve switched over to almond-based crackers, nuts, and vegetables for snacks, and I’ve really cut down on the chocolate. I’m pretty much obsessed chocolate, so I have to say that cutting that down has been the hardest for me. Ha! I sound ridiculous right now, but it’s so true. A couple of bars of dark chocolate per day, that’s it. We always have vegetables with dinner, salad-based meals a couple times a week, and no red meat. We don’t keep beer in the fridge and we rarely buy a bottle of wine. We don’t keep a lot of snacks around and by the end of the week, our cupboards and refrigerator are empty. And that’s the way we like it.

So, I think we sound super boring after reading what I just wrote. We’re not perfect by any means with our food choices, but I think when we do indulge some or go out for drinks with friends, it’s that much nicer. You know how they call desserts, treats? Well, they’re treats for a reason. You’re “treating” yourself to something nice that you don’t normally have. And I’m not just writing about food just to write. Our food choices that we’re making now are a direct consequence of our thru-hike. I categorize our eating evolution in the past year into the following phases:

Phase 1: The Cookie Monster Phase

No caption necessary.

No caption necessary.

This is the phase leading up to our thru-hike. It started about a month prior to our departure, but picked up in intensity about 10 days before we left for Georgia. Bottom line is I didn’t give a shit. I ate whatever I wanted to and however much I wanted. I had my last po’ boy, last whoopie pie, last macaroni and cheese, last whatever. If it had chocolate or cheese in it, I was eating it. Who knew the next time I would have a hearty meal! I wasn’t taking any chances and I finally had a good excuse to eat to my heart’s content. I’m not joking when I say that I gained about 5 pounds in those last couple weeks at home. I cringe to think about it now, but damn was that last whoopie pie good.

Phase 2: OMG I Can Eat Little Debbie’s All Day and Still Be in Shape!

This is the beginning of the thru-hike phase when you hike all day, work your body hard, and have the reward of Little Debbie’s, Hershey’s bars, Nutella, Pop-tarts, and cheese as your reward. Not to mention it’s Girl Scout cookie season, so you’re living off the Thin Mints and Tag-a-Longs for awhile. Not all thru-hikers eat as bad as we did, but it was affordable and our bodies were able to process that food into energy. I was excited to thru-hike for many reasons, but the food was definitely a big deal. And we can’t forget town food. We were just talking about our zero day in Franklin when we stayed in our motel room most of the day eating pizza, wings, doughnuts, and drinking beer and soda. It was amazing and it makes me laugh to this day.

Phase 3: This is the 150th packet of Pop-Tarts I’ve eaten in as many days. Gross.

It’s near the end of the hike. You’ve switched up some of your food options in your pack, but you’re ready to eat vegetables again. Cheese that doesn’t melt and create pools of oil in your stuff sack would be a start. Maybe a nice glass of milk in the morning. The last ten days or so, I unwillingly stuffed pop-tarts and Clif bars down my throat. It was energy to hike, it was no longer enjoyable. Pasta Sides sucked, Little Debbie’s were abhorrent, and if any person dared shove a stick of Hormel pepperoni in my general direction, I may have vomited all over their face. But not to worry, real food is coming soon!

Phase 4: I’m Home! I Lost 20 lbs. Eh, I can afford to splurge here and there. Time to Eat!!!!!!!

This stage didn’t last all that long for me. But the first few days at home, I did treat myself. I actually found that I didn’t want to eat as much as I used to at meals. My body was used to snacking throughout the day, so it only made sense that my stomach was conditioned to that directly after thru-hiking. A longer stage for some, but shorter for me personally. Slowly, I found myself back into my old eating habits. Not as bad as they were, but when you’re not exercising as much and taking some liberties with your food and drink consumption…well, it slowly but surely adds up. We’re not unhealthy by any means, but we know how it feels to be in the best shape of our lives, so we knew it was time to make some changes.

Phase 5: Purged of the Junk, Time to Eat Real Food.

And by real, I mean pretty much not eating anything we ate while we hiked. It is by no means easy for us to change our eating habits, but we’re doing pretty good so far. We can aim for perfection, but know that we are not perfect. We live in such a food-centered society. We learn from an early age to eat everything on our plate, even if it’s a big plate, to go back for seconds, that getting the most food for your dollar is best no matter the calorie value. As we step back and challenge our own beliefs on eating and drinking, it’s very easy to see how difficult it can be to maintain this lifestyle. Thru-hiking made us aware of how our food choices were affecting us, our mood, our energy levels, and how important it was to begin healthier eating habits early on in our lives.

It’s tough to change habits that you’ve had for years, but I can think of a million things that are way more difficult than changing how you eat. We’re up for it.

This post has turned into something bigger than I originally planned it to be. And now I will get to my original point.

So, I put off writing this “future book” as I got back into running, eating healthier, and quickly becoming obsessed with A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. It’s more commonly known as the Game of Thrones book series, but you’ve probably heard of it because of the HBO series. Season 4 starts in 31 days for those counting down at home!!! It’s been just short of taking over my life. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I’ve finished reading the fifth book in the unfinished series, which due to my calculations should be sometime in May.

Two of my favorite shows encompassed in one meme? I couldn't help myself.

Two of my favorite shows encompassed in one meme? I couldn’t help myself.

So, we’re in the first full week of March and the writing of said book is finally underway. There is a very, very, very long way to go in this process and I honestly don’t know what will become of my labors, but I’m willing to try something that I’ve never attempted before. Beyond the blog, I don’t really talk about writing this book and honestly it feels kind of silly for me to say that I’m writing a book, or attempting to at least. In a world where we are surrounded by millions upon millions of books, I am trying to remember that I am first and foremost writing it out of a passion for something that I have wanted to do more with for several years, but never knew how. I’m beginning to discover this world and I hope to exponentially increase my knowledge on writing and publishing within the next year. I am also constantly thinking about what our experiences on a thru-hike can give to others in book form. What will a reader learn from what I write? Will it be worth reading? I could never expect fame and fortune from what I write, but I only hope it will be true and timeless, and not only be meaningful to me, but to others as well.

During my quest for publishing knowledge, I have decided to write a book proposal before setting out to write the entire book. While a proposal is a solid approach towards finding a publisher, it will also help me clearly define my approach to our story and make the writing process more organized and cohesive. One section of the proposal is a sample chapter. I have ideas of my own and I’ve talked to a few other people about their ideas as well, but since all of you have followed our story for several months, I would love to have your input as well!

What was the most captivating or interesting day/moment/section of our hike that you read on the blog? I will be re-writing everything of course since all of my entries on the trail were written with only one look-through at the end of that night, but I would very much appreciate any and all input.

As I enter into the book phase of our story, I will no doubt keep you all updated. As I look at my calendar, I see that the date of our first day on the trail is approaching very quickly. A year flies…I think it’s time to start planning the next adventure.


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The Ocean of Winter

Inspired by a visit to Kettle Cove and Higgins Beach today, I wrote this:


The seaside, that ocean, your beach; such a summer state of mind. When I came to the water’s edge this morning, I sheltered my skin from the harsh winds and the bite of bitter cold. I could not wear nothing, I could not do nothing, I was far from baking in the oven of the summer sun.

I found an open world with no being in my sight. The ocean of winter pouring out from my toes. Enveloped in a palette of gray, I stood at the pinpoint of the cove. Touch-of-gray whitecaps were thrashing and roaring against the stony shore of the slate sea. A diluted sky seamlessly sealed itself against the ever-far horizon. A snow squall hit, the flakes wildly falling towards ice and snow and sand.

I spend a moment at the edge of the shore. The gritty ocean water washes up over my boots, soaks through my woolen socks, and my feet begin to tingle. And then freeze. I close my eyes. I smell the pure scent of winter and the wind burns through my face, passing through my loose strands of hair. I let the sea of slate cradle me in its snowy waves.

I am chilled. This world is gray and gritty, salted and harsh.

Yet, it lives.

That deep, vast ocean of winter.

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