Gigi and Gutcheck are the trail names for Guillermina Urrutia and Harvey Freeman. They started hiking the trail on April 1, 2018 (this is no April fool's joke) They started at the Southern Terminus of the AT in Amicola Falls.They arrived in Norwich yesterday and were having a " Zero day." (Trail word for rest and relaxation).
I spotted them at the Blue Sparrow Kitchen, having a light lunch and thought what a story this would make. I asked if they would be willing to spend a few moments with me and allow me to do a story on their Journey from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. They agreed and so here is the rest of the story with some photos of them along the way. I asked them about the weather and was told, some cold nights, only a dusting of snow in Tennessee near the Smokey Mountains, and rain, rain, and more rain. It was very hot and muggy (95 degrees) and very humid in Pennsylvania and New York.
Gutcheck and Gigi setting out at the Georgia entrance to the AT
Amicola Falls photo from Web site
Their journey started out just fine, the scenery along the way was beautiful, and then the rain came. It seemed like it was never going to stop. The weather of the day or actually many days was rain rain and more rain. It was on one of these rainy days that Gigi slipped and fell on some wet leaves on a trail in the Smokey Mountains.
Great Smokey Mountains photo from web site
She landed on top of her right hand . She stood up and it felt like a sprain so she shrugged it off and kept on going. They stopped at a Hostel 30 miles away in Hartford Tennessee but she didn't seek medical attention until they arrived in Damascus, Virginia. The doctor examined her hand and said it was broken, but too much time went by and the bones were starting to fuse, making treatment difficult.
The two G's at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Harper's Ferry photo is from town web site
Harpers Ferry is a town in West Virginia. Paths wind through Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which has 19th-century buildings, a Civil War Museum and John Brown’s Fort, a key site in an 1859 abolitionist raid. The location where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, known as The Point, offers views of Maryland and Virginia. The Appalachian Trail Visitor Center has exhibits on the long-distance hiking trail.
All of a sudden this journey becomes harder to complete. Gigi cannot perform the normal tasks of setting up or tearing down a camp/tent site. She cannot even snap a button or zip and unzip all the various pockets on her backpack. (and she is right handed). Gutcheck now has to help her complete her daily tasks and still has to try to keep Gigi comfortable. The pain is unbearable at times. Somehow they both manage to work together and stay one step above the many challenges that they face. They both at this point agreed that this journey has taught them to be a little more appreciative of the things they have at home that were available but somehow taken for granted.
I asked them what were some good things about the trip and they both immediately said the scenic beauty, the kindness of strangers they met along the way and other thru hikers at the AT shelters who helped them get through the day.
I asked them to tell me how they met and if this was their first hike together. They told me ( yes) it was the first time and that they met at a hotel in Tuscon Arizona. Gigi was attending a family wedding and Gutcheck was at a business conference. They met 7 months before they started the hike and dated a few times and kept in touch by phone and text. They met again in Phoenix and Tuscon Arizona. They decided to do the Hike. He had hiked once before for 20 miles and she was here on a tourist visa and thought it would be a fun thing to do.
What a beautiful view from the Top of somewhere on the route
Must have been one of the chilly days that they told me about
Check out the dusting of snow, ice melting and mossy rocks ( looks like a nice spring day)
Tennessee/Virginia State Line heading to Spivey Gap
I have attached a link for a you tube video of the Spivey Gap northbound
Gutcheck, a veteran hiker named Papi, and Gigi at the Harpers Ferry Conseravcy
G and G taking some R and R at one of the stops along the way
Getting ready to roll along to the next stop
All and All they seem happy in spite of their ordeal
They left the trail in Quechee and hiked to Woodstock where they spent the day browsing around town. They then hiked back to Quechee and stayed overnight. The next day August 16 (yesterday) they hitched a ride to Hanover and then hiked back to Norwich for what hikers who need to rest call a Zero day. They are going to back track to the original spot where they left the AT trail and hike back here and then continue on to Hanover and proceed toward destination "Maine".
They assured me there would be no more zero days and they will be hiking every day. Their goal is to be in Maine by September 15. I asked what happens to them once they reach Maine, and Gigi replied: Harvey's family will pick them up in Maine and drive them to the Airport where they will then fly to Nashville Tennessee, Here, a separation will happen. (at least for now) Gigi will Fly to Italy and visit her Dad who is working there. Gutchek will go back to work in Tennessee.
I took a group photo of them and the owner of the Blue Sparrow Kitchen.
Gigi, Gutcheck, and Amber
And they are off now heading to Hanover NH and then destination " Maine".
I wished them the best and asked if they could give me an update as they proceed to the finish line.