Monthly Archives: March 2012

Our bags our packed, we’re ready to go…

Well were not leaving on a jet plane but embarking on a 25+ hour, quality time inducer with the ‘rents tomorrow morning at 0600. Wahoo!

So here are some rambling thoughts we are having:

-The distance by car from Dahlonega, GA to Baxter St Park, ME  is 1,388.54 according to map quest. We will be hiking 2,184.2 miles. Obviously it isn’t a straight shot.

– The weather in Atlanta for Wednesday(the day we start) shows 76 degrees and rainy. Awesome.

– We are attempting to take a bit of Schmeckfest on the trail by bringing knepp for the first supper. It will be interesting to see if we get any comments.

– We will not be checking facebook and email very often so you will be much more likely to receive a reply if you send us real letters. Let’s help out the postal system!

– Have you noticed how the same letters are in TRAIL as there are in TRIAL? Food for thought.

We will try to blog one more time before hitting the trail. We thank you again for all your thoughts, prayers and support throughout this journey. This is what a year of planning has come to!

Here we go!

Four legs

Ready for shake-down

On Monday we did a shake-down hike. This means we used most of our gear to test it and also insure that it did not look brand new the first day of the trail in Georgia.

After pictures at homes we set off for Newton Hills. We discussed our feelings about the trail, including what we are nervous about. We realized that we are going to have to have tough love sometimes and how we need to be honest about we are doing.

We arrived at Newton Hills and hefted our packs to start the hike.  Renee’s pack came in at 43 lbs. and Alison’s was 38 lbs.  Ten pounds of Renee’s pack weight was a leg weight to simulate what we would be taking in food.

The first downhill was nasty. It wasn’t any better on the way back uphill. But then we remembered we have hiking poles. Hiking poles are great! It’s like you have four legs instead of two and helps greatly with stability.  Renee thinks she may try this with running.

We hiked about an hour, slack-packed up the look-out tower, and then tried out our camping stove. (yes, stove does not rhyme with hour/tower, but we didn’t take a shower) We also tried the steri pen but we have to figure out what the blinking light means. The Swan Lake water still tasted like fish. After stroganoff, we walked for 2 more hours along some horse trails and we had to watch out for road apples. The trail was fairly level in most spots and we realized the AT will be more like the last section-all up hill!

Things we learned:

-Water boils faster when you turn the stove on high. Our pocket rocket does sound like a rocket. It roars!
-Trekking poles are leg savers.
-Renee will get a new/larger back-pack. One that can carry a heavier load so we can take more food.
-We don’t like walking in sandy soil.
-We will get callouses in interesting places.
-On pasta side of stroganoff is not enough to feed 2 hungry hikers. It just whet our appetite. 
-There are a lot of places to adjust on a backpack and we haven’t figured out the perfect fit yet.
-We like that there are two of us so we don’t have to take off our packs to get at our water.
-Alison’s left knee doesn’t like going up hill and Renee’s left knee doesn’t like going down hill.
– We both have some hot spots/blisters on our feet but hopefully we will figure that out.
-We have no idea how far we hiked. It might have been six miles or might have been only 4.
-We were tired afterwards. Three hours of hiking wiped us out.

One Week!

Okay kids, this is crunch time…a week from today, at this time, we will be eating lunch in Iowa City on our way to Georgia. Wow and Yikes.

Aprons for table servers/cleaner-uppers

Time is flying by with every day of this last week being filled with something. Here’s a rundown: Monday – making poppy seed rolls, Tuesday – Sioux Falls trip and eating 2 lunches with friends. Yes, we both ate two lunches. Nice. We are getting our stomachs ready for the trail. We have to eat between 4,000 and 6,000 calories a day. Just preparing for that. Wednesday – pluma moos making. We are definitely stirring champions. Thursday – Alison worked at the hospital and Renee made fruit pockets. Friday – SCHMECKFEST!! Renee emptied liquids and Alison gathered coffee cups at the meal. Saturday – SCHMECKFEST!! Renee worked with knepp and Alison with noodle soup. We wore our boots both nights to help break them in. It worked like a charm. No blisters, just tired feet.

This way to Schmeckfest!

If you’re looking for something to do next weekend come to SCHMECKFEST!! (It’s in Freeman SD for those of you that are unaware of the awesomeness you are missing.)

This next week is looking about the same with a shake down hike on Monday and various togetherness and more SCHMECKFEST!!

Pretty picture


Some friends from Sunday School brought us this picture because it reminded them about how God will protect us on the trail. Underneath His wings we will stay safe. Thanks for that and all your prayers! At this point we are at 5% of our fundraising goal. We are hoping that people are just waiting for us to start before they pledge to donate. They may be waiting to see how many miles we actually hike. So, money should be coming in later. But, we will take anything now. 🙂

And now for some words from our sponsor (our entertainment): Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader

– Australia’s mallee bird can tell temperature with it’s tongue, accurate to within 2 degrees. Alison asks: How did the bird tell the people the temperature it’s tongue said it was?

– Robins can become drunk after eating holly berries and often fall off power lines. Sounds like an experiment waiting to happen.

– Domesticated elephants have learned to stuff mud into the cowbells around their necks before sneaking out at night to steal bananas. So smart!

– Poison oak is not an oak, and poison ivy is not an ivy. Both are members of the cashew family. No wonder some people are allergic to nuts.

Til next time…

Quote Worthy

Here are some quotes we have come across while reading and watching movies about the trail:

” Living your dream is one thing, but sharing it lets everyone live it with you.”

“I realized I smelled like a pile of old, sweaty socks that had fermented in a dark basement for a few weeks.”

“Hike your own hike.”

“No pain, no rain, no Maine.”

“The first week you think: I’m way down in Georgia and I’m already exhausted. But you know if you stay in one place nothing exciting is going to happen.” Henery Phillips

“Now that I’ve reached my destination, I realize it wasn’t the destination that was importatn: it was the journey.” Robie ‘Jumpstart’ Hensley

“I can’t explain what it will be like. You are never really going to know what it’s like until you get out there.” Ross ‘Ridgerunner’ Geredian

“[on the trail] everybody’s a hiker and you’re all equal in the eyes of the trail.” Dorthy Hansen

“One day I heard a thru-hiker say that when you’re in town you’ll order a large pizza, then get a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and then figure out what you’re going to eat next. Then in one town I had a large pizza and was scraping out the container of ice cream when it dawned on me that that guy was right!” Luke ‘the Journeyman’ Wiaczek

Questions we will ask ourselves: What will we have for dinner tonight? What’s the heaviest food in my pack? Should I eat it now? Am I due a snack? What should I eat when I hit town?

“The more I carry in my backpack, the less I enjoy the trail.” Sonie ‘light eagle’  Shames

“I didn’t plan, I just wanted to hike the trail. I’d heard about the trail and I came.” Charles (who had 30 bibles and 50 beanie weenie cans to start the trail)

“With other trails you could test yourself. You get the adventure, but not the camaraderie.” Dorthy Hansen

“At the end of the trail all the men look homeless and the women look like supermodels.”

“If everything was perfect on this trip, it wouldn’t be fun.” – Renee

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, when the road you are trudging seems uphill, when the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh, when care is pressing you down a bit… rest if you must but don’t you quit! Success is failure turned inside out. The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, and you never can tell how close you are, it may be near when it seems afar. So stick to the fight when you are hardest hit- its when things go wrong that you should never quit!” – unknown

“You’ll learn more about a road by traveling it, then by consulting all the maps in the world” – unknown/Grandpa Neufeld

Naomi and Ruth


This weekend was all about jerky. Our neighbor Adam Chedester was one of our first trail angels of this adventure by letting us use his commercial convection oven to dry our beef jerky. THANK YOU!

Jerky Steaks?

But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. (please read the rest of this paragraph in a dramatic voice) This story starts at camp on Wednesday afternoon when Alison brought the meat from the store that we were to use for jerky. As soon as the box was opened Renee exclaimed “are we having jerky steaks?”. The meat was too thick. Oops. Alison’s inexperience of jerky making reared it’s ugly head. To give a comparison, the meat was about 5/8 inch and should have been 3/16 inch. After several texts back and forth with the above mentioned expert, we figured our jerky would be more round than flat, but we could work with what we had.We cut and cut and then marinated. A sticky mess for sure.

half done

laying out the beef

Fast forward to Saturday. At 09oo hours (Alison is a nurse and uses military time) we drove the arduous mile to the Chedester’s farm. After a quick tour we got the beef into the oven and proceeded to wait. And wait. If we would have had the correct thickness of meat the process would have only taken about 30 minutes for each batch. As it was, we had some in there for over 3 hours. During the wait we worked on our chapel for tomorrow, learned the ins and outs of jerky making from Adam and made friends with his cat. We really like that cat. By 3 pm all the jerky was dried and packaged.

all packaged

The rest of the day included trying to find Renee’s bedroom floor and moving items to the shop for storage. You may have noticed that Alison is not wearing her red shirt in this picture. Renee strongly recommended the red shirt not be worn. Contrary to what it looks like, Renee was there, but was taking pictures.

Renee is officially done at camp on Friday and there will be much moving and cleaning to do before she can leave. And one very large 6,000 piece puzzle to finish. There also might be much waling and gnashing of teeth. She shall miss that place. So far we are at 3% of our fundraising goal. Check out our fundraising information on the tab above. It is not too late to give.

Oh yeah…the title of this post comes from a conversation where Alison said that she will follow Renee wherever she will go. So we have dubbed ourselves Naomi and Ruth until the trail names us something else.


The Appalachian Trail, just like any other culture, has it’s own language. Below are some terms that we will hear when we are out and about on the trail:

– Blue blazer – takes short cuts on blue blazed trails

–  Purist – only hikes white blazes

– Yellow blazer – these people follow the highway, cutting off major portions

–  Slackpacker – one who hikes after leaving a pack with someone who will meet up with them later on

–  Trail names got their start in 1970 when two Bobs needed nicknames. So, they became known as Brooklyn and Boston. Now most thru-hikers will be given a name during their hike.

– PUDS – pointless ups and downs

– AYCE – all you can eat

– granny gear – hiking at a slow pace

– half gallon club – membership open to any hiker that consumes a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting (we will be joining) usually done at the half way point of the AT

– hiker box – box or bin at a hostel, hotel etc used to exchange supplies – so, if we get tired of carrying our Yahtzee game we will put it in there for someone else to use for awhile. 🙂

– NOBO (northbound hiker), SOBO (southbound hiker)

– trail angels – person who helps hikers by providing drinks, food or rides for no fee

– turtle-ing – a tumble where hiker lands on a pack and struggles to retain footing. This will happen frequently.

– vitamin I – ibuprofen

– Yogi-ing – begging food from fellow hikers, like Yogi. We think our food is going to be so awesome that people will be yogi-ing from US!

– web walking – first hiker on the trail in the morning, thus clearing spider webs…usually with their face.

– zero day – where we don’t hike…at all..except to do laundry

– yo-yoing – hiking from one end of the trail to the other, and turning around and going back to the starting point.  I really doubt we will do this!

Now you will be able to interpret our posts. Good luck!

So long, farewell…

The title is harkening back to 2008 when we were in the Sound of Music for Schmeckfest. Check out our nunsense photo album on facebook.It’s quite entertaining.

Yesterday was Renee’s official farewell party at the camp (her last day is March 16). We had some camping gear laid out along with the map of the trail and our schedule. It was fun sharing some of our enthusiasm and knowledge of the trail. “So, how long is this trail?” and “How many miles are you going to do a day?” were common questions. If you need answers to these questions yet, you will find the answers on our blog. Scavenger hunt time! 🙂 Or you can come to our chapel on the Freeman Academy campus March 12 at 10:10am.

Renee held up remarkably well considering this day was focused on all she will leave behind. Tears only entered her eyes once. However there will still be grieving to be done yet. Mary made all Renee’s favorite snacks, so this week she will be munching on left-over corny mix, mini fruit pizzas and peanut butter rice crispy bars with chocolate on top. Aren’t you sad you missed it? If you come out to camp, she might share. A super THANK YOU to all those who came out to camp to celebrate with her.

For those of you that would enjoy sending us some gifts as we are hiking we have made a page called maidrops.Here you will find suggestions of items to send, along with addresses and time frame for mailing. We look forward to these packages. It will be fun to see what surprises people send. In other words we are open to items other than the suggestions….as long as they are light and small.

In all we are getting to the point where we’ve done all the research and planning we can and are ready to just get er done. Or at least get er started…

Next week you can look forward to a post about beef jerky. YEAH! We know you are on the edge of your seats. This is the extent of our excitement these days. Every little thing counts.

Goodbye until next time.

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