Saturday, March 31, 2012

Not all is lost.

       Decided to push into Elk Park tonight for a good dinner today after 23 miles in the woods. Signs abound advertising the "King of the road" steakhouse, but what those signs forgot to mention was that the restaurant wont be open until April 5th. Sat down in their parking lot deciding what to do, and made the call to push on another 1.7 into town for a diner.
       Haphazardly threw out the hitchhikers thumb a few times with little luck, until a sweet lady cleaning out her car asked me where I was going. When I told her just up to the diner she quickly offered me a ride, dropping me off right in front of Betty's place, home of some killer hamburgers. How great. But making my day wasn't enough for her.
       On the car ride into town I asked about the Upholstery shop adjacent to her house, wondering if it was hers, just to make conversation. She told me that it was and within the same sentence she had offered me the use of the couch within, her shower and the computer for the night. What a nice person.
       She has asked to remain anonymous but I just wanted to give an enormous thank you the woman who saved the end of a very long day.


It was hard leaving the Fontana Hilton this morning, but I did find some granola and mashed potato mix. We planned on a 11 mile day today for our first foray into the smokies. Stopped off at an observation tower and got on the roof of that for pictures, it was great. I left my gold pole for Far East Const and Ryan to see as a signal to take the side trail that way. Great Views.
The trail today was incredibly buggy. Swarms of flies flying around anytime I wasn't moving, so breaks were missed.
Last night I tried to get Seth, from the "triplets", to hide a bottle of rocks in his sisters pack that she had actually filled up herself. It was not there this morning so I'm assuming he did it.
I made it to the Mollies Bridge shelter a little after 4:00pm and sat and rubbed my feet for a bit, they keep getting pretty sore. Made dinner and ate just before a thunderstorm rolled in. Crazy rain so I stayed in the shelter and waited it out before hanging my bear bag.
Forgot to write last night that the front part of my liner sock had a hole worn in it, and today the heel of my sock got a hole in it! But still not a single blister, I'm happy about that.
2 more days and a morning till Gatlinburg so I might replace them there, or maybe i'll just make them my sleeping socks and switch them out, we'll see.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Fontana Shelter tonight under an awesome elecrical storm. We made it into Fontana village today. Nothing at all in the hicker box, so I had to buy food. Got a hot lunch at the pit stop gas station and a sprite, my first soda this whole trip. I may have made a miscalculation and bought  fewer breakfasts than I need but with what was left over in my food bag I should be o.k. if I portion it out right.
But we did make sure to get the important stuff. BEER. 48oz a piece of Miller Light, being saved of course, for St. Patrics day in 2 days.
I found a morel mushroom on the trail today and picket it and added it to my dinner suprisingly good. I inspired Four Spoke to pick wild onions for his dinner. He's another Floridian, (?) but slower than I so we probably wont see each other much more.
The "triplets" are here too, and this is the most I've talked to them thus far, even though they are quiet and keep to themselves, I like them, they're an interesting bunch.
When I picked the mushroom  earlier I left my knife laying there, whooops. Luckily when I got to the shelter today Gur Spoke gave me one he found along the way. Nothing fancy, but still just as good.
We found a spectacular rock to jump from about 15' high into Fontana lake, our first swim on the AT. COLD water but too much fun to resist. Got pictures and videos of that.
Definitely needed this short day. Felt good, even though we walked the 2 miles into Fontana village, we got a $13 shuttle out.
The past few night I've been sweating in my sleeping bag, so tonight I'm going to just throw it over my feet, and not be inside it at all. Last night I left it open but it didn't really do anything. It's relatively warm out despite the storms passing through. The trees are howling in the woods.
I also spent the last of my first $200 that I started off with today. I'm doing o.k. at stayinng on the cheap side but could be better. Still way, way, way under budget though (??) good.


Pi day! but no pie for me. Instead we did our second 15.2 mile day. It was a long day, we used most of the daylight. Finally pulled into the shelter around 6:30. There was a section called "Jacobs Ladder" and it was a climb straight up the side of the mountain with no switchbacks, it really slowed me down but I was still flying compared to Victor and Achiles. My feet hurt a lot after today, and my appetite is negligible. I forced one pot of food own for dinner but I'm really just too worn out to eat. Not tired neccessarily, just achey. We were expecting to find City and Andy at this shelter but at their pace I'm sure they pushed on the 6.6 miles more to Fontana Dam where I'll be headed tomorrow.I'm looking forward to a short day tomorrow. We just did some planing for the Smokey Mountains. Trying to decide what shelters to stay at and whatnot. But, the best laid plans of mice and man often go awry.
I'm currently laying in the Bable Gap shelter listening to an owl coo, hoping that it will scare the mice into submission tonight. They were all over the shelter last night. A second owl just started in on the conversation, tried to record it but it did'nt work so well. They got pretty close.
While we were sitting having lunch earlier rusty, the dog, from last night showed up so we waited around for his owner, Titanium, to show up. Its been a long day but still feels good to be out here.


Two weeks! Today is my 2 week mark of being on the trail. I finally got my trail name today- "Tommy Lee Jones". Thanks to Skittles. I bent my hiking pole when I fell yesterday, and the outfitter at the NOC replaced it for me this morning, only problem is that it has a shock absorber in it so now one is shock absorbing and the other isn't. It's kind of anoying, but at least its straight. We had breakfast at "the rivers end" restaurant, and I finally mailed out the first installment of this journal.
We left the NOC knowing full well that the entire hike today was uphill, but I don't think that any of us were prepared for the steepness of what we encountered today. It was wild. 50-60 degree climbs with no switchbacks. Boulder trails with no solid footing, so the rocks I was walking on would suddenly shift and tilt. It was THRILLING! and the views at the NOC gorge were great from "the Jump-Up" - basically a rock cleared of trees high enough to allow a good view. Somehow we managed to forget to stop for lunch. So even though it was only 6 miles today, we were feeling pretty weak. Tried to cook some angel hair pasta, but that went to hell in a handbasket. I ended up with a solid brick of noodles, so I mixed in butter (from the restaurant this morning) and crushed up some cheese crackers to make it, well, barely palatable. Worst meal I've had thus far. I cooked Roman just so I could eat comething less awful. It's 9:10pm and I'm about to go to sleep here at the split-level Sassafras Gap shelter.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Today was unexpected. Woke up with the sun and Flip pulls up to the shelter for a late breakfast. After we ate while packing up, Victor and I realized he left his only insulated jacket at the shelter, so we spent the first part of the day trying to catch him while I was carrying it up the trail for him, seems to be a patern here. Got to the top of our first climb 5 miles up trail and went up another observation tower, kind of foggy but still cool. Saw "the triplets" not really triplets but siblings from Utah, Seth, Jenny and Matt. Kept going after "lunch" found Flip near the shelter, gave him his jacket back and he said he would buy me a beer. Decided to push the extra mile and go to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where I currently am.  They (Victor, Flip and Ryan) got a hotel room. So on top of the free beer I got a free bed. We went and showered and got dinner. An entree as an apppetizer, a cheeseburger and tater tots for dinner and chocolate cake for dessert. $33.00 well spent. hiker box in the outfitter store yielded breakfast for this stretch, homemade granola bag, spaghetti and trail mix. good stuff. Did laundry, going to buy a few things tomorrow then a short 6 mile hike straight up. Should be fun. I fell down for the first and second times today. The first time my back hit a rock and that hurt, but the second time was worse because as I was walking the trail crumbled under me and I ended up bending a hiking pole, going to try to get that fixed/replaced tomorrow.


11.6 miles today. Spending the night at Cold Spring shelter. small ? group ?, some are asleep, its 7:50pm. About an hour after we started walking, two men were doing trail magic, cooking hot dogs and chilli, with beer or soda. It was great! Chatted with them for a bit, met Andy from Switzerland, he's FAST. The time change messed w/us, Victor has never heard of such a thing. GREAT weather today. I seem to have gotten a little sun, my face feels hot. Experienced a stone loukout tower today too and had lunch at the top. I need to sharpen my pencil, I keep putting it off. Daylight is fading and I'm not getting out my light so.....bedtime


Today starded out COLD. The condensation inside my tarp was frozen, and there was a half inch thick layer of ice in Ryons water bag. Had some dampness on the foot of my sleeping bag, but it seems to have dried up. We came across our first trail magic today. BROWNIES! a good tub full of them with a letter and journal from the trail angel that left them. There were a few road crossings today with trash cans and parking lots, so I got to get rid of some bulky stuff. We ran into gorge lightning a few times and it eventually left us behind. A lot of uphill today and my knee feels great! We made it to the 10 mile, to site Bald shelter and a sure nice group of section hikers made room for us, gave us some extra food and even made us a (hot cider and rum) great group here, bright awesome fire, they even let me use a sling shot to try and hunt a shelter mouse. I will guard my fallen food bag. Shouldn't be as cold as last night, but still chilly in the 30's. Made a few phone calls today, finally got service NOC in 2.5 days.(?)


Last night surprised us with a heavy rainstorm, and in my tarp was getting misted by splater. Woke up relatively dry. Made cinamon oatmeal with a crushed up pop-tart mixed in for breakfast, then we were on our way. NC trail is very rocky and very fun, parts of it we were actually climbing, thats how steep they were. Made it to the 100 mile mark and took pictures on our first fire tower, too bad it was locked. We wanted to sleep in the 2nd shelter after that, but there was no sign, and no blazes for the side trail, so all 3 of us walked passed it.We are currently camped out next to a river in between 2 mountains, meaning all of the cold air is pooling here, it was 34o when we were by the fire, and the temp is still dropping. Good weather otherwise tonight. Oh, and my tarp site is FAR from level.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Woke up to rain in my tarp throughout the night, got up and moving around 7:30am a little late due to weather and lack of sun. The first mile of trail to NC was BRUTAL, huge climb w/no switchbuchs. After that the trail itself was very scenic. Bright green moss growing over rocks and downed trees, but a very steep, rocky trail all day. The rocks hurt even through my boots my feet end every day sore but they feel better by morning each time so here's to YOV; feet.
Currently camping at Beeck Gap. 12.1 miles today, keep this up and we might hit the NOC a day ahead of schedule.
When we took our first break at the shelter....Aslon went to, the food bag from yesterday was still full and hanging from the ceiling. So we each ate some of it and decided to take some extra to supplement what we have. At the rate we are going we might not need to supply at the NOC.
Tomorrow is another big milestone day, we'll hit 100 miles. How crazy to think I've come this far already, and I still have 20 times as much to go. Tomorrow looks like a relatively easy 10-11 miles and I am super relaxed after a nice Are, so i'm going to sleep. it's 9:00pm.
Tonight also marks the first night I'm sleeping with my food-bears be dumned. And I also managed to get the thorn from the bush out of my eyelid.


The night before last we spent at Deep Gap shelter. Another cold one but not nearly as windy. I knew we needed an early start for any chance of making it to Hiawassee to get more food. Got up at 6:30am and had a cold breakfast and started walking. Decided to wrap a bandana around my knee as a makeshift Ace bandage it worked out pretty well. Had great weather and pretty much all downhill trails into Dicks Creek Gap where while we were hitchiking Birdman's mom offerd us homemade brownies and a ride into town. Stopped at Blueberry Patch hotel while Ryan got his maildrop, Victor and I raided the hiker  box. FREE FOOD!! I got some instant rice dinners, ramen, and an unopened jar of Peanut butter! how awesome! on our way into town, rolled up to the Hiawassee budget Inn, and got a room for $50.00 split between the 3 of us was about $17.00 each, not bad, but if Haawassee wasn't 11 milles off trail I would'nt have stayed.While checking in I saw another hiker box and got breakfast for a week,, snack boxes and tortilla rolls. Only have to buy a few things when we walked to Igles to buy food.Found an outfitter that sold fuel for a donation and we all filled up our bottles there. After dropping our groceries back off at the room we hit our first buffet at Daniel's Steakhouse. Much to my dismay it was only fried chicken and pork chops with country style sides, never the less we still did work on that place, but for $8.00 I definitely enjoyed it. On the way back to the hotel we ran into ASLON! the guy who disappeared in the middle of the night a few nights ago.
Today we caught a 9:00am shuttle back to the trail and made it to the GA-NC border. The trail was almot entirely uphill and very scenic, a little foggy and threats of rain but none came through. Around 2:45pm we reached the first state line and had a little celebration. A mile or 2 before that we ran across a food box with 3-4 days of supplies in it, so I carried it into camp case anyone came looting.After getting the tarps set up and a fire going, here comes Aslon walking on the trail. We released the food bag to him as he was going to the next shelter and we are camped pretty much at the border. Ryan got a trail(?) today he will be going by Achilles due to his hurt tendon. I'm stil yet to(?) one. It's pretty breezy tonight but at least this campsite is flat....ish.


Took another relatively easy day today, a little over 8 miles. No one slept much last night., winds were HOWLING pretty much all night,  had to be around 70 mph., the walls of the shelter were shaking, and it was cold mid 20's. The wind was hirling dirt on our fires all night. Easy miles today, took them slow. 2 big hills today, over 1400' each way, each one. Stopped at the gap between them to make a call. Currently sitting at Tray mountain shelter. Its 28o and breezy, small fire outside but we are turning in early (7:30 pm) to get ready for a big push tomorrow. 11 miles to Hiawassee (?) hitch in, resupply, and hitch out all before sunset. Good luck to us. So we'll be up at 6am. Speaking of being up early, Aslon got up at 2am last night and left without telling anyone where he was headed or why he was leaving, still havn't heard from him. Good trail today, saw some volunteers rerouting part of it. Much appreciated. Knee is feeling better but still not 100%, we'll see what tomorrow brings.


Blue Mountain shelter tonight. Last night we stayed at Deep Gap and camped out. We ended up pushing for a 13 mile day yesterday and my left knee paid for it, it's manageable if I go slow. All of this meant rolling into a full shelter, which in turn meant setting up the tarp,...On a 20 degree night and it was windy very windy. Met a couple next door(?) named Foster and Skittles who had a fire going and we ate with them after setting up camp. Woke up to what I thought was Ryand flashlight outside of my tarp, but it was a really bright half moon. Woke up this morning to an icy covered ground cloth. Ate breakfast with  Foster and Skittle then headed out for our short day. What a day! temperature never got above 34 degrees and the only times we had in the 40mph winds was when we were on to low side of a hill. It was cold enough to freeze the water in the ground and force it up into ice formations. Tonight's shelter is full, Ryan, "birdman", Victor, Eric, 2 others and myself. (?)sitting at 30o after a tiny snow flury earlier, we have a fire going, and I'm all layered up. Warming up my stove fuel inside my jacket pocket so it will burn and I can cook. Had to break down an almost fallen tree for firewood. Should be a good night and into Hiawassee the day after tomorrow. In good spirits and injuries are minimal. Tonights elavation is 3900 feeet.


Last night was an unfortunately eventful. At some point of the night a mouse ate through my food bag. It was hanging  in between 2 tree at aroung 20-25 feet, I'll give that to the mouse, good job. I also apparently slept thru helicopters, artilary ad machine gun fire as the army rangers were conducting training exercises near Good Mountain shelter. After hearing reports of tournadoes tonight we decided to push thru a 15 mile day all the way to Neels Gap, over Blood Mountain and past Woods Hole shelter. Lots of ups and owns today. First rain while hiking today. Made it to Neel's Gap around 5pm, got my mail drop and started re-covering my food bag when Aaron K, Ryan and I decided to get a cabin at "Blood Mountain cabins" the same place as Kelly, (firefighter), he and his (cute) daughters offered us a ride to "town" which consisted of an Ingles and a Dairy Queen, where we decided the most necessary supply was a 12 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon!! Got back to the cabin and did laundry and hung out with Kelly & Co. for now while watching the weather about the 74 tornadoes that touched down and the 9+ dead from them. I got a new food bag, and the cabin will only cost $20.00 each, pretty damn good for how nice it is. Shitty weaher all day and night.


Last night was crazy, rain, thunder,, lightning, all night, and wind. Don't forget the wind. Fell asleep around 5:00pm and awoke promptly at 8:20pm and could not fall asleep t'ill around 2:00am. Back up at 6:30 for sunrise to a surprislingly nice day. Made it to Gooch Gap shelter 13ish mile up the trail.Currently sitting here a little drunk thanks to some matus mark  provided by Aaron, we've decided on a 15 mile day tomorrow to push thru to bee's gap. which means more food. My knees are a little sore, but nothing terrible and  my feet are sore. I'm ciijubg nt 2nd dinner was ayiahi noodles(sp) now its rice and beans. Good group of 8 of us in the shelter tonight. Got here at 3:45 p.m. 

February 29, 2012

7am wake up at the hostelfor breakfast. Got to Amicalola and signed into the register as the 2012 seasons 101st prospective thru hiker. Started hiking at 9am and made it up the 620 stairs of Amicalola Falls by 9:30. Kept going until we decided it was snack time around 11am. Twisted my ankle going over a rock that my boot got caught on. It is now 4:30 pm and I am laying in my sleeping bag in the Stove Creek shelter. 11.8 from where we started this morning. 2 shelter mates tonight, Guy, from Maine, that I have been with all day and a firefighter that I cannot remember where he is from.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Chappy, my first ever hitch hike, happened to be a sales rep for an outdoor company and not only did he give me a ride out of Gatlinburg, but he hooked me and my sunburnt ears up with this sweet hat! Trail magic at its finest. Thank you Chappy!!