Thursday, December 24, 2009

GA and the beginning

So this is where it all starts. The beginning of the trip and the end of the AT as far as this blog is concerned. I don't know why I did this backwards oh well. This is definitely not the end of this blog though.
Georgia and the beginning of the trail. It was finally real. I dreamed about this for a year. I didn't really plan too much though. I remember the ride down to GA with Jon and his parents. It didn't feel real. The whole trip was still so far away until we actually set foot on the AT Approach Trail. Even then the idea that was hiking the entire trail never sunk in until Maine.
I really didn't know what to expect too much. I'm familiar with AT sections in east Tn and western NC and figured GA terrain wasn't going to be much different. I was confident in my skills and gear. If I did it again I'd used different gear, but I have a different skill set now.
I didn't really plan too much. I knew where the first resupply was and packed 3 days worth of food. That pretty much set the pace for the rest of the hike.

The first of the white blazes.

Jon on Springer Mtn the official start of the trail. We did around 7-8 miles of the approach trail leading up to Springer the night before and hit the summit around 8 or 9am.

I started off with a lighter pack than most at around 25lbs with food and winter gear. I still get kind of embarrassed by the size of my pack early on though.

Our first camp site of the trail. Its ridiculous how many hikers don't make it 30 miles before they go home. As a result in GA it can be pretty busy with people and its full of camp sites everywhere.

Georgia mountains

Thats pretty much it. I left out plenty of stories throughout my entries so I may go back and tell a few here and there, but hopefully this blog will be more of new trips and less of this one trail. Its such a wierd trail and people get sucked in and make it their life. It was fun and was a lot more to me than I ever expected it to be. I'd rather take the memories, experiences and lessons learned and move on and apply them to new goals than go back and relive the AT constantly like many do.

Monday, December 14, 2009

NC to the Smokies

North Carolina. The second state and the first border to cross. Mentally its nice because you feel like you're making progress early on. It only takes a few days to get here. I think its around 70 miles of trail in GA if I remember right. You're barely getting in the swing of things and you still have a lot to figure out.

The state line is actually marked. One of maybe 3 or 4 state lines marked on the entire trail.

Good morning. Early on in the trail I would get up around dawn and start walking. I love this time of day and wish I had the discipline to do it later on in the trip, but at the same time I'm glad I stopped hiking with people that used alarm clocks. I don't like feeling like you have to do anything on the trail other than enjoy yourself and do whatever you want. Schedules and routines take the fun and freedom out of life.
Your body gets used to going to bed a little after dark and you naturally wake up around dawn after a week or so anyway. So alarms be damned.

Next up I'll throw the GA pictures online. Then I can get this AT business behind me and out of my mind. I'll hopefully keep this blog up though. I have plenty of other trips to recap and hopefully I'll keep finding excuses and new stuff to go find.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

I've neglected this blog. My mind hasn't really been on the trail which as far as I'm concerned isn't a bad thing. I'm trying to move on to the next fun thing (without forgetting the best of the AT). So here is the GSMNP portion of the AT. Currently I'm not worried about it because I need to get the rest of the 800 miles of trail the park has to offer.

Coming from the south you have to cross Fontana Dam to access the park.

Looking down on Fontana Lake

A glimpse of trail through the park.

I believe this is Rocky Top if I remember right. But apparently not the Rocky Top from the song.

Jon hanging out

I'll never forget the smell of fir and pines on Clingman's Dome.

View from Charlie's Bunyon.

I'll try to put up my NC pictures soon. Then its just GA after that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

north of GSMNP to Hot Springs

I've been slacking on this. I guess since I'm getting to the end of my pictures pretty soon. And I really don't think about the trail that much anymore.

Max Patch Bald, NC.

Jon and I met up with Mullet on our last night in GSMNP. I remember stopping early that day and collecting a bunch of firewood so we could have a fire that night for when people started showing up. I know how nice it is to come in out of the rain to a warm fire and I like to stop early. It ended up being a great group that night.
We hit Max Patch on a rainy day and somehow it stopped raining right before we got there and started up again right after we cleared the bald. Unfortunately for Mullet he stopped to do dishes and missed out on the clear moment.
I like overcast mornings when you're high enough to be below the clouds and above the fog.

Mullet relaxing and eating with us at a semi-crowded campsite.

Nice shoes, piano-boy.

Hot Springs, NC is a sweet little town on the trail. We ran into Jerry at the Dollar General and he suggested we stay at Elmer's place. It was definitely a highlight of the trail. Its a sweet old b&b with lots of music history. The food there is all vegetarian and homegrown on the all organic farm nearby. Plus one of the best breakfasts on the trail. Which is saying a lot because there are tons of amazing places to get breakfast along the way.

Like I said Elmer's place has a rich history in folk music and they have an entire music room set aside. After dinner Mullet played piano and sang a bit. Here is Stunned Mullet, Intents, and Jon hanging out in the cold room.

Wren tried to teach Mullet a Laura Gibson song. Then they tried to figure out some folk song from one of the books.

Jon outside of the Sunnybank Inn (aka Elmer's place). They had a great library here and awesome atmosphere. I met a lot of good friends in Hot Springs. I met Honey Do at the Inn and met Stunned Mullet in the laundromat. Little did I know how good of friends they'd become.

Rock cairns along the river leaving Hot Springs.

Me looking back on the town.

Jon found cigarettes. Mullet was self concious about the shoes he bought at the Dollar General.

The Nelson's house for some of the best trail magic in the south. Waffles, pork stew, brownie fudge sundaes, banana splits, root beer floats, etc... best thing to find in the morning after a crummy breakfast of poptarts.

Smokies in the next entry.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


As I mentioned in my last update I lost a bunch of TN pictures. Here are a few of what I have between Hot Springs NC and Erwin tn

Big Bald

Big Bald

Jon on BB

Mullet on Big Bald

This is the only picture of the snow that didn't disappear. We took a couple days off when we hit Erwin. I absolutely hated it. I couldn't wait to get back on the trail. And even though I knew there was a winter storm coming I still had to get back on the trail. I also decided to switch out my nice superwarm 20* bag for a 40*. The first night back on the trail there was 6 inches of snow by the time we got to the shelter. TN shelters blow ass. So it snowed all night IN the shelter. I woke up in the middle of the night soaking wet. All the snow melted right through my down bag and if you know anything about down you know it does NOT insulate when wet. So I was pretty much screwed. The next day we had a lot more snow on the trail. I had no choice, but try and make it to the next hostel about 8 miles north. Most people decided to wait out the day inside the shelter. Jon and I broke trail and hiked north. The drifts were above my knee and the wind made it snow up hill. I hate wind. My gloves suck so when my hands when numb and started swelling I put on some wool socks. Jon couldn't see the trail so I had to break trail the entire day. Looking for white blazes in the winter is fun.
I love hiking in the snow, but I prefer to stick to a 2 or 3 mile hike where I can go home to some hot cocoa and maybe some irish whiskey.
The snow storm jammed things up and stuck a lot of people in the hostels so it was pretty cool because it was a good way to meet a lot of cool people and get to know the people you already met.

This is Connie and her fat cat. She runs the Greasy Creek Friendly and thats where we stayed to warm up and dry out. Her neighbor Bill is some crazy old man. He starts his lawn mower up at 4 am near the bunk house and bangs on metal car jacks. He screams and hollers and plays the radio loudly to scare the hikers away. He's wild. He also puts up signs on the trail saying that Greasy Creek is closed all the time. He's a bitter old man, but provides a lot of entertainment. I know it sounds miserable, but you can't really hear his nonsense unless you're looking for it. He seems pretty harmless and Connie's place is a great stop along the trail.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Southern VA

Well here are the rest of my VA pictures. For some reason my camera messed up and I lost almost all my pictures between Erwin TN and The Grayson Highlands. I'm bummed mainly because of the friends I don't have pictures of because that area of the trail is pretty much where I live so that parts not a big deal.

Lops in the Grayson Highlands

CRS with some of the wild ponies.

Cooling my feet off at the Dismal Falls. This ended up being a really eventful day. The falls were great and I spent an hour or two there all alone. Then I ran into Baltimore Andy for the first time in about 500 miles. I saw the first rattlesnake of the season and came across a pack of wild boars. Then we night hiked and got good views of controlled burning across the ridge.

Log entry in at the Waipiti shelter. You may have heard about this in the Washington Post or on Dateline. Sad story.

Andy taking in the view. Virginia farmland looks like a big green quilt spread out across the land.

I guess thats all for now. TN/NC next time I get around to updating.