Guest Blog by Laura Bowen-Coffelt

Today I get to be Erin’s guest blogger. She and I have been together since Friday evening May 23. We are staying at the La Quinta Inn between Salem and Roanoke. Aphrodite and Gracie are here for our protection.

I met Erin, who is called “Spice” by her fellow through hikers, on mile 92.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. She had hiked 20 miles that day. I stopped at Wendy’s and watched her eat a spicy chicken sandwich, french fries, a junior cheeseburger, and a strawberry lemonade. Not 15 minutes later, she had me stop at Burger King where she ate a whopper junior and a brownie sundae. The evening ended as we chilled at the hotel and hung out.

Saturday, we shopped at Black Dog Salvage where unexpectedly we had the pleasure of meeting and receiving one-on-one attention from Robert and Mike, the DIY celebrities from the show! Erin accused me of being star struck! I was in heaven as Robert and I picked out an old cast iron tub, bathroom sink, 1/2 bath sink, guest bathroom sink, urinal, and floor sink for the new house. It had to be loaded into the Element with a forklift.

Afterwards, we located a soda shop, a health food co-op and an old-fashioned theater where we saw Chef. Two thumbs up. We took our dinner to the hotel, but not before Spice had me stop by the Chinese takeout to get her more food.

On Sunday, we drove back to the Blue Ridge Parkway, mile marker 92.5 We took five hours to hike 10 miles. I have now adopted the trail name Starstruck. Erin and I listened to Podcasts, the Gorillaz and each other.

As we headed back to the hotel, we consumed more cheeseburgers! The hunger is kinda crazy. Now, we are snuggled into our beds. I have had a Epsom salt bath, propped up my feet, and taken 800 mg of “ibebrokens.” Life if grand and we are happy.

Spice wanted me to mention she has seen a set of black bear cubs and a huge snake.














Virginia! Damascus! And bike blazing!

First thing I want to say is that if anyone is reading this that is planning to thru hike, section hike, or just plain drive through damascus, I absolutely 100%, whole heartedly recommend that you stay at the hiker’s inn. It is great, the owners are amazing, the beds are the most comfortable, it’s clean, they have laundry service, and did I mention that the owners, Paul and Lee are awesome!! Okay so now that I’ve covered that. In other great news.

Georgia… Done!
North Carolina…done!

Yeah, I’ve made it to Virginia. I’m really happy with this accomplishment. I’m also really happy to have made it to damascus. It is probably the trail town I’ve been looking forward to the most, and it’s pretty cool. I spent part of my day today bike blazing. What is bike blazing you ask? Well I’ve kinda made this term up for what I did today. I rented a bike and got a shuttle to the creeper trail, which runs close to the AT for about 13 miles. I practically coasted the 17 miles of creeper trail all the way back to town. It was really nice.

Between getting back from Oregon and today, I hiked a 13, and two 19 mile days to damascus. The terrain was pretty nice for most of the way. I will admit though that mentally it was pretty tough. Getting back on the trail after having so many wonderful days in Oregon with Stephanie has been pretty challenging. Additionally, due to my five days off, I have lost most of the people I was hiking with. So even though there have been plenty of people around it’s been a bit of a lonely few days.

Ebb and flow though, right mom? : ) I’m sure I’ll get out of this funk soon and will be in good company in no time.

Alrighty, how about some pictures. Some of these go all the way back to the smokies.















3,000 miles in 3 days

I am currently sitting in a machine that will be transporting me about 3000 miles in less than a day. It’s pretty mind blowing considering it will take me about six months to walk many miles less. Crazy town!

Anywho, the reason I am sitting on an airplane (yeah you guessed it, that’s the machine I was referring to) is because I am returning from a glorious wonderful fantastic trip to Oregon. I have taken 4 days off the trail including travel days to visit Stephanie. This was a trip that was planned before I started hiking, and it was awesome! Spent most of my time just relaxing and eating. I also got to go to Stephanie’s class and watch her lecture. She was great, of course. I did a few gear upgrades including super gluing Velcro on my sleeping bag and inflatable pillow, and seeing some pockets onto my ultralight montbell puffy. I also left most of my cold weather clothing such as gloves, my fleece, hiking base layer pants, my heavy base layer top for sleeping, and I switched out my heavy weight fleece pants for a lighter pair.

I’m excited to get back on the trail, but I know it is also going to be a little tough to readjust to trail life after such a great trip home. I’m sure it will be just fine though. I’m excited about the new people I will meet that we’re behind me before I left.

As far as hiking goes since I last updated, I’ve passed 400 miles and am only days away from passing into Virginia!!! That will mean Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina will all be dunzo here in no time. The terrain is really nice right now and I’m looking forward to Virginia hiking and for some leaves to come in just for a change of scenery. However, I hear I’ll get pretty tired of all those leaves and the green tunnel they cause, but for now a green tunnel sounds pretty cool : )

Well that’s all I have for now. I’ll try and update again in Damascus, va!20140429-064139.jpg20140429-064210.jpg20140429-064229.jpg20140429-064246.jpg

Things are happening.

Almost 300 miles…done!
Hanging with mom while zeroing in hot springs… Happily in progress!

So a lot has happened. I am now in hot springs, nc enjoying a zero day with mom, which will be followed by another wonderful zero day. Don’t worry getting back on the trail Thursday and I should be in Erwin, tn by Sunday. Really been enjoying my time. Here are what my days have consisted of since my last post.

Went to the NOC and it was really cool. The bunkhouse was a little run down but it didn’t bother me. They had a great restaurant where I got dinner and breakfast, yippee.

The smokies were nice for a day, but then they began to get angry with us hikers. The smokies are really cold. They were very windy and slippery and muddy and icy and crowded. But the last day was freaking gorgeous! I even added 1.2 miles to an 18 mile day for a fire tower and beautiful 360 view of the smokies. Well worth it!

Went into Gatlinburg for a night because I needed to repair my sleeping bag that ripped and I had to buy new shoes as I was having pretty bad ankle rolling issues. Got it all figured out though and now I’m wearing some more supportive shoes that are also bigger because my feet have flattened and grown a bit. As far as my body goes, the ankle problems have been the worst of it. My shoulders and a little achy each day but nothing that doesn’t go away after resting with my pack off. I feel strong and my hiking legs are on their way. I feel pretty good climbing up mountains and hills.

I’m pretty constantly hungry when hiking so I’m carrying a lot of weight in food. Also, very worth it. And! The dinners that Jenny, Steph, and I made before leaving are awesome! Fellow hikers are often drooling over my dinners.

Ps I take lots of videos and will hopefully be putting those up too as soon as I take the time to fix em’ up and post. For now though here are some pictures.











100 miles and One state down!

Day 6 Unicoi Gap to Sassafrass Gap – 10.4

Day 7 Sassafrass Gap to Plum Orchard shelter – 10.8

Day 8 Plum Orchard to Carter Gap shelter – 19.8

Day 9 Carter Gap to Winding Stair Gap 16

Day 10 zero day in Franklin, NC

So I’ve officially made it to North Carolina. Had some really raining weather for two days but was stoked about the new milestones. Staying at the budget inn in Franklin, and thru hikers seem to be the sole customers of this place. It’s pretty cool. I have enjoyed so much tasty food, but I’m itching to get back on the trail. Can definitely tell I’m starting to get my hiker legs and my hiker appetite. I’m excited to make big miles a regular thing. Also I’m getting really excited for the Smokies coming up. I am supposed to be getting some pretty bad weather through there so that should be interesting. Here are some more pics. Due to the rain, I didn’t have my camera out too much.








5 days in

Day 1 Springer mountain to Horse Gap – 11.1 miles

Day 2 Horse Gap to Lance Creek – 14

Day 3 Lance Creek to ? – 10.7

Day 4 ? To Blue Mountain Shelter – 14.5

Day 5 Blue Mtn Shelter to Unicoi Gap (Hiawassee) – 2.4

Hi! Still trucking along. Well not at the moment. At the moment I am sitting at the budget inn in Hiawassee, GA full of Dairy Queen and pizza.

The last few days have been awesome! Mostly awesome that is. Day 4 included some rocky terrain and some pretty cold winds that were a little tough but once I got to the shelter and set up camp. Things were good to go. Really been enjoying the hiking. The views started getting really good on Day 2.

Been enjoying the company of some cool people. Hiked and camped for a bit with Nicole (Buzz). Hopefully, I’ll catch back up with her soon. I’m sharing a room with Pete from Boston and Curtis, a section hiker from Chicago. It’s supposed to get below ten degrees tonight so we thought we’d spend the night indoors. Seems like a lot of hikers had the same thought. We’ve seen hikers walking all over town.

Alright, I’ll check in again soon. Hey look, here are some pictures.








Woah this is happening!

I’m sitting here at the hiker hostel and tomorrow I will be hiking up springer mountain and I will be a few steps closer to Mt katahdin! Before driving to Georgia, I got to spend some some quality sister time with my Collinistas. Please enjoy the following pictures that express the awesome time we had. By my next post, I should have some miles behind me! Here we go!