Monday, June 7, 2010

First 10 days

have been terrific! I am truly living my dream. I am gleeful even when I am smelly, tired, being eaten by mosquitoes, whatever. The novelty "I am hiking the Appalachian Trail... I am still hiking the Appalachian Trail.... Woah, I am on the friggin Appalachian Trail..." has not worn off.

In West Virgina I met a young man thru-hiker named Sonic. I wish I could hike 33 mile days with him just for his cheery company--he's a regular BFG (Big Friendly Giant)--but I can't. I'm pleased if I hike 12-15 miles in a day at this point. Sonic hopes to reach Mt. Katahdin in Maine on his one year anniversary of being sober. He has been through a lot, and this journey is part of his rehabilitation process. I respect him a great deal. He knows things I never will.

I'll remember Maryland as one gigantic wedding, or celebration of all weddings ever performed. Miles and miles of Laurel flowers, white blossomy puffs, grace the A.T. and as luck would have it, are in their full glory this week. Walking through it, especially alone, is dreamy. There's no other word for it. Dewy, translucent spiderwebs span the trail in the mornings and stick to my arms and legs and face as I push through them. I saw a hummingbird and a coyote close up; I walked two feet away from a tiny fawn that sunk into the grass to hide rather than run away from me; I talked to a turtle on the trail whose vivacious, neon orange body startled me from under its dreary gray shell; I gasped four times for each of the snakes I've seen.

Now, I'm here in Pennsylvania. I have officially accepted the name "N.P." (for "No Promises"), named by a gentleman known as "Little Brown." It came about because so many people asked if I was thru-hiking, and eventually my curt reply was "No promises." Little Brown laughed and said, "Hey, N.P." And that was that. Better than the alternatives. For example, some older woman said, "You should be Sunshine. You are such a Sunshine." Let me remind you, I am a Solo Woman hiker. I may as well be named Bambi. For a little while, I was tempted to go by "Smelly Feet" or "Giardia" (the nasty contaminated water disease), as an attempt to ward off unwanted interest. But you are supposed to be named by someone else, and N.P. is probably the best name for me anyway.

At this point, June 201o, the A.T. is the only place I want to be. I am at the infamous Doyle Hotel (an old, old, crumby hostel popular among A.T. hikers for its cheapness and proximity). I am showered, laundered, fortified by beautiful letters, and stocked up with groceries for this next week. How could I ask for more?

Thank you again for the wonderful letters and for all your love.


  1. Hey Julia!!!!!! Becca was so happy to get your post and we all are delighted to read your blog!

    I still can't really believe you are on the AT. The wild life sightings are so exciting--- I am your trip living vicariously.
    Keep writing girl. Hope you are taking lots of pictures.

  2. Wow!!! I am truly envious!! I have been checking your blog every day and was getting a little worried. I called your mom as soon as I saw you posted, yay!! You are okay, and not only okay TERRIFIC!!
    I am so excited for you. You descriptions are wonderful and a good trail name, taking it one day at a time, NP.
    By the time I get to see you , you will be an old pro, lean and mean trail hiker.
    Take care and enjoy your night inside, it will probably be strange :)

  3. Hi--this is Laurie, Sara G's mom. I have to tell you, when I was your age I dreamed of building a raft and floating down the Mississippi (Huckleberry Finn!) but I never did it. I applaud your determination to live out a dream!! Hope you continue to have a fantastic time, and I'm sorry we didn't have a chance to chat more at graduation! Laurie

  4. Yay! Yay! Yay! I am so excited for you that I can't express it, but I can feel a bit of your excitement in my own new adventure including some wonderful animals. I think about you all the time and want to send you snail mail, but I need an address updated, because I'm not sure how your trip is going in terms of location and can't get you what I want by the 12th. I love you!! Keep living your dream!

  5. Julia! I second Kim's comment about an updated address. I miss you and am so glad to hear that you're having a fantastic time! I love the story about your trail name. Be thankful that no one has had a reason to name you "Giardia" (I had it last summer in Peru, yuck). Thinking of you! Take care!

  6. Hey Julia, I'm glad to hear you've been meeting other wonderful people on the trail and also having time to enjoy some solitude. I was worried that you'd get lonely!

  7. Yay! Julia, reading your wonderful writing made me happy. I'm so glad that you are exactly where you want to be-- I think a lot of people are struggling to figure out what that is for themselves.
    Keep at it, lady. Love ya.


  8. Glad everything's going so well! We're ready for another update soon. Miss you. Wondering where I should send letters in the coming weeks. Are you checking email when you come off the trail? XOXO

  9. I'm among the many who await the next address update. I'd love to send you something.

    Your entries so far are beautiful, Julia. Look forward to reading more as they come.

    Love you so much!

  10. I had a wonderful conversation with Julia a few days ago when she was in Port Clinton, PA. She was not able to get online anywhere to update her blog, but hopes to do that in Delaware Water Gap within a week. Nice to read all your sweet, supportive comments! So lucky to be Julia's Mom