Not leaving until I see Daisies…

3 Comments

3/23 – Day 28

Got up and started packing and cooking my oatmeal, it was a foggy and overcast morning and the worst part was putting on wet, cold socks and then stuffing my feet into wet nearly frozen boots. I had dry socks but it is pointless wearing them as they would be wet in 5 minutes on the trail…you save your dry socks for inside the shelter!

I’m in my rain gear as we are expecting rain and I hit the trail. It is icy and there is a lot of snow on the trail…if its not icy it’s muddy and wet. The temperature is about 35 degrees and I start into my 15 mile day, I’m feeling pretty good about 8 miles in and have decided to skip the shelter and push on to the Standing Bear Hostel. After lunch I see some of the other hikers: Tail Lights, Camaro, Witch Doctor, Chris and Cassandra and they have all decided to head to Standing Bear as well…looks like we are doing a 18.4 mile day (my longest).

We come to the “mailbox” where we are supposed to drop off the other half of our permit and now we are out of the Smokies, very anti climatic, what I had planned to do in 6 days I did in 5 and even though we saw our coldest day (which was the first day of spring) and the most snow all in all we were blessed with the good weather we had in the smokies.

After we pass the the last shelter we hear that Fresh Ground is set up down by the river, a few miles in, this is the same guy that I met a week or so ago doing trail magic. I get renewed strength and hike the 2 miles to his set up…and what a set up!!

He has several tarps set up and tables as we get there he is grilling hot dogs and has cold sodas in the river! I grab a Mountain Dew and down 2 dogs and a cup of chicken noodle soup. Then I have a 3rd dog and some chips and a little Debbie snack cake.

Fresh Ground is a great guy, he offers to run anyone into town or go and grab some pizza or whatever anyone wanted. This is an example of true trail magic and he loves doing it, I have been doing trail magic myself along the way. I have bought dinners, paid for rooms, given away food, shared snacks and packed up Gatorade (a nice treat on the mountain but heavy to carry) and then given them away. For me, this is all part of the experience I can hike with God daily and still serve people in little ways.

We get to the Hostel and have the option of the bunk house, $15 a person or a cabin for 6 at $20 per person. After one look at the cramp, narrow bunk house I ask the group I’m with to do the cabin and offer to pay the extra $5 per head for anyone who needs it. The cabin has more room and is nice. Everyone does some laundry, mainly socks, and then hit the little store to stock up for tomorrow. I cook up a pizza and share it with Camaro and Tail Lights then get ready to call it a night.

Not sure of my plan as of yet for the morning, we are supposed to have another storm coming in and I’m thinking I will leave out of here around lunch and do a quick 7 miles up to the first shelter from there it is 2 days into Hot Springs.

3/24 – Day 29
It was nice to get a full nights sleep (no one snoring) and I could sleep with my feet 2 feet apart instead of stuck together in a sleeping bag. We got a lot of rain during the night and in the morning it looked like more rain coming. Camaro and Chevy hit the trail first followed by Tail Lights and Ace. I hang with Chris and Cassandra, who we are calling Wide Load since Chris is not allowed to pass her.

I say good bye to the owner of Standing Bear and he says, “good luck dad, take care of those kids”…I have decided I need to do something about the gray in my beard! Right now the consensus is to dye it blue or green in Virginia, which might be kinda cool!
We decide to do a 15.5 to Roaring Fork Shelter even with a late start and hit the trail. We run into Jack (Golem), Tom (Dry Spot) and Witch Doctor at the trail head and we start our climb. For some reason I am designated as the lead and set the pace for the day. Most of them can hike much faster than me but we all stick together at my not so ground burning pace. It is fun to hike with a group and it makes the time, and the long painful climbs pass by.

A mile or 2 into the hike it starts to rain and the temperature is about 40 after about 8 miles the rain stops and the sky clears. We hit a really cool cleared area called Max Patch, which is a huge grass bald (means top of the mountain with no trees) and celebrate the day with clear blue skies. We finish the day with 2 miles into the shelter.

I decide that I want to continue hanging with the group I have been with and take a zero in Hot Springs. We have all eaten and are warm in our bags, we have stuffed 8 peeps into a 6 man shelter, with 4 of our “troop” in their tents. Another storm has rolled in and it is raining outside, I am a little worried about the guys in the tents but they tough it out!. The plan for tomorrow is to do 14.8 miles to the next shelter and then 3 miles into Hot Springs the next day. I’m hoping the rain clears out tomorrow.

3/25 – Day 30
As usual the plan changed. The rain storm turned into snow and it was windy enough to blow a light coat of snow on to all of us in the shelter. I don’t think any of us really wanted to get out of our sleeping bags yet everyone was up and packing by 7:30.

I wolf down 2 strawberry pop tarts and head out into the 22 degree still blowing snow. It is an easy start for the day and we have all decided to hike straight into Hot Springs which will be an 18 mile day. I make pretty good time starting off and I have fresh snow with no tracks, I try to pay attention to the white blazes since I know that anybody following will just be following my footprints.

The wind is howling and you can hear branches swaying, creaking and cracking…there are lots of broken branches on and around the trail and you can see whole trees that have toppled over. Despite the snow blowing in my face I constantly look up into the trees every time I hear a creak or cracking sound!

After about the mid point, my fellow hikers start to pass me…Cassandra and Chris go flying by with Cassandra in the lead…she is ready to get off the mountain and is motivated to speed (she admits to daydreaming about Mountain Dew)…I don’t even bother trying to keep up with them!

I am really startling to feel this hike and my feet are very sore, I still have about 7 miles to go! I manage to drag myself into town and realize that even with the pain I did 18 miles in just over 7 hours. There are 10 of us staying in town tonight and we rent 2 VERY small cabins for the night. Everyone grabs a shower and some down time and then we head into town for dinner. We are recognized pretty quickly as thru hikers since just about all of us are wearing muddy crocs (the most popular camp shoe) as opposed to muddy, wet hiking boots!

What is interesting about all of us being together is that other then 2 friends from Colorado and our married couple we have all met on the trail. We have practically spent 24 hours a day for the past 7 days together. We eat together, sleep huddled together, and often hike together. There are stories of why we are here, what we are trying to find or discover about ourselves and a hint of what we might do next. We already talk about meeting next year for a reunion or to do some trail magic together…yet as some are taking a zero day tomorrow others are headed back on to the trail and there is the chance of never seeing them on the trail again! You could spend the next 5 months with someone you know just one day ahead of you.

We make friendships out here and like everything on the AT they all keep moving north as we move north together or a part…we are NoBos (north bound) to Maine.

3/26 – Day 31
It’s been really nice taking a zero in Hot Springs, the cabin (really just a 3 level shed) that we stayed in last night was comfortable but extremely small. We packed up in the morning and got some nice rooms on the Main Street of town. Most of a zero day is spent doing laundry, eating large meals and restocking food supply for the next 5 days on the trail.

I’m still with the same basic group of about 10 hikers and we are having a lot of fun together. We have had some great meals and Jack and Tom (the Colorado boys) are a never ending source of entertainment!

I joke that I am staying in Hot Springs until the cold weather goes away…”I’m not leaving here until I see daisies!” But I’m sure I will be back on the trail tomorrow with the rest of crew. The weather is supposed to be better but we will still have to deal with the cold and the snow…low temperatures should be in the 30’s but that is actually a lot easier to deal with then the teens!

A funny thing that is happening now is that even though I am a “solo” hiker I find myself wanting to adjust to a schedule that keeps me with this group longer. The biggest acronym used out here is HYOH (hike your own hike)…but in my mind if I decide to stick with this group then that is exactly what I am doing. It has been good day and a nice night, I am with people that I have no problem calling friends. Hot Spring is a cool little mountain town and I half wish for more snow so I could stay another day. Sadly, the forecast looks pretty good so looks like we will be hitting the trail again tomorrow…after a big breakfast at the local diner of course!

20130326-223419.jpg

20130326-224409.jpg

20130326-225221.jpg

20130326-230842.jpg

20130326-234428.jpg

20130326-232015.jpg

20130327-000111.jpg

20130327-000139.jpg

20130327-000156.jpg

20130327-000234.jpg

20130327-000325.jpg

20130327-004622.jpg

20130327-004658.jpg

Nomad 2, Smokies 1

6 Comments

3/19 – Day 24
Up at 7:00 to get packed and on the trail…Gary, owner of the Hike Inn, gives Brad and me a ride back down to the trail (Brad is taking a zero). It is a beautiful sunny morning and God is really blessing me for my start into The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The park was established in 1934, and, with over 9 million visits per year, it is the most-visited national park in the United States.

I start the trail by walking across the Fontana Dam, the largest dam east of the Rockies, then up to the trail head and the start of a 3000 foot climb up the mountain (when I give info in feet I am stating elevations). The mountain has switchbacks so the climb is not too painful and I have planned a 10.7 mile day up to the first shelter.

We had a full day of rain the previous day and the trail and woods have been washed clean…there are no footprints on the trail and I realize I am the first one on this portion of the AT this morning…it feels kinda of cool.

It’s about 38 degrees and I’m hiking in a long sleeve t-shirt, my pants and my beanie. My temperature is well regulated and I am feeling good.

The Smokies are one of the biggest hurdles of the AT, just under 70 miles of the highest elevations on the trail and can have some of the worst weather conditions. The winter gear I have been carrying for the last 24 days I packed specifically for this park! The drop out rate for this part of the trail is nearly 50%.

As I said, God has truly blessed me for my first day in the Smokies and there is only a 10 to 20 chance of rain for the next 4 days…meaning that if I stick to my 6 day plan I really only have a good chance of getting wet the last day. The forecast is cold though with nightly temperatures down into the 20’s but we have already weathered nights in the teens so I feel confident I will not have much issues these next few nights.

I continue making good time and have already consider skipping the first shelter and going the extra 2.8 miles to the next. I pass some fresh bear tracks and scat (poop) and keep my eyes open for the chance to see a bear…a few yards up the trail a white tail doe leaps across the trail and well, scares the scat out of me! later I see a chipmunk but no bears!

I arrive at the first shelter at 1:15 and have lunch…just moments after sitting down up comes Fiddle Sticks, Camaro and Skyler. We have lunch together and all of us are feeling really good so we decide to skip the next shelter and head to Spencer which is 5.7 miles away. As I am refilling my water AJ walks by, we catch him later and he stays at the next shelter we come to, we continue on to Spencer.

Once we get to the shelter, a 14.7 mile day for me, we start into making dinner I’m having a cold dinner of sausage and cheese on a tortilla and they are all eating like crazy, being younger they are metabolizing like crazy and I’m still on a slower burn. I share some food with all 3, especially Fiddle Sticks who has not brought nearly enough and we talk about our plans to get thru the smokies and into Hot Springs. Manchild comes strolling in followed later by a few section hikers.

3/20 – Day 25

We had a pretty cold night but enough people in the shelter to keep warm (something to be said for body heat). Got going before 9:00 and for change had a little down hill to start, emphasis on little!

We were back into SUDs (senseless ups and downs) and I leap frog most of the day with Camaro until lunch which is 6 miles in. We run into thru hikers Ember and Passover at lunch, Taillight (Skyler) is already there and as I get ready to leave Kensey and Jeff roll in.

After lunch I am really starting to feel the climbs and it is all I can do to keep going up, I feel like the mountain is getting the best of me and I am praying for better spirits and strength with every step! I make it to the next shelter and I have hiked 11.8 miles and I am beat! it’s still a sunny afternoon and Fiddle Sticks is laying on his mat resting, he is not carrying enough food and has been burning too many calories. I have a snack, drink some water and split a Clif bar with Fiddle Sticks and decide to hike the 1.7 miles to the next shelter which was my original plan, besides I told Camaro I would let her try my freeze dried cheese cake with cookie crumbs (it was delicious)!

Other hikers continue to roll in and we have packed 18 hikers into a 12 man shelter! We have been having a blast, everyone is eating and telling stories, exchanging blog sites and emails. We all pretty much know each other, at least by trail name, and take some group pics. 4 of us all have the same Arc’teryx hoodie in different colors so we decide we need a pic together.

I am pretty worn out this evening and tomorrow we have a 13.8 mile hike to the next shelter (one I stayed in 30 years ago). We go over Clingman’s Dome which is the highest elevation on the entire Appalachian Trail at just over 6600 feet, we will also past are 200 mile marker on Mt. Love. Praying for another good day, although it started to get cloudy this evening and the chances of rain are increasing.

3/21 – Day 26
Well good news…no rain! Instead we got 4-6 inches of snow! Although it was warm in the shelter, we had like 16 people in a shelter for 12, when I stepped out side my watch thermometer kept dropping until it got down to about 12 degrees and then stopped working…just had —F.

We all hit the trail and for me it is tough and very slick, I fall 3 times…twice on my butt, the classic both feet in the air right on the booty fall! I came out of it all with a bruise on my pinky and maybe a little on the ego.

The whole group of 14 were dropping out at Newfound Gap to go into Gatlinburg, TN so I decide to join them…it is a fun group and I look forward to hanging out with them!
I will be back on the trail tomorrow and then 2.5 days thru the smokies to a little hostel called Standing Bear, then 30 miles into Hot Springs, NC.

20130321-181732.jpg

20130321-181821.jpg

20130321-181808.jpg

20130321-181840.jpg

20130321-181851.jpg

20130321-181924.jpg

20130321-182058.jpg

20130321-182148.jpg

20130321-182249.jpg

20130321-182352.jpg

20130321-182624.jpg

20130321-182800.jpg

20130321-182850.jpg

20130321-183012.jpg

Getting to the Smokies

3 Comments

20130318-174327.jpg

20130318-174506.jpg

20130318-174535.jpg

20130318-174745.jpg

20130318-174800.jpg

20130318-174907.jpg

20130318-174945.jpg

20130318-175144.jpg

Medication and Yellow Blazes

1 Comment

3/13 – Day 16
Quick Blog: got out of Franklin, nice day on the trail. Met new hikers, got mixed up and on wrong trail for 20 something miles. Made it to NOC.

Made it to Silas Bald Shelter without a problem this being a short day of only 8 miles (didn’t hit the trail until noon). Cooked my dinner the crawled into my bag it’s just after 7:00 and already in the 20’s and supposed to get down to the teens…gonna be a cold night for being back on the trail! Weather is supposed to warm up some the rest of the week.

Several new hikers have stopped here as well and a couple I saw in Franklin (Wetdog and Sugar Gnome). Most of the new hikers are young and started later then me but they are tearing up the miles, doing 18 to 20 miles a day.

Weather and now some illness (the vertigo) has slowed me down and I wasn’t setting a killer pace as is, but I’m happy with my progress and thankful to be out here!

3/14 – Day 17
Today started off great, got off to a decent start in the morning after another night in the teens…it was a sunny day and an easy climb. I got my first trail magic, Fresh Ground had set up just off the trail and had coffee, hot cocoa, hot dogs, salad and fruit. I grabbed an apple, visited for a little then headed out.

The day was going fine, I stopped for a water break took my meds (for vertigo) and continued on. I made it up to the Wayah fire tower and the things went a little wrong. Not paying as much attention as I should I ended up on a trail with yellow reflective blazes (on the way to the tower there were yellow and white blazes together). Let me stop and explain a minute, the AT is marked, both north and south bound, with rectangular white paint called “blazes” about 2″ wide and 5″ long usually painted on trees. So anyway…

About 3 miles into the trial I started to think that something was wrong and I was off the trail and was thinking about turning around and heading back to the tower. I went a little further and came to the shelter I knew I was supposed to pass so figured I was on the right track…WRONG!

One simple rule, follow the White Blazes! Anyway, I walked until almost dark (about 17 miles) and then called the Nantahala Outdoor Center to try and get a fix on where I was. Turns out I was on a trail called Bartram and was far enough in that it made sense to finish it and ended up back in Franklin. I did see a nice waterfall and some wild turkeys…I had a turkey feather stuck in my hat for awhile but I guess it fell out.

So after hiking an extra 8 miles then if I was on course to the NOC, I hitched into Franklin and then got a cab to NOC. Not sure how I feel about it, basically I missed about 10 miles of the actual trail. I figure if I manage to finish this all the way to Maine I can always come back and slack pack it to stay a purist of the White Blazes.

Had a nice lunch and dinner then sat chilling by the river writing my journal. I tried to take a little nap before dinner but too much noise in and around the bunkhouse not to mention the smell of the guy airing out his socks on the bunk above mine! Dude, it’s a nice breezy day take them outside!! The vertigo is still getting better only really seems to bother me when I’m laying down.

I did meet up with Brad again and will stay the night here then head out in the morning, I should be at Fontana Dam and ready to start the smokies in 3 days.

Following pics: view from Wayah Bald fire tower, shot of tower, tent set up on Bartram Trail after 18 mile day, shots of nantahala outdoor center, friends, blogging in clogs by the river:

20130315-192958.jpg

20130315-193016.jpg

20130315-193033.jpg

20130315-193101.jpg

20130315-193124.jpg

20130315-193142.jpg

20130315-193210.jpg

Cabin Fever in Franklin, NC

1 Comment

3/12 – Day 16
One zero day is ok, but two is not as fun. You get complacent and its harder to hit the trail…your pack is exploded all over the room, pizza boxes with pieces of crust stacked precariously on top of the 19″ color tv (at least it’s color). There is really nothing to do in town unless you like to drink so your day is pretty much reduced to watching movies in your room. My vertigo is better but still not 100% but I’m headed to Nantahala Outdoor Center tomorrow, my next stop for restocking…should take me 2.5 days to get there. From there it’s 3 days to Fontana Dam my last restock before the smokies.

On another note, I ran into the girl I saw on the approach trail carrying the Gnome on her pack and got to sign it (her name is Sugar Gnome). Got a call from Foodwalker up on the trail, they were checking up on me to see how I was feeling. Heart Rock came walking up while I was outside and met Wetdog who was dehydrated on the approach trail and rescued by Foodwalker and Tracey McG.

Time to get back on the trail

20130313-082800.jpg

Adios Georgia!

4 Comments

Quick Blog: caught up with some old friends, met some new ones. Crossed into North Carolina, climb my highest peak, crossed the 100 mile mark, had my longest hike. Got sick and hanging out in Franklin, NC. On a personal note…I am burning calories out here but I look chubby cheeked in my “self portraits” please note that I am using a fisheye wide angle lens! 🙂

3/7 – Day 11
Nice and sunny out today, good day to be back on the trail! Hiked the day with Brad and was trying to get my mountain legs back, being laid up in town for 2 days didn’t help. Planned a short day for today and made it to Plum Orchard Shelter around 2:30 and who do I find…Heart Rock, his dad and Tory (I had not seen her for about 5 days), her trail name is Heartburn. I also learned that Foodwalker and Tracey McG or up ahead at the next shelter! They are such an inspiration!

“Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God…” Leviticus 19:32

Planning a 12.5 day tomorrow with a lot of climbing. The summits continue to get higher hitting 4500 feet tomorrow. I know that relative to the Rockies that is nothing but I’m climbing up and down about 3 or 4 of these a day. Note, that when I say “down” I don’t mean to 0…usually it is to a gap somewhere around 1500 to 2000 feet down from the summit.

I will also cross into North Carolina tomorrow…

3/8 – Day 12
Made my 12.5 today as planned and got into Standing Indian around 4:00 after a quick lunch break at Muskrat Creek shelter. I ran into Foodwalker and Tracey McG at lunch and they are plugging along! Along the trail I crossed into North Carolina and I finished the hike with City Slicka who hiked the trail SOBO and the yo-yo’d and is heading back to Maine. A girl named Jugs (not what you think) came in and set up a tent…she is young and did the PCT last year. Brad made it in and another dude named Jack.

The 4 miles from Muskrat to Standing Indian was really rough, there were rocks that ranged from the size of a fist to the size of a cooler, they were everywhere. It made hiking difficult and was rough on the feet! The weather was sunny and stayed around 45 degrees. We also saw what we are pretty sure were bear tracks (according to City Slicka).

3/9 – Day 13
Three things happened today: Longest day, 16.2 miles, most difficult and highest climb and 100 miles on the trail. I got a good start out of Standing Indian and had a decent climb, North Carolina believes in switchbacks so instead of going straight up and down a mountain you zig-zag up and down. The weather was great with temperatures in the high 50’s and sunny.

I was making pretty good time and hit Mt. Albert, which was pretty much straight up climbing 500 feet in less then 1/10 of a mile! There were places where I had to climb with my hands. I had already hiked 12 miles and was exhausted, it was a tough climb but God saw me through!

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40:29 – 31

The view from the top (5250 feet) was well worth it. I had 4 miles left to go and God lighten my steps and I made really good time despite how worn out the climb had made me!

I met 3 guys hiking together: Cien, Footloose and Double Tap. They are fairly young and moving well. Made it to a brand new shelter called Long Branch, which is funny since there pretty much no branches to bear bag from and no bear cables!

There is an older guy here named Sunny, he is wayyy overpacked, carry about 50 pounds and going very slow…he actually got on the trail in December but had to drop off because it was too harsh.

Tomorrow I head into Franklin North Carolina to restock, do laundry and get a shower!

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

3/10 – Day 14
Woke up in the middle of the night feeling very dizzy and hot. I managed to get some more sleep then got up and hiked 4 miles to Rock Gap to catch a ride into Franklin NC. Now I’m just chillin’ at the Budget Inn watching my room spin every time I move! I got a text message from Agent D, he spent 2 days in Franklin drying out after getting stuck in the snow storm (that I sat out in Hiawassee).

3/11 – Day 15
Still at the Budget Inn, vertigo is better but not 100%. Went into town with the shuttle and got some meds (saw Foodwalker on the shuttle). My older brother did some research and also talked to my older sister and figured out it was probably a sinus issue putting pressure on my inner ear. Got some decongestant and anti vertigo meds and will take tomorrow off to make sure I’m not dizzy on the trail! So just hanging out with my buddy Brad again in another motel!

20130311-192228.jpg

20130311-192240.jpg

20130311-192316.jpg

20130311-192348.jpg

20130311-192408.jpg

20130311-192435.jpg

Last Week in Georgia

11 Comments

Quick Blog: have my longest hike 15.5 miles, see more snow, catch up with friends, meet new friends and stayed at the blueberry patch hostel. Hang in town taking a zero day, get stuck in town by a snow storm. Read on for details!

2/28 – Day 5
Hanging at the hostel has been fun, Pirate, a thru hiker that manages the hostel, cooked chili for dinner…he doesn’t charge for dinner but takes donations, if he gets enough then we get breakfast too!

Agent D decided to stay so we will get to see more of him on the trail. Samson, Foodwalker, Tracey McGee, Heart Rock and Buzzsaw all made it in but Tracey is running a fever so they may take a zero day.

I have moderated my plan for the next few days to break a planned 15.5 mile hike into 2 days…I think my plan is pretty much out the window from this point on which is fine, I really don’t want to be on a “schedule” out here…the only place I need to be is in Maine in the next 6 months or so…God is great and life is good!

3/1 – Day 6
Got a decent start after a pancake breakfast and headed up out of Neels Gap, climbing a 1000 feet from the get go. It was a good hike but a cold day averaging about 30 degrees with light snow. I met a few other hikers on the trail, one was a thru hiker the other was a section hiker named Junebug.

I made my 11 miles in 6 hours to Low Gap Shelter, which was pretty good time with my knee still hurting on the down hills and flats. I got an ace bandage from Mountain Crossing and wrapped my knee today, I believe it helped a little…I will keep popping vitamin I (trail name for ibuprofen). I will probably pick up a brace when I get to a town with a Walmart ( that will be a big town for this area). Looks like we have some stragglers coming its 7:37 and completely dark. I’m here with Agent D, Lost Boy, Heart Rock and his dad…we are wondering if its Foodwalker and Tracey McGee. We are ready to help them out and cooked them some dinner!

It was…we got them up and in the shelter, boiled some water and got them fed! We are now a cozy 7 in the shelter but it feels like the family is all together…funny how you can bond with people in under a week!

3/2 – Day 7
It snowed most of the night and left about 3 to 4 inches on the ground, this made hiking a little difficult. But got a decent start and made it to Blue Mountain Shelter in 4 hours…I thought about pushing on but decided to stay. I hiked most of the day with Lost Boy and got passed in the end by Warbler (both are in their early 20’s).

Several of the thru hikers that had stayed at the last shelter decided to drop down to Unicoi Gap and go into town. I seriously considered this my self but want to rough it out to see what I can handle. I must admit I got a little anxious when several hours had gone by and my regular traveling crew had not shown up (Foodwalker, Tracey McGee, Heart Rock and his father). I was afraid they had skipped the shelter and head for town as well…I really didn’t want to be up here by myself!

Samson continues to walk until he is tired then he camps, he stopped by for a minute and Agent D went ahead another 6 miles to camp, a little anxious for him as he only uses a tarp which basically means he has a plastic canopy over his head then sleeps on the bare ground…it is supposed to snow again tonight and I worry about him.

Tomorrow I am going to push for my longest and toughest day, 15.5 miles, this will set me up for a short hike to the Blueberry Patch Hostel and get me off the mountain for a night as bad weather continues to roll in.

3/3 – Day 8
My hike from Blue Mountain was really good! The sun was out for most of the day and it was a pretty hike! My knee didn’t give me too much trouble and I made pretty good time, under 9 hours.

I made it down to Deep Gap Shelter and it was about 20 degrees outside, there were 2 college student section hikers trying to start a fire…I have already learned that this is futile so I cook my dinner and climb into my bag to endure another night in the teens.

3/4 – Day 9
Got an early start out of Deep Gap and headed the 4 miles to Dicks Creek Gap to get to the Blueberry Patch Hostel. I made the gap in just under 2 hours and got a ride the 3 miles to the Blueberry Patch Hostel and find Agent D still there! He had survived the bitter cold tarp camping but was very cold so ordered a new sleeping bag and was waiting for it to be delivered. Met up with a new hiker named Brad, no trail name yet, and is laid up with a bad hip. Gary Poteat, owner, gave us a ride into town and we walked to a pizza buffet and chowder down! When we got back to the hostel Samson was there napping in a bunk. I had met up with Samson the day before on the trail and told him about the Blueberry Patch. We all sat around, ate cheese, summer sausage and bread talking about our adventures.

The next morning the Poteats made a big breakfast of eggs, sausage, pancakes, biscuits and hash browns…we all ate our fill! Samson hit the trail, Agent D waited around for his new bag and Brad and I headed into town to take a zero day (day with no hiking). The rest of the day was spent laying around and running errands in town. Preparing to get back on the trail.

3/6 – Day 10
Well getting on the trail ended up being a no go as we woke up to a white out snow storm. So here I am stuck in Hiawassee Georgia at the Mulls Motel…wee! The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow so I will hit the trail again…Brad will be back out there as well and will stop in Franklin, NC to get his hip,checked…prayers for Brad if you please! I got a text from Agent D that he and Samson were holed up in a shelter freezing their butts off…I’m glad Agent got that new bag!

In reflection, I know that I am off “schedule” (not that I’m really keeping to a schedule)…but now is the time to take my time and try to let some of this winter get ahead of me!

20130306-143042.jpg

20130306-143121.jpg

20130306-143326.jpg

20130306-143428.jpg

20130306-143547.jpg

20130306-143644.jpg

%d bloggers like this: