An AT Pandemic, Forest Fires, and A Lost Dog

early spring landscape

We’ve been hearing rumors and reports from many people about a lot of hikers getting sick with the same virus – the symptoms being described to us by those that got sick as “the worst case of food poisoning in my life.” Rumors abound in this sort of situation, and we have to pick through them to the most credible information, but the likeliest scenario is that someone picked up this virus and hiked into one of the shelters before developing the symptoms. Then they got sick, passing it on to others at the shelter who hiked a day before getting sick, and thereby spreading it on to other shelters. The word is that it goes from Hot Springs up to Damascus. Continue reading

Hello, My Trail Name Is

AT marker

Many trail names have a story or event attached to them, but I’ll start with some background information for those that are unfamiliar with the ways things work on the trial. For those that didn’t know, there is a chance of running into black bears along the trail, and the most troublesome way to run into a black bear is by waking up in the morning to find that your food has been rummaged through by a bear, leaving you with a mess and without food. Continue reading

Warming Toward Hot Springs

Ice storm

Coming out of the Smokies, we took a short walk along the road and under the interstate before heading back into the woods. It was fascinating to me to see the trail blazes (a white blaze) below signs to the interstate. After a couple days of rain, the weather cleared and it began to warm up. Continue reading

Only Downhill From Here

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View near Clingman's Dome

Today we climbed Clingman’s Dome. While the weather stayed clear of precipitation for us, the trail was very icy. We got up earlier than normal, hoping to get to the top for sunrise, but we simply couldn’t move as quickly on the trail as usual. The trail remained icy and snowy to the point that we ended the day spending just as much time on the trial as the day before (our longest day yet), but covered just over half the mileage. Temperatures dropped to freezing the night before, slicking up the trail that had begun to melt in previous days. Continue reading

Now Entering Smoky Mountain National Park

Entering the Smokies

All in all, we had about 3000 ft of elevation change to do (equivalent to around 250 commercial stories – the Empire State building is 102 stories tall), not to mention the ups and downs along the way. So far, the trail in the Smokies was nice, though we got some rain our first afternoon in them. Continue reading

Trail Magic

icey snowy branches

There’s a whole different culture on the trail, and one of the things that people talk about is trail magic – and yes, it’s a real thing. Trail magic is what hikers call acts of kindness that others (often people who have thru-hiked before, or have some connection to the trail) do for the hikers – often in the form of food. Today, a couple thru-hikers from 2012 (named Whitewater and Video) had decided to meet up at a road along the trail; they set up a tent, turned on a grill, and shared a bounty of snacks, burgers, and stories with this year’s hikers as we came through the gap. The burgers were great! Continue reading

Getting Cold Feet

snowy branches

There’s still a lot of snow on parts of the trail, but we were getting even more restless just waiting. We managed to get a shuttle to Wayah Gap, where we left off the day before when we headed back into town. Depending on if we’re on the sunny side of the mountain, the snow is beginning to turn to slush, and we’re really hoping that the Smokies are not too bad in this regard, as we’ve heard bad reports about the conditions there. Continue reading

Walking in the Snow

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Siler Bald in the snow

It has been snowing lightly in town for most of the last 24 hours, but the forecast said it was supposed to clear up by the end of today so we got a shuttle to the trail head this morning, knowing that there was snow build up in the mountains. We got a few miles before the snow got deeper than we expected. Continue reading

Our Longest Day Yet!

Huge fallen Tree

Today started with yet another cold wet morning. I think this makes three in a row. We knew this was in the forecast, but it doesn’t make it any more pleasant. Today we took my motto of “Rainy days are made for walking” to heart. We decided to get up and get moving because thunderstorms were in the forecast for the evening. So we packed up as quickly as we could and got moving, which is really the only way to be warm in this weather. Jonathan’s knees have been slowly feeling better since we left Hiawasee, and today he was moving so fast I could barely keep up. Continue reading