You make lemonade. Add vodka. And drink it on the nearest beach.
No, The AT doesn’t include this gorgeous beach with powdery white sand. And no, we aren’t abandoning our dream of hiking from Georgia to Maine.
Let’s back up a little. Since my last update, we had walked 109.8 miles along The AT and exited at Winding Stair Gap. The last two days hiking in were tough. Sean knew something was wrong with his foot, and it was time to take a few days off.
As luck would have it, we have a wonderful friend who lives about an hour from the gap. Wiggles, a former thru-hiker and one of my biggest hiking inspirations, graciously housed us and showed us a good time in the area.
One evening, we made the drive to Yellow Mountain. This mountain was intended to be a housing development site. After 11 attempts and countless dollars later, the developers stopped trying to find water and gave up their dreams to create mansions. Instead, this gated mountain is available to a few people who have the gate code. My friend being one of them. We camped in the fire tower in total privacy.
That weekend was Easter weekend so we decided to entertain ourselves in the best way possible by becoming Trail Angels. We brought dyed and deviled eggs, bacon s’mores, chicken quarters, Peeps, sodas, and our smiling faces to Wayah Bald. Pretty much the best way you can spend a Zero.
After another day of rest, we decided to attempt hiking again. It didn’t take long to realize that we needed to get back off trail. The next 27.5 miles took us 5 days to hike. We arrived at the Nantahala Outdoor Center and knew we needed to get some medical attention.
Again, as luck would have it, we were a 3 hour drive away from Chattanooga where Sean’s cousin lives. We made a sign and found a ride within a half hour. The man – who happened to be a former kayak Olympian – said he could give us a lift but we may have to squeeze in his 35′ RV…
Well, we arrived in Chattanooga and stayed with Sean’s cousin, Beverly. Wow, we are amazingly blessed with friends and family.
She took us to the orthopedic center that her late husband had started, and we finally got some answers. Achilles Tendinitis. So those are the lemons I mentioned earlier…
We were a little heartbroken, but we knew we had to take some time off The Trail. And when life gives you lemons…
Ya, so we went rented a car and went to the beach! Fort De Soto State Park to be exact. Although they charged nearly $40 to pitch a tent (O.O), this is one of the most beautiful beaches I have had the pleasure to visit in Florida. We swam with dolphins, played in the powdery white sand, and flew kites. This is how you zero…
But the itch to travel didn’t leave us. And with unlimited miles on the rental car, well, we traveled. After 2 nights at Fort De Soto, we packed up the car and made our way west. To New Orleans. Haha, yeah…
We split the drive into two days with a stop at Apalachicola National Forest outside of Tallahassee in a really strange campsite.
The next day, we arrived in NOLA and stayed with Sean’s friend, Chad. He took us to Bourbon Street where we had Creole and beers.
The next night we stayed in Bayou Segnette State Park outside the city and made our way back to Chattanooga in the morning. In the week we took off, we drove almost the entire length of The AT.
What will happen? It’s hard to say. We’re about to pick up where we left off at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. And we’re taking it
one mile one step at a time. Although our heads and hearts were into our 10 mile / day pace, unfortunately, our bodies didn’t keep up. Florida and New Orleans were fun but – there’s nowhere else we’d rather be than back on The Trail.
Wish us love and luck as we return.