1. I chopped my hair! (Remember how long it was before?) What made me do it? I felt like it was time for a change, since I haven't had a short haircut since middle school. Aaaand I was deep into an art project that I had been working on for a month, and maybe it was the frustration of not knowing how to continue that made me feel like cutting my hair was a good solution. I don't know if it was, but I finished my art project and I love my hair so I think it was a good thing.
2. At the beginning of this month I spent the long weekend exploring Smoky Mountain National Park. It was beautiful. If you're on the east coast, it is definitely a must-see. I want to go back in a few weeks when all the leaves are changing colors!
3. The main reason I haven't been on this blog, I'm working on a secret project that I can't wait to announce! (Soon, I promise!)
Since the last time we talked, I have finished my job in Yellowstone, attended my best friend's wedding, roadtripped 2000+ miles back home, reunited with my family and friends, and began my last semester of college. It has been exciting and tumultuous and bittersweet and nostaligic and I've never been more thankful for stillness.
It's nice to settle back into a routine after a summer of constant adventuring. I'm looking forward to getting back on this blog, I've missed crafting and sharing my projects with you guys! I have hundreds of photos from this summer to sift through, but when I do I want to create a travel diary to share the highlights.
Thanks for sticking around after this summer's hiatus. I can't wait to see what the next few months have in store, and sharing it all with you.
As I'm writing this, I'm sitting in a coffee shop in a little town in Montana, just outside Yellowstone. The weather is sunny and warm, I'm surrounded by mountains, and I'm drinking the first real coffee I've had since I left Alabama.
I won't say my first week of work has been easy, nor has being so disconnected from my family and friends, but everyday I step outside my cabin door I am stunned by the beauty around me. Most people come to Yellowstone to visit for a day or two, and I get to live here. I can't believe I get to spend my summer exploring one of the most beautiful places in America!
I want to show you all my cabin and where I live, but I will save that for another post. For now, I'll share some photos from the exploring I've done in my first week here.
It's been a while since I've talked to you all, I've missed blogging so much. Life has been full and my blog hasn't been my priority. But the wonderful thing about a blog is, it's always waiting for you when you're ready to return.
Since I've last posted, I've turned 21, finished half my last year of college, chopped my hair off, mountain biked for the first time, and spent many warm days by the water.
Tomorrow I am off on a road trip to Wyoming with some camping gear, a suitcase full of clothes, and a bag packed with two moleskines, watercolors, and a handful of books. I'm spending my summer working in Yellowstone National Park. I've been itching for an adventure for many months now, and when I came across an application for Yellowstone, I knew that's where I wanted to be. I'm both anxious and excited, because I have no idea what to expect working there, but I can't wait to try something I've never done before. As hard as it is to get out of a place where you're comfortable, it is one of the best things you can do for yourself- so I'm traveling across the country to put myself in a new mindset for a few months.
I will be mostly disconnected from the digital world this summer, as working in the middle of a national park means phones and wifi are not easily accessible. Instead I'll spend my free time reading, painting, and hiking (sounds like the dream, right?). I don't know yet how often I'll be able to update my blog, but whenever I'm able to I will share lots of photos of my adventures in Yellowstone! And of course when I return in the fall, I'll be back posting regularly.
See you soon,
See you soon,
The Appalachian Trail.
I did not expect the endless beauty of the trail. I did not expect the energizing feeling I had even after hiking everyday until I thought my feet would fall off. I did not expect the dozens of fascinating and kind people I met, all wanting the same escape into wilderness. I did not expect the mountains to actually be "mountains" (but when you're carrying a 35 pound pack on your back even a small hill becomes a mountain). I did not expect to miss the trail so much when I left.
I spent spring break hiking a section of the Georgia AT, from the approach trail, to Springer, and all the way to Blood Mountain. The day before the hike we all sat around with piles of our gear strewn across the living room, figuring out how to fit everything in our packs, sorting through things we didn't actually need, and wondering how we were going to carry all that stuff on our backs for so many miles.
The drive to the approach trail in North Georgia was exciting. As we got closer, the mountains became more and more prominent. We were going to be in them soon.
We threw our packs on our backs and headed out on the trail. Now if you haven't heard anything about the approach trail to the AT, it's about 7 miles of constant climbing and descending, and it is hard. In fact, we talked to a ranger on the second day of our hike and he told us that if we could do the approach trail, we could do the entirety of the Georgia section.
When I finally descended the second mountain, I felt numb to the pain and exhaustion. All I could think about was making it that last mile to camp. When I finally reached camp, I almost couldn't believe it. My entire body ached, and I passed out in my tent not long after the sun went down.
I thought I was going to be too sore to continue after that second day, but the days following I started getting into a rhythm with hiking, and I felt great. I knew I could face whatever the trail gave me. The days were long but the sights were beautiful. And there's no better feeling than reaching camp and ending the day with warm food and a big fire. No emails to check, no phone calls to catch, no worries except if that blister on your toe will feel better in the morning. I was starting to realize why thru hikers put themselves through 2,000 miles of this.
On our last day we climbed the highest mountain in Georgia, and as I was standing on the rocks looking out into the Appalachian mountains, I felt like I had accomplished the impossible. I couldn't imagine how I would feel if I had completed the entire AT. As dirty and tired and sore as I was, I was sad to say goodbye to the trail. I had gotten into a routine and it began to feel like my normal life.
On our drive back home, I don't have the words to express how I felt after looking back at the mountains I lived in for a week. I knew this wasn't the last time I'll be seeing the AT. In the future I want to make the AT my home for a few months, not stopping until I reach Katahdin.
I hope these photos conveyed at least a little bit of how incredible this trip was. If you've ever thought about hiking the AT, go do it. Even if it's just a section, I promise it will be worth it. Getting out into the wilderness for a little while is the best way to refresh your life and reconnect with yourself.
Spring break is next week and while most people are heading to the beaches, I'm spending the break hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail! In preparation for the trip, I started doing some research on backpacking food for vegans and realized there are not a whole lot of resources out there for people who want to hike on a plant-based diet. So I'm going to show you all what I'm bringing for the trip, to give you some ideas if you too plan to go camping as a vegan!
The standard breakfast for backpackers, vegan or not, is oatmeal. I add some almond butter, chia seeds, and brown sugar for more flavor and nutrients. The unfrosted PopTarts are vegan, and although they aren't the healthiest thing you can eat, the extra calories are needed when you're hiking 10+ miles a day. Something hot to drink on chilly mornings is also nice to have, so I'm bringing tea!
Snacks are essential for a long hike- they give you the energy you need to keep going. I'm bringing an assortment of things because I don't want to get tired of eating the same trail mix every single day. I'm packing green pea crisps (they are lightweight and delicious!), crackers, lots of granola bars, and the classic "gorp".
I'm not including lunch in this post because someone else in our group is packing it for us, and it's so simple: just peanut butter and tortilla.
For dinner, I'm bringing lentils, rice, dried potatoes, dried tofu, packaged vegetables, and spices to give it all some flavor. I found the tofu and veggies at an asian grocery store, which is surprisingly a great place to find backpacking food! The lentils and rice cook in 5 minutes, and the potatoes simply need hot water- so this is a quick and easy meal to put together after a long day of hiking!
The extra things that I don't necessarily need, but like to have, are sour patch kids for a little boost during the day, hot chocolate for sitting around the fire, and chewing gum.
I won't be back on the blog for a week or so, but I will write all about my adventure after the trip is over!