Hope all is well everyone. Been a good past few days with some good ups and downs and some great views. Cheoah Bald after the Nantahala Outdoor Center was just amazing. Service isn’t good so I can’t post a pic.
We made to Fontana Dam today just before the approach to the Smokies and resupplied at the resort here. Pretty nice place for a few days vacation in the woods. We’re considering on staying here but i think the consensus is to move quickly. These days I’m traveling with Mis-Match and Johnny B Good. We have a plan to get through the Smokies in 5 days or so. My pack has never been heavier but I think we have a good plan and provisions to go with. I was smart and got some electrolyte mixes to go with. The Smokies are one of the hardest parts of the AT. I believe rated an 8. And in comparison Georgia is rated a 4.
Afterwards we are taking a few days off with some of my family in Tennessee so that big push will be worth it. Looking forward to a climate controlled room and maybe some home cooking!
In TN I’ll have to get some new boots. My feet are becoming cut up from the ones I have. We’ll see how things are after the Smokies. I’ve been bandaging my feet for now but there’s now way I’m going into the Smokies trying to wear in new shoes. Wish me luck.
So let’s chat about the physical game here when on trail. While thru-hiking the AT, a hiker burns about 6000 calories a day. So far I would guess I lost about 10 pounds. We sweat all day in the same clothes and eventually we smell. In honesty, it’s something we just get used to and eventually embrace. As we say on trail ‘Embrace the Stank’. But what we put out is really related to what we put in. By that I mean water, food, and rest. At first, for at least the first few days, our diet is kind of the same when at home- three square meals. After a few days that appetite increases. Now I have to eat every two hours or so to keep my energy levels up. Most importantly, I have to drink more and more water. I made the mistake yesterday into today of not drinking enough water and my lesson is learned. I became a bit dehydrated today and I easily felt the affects out of the gate. I was sluggish, foggy minded, and couldn’t focus. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of focus to hike the trail. There’s kind of a strategy, if you will, to foot placement, how to use trekking poles correctly, and going up and down hills. There are rocks, roots and sticks in the way that can easily trip us up causing us to lose stride and after a long day of hiking, the affects are felt more from aching feet and sore legs.
At first, I thought I didn’t get a good sleep(which i didn’t) but then realized I barely drank water today. Maybe a few sips. I try to make it a habit in the morning to drink a good amount of water to get the body going but that didn’t happen today. The body needs that water to help itself keep running and make repairs. The body becomes a machine and water and food are everything.
About 3 miles from my destination I came across a spring. I filled my container to start filtering and about 10 minutes later realized I drank about 2 bottles worth. It changed the rest of the hike. I was able to push better on the hills and stay on a good stride without getting tired too fast. Tomorrow morning I’ll be back on it with the water intake.
For food, we eat high calorie foods. As some eat them often, personally I try to stay away from candy bars. Though they are high in calories but those sugars aren’t going to help me get stronger. I try to go for granola, trail mixes and jerky. Those proteins will help me get that last push up a hill and further. For dinner its prepackaged rice, pasta, and ramen dishes which settle easy in the tummy and are filling. It’s important to realize that if you exercise, diet right, and sleep well, your body can do amaZing things.
Yesterday morning when waking I made a bunk reservation for the Top of Georgia Hostel and Hiking Center(this place is awesome). When picked up, I learned about the their slack packing option. Slack packing is when a trusted source(in this case the hostel) will hold on to your main pack and offer a smaller, light weight to get a section done. At the end, the pack will be there. In this case, the end was the hostel right by Dick’s Creek Gap. Yesterday I was picked up at Unicoi Gap and brought to the hostel. Thus said, I didn’t do the section between Unicoi and Dick’s gap. So today I slack packed it. It was 17 miles from Unicoi to Dicks and it was not entirely easy. Even with a much lighter pack with essentials, it was rough. A great thing though was that I was able to see the ‘herd’ of folks I was hiking with a few days ago. Blew by them, felt kind of bad but I was able to do bust out 2 or 3 days into one. A hard one. The trail seemed endless, my feet are torn up but I feel good overall. 17 miles is a personal best for me so it’s a confidence booster. Unfortunately I forgot my gps so my miles didn’t get track but let’s go by the honor system here.
Over the past few days us Hiker Trash(it’s what we call ourselves) have been blessed with Trail Angels. Who are those? Some of the best people I’ve ever met. Trail Angels usually camp up at gaps(road crossings) and supply hikers with snacks, drinks, and maybe some extra supplies. It’s the best thing to have a hot dog or sandwich in the middle of a hike. It’s such a spirit booster and helps our morale. These Trail Angels don’t get paid to do this. They do it out of goodness out of their own heart and beliefs. It’s their beliefs that they are doing a great duty to God by helping others. It’s a wonderful surprise when it happens and us hikers are crazy grateful for it.
Last night I didn’t get good sleep due to a snorer but surely tonight I will. Some ibuprofen will help. A day off is in my future soon
Hi. Well first post here but just quickly wanted to let he world know that I’m ok! The first few days were rough as my body and gear are still conditioning but things are getting better. First thing I’ve learned so far- pack weight is everything. It gets crazy. People go as far as to cutting their toothbrush in half to save weight but as its said – every ounce counts. I’ve sent some stuff home already myself and purchased some lighter gear. Secondly, it’s wonderful out here. Take the time, let the body get used to it, and enjoy the fun. There will be hard days no matter what. Another, Hike Your Own Hike. No matter what you wear, what gear you have or look like, everyone’s got their own story, are awesome but most of all there is no judgement. We’re all here on trail and on earth to accomplish our own goals. For us it’s just to complete the day and get closer to end. One step at a time
I miss home, friends and everything around it but as tough as a decision it was to do this, I’m glad I have the chance to do so. You don’t know what’s going to happen of you don’t even try. Whether I do the whole trail or not for some reason, it’s been a wonderful experience.
I’m taking a day off(zero day) in a few days to rest so I will post more then. Until then- trail on!
Thanks for your support all. The comments really help.
Welcome to Angel’s site.
I’m excited to announce that Angel’s hike is now available via a semi-live map. This is a work in progress, and over the next few days I’ll be improving the speed in which data updates to the map. Right now it’s done manually, I’m working on real-time GPS syncing.
You can view the map here: http://at.angelsantana.com/
If you have any suggestions or just want to leave Angel some love, this site has a comments section and I’m sure he would love to hear from you.