Since April, Maine Public has been following the journey of two Mainers thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail — Danny Moody of Winthrop, and Dan Giguere of Manchester, Maine.
Danny, trail name "Bubba," and Dan, trail name "Lieutenant," are hiking the trail with Danny’s dog Daisy, no trail name, from its origin in Georgia to its end, at Mount Katahdin.
I checked in with Danny this morning, from a hostel in Damascus, Virginia. They’ve traveled about 500 miles, and are about a quarter of the way to Katahdin. I asked how he and Dan are feeling after walking that far.
DM: We feel great, actually. Definitely in the legs, you start noticing your body starts to get used to walking, and you can tell your ankles and legs are getting stronger, and the smallest inclines, they’re not too much anymore.
NF: So is this easier or harder than you were expecting?
DM: The benefit of coming from Maine is that a lot of people find that the toughest part of the trail. But it’s definitely been a little tougher than I thought it was going to be. When you think of the south, you kind of think it’s flat, but you’d be surprised how many mountains there are. You’re pretty much going up or going down.
NF: What’s been the biggest surprise?
DM: I guess the first encounter with a rattlesnake was the biggest surprise — you definitely don’t see anything like that in Maine. We were in a line going down the trail, and we heard it. Dan was the front one in the line and he almost hit it with his pole. But luckily we had someone from Tennessee that was No. 2 in the line when he was walking, and he yelled out “snake!” and we all had to run, and wait until it crossed the trail before we went past it.
NF: I’ve heard there are some parts of the trail that aren’t in the best condition, or that it’s very crowded. How has it been so far for you?
DM: The Smoky Mountains were pretty crowded because we had a couple weather delays. And just the other day the trail conditions were — it was pretty much just a creek. It was horrible.
NF: Have you had any trail magic?
DM: A couple trail magics! We had some people with some pizza — a couple of pizzas. It’s just as simple as sitting in a parking lot and someone offers you a soda out of their car. It could really just pretty much be anything.
NF: Have you guys lost any weight?
DM: We’re both about 10 or 15 pounds lighter.
NF: What do you mostly eat, and when you think about food what are you craving?
DM: Pizza. Pizza and beer. We mostly eat pretty much anything that’s easy — things you don’t have to stop and cook, like granola bars, honey buns, anything like that.
NF: Finally, I have to ask, as a dog person, how is Daisy doing?
DM: She’s doing great, she’s much happier on the trail. She loves seeing all the people in the towns, and a lot of people recognize her. But once we get out on the trail, she comes alive, and she’s happy, and running around, and her tail’s wagging, and she’s running around, and she’s loving it.
Danny and Dan are expecting to reach Katahdin in mid-September. But, Danny says, “You get there when you get there.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To learn more about Danny and Dan's journey, click here.
This story was originally published on May 30, 2017 at 5:13 p.m. ET.