Saturday morning, with full packs, Noah and I set out. We had been planning our trip for months and it was finally here! Every trip seems to have it owns feel depending on setting, length, company, etc; and right from the start ours was that of adventure. It took no less than two days before we decided to throw out our itinerary since figured as long as we were in Nashville by the end of the week we were good to go.
The first day of walking went well: we laughed, listened to music, and skipped along as our adventure began. This day Noah and I learned how short our days were going to be with the sun setting befor 5 pm! After 15 miles we accepted our first ride when after realizing we wouldn’t make it to our destination before dark. We had our new friends drop us of in Whitwell, TN hoping to get into some sort of shenanigans, but all we found was a Hardees and a Dollar Store!
We setup shelter behind an elementary school in light rain and went to sleep early. Having fallen asleep around 7 we thought that we would get a full nights rest…We were awfully wrong. We woke up at 9…pm… both of us laughing hysterically as we were no longer tired and had only slept two hours. We laid there laughing until we could force ourselves back to sleep. There was a street lamp too close nearby that fooled into every few hours into thinking that morning had come.
Day 2 was by far the coldest and craziest day of the trip. Sleeping in 25 F is not bad with the right sleeping gear, but waking up and putting away all of our gear away was terrible. This was when I realized how unfortunate it was that I had not acquired a down jacket!
We learned the valuable lesson of opening the hot hands well before getting out of our sleeping bags because by the time they warmed up we could barely feel our fingers. An hour or two into hiking, we allowed ourselves to start taking rides so we could get up and over the mountains. A really cool guy who had a shotgun in the front seat and a dead squirrel on the dash picked us up and gave us a ride to Coalmont and advised us to get off the mountain before dark as it gets 15 F colder than in the valley. Since we got much farther than we expected, we decided to boil some hot dogs for lunch when some amazing women at a gas station noticed our packs and gave us some chicken sandwiches and hot chocolate to take with us.
After another hour or so walking we realized we were dropped off past the point we needed to be and had a while to go to get to our destination. Luckily, we were picked up by a really nice couple. They took us all the way to Manchester, TN That night, since our tent was in need of repair, we decided we wanted a motel room for the night. We stood outside of a gas station when a man named Egor asked us if we were trying to get a ride. We told him our situation and he gave us $5 to help get us a room. From there, we decided if we could get 30 more people to give us $1 each we would be good to go. After only asking a few people a really wonderful elderly couple gave us the rest of the money we needed. We also learned that Food Lion will give you the food they would be throwing away due to expiration!
Day 3 was one of our most adventurous day! We walked from Manchester, TN to Beech Grove, TN. We hiked all day, saw a lot, and we even turned down a few rides so we could enjoy the weather!
When we got to Beech Grove, some guys rolled up in a pickup truck and asked us where we were going. Confused, we said “Tonight? Murfreesboro.” They said, “Na, how about Hippie Hill?” We tried to ask them what that was and their only reply was “Hop in and find out!” So off we went in the bed of their pickup truck off to Hippie Hill. They gave us a bed, made us grilled ham and cheese, and a really cool guy named Luke (the man above with his dog Hazel) gave me some travel tips.
My friend Drew, my friend from Murfreesboro, came and picked us up because he wanted to spend more time with us. Both Noah and myself plan on making our way back to Hippie Hill to get that experience.
Day 4 we took a day off from traveling and hung out with my friend Andrew and his wife Crystal. Crystal helped us sew our tent so we could use it for the rest of our trip and Andrew made us cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, and french fries. It was by far the best meal I have eaten on or off the trail in quite a while! Thank you Crystal and Andrew!
Day 5 We walked from Murfreesboro to Smyrna without accepting any rides. The weather was so great and it was a great day of walking. We both put on our packs, put in our head phones, and put one foot in front of the other. Day 5 night was the most stressful of the nights because this was the first time we had trouble finding a place to sleep and neither of us could decide what we should do.
Once we made it to Smyrna and nightfall came we tried hitchhiking at a gas station to get a ride to Nashville. Tired and dirty, I think people assumed we were homeless! People kept giving us spare change, which we donated to the salvation army and gave to real homeless people we met in Nashville the following day. After failing to find a ride, we split a loaf of bread at Panera and started walking again trying to find a good place to sleep. We finally found a place in a small patch of woods outside of a YMCA, although our stress was not over!
After having unpacked and having setup half of our shelter, we discovered that there was an incredible amount of underground rock. It took us too long to setup the rest of the shelter, but finally we figured it out. Thanks to a previous interest in knots, the Double Fishermans Knot helped us take two shorter lengths of guyline we brought along for our friend Justin Case and tied out the shelter to a nearby tree. I then pulled the guyline away from the shelter at an angle and used a heavy rock to secure it. All in all it turned out to be a very restful night!
Day 6 was the day we finally made it to Nashville. Upon entering the city we gave away the rest of our money to people we saw on the streets who needed it more than we did and went to walk around and enjoy our victory.
Noah and I are unlikely to ever forget the adventure we had and the kindness we experienced during our 6 day journey.