Blood Mountain

Saturday April 28, 2018

Today I hiked 10.6 miles northbound from Woody Gap up and over Blood Mountain to Neel Gap.

I hiked with GRAM CRACKER and SO-NO today. I met GRAM CRACKER on Wednesday at a road crossing when I was out on my overnighter. I stopped and talked to her for a while. She thru hiked in 2010. Then I saw her again at Mountain Crossings Outfitters on Thursday while I was shopping. This morning we just happened to be at the same trailhead, at the same time, heading in the same direction. So we headed out together with SO-NO and hiked all the way to Blood Mountain together. As we were hiking she told me she planned to hike the Colorado Trail starting July 1 this year. SOULFLOWER was going to hike the first half of the trail starting on June 24 and I was considering hiking with her provided I could get the time off of work. So GRAM CRACKER and I exchanged numbers so we could keep in touch.

It was another beautiful day on the trail and I was blessed to be out here. Once I got to Blood Mountain the trail was really crowded. Since Blood Mountain is only 2.4 miles from a trail head it is a popular destination for day hikers. It was good to see so many people out enjoying the trail and beautiful views.

At the top of Blood Mountain I said goodbye to GRAM CRACKER and SO-NO and headed down with SHARKY. He is yo-yoing (doing the trail one direction then turning around and doing it again). If he complets it it will be his 4th and 5th thru hike of the AT. He had some very interesting stories to tell. Hiking just gets into your blood and you just keep coming back to the trail.

Unfortunately this is it for me on this trip. I will be heading home tomorrow. I did managed to hike over 60 miles. I just wished the weather had been better because I sat out a few days to avoid the rain. Of course I could have hiked in the rain, but it is no fun. Plus it was pretty chilly up here. Most mornings I was starting out in the 40’s.

I’m Sunburned

Friday April 27, 2018

Mom dropped me off at Dicks Creek Gap and I hiked southbound to Unicoi Gap. A 17 mile day. It was a cool start, but the sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. Mom and Berkley followed me up the trail a short distance before turning around. They turned around to soon and didn’t get to see this cute little bench in front of a small waterfall.

After about an hour of hiking I was starting to get warm and started to peel off some layers. Shortly after I walked into this…

I started to get really cold and had to put on more layers on than I had started with. It was COLD, WINDY and the wind was blowing water off the trees.

I started to meet some of the hikers that stayed out the night before in all that rain. Most said that they stayed dry. Especially the ones in the shelter.

As quickly as I walked into that foggy mess I walked right out of it about an hour later and started to take layers off again.

Today’s terrain was pretty challenging. I had three mountains to climb all over 4000 feet. The first one Kelly Knob at just over 4100 feet went by quickly without much difficulty. The second mountain, Tray Mountain over 4400 feet was more challenging, but still completed without to much difficulty.

View from the top of Tray mountain.

The third mountain Rocky Mountain at just over 4000 feet was a bit more challenging for me. Which could be because I did it at the very end of my day.

View from Rocky Mountain.

It was a very good day for me. I met many nice people along the trail. Some of them I had seen in days prior since today I was hiking southbound. The sun was out for most of the day. I ended up finishing in just my skirt and short sleeve T shirt. I later noticed I was sunburned. Tomorrow I will be hiking northbound with the sun on my other side.

Overnighter

Wednesday April 25, 2018

Mom dropped me off at Neel Gap this morning at 7:45am. It was overcast, cold and windy. But no rain! Mom and Berkley started up the trail with me for a short while, before turning back. Berkley seemed to be really enjoying the trail this morning. He was exploring everything.

After they turned around and I hiked on it was pretty lonely. I was wishing I had someone to share this adventure with. I soon began to pass a lot of hikers. I took time and spoke to most of them and my loneliness was soon gone and I was enjoying my day. I met quite a few hikers from Florida. Most of the hikers I met were just section hikers and a few day hikers. There were only a few out of the 25+ people I ran into that were starting their thru hikes.

I’ve seen all kinds of things out here. Most are memorials for people, but some times it is just cute little things out in the middle of nowhere.

I couldn’t believe all the people that I caught up to and passed. I guess time on the trail really makes you a much better hiker. I hiked 18.3 miles for the day. I was pretty shocked when I added up the miles. I feel like I could have slackpacked the whole distance I had planned for two days in one. I had originally planned about 12 miles for the day since I hadn’t been backpacking in more than 6 months and thought I would be out of shape. I sure did surprise myself. There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow so I decided to go further today and have Mom pick me up earlier tomorrow. I’m hoping to avoid the rain.

I stopped at a stealth spot for the night and so far I am camping alone but I can hear a few guys in a campsite not far from me and smell their campfire.

Thursday April 26, 2018

I woke up early this morning…4am early. I had to pee! Which means I have to crawl out of my toasty warm sleeping bag and put on my jacket since it is in the low 40’s and put on my sneakers. I crawl out of my tent and it is light enough that I don’t need a flashlight. As I take care of business I look up and see the sky is clear and I can see some stars and the lights from a town far below. I finish, then proceed to go through the process in reverse ending up in my toasty bag again. As I am laying there I can hear the guys in the camp below me. I wonder if they got cold and are trying to get their camp fire going again. I don’t smell any smoke but the winds are calmer than they were last night. About 5:45am I hear “Dude, make sure you go the right way” meaning when you come out of camp make sure you head north if that is the direction you want to be heading in. Sometimes you can get turned around when you get off trail and may end up heading south instead of north. I couldn’t believe they were headed out so early. It was still dark out. But they may have had a destination they wanted to get to before the rain started today. Yesterday the rain was forecasted to start around 8am, but when I checked radar this morning it looked like it was going to hold off until 11am.

I stayed in my bag until it was light out about 6:15 then started to pack up. I left camp at 7. I made a stop for water and to eat breakfast (granola and carnation instant breakfast drink mix) and was on my way. Mom was picking me up at 8:30. I only had about 3 miles to hike to met her.

The morning was beautiful. The sun was shining and I warmed up quickly. Again I ran into more people and enjoyed talking to them.

I met Mom at the trail head and she let Berkley come great me on the trail. He seemed like he wanted to hike some so I took him back up the mountain I just came down.

We then headed back to the hotel and I got showered up. I wanted to go to one of my favorite outfitters…Mountain Crossings. Going to an outfitter is my kind of shopping. I love to gear shop!!!😃 Babydoll, you will be happy to know I spent less than $100. Now that is some restraint!

As we were heading to the outfitters the rain started. The beautiful morning turned into a cold and rainy day. I felt bad for the hikers on the trail. Hiking is a cold rain is no fun. I was glad not to be in it.

Uncle Johnny’s Hostel

Tuesday April 24, 2018

I spent yesterday in a warm cabin at Uncles Johnny’s staying warm and sharing laughs with Mom and REBOUND. The weather outside was nasty. The temperature was in the 50’s, with the rain and high winds. I was glad to be inside.

Uncle Johnny’s is a famous place on the AT. Unfortunately, Uncle Johnny passed away earlier this year, but his place is still as lively as ever. The first night we were there the partying lasted until 3am. Some of the wedding guests from SYD THE KID and FRY’S wedding were staying there and they were celebrating! This is the wedding that SOULFLOWER flew east for. She met them while on the AT on 2015.

Meet Steve. This little chihuahua has hiked from the beginning of the trail to here, about 300 miles of trail. He is a cute and friendly little guy.

I said goodbye to REBOUND this morning. Her husband came and picked her up to take her back to Arkansas for a week of rest and to wait out the cold weather.

Blessed

Sunday April 22, 2018

I finely got to met one of my biggest supporters from my thru hike today. Kara aka REBOUND and I met online several years ago as we were both preparing for big hikes and became friends. She is the one who kept me on the trail when I wanted to quit last year during my thru hike. Unfortunately today will be the only day I get to hike with her. She is going home for a week to wait out some cold weather. It has been a really tough season for her. She has had some really cold nights where she has been so cold she couldn’t even sleep. But I feel blessed that I was able to meet her. She seems so awesome and I feel blessed to have met her.

I will be sitting out the next two days and won’t be hiking. The weather looks really bad. Lots of rain moving in and since I don’t have to be out in it I’m choosing to wait it out. I know if I was on trail with SOULFLOWER we would definitely be looking for a dry place to wait it out. I can remember one time while we were on the trail together we did the mileage we had planned over two days in one day just to escape some rain. And ended up taking two zero days to stay dry. Hiking and tenting in the rain is no fun.

Today I hiked south from Erwin to meet REBOUND on the trail. We met up at No Business Ķnob Shelter, a spot I remember taking a snack break with HOOTIE last year. I then turned around with her and followed her back to town.

The views out of Erwin were amazing. The temperature was in the low 50’s when I started at 7:40. I had a 1600 foot climb out of town and I was soon warm. It was mostly cloudy for most of the day with the sun just peaking out occasionally. I ended up hiking almost 12.5 miles for the day.

Trail Friends

Saturday April 21, 2018

I met SOULFLOWER and SHORTCUT for breakfast this morning. The visit was way to short, but great to see them again. We all drove to Clingmans Dome (the highest spot of the AT) where we preceded to hike north to Newfound Gap. Both areas have amazing views of the Smokey Mountains.

SHORTCUT– thank you for breakfast. 😊

We started the hike about 10am with temperatures in the low 40’s. I will admit it was pretty chilly, but a short way into the hike I was taking my jacket off.

I ended up hiking with a thru hiker and a section hiker for most of the hike. The time went by fast with conservation about gear, other trails and generally anything related to hiking. It was a very good day to be outside.

Back on the AT

Friday April 20, 2018

A couple of days ago I decided that if I left at 1am this morning I could be at Max Patch trailhead around 11am to get a hike in today before meeting my girlfriends tomorrow. So of we go at 1am.

I have Mom and Berkley with me. That is Mom in the above picture, way on down the trail. The day was beautiful. It was in the 50’s and very sunny, with a steady wind. This is Mom’s kind of weather and she loved it.

It felt great to be back on the trail. I met Ktom, Steve, Grasshopper and Treeker all thru hikers. There were also a few section hikers and many day hikers out enjoying the trail.

My plans for this upcoming week are up in the air. The weather looks HORRIBLE starting Sunday night. Since I don’t have to hike in the rain I just may choose not to.

Stay tuned…

OH YEAH BABY…

I’M GOING HIKING!!!

Sunday April 15, 2018

I’m taking an impromptu trip to meet up with the two women that I summited Katahdin with last year.

SOULFLOWER is heading east from Colorado for a wedding in Tennessee. SHORTCUT and I are driving up from Florida to see her. These two women that I meet on the trail have become great friends.

After a short visit with them I will then head up to Erwin, Tennessee to join REBOUND, who is thru hiking the AT. She attempted to thru hike two years ago and almost made it all the way before her body gave out on her. She had less then 300 miles to go. She was a huge supporter for me during my hike. So I hope to return the favor. She is a very strong woman and I can’t believe she is starting again from the very beginning.