Only 500-ish more miles to go.

Why hello!

As we both know, I’m terrible at a few things. One, arguably is my driving(depends on who you talk to. I mean hey, this is NJ) and the another is keeping this blog updated. The second one is very apparent. What’s pathetic is that I like writing- I truly enjoy it. It’s a nice creative outlet and its sad too because I enjoy talking trail. I enjoy talking about gear, sharing stories, and even helping aspiring backpackers. But I think this time it’ll change. There’s more to come. I get myself involved into several things so that sometimes there’s just time for that. But as I have recently learned by the passing of a good friend, life is short. Don’t take your time here for granted. Whatever it is you do in life, just live your legacy and be a good person. So here, I write.

So back to trail(sorry for the rant). As you can probably tell from the header, I’m no longer on trail. 🙁 But that’s ok. I had to get off trail a week before Thanksgiving(this is how crappy i am at this blog). Two weeks before the holiday, I was in Dalton, MA considering on getting off trail.  The trail goes directly through this town so I stopped in a pub to get my thoughts in order. About my second drink in, I found I was sitting next to a former thru-hiker. Her name was Purple and she hiked in 2000. I told her my trouble – it was getting cold, I have about 160 miles to get home(two weeks approx), and I’m not sure what to do. By cold, I mean it was forecasted to get into the lower 20’s and teens. Purple pumped me up, suggested I take a zero, resupply, and just get on with it. Well so I did.

To be honest, a whole mess of stuff happened in Dalton and Pittsfield(resupply town). I got into an disagreement with the hotel but the next day I received a nice hug. It was an elderly woman at Wendy’s which said to friend as they were hugging, “I don’t get these anymore since my husband passed.” My heart melted so I dropped the tray down holding my spicy chicken sandwich combo and offered a hug. She happily accepted and I then had my sandwich. See, I totally won.

It was after this hug I was able to get a ride from Pittsfield to Dalton where my ride ended up being a really nice person and the other person in the original aforementioned hug. They had one helluva story. I felt like I was lucky to be there with them. He dropped me off, we exchanged info and I kept on hiking. I then had 11-12 days to get to my goal point of the Bear Mountain Inn in NY, which is before Bear Mountain going SoBo. I’ve done Bear Mountain three times so I think I could have gotten away with it.

I’m not crazy about backpacking the cold. I can’t operate as efficiently in that kind of weather. Cold day-hikes, bring it. Cold backpacking, nope. Either way, I guess it’s still nice to be outside. The cold weather surely did creep in and fast. My first night from Dalton was actually kind of fun. I had a shelter to myself and made a blazing fire from blow-down trees. But holy cow the cold settled in. While backpacking, I use a Marmot Sawtooth 650-down filled. For specifics on the number, the amount of cubic inches one ounce of down occupies. With the labeling and knowing my bag, I can sleep in the 30’s comfortably with some layers. It’s the same bag I used on the first stretch. Anything below that, it starts to keep me awake at night tossing and turning to find the warmest most comfortable position. So to make the story short, it did get into the mid-low 20’s. I didn’t think those few degrees would make a difference but they really do. I hiked from Dalton to Great Barrington, MA over a few days and had to call it. I couldn’t handle sleeping in that kind of cold.  I was only 30 miles from Connecticut.

I got home to NJ a week before Thanksgiving. I was slightly disappointed in myself for not making it to Bear Mountain but if I’m not going to be in safe conditions while hiking, I’m not taking that risk of hypothermia or frostbite. Trail-No.

A few lessons learned here.

-Offer/Give/Receive more hugs

-Get a higher rated winter weather sleeping bag.

-At least I tried to hike it.

So to sum things up here for the miles

2016- NoBo – 1023.1 miles

Springer Mountain, GA(Southern Terminus) to Harper’s Ferry, WV. The ‘half-way point’ of the AT.

2017 – SoBo – 669.2

Mount Katahdin, ME(Northern Terminus) to Great Barrington, MA

What’s left

497.5 miles*

*Small parts of trail are moved, re-routed or reconstructed every year so this has a margin of a few miles.

Now this blog isn’t over. All I did was ramble on to you my last few days of trail. I didn’t even get to mention the people I’ve met, the perspective of going SoBo vs NoBo(I think there’s a clear winner), and about the trail itself. So over the next few weeks I’ll plan to post on every Thursday regarding the AT and section hiking. I’ll go into gear(of course), terrain, trail etiquette, and a number of other topics. And I can’t forget the pictures! Trail season is very close so at least I’ll be able to help those getting ready, right?

Here’s a tease regarding the pictures. Hiking with the Autumn was something else….

Happy Trails

Angel

 

The going is good

Hello! Well in one phrase, things are going great. Maine is over and I’m currently in New Hampshire. Southern Maine was intense and some of the hardest hiking I’ve ever done but the views were out of this world. In Maine, from the Bigelow Mountains going south, it was just constant large, hard rocky climbs for over 100 miles and in NH the climbs are similar but appear to be shorter and sharper. By that I also mean the climbs don’t seem so everlasting. Some northbounders suggested that the Whites, where I am now, would be easier then Maine. I’m starting to get a little convinced. The climbs do seem a tad easier and they’re also more enjoyable. NH has these ridges which we hike on and we can see where we’re hiking to since it’s open and above tree line. You can look left and right and see miles into the distance.

There’s a lot of look-down hiking because the terrain is rocky and in areas very very steep. On some mountain descents, I’m glad I’m going south and not north. I do have to say I enjoy the more technical climbs. I feel like they’re a bit more fun and there’s been a ton of hiking like that. Mahoosic Notch is considered ‘one of the most difficult or fun miles of the AT’. I guess it depends on what kind of Hiker one is. It’s basically one mile of going through a big boulder field in a small valley.  A bit of climbing up and hopping from one large rock to the other, climbing down and doing it again. Some areas don’t get touched by the sun and you can see your breath in those low lying sections while it’s 80 degrees elsewhere. It’s pretty cool- no pun intended.

 

So far the Whites have been pretty amazing. The Mt. Washington summit and sections going south have by far been my favorite hiking. I’ve met some folks I’ve been hiking with and we were very lucky in our summit day. We left Gorham, NH(first town outside of ME) with anticipating on Wednesday October 4th for a nice day summit on Mt. Washington. Luckily the weather held and we rocked it. I got a little lucky myself by receiving some trail magic by a woman that wanted to help someone in the hiking community, I was grateful it was me. In the Whites there are huts managed by the AMC(Appalachian Mountain Club). They are expensive to stay but hikers with their White Mountain Hiker Cards are able to grab a free drink and baked good while stopping by. Hikers can also do work-for-stay at these huts to get a good meal and sleep indoors(on the floor). It was raining for a few day stretch so this was a little enticing for me but requires staying up late to help the hut. I appreciate my sleep so i don’t believe I’ll be doing it.

Besides the few days of rain, the weather has been great. Going over Franconia Ridge was quite tough. There was a storm coming through and the winds on the ridge were gusting to over 90 mph. That’s not a typo. It was a constant battle with the wind at all times above tree line. My pack cover was taken by the wind three times. Luckily the first two I was grasping onto it and the third time it was caught by an Alpine tree. My pack straps kept whipping me in the face as well. I think that was the toughest weather I’ve ever had to face but in all honestly, dude, that was a ton of fun. Such a rush

Just as last year, the people and hikers have been fantastic. I can’t really say it in any other way. Going south and out of season, I didn’t expect to get so lucky. I’m a bubble of SoBo’s And everyone is stellar. There’s only about 10 of us and I do believe we’re the last of them but that’s what I think what makes it so special. I’ve passed hundreds of NoBos on trail and so far I haven’t met a bad soul. I question the timing on their mt Katahdin possible summit day these days but I give them credit for still pushing. Good for them.

 

Currently I’m in Lincoln, NH, right after Franconia Ridge going South. It’s a pretty nice town and busy. I took a day off to wait out a storm passing at a place called Chet’s. It’s really a gentleman’s home who helps the hikers but this gentleman has a story that I will forever look on and reflect on during my hike. This man likes his privacy so I will not tell his story. This one almost has to be earned.

 

My health is doing ok. I feel like I’m in good shape and have my legs back. Coming South has been a crash course for terrain but I’m loving every second of it. It took a while for my legs to come back but at least for now, they are much stronger. I’ve lost maybe about 15-20 pounds so far. Like I keep saying, the terrain in the this northern section is super tough so I think that’s what’s causing it. I’m appreciating town food much more these days to pack in some extra calories.

 

Some of my gear has been swapped such as my pack and shoes. My good friend Rob really helped out by shipping out a new pack for me in Rangely, ME. It’s a way more functional pack and two pounds lighter from my last. I’m grateful for his help on this trip. Thanks, Rob!! Yesterday my sister was just as helpful and purchased a new pair of shoes. The loops for the laces on my last pair ripped in three different places and a hiker friend fixed and showed me how to fix them. If it wasn’t for her my feet and legs wouldn’t have made it so safely to town. Thanks to my sister for her help!!

 

Coming up I have the rest of the Whites and then head into Vermont. There’s a small section of trail closed for wild fires so I’ll have to skip a little bit of trail but I have no control over it. In a few days and getting into Vermont the terrain calms down and there aren’t many huge climbs. From what I understand some rolling ups and downs, which I’m excited for to push in some extra miles per day. It’s been about 10-13 per day due to terrain. Again I don’t mind either way because the views are best I’ve ever seen. When I head out today I’ll be hiking up Mt  Moosilauke and after that the terrain becomes small sharp ups and downs. I’m going to miss the views but my body could use the terrain break. Next town day is likely going to be in 5-6 Days so hopefully I can squeeze in a post then

Happy Trails!

 

 

Hike on, folks

  1. Why hello! It’s been a while, eh? Well if you’ve heard that I was back in trail, it’s a true story. I’ve been back on trail for a few weeks now but service, WiFi,  timing are scarce. This may be a short post but it’ll get things going

Heres the details.

Im going South hiking to Harper’s Ferry, WV, where I had last left off. It took a while to finally get back on trail but after my car was hit from a hit and run, a job opportunity I did not get, and a few other things, I made a cut decision to do it. It was a good hit on my budget but if I’m frugal I can surely make it work. I have to avoid what happened last time

 

I summitted Mt. Katahdin on August 28 or so and currently in Caratunk, ME at the Sterling Inn Bed and Breakfast. A wonderful, charming place honestly. So far I’ve conquered Mt. Katahdin, the 100 mile wilderness, and a few other good climbs. I will say though, it’s a much tougher than the Southern start. It’s a bit of a crash course so hopefully my legs and stamina will come soon.

I’m hoping to be done with this trip before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately my gear isn’t what it used to be and it looks like I may have to brunt the costs for some new things so I can hold up. Southern Maine is tough and the White Mountains are no joke but afterwards it should be some smooth hiking all the way up until Pennsylvania, which hikers call the hardest and worst state because of the rocks. I can only hope I can get thorough these tougher parts sooner than later to avoid the severe weather in the higher elevations such as the Whites. The fall colors are already showing here in Maine but it’s a sign of whats to come. Winter.

It’s been great so far. I’ve met a ton of awesome hikers in each direction and it’s helpful to share info on the directions we’re coming from. Such as places to stay or check out to terrain conditions. Like I say, it’s the people that really make the hiking community what it is. I’m lucky enough to be able to do this  twice and I need to be sure to take it all in. Some people dream of doing this and I get to do it again. I’m lucky.

I have to get back on trail so I’ll leave it with that. It was nice to finally get this post in.

 

Happy Trails!

 

It may be over and it’s ok.

In trying to update this blog, I’ve realized it’s been so long since I’ve done so that I don’t know where to start. I started writing a post and then thought, where is this post going? What’s the deal? I had to save the other and will use it for my next post.

Perhaps I’m thinking about things too much however, it helps to clear the mind writing a little bit. The coffee is also helping.

As an update, I am doing ok and things are fine. I’m currently off the trail, home in NJ, figuring out some next steps. Right now, I’m considering myself still doing the trail but that could change. As for my progress, I have completed to Harper’s Ferry, WV which is considered the half way point. I reached there on July 15 and was able to get a ride home from my sister going through the area to NJ.

At the hiker's half way point in Harper's Ferry, WV
At the hiker’s half way point in Harper’s Ferry, WV

My plan was to go home from Harper’s, settle some equipment issues at home then head to Maine and hike South. This approach of completing the trail is called a flip-flop. When I got to Harper’s Ferry and checked in Appalachian Trail Conservancy(ATC), a woman by the name of Robyn(I believe) helped me check in. She asked me my basic info and about my direction(NOBO, SOBO, Flip-Flip, etc). When I said I was flip-flopping she instantly had a concerned expression on her face. While speaking with her, she strongly suggested that I don’t do it that way but instead leap-frog(jumping to another part of trail and continue to hike north. Then go back and finish what was skipped). By flip-flopping, I would come across north bounders I was hiking with. If I were to leap-frog, I could continue to hike in the same direction and hike with others within the bubble. Knowing I was going to be able to hike with others I’ve hiked with before, it called my name a bit more. I went with the leap-frogging.

I got home and starting getting myself ready to leave again. Getting to Harper’s Ferry was a huge and extremely hard win but I made it. Later on in my posts, you see how hard and long Virginia’s terrain was. I told myself I would be home for about 10 days to get things done and head back out. Thankfully, that plan worked out. I was able to get dropped off in Vernon, NJ by my dad and hiked on my way. The first few days were slow but it was way better than my last experience of getting back on trail after being off. I even ended up seeing a few hikers I had met or hiked with early on. It was nice to feel back in it again. I felt included. In all honesty, there was also a bit of disappointment in myself- I felt like I messed up with taking so much time off(so I thought) that leap-frogging was the bandaid to get me back on track. I didn’t think I was going to make it to Maine in good time to avoid the cold weather in October. However, i didn’t let it get to me too much. This approach is actually quite common and found myself also looking forward to it by having a different perspective from another hiker finishing the trail. It was good.

I found hiking NJ into NY was really a ton of fun. There were several rock scrambles to climb over, under and through so instead of me dwelling about how tired I was or feeling, the terrain kind of kept me entertained. However, it was VERY hot and humid so by no way think it easy. The things that come along with the heat are tons of bugs and dried water sources. About 1 in 4 sources were dried up. Thankfully the local trail groups left water jugs at the trail heads to help us out and I can’t tell you how much those water points helped.

 

NJ/NY border
NJ/NY border

About a week of hiking and getting into routine, I was looking at the budget- I found I was running out of money. I wasn’t out but I knew I couldn’t go on much longer. Money is the number one reason why people get off trail followed by injury or getting bored. I have to be honest with myself. I had a month left on my budget and that’s with no cushion for when I get off trail. So basically, it was hike for another month and get right to work OR get off trail, try to muster up some cash and hike on. I know at this point, I won’t be able to finish the whole trail northbound but if I’m able to get some extra money together, I’m going to finish from Harper’s to NJ and by the end I would have completed from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Bear Mountain, NY. Or I would have walked home- about 1400 miles. Another time in my life I’ll complete the rest or it’s an excuse to attempt to whole trail again.

So currently, I’m home. While I’m here I’m going to do some storage purge. My aim is to clean up a bunch of stuff in storage by selling, discarding, or donating. There’s a real meaning behind “Less IS More”. If I find in the next bit of time I can’t make it back on trail then I’ll move on to what’s next. Whatever that is. A lot of people are asking me and I have a small idea of what’s next. It’s a little stressful honestly. There’s uncertainty but as I learned on trail, go with the process with what is known and things will make themselves apparent. I see others with a “Go Fund Me” page but that’s not for me. I’m the one that decided to stop everything and hike the trail so I feel it’s not fair to ask others to help me fund it.

Up front, I’m generally ok with not being able to finish the trail at this time. I get down on myself often but I feel this is a strong part of the process. It is what it is and I’m not taking back anything from what I’ve done and how it got to this point. I won’t say this part of it is a good time because it’s really not. My head isn’t in the right place, I feel a little lost some times, and motivation comes in swings. These past few days have been getting better by doing things I enjoy like day hiking, cooking meals, and going through storage to displace some things. I get it, I went from being active over a long period of time to a way drastically different pace. From research, I read this stage was common. Hiker Depression is a real thing.It got to a point where I haven’t really told anyone I’ve been home besides most immediate family and a few close friends. Sad news is that I’ve been home for a few weeks now. Since I’ve accepted that this trip may be over, I think I’m more confident in my position. I’m looking forward to the next transition.

As I look back at my time hiking, what can I say? It really was wonderful. I’ve learned so much within myself and that around me. Several amazing things happened and those experiences are going to be shared here. I’ve grown an appreciation in people and in much in myself. After so long a bond or connection is made with the trail. It becomes your appreciated enemy. You have to be able to open up and accept what the trail has to offer, teach and show. Although I’m off trail, I can’t hate it. There’s so much to appreciate. I do really really miss it though. I’ve become attached to it and learned what it is to be hiker(also, hiker trash). It’s exciting to see many of those I met on their way to finishing. Perhaps my time will come again but I know the trail is going to be there- another reason it’s not fully over. Well it’s not over until we say it’s over, right?

You should know that this blog isn’t over too. Since my last post, some spectacular things happened that I’d like to share. So I’m going to share those experiences while I can. I noticed there isn’t many pictures attached to here so I will be sure to post them as I write.

At this point, I’ve been home for over two weeks and I know my window for hiking is closing. Even I don’t make it back on trail, it is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. My world has changed and I will think about the times on trail often. I would recommend any one interested to do it but the outdoors aren’t for everybody. I do hope to do it again or finish from where I left off, maybe both but in any case, it gives me an excuse to do some long distance backpacking. It’s a whole new love.

In the mean time, I will do some more day hiking, get back into bowling, clean up my stuff, and ponder the next steps. As for you, I hope you enjoy the reading but just wait for the pictures. I’m waiting for things to upload. Below is a few.

Happy Trails!
Angel

Left to right - Gemini, Flo, and I being picked up in Waynesboro.
Left to right – Gemini, Flo, and I being picked up in Waynesboro.
Virginia was finally over
Virginia was finally over
A couple of gents I met in Asheville, NC. One of my favorite cities visited.
A couple of gents I met in Asheville, NC. One of my favorite cities visited.

The adventure continues


Well it’s been a while since my last post but I apologize if this one becomes short.

 

Things have been going decent. I’m hiking the good hike slowly but getting there. I took a day off yesterday to dry out my gear, clean myself up and resupply and it’s all good. We’ve had a bunch of rain the last few days so it’s nice to dry my things out and get a good rest. I’m ready-ish to get back on trail.

As some may know I took some personal time off for a few days and when getting back on trail things weren’t the same. I didn’t have the same mentality but it appears things are on the up swing. The first few days were really rough and now two weeks back things seem to be getting better. I’m fighting some mental monsters these days but with some great conversations with friends and family, it sure does help and I’m feeling better.

 

Before I forget I want to thank all the classes for their letters. I loved all of the questions and reading all of them pumped me up quite a bit. I am sending a response to Mrs. Tuluca’s class via mail but there a set of about 15 on plain lined paper of which I don’t know whose class to respond to. Can someone help me find that out? I’d like to respond to those too as I am sending them directly to the school.

 

Over all though, things are ok. Like I said, getting better. There’s been some good hiking with not many views but from what I hear from other supporting hikers there’s some good stuff coming up. The best thing since my last post going through the Grayson Highlands in VA where there are wild ponies, cattle and cows. It was an excellent experience. The animals  are so friendly and content with hikers. The ponies especially were cool. We took a small side trail that seemed like it would be a great view but instead lead into a pasture. We saw about 100 yards away about 15 ponies and foals(baby ponies)! We hung out there for a bit and after a while one of the momma ponies slowly approached us with her foal a bit behind her. She eventually made it to us and we were instantly in awe. She let us pet her and licked our sweaty arms and legs of the salts. It was a very interest feeling but a intimate moment with nature and animals. What we planned to be a big day turned into just a few miles. It was well worth it.

 

Currently, I’m in Bland, VA about to get back on trail after I finish up my lunch. The weather is supposed to be good for the next few days and that’ll be good for the spirits but not well for the body odor. It’ll warrant a nice shower after a few days. I’m looking to get back on trail and hopefully toward a better mental state of mind. There’s some nice milestones coming up I’m looking forward to so that helps as well. The crew I was hiking with for a while is a bit up trail but there are others not far up trail which I will try to catch up to. Hopefully I can put in some good miles over the next few days. We’ll see. I try to post again soon to keep y’all updated.

 

Happy Trails

Catching up

Good Morning, Yesterday for my birthday i decided to do nothing and sit back and relax. I was finally able to post and see the comments everyone has left. It’s amazing. Between the poems, well wishes, and just greetings I become filled with joy from the support everyone has given me. It feels wonderful and motivates me. Thank you so much.

 

I also have come across a couple of questions while reading the comments that I’d like to address. If I have missed one, please forgive me.

 

I saw a question regarding what I eat. I can’t say this is for all hikers but it’s close. Because we have to carry our food, we have to make sure they are light in weight but also filling. For breakfast, some cook up oatmeal and have their instant coffee. While breakfast is my favorite meal in the real world, on trail I like to get up and go. While I’m packing up my gear I usually enjoy a Clif Bar, which are high in calories, and then about an hour or two into my hike I’ll eat a granola bar or trail mix as a second breakfast.

For lunch, it’s usually a bit of peanut butter or a tuna packet with crackers. Lately it’s been a tortilla with peanut butter. I know it’s odd but we have to get in calories anyway we can. The tortillas help us get in another 200 calories or so and with burning 4000-6000 a day, we need it.

Dinner is my favorite meal on trail. It gives me an opportunity to get a little creative. Dinner usually consists of one or two Ramen noodle packets with some seasoning. Sometimes I’ll add it in a tuna or spam packet for some protein. Also, I’ll sprinkle in some instant mash potatoes to thicken it up. Other dinner foods include Knorr side dishes which are pretty flavorful but a tad heavier than Ramen, instant mash potatoes, and anything else we can boil up in a few minutes. We have to save our gas for our stoves also.

 

Another question was about wildlife I’ve come across. For me I’ve only come across a wild turkey. Of course some of the usual wildlife like birds and squirrels and such. Down here there are brown and gray squirrels. Those brown ones are fast. I have heard some other hikers come across bears and such but we have to stay away of course and be careful. We never know what’ll be around the next bend. Ah, I do remember coming a cross a small bunch of deer which was very pretty to watch. I think now that it’s warmer there will be more wildlife out there.

 

Well I have to get back on trail in a bit. I have a couple of big mile days coming up to get into Damascus, VA so look out for that. There’s a big trail festival I’d like to make there which should be fun.

 

Happy Trails

Keep on keeping on

it’s been a while since my last post but service and wifi had  pretty sparing. Tonight staying at the Mountain Harbor Bed & Breakfast and it’s been nice since I got here this morning. I’ve heard people rave about the breakfast and their stay here so with my birthday tomorrow I decided to take a nice day in here and get back on trail sometime tomorrow. The breakfast by the way was nothing short of amazing. I woke up early to hike a mile in to get here at 8 in time and was surprised by a monster country kitchen with a slew of breakfast dishes. It really blew my mind and with breakfast being my favorite meal of the day, it immediately put a smile on my face. A great way to start the day. Two others and I already resupplied for the next few days with lucky hitch hiked into town. We had all of our errands done by noon and now time to catch up on laundry and a hot shower. A luxury on trail I tell you. Hikers are know for what we call our stank. There’s a saying on trail to ‘Embrace the Stank’. No matter what we do or how far we go, we’re going to smell.

 

The past few weeks have been pretty great. Getting small miles in but quite tough in some areas. A few nights ago at Roan Mountain and the Overmountain Shelter it snowed. As much as three inches in some areas. With snow sometimes comes rain and wind and with that, mud. Mud changes the game in this world. It slows us down because with every step there’s sliding. I took a good fall yesterday getting out of the fog and 30 mile per hour winds on Hump Mountain but luckily didn’t hurt anything. It’s all part of the game. Unfortunately, there’s wasn’t a good view with the dense fog but was nice to weather the storm and get out of it. The reward with the breakfast this morning was worth it. Work hard, play hard.

 

Over the last weekend my spirits were a little down and felt a little homesick but with good hiking buddies and nice people all around me, I’ve realized things aren’t so bad. I’m having fun. We have tough times and sometimes really bad times but the laughs and cheers with others make it all worth it. The trail community really bring things to light. Just like today with people going out of their way to give us a ride for a few miles. As said ‘The trail provides’. And I find it really does. Sometimes things just come together and wonderful things come out of it. I’m finding a bigger appreciation for life. We’re lucky to be out here and I would suggest anyone to even try living the hiker life and get what they can out of it. Simplicity really helps my appreciate what I have and what’s around me. Especially those in my life like family, great friends and health.

 

The next few days should be pretty nice. The terrain getting into Virgina is much less hilly and I’ll be able to get some really big miles in. I’m really looking forward to it. By the way, I am out of North Carolina for good. The trail borders NC and TN for quite some time and it’s to have another state off the list. TN will be off over the next five days or so and I’ll be hitting the 400 mile marker pretty soon. Some big things to come over the next few days and I’m looking forward to it.

 

If by any means I had to get off trail today, I’d be really happy and confident in myself for what I’ve accomplished. Even the small wins are a win. And the losses are something we learn from. Overcoming that first step in fear, I believe, is the biggest step. Do your best and try not to think of the big picture and what’ll it’ll take to get there. I’m learning taking smaller steps and understanding what’s in front of you is better but that’s just me. It’s like writing a paper, you can’t just sit down and write a whole paper without doing research first.

 

Over time, I’ll try to post more pictures. I’m seeing some great views recently I’d like to share but of course, service and wifi willing. The hills are tough but the view from the top is the reward.

 

Happy Trails

Angel

 

Almost back on the road…..

Hi there. Wanted to give an update on the things going on. A bit much actually…

 

From my last post you saw that I dropped my phone in the French Broad River while rafting. After some debacle, I was able to get a new phone.(Hooray!) The new phone came in and unfortunately, it was fully functioning so I had to get myself into Asheville, NC. It was a place I had liked to go but not intended so in it’s own way, things worked out. I met a veteran Marine gentleman living in Orlando hiking around Hot Springs and he was happy to drive me in when the conversation came up. I got in yesterday morning after some breakfast and was dropped off right at the Verizon store, thankfully. Within a few minutes of being in the store, they had fixed my phone. I walked myself into town and found a cozy place to stay. After I settled and cleaned myself up, I walked into the downtown area and just about fell in love with the city. I strolled around and did some touristy things and found my way into the first micro-brewery I saw, in which Asheville is known for. From there, I hopped around based off my servers suggestions at each location. It was a interesting approach and would surely try that out again. it was surely worth being a spontaneous. You never know what fun and lesson could come out of it. By the end of the night, I had went to two breweries(One World & Green Man) and had some delicious Jamaican/Mexican fusion food. After my stops, I made my way home.

Asheville is a really pretty city. It has a lot to offer, very cultural and diverse, and people are overall nice and welcoming. I hear though, it’s pretty tough to get a job here because the city itself is booming. Someone told me the unemployment rate is about 1% and it’s very competitive. Around town it is very apparent that the town is growing as you can see some taller buildings for dwelling and business being built. I would recommend Asheville to be a place to visit one day.

I’ll be here for one more night and heading back into Hot Springs tomorrow. I can’t wait to get back on trail and moving again. I’m very excited. Once I get into Hot Springs though, there’s another issue that will arise. There are wild fires in the area and I just read that part of the AT is closed and will have to skip some part of the trail to avoid. I believe it was 14 miles, from what I heard from another hiker. Additionally, there are other areas in Virginia with the same issue and will have to re-route if that continues. These instances right here is where I find how ‘Real Life’ is so relative to ‘Trail Life’. Things are going to happen, especially unexpected things and they have to be overcome. You may not want to face these realities but things have be taken care of if you want to move on. As difficult as times can be, they can also be just as rewarding in the experience and lessons learned. Live life, love it and make it your own. As we call it on trail ‘Hike Your Own Hike’.

As I said, I’ll be making my way back to the AT area tomorrow afternoon and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been off trail for about a week now and I’m getting antsy. I hope things will work out where I’m able to hop back on but I don’t think it’s going to be possible with the aforementioned wild fires. That is something not to mess with and I promise to be careful.

Hopefully my next post with be after some miles on trail. My next major stop is in Erwin, TN but I might get there sooner than expected with the wild fires and trail jumping. I will surely advise but please keep in mind for the time being my GPS will be off until I get back on trail.

Be well all.

Happy Trails,

Angel

Re-Route

Clingmans DomeHiya!
First off, just want to say thanks for everyone for their support. A shout-out to my friends in Mrs. Tuluca’s class, Brian Kennedy for setting this site up, my family for their wonderful comments, and a shout out to the Bradley Family I met on Wayah Bald. All of you are awesome.

The GPS isn’t operating as best as it could. The cold weather is causing the battery to die out pretty fast. I’ll have it back up soon. The last few days in the Smokies has been great but I’m beat. However, as difficult the terrain is, there is no disappointment. The views and the change in terrain have been awesome. There are a lot of ups and down causing the miles to seem longer and the weather has been unpredictable. The night before the Clingmans Dome approach i pushed an extra 1.7 miles to the shelter just before. I’m glad I did. The views were remarkable. Just awesome. A precursor for what was to come. Unfortunately, when I got there the shelter was full and had to sleep outside in my tent. I love being in my tent but being in the colder weather doesn’t do me well. That night was a small thunder/snow storm which kept me awake.

The next day was a 3.5 mile hike to Clingmans Dome- the highest point of the AT. I got a late start with trying to sleep a bit but eventually got on my feet. I got to the Dome and felt pretty good. Cold but good. It was very windy and on/off flurrying but the views are something to see for oneself. I’d hoped to get there one day but to hike 199 miles there is an accomplished feeling. Afterwards, I walked to the visitor center to sneak out some postcards and grab a few snacks:) One thing I enjoyed about this part of the Smokies was the terrain change to evergreens. I enjoy the smell of the pines and hemlocks. The woods thickened as I got further and more snow stuck to the ground. It became muddy in some areas causing me to lose my balance more than a couple of times but these miles seemed so long.

When I got to Newfound Gap, I didn’t feel well. Weak, my body hurt and my head wasn’t in the right place at all. The time was 5:00pm and I could either push on 3 miles and 1000 ft ascent to the next shelter or try to get some rest in nearest town of Gatlinburg. Mis-Match and Johnny B were already there as they were in the shelter the night before and not bothered as much by the storm. Luckily for service I texted them and of course the shelter was full with spring breaker section hikers. Knowing another cold rain/snowy night was ahead with 50 mph gusts, I just couldn’t do it. I called for the shuttle into town.

Luckily, the shuttle came pretty fast into Newfound Gap and I was soon in a Motel 6. I got in and rinsed off my muddy clothes to dry while I showered. Those are my only clothes and course I couldn’t go into town with dirt and mud all over me from the day. After a nice warm shower I walked into town and upon leaving ran into some fellow hikers from Australia. We walked around Gatlinburg for a bit and found a pizza restaurant to try out that was recommended to them. It was nice to have full warm meal and a drink with others. The camaraderie on trail is one of my favorite things. Having a conversation with others about things I do not know goes a long way. The biggest trial on trail in the mental state. As they say You Are Your Own Worst Enemy and I believe it. I’ll talk more about that in another post. After dinner I walked back to the hotel and went directly to sleep.

This morning I got up early and packed my bag. At 3:20am the hotel’s garbage truck came and emptied the dumpsters on site and couldn’t really get back to sleep. My back and body was sore but good enough to hike. I walked into town and instead of waiting for the 10:30am shuttle to the trail and tried my luck with hitch hiking at 9. I started walking to the trail 15 miles away in hopes someone would pick me up. Within a mile in, a trail angel slowed and pulled to the side. She ended up really being my trail angel. Kathy(Red Cap)drove me back up to the trail gap and from the lower elevations looking up, you could instantly see what happened overnight and it worried me. All the slush froze over and more snow fell. Things did not look well. More on the way up, we saw abandoned motorcycles with a few inches of snow on them, more worry. When we reached the trail gap, it was worse. The plow marks were in the road and salt was on the pavement. Before Red Cap let me in she said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’. I said ‘Yes!’ Because I felt good and was just excited that someone even stopped to pick me up. I should’ve said No. The trail looked just awful and dangerous. Icy and snowed over- something I’m not prepared for. In conversation going to the trail we chatted and I found that she is a former thru-hiker and she learned I was going to see family in the area after the smokies. She mentioned how dangerous it would be with a 1000 ft ascent over the next 2 miles and I took it in. I changed my mind and she offered to drive me to a town near my sister as she was on the way to meet someone else. I took the offer and came to Townsend. I couldn’t thank Red Cap enough for her help. I offered a few dollars for gas but she wouldn’t take it so I just left it in the coffee cup. I gave her a massive hug before exiting the car and getting to the Townsend visitor center.

I’m not going to say ‘unfortunately’ here but I had to re-route. Things happen and the weather got in the way but in the end I get to see my family sooner and I’ll have to wait a few days until the weather clears. It is what it is. I’ll keep you posted

Happy Trails

Here comes the Smokies

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.

Happy Trails