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Into The Woods

North Carolina - Flame Azaleas in Bloom

North Carolina - Flame Azaleas in Bloom

Earlier this year, our buyer at Neiman Marcus surprised us with the news that he was quitting his high profile position in the most luxurious of stores to pursue a lifelong passion – to walk the Appalachian Trail, all 2,175 miles from beginning to end.  While his childhood dream had him hiking around the world, he decided to stay closer to home for his first foray into the woods.

The Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire

The Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire

And so in late February, he began the long trek from Georgia to Maine with his wife (a self-described “hermit” with a charming twinkle in her eye, a beautiful smile and a gift for telling the most hysterical stories) and a forty-pound pack.

View of the Shenandoah Valley

View of the Shenandoah Valley

Needless to say, we are in awe of this couple and were so excited to hear that they were in our neck of the woods (so to speak!) last week and needing a break (as well as a long, hot shower and a comfortable bed.)  Even after the shower, we hardly recognized, our former buyer, Sweetooth (all hikers go by an alias on the trail) – gone were the European suits and stylish haircut, only to be replaced by Tom Hanks in Cast Away (scraggly beard and all) minus Wilson, the soccer ball.

Sweetooth and Bugsy

Sweet Tooth and Bugsy

Over organic chicken with mango salsa, wheatberry and edamame salad and grilled summer vegetables, Sweet Tooth and Bugsy shared stories from the trail and lessons they’ve learned along the way.  Here are just a few:

  1. Make sure you come up with a good trail name – do you want to be known as Gummy Bear for the entire trip?
  2. Leaves of three, let it be…  or you might break out in an awful rash
  3. Sleep at sunset and wake at sunrise and don’t keep your fellow campers in the shelter up all night with cigars and scotch – you’ll regret it in the morning if you have to clean up after yourself
  4. Take a shower, if possible, before going into a restaurant to eat – the other diners will appreciate it more than you think
  5. Pack high calorie, high sugar, lightweight foods… Pop Tarts, beef jerky and Twinkies really do make a meal
  6. Try to appreciate every view and vista, even if you do think the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley and the Berkshires all begin to look alike.
The View at Round Bald, Tennessee

The View at Round Bald, Tennessee

After an evening of fun and laughter and a good night’s sleep, our friends were on their way, heading north for the last 705 miles.  We joined them for part of the walk (a whole hour’s worth!) and had a chance to meet other hikers along the way – all of them looking like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, too!  We appreciated the natural beauty of the trail (cutting through farmland, over a stream and into the woods) and marveled at the peace that can be found by simply turning off our cell phones and placing one foot after another…

The Rare Gray's Lily on Roan Mountain

The Rare Gray's Lily on Roan Mountain

Our intrepid friends have been taking pictures along the way (lots of flowers, we’re told!) and so we hope to post more images later this summer once they’ve had a chance to catch their breath.  That is, after they’ve run a 200 mile relay race with friends and family in Oregon.  A big thank you to Sweet Tooth and Bugsy for sharing in your great adventure!

Photos from Photography-Match, Trekking World, Flickr, yours truly, The Vista and From These Hills