Thursday October 5, 2017
Winding Stair Gap to Deep Gap 24.4 miles slackpacking
Total mileage 2094.8
I officially have less than 100 miles to go! Woo-hoo!
We are jumping around on the trail and doing longer mile sections because of an approaching storm and the potential for a lot of rain. Jim is coming up on Saturday to slackpack us the rest of the way to Springer Mountain in GA. We will do the shorter miles sections on the rainy days with his help.
Today was a challenge for me with the big miles. We didn’t get on the trail until 9am and had a 5:30pm pickup time. I would have to average 3 mph all day to make it. I didn’t make it! I was 20 minutes late, but our shuttle driver was even later. So it all worked out.
There were so many sections of trail that have been burned in the recent fires last fall.
Today I am thankful for my SAFTEY on the trail. With the fast pace I was trying to maintain I am more likely to have a fall and I didn’t have any.
Wednesday October 4, 2017
Wayah Bald, NC 17.6 miles
Total mileage 2070.4
Hopefully today will be my last day carrying a full pack. I hope to slack the rest of the way to Springer Mountain in GA.
Today was another beautiful day. The trail involved a big climb out of the NOC, but we did that early in the morning while the weather was cooler.
The trail has been pretty. I would walk through areas where the trail was covered with red leaves and other areas of yellow or brown leaves. Some areas of rock which is my least favorite. There were also some glittery areas today as well as some areas of charred woods from fires last year caused by an arsonist.
I made it to my Mom’s favorite place on the trail, Wayah Bald. She and Dad would regularly visit this area in the fall. The stone fire tower no longer has a roof. It burned in the fires last year.
We stop for lunch at a Rocky Bald. It was a little off trail, but a hiker we ran into along the trail this morning said it was worth the side trail.
Today I am thankful to be so close to the end. I am ready to give my feet a break. I just hope that I haven’t done any damage to them that won’t heal with time.
Tuesday October 3, 2017
Nantahala Outdoor Center, NC 13.5 miles
Total mileage 2052.8
I ate at a local diner for dinner last night. The food was OK by hiker standards. It fills the belly with the much needed calories. I started the morning off with a breakfast sandwich from a different diner. It was really good and held me for pretty long.
Most of the trail I am finishing up with I have already done before. Some if it I remember some of it I don’t. I am also doing it southbound where last time I did it northbound so it does look different.
The weather has been unbelievable for hiking. The days are gorgeous and the trail has been beautiful. I maybe singing a different tune tomorrow. I have a huge climb out of the NOC in the morning as well as some other bigger climbs later in the day. Hopefully it will go better than I think it will.
Jim and I stayed here a couple of years ago. We were the only 2 in a bunkroom for four. This time HOOTIE and I are in a bunkroom for 2 and it is tiny. I took the top bunk (which I never do) because HOOTIE paid for the room and I made him ride in the back of the truck on our last shuttle from Fontana on a freezing cold morning. So I figured he deserved the better end of this deal.
Today I am thankful for cell phone service. I got to talk to Jim today. A lot of the areas I have been in are pretty remote and even though I am in a town sometimes I still don’t have service.
Monday October 2, 2017
Stecoah Gap, NC 14 miles
Total mileage 2039.3
Wow, did I sleep good last night on a queen size bed with 4 fluffy pillows! This was my view before going to bed last night.
I had a good day. I like the shorter miles. It’s much easier on the body. I kept my thoughts positive trying not to think about my feet.
The weather was amazing for hiking. It was cool and sunny. The last three days have been like this. Hopefully it will continue.
There weren’t to many exciting parts of the trail. There was an awesome view of Fontana lake but that was it. There were more up and downs than I thought there would be and a steep downhill down Jacob’s ladder. My knees have started to bother me some like they did up north with the steeper terrian. I am down to 150.4 miles to go the end is in sight.
I am staying at Stecoah Wolf Creek Hostel run by Lonnie. All the rooms are private and I have a full size bed. This is a treat.
Today I am thankful for the beauty of the day.
Sunday October 1, 2017
Fontana Lodge 12.7 miles
Total mileage 2025.8
I had an horrible night last night. There were a bunch of weekenders at the shelter and they made TWO campfires not one. One was actually in the shelter in the fireplace and I think the chimney was partially blocked. I was getting smoked out. My eyes were burning and I couldn’t breath. I was up past 11pm. I wanted to scream! Now everything I have stinks like a campfire.
I do have to admit that the day was beautiful once it warmed up, but it was a real frigid morning. I would guess in the 40’s again and windy, which made it feel like freezing weather. But I really didn’t enjoy it much. My feet bother me the longer I am on them. The days use to go by fast but now they just seem to drag. It takes forever just for lunch time to roll around.
Then when we reach Fontana Marina to call for a shuttle for a shuttle the hotel the phone doesn’t work and there is no service here. That’s why there is a phone here for hikers to use. I use my GPS to ask Jim to call and he tells me that the hotel said shuttle service only runs during the summer when I specifically asked the hotel if they would be able to pick me up. Jim tells me the the maintance man should be back from lunch in 15 minutes and they will see if he can come pick us up. In the mean time an AT shuttle driver drives by to pick up some other hikers and I ask if he can take us where we need to go and luckily he can.
Then when we get to the hotel our room isn’t ready and we have to wait two hours. I was so upset I was ready to explode. I just wanted to get rid of this campfire smell and get off my feet. Plus it would have been great to get a nap in since I was up so late last night.
Once I get to the laundry mat there are only two washers working and I have to wait 30 to use one. And I watch the women before me take her clothes out of the washer soaking wet and soapy. She rings the clothes out and wishes me good luck with the washer.
I thought this life would be so simple, but truly no life is simple. There are good days and bad days. I just haven’t learned how to not let the bad days bother me so much.
I think I have posted enough about how hard this has become and how much pain I am in. I will be commiting to finding joy in each day from now on.
I will be thankful for positive thinking.
Saturday September 30, 2017
Mollies Ridge Shelter 17.7 miles
Total mileage 2012.8
Last night before heading to bed I hung up my bear bag and on my way back to the shelter I just happen to look down the trail to the water I see 3 cubs and 1 mamma bear. That makes 15 bears total that I have been lucky enough to see this trip. That has definitely been a highlight.
It got pretty chilly last night. It may have dropped down into the 40’s. I slept warm in my sleeping bag and thermals. Just my face would get a little cold. And just my luck I had to get up and go to the bathroom at 3am. Burrr! Today was a perfect hiking day. The weather was really cool and the sun was out early this morning. My feet did well until the end of the day then they really started to bother me.
Today I am thankful for toilets. You really miss them when they’re not around. The shelters in Tennessee do not have privys.
Friday September 29, 2017
Siler’s Bald Shelter 12.1
Total mileage 1995.1
I had to say goodbye to Jim again. I hate having to do that. I wish I could just take him with me. But I know he would be miserable. I am pretty humbled by all his love and support of me during my adventure. I feel very fortunate to have him in my life. Thank you again, Babydoll.
I’m really kinda bored with hiking. It’s too much like work now-very hard work, where you are always breathing hard through your mouth. I feel like I spend most of the day breathing like that.
And after having a taste of Jim’s cooking again I’m sick of trail food. Although I have been doing much better with eating lately. He made me a couple of smoothies while he was here and man they were fantastic.
I’m also sick of typing out my days activities and thoughts on a cell phone. I’m ready to be done with this trail. I am counting down the miles and days. I now have less than 200 miles to go and 12 days of hiking until summiting Springer Mountain. I hope my feet last that long.
I ate lunch in a light rain today at Clingman’s Dome. It was cold and wet. The temperature was in the 50’s and the view was a total white out.
I didn’t really feel like taking pictures today. It has become a hassle to take my hands out of the straps on my trekking poles, get my phone out of its pocket, turn it on, engage the camera and snap a shot.
Today I am greatful that I can voice all my complaints on here but truly I am very lucky to be here and have all the support that I have had.
Wednesday September 27, 2017
Standing Bear Farm 18.4 miles
Total mileage 1983
I slept well last night and my feet didn’t bother me to much yesterday but today was a different story. We were walking over a lot of roots and rocks that were really taking a toll on me. I was ready to be done before the end of the day. As we were heading back to Standing Bear Farm and dropping in elevation it got really hot. That just makes you that much more uncomfortable.
Jim was waiting for me today! That’s the best trail magic. My husband coming to see me. He had a nice cold water ready for me. Then took me to a cabin with a hot tub.
This place was pretty amazing! I was definitely needing a break and my feet… OH my poor aching feet needed some TLC.
Jim brought plenty of food for us. We had salad and South Western Chicken Lasagna for dinner that Jim made and brought up. It was fantastic! Thanks, Babydoll!
I get into the hot tub before going to bed then also the following morning. As I am smiling and relaxing in the hot tub Jim brings me breakfast and I feel so spoiled!😊 A girl can get use to this.
Today I am thankful for all the goodness in my life.
Tuesday September 26, 2017
Tri Corner Knob Shelter 15.1
Total mileage 1963.8
I entered the Smoky Mountains today. I took a shuttle from Standing Bear Farm to Newfound Gap, which is in the middle of the Smokies and I will hike north back to Standing Bear Farm. This way I don’t have to climb up the 3000-4000 feet up from Davenport Gap. I will hike down it.
Then Jim will pick me up a Standing Bear Farm tomorrow and we will go to a cabin that he rented near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I will take a much needed zero there with him. I am so excited about it!😊
After my zero Jim will drop me back off at Newfound Gap and I will continue my hike south. Hopefully with feet that feel much better.
I slept great last night. I even slept through a mouse eating my dinner for tonight. He had to eat a big hole in my pack to get to it. I had an extra breakfast meal so that will be my dinner for tonight. And… He also got into chocolate supply! 😯
I had forgotten how beautiful the views from the Smokies were. There are so many mountains in the views. It is so much cooler up here to. Our high today was in the upper 60’s. We passed by Charlie’s Bunion early this morning with its amazing views and narrow ledges.
We see a deer at Icewater Spring Shelter early this morning. It kept an eye on us but continued to eat.
Just about the whole trail today was covered in roots or rocks. My feet started to bother me at the end of the day, but they still felt better than yesterday. Maybe the shorter day yesterday and the time off them helped. I spent a good amount of time massaging them yesterday and did the same thing today at the shelter.
There are 4 other guys here that spend a week section hiking each year. They started at springer and have made it this far.
Today I’m grateful for the cooler temperatures and the beauty of the trail.
Monday September 25, 2017
Standing Bear Farm 12.6 miles
Total mileage 1948.7
I slept much better last night. We get our shuttle at 7 am and hit the trail at 7:45.
Today was a hard day for me even with the low mileage. My feet are just sore.
There really was no excitement today except for Standing Bear Farm. It is a pretty interesting place. Many talk bad about it. It’s just pretty rustic in the back woods of Tennessee. It has everything a hiker needs. Laundry, you just have to use a wash board to clean your clothes.
It has a kitchen, bath house although the toilet is non flushing, and a bunkhouse. It also has a tree house.
HOOTIE and I are staying in a cabin which is a step up from the bunkhouse.
We were shown around the property by John who had on interesting attire. John was doing some work for stay on the property and had on a leather tool belt as well as a couple of knives strapped to his belt and knee high leather boots.
Today I’m thankful for HOOTIE leading along the trail and getting most of the cobwebs. I lead for a short while and the cobwebs drove me nuts. I also had a bug buzzing my left ear that drove me nuts.