Sunday, May 4, 2014

Standing Bear Farm to Hot Springs, NC

I woke up Friday morning feeling well rested and ready to hike. Odysseus' aunt once again treated us to an amazing breakfast of eggs, toast, yogurt, mixed fruit, and of course coffee. I've become an avid coffee drinker on the trail. After packing up all our gear we hoped in the car and headed from Knoxville to standing bear which is about an hour drive. Once at standing bear we hungout awhile to show Odie's aunt around the farm. She really enjoyed getting a small taste of what its like to be a hiker. It's awesome how much people are interested in what we are doing out here! Back in California most people I talked to about the AT for one didn't know existed, and two thought I was crazy for undertaking such a serious hike. Now that I'm on trail everyone seems interested, I've even been asked to empty my pack and explain why I carry everything I do! We all took some pictures with Odies aunt and thanked her for what she had done for us, and let her know that she was most definitely a trail angel. Then it came time to hike. Oh I was feeling it those first few hours. I think rest days (zeros) are absolutely necessary because they give your muscles time to heal, but then you just get to break them all down again, great fun. After about 4 miles I was able to get into my groove again and my trail legs kicked in. First we had an amazing view at an air traffic control tower five miles in, after a quick rest and snack we head out for Max Patch Bald nine miles further, during our break we decided we would meet at the bald and watch the Sun set cuddle puddle style. (Our group name, because you guessed it we cuddle in a puddle.) Probably one of the best decisions I've made yet on trail. Gulliver got there first and I pulled in about 20 minutes later. It was beautiful. You could see for miles. Its crazy being able to look back at a mountain range and know that you just walked from there to where you are. So it was amazing being able to see the smokies. I met a group of college students who were hanging out to watch the sunset as well. They we're asking me all kinds of questions and were amazed that I've been hiking for a month straight. Five more to go hahaha. I met up with Gulliver and we both decided to break out our sleeping bags and chill while we were waiting for the others, because the wind was raging strong. The others showed up and we assumed the cuddle puddle position to conserve warmth. We watched the sunset, and I can honestly say it was the best I've seen. Never forget it. The group decided we would do our first bit of night hiking! And with that came my decision to take mushrooms. Another awesome one on my part! About an hour again I started to trip. The grass was glowing, the ground was blurry, and all my senses were working at once. We pulled over by a stream to cook our dinner, I made mashed potatoes mixed with ramen and mac and cheese. Just try it, I dare ya. you'll fall in love. We packed up our gear and head out. Around 11 we stopped set up camp and all passed out exhausted. I woke up before everyone and got a nice morning fire going. I'm the fire guru, so I'm told. Everyone else woke up a little later and we packed up our gear, ready for the day. The previous day we did 18 miles and today we had 15 to do. The terrain was great and the scenery changed a lot. Our pace has picked up tremendously I can pull about 3.4 miles an hour. After a day full of hiking Hot Springs came into site. I walked down into the town and continued along the trail which is marked by AT signs in the sidewalk. I'm now staying at Laughing Heart Hostel, tenting with the puddle in a big grass field. We got our showers and resupply in and then I head over to the spa to get hooked up with a massage my aunt paid for. It was the most glorious glory. After the puddle got a mineral water hot tub and soaked for an hour. Tonight will consist of beer, fire, food, and bonding. I'm loving every bit of this trail, never would consider getting off unless forced to do so by physically injury. The cuddle puddle is summiting Katahdin, no doubt about that. If you think otherwise well you can go ahead

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I've conquered the Smokies. It was an awesome experience I'll never forget filled with up's and down's. I left from Fontana last Tuesday, originally shooting for Monday I wound up staying another day because I got the day flu. After a day of rest DQ and I head out together after Sending off some mail. We got to pass over the Fontana Dam, which is actually a part of the Appalachian Trail. Green was everywhere in abundance. After we crossed the dam we finally saw the sign that marked the beginning of the park. After excitedly filling out our permits bottom half and dropping them in the hiker box we started our ascent. It was some rough going for me the first few miles seeing as i still felt a little sick and hadn't been hiking for a few days. Usually when I'm feeling down in rewarded with something awesome to lift my spirits. This moment came when we came upon the small trail up to ShuckStack Tower. The tower was high above the tree lines and offered amazing views. After a quick smoke break in the tower, and a lunch break at the foot of it we got back on the trail. I hiked by myself for most the day with DQ dipping in and out of sight every now and then. I started to notice that little white flowers were popping up from the ground, and then suddenly I was surrounded them. It felt extremely magical, especially when i came upon a hollow tree surrounded by the flowers with its very own footpath. After a good day of hiking we came upon Mollies Ridge shelter. There ks where we caught up to Odysseus, Gulliver, Sweeps, Peepshow, and Firefox. I set up my hammock, conversed with my friends about the day while cookingy dinner of a mixture of mashed potatoes and top ramen. After watching the sky for shooting stars for awhile i head to bed. The next day was a hard one for me, we had a lot of elevation changes in order to really get into the depths of the smokies, but all the hard work was worth it once i was treated with fir and pine trees. I was constanlty walking through groves of them, the sunlight being nearly completey blocked out by there limbs. Serene is an understatement. We got to another shelter as a group set up camp and passed out early. The next day was a lot more fun, i hiked by myself again but the terrain was much easier and my surroundings had changed tremendously. There was fog everywhere i couldn't see but 10 feet in front of me, and I'm walking on the ridges of mountains. I was surrounded by nothingness and I've never felt more at place. After hiking for the day we slept at a beautiful shelter nestled beneath the fir trees. The next morning was Clingmans dome and Odysseus,Gulliver, and I decided to catch a shuttle there and head into Gatlinburg. Sweeps and Dq where already there. The hike up to clingmans was short and the weather had cleared up amazingly, giving us clear views from the dome. We head into Gatlinburg and had an amazing time filled with beer, great food, music, whiskey, wine, and moonshine tasting,meeting new people, and sleeping in soft beds. The next morning I woke up late and hungover therefore missing the first and only shuttle. A little bummed i head over to the NOC outfitter thinking I'd have to get a room until I saw a kid putting his backpack in a taxi, i asked if he was going to clingmans dome and holy trail magic he was. I hoped into the cab and started talking to him that's when i came to know the awesome Shit Nick the Prodigy. He was a stoner like myself and we decided to hike up to the next shelter together. On the drove up we saw a bear on the side of the road and he was just chillin eating grass. That got me pumped to start hiking. I put some miles between Shit Nick and I, but he caught me at the shelter where i met up with the cuddle puddle again (the names i mentioned earlier). We all ate and then knocked out. The next day we hit a hard day and all ended up together again. It rained that night and i got a little wet in my hammock but nothing too bad. We woke up and head to our last shelter before we got to our last shelter in the smokies. I woke up early and ready to go i was going to see charlies bunion which was an amazing sight. I decided id do an 18 mile day and go to standing bear hostel. The hostel was my favorite thus far. It was on a little farmhouse with chickens and treehouses for hikers to sleep in, i ended up sleeping on the farmhouse wrap around porch which was an unforgettable experience. The next morning Odysseus came into the hostel and invited me to come with him to Knoxville to visit family and have a lot of food. Obviously i jumped on in as the entire cuddle puddle wound up doing. This visit has been amazing, so much great homemade food and time growing closer with my friends. I'm now sitting on top of one of their many staircases in the house updating my blog. I love the spontaneity this trip has brought into my life and look forward to all I'll experience in the coming months. Oh yeah! I've been out here for a month! Totally loving it and never want it to end. I know I've skipped over something's so if you have any type of question ask in the comments. Thanks for reading about my journey.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fontana Dam!

Hey y'all. (notice my southern accent lol) Had an awesome few days of hiking and then hanging out here at the Fontana Village Resort before I head out for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I stayed in the Fontana Hilton, a shelter very near to the dam the night before last. It was a huge shelter and even had running water which means showers! I met up with two good buddies I've met on the trail, Tang and Muscadine right as I was coming into Fontana. I was glad to see them because Moe (Ryan), Cherry pie and Millie had to jump ahead to Hot Springs, because dogs aren't allowed in the smokies. I also ran into DQ who's been on pretty much the same hiking schedule as I've been so we will hit the smokies together. This will be the longest I've gone so far without going into town for resupply or anything of the sort. A week straight. I'm very much looking forward to it and hope the weather holds up and stays semi warm. Rain is not a hikers friend, unless its just drizzle I can deal with that. Anyone who would like to write me or send me packages ;) let me know I'll tell ya where I'll be next. Wish me and the crew luck! Much love much love.
P.s. I've been able to keep up with Game Of Thrones! I somehow end up in a town every Sunday haha. Praise the old gods and the new!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Franklin NC ( Mile 109.8)

Well I'm mostly certainly alive and walking forward. I'm currently sitting in the Haven Budget Inn in Franklin, NC. It's pretty funny how low your standards of comfort can drop after being in the mountains for awhile. Typically I'd give this place one look and bounce to find another, its interesting to say the least. I'll start with the bad news, Nick now trail named Admiral Caboose, has to leave the trail and go back home to California for his great grandmothers funeral. I'm gonna miss the kid like crazy, he was my main hiking buddy. I'm too used to hiking to a spot pulling over and resting waiting for Nick to catch up so we could talk about Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, amongst other things. We mainly just quote the former two at each other, makes for a great time. Ryan who's trail name is Casper, Kylee who is Cherry Pie, and Millie are about a day ahead of me but only by about four miles so I'll catch them tomorrow. I've become a member of a large hiker bubble around 20 people who I hike with from time to time depending on our paces and camp with every night. We've all grown pretty close and its like our little family is moving down the trail. I've actually met two other redditors and they are both in my group Odysseus and Nick. Pretty crazy finding that out together haha. Trail magic! I got it twice in a two day span. First we had hotdogs, hamburgers, beers, and cookies from a former thru hiker, Breeze, and his buddies, it was just the fuel I needed to press on. The next day I got soda a sloppy Joe hotdog and fruit. I was feeling pretty good after that which is when I made my ascent up to Albert Mountain and reached my 100 miles on the AT. About 2 days ago I passed through Georgia and into North Carolina. That was an awesome experience. Last night in town was pretty crazy. Our huge group first took over a motel, then a restaurant which had Karaoke, Tang got down on some guns and roses had the whole place cheering. Then we moved on and took over a bar. Everyone was pretty drunk and a lot of us woke up hungover today lol. I had to but some new shoes while here at Outdoor 76. If your in Franklin and thru hiking I highly recommend that you stop by there, especially if you need new shoes the staff is amazing. This guy literally sat down and taught me all about my feet for around an hour. I was wearing a size 11 and now I'm in a 12.5! Plus they have a bar in there! So I was sipping on a beet getting the low down on feet. Haha my first beer was free because a guy chilling at the bar was buying thru hikers first drinks. Score! I also got a new water filter. Hiking has been amazing and I can feel my body constantly getting into better shape. We did a 20 mile day into Franklin which is pretty hardcore for the section we are hiking. I was told by the guy who gave me better shoes that I need to slow it down if I want to make it to Maine so I will. The most I'll do for now is twelve. There hasn't been much scenery change except for some small pockets where you feel like you're in the jungle. Well I'm checking out for now more updates coming soon. Check my instagram for pictured I update that more frequently. @SasquatchStalkr

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mile outside Dicks Creek Gap.

A lot has happened since my last update. I don't really know where to start. From Neel gap we hiked for the entire day and were greeted by beautiful views, and big mountains to climb up and down. We set up shelter about an hour before sunlight, we just judge time out here by the position of the sun so its not completely accurate lol. That night was the worst yet we were hit by a major thunderstorm and all our gear was completely soaked. My tarp wasn't hugging my hammock so I got soaked and just sat there until first light to get up and get moving. Sucked. We all decided we should get into town and dry out our gear. So we got a shuttle to Helen. Helen is a little German like town in the middle of nowhere Georgia. Well middle of nowhere to me. We took a zero day and cruised around the awesome little city, we grabbed some German beers and I met some more thru hikers, specifically Brave who I've talked to about the AT over instagram. We all got to hangout and chat about the trail which was super cool I was stoked to meet her. As we were checking out Ryan tied Millie to a metal table outside, she moved and the sound it made spooked her so she ran away and dragged the table around with her, about ten people were I'm the lobby watching. Dying laughing. We set out from Helen and have been on the trail other than to stop in Hiawassee and resupply and get some 7$ all you can eat BBQ. :) now we will be on trail for about 3 days until Franklin. I'll probably update again there because my phone is almost dead. Tomorrow is the GA NC state line! Wish us good health and happy trails! Check my instagram for pictures. @SasquatchStalkr

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Woody Gap to Neel Gap.

I'm in love with the Appalachian trail. Everything about it is so unique, and inviting. You could hike this trail 100 times and something new and awesome would happen every dang time. This morning I woke up in the beautiful little town of Suches, GA population 900 ( Which I was told by the kind woman who ran the hostel and gave us a ride back to the trail.) I cut down on some weight then we head out to eat some breakfast at a barn looking establishment across the street. We walk onto the balcony to leave and see about 20 Ferraris. Really crazy, all super nice. I guess these Northern Georgia roads are really nice to cruise down, one because its beautiful, two no one to pull you over. We had breakfast scrumptious biscuts and gravy. Then got a lift to woody gap and hit the trail. We got off to a good start and only breaked a few times for water and a breather. I broke ahead and waited for the crew at Jarrard Gap. I ate my hickory smoked tuna. Which is damn good and put on some moleskin for my blisters. Everyone pulled up and we prepared to hit Blood Mountain, the second highest point on the Appalachian Trail. Now I'm sure its a combination of things but for some reason the hike up blood wasn't as hard as some make it to be. We were up pretty quick snapped some pictures and then started to head down to get into Neel Gap. Now the descent from Blood is what was harsh if anything, a lot of rock and a lot of steep decline. My knees are felling it haha. We hiked into Neel at about 5:45 right before the store closed. We grabbed some quick food and now are camped right up Levelland Mountain so we can shoot back into Neel tomorrow and get a pack shake down and pick up some supplies. Actually might just skip the shakedown seeing as we kinda already know what we need and want that time to hike. As of now I'm laying in my hammock right above Nicks hammock. Got the rain fly up,and chilling in my sleeping bag. Its balls cold outside but I'm pretty toasty. Meet a lot of awesome thru hikers today, and just people day hiking. Tomorrow we are hiking to low gap shelter. In total we have done 40.5 miles.looking Forward to tomorrow. Now I need to get some rest for the long day tomorrow. Live long and prosper.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Springer to Suches. + Approach Trail.

We got on to the approach trail late Tuesday around 6pm we hiked about 2 hours in and then set up camp. Gezi, Ryan's friend who drove up with us stayed the night and then split ways and head back to Amicalola while we set out for Springer. We hit Springer around mid afternoon stopped for a nice break and got our first trail magic, beer! Met someone who I've followed on instagram because if the AT I'm blanking on her name right now bit she has an awesome dog! We head down to Stover Creek shelter which Is 2.8 miles into the Appalachian Trail. My first shelter experince was pretty awesome meet a couple of cool guys one of which, spot, has hiked the Appalachian Trail 5 Times!! He's a beast because all of these thru hikes have been in his 60's. Crazy inspiration right there. Nick and I slept in the shelter on the top level. Ryan and Kylie slept in their hammocks. Nick swears a mouse nibbled on his finger but I think he was half way between being asleep and awake hahaha. We got up the next morning packed up our gear, got our bear bags, most shelters in Georgia have bear bags which is nice. We had a long day of hard hiking 12 miles in total. We set up camp at Justus Creek which is 14.3 miles into the AT. Really awesome location right next, what do ya know a creek. Our water filter went to crap here. Pissin me off haha luckily we have a steripen. From Justus Creek we hiked to Woody Gap were we went to our first hostel. In Suches, GA. This place is pretty awesome. Very small town not even a town really a gas station and peoples houses the hostel is a part of the gas station. Had the best burger in awhile downstairs and doing some laundry. Now I'm chillin in my bunk, gonna take a shower pretty soon here and settle down. Might eat some more lol. Tomorrow we shoot for Neel's Gap which means blood mountain. Northern Georgia is absolutely gorgeous. The most beautiful place I've been ever in my life. I highly recommend everyone check this out. Ryan just smelled another thru hikers shirt hahahaha alright guys I'm checking out for now. Good night. Oh yeah I'm three hours ahead of California here in Georgia.