Monday, April 23, 2012

20 April 2012

Max Patch!

17 April 2012

This is how the Smoky Mountains got its name.

13 April 2012

Ramps!  Candyman spotted what he thought were ramps and he was spot on!

The whole shelter enjoyed our findings.  It is amazing how fresh vegetables make a meal so much better.

The shelter that night was packed with thru hikers and section hikers.

The next morning a deer wondered into camp.  I haven't seen much wildlife so this was pretty exciting.

12 April 2012

We are in the Smoky Mountains!
I might want to remove that exclamation mark later on.

Mornings usually started chilly.  It got so cold one morning that our bladders and my filter froze over.

But then the sun would come out and we would all relaxxxx.

Our lunch break.  This day was a ball buster.  It teased us with its beauty then beat us down...way down.


The trail leading to Rocky Top

Cairns on the trail.

11 April 2012

After Fontana Dam there is this great fire tower that you can climb to get 360 views...and by 'great' I mean wobbly, rickety, freezing, and on the verge of frightening.

Do you see the bird?

09 April 2012

I'm roughing it.   I swear!
Every so often I have to resupply in towns and this week was at Fontana Dam @ The Lodge.  The resupplying was ridiculous at the local store.

1 Can of Cheese Whiz = ~$7
1 Can of Vienna Sausage = ~$3
1 Small bag of Jerky = ~$ 5

They should be ashamed of themselves.  Taking advantage of poor and hungry hikers. 

No wonder many people do their only mail drops here.  

This is closest I've come to a bear since being on the trail. 

The weather has been so warm that these pretty Rhododendrons were already in bloom at the Dam

Monday, April 9, 2012

08 April 2012

I've been looking a good 160 miles on the AT for these.  I hit the jackpot today.  These are Aralia elata or Doo-rup in Korean.  I had an amazing dinner. 

05 April 2012

At the top of Wesser Bald Observation Tower I are a Snickers and soda I had gotten as trail magic from the day before.  This is the day before entering the NOC.  I always get a little confused as to wether or not to stay at towns or just stop by to resupply.  The NOC was booked so my other option was to either pitch my tent by the train tracks in NOC or camp at the nearest site.  Rufus Morgan Shelter it was then! 

04 April 2012

Tonight was my first night sleeping in a shelter.  I had just come off the shuttle from Franklin, NC when it started raining.  Cheese Whiz and I hiked 4.2 miles and booked it to the nearest shelter.  Siler Bald Shelter was .5 miles from the trail, but it was a safe haven.  Little did I know that I was in for a memorable night.  As soon as I got to the shelter and started cooking dinner it started hailing.  This is where I met Crispy and Candyman....2 men and full of fun.  Others soon arrived and by the end of the night our 8 person shelter hosted Crispy, Candyman, Moss, Baked Beans, Cheese Whiz, Dirty Barefoot guy, Grumpy Commercial Airplane Pilot, The Weird Guy with the hairy back, Puddle Jumper...and me.  Now I know why I don't like to sleep in shelters.  I had a horrible nights sleep, but I was in great company.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

01 April 2012

Hello Friends,

Happy first of April!  I'm sitting here at the Saphire Inn in Franklin, North Carolina and am so thrilled to have made it thus far.  118 miles !!!!!

My feet are killing me and are starting to blister, but hopefully I can have that taken care tonight.  Also, my arms are so sunburned that they're starting to bubble, and my legs are covered with bug bites, but I'm having a blast.

I miss you all!
31 March 2012

Today I hiked solo as Bill's knee was bothering him so he took it slow.  I'm sure I'll see him again in the future.  I stayed at Big Spring Shelter and although I originally thought to do the AT solo, I felt myself missing company.  I'm sure it'll get better with time.  I've learned from the best!

The view on top of Albert Mountain.

29 March 2012

Today we made it to the GA/NC boarder!!  We stayed at Bly Gap where I first encountered the howler monkeys (which were actually owls).

Jason, Wes, and Tyler getting ready in the background

27 March 2012

Today we hiked up Tray Mountain.  This is rumored to be a badass kind of mountain to climb.  We had a team member leave us today because of a knee injury.  Maybe I'll see him on the trail at a later date. 

This is the view from Tray Mountain.  The mountains just went on and on forever.

I have either a very funny or very terrifying story to tell.  This night we stayed on top of Tray Mountain at the Shelter.  I was awaken at around 2:00am because I thought there was a bear sniffing outside of my tent.  I held on to my knife not knowing what to do until the noise left and I fell asleep with white knuckles. 

funny no? 

25 March 2012

Today we stayed at Low Gap Shelter which had the cleanest privy I've encountered yet. 

This is the view from the water source which was a great spring south of the camp area.

24 March 2012

Today we spent the day at Neels Gap where we restocked on our food.  The outfitter there is supposed to be excellent at shacking down peoples gears and lightening up their load.   I should have taken advantage of this, but I thought I could handle my 44 lb pack.    I was wrong.

This is the famous tree at the outfitters.  At this point my shoes belong here.

I belive this was Cowrock Mountain.

We started our hike at around 1:30pm to beautiful weather, but it turned into hours of rain and a hail shower (which I might add that I had a blast in).  We ended up at Hogpen Gap where we set camp.  This was the coldest night by far.  I had the hardest time keeping my toes warm so I ended up throwning my down jacket at my feet.

This is the morning fog at Hogpen Gap.

Hiker clothing hang trying to dry out from the night before.

This is Bills food back after it was ravished by a bear during the night/early morning~!~!~!~!  Ray's bag also got gobbled up and he had to hitch a ride to get more.  Apparently bears love tuna and sweets, but hate oatmeal and quinoa.

23 March 2012

Today we climbed over Blood Mountain.  It was the most beautiful thing, hiking in the clouds, and visiting the shelter at the top.

Me standing in front of Blood Mountain Shelter.

My room in Blood Mountain Cabins.  My first shower was bliss.

22 March 2012

My legs feel like jello and I bring up the rear in the hiker train. 

Isn't this beautiful?  This is the cloud covered morning.

Our breakfast at Hightower Gap.

Hello friends,

I apologize for the lack of updates, but I'm finding it difficult to find internet access along the trail.  Because of that I will now do an 'monster update'.

20 March 2012

Today I was the second hiker of spring to sign the Springer Mountain registry... L-Dog being the first.
Here I met Jason (DarkAge), Partick (Damn Yankee), and Doug (The Doug).  The last two I will not see much of since they are monster hikers.

This is the plaque at Springer Mountain symbolizing the official start of the Appalachian Trail.

The crew.  The man staring you down is Damn Yankee.  He wears American flag shorts and hikes 5X my speed. 

This is DarkAge.  I'm sure he'll appreciate this.