Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31 update. Hot Springs. I stayed at the Sunny Bank Inn last night. It is about 150 years old and is one of the better known hostiles on the trail. Elmer and the staff were great. Tonight I am in the cabin with the rest of the gang.
I needed a hair cut so I was told about a lady that I am guessing is about 80 yrs old. There were not any mirrors in the room and while she was cutting my hair she was telling me about the eye surgeries she has had. Then she tells me not to worry about the places she scaped because it will grow back. When I got back to the hostile I had to put on my cap. Nice lady and she only charges $3 but my hair is pretty butchered. Oh well I still enjoyed our conversation.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mar 29 App Trail update. This will be short since I am in my bag and it is pretty cold out. We did around 15 miles today and I was excited about reaching the summit of max patch but that soon changed. About three miles from the summit it looked like the weather was moving in. I put on more layers on and by the time we reached the summit we were in 50-60mph winds and snow. I snapped the pic just below the summit where I was out of the wind. Well I am off to bed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mar 29 App Trail update. Jenn is better so we are making our way to max patch. Wildflowers or everywhere and red buds are out. Jenn and Meg found a handfull of morels for dinner.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mar 25 App Trail Update- It started raining in the middle of the night and finally let up mid morning. I slept in for a while and hit the trail around 9:30. The rain was not that bad but the wind was killer especially along the ridgetops. I kept zipping/unzipping my shirt, putting on gloves and then taking them off, etc. You would get hot climbing and then chilled on top so you have to constantly add or remove layers on days like today or things can go south fast.
I did 12.9 miles and made it to Cosby Knob by about 4:30 which isn't bad considering I took thirty mins for lunch. I am having some issues with my stove. I think the canister may have gotten moisture in it somehow. I had plenty of cold food to eat, but I am looking forward to pizza tomorrow.
The same crew I stayed with last night is here with the exception of glowworm. We also picked up a new guy named blue. Jenn arrived really chilled and may be getting sick. She is pretty tough so I think she wil be ok

Mar 24 App Trail Update cont'd- I would have liked to have stayed at Charlie's Bunion longer but I was worried about time. I was able to have a great conversation with a family from Minnasota. Their kids were real troopers because that hike was not a walk in the park. I also meet a mother and daughter from Cashiers that were hiking and camping over her daughters spring break. I made it to Peck's Corner Shelter around 4:30 and found it empty. I was beginning to think I was going to have the place to myself and then my old hiking buddies- Loretta, Megan, and Jenny showed up. It was pretty awesome because I had not seen them since I left Hiawassee. I was disappointed to find out Dick, Jenn's dad, had to leave the trail because of some issues with his leg swelling. I understand he decided to go home, buy a dog, and start a garden. I wish him well. Two guys from NE Tenn I had
met about a week ago also showed up as well as glowworm, an ex-navy nuc sub guy.

Mar 24 App Trail Update. I am 0-2 hitchhiking. I tried to get an early start out of Gatlinburg, but spent almost an hour trying to hitch. I finally gave up and went to the happy hiker in Gatlinburg to call a shuttle. Cecil and his son Andrew were there getting supplies and offerred to drop me off at Newfound Gap. I highly recommend stopping by the Happy Hiker Store. They took great care of me and were very helpful. I also need to thank Cecil and Andrew again. I believe they said after this section the will have completed all of the A.T. section through the Smokies.
After the late start I pushed my pace to get in some miles. It was hard getting out of the parking lot at Newfound Gap because everyone had so many questions.
As far as views, this was probably the best day on the trail. Some of the ridges were only 15-20 ft wide so you had 360 degree views. This picture was taken at Charlie's Bunion.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23- App Trail update. In a few dayd I will be out of the smokies which will be bitter sweet. The park host more than 9 million visitors per year. The next most visited park host only 3.5 million. It also is the most diverse forrest in North America and is home to over 100 species of trees, 1570 flowering plants, 60 species of mammals, and over 2000 varieties of mushrooms. If all goes as planned I will be leaving the park on Thursday.

Views from clingmans dome Mar 22

I have not had very good service in GSMNP so updating has been tough. I did some extra miles this morning in order to make it into gatlinburg for breakfast. I tried hitchhiking but that didn't workout. A taxi showed up dropping coach and his brother so I was able to catch a ride into town.
I finally saw a few deer yestersay on my way to Clingmans Dome, the highest mtn on the App Trail. I also had another first today when I tried washing my clothes in the sink. I think it went well though. The view from CD was nice but it was very windy. There was also alot of ice on the trail. Well I am off to run a few errands.

Gatlinburg - this is the reason for the long miles yesterday. No service in GSMNP so will do more updates today.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 21 App Trail update. We stopped at spence field for snacks and to relax in the sun. Jerry is in the background and is a mech engineer from NYC.

Mar 20 App Trail update. This is Mollies Ridge Shelter and was home for the night, but we arrived early so pushed on to russel field shelter. It is pretty windy, but the weather is good.

Friday, March 20, 2009

View from tower. You can also see the dam I crossed a few hours ago.

Shuckstack fire tower.

March 20 App Trail Update. This is the view from Fontana Dam. If you have time google Fontana Dam and read about its history. They overcame many obstacles to build the dam to provide power to the Alcoa Plant during WWII. I think today is the first day of spring.... it sure feels like it here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19

Hello everyone and thanks for following. My cell accidently got turned on the other day so my battery has been super low the last couple of days so I have tried not to post. I am at the Village at Fontana now and will be charging everything today. I start my trek accross this Smokies in the morning. It was great walking into Fontana yesterday and the views were amazing. We have been hiking with a few new people as well. Two spring breakers from Memphis, Wetsuit and Trail Mom, have been with us the last couple of days and they really put in some hard miles. Wetsuit got her name because when I got to the shelter Tuesday she was there wearing a wetsuit (I thought I had seen everything on the trail). Trail Mom made sure that everyone was well fed and really took care of everyone. I especially am going to miss both of them because they were plesant to hike with.

We also have a few spring breakers from Indiana we have metup with. Irish who hiked 400-500 miles a couple of summers ago had to leave for one week so he decided to come back this year to hike the section he missed a few summers ago. His sister Brandy, gf Rachel, and a friend Willie (his nickname) are hiking with him. Rach hurt her knee yesterday so she is hanging out at the village today as well.

I am hiking with Always Fine and Jonathan again. We all metup yesterday which was a pleasant surprise. They are going to start their hike through the smokies tomorrow as well.

Well I am caught up on laundry and have been to the post office. Thanks mom for sending my resupply and thanks to Beth for sending me a cap from Rarity Communities. I will do a seperate post about it very soon. Now I am going to get in the sauna, shower, shave, and watch basketball.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

App Trail Mar 16 - Another wet day but I managed to stay dry. Sorry for not posting a better pic but I am comfy in my bag. I think this is going to be a busy shelter tonight. It was a short hike at just over five miles but it was all uphill. We started around 1650ft and went to about 4500 ft.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15. App Trail Update- Well I started hiking around 6am sat and completed the 18 miles by about 2:30. The last six miles were downhill which sounds easy, but when you are goinc from 5000ft to about 1700 you encounter some rocky terrain. Add the heavy rain and it made it challenging. Last night I stayed with chestnut and gentle ben. Chestnut has done four thru hikes and likes to do large mileage days. Gentle Ben is a retired GM for a car dealer and is anxious to get back out tomorrow with the rain gone. Nantahala is Cherokee for Land of the Noon Day Sun. I have a five mile climb out of here tomorrow.

Friday, March 13, 2009

App Trail Day 11 I started at Rock Gap Shelter where two guys that hiked last year made bacon and egg sandwich for me. I wish therw had been more thru hikers since they went through all that trouble. At the Franklin exit a church had hot choc for me as well. It has rained most of the afternoon. This picture is of an observation tower on Wayah Bald. Well it is 6:00 and I am in my hammock out of the rain. There were four people in the shelter and they offered to make room but I wanted to try my hammock setup in the rain. The Nantahala outdoor center (NOC) is about 17 miles and I may try to make it tomorrow. Most of it is downhill so if it is not to slick I should make it.

App Trail Day 9- Bitter Sweet. It was a sweet day today in that I am now out of Georgia and into N.C. (one state down and 13 to go). It was bitter in that most of the people I have been camping with stayed in town an extra day to heal. I took a shuttle back to the trail with Jim, a retired gentleman from Chattanooga, and Lee, another through hiker that got lost a while back but ended up running into someone nice enough to give him a ride to the hotel. I ran into a new guy, false start, who is from gulfport ms. He started back in Jan but decided it was to early and has now came back (this explains his name). I also ran into Montana Mack, an outfitter in MT. for about 11 years. And lastly, Jess, the lady at springer when I started that needed to go back into town for extra winter gear. She has an aggressive schedule and is putting in alot of daily miles.
This tree is often photographed at bly gap, the crossing over point into N.C.

App Trail Day 10 Well I passed the 100 mile mark today when I passed glassmine gap. I did just short of 16 miles today. I might have done a bit more but two past thru hikers were cooking burgers and had drinks, cookies, etc at rock gap shelter. Unfortunately for them I was the only thru hiker. There is a group of spring breakers here though.

App Trail Day 8 Well I made it to Hiawassee around lunch and the first thing I did was get a cheeseburger and milk shake. I ran into a guy that I went to Miss State with. He is now an associate pastor at a baptist church here.
I stopped by the library and noticed several of my blogs did not post via my cell phone. I resent them but now they are a bit out of order. Well I need to head to the grocery store so I will post more soon.

Some App Trail First - I am having probs blogging from cell phone the last couple of days. After leaving Georgia I have basically been hiking alone. I meet my first southbound hiker , mr magoo, at beech gap. I also saw my first snake there. Yesterday I saw my first falcon, my first turkey, and my first grouse. I have also hiked over my tallest mtn at 5498 ft. And now it looks like today will be my first hiking in the rain.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Day 5 on Appalachian Trail. I woke early and enjoyed some conversation with Grandpa Hugh and two other guys that I had met. After breakfast Dad whose trail name may be turtle from now on, Jenn, Megan, and Loretta arrived and we left late morning. We hike a out eight miles over Levelland Mtn, Cowrock Mtn, and Wildcat Mtn. Everyone seems to think Wildcat has been the toughest climb yet except me. I still have nightmares about sasafras mtn.
Dad or Turtle has his trail legs now and is doing an. amazing job. Grandpa Hugh and his son Jeremiah are nearby and we probably continue to hike with them some the next couple of days.
I did hear my first Eastern Towhee of the year and heard several grouse and pileated woodpeckers.
This has been the first evening that it has been warm enough to sit around a campfire and talk. The views were amazing all day today. Tomorrow we will be going about ten miles to Blue Mtn Shelter.

Appalachian Trail, Neels Gap, Blood Mountain

Mountain Crossings Outfitters comes into view as you approach Neels Gap from Blood Mountain. This is a popular place not only because it is most peoples first resupply location, but it is also the first place you can send items home. Often when you talk to people who have hiked the AT and you ask them what they learned from the trail they talk about wants vs needs. When you are having to carry everything with you on your back up a mountain then you have some time to think about if you really need it. I think this experience will carry over to life after the hike for most hikers.
They treated us fantastic at the hostile and Pirate, whom has hiked the AT 21 times, will make sure you are well fed and entertained.

Updated - I was having trouble posting via my cell at this point and some of the blogs in this area are out of order.

Hello from Hiwassee

Hello everyone. I stopped by the libary and it appears some of the blogs I tried to post via my cell phone did not go through. So I am trying to update it now. Sorry if they are out of order.

Appalachian Trail - First experience in a shelter

App Trail Day 7 Last night was my first night staying in a shelter. One thing you have to realize is many of these shelters are rodent infested. About thirty mins after laying down I started hearing them running around. I made a mistake of laying at the end of the shelter next to the wall. Soon after one jumped on my arm and ran over to my shoulder and then moved on. Later I was laying on my stomach resting my head on my arm and one ran under my neck. Lefty was on the other end and he had one run across his face. They say if you leave all of your pockets open on your backpack they will just go in and out but not chew a hole through it. Fortunately someone left a can of pringles in the side pocket of there pack so the mice filled up on them and left us alone the rest of the night. I could hear them jumping to try and get out of the can, but after about a minute they made it out.

Appalchian Trail - Still figuring things out

App Trail general info. I know several of you are starting your hike soon so I wanted to share some things that have worked for me.
For breakfast honey buns have worked great. I like to hike a couple of miles to get warmed up and then have a honey bun with Gatorade or hot choc. For lunch I have cheese and crackers, fig newtons, trail mix, etc. I am going to start packing bagel and peanut butter for lunches. I am a firm believer in some kind of recovery food within thirty mins of the end of your hike. Those of you that know me know I swear by choc milk. I often make some kind of choc cereal with powdered milk. I use the milk left over for hot choc. I usually have some form of pasta later as well. I pour the water from the pasta into bottle and add Gatorade. I often snack on trail mix or cheese and crackers later at night.
Instead of relying on bladders I use a small Gatorade bottle in pocket and large one with pack. Much easier to get to, especially when everything keeps freezing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Appalachian Trail at Unicoi Gap

App Trail Day 7 We had a long day today doing 12.6 miles including some crazy climbs. We started the day descending from Blue Mountain at 4025' down to Unicoi Gap at 2949'. Unicoi is a Cherokee word meaning white mans way. The first road crossing the Blue Ridge Mtns was built here in the 1840's. We then climbed Rocky Mtn to an elevation of 4017'. Then we made our way back down to Indian Grave Gap to an
elev of 3113. Our next challenge was climbing up Tray Mtn to an elevation of 4430, the second highest point in Ga on the A.T. After all this climbing we still had another 5 miles to go before reaching our destination. The sun was hot and I do have a bit of a sunburn but otherwise I feel great. I honestly was not looking forward to today but it turned out to be my best feeling day on the trail. My energy level was high and the miles flewby. Today is Jeremiahs last day as he has to get back to work. We will all miss having him around.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Appalachian Trail at Neels Gap

App Trail Day 4- Well after spending an hour on the highest point in Georgia on the A.T. I decided to head on down to neels gap to resupply do laundry and take a shower. They just treated us to a spaghetti diner and I will be bunking down with a out 20 people at hostile. I guess I need to bring out the ear plugs tonight. I am going to be shipping a few supplies in the morning. Mom just make sure you go through the pockets before washing the coat.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

At Neels Gap on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Hello everyone I only have a minute on the computer but I wanted to say thanks for everyone's comments. I wish I could reply to each of them directly but I am sharing this computer with 26 other people so I need to keep it short. All is well, weather is great, people are great, views are great. Good luck to everyone.

UPDATED - We were part of an early group getting into Neels Gap and while they were very prepared with merchandise, their grocery items were pretty slim, and expensive.  After walking in the snow and ice for a few days, everyone that did not have trekking poles purchased them at Neels Gap.   I met Pirate, a legend on the trail, for the first time here and would see him another five or six times in towns further north.  I also meet Jonathan and Maggie, two people I would hike with later on in my journey. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Appalachian Trail in Georgia

App Trail- Day 3. I made it a little over nine miles today and felt great all day. I got into a routine of walking for an hour and resting for five minutes and making sure I was snacking and drinking all day. I learned years ago doing triathlons that it wasn't just swimming, biking, and running, but in fact managing your eating and drinking while competing were equally important. I am camping with mosey and her husband Dulcemer Dave. They are a nice couple and I have enjoyed my time with them. I am also staying with three girls and the dad of one of them. He is the 63 year old guy that I am going to refer to as dad from now on. I have meet him on the trail alot the last couple of days. One of the girls has a blog http://www.greententnews.blogspot.com/ There names are Jenn, Loretta, and Megan. And I guess I shouldn't leave out their dog Georgia. Tomorrow I will cross my first mountain over 4000 feet, Blood Mountain. I may stay there
for sunset pics or I may head on into town. I will decide tomorrow.

Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Beautiful day today. It's 11 and I have made it about 5 miles so far. I stopped at this rock outcropping for a quick bit and then I head to big cedar mtn, my largest climb of the day. No wildlife today except for woodpeckers. I hear a grouse just down from me but I have not seen it yet.  I wish the days were longer. 

Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Designed for. It is ok though, I will be in town in a few days and I will send somethings home. I ran into a guy today 63 years old with a 42 lb bag. He and I talked for a while because he was in the same situation I am in.... to heavy a bag. He wants to get his down to about 30lbs in next town. I just want to below the bags design wt-40lbs. I told him that I hope I am still able to do this at 63 and he replied with "I hope you are smarter than this at 63". I also ran into itrod again (he had ran out of water also. I have meet another hiker, chopper, and both yesterday and today he was just sitting in the middle of the trail. I guess he hikes till he worn out and instead of looking for a rock or log, he just flops right on the trail.
I think I may have picked up my trail name today also....Mississippi. Well it is about my bedtime. Hope all of you are doing well.
What Iearned today..that a 2 legged tripod not good. it broke today. the good news is it is 1/3 lighter.

Hiking on a beautiful day in Georgia

I managed to get in 8.7 miles today which I think is pretty good considering I crossed three mountains (hawk mtn, sassafrass mtn, and Justis mtn). I have also started to despise gaps... all you do is hike down a mountain hit a gap, and then head right back up. And the signage..... anytime you see a sign that says you are 0.9 miles away from a gap you know you are in trouble because the terrain is about to get rough. Instead of putting it a mile back and saying 1.9 miles. Sometimes when you get there there isn't even anything there... they just want you to know it won't be bad for long.
I knocked out the first five miles in no time but then I ran out of gas. I knew better than to try and skip lunch but I did it anyway. I also didn't carry enough water with me today.
My legs feel great as long as I eat, but my shoulders are in pain. I know how to fit my bag, but the hip straps are sliding down and I cant keep them up so to much of the weight is being supported by the shoulders. It is more than this bag was designed for.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Long Creek Falls - Appalachian Trail, Georgia

This was the view I had last night from long creek falls on the Appalachian Trail. I got an early start and I am taking a short break at hawk mountain shelter. Yesterday I was walking through rhododendron and hemlocks all afternoon. Today I have been in hardwoods the entire time. Well I have several mountains ahead of me today so be back later
I did learn something today... frozen toothpaste and a frooze toothbrush does an awesome job. try it

After spending some more time in the visitor center with the wonderful staff we drove the Forest Service road to about a mile from the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, where dad and my uncle were going to walk with me 0.9 miles to the Springer Mt., the beginning of the A.T.

On the trail we met itrod and sleeps-alot. On the trail most people have trailnames or nicknames they go by. I am not sure how this started, but it is very common on the trail. So anyway, I was hiking to the summit of Springer with my uncle Ronnie "Sod Cutter" Downs and James "Snores Alot" Downs. We reach the summit and spend a little time talking to sleepsalot, who spends a week at a time on Springer working for the park service making sure everyone is ok and checked in. This section had ice and snow so you really had to watch your footing. There was also someone staying at the shelter that called a shuttle to take them to town to buy more winter gear. It was ten deg last night with strong wind gust.

I woke up this morning in the lodge and the first thing my dad said was this is the last time you are going to be in a warm room and sleeping in a bed in a long time. It was kind of weird because I was laying there thinking about how this was going to be the last time I would have pancakes in a while....I wasn`t as concerned about the bed. After a great breakfast at the lodge where I was able to satisfy my craving for pancakes, we drove down to the bottom of the largest waterfall east of the Miss River. At 729 feet, Amicoloa Falls, is up the stairway from the visitor center on the Approach Trail. You may be able to see the snow we received the day before in the picture.

Well we went back down the mountain where I said my goodbyes and made way to my destination for the night, Long Creek Falls. I arrived around 4:30, made chicken quesidillas and potatoes. There are a couple of inches of snow, but not as much snow. I am about to crawl into my hammock and call it a night.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Well we made it to Amicalola Falls state park, where the approach trail leads to Springer Mountain, the start of the approach trail. We have about two inches of snow and strong wind gust. We are told that the wind chill will be in the single digits in the morning. They let me go ahead and sign the registor since I will be leaving before they open in the morning. I am officially thru hiker #86. I owe alot of thanks to my dad and uncle Ronnie Joe for bringing me over, especially in this foul weather. I also want to say Happy Birthday to my mom and I hope she does not worry about me too much. Well we just had a large meal and I am about to take my last hot shower I am going to have in a while.