Charity’s Blog


Just Peachy Update

Hey Peaches!

This winter has been pretty uneventful by the way of news. I mean, some exciting things have happened. For instance, in September, we hired Chef Amy Beyer who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Seattle Washington. Chef Amy has been a great asset to the cafe and blended into the team wonderfully. Her leadership skills and ease in the kitchen are much appreciated. It leaves me time to work ON my business, not just IN my business. (Not to mention a few days off to hike when I want!)

In December, we participated in the Mistletoe Marketplace again. If you aren’t familiar, you should definitely plan to attend next year. There are vendors, rides, local restaurants, and (most important) SANTA!!

January was a quiet one. And just like at home, when its quiet, we clean! Nothing like some kitchen spring cleaning in January to pass the time. We did some really fun caterings too, one of which was a wine tasting sponsored by the Major Hospital Foundation. They had individual Charcuterie boards at each place setting. It was a really neat event and organized very well by their department. Hats off to Ms LaTisha Idlewine for her hard work on all she does!

February brought on our annual Valentine’s Dinner. This year we had more guests than ever and a great time was had by all! We served 3 courses consisting of Salad, a combination plate of Chicken with a Mushroom sauce, Beef Tenderloin, Mashed Potato Puree, and Roasted vegetables, then a Silk Chocolate Mousse for dessert. Thanks to all who attended and who helped make the night a success!

If you have been following us for a while, you know that I had plans to build on an addition where our patio is. Unfortunately, do to the cost of EVERYTHING these days, that isn’t going to happen. I do want to retire at some point in my life. What is going to happen, though, is we will be pulling up the uneven pavers and pouring a nice concrete patio. I know they look neat but they cause the tables to sit uneven and my servers’ legs to kill them at the end of the day. So for the safety of everyone’s iced teas, we’ll be replacing the bricks. We’ve contracted a local gentleman, Travis Atwood of Atwood Concrete Construction, to take care of this for us. Hopefully, construction will start in April and we’ll be all set to serve on the patio for Mother’s Day!

In April, Shelbyville will be hosting thousands of spectators who wish to be in the areas of the Total Eclipse. We’ll have special hours over that weekend to accommodate everyone. So for all of you who wish we were open later on the weekends, here is your chance! We’ll have dinner specials, Eclipse themed mocktails, and viewing glasses (while supplies last).

Last but not least, MOTHER’S DAY is coming up! We will be open on Mother’s Day Sunday from 8-2pm. We cannot wait to celebrate with you and your families!

But WAIT! There’s MORE! Check out the Special Event Section of my page to hear some great music my dad and his band (from the ’70s) put out in 1975.

The American Way

This has been a pretty boring blog, sorry. More informational than anything. No hidden gems of wisdom, no funny antidotes. I guess if I can leave you with anything, it would be this…. If you own/run your own place, surround yourself with people who are working to make life easier on everyone. Really, that is how life should be in general, right? If I’m working my hardest and you’re working your hardest, in the end, we all succeed.

Stay Peachy, Friends!


Easy Chocolate Mousse

  • 1 package chocolate instant pudding
  • 2 cups heavy whipping crea
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 8oz Cool whip
  • Mix first 3 ingredients until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip until combined. Chill till ready to serve.

Not all who wander are lost

Day 1 Mountain Harbour Bed & Breakfast to Dennis Cove to Moreland Gap Shelter

  I’m at it again. Back on the Appalachian trail for my 2nd solo hike. 💪🏼. All in all, this hike wil be about 25 miles with 5437 ft ascent and 5067ft descent. The highest point along the route is at 4200 ft above sea level. 

  This hike has been planned for quite awhile. I was supposed to have completed it in April. As some of you know though, my son and I were in a car accident in March. With a broken hand and a messed up back, hiking 25 miles in the mountains (with a 30 pound pack) was not going to happen after a month’s time of healing. Fast forward to October and the hand is healed but back still gets tired some. I just didn’t want to miss my mountain time this year. 

Bed & Breakfast

I headed out Sunday morning to Roan Mountain area, TN to stay at a bed and breakfast that someone told me about 6 years ago. For 6 years, I have dreamed of these people’s breakfast because it is known all up and down the  Appalachian trail as the BEST breakfast spread on trail.  I decided to stay here for the night and start fresh Monday morning. I usually opt for a private room when I stay at these hostels but this time I stayed in the hostel which is like a bunk house for hikers. Multiple beds in a room and we all share a bathroom or two. It wasn’t bad. It, by far, was the cleanest hostel I have ever been in.  The wood floors in the loft area I stayed in literally shined. 

Loft Area

But breakfast…..  OMGoodness!  These folks had muffins, French toast (served with local syrup and pecans), tomato pie, egg soufflé, potatoes, all the meats, fruit, a beautiful braided pastry, breakfast quesadillas, biscuits, gravy, apple butter, coffees, teas, & juices. It was the finest spread I’ve seen except my momma’s holiday breakfast spread!  Let me repeat…. MOUNTAIN HARBOUR B&B if you need a beautiful place to stay on the mountains. Their private rooms looked very nice too if you aren’t into the $30 bed 🙂

Beautiful table settings
The owner’s mother telling us what
is for breakfast

While there, I met a flip flopper  (a hiker who started at the middle of the AT, hiked all the way to Maine, then went back to the beginning in Georgia and will hike back to the middle). His name is Waterboy. Quiet guy with plans to do the PCT trail when he finishes this. Also met Sarge. Ex-Marine who is out here to, as they say, loose his mind and find his soul. Sounds like he has been a mentor to different people on the trail who failed to test gear out at home before coming out here.  This morning at breakfast, met a couple from Missouri. They gave me their real names but she described themselves as June Cleaver & Evil Knievel and now that’s all I remember!  They are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!  Congratulations Ms Cleaver and Mr Knievel. 

  The owner of MH, Dave (an ex marine, California native) shuttled me to my starting point at Dennis Cove.

my starting point

I started hiking south and stopped a short 6.4 miles at my first campsite. It’s kind of early but I was afraid if I hiked on I’d be stuck between good sites to hunker down. I had a fire, ate dinner, and hit the sleeping pad by 8pm. 

random building on trail
Part of the trail
Gorgeous views
There are groups & individuals that take care of the trail by clearing downed trees and picking up after others.
Night 1 dinner & cook system

  It was a good night. The frogs sang to me all night, no bears stopped to say hi, and it didn’t rain. However, I did figure out I probably wasn’t ready to venture back out to sleep on a thin air mattress again so soon. 

Day 2 Moreland Gap Shelter to Walnut Mountain

Waking up on a hard ground when your’e over 45, might be ok for some but this lady says it’s for the birds. At least this time around. I was apprehensive about taking this trip anyhow since my accident was just 6 months ago. So much could go wrong and there aren’t a lot of rescue points. I had a scare last night as I was walking for water. The source was 100 yards down hill and I slipped on a small stick that rolled under my feet. Luckily, I went down gracefully and didn’t cause any damage. 

Today I had my coffee (instant) and some delicious oatmeal (pour water in it to set) to start my day. I stopped every hour to take off my pack and rest. 

The views were gorgeous. You’ll see pictures but without feeling the breeze and hearing the stillness, it’s hard to for you to get the full feeling of it. 

This spot had a memorial bench at it. A perfect place to rest and appreciate the beauty.
You can see my Garmin InReach SOS device and my Damsel in Defense alarm on my shoulder strap
Lots of odds mushrooms out today!
Water Source on the trail
Thru hikers headed SOBO (south bound) will have already hiked 1800 miles at this point.

After walking about 7 more miles today, I was at my last bail out point before committing to the rest of the hike. 

 I decided that I’d seen beautiful views, pretty water falls, and recharged enough that sleeping on the ground one more night wasn’t necessary. So I called in the Calvary (a local shuttle) to come get me. 

I’m now back at the hostel chilling for the night. 

Post hike pizza… yum!!

It’s been another great experience. I’m glad I came. I’m also glad I know my body’s limits and know when to push or when to be sensible. 

All in all, it was 14.3 mile hike, 45,000 steps, and one night on the ground. 

Till we meet again, Appalachian Trail. It just might be in my camper next time 🤣

Stay Peachy, friends!

-Charity (or as my new trail friends, who have given me a trail name call me- Peachy!)

Recipes used by the B&B

Julia, The Bear, Gordon, & Charity (?)

I spent this snowy, cold Sunday binging on cooking shows and movies. Nothing can inspire a cook more than other cooks – or chefs. I watched the season of The Bear on Hulu, some Gordon Ramsey episodes, and the movie Julie & Julia.

The Bear & his staff are very loud and passionate about their work. Everything revolves around the restaurant and family. Can I tell you how true this is? I mean, maybe not always the loud and the foul language, but the revolving around food and family. It truly is where we come from. We want everything perfect and when it doesn’t go that way, it is upsetting. We show our love by feeding you all. If we fall short, it is almost like we’ve betrayed your trust. So we try our hardest to fulfill our duty to connect the food of our dreams to your tastebuds. Every day brings on new challenges and opportunities to connect with you.

Now Gordon, he seems to have many different faces. Whether he is dealing with a failing kitchen, a struggling staff, or children, we always see a different side of him. The one constant, though, is that he is a rock star in the kitchen. He wants the best quality out of anyone around him. I get that. We don’t have the name calling, but we do strive for the quality!

Julia Child. Wow. Say no more. She inspired so many people. If you haven’t seen Julie & Julia, it is about a lady named Julie who writes a blog. The blog is about her working her way through Julia Child’s cookbook. No one has loved food and the pleasure it brings, like Ms Child. She was in love with food, Paris, her husband, and life beyond measure.

The last chef? Charity? Not on TV, not in the movies, and no famous cookbook. BUT I have the heart of Julia, the devotion of Gordon, and the drive of the Bear to please your palates; to make you feel like family every time you come in. That is my goal. That is my purpose in this community.

I’m looking forward to a new week of cooking and creating for you.

May your beef bourguignon be well seasoned, your souffles not deflate, and your pasta stay al dente.

Stay Peachy, friends!


Julia Child’s Braised Cucumbers

1 huge cucumber (or 2 regular sized)

1 tablespoon butter

1 dash salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 pinch dried mint

Peel cucumber. Cut into quarters and remove seeds. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Melt butter in a pan and add cucumber. Cover and cook about 5 minutes on medium heat. Stir in salt, lemon, and mint. Cover and cook another 2 minutes.

Hunting ‘widow’ or Fall ‘opportunities’?

‘Tis the season for the men (and women) of my family to head off into the woods to hunt. Now, before you start in on “we should get our meat from the grocery store like everyone else”, please know that we hunt smart, safe, and only kill what we eat. That, however, is a different topic for a different page.

I’m talking today about the many memes and shirts and cartoons out there that show sad, crying women who ‘loose’ their husbands from Oct to Dec during hunting season. I’ve never really bought into that. You see, my husband was a hunter when I married him. I’m happy he has something he enjoys doing and I’m ok that I do not have to be a part of it. Trust me, if I’m in a tree stand, there will be no deer approaching! I CANNOT sit still! So, there goes the first option for me on how to deal with hunting season. There will be no hunting for me. That doesn’t mean you can’t join your man or woman who enjoys it. Just remember this if you do decide to join them, it is their time. It is their peace and their enjoyment. If you aren’t in it to really enjoy it with them, leave them alone. Let them have this.

So, what do I do? I find my own peace and enjoyment. I might go to a festival with my mom or friends. I might plan projects to complete that I know my husband would want to help with but I choose to do alone. This weekend, I hooked up the camper and came out to enjoy some quiet time in the woods. He enjoys his thing, I enjoy mine. **If you aren’t quite this adventurous, start out small. Take a book or a magazine to a coffee shop and try 30 minutes of quiet time.

When the kids were younger, this was a little more difficult. Now that they are teenagers, it is much easier to find me time since they have their own schedules. Doesn’t mean the 30 minute phone call from my 18 year old didn’t brighten up my whole day yesterday though. I think he is bound and determined to make me learn about cars whether I want to or not! So, mamas of littles, hang in there. There will be a day you can enjoy a shower without someone asking where their shoes are through the door. Once again, another topic for another day.

So, to my husband who supports me in my independence and doesn’t expect me to stay at home waiting on him to finish his hunting trip, THANK YOU! If any of you ladies out there see yourself as ‘hunting widows’ (and want to change it because some people are ok with it), give me a shout! Maybe we can have coffee or I can give you a ‘me time’ challenge to spread your wings.

Stay Peachy, friends!


Brookville Lake Campground

Venison Stew

  • 4-5 lb Venison Roast
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 package of dried onion soup mis
  • Diced Carrots and Potatoes

In crockpot, place all ingredients. Cook on high for 8 hours or until roast is tender and at least 145°

Back to Basics

I have been in the food industry since I was a pre-teen. My ‘why’ for being in this business has changed throughout the years though. At first, I did it because it was a family business and that is just what you do. Then, it was all I know and, really, what else would I do? Then the opportunity to create and experiment was a good reason to continue in this business. Somewhere in there, a love of cooking was a big reason. And finally, most of all, it was a love of serving those around me. However, with any job, sometimes it becomes a bit monotonous.

When I opened the café, I couldn’t wait to share some of my favorite recipes with everyone. But after peeling approximately 7500 pounds of potatoes over the last 3 years, my love for potato soup has dwindled some! Until this past Sunday. It was a beautiful day at my farmhouse. I had the windows open, a movie playing (yes, it was a Hallmark Christmas movie. Don’t judge me), and it was time to cook. I made potato soup & apple pie for my family. It was a very rewarding afternoon. It reminded me of when I first developed those recipes and WHY I wanted to share them. It brought me back to the beginning – back to basics.

So no matter what you do, you probably started because of a love of something. I know not everyone gets that luxury, but for those that do, when the work day/week gets mundane, remember why you started. Are you an accountant? Did you choose that because you enjoyed math as a kid? I’m sure there are some fun story problems you could find on the internet to take you back to the beginning. Are you a builder? Why not take a minute and build something with a kid or maybe something small for a neighbor (perhaps a birdhouse?) Find your joy in you job again.

I always love what I do. Somedays I just love it more than others. But when I peeled potatoes on Monday for my Just Peachy family, I remembered standing over my kitchen sink peeling them for the Elliott family as I looked across the hay fields by my house. Basic. When you find your joy starting to waver, take it back to the beginning and remember your why.

Stay peachy, friends!

What can I tell you?

So, I’ve been having trouble thinking of blog topics. What would you all like to know? Send me a Facebook on Instagram message and give me suggestions! I can write about anything, I just am not sure what interests you!

Today, I’ll tell you the story of the bird. During one summer of college, I was staying with some friends. There was a pet bird in the house. Now for the life of me, I cannot remember if this was my bird, my friend’s bird, or just kind of a community bird. It was a ‘few’ years ago. Anyhow, the bird. He got out of the cage and was flying around the house. We were trying to catch it and that bird ran right into the wall behind the toilet and FELL IN! Knocked him plum out! I scooped up the bird and did tiny compressions on his chest. I felt terrible and did not want this bird to have drowned in a toilet! What a crappy way to go. Finally he started breathing again. Whew! Saved him. So I wrapped him in a towel and we both were calming down after all of the excitement. That’s when it happened. The phone rang and gave the dang thing a heart attack!

Stay peachy, friends!


Easy Chicken Nachos in a pinch

  • Tostitos of your choice
  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Taco seasoning
  • Cream cheese
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream, tomatoes, jalapenos, salsa, other nacho toppings.

Spread the Tostitos on a baking sheet. Set aside. Take the meat off the bones of the chicken and toss with taco seasoning. Spread over chips. Chunk up the block of cream cheese and drop on the chicken. Top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350° until cheese is melted . Serve with all the toppings.

Charity, Jamie, Tina, and Nicole (1995 – Purdue University) A throw back to those college days.

Thermometer or Thermostat?

A few weeks ago, I made a little sign and hung it in my café kitchen that said Thermometer or Thermostat? No one has asked me about it until yesterday. My 15 year old son worked and asked what it meant.

I told him a few weeks ago, I was listening to my morning devotional podcast. (Big Life Devotional with Pamela Crim) Her devotional had a part that really stuck with me: “are you the thermometer or the thermostat in your life?” It simply means we are in control of our surroundings. Do we want to react to the mood and vibes of a day and only be a thermometer? OR do we want to be thermostat and set the temp/mood for the day? I put the sign up as a reminder to myself to be the thermostat every day.

Our business, like so many, has a lot of different personalities in it. These personalities come at us as team members and as customers. It can be easy to react to everyone, but why? Continue to have your thermostat set to KIND. It can make such a difference in someone’s day. Mainly yours!

Stay Peachy, Friends!

Recipe taken from one of my 2500 cookbooks. This one is best-ever SOUPS by Anne Sheasby.

May I shake your hand?

In case you haven’t noticed, everyone seems to be hiring these days. It isn’t something that is isolated to just one line of work either. If you drive down the street, you will see multiple signs and banners waving hopefully at you begging to get your attention. A great discussion these days is about where are the workers hiding. I seriously do not think everyone is sitting at home. I have put a lot of thought in to this subject. People may be sitting at home, but I truly believe they are working from home. I’d say these are a majority of the millennials. Others, our Baby Boomers, have retired or cut their hours down a great deal from 2 years ago. That leaves us with our young adults. Some of my greatest workers are my teenagers. However, they have this thing called school and limited availability. Not to mention, that doesn’t help out the non food related establishments. Can’t really put a 16 year old running a press or driving a fork lift!

Why do you think we have so many people wanting to work from home? I’d guess quality of life. Gone are the days where people want to put in 50, 60, 70 hours a week. Gone are the days of the restaurant life where we sit on buckets and eat a quick meal of cold food after a 14 hour shift. Gone are days where chefs yell and scream at the staff. Gone are the days of that terrible work environment where you dread Mondays. Ok. Maybe I should be saying these are things that should be gone! Not all places have figured it out yet. Culture is so important in a workplace. If you run a business or manage people, how is your culture?

An employee has to be a good fit for the business and visa versa. I have had some great people on my staff that would be better suited for a different line of work. If that is the case, tell them! Don’t keep getting frustrated with them. Work with them. Talk to them. Help them to either do better for you or to find a way they can do better for themselves.

Are you looking for work? Let’s talk about interviewing. Do you know how to shake a hand? If not, stop and see me! I’d love to shake your hand! Here are a few other tips if you go into an interview.

  • Early is on time, on time is late, (late is fired!)
  • Does the interviewer leave you to wait? Don’t be on your phone. Pick up a menu or other literature about the company to look over. (Keep your phone put away, not on the table)
  • Be dressed for the job you are applying for. If I want to start you today and you have on sandals and ripped jeans, you are not dressed for my establishment.
  • Stand when your interviewer walks up and shake their hand. A firm shake, one pump, not bone crushing but not a limp fish, and look them in the eye.
  • Do your research on the company. When they ask why do you want to work here…. have a reason! (make sure the reason is better than “I need a job and I saw the sign”)
  • Make eye contact with the interviewer. Not creepy eye contact but eye contact non the less.
  • When filling out an application, have a pen and be ready to talk to someone right then if they are available. Your interview starts when you walk in the door to get an application.
  • Any question an interviewer asks is part of the interview. Even a simple “How has your day been so far?” This simple question is asking have you been productive, have you slept all day, do you know how to prioritize the important things in your own life?
  • When they ask if you have any questions about the company, make sure you have one ready. If all your questions have been answered, say that. You can even ask about the interviewer such as, “What do like best about working here?”

There are so many other tips to a good interview. Podcasts are a wonderful source of information for both the interviewer and interviewee. I hope this has helped.

I love to help, train, and coach. If you or someone you know is looking for a job but are concerned about the interview process (even if it is not with Just Peachy) come see me! I’d love help more people get into the workforce.

Take care all and stay Peachy!!


3 of my fearless team!

Wednesday thoughts on a pretty afternoon

The restaurant business is a crazy, chaotic creature. One day we are up and the other day I’m wondering if I need a second job! That, however, is the view of most business owners starting out. It feels odd to say ‘starting out’ since we have been here almost 3 years now. In the restaurant business, it takes 5 years to get established though. So we are still babies in this industry.

Today was a good day. Busy. Steady. Everyone seemed to flow together nicely in the kitchen and the dining room. It’s always a good day when we are still smiling and laughing as we walk out the door! I hope our guests were as pleased with their meals as we were.

I’ve been experimenting lately with some flavored Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve tried blueberry, black & white (chocolate and white chips), peach, and pecan caramel. So far the blueberry and pecan caramel have been the winners. You’ll have to weigh in on what you think soon! I think tomorrow I’ll try a chocolate hazelnut cinnamon roll. Hmmmm….. and apple and pumpkin season are fast approaching! Those could be some contenders too!

Stay peachy, friends!


Grandma Flossie’s Apple Salad

~she took this to about every gathering I can remember!

6 c chopped apples

1 c mini marshmellows

1/4c chopped celery

1/2 c raisins

1/2 c nuts

Mix these together.

Then mix 3/4 c Miracle Whip, 1/2 c sugar, and 1/4 c milk. Pour over apple mixture. Chill and serve!

Charity’s Adventures on the Appalachian Trail 2022

Day 1: Arrival in Damascus 

What a wonderful day for a journey!  The weather was beautiful & warm. I turned on my audio book, rolled down my windows, & enjoyed my long trip alone to Damascus, VA. There was very little traffic and the scenery was something I can never get enough of. 

Damascus isn’t a big town, but it is a bustling one. Being a town that the Appalachian trail goes right through, means there are lots of hikers. Not only that, it’s called “Trail town, USA” because there are many more trails connecting here. 

I’m staying at Crazy Larry’s cottage. It’s right next door to his hostel. Hostels are like big bunkhouses. Multiple people, you may or may not know, staying in the same rooms.  I opted for the cottage with a private room & bath. My room has a beautiful, cherry 4 poster tall bed, just like my Aunt Zanny used to have in the hills of Kentucky. The cottage is clean & well kept. The hostel, on the other hand, is made for hikers on a budget. Crazy Larry has free food on the porch for any hikers needing it. A stack of clothes by the door in case they need to borrow something while they do their laundry. You see, most hikers only have two sets of clothes with them: hiking clothes & sleeping clothes. Inside, Crazy L’s filing system was covering his kitchen table with his laptop but he seemed organized enough. He had my reservation so that’s all that mattered to me. As he walked me over to the cottage, he fired up a joint. “Hope you don’t mind the weed,” he says. “I smoke this shit all the time now. It’s no worse than a beer.”  I shrugged & told him it was his house, I’m just a guest. (It’s legal in VA)I guess what I didn’t see inside the hostel, according to a new friend I made, was the pile of pot on the counter!   Anyhow, Larry is cool. Older guy, used to hike & raise hell.  Now he runs this business, doesn’t raise much hell anymore but doesn’t put up with any crap either. 

I met three thru hikers right after getting settled in: Alley Cat, Tunes, & Twister. We had a great dinner together and swapped hiking stories. They are zeroing tomorrow and headed out Monday NOBO (north bound). I leave tomorrow, shuttling up trail and hiking SOBO (south bound) back to Damascus. I should pass my new friends Monday sometime. 

One other lady I met was Firewalker. She earned her  name in a unique way. She was about to walk through a portion of the Smokies when she came upon a group doing a controlled burn. She was told she couldn’t pass for 24-48 hours. She wasn’t having that and insisted she would go through. After much persistence, they finally called ahead to tell the others of the very stubborn woman. They told her to give them a couple hours and they’d let her through. As she finally made her way through, she walked among the charred, burning ground cover. The only thing not sizzling was the trail. Her biggest worry was how to tell her husband she earned the name Firewalker 

Girl Camper on the go!
Twister, Tunes, Alley Cat
Crazy Larry: the man, the myth, the legend
Crazy Larry’s

Day 2: Leaving Damascus: into the woods I go, to loose my mind and find my soul

I awoke from a decent night sleep early, as I tend to do. There was a cafe down the way that opened at 7:00 am and I wanted to beat the crowd. Such a cute place with local art work on the walls and tables made of old sewing machine bases. 

This bustling town of an evening is definitely sleepy at 7am. So peaceful in its valley, surrounded by mountains. As I enjoyed my breakfast sandwich & dirty chai from the Main Street Coffee & Cream, I watched the sun rise up over the mountains and shine on the sleepy town. The warmth awakened one hiker at a time as they started to emerge from their different hostels and sleeping rooms. 

When I arrived back at my cottage kitchen, I ran into Alley Cat where we talked hiking gear and hiking stories. Such a unique community to walk into. They’re such an accepting group. Live and let live all the way. 

I talked with Crazy Larry before leaving. It was his birthday today and hikers called best wishes to him as they passed. I sat on his comfortable, cluttered, welcoming front porch waiting for my ride. 

Gypsy pulled up in her little SUV to shuttle me to Massie Gap where I’d begin the hike. It’s the second time she’s shuttled me and such a nice lady. She and her other half, Lone Wolf,  thru hiked years ago and now shuttle other hikers. I told her how I couldn’t find a hiking mate this time around. She insisted that next I call her!  She’s always looking for a reason to get out and hike. Nice offer, and I might, but she’d probably hike circles around me!  I’m not the fastest hiker you’ll ever meet!

She dropped me off at my starting point, which had a pit toilet, score!  Massie Gap is in the Grayson Highlands State Park. The land of the wild ponies. I happened upon 3 of them as they grazed on the grass. They walked close but they weren’t rude or pushy, as I hear they get further into hiking season. Like any other wild animal, they’ll figure out where the treats come from even if feeding them is frowned on. 

The views in the highlands were more than I could have wished for. I could see mountains on top of mountains on top of mountains. Simply breathtaking.  I didn’t think I’d get out of that section just because I kept stopping to enjoy the view. I passed tons of thru hikers, some day hikers, a trail runner passed me. The age limit here is, well, kind of like a board game: from 0-99. Not sure the oldest hiker’s age but I know he was in his 80’s and still going strong!

I found a campsite after hiking 9 hours, 29,000 steps & 10 miles. Set up my tent, cooked dinner, made some hot tea, built a fire, and…….. realized I forgot my spoon!!  My meal of mushrooms, spinach, chicken, & rice was delicious!  I ate it with the lid of my coffee cup. A girl has to eat and I was NOT wasting that grub just because of no spoon!

As my fire dies down, it’s almost hiker midnight, 8:30, and it’s about time for bed.  I’m pleased with my journey and progress so far. Tomorrow should be a little easier. I have a lot of downhill ahead of me. However, downhill has its own set of issues too. 

So goodnight peaches. I’m off to dream of ponies and hills. 

me & the ponies
My lid/spoon

My first night fire

Day 3: Just keep hiking, just keep hiking

Last night was my first night ever to sleep completely alone in the woods. I’ve been alone in my tent but with hiking companions a stone throw away. Last night, no one close enough to throw rocks at but close enough to hear me yell if I needed something. 

I slept well. Typical night in a bear taco(sleeping bag). I woke every hour to turn, then go back to sleep. Nothing weird or scary happened. Nothing to freak me out. Such a nice night. In fact, about 5am nature came calling and I had to get out of my tent. Since there wasn’t anyone close to me, I didn’t have to travel far into the woods to find the perfect tree. When I looked up to return to my tent, I was in utter awe at the sky. It was a clear midnight blue with a million stars shining down. They were so close, and so big, I felt I could touch them. The Big Dipper was to the north hanging there as if waiting for God to grab the handle and scoop all the other stars up. If you ever have the chance to look at a clear star filled night at 5100ft, seize the moment. 

Finally around 6, I decided to emerge from my tent, retrieve my food, & make some well deserved coffee. I sat in my tent facing East and watched the sun crest over the mountains. What a fantastic way to start the day!  I’ve done some yoga stretches (thank you Allison Crim) and now time to pack up and hike on!

It was an easy(ish) hike out. I stopped at a spring to refill my water bottles and ran into my shuttle driver, Gypsy!  She was shuttling someone else & decided to do a hike if her own up to Buzzard rocks. Gorgeous view. She was there when I made it to the top and took some photos for me. 

I passed so many hikers today and I’d say half were solo women. Lots of dogs, including one little Yorke who’d walked almost the whole 500 miles! 

As the trail neared the Virginia Creeper Trail, I walked along a river until I came to a foot bridge. I crossed the river by using that bridge but at that point, I lost my white blazes! (White blazes mark the route of the AT. They are placed on trees at eye level along the trail). I could see a parking area under the bridge and people so I decided to go down. It was such a steep decent, I had to scoot on my bottom 1/2 the way. I got down there to realize it was not where I was supposed to be. Then came the tricky part, getting back up the hill. I made it & stayed on 2 feet the whole time. I’m just glad no one was watching!  Graceful, it was not. I found the trail again and passed Alley cat. On up further I saw Tunes & Twister. I passed a man and woman  the man had his pack and hers, probably 30# each, and she followed behind. By the look of her, I hope they were just shooting for the next road crossing and a ride someplace. I think the hills got the best of her today. 

The last push of my day was tough. Very steep mountains but the bright spot was I’d be at my next camp spot soon. 

Now I’ve gotten my water for the morning, had my dinner, and I’m once again tucked into my bear taco. I might sleep all the way through tonight. I hope. Rain is coming about 2am. Which means by last 4 miles will be wet ones. 

Today was 32,000 steps, 12.2 miles, & 11 hours of hiking. 

Sleep well, peaches. I know I will. 


Buzzard Rocks

Part of the trail

Day 4: Walking in the rain

Luckily the weather man was off a little so I awoke to a nice day with no rain. I could feel it was coming though. So I packed and left camp about 8. It was a down hill trek for most of it. Then about 9:45 it started to rain. 

I got out my map, because in my mind I was only 4 miles from the end. What I didn’t realize is when I plotted this trip last year, I had planned on ending before Damascus, not IN Damascus. As I fixed my mistake, I now had an additional 5 miles to walk in the rain before my hot shower and my reward Diet Coke. Which is funny because I don’t even really drink soda anymore!  That’s a total of 9 miles for the day and I wasn’t sure what terrain I was in store for on the AT. No service to call a shuttle. Dwindling energy to do many more climbs. Then I remembered the Virginia Creeper trail. I’d been walking above it for sometime. I found a way to cross to it and walked my remaining 5 miles in to town on a down sloped trail instead of the ups and downs I was sure to be ahead of me on the AT. I was afraid of what time I’d arrive back in town if I took that route!

The scenery was beautiful despite the rain. I crossed many pretty foot bridges and hiked along the river the whole time. It was too wet to get any pictures so I’ll just have to rely on my memory. 

I did pass a few hikers today but I think a lot are holed up in hostels waiting for tomorrow’s clear day. When almost to town, a lady shuttle driver stopped to see if I needed a ride. I was less than a 1/2 mile away at that point so I declined. I was soaked anyhow and her van was really nice. 

I got to Crazy Larry’s and found my room. This one even nicer than the first one. An immediate hot shower, hot tea, and a sit down were in order. 

So to sum up this trip, I’m sunburned, sore in places you didn’t think could be sore, don’t know if my feet will ever fit back into my shoes, and so empowered and happy that I did it!  I didn’t know if I could hike solo. Part of the downfall is not having anyone to share in the ups & downs (literal and figurative) or the gorgeous views or funny trips & falls. Sometimes it’s enough to be the only one to see these things. I’ll treasure this time and my first solo hike. 

I always say my parents raised me to be fearless, so fearless is what I’ll be. 

See you soon, Peaches. Hike on. 


9 miles & 22400 steps

water source