I took the past two days off in Bland. My Father came down to visit me for a few days off the trail. It has been good to get some rest, the past few weeks I have been pushing myself hard and my body was at the point of breaking down. Towards the end of most days my feet feel like they are going to fall off, and my pack is constantly sitting heavy on my collar bone. I need to figure out a way to add some extra padding to the strap on my shoulder where my collar bone healed uneven when I was 16 and broke it in a car crash.
Yesterday Dad and I drove down to Damascus to visit Trail Days. I am glad that I went to see it the town was swamped with hikers on all points of the trail, there was a poster with the trail profile where hikers were able to mark where they were on the trail. There were hikers who hitched up from Georgia and down from Pennsylvania. I was able to catch up with some friends on the trail who have become scattered on the Trail. I was able to talk to the people from Hennessy Hammocks (the makers of my “tent”) and they gave me some free gear to make my hammock more comfortable, snakeskins to make pack up quicker, and water collectors for my rain fly (attach a water bottle to the funnel and as it rains the bottle fills and keeps tension on the fly.)
It was a weird experience going through the Grayson Highlands this past week, I had hiked the stretch of trail there about two years ago with my friends Cory and T-Mellow. When I hiked the 20 mile stretch back then we took 3 days to hike. When I went through now I took two days, only because I decided to stop hiking the first day at the beginning of the Highlands so that I would be able to enjoy my walk its one of my favorite stretches of trail, that I have been to before. The weather wasn’t the best, it was a mix of fog and rain, but the clouds lifted enough that I was still able to get some half decent views
I also enjoyed the hike because the Konnarock trail maintenance crew, which T-Mellow use to be a crew chief for, was doing trail work. I was able to stop and chat with the crew leaders and they remembered Ted (T-Mellow) from when he worked with them. I also ran into the ridge runner, Johnny, for the Highlands who remembered Ted fondly from both when he worked Konnarock and when he did his SOBO thruhike. Whenever I see ridge runners or people doing trail maintenance I always stop to thank them for the service they are providing, with out them the trail would be a lot wilder and more difficult to walk. I know that when I finish my hike I will be doing some trail work to give back to the community.
Its been a while since I have updated my progress. I have been putting in miles and trying to minimize the amount of time spent in towns. I have hit a few big milestones in the past week or two. I have crossed into my fourth state, I made it to Damascus Va, and I have walked 500 miles. Only 1600 miles to go
I made it to Hot Springs NC, mile 274 (or something like that), in time to take a zero day to enjoy Easter Sunday. I was able to reconnect with my group of friends I had been following. I got separated from them when it snowed on us in the Smokies, I went 5 miles to the next shelter and they went 15 to the end of the Smokies. I hooked up with Smurf, Smokey the Beard, and Fitty Shrimp walked with them for the past 4 days. The day before I got to town I passed a gap that had great Trail Magic. It was at the end of my first 20 mile day and two past thru hikers had set up camp preparing for and easter party. They had farm grown organic veggie soup cooked over a camp fire, it was great. I finally got to get a photo gallery set up, check out the pictures from Springer to Gatlinburg. I’m about to hike out of town today, crossing the 300 mile mark this week
Its been 3 weeks on the trail, and I’ve crossed 200 miles. The past few days have been some of the best days I’ve spent hiking. Currently I am taking a nero day in Gatlinburg while walking through the Smoky Mountains. The past two days I have climbed over some great mountain views. Rocky Top was an amazing 360 degree panorama, I have to find a computer in town to upload pictures. Yesterday I summited Clingmans Dome, the highest peak on the AT at 6653 feet in elevation.
Its been two weeks that I’ve been hiking and it feels like no time has passed. I am taking a zero day for the first time at the NOC today to stay out of the rain. Came in yesterday afternoon after hiking my first 16 mile day. It was not bad of a day despite the high miles. I’m glad my first zero day has been here, I am still in the mountains and it doesn’t feel like I’m out of the woods.
I’ve made it to Franklin North Carolina and it’s almost been two weeks that I’ve been hiking. I’ve made some awesome friends been hiking together at a pretty good pace doing average of 10 miles a day. I also was given a trail name of beans. In the past week I crossed two milestones, the first state line and the first hundred miles down.
GA/NC border with Muffin Man
I finally got my computer cable for my camera so next time I get computer access more pictures will be on there way.
Made it 52 miles to my first resupply town. Yesterday was the first day we had to hike through rain.
More than 10% of everyone attempting a thru hike drop out at neels gap, this tree outside the mountain crossings outfitter there contains the shoes of a lot of the people dropping off the trail.
31 miles in 4 days! Off to a good start, no need to push for big miles yet. Splitting a cabin with 3 other hikers for the night its supposed to be another cold one. Pictures will be coming soon
Spending the night in suches Georgia its 21 tonight in the mountains. Decided to stay out of the snow flurries. So far its been great out here. The past two nights were spent camping next to some streams. Making some friends tonight in the hostel.
Today is the day! I am departing today to drive down to Georgia with my friends Cory and Ted. I will be getting there late tonight and tomorrow I will be putting the first miles on the trail. Ted and Cory will be hiking with me to Springer Mountain summit and then back to the car where they will head home and I will hike north. I can hardly believe that the day is finally here, my pack is stuffed, my spirits are high, and the adventure of a lifetime is about to take off.