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Saturday, February 28, 2009

oy vey

so just an update:

Andy's dad commented on my last post saying the weather is supposed to be bad the next day or two which was confirmed by the hostel owner. He actually did so much as to call us and tell us that if we wanted to stay he would only make us pay $6 (instead of $15) for tomorrow. It's supposed to be a low of 16, snow all day, and have 20 mph winds tomorrow. The following day it will just be the cold. So we decided to wait it out a day and keep our stuff as dry as possible. The cold doesn't really scare us, as we have dealt with that, but the wet mixed with cold is what really eats at your soul. So far all our zero days have been due to weather and exhaustion due to weather, so we eagerly await warmer climates.

we may have pushed through if we weren't in a dry county every single town we stopped off at and could get something warming to end the day with! Hush mother... and yea yea yea, I can see your eyes rolling Ms. Balkind/Adler (my junior k teacher.)

pitter patter

day 22

hiked today: 6.3
hiked total: 339.9
to katahdin: 1838.4

Pitter, patter. That is what we woke up to. The rain drops dripping on the tin roof made a 5:30 wake up easier than usual. The weather has been much warmer lately which means we have been going into deeper sleeps. I have two lighter bags (started off with one 30 degree bag but very quickly realized it was too cold and got another) and I just slept inside one last night. It wasn't raining terribly outside, and after yesterday, it was fine. We got packed and set up breakfast before we headed out to Erwin, TN. Our hot drinks actually stayed hot this morning much to our surprise. We were so unprepared for the steamy hotness, that andy burned his mouth badly enough that he can still feel it now.

We knew it was going to be a quick hike as most of it was downhill as is common before a town, so we headed out just before 7. We hiked to town in just about 2 hours and 15 mins -- thats how excited to get out of the rain we were. We got down to Uncle Johnny's Outfitter/Hostel where we checked in and grabbed a few supplies (fuel, candy, etc.) We contemplated a work for stay, but we haven't had a real break in a while, and even though we hiked this morning, we still consider today a restful day. So we decided to pay the $15 for the night, and brought our packs inside. It's a pretty nice hostel actually, our beds are right by the computer and about 10 feet from the fireplace. Johnny brought us into town with a guy named Lance who is staying here for a month. He's a really nice guy; we talked about food, beer, the trail, NYC, Philly, museums, etc. Once we resupplied our food, and got some stuff for tonight, we headed back to relax. Once we got back, we sat around and talked, watched a movie, took showers, and just enjoyed not hiking. We weighed ourselves today, and I have surprisingly lost no weight. I am still between 168-170, while Andy has dropped 10lbs and is at 176.

There is a grill here, so tonight we will cook up some steaks and veggies and go to bed. We probably won't do our normal 8am start, but thats alright. Unfortunately, again, as is common with leaving town, tomorrow we have a lot of up hill and, it is supposed to snow. HOWEVER, our next real stop is Damascus, VA which is home of Trail Days (the biggest AT shin-dig, party, flat out crazy fest) and just shy 50 miles of the 1/4 marker! So that is a big mark. Andy will be picking up some stuff that his parents sent to the post office there, and we will be taking a FULL zero day.

Time to grill some steaks and relax.

oh, I also got some girl scout cookies today! I love thin mints.

Rain rain and fog

Day 21

Hiked today: 17.6
Hiked total: 333.6
To katahdin: 1844.7

We woke to no rain. However, once we got out of the tent and started packing, it started to sprinkle. When we were eating breakfast, it started to rain. It stayed like that for about 8 miles. We were soaked. There was a lot of up hill today, and we started off by saying we wished we were there and in our tent already, but as my family friend Lan told me, "the more you experience, the more you accept on your own terms." so with that and a picture in my head of summitting katahdin, we trucked on.

It was very muddy and very windy in some spots, and once the rain stopped it wasn't a half bad day. We actually saw a white tailed deer! That makes for the 3rd wildlife spotting next to a ruffled neck grouse and a turkey. We see lots of bobcat tracks though.

Anyway, today was fairly smooth sailing. We have less than 7 miles into town, and then we will take a half day (more like 2/3rds day) in Erwin.
via BB

Thursday, February 26, 2009


By the way, for those of you who don't know, I do most of these post from my phone. Sometimes it does funky things and the word will either be very misspelled or just wrong. So just keep that in mind while reading, I seldom proof read.
via BB

Donnas Country Kitchen

Day 20

Hiked today:17.8
Hiked tota: 316.0
To katahdin: 1862.3

We broke 300 miles! That was good news. We woke up to downright balmy weather. We weren't shivering as we changed and our hot chocolate/coffee mix was warm for more than 5 minutes! It started sprinkling though so we got in our rain gear. About half hour into the hike we got to hot and it pretty much stopped raining. It was a pretty difficult day though -- lots of up hill. It started warming up which was great. The sun shone its warming glorious light on us for most of the hike (I've missed the sun incase you couldn't tell.) so much so that I was in shorts and a tshirt! It was very nice. Considering Andy has lost most feeling in his thumbs for the past week or so, I think its safe to say he qa happy too (although there's still no feeling in them.)

We got to our destination which was I-26 about 3:45. There was a diner 3 miles down it where we wanted to eat so started walking and throwing out our thumbs anytime someone went by. We walked about a mile and a nice guy named Bill picked us up. Ironically he owns some of the land we were bordering a few miles back. We drive a little ways and he tells us we are in TN not NC -- the diner is in NC. He was nice enough to go back and drive is the right way!

We finally get there after a close call of having a very bad day and order our food from a woman named Sonyah. I had 2 cheese burgers, slaw, baked potato, and a large salad, while Andy had a Philly steak, cheeseburger, cheese and bacon fries, slaw, and chicken fries. It was delicious. Our cook was Myra and we were very happy she was. They were nice enough to give us a ride back to the trail after the place closed (not before buying a pint of Ben and Jerrys though.) we said our good byes and started up the trail in the dark. We walked a little and found a flat place around the trail and pitched the tent, ate our pints, hung our food, and now we are relaxing within ear shot of the highway on one side and very squeeky trees on the other. Its windy and not supposed to be nice weather for the next few days. However, the weather forcast changes in a heartbeat down here.

Good night and thank goodness for good restaurants on the trail! Well near it.

via BB

Sickly and tired

Day 19

Hiked today:15.4
Hiked total: 298.2
To katahdin: 1880.1

We planned to wake up early today but when the alarm went off we both agreed to sleep until our normal time.

We got up, packed, and ate breakfast then headed out. We had planned to do a 21 mile day today but after about 4 miles it was apparent our bodies did not want to, not to mention there was a lot of uphill.

We passed food and a hostel that was half a mile off the trail before we had realized we weren't going to be able to do all 21 miles. Soon after that, we started feeling woozy, light headed, and as if we were dragging ourselves. My vision was a little blurred at times, and today was the first day this trip I was sore.

At lunch, we decided to go 6 miles less. We thought it was for the best and at our slower pace it would have been dark when we got there.

Not too long after we ate, we came across a fork in the trail. One said 'bad weather trail' and the other said 'exposed ridge trail.' We took the ridge, and I must say it was pretty cool. It was about 8 feet wide, and we could see off both sides. One side had the flattest terrain we have seen yet, while the other was mountainous. About this time is when we started feeling better. I guess we sweated out what ever was in us. I just hope we aren't getting sick. It was also apparent we weren't going to get the 21 miles because of all the climbing we had to do, so it ended up being ok.

We plan to push a little extra tomorrow and the day after and camp right outside of Erwin, TN and the next morning spend the day and night there to have a half zero day. It was either push it a couple days and rest for a full day, or spread it out and rest there for a half day. Basically days wise it works out to be the same.

Time for rummy and then bed.

via BB

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


There is a really annoying mouse at this shelter running around. Andy already broke (and fixed) his sleeping bag swatting little bodies off our tent.
via BB

Hot Springs Diner

Day 18

Hiked today: 11.0
Hiked total: 282.8
To katahdin: 1895.5

About 15 minutes after andys alarm went off from a surprisingly restful sleep. It was cold out (12) but we weren't cold in the tent. We packed up and headed towards the diner.

We went in and around the corner was a giant booth next to a large heater. We planted ourselves and our packs as close as we could - so much so, In fact, that the waitress said our stuff may burn. We started off with a few large cups of endless coffee and ordered our food. Andy got two biscuits with gravy, two eggs, hashbrowns and sausage while I got a steak biscuit, fried apples, scrambled eggs, grits, English muffin, and sausage.

Before we got our food, one of the waitresses brought over a book of letters children from a nearby school wrote to thru-hikers. The school adopted part of the trail, so the students basically maintain it. After writing a letter back we got our food. It was amazing. Less than $10 each, and by far the best breakfast on the trail. We sat there for a while to relax and then said our goodbyes. We wish we could start off everyday like today!

We left and went to the outfitter to pick up a blanket for some added warmth and to protect our bags from the condensation from our breathing at night and headed on. The first part was pretty hard, but really pretty.

We only hiked 11 miles because the next shelter is 8.5 miles away from here, and we got a late start. The next three days are going to be long days with our shortest being 18 miles.

The sun was shining and it was fairly warm, so all in all it was a good day.

via BB

Monday, February 23, 2009

Interesting turn of events

Day 0

So, in my previous post I told you how wonderful the inn was, and it still is. However we have a different view of it now.

Today was our rest and relaxation day and it started off that way very well. We woke up, and I took a shower in the most amazing shower. We go down stairs and Frank had made breakfast. He made scrambled eggs, blueberry pancakes, homefries, with a home made syrup, orange juice and lots of coffee. It was very yummy. We then went into town to get a few things at the outfitter, add pictures to here, and resupply our food. We got back to the inn to do our work to pay off our stay. He had us paint a bunch of stuff, redo some electrical stuff and clean up the kitchen. All this took nearly 5 hours. Alright, that's not terrible I suppose, however, that was only for last night. He said he would make us dinner, but we said we had planned to leave in the morning and couldn't work off tonight if we had to do another 5 hours tomorrow. We had hoped he would have said we have done more than enough, but it was very awkward. He said he had hoped we would stay for a few extra days and work. It would have been fine if we didn't spend our entire free day working. It just wasn't restful. So we started packing up saying we would just camp somewhere along the trail, again hoping he would offer something better, but he said ok. We had at least hoped he would still make us dinner, but he hardly paid any attention to us and kind of ignored us until we had left.
So we left. Kind of in a grumpy mood that he wouldn't at the very least feed us. We had a strange feeling towards him. We have been surrounded by so much kindness because we are hikers, but his was off. He was a nice person and let us work for stay, but for 5 hours of work a day. Anyway, we left to find a place to sleep. It was cold but at least its clear out. We went to the dollar general store and they were nice enough to let us use their microwave in the back so we got what ever we could. We each ate a mini pizza, burrito, half a smoked sausage, four chocolate cookie pies, and a quarter gallon of chocolate milk. That was the best we could come up with there. We would have left town and done a little night hiking had the diner not open at 6 meaning we can get coffee and a hot meal in the morning. So we went back south on the trail right before it gets into town at the parking lot and set up camp. After the difficult ordeal of setting up the bear bag, and turning off all the lights when we hear a car drive by, we tend to fall fast asleep, wake to have a warm breakfast, and trek on.
via BB

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We are in Vermont!

Day 17

Hiked today: 18
Hiked total: 271.8
To katahdin: 1906.5

...or so it felt. We woke up to 4 inches of snow this morning. It was incedibly cold, and snowing harder than it had anytime before on this trip. After we made breakfast and packed up, we got ready to say goodbye to the scouts. Did I mention there was one named Ian? Who had my backpack, stove AND cookset? He will be hiking the AT before he knows it. Anyway we departed troop 245 and made our way to Hot Springs.
The snow was relentless. Andta beard was frozen, I must admit I wish I had enough of a beard for it to freeze, and everything was covered in snow. It was incredibly beautiful for a while, but then it began to feel confining. Everything we saw was white, and we were following white blazes. It started getting cold, and the snow started soaking through our clothes and boots and then we entered our quiet mode where neither of us felt like talking because we just wanted to be warm and dry.
After our snack, we saw some footprints which were nice to follow - its kind of hard following a path covered in white snow marked with white blazes. After a little while we caught up to the feet making the prints. We met Hooch, Doc and Danser who had spent the night at the shelter we took a break at. They were training for a south bound hike next year. After talking with them long enough to lose feeling in our fingers (5 mins or so) we trucked on.
Finally after 6 hours, we made it to the shelter just before town. We stopped to eat a little more and call the hostels while taking a breather. Another big name on the AT is Elmer. He runs a hostel in town which is essentially his house with lots of bunks. So we called him up to ask if we could do work for stay. They said most likely not. So we decided to call one more place before giving in to shelling out the dough. We called up the Duckett House Inn because our book said they had a bunk house. So we called and a guy named Frank answered. He said the bunkhouse was feezing and he didn't have a room with two beds. We told him we had been sharing a 4 foot wide tent for a while and a king size was incredibly spacious! After a minute of thinking, he said he could come up with some stuff for us to do.
We finally got into town and the inn. We walked in to see this gorgeous 19th century colonial style place. First off, the kitchen is my dream kitchen with Vulcan range, grill top, and industrial fridges. The rest of the place is filled with antiques and just very nice things. Frank seems like a really nice guy (especially since he is letting us work for stay in this beautiful inn) although we haven't talked to him much since he had to leave. We did talk with the other guests which is a couplw from Charlotte. Jerry is actually from the same town as Andy and went to the same high school! So we talked for a while after we ate.
By the way, all the cafes and diners were closed, so we had to get stuff. This is what we ate: a digiorno pizza, 6 corn dogs, 4 rolls with sloppy joes, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, Reeses icecream, and chocolate milk and a large bottle of red wine. We feel pregnant.

We will sleep it off and the work off our stay and resupply tomorrow. We are warm, clean, have clean clothes, and happy. Good night.

Ps I will be putting more pictures up tomorrow but have to use a different account so all the new pictures will be above the old ones.

via BB

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An upper

Day 16

Hiked today: 17.8
Total hiked: 253.8
To katahdin: 1924.5

The hostel last night only had a wood burning heater which we snuggled up against as much as possible, but after we fell asleep we were obviously unable to tend to it. So we woke up in the morning fairly chilled. However there were many blankets piled up over our sleeping bags to keep us toasty. It was 18 degrees out this morning, but we were able to have a hot breakfast and about three cups of coffee and got chocolate each. I had oatmeal to keep things simple, but at the resupply shed/store they had eggs: which Andy eagerly grabbed. I would have done the same had they stocked the shed with cheese and sausages. Andy grabbed all 6 of them and proceeded to make a heaping plate of scrambled eggs.
After full warm bellies we got off to a late 8:45 start. There was a 5 mile incline, but after that the terrain was fairly kind to us. What made us really happy was the fact it was warm and sunny enough to allow us to hike without our jacket, hat, and gloves. We were back to our cheery selves talking the whole way. When the weather is bad and we are grumpy we don't really talk much, meaning, we haven't really talked on the trail for at least 3 days.
Anyway, we were happy to get a few changes in scenery along the way. We got to a mountain called max patch which is bald. It was the strangest thing. While we were hiking it, I was waiting for the secret government nuclear lab door to open up out of the ground. We go over the hump to show tons of cars, and people! We must have seen at least 20 people. Not a single person asked us about our hike, which is strange considering we were the only ones with large packs on booking it along the trail. It sounds selfish, but I was a little offended!
We finally make it to camp and meet two guys, Mark and Jim. They turned out to be scout masters on a trip with 7 of their scouts. They built a fire and we just talked until it got dark. They were all really nice and kept us warm with their fire building skills we desperately could have used a few days ago.
We are off to hot springs where we will take a mental day since its supposed to rain for three days straight.

via BB

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spotty Service

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't been able to post every night, so if I don't, I will post all of the days next chance I get.

A reminder we are winter backpacking.

Day 15

Hiked today: 14 Hitched today:31.5
hiked total: 236.0
to katahdin: 1942.3

waking up to the blistering cold is not fun, especially not after 3 days of cold and wet weather. All three of us (beaver, Andy, and I) woke up at our normal time and packed up. While I packed the tent, Andy made our breakfast (which is a peanut butter sandwich with honey and dried fruit.) The only problem was, it was hard as a rock. The bread was pretty much frozen, and he couldn't get any honey out because it was so cold. We started out towards the highest part of the AT, Clingmans Dome, at 6643. This was only 2.5 miles away so it wasn't too bad of a hike, especially since the incline wasn't too steep. However, it was FREEZING. I said it was cold yesterday, but our beards were frozen, there was three inches of solid ice under fresh powder, and we were all dehydrated from lack of available, unfrozen water. For the first 20 minutes of our hike, I thought I was going to lose a finger, or 10. My hands were numb and I lost feeling in them for a while. They started warming up, but I was in my long sleeve, down jacket, and rain jacket, and I was still pretty cool. For those who know me, I don't get cold very easily.

We got to the tower which is at the top of Clingmans, and it was a wheelchair accessible ramp up about 100 feet. It was frozen nearly the entire way up. We were pulling ourselves up with the railing to prevent from sliding down. We got up there, the wind was blowing, we were freezing, took a picture and started down the slide. I kid not when I say slide. Jay actually sat down for a while and slid down the ramp. We got back to the AT and go onwards, which is mostly a descend for the rest of the day. It took us about half an hour to go a quarter of a mile. There wasn't much fresh snow here, so we were just walking on sheets of ice. Our poles couldn't break through it, and we were all sliding around. Between the three of us, we easily fell 10 times. It was literally like ice skating down the mountain with the only thing preventing us from sliding to our doom were our poles. Imagine a frozen waterfall at a 45 degree angle. Thats what we were dealing with. Eventually we just sat down and slid for about 10 feet. It was at that point where we realized we could, and most likely would, get injured. Even if it was just a pulled muscle, we would be off the trail for about a week. So we went back to the tower and followed the 11 mile road down to the highway.

First off, the road wasn't that much better than the path. It was still incredibly icy, and we probably all fell just as much if not more along it. I tell you, walking down that icy, snowy, winding road, was not fun. It was boring, mentally depressing (since we couldn't be on the AT,) and flat out annoying. We eventually got down to Newfound Gap where we meet up with the AT again, but made the executive decision to not risk the ice any longer. We waited for a while to get a ride into Gaitlingburg, TN where we would get a shuttle to Davinport Gap, TN where the hostel we planned to stay tomorrow night is. We were sitting in this touristy parking lot filled with people from Florida (there were easily 5 FL plates) and a nice guy named Seth came by and asked if we needed a ride. He had actually just had a day hike in the Smokies and hitched a ride from his end point to where his car was at Newfound Gap and decided to pass on the kindness. At first he was going to drive us to Gaitlingburg where we would get another ride to our hostel, but decided to take us all the way here (which was probably an hour long ride.) So basically, he saved us a lot of time and effort getting here. He said he was planning to thru-hike next year or the year after if he could, so he was building up his trail magic karma.

So we got to the hostel where we were allowed to do a work for stay around 3. Right away we did some landscaping to pay off our stay (we threw down some gravel and redid some garden masonry with Rockhound as our foreman. Curtis and Maria are very well known along the trail for this hostel. It has just about everything any hiker needs. He took us to get some bbq, and we loaded up on food and came back to the hostel. Andy found a guitar here and hasn't stopped playing since. We will head out in the morning and stop off in Hot Springs in a few days to resupply our food stock and maybe take a zero day. The past week or so has been mentally straining between the cold, rain, and missing Jim at Fontana. If we see the weather is nice, we may just stay the night there (work for stay again hopefully.)

Now its time to relax, warm up, and hope for some better days ahead.

Less than 2000 miles

Day 14

hiked today: 16.7
hiked total: 193.9
to katahdin: 1984.4

It'll be short and sweet tonight. We woke up a little late (I didn't want to get up) and left the cage. It was foggy and then snowed most the day. We got pretty high up and missed out on some views but it was still really pretty.

Later on the snow stopped and the sun came out to show us a gorgeous view of the smokies. However, it was COLD all day. Our water was frozen pretty much the whole time.

We got to the shelter to meet a guy named beaver (or Jay) and we started the 2 hour process to build a fire with wet wood. And it worked! It wasn't raging, but it was going. It's going to be a very cold night. This is the highest we have stayed at 5505 feet.

On the way to the shelter we saw some bear prints which were probably from this morning and about 30 yards from our shelter.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The cage

Day 13

Hiked today: 13.8
Hiked total: 177.5
To katahdin: 2000.8

We started the smokies today in the rain. We knew it would be but it was still annoying. Last night we slept really well in the shelter nicknamed the fontana Hilton. We got up and packed everything and went up to the bathrooms to use running water for the last time for about 6 days. We were told by the guy who drove us in that this part was one of the hardest on the trail so we were preparing for the worst. After about 2 miles on the road and crossing the dam, we got to the trail and made our way up. We were pleasantly surprised when it wasn't especially difficult. However, it started pouring. It was windy and cold and we were not happy. Our packs were really heavy as well because we have an extra 4 days worth of food, so it was a crummy day. We didn't really stop for lunch because the shelter we are staying at was only 2.5 miles from the only protected place we could stop. We got here at about 2 to be almost startled by what we saw -- a cage.
As we came up to the shelter, the back was of a normal stone shelter. However, when we got to the front, it was caged off with a small door in the middle. Inside the shelter there was a warning sign that said this area has high bear activity and to hang your food and not approach a bear if one were to come. So after getting water, we locked ourselves in, and set up camp.
Its kind of scary that we are in here, but on the other hand I feel safer. Let's just hope we don't experience why there is a cage.
We are now in the tent and will make dinner soon. There is a raging thunderstorm going on which is scary. Now ice is hitting the roof. Oh geeze.
Hopefully I won't make another post tonight saying the roof is gone or we got hit by lightning.
via BB

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jim Kenny

I forgot to mention Jim drove many hours, spent $100 on our favorite foods and the Gabriel of trail angels.

We plan to meet at the Shennies, and we will get it right the.

Thanks again Jim!
via BB

Unseen zero

Day 0

Incase you haven't noticed, when I say day 0 that means no hiking.

We woke up late (7:30) and went down to the gas station to try and resupply. When we got there, there were 5 cans of soup. Needless to say we couldn't survive off that for 6 days. We asked for a shuttle back to the shelter before we left and luckily the guy had a meeting in a normal town with food and a grocery store so he brought us there. That took about an hour to get to. He said he probably wouldn't be done until 1 or so and then he would drive is back. By the time we get back to the shelter it will be too late to start hiking so we are forced to take a zero day. At least we pushed the last 3 days so its not the end of the world.

We also got in touch with Jim. He emailed me and when I got into the city I was able to check my phone. Anyway somehow we missed each other or we were on the other side of the dam. He hiked up a little to try and meet is but we never crossed paths. We feel bad because he drove all the way here with all that food. We were happy to know he wasn't hurt or anything which was a concern since we didn't hear from him.

We will rest at the shelter and resume hiking tomorrow.
via BB

Monday, February 16, 2009


Oh yea, and we get all your comments. We can't really respond to them, but thanks for them! Andy and I appreicate it. If anyone needs us you can e-mail me at imangiardi @ I check it every night when I write in the blog.

Funny Story.

Day 12

hiked today: 21.8
total hiked: 151.1
to katahdin: 2027.2

So we had a long day. We woke up really early in the blistering cold to get an early start to our long day. We ended up hiking 10 hours with only a short half hour break for lunch. We knew it would be hard which is why we woke up early, but there were lots of ups and downs and all arounds. Our feet hurt and we were tired and cold. However, it was nice that we broke our previous record.

Anyway, other than a fairly uneventful long, cold, hard hike, Jim told us he was going to meet us down here with steaks and shrimp and we were going to grill them and have a good dinner. So throughout the whole cold long day, that is what kept us going. Jim and Andy met on his second day. They hiked together for a while and then went their seperate ways. Then a few days ago we both ran into him again. Like I said previously he wanted to meet up with us again and hike some more. He is trying to section hike the AT and really wants to do the whole thing but can't because of his family. Anyway, we thought it was a long drive for him to come meet us for the night and probably hike off into the smokies for the day, but we didn't mind since he seemed like a really nice guy -- and told us he had lots of food!

So we get off the trail -- finally -- and make it to the shelter. The shelter itself is really nice. There are actually running bathrooms and showers there. Its right on the Fontana Dam which is the largest dam on the east coast, so it's a pretty popular spot. Jim said he would meet us on the bridge (which I assumed meant dam) and I told him we would be there around 5. I checked my messages at lunch and he said he was getting ready to go so all was well. Andy and I walk to the Dam (which is about half a mile from the shelter) and there is not a single soul. The visitor center is closed for the season, and no cars in the parking lot. So we waited around for about half hour, and then started walking along the road to the main road. The road crossing the dam ended on the otherside, so we knew he couldn't pass us without seeing us. We get to the main road which is about a mile and a half away from where we were and still no one is there. Its now 6. So we call his friend Ed, because he didn't give his phone number on the voicemail, but no answer. We decide to walk into the village where on the map says there is food. We are STARVING at this point. SO we walk on the main road around bends and curves and uphill for over a mile. Ghost Town. We see no one. There is a national park lodge that said had food so we walked up that way, to find no one. We saw a couple lights on at the top of the hill so we go up in the hopes of food. Finally we get up there and see a car leaving, and the registration for the lodge. We ask if there is ANY food around -- theres not. The guy said the nearest place that has real food is 27 miles away. We hid our packs near the shelter, and forgot our flashlights, so now its dark. We buy all the 1/4lb cookies the guy had at the desk (which ended up being a lb for each of us) and a cheese danish, bagel, soda, and $6 worth of vending machine goodies. We realize we are exhausted and can't walk nearly 2 miles in the pitch black on a main road and decide to shell out the $60 to stay the night. Ironically, the motel we stayed in at Haiwasse was $55 and about 1% as nice as this place. It's really great here. I just wish we had some steaks and shrimps in our bellies and didn't have to walk the extra 4 miles which brings our total milage today up to nearly a marathon!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Day 11

Hiked today: 12.6
Total hiked: 141.9
To katahdin: 2036.4

It was a hard day. 7.1 miles of straight uphill. I deleted the original message by accident so this will be short. Went up nearly 500 feet per mile. Want to get into fontana tomorrow so will wake early to hike the 22 miles.

This is the elevation profile of what I hikf today. That's 3000 feet down then up.

via BB

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Day 10

Hiked today : 21.6
Total hiked : 129.3
To katahdin: 2049.0

Today was a long day. Ron picked us up at 7:30 but we had to pick up some other hikers and loop around which took 2 hours. We heard some fairly interesting stories ron had to tell along the way. One of which was basically the entire history of Tellico gap, which is where we were going to pick up those hikers. So for about and hour he enthusiastically told us everything there is to know. Since Andy doesn't have a trail name, he dubbed him Tellico. After passing where the uni-bomber from Atlanta's hiding cave, we started towards winding gap which is where we were getting off
So we got to the AT at 9:30 but with fresh legs and full bellies we trucked on. It was by no means flat, but we were determined to make it past the 20 mile marker. When we passed a shelter about 12 miles in we decided to stop for lunch. Here we met shepherd. He hiked the AT and ended in December. He then realized he hated society and came back a month later to do it again. He was nice and funny, a hippie mixed with a mountainman. Kind of sad that he didn't really have anything to keep him home, but as long as he is happy I suppose.
We passed tellico gap which was kind of annoying since we were there this morning. After a few miles from there we got to a fire tower and since the fog lifted we were able to see for miles all around. We got to camp just before the sun set and ate our food. Now we will sleep well. The smokies are in a few days which wll be difficult but welcomed since we are growing tired of the same scenery.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Ron Haven

Day 0

Last night we got our pizza. I must say, it was the best pizza in the world. On half of it we had pinapple, ham and bacon, and on the other half we had peppers, caramalized onions, and sausage. In addition to that we had 8 wings, and 8 beers. Needless to say, we had talked to Ron about staying an extra night and we worked something out.

We were sitting outside the room drinking a beer and Ron came out of the office after talking to a few other people and started talking to us. He said that since its the slow season he's not making a lot of money so can't give us the room for free, but said $20 will cover the night. So for a total of $16 for each of us per night, we were able to stay two nights and get our zero day. Then he began to tell us stories. He got into them and excited and made faces and all sorts of funny stuff. He offered to help us in anyway possible, and we realized that he is one of the most well known guys on the AT for a reason.

Last night we played rock paper scissors to find out who would get up to tell the couple who offered to drive us we weren't going, and Andy lost. So he went out at 7:30 to tell them, which we didn't feel bad about because they were right next door anyway. After about an extra half hour of sleep, we realized we felt like we slept in too much and got up for the day.

The day was fairly relaxed. Even though it was our off day, we walked to the outfitter which was 1.7 miles one way so I can get an extra shirt I needed, and then we went to the post office to drop some weight and weigh our packs. The weights for our packs are as follows:

Ian: Base Weight: 23.5 lbs
w/food+water: 37 lbs

Andy: Base Weight: 26 lbs
w/food+water: 41 lbs

We were pretty happy with these weights. We had full water and 4 days worth of food for the both of us so by the end of the day our packs weight less and by the time we are ready to resupply our packs are really close to our base weights.

We will head out in the morning after more relaxation and food. Fontana Dam is our next stop which is right before the Smoky Mountains. The weather forcasted is 3 of the 6 days we will be there it will be rainy/snowy and the other half will be sunny. It will probably be in the low 20's at night. So it's really a mixed weather report. The weather up there can change in an hour too so it really depends on the day. Other than the 100 mile stretch later on, this is probably the longest we will have to go without resupplying (6 days.)

In short, thanks to Ron Haven for the help and stories!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Franklin, NC

Day 9

hiked today: 8.4
hiked total: 107.7
to katahdin: 2071.3

Today we woke up a little later than usual since neither of us heard the alarm go off. It wasn't rainy or foggy so we knew it was going to be nice. We got packed up and started on the short day to Franklin. Finally, we were able to see the views of NC (which pretty much looked the same as GA) because the fog was gone. It was sunny and cool all day. We startled some birds that were fairly large, but when they flapped their wings it sounded like a huge humming bird. Not sure what kind it was, but it was loud, and fast. Other than that, the trail was pretty fast and dry. We got to Winding Stair Gap at 11:15 and sat down to call some of the hostels. The guy at the Budget Inn said there wasn't any work for stay available, but later on we talked to Ron Haven and it looks like it might be possible to get a zero day after all! (After 114 miles, Andy needs one too) We got ready to hitch over to Franklin which is about 10 miles East of the trail, and stood there for about 20 minutes when a little car pulls over just far enough ahead so we weren't sure if they were stopping for us, or to get on the trail which was just ahead. A woman gets out and waves us over, so we start walking over. Soon enough, I realize its Jen from Mountain Crossings! She was shuttling a guy we passed on the trail who was section hiking to Franklin to pick up his car. It was funny, and very fortunate, to run into her. She drove us to the Budget Inn, and then he drove us to the outfitter to resupply.

After we got a few things at the outfitter, we got a large meal at Sonics (something we have both seen copious amounts of commercials for, but never have actually been to) and then walked over to the Ingles to get some food for the next few days. Instead of walking the 2 miles back to the hotel, we went back to the outfitters to see if one of the nice ladies working there were able to drive us over. Unfortunately, they weren't, but one of them called her mother to pick us up! Her father hiked the trail last year, so they were big on Trail Magic. After talking to the two women for a little while, the mother came and picked us up to bring us over to the hotel. Unfortuantely, we forgot to get all of their names so I can thank them here, but gave the mom this site so maybe she will comment to make their names known!

We plan to get a large pizza with more toppings then I care to type out and sleep well. Hopefully we will be able to have a zero day, if not, a nice man named Deakon will pick us up at 7:30. We met him at the outfitter, and his wife is starting right where we left off tomorrow so they offered to pick us up on the way.

Edit: The girls names were Becky and Jamaica, and Becky's mom is Susan, so thank you all!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rain. And maybe a bear

Day 8

Hiked today: 19.3
Hiked total: 98.6
To katahdin: 2079.7

Rain rain go away. We arose this morning to lots of fog. We ate breakfast and packed up before putting on our rain gear. Luckily we knew it was supposed to rain today so we were prepared. Right after we left it started coming down fairly lightly. It was kind of cool to have about 50 feet of visibility, but it reminded me too much of my second, and worst, day. Luckily it didn't get too cold so it stayed rain. The terrain was fairly easy which is why we decided to push near 20 miles. Right now we are only 11 miles from Franklin, NC which is where we will take a zero day to celebrate our first state and 100 miles completed.

About 2 hours before we got to the shelter it started coming down. We were both happy to be with one another as we agreed neither of us would have continued after today.

Around 2 miles before shelter we stopped for a moment on the trail and heard a very deep and low noise. It wasn't really a growl, it sounded like a diesel car starting up (which it definitely wasn't.) sounded kind of like a cougar or a bear. Then not too much later we saw a sign for bear pen gap. Not only that but we passed a lot of fairly small trees just trampled on both sides. Kind of scary.

Like I said before the terrain was fairly easy, however, about a mile before the shelter we climbed 450 in .2 miles. Yes, I said climbed. It was pretty scary because the rocks we were climbing were really wet. Once we made it to the top there was a giant tower which had to do with some sort of agricultural research. We were going to climb it and see the views from 5250 feet up, but we couldn't even see 52 feet infront of us!

Right now we are in the tent which we set up inside the shelter and hung a tarp we found here along the front for as much wind and rain protection as possible. Very windy tonight.

via BB

One state down

Day 7

Hiked today: 11.8
Hiked total: 79.3
To katahdin: 2099.0

We woke up at our usual 6:30 to a room a little colder than we would have liked. It took us a little while to actually get out of bed, but we finally did and started packing up. We went and got breakfast at a fast food place which had surprisingly good biscuits. Finally we got our stuff together and left. The old lady (who took our $55) waved us goodbye and we started walking along the road with "Appalachian trail" written on a hanger. We actually walked about a mile and a half - we actually weren't in town anymore - until a volunteer firefighter, hiker search and rescue, carpenter, and nice guy named Harold picked us up. He drove us to the trail even though it was a few miles past where he needed to go, and we got off to a late - 9:45 - start. It was mainly uphill but there were only a couple hard pushes where Andy went ahead a little. About halfway through we ran into two hikers, one of which Andy met a few days ago. Jim and Ed hiked with us for a little while. I think they thought we would be really fast being young and all so they, with their 10 pound packs, so we all basicllly ran for two miles so no one would be shown up. Finally we got to their car which was our halfway point. Jim wanted to buy is lunch but didn't have the time today. So we ate lunch and trucked on. That's where the couple pushes were. We eventually got to our campsite and set up the tent inside the shelter for added protection as it might rain. We ate dinner and tried to remember some card games for a deck we found but to no avail. Pretty sunset, and a really cool tree right after the NC line. We also set up our first bear bag as there is no hanging cable at this shelter. We may meet up with Jim and Ed in shennandoah in VA if the timing is right.

We may try a 20 miler tomorrow because we are going to take a rest day in Franklin NC to celebrate completing our first state and our first 100 miles. Also Andy hasn't taken a day off yet. Hopefully it won't be too rainy tomorrow.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New pictures

Some are up. You can click them to go to flickr and view them larger.

NC today!
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Monday, February 9, 2009


Day 6

Hiked today: 11
Hiked total: 67.5
To katahdin: 2110.8

Today was a great day once again. We woke up right before sunrise and looked over the mountains at the sunrise which was really pretty. We got going on a fairly easy hike. A lot was downhill whoch was a little hard on the knees but there was a fair amount of uphill too. Andy is in better shape than I am so I was falling behind just a little. However, we made it to Dicks Creek gap just after one. We were all ready to hitch hike but when we got to the road there was a group of weekened hikers who offered is beer and pizza! This was very much welcomed and appreciated to say the least! Not only that, but they drove us into town, so thank you very much guys!

We called the hostel but they aren't open for another week, so we tried the holiday inn first but then found out it was $70 a night so walked across the street to the motel where this elderly woman made us fork over a not much better $55. However we used the extra money to go to Daniels all you can eat, stuffed ourselves, and waddled back to the room. After a rest and some TV we went to restock our food supply. Now we will go to sleep once we finish with some movies.
Tomorrow we complete our first state! Its supposed to be nice but we will probably see rain on Wednesday. Next stop is Franklin which we should get to in 3 or 4 days.

North Carolina here we come!

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Great day

Day 5

Hiked today: 15
Hiked in total: 56.5
To katadhin: 2121.8

Today was great. Andy and I left at 8 before mostly everyone was up. We actually hiked pretty quickly for the first half because it was fairly flat terrain. We hiked 7.3 miles in 2.5 hours. Then the second half we went up and down more than 16,000 feet! It was pretty tiring. At the bottom of one of the mountains there was a cooler with a rock on it and we were excited for some trail magic but opened it up only to find trash. We met a few people along the way but about 2 miles from the shelter we are staying at we met two women who were waiting for one of their husbands and they gave us each a beer and some hummus, carrots, and strawberries. That was a very nice treat. We finally got up to the shelter and decided to tent at a site overlooking the mountains and had a nice fire and got meal. Tomorrow we will spend the night in Hiawassee because Andy has yet to spend a night in a nice bed. Not sure if the hiker hostels are open yet but I'm really hoping they are so we can meet some hikers, that, after all, is the best part of staying in town.

Nice down hill 11 miles to get to the road tomorrow then we will hitch hike in to town.

Ill put pictures up if there's a computer or I have good service.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Back on the trail

Day 4

Hiked today: 10.8
Total hiked: 41.5
To kathadin: 2136.8

So it was nice to get back on the trail again. It was gorgeous and warm too which was great. I do miss mountain crossings though. We hiked at our own paces and I got here around 330 and hung out until the others got here. A guy named halfway got here before them so we talked for a while. He's retired and been section hiking the trail for 5 years. Pretty nude guy. Then a kid named Andy gothere who is just about to graduate from Emerson and he seems to be doing the same mileage as me so I'm going to ahead out with him in the morning. Its nice to be back on the trail though.

Oh and my trail name is dusty, which is short for dust buster because I worked so much at mountain crossings and didn't pay for a single night at the hostel!

15.5 miles tomorrow
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Friday, February 6, 2009


Day 0

So maybe the boss of the shop here incured me over for dinner and I spent the night eating lobster and drinking beer? I love the AT.
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Day 0

So Jeff (now two suns) Justin and Preston got here last night and wanted to stay an extra night so I'm waiting with them here. I will resume with them tomorrow.
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Thursday, February 5, 2009


Day 0

I didn't feel like hiking much today, so decided to stay just one more day at the outfitters. Worked a little, went into town with Pirate, and now just hanging around. The more I hear about the trail, the more I realize I won't be able to do the whole thing with the amount of money I have. So I will just hang out in towns where I can, try to work for stay and food and see how far my money will take me. Don't really have a planned time of being back to the city now, so I can wander for however long the cash will support me.

Tomorrow I WILL be hiking. It'll be much warmer too. Supposed to be in the mid 60's this weekend. Funny considering it was 5 this morning.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's cold.

Day 0

I woke up this morning in the hostel, with two heaters, and it was 45 degrees! Pirate turned on the radio and the weather person said it was going to stay windy and cold (it was -10 this morning with the wind, and is probably 0 now) and that it will be warming up and getting less windy tomorrow. So I am working at the store for the day and staying the night again. I like the guys here so it's cool.

Tomorrow I will start walking again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rest Day

Day 3

Hiked today: 3.7
Total hiked: 31.2

I woke up today as soon as it was light enough to see. My entire body was buried in my sleeping bag, my feet were in my pack to keep them warm, and I have all my clothes on and I'm still cold. I grab everything as soon as I can, don't even fold my tent -- I just stuff it in my pack -- and make way for Neely gap through Blood Mountain. This is supposed to be the hardest part of the hike from what I've heard. It's not far, but I took a benedryl to help me sleep (which it did not) but woke up groggy and feeling bad. I ran out of water the night before, and everything I passed was frozen, even the little running water I did find wouldn't fiter through my water filter because THAT was frozen. Everything was frozen in my tent, even my pants. So I push forwards, contemplating whether or not I want to go home (it was that bad of a night.) I pass Blood Mountain shelter which was really nice and had a fire place (wish I stayed there! Would have died if I went the extra mile and a half up-hill though) and though for sure I wasn't at the summit. However I was, took some nice pictures, and made my way down. Got a little turned around, and my knees are shot because it was pretty steep down. I need hiking poles. I was not sure whether I would want them or not, but after today, I need them. Anyway, I make it down and see the glorious Mountain Crossings supplier/hostel. I run inside, buy a water, and tell them I am staying the night. I need a warm and good nights sleep. Alpine (one of the guys who works here) asks if I want to work for stay, so I gladly do so. Not too much todo, but enough to keep busy so I don't fall asleep and mess up my sleep schedule. Here is where I found out I almost had hypothermia, and here is where they tell me I am absolutely crazy for using a 30 degree sleeping bag this early in the year. So as well as getting treking poles to save my knees and legs, I get a pack liner which is essentially a smaller sleeping bag so it should bring me down to a 5 or 10 degree bag. Wearing my clothes when its really cold out, I should be fine. A guy named Pirate lives on the AT, basically at every point, and uses most of his money to helping hikers and mainting the trail. So he had cooked up some wonderful sloppy joes which were free (aside from a tip jar where I threw in a couple dollars) and I started working. Alpine was really nice to me, and helped me out a lot with the gear I am lacking. Gave me a little of a discount too.

Anyway, don't expect anything this long while using my phone. I am on a computer right now which is at Mountain Crossings. So I am going to enjoy a nice hot meal, and a warm bed. Won't be in another town for 5 days or so. Oh yea, and its snowing again. I hope I don't have another kill me moment though. The next few days I'll be going at a slower pace!

Possibly the worst day of my life.

Day 2

Hiked Today: 19.7
Total hiked: 27.5

Sorry I didn't update this earlier, but yeserday was terrible. Started off a little later than I would have liked, left the camp around 9. I wanted to make it to Gooch Gap shelter because the one before that was only like 7 miles away and I wanted some more miles than that. So I decided to go there. The hike to the first shelter wasn't bad, decent weather. I made it there around 1, which again, was later than I would have liked. I decided to push through and go the next 12 miles to Woods Hole shelter. This is when things went bad quickly. It started to rain, nothing unexpected though. Then the higher up I got, the colder it got, and then it started snowing. It was almost all uphill too. I am tired, and fairly wet. I stopped for a few minutes to eat some food (who knew I would like peanut butter so much...) and kept going to try to get there before dark. HA, before dark. There was a couple camp sites on the way after Woody Gap that I could have camped at, but then it really started getting cold, snowy, and very WINDY. So I decided I would have to tough it out to make the shelter to have some protection. Finally, just as it's starting to get dark, I see a sign up ahead. It says the shelter is 1.4 miles. I almost died. I kept going, sore, tired, hungry, and cold. Finally about 8:30 I make it to the shelter, its basically pitch black. I am too tired to eat so I have a few bites and pitch my tent in the shelter to protect me from the howling wind. I use my headphones as ear buds to I try to get some rest, but the howling wind wakes me up every couple of hours. I don't get much sleep and later I find out that I had early signs of hypothermia! I did not think it would get this cold in Georgia! That was a tough night, tiring, cold, wet, just all around a bad day -- so much so, I was ready to come home.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It has begun

Day 1

Hiked 2/1: 7.8
Total hiked : 7.8
miles to Katahadin: 2170.5

So today is the end of day one. It was really nice and fairly warm, sunny skies, and a nice breeze. I only hiked 8 miles to hawk mountain shelter because I started around one. About half way to the shelter I met my first thru-hiker, jeff, who is really nice. Hiked with him to the shelter to meet two more people, one thru-hiker, and one is leaving at the next town. They were nice as well. Besides the frightening close pack of coyotes howling, it was a great first day. Ill be adding pictures daily so look at those!
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