TN

Day 13 - Benton MacKaye Trail

 

We were sad to leave Tubby behind at the Green Cove Motel and Store, but we had places to go.  We began with a 1.4 mile was back to the trailhead at Telico Fish Hatchery.  From here we walked old road bed 95% of the day.  Our first old road walk was up the Sycamore Creek Trail.  We walked nearly 6 miles up a gradual hill before hitting a forest service road and climbing all the way up to Whigg Meadow and our first actual good view on the BMT!  We met an older couple here and talked to them during our lunch.  When we did the extra quarter mile up to the top we met some grad students looking to place bat boxes for research purposes.  We had an easy hike down to Mud Gap and the Cherohola Skyway where we had a piped spring waiting on us!

Looking up at Whigg meadow  

Looking up at Whigg meadow  

Haha, I'm only kidding! The book said there was water here, but you know by now there wasn't any!  It was only 1 pm and we had already done 9 miles, but it was starting to get hot!  We passed through the site of a former rock quarry that now looks like a bald and walked down to a forest service road before heading back up to meet the Cherohola Skyway again.  We had another beautiful view at Unicoi Gap before heading back into the woods and following an old jeep road for a little while.

Walking through the old quarry

Walking through the old quarry

 

About 2 miles in we met Kyle who was out hiking with his sister's dog.  It turns out he is friends with All Smiles, a man we hiked with for a few days back on the AT in 2012.  Once again, the trail community is so small!  We continued on and found a wonderful piped spring and chugged as much water as we could before filling up our bottles and heading on our way.  We left the jeep road about a mile later and started climbing.  We spotted a great campsite but there was no water nearby so we kept moving.  We crossed two small streams and came to a large campsite about 1.5 miles later.  We thought this was our destination, but it turns out somewhere in the weeds was our campsite and we had passed it up.  This meant I had to walk back half a mile for water (a mile round trip for those keeping count at home!)  we also fixed a trail sign that is obviously very wrong here. No blazes means it's easy to get turned around in a wilderness area, so the correct signage now will help!  

Even more views! This is Unicoi Gap on the Cherohola Skyway. 

Even more views! This is Unicoi Gap on the Cherohola Skyway. 

Day 12 - Benton MacKaye Trail

Zero day at Green Cove Motel!  A zero day means you don't do any hiking and I didn't expect we would have any days like that on this trail.  After the nightmare that was yesterday's hike we definitely needed a day off and we slept late.  We fell asleep at about 9:30 last night and stayed in bed until 10 this morning.  We wandered down to the store and poked around for a bit before the owner, Tubby, offered us some of her leftovers from dinner the night before.  We had a huge breakfast of cube steak with country gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, and Mac and cheese.  Tubby comes from a family of eight, so she always makes enough to feed an army she said.  We sat with her for about an hour talking about just about everything before we left her alone for a while.

Breakfast of champions on a cool table Tubby made from YooHoo caps. 

Breakfast of champions on a cool table Tubby made from YooHoo caps. 

 

I made a few phone calls, the first to Rick and Brenda Harris - BMTA board members and maintenance directors.  I asked about trail conditions coming up and Brenda assured me that our next section had been worked on very recently. She was aware of the condition of the trail we hiked yesterday and told me they were working on getting it cleared.  Since we were in a wilderness area, they cannot use anything like chainsaws or weed whackers.  The ranger district here is focusing on maintaining horse trails this year so the BMTA is kind of on their own.  I then called the Tapoco Lodge and confirmed we would be there this weekend so we definitely would have a place to stay.  

Bloody and battered hiker legs from the tough day yesterday. 

Bloody and battered hiker legs from the tough day yesterday. 

 

We ate huge dinners and then lounged around the rest of the night.  Even though there are no laundry facilities here, we were able to wash our clothes in the sink with a bar of soap and get them mostly dry for tomorrow.  Laundry on this trail is few and far between!

Drying laundry hiker style- chasing the sun around the parking lot! 

Drying laundry hiker style- chasing the sun around the parking lot! 

 

For anyone looking for a quiet, clean, relaxing place to get away I highly recommend Green Cove Motel.  This place is out in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  There is no TV or phone in the hotel rooms.  No phone service works here.  The windows and doors open up back onto the Tellico River and men are outside fishing all day long.  I was telling NoKey this is how it must have been doing a long distance hike 30 years ago - walking nearly deserted roads to get to town, get a stack of quarters, and use the pay phone to call places.  Tomorrow we go back into the woods with a guarantee of better trails and nice weather. It was been a perfect day off!

Green Cove Motel- middle of nowhere and heaven on earth!

Green Cove Motel- middle of nowhere and heaven on earth!

Day 11 - Benton MacKaye Trail

We started earlier today, about 8:30, and began our first climb of the day to Cantrell Top.  The sun came  out for the morning and we had some easy ups and downs until we reached Hipps Gap, a dry (shocker, I know!) campsite.  From here we had to start climbing but our day looked easy on the map and profile because once we were up, we were on top of the ridge.  We couldn't have been more wrong.

This is a North Carolina State line marker from the early 1800s

This is a North Carolina State line marker from the early 1800s

 

After some crazy steep climbing and an attempt to get water that didn't pan out, we reached Moss Gap, noted for the hairpin turn in the trail and a tree marked with a giant X indicating there is water a mere half mile off the trail.  We decided to head up and get water at one of the few campsites if we needed it.  This is where our day turned to utter shit.  For the next four miles we bushwhacked through immense blowdown.  The trees were thankfully blazed and there was a faint path of where people had gone through a week ago, but otherwise we were completely on our own.  For four miles, which took us three hours in the pouring rain, we climbed through branches, grass up to our necks, and thorns shredded our legs.  Any evidence of campsites and unmarked side trails was completely obscured.  It looked as if a tornado had hit the mountain.

There is a trail in here... Follow the blazes and make your own path! 

There is a trail in here... Follow the blazes and make your own path! 

When we finally hit Rocky Top, we had about half a clear mile before coming to another hairpin turn at Sledrunner Gap - the halfway point of the BMT.  Now, we were coming downhill in the same shit we climbed on the other side.  This side was even worse because it followed and crossed a stream multiple times.  Rhododendron were down everywhere and even harder to climb through. Again, all campsites and mile markers were completely wiped out due to the utter disregard for trail maintenance.  At 4 pm we had to make a decision.  We were at a trail junction where the BMT went up and trail 180 looked to be going down.  The map indicated in about 6.5 miles we could be at the same location 5 BMT miles would take us to.  We had been hiking for 7 straight hours without eating or stopping and we decided the road might be longer, but at least it was clear.

Which way to go now...? 

Which way to go now...? 

This decision changed our entire day.  Trail 180 was an old roadbed that appeared to have a lot of recent foot and horse traffic.  We got down the 1.5 miles in less than 40 minutes. We came out at a campsite and ate a quick dinner before walking FS 126, a gravel road that went up and between two mountains before coming downhill to Tellico River Road.  It was about 6:50 when we finally made it to the road and we knew that the Green Cove Motel was 1.4 miles from the trail.  We walked about a quarter mile before coming to the Sourwood Campsite and some people told us the motel wasn't far.  They even drove us down.  When we got to the store, the woman working there, Tubby, was only there just to stock the place.  She said we were incredibly lucky to catch her as she had just got back from a trip to Knoxville and was shutting up for the night. We grabbed snacks and sodas and checked in for two nights as we were utterly exhausted. 

Day 10 - Benton MacKaye Trail

We woke up to rain and decided to stay in the tent until it stopped.  About 9:15 it sounded finished and we began to pack up, leaving camp about 10 am.  Since we once again had to follow water we had no choice but to hike a 14.4 mile day.  It's really starting to get annoying having to hike a certain way on this trail!  Since we know most water sources aren't even on trail, the map I bought in Blue Ridge has been helpful, but it's still not fail safe.  We hiked out of camp carrying more than 9 liters between the two of us.

NoKey crossing Coker Creek

NoKey crossing Coker Creek

 

Climbing up and over Unicoi Mountain left us saying goodbye to the John Muir Trail we had been following and took us on an easy climb following old roads to highway 68.  After a short lunch and some foot surgery on both of us, we began walking again on the nicest trail we have seen yet on the BMT!  This part of the trail for several miles is also dirt bike trail, so maintenance was great!  After reaching a forest service road that maintains the power lines, it started to turn into more trail like conditions.  We were supposed to pass a campsite with water and once again never saw it, or any evidence it had been there.  We reached the top and saw an old homesite and a nearly dry spring.  We attempted to get water but it was mostly mud. Thankfully, the other side of the hill had a gorgeous spring and we were right at the source!  We completely filled out bottles and camelbaks and headed down the trail to Tate Gap, our campsite.  

Looking ahead at our last climb of the day. 

Looking ahead at our last climb of the day. 

 

When we got to the gap, we had read that there was a secluded and sheltered site 0.3 off the old road.  I left my pack with NoKey and went to scout it out.  There was a nearly dried up spring and a HOUSE with garbage everywhere at the supposed site.  I went back to the gap and we made camp right there on the trail.  This is how the BMT works I guess - no water and no camps... Make your own!

At least we had some pretty mountain laurel blooming! 

At least we had some pretty mountain laurel blooming! 

Day 8 - Benton MacKaye Trail

 

Today would have been the most miserable day ever if not for Red!  He slack packed us, which means he takes all our gear except for the packs, our lunches, and our water.  We did a quick and fast 19 miles into Reliance, Tn to our drop and next campsite.

The dam at Ocoee River

The dam at Ocoee River

 

The trail today, however, was something else entirely!  This is honestly the most miserable hiking we have done to date.  Our hike began hot and humid from the Ocoee River and up Dry Pond Lead in the Little Frog Wilderness.  It wasn't a difficult climb, but the trail was extremely overgrown and by the time we reached the top we were both bloody and hot.  Sweaty legs itch when they're scratched so badly! 

There was a 100-mile trail race coming through here in a few hours... Wild Trail is right! 

There was a 100-mile trail race coming through here in a few hours... Wild Trail is right! 

 

The next part of our day took us into Cherokee National Forest.  This area had a prescribed burn last year, which meant for six miles we had nothing but dead trees and thorns.  The sun came out and scorched us.  Just when we though it couldn't get much worse, we started walking on road beds, which  had thigh high grass and ragweed.  No tree cover and black widow nests every few feet added to our misery. When we reached the end of the road, we went back into the dead forest, losing our way several times before finally making it downhill to Lost Creek.  On the positive side, we hit our 100-mile mark today!

A field we walked through on the old FS road walk. 

A field we walked through on the old FS road walk. 

 

It was an easy 4 miles from here into Reliance, a teeny town on the Hiawassee River and the lowest point on the BMT.  We made our way to the Reliance Fly and Tackle where our drop box waited and campsite was reserved.  The hospitality here is amazing and the campsite is inviting. Once again we got set up just before it started to rain.  We had cheeseburgers and beers at the store and a local woman gave us homemade blackberry cobbler.  This trail just keeps getting better.  What could have been a miserable day was made so much better by the kindness and hospitality of others.

The view from our tent tonight! 

The view from our tent tonight! 

Hiking Snowbird - September 28

We took a very, VERY short vacation to Tennessee to see some family and friends recently.  Since we were on vacation we decided it wouldn’t be a complete trip without a visit to our favorite National Scenic Trail and took Gracie along for the walk.  We had originally planned to hike Mt. Sterling this day, but due to cloudy weather and the summit being engulfed in clouds, we packed up our dog and headed out to hike Snowbird.  We chose Snowbird over Max Patch for a few reasons - we wanted to hike more than just a few miles and we wanted solitude.  Max Patch is always busy, especially on weekends and considering you can park less than half a mile from the summit, the choice was easy. 

We parked on the side of Green Corner Road, less than a quarter mile from Standing Bear Hostel, and started up the trail.  We immediately passed two older gentleman moving very slowly and walking like they were in a lot of pain.  The packs they were carrying were easily more than 65 pounds.  We said hello and continued our way up the trail.  The trail was very dry and the gentle uphill grade made for smooth sailing up the hill.  We passed a group of boys and four adults, all of whom weren’t very talkative, about 2 miles from the summit.  When we reached the top we had the place to ourselves and talk about a view!  Even though the sky was overcast and the bald was overgrown, we had 180-degree viewing of seven different ridgelines.  The mountains around were the signature Southern Appalachian blue you always see hiking down south. 

We took a snack break and headed over to the other side of the bald, near the FAA tower, to take in the views toward the French Broad River.  Heading back down was quick and we took our time heading downhill, taking photos and goofing off.  About a mile and a half from the road we passed the two older gentleman again, one of whom looked to be having a really rough time now.  Still, they were friendly and kept on going.  We got back down to the car and had finished the hike in about 3 hours.  I took Gracie up the road a little bit and let her play in the creek, a site where I had some pretty epic trail magic during my thru hike. 

Snowbird was a great hike for us since we were short on time, but wanted to really pack in some substantial miles.  We did the 10 mile hike in about 3 hours with plenty of time to hang out up top.  The really fun part of this hike was that NoKey and I hadn’t met on trail yet, so we were experiencing this mountain together for the first time.  

The photos above are: the trail headed down Snowbird (and how different does it look in the fall?!); NoKey taking in the view from the Summit with the Blue Ridge Mountains behind him; a hint of fall color in the south; a view of the AT through the Smokies… Mt. Sterling is the tall one in front with the clouded summit; Gracie enjoying the view; NoKey in the Green Tunnel; NoKey hanging out between double blazes. 

Day 31 Today I hit my fourth state line and Damascus! It’s been so amazing to hit my fourth state in under a month to say the least. Sadly, it rained the entire two hours down to town. I’m sort of getting used to the town rain. It’s rained on my way into every town other than Hot Springs. Anyway, I made it down to Damascus in less than 2 hours and got to eat two big meals before David came to meet me! I’m very happy to see him for sure. We did all the typical town stuff, hitting the outfitter and grocery, getting laundry done, and eating. He even had the owner of Sweet P’s make me a special batch of meatloaf for today, so thank you Chris! Everyone in town is trying to convince me to zero tomorrow. Since it will be my month anniversary (calendar wise) tomorrow, I might do just that.

Day 31 Today I hit my fourth state line and Damascus! It’s been so amazing to hit my fourth state in under a month to say the least. Sadly, it rained the entire two hours down to town. I’m sort of getting used to the town rain. It’s rained on my way into every town other than Hot Springs. Anyway, I made it down to Damascus in less than 2 hours and got to eat two big meals before David came to meet me! I’m very happy to see him for sure. We did all the typical town stuff, hitting the outfitter and grocery, getting laundry done, and eating. He even had the owner of Sweet P’s make me a special batch of meatloaf for today, so thank you Chris! Everyone in town is trying to convince me to zero tomorrow. Since it will be my month anniversary (calendar wise) tomorrow, I might do just that.

Day 30

Had another long day today, 22.9 miles, but easy terrain! After going to bed in the pouring rain and waking up in the pouring rain, I got to hike for about an hour in the pouring rain :) After stopping at Iron Mountain Shelter to change my clothes and wring out my socks, the hiking was easy and damp. I came across some trail magic from a church at 11 a.m. and then less than 5 minutes later ran into Sipsey and his wife doing trail magic! Then, I got to walk on a handicapped accessible trail that ended in a cow field full of cows! It was very cool to walk through with all of them. The sun finally came out around 12 and stayed out all day, giving pretty views into the valley below as I was on a ridge line all day. I got to a good campsite around 6 pm and ate yet again (7 times today)! TP showed up around 8 and we built a good fire, only to have it start raining and get a strike of lightening in on us! We dove for cover in our tents and now I’m listening to it rain, talking to TP through our rain flys! Can’t wait to get into Damascus tomorrow and see my husband and wear dry clothes!

Day 29 
After zeroing yesterday it was so great to get back on the trail today!  We started our hike with an easy 3 miles to Laurel Falls and then uphill on Pond Mtn.  I ran into Bamboo Bob and then Grandbob on the mountain, Grandbob telling me of trail magic at the beach of Watauga Lake!  I got steak, hard-boiled eggs, and donuts!  After getting to Watauga Dam, a nasty storm blew in.  Wind and cold rain for a little while made for great company while walking up a steep mountain!  Miles and Biscuits caught up to us about 2 miles from Vanderver Shelter and I convinced them to move on 3.8 more miles to a campsite.  We made it 1:10 and had a nice fire before bed.  The photo on this post is a ‘Chuck Norris’ meme of sorts about Bob Peoples, owner of Kincora Hostel and a trail legend :)

Day 29
After zeroing yesterday it was so great to get back on the trail today! We started our hike with an easy 3 miles to Laurel Falls and then uphill on Pond Mtn. I ran into Bamboo Bob and then Grandbob on the mountain, Grandbob telling me of trail magic at the beach of Watauga Lake! I got steak, hard-boiled eggs, and donuts! After getting to Watauga Dam, a nasty storm blew in. Wind and cold rain for a little while made for great company while walking up a steep mountain! Miles and Biscuits caught up to us about 2 miles from Vanderver Shelter and I convinced them to move on 3.8 more miles to a campsite. We made it 1:10 and had a nice fire before bed. The photo on this post is a ‘Chuck Norris’ meme of sorts about Bob Peoples, owner of Kincora Hostel and a trail legend :)

Day 28 
Took a zero day at the hostel today along with everyone else here since it was SNOWING this morning!  More hikers showed up from Kincora Hostel - Snagglefoot, Nokey, Flash just to name a few.  We were all going to do nothing all day and we succeeded in doing just that!  We went to town for lunch and ate at a buffet and stocked up our food at Walmart before coming back and watching movies all day.  I also finally heard from Bob again, who will be back on trail and catch up soon.  I’m glad he’s alright in the snow since I know he left some winter gear at a shelter about a week ago.  I’m ready to get back onto the trail tomorrow and I’m hoping my Achilles tendon gives me no more problems.  I did buy some inserts at Walmart today for shock absorption, so  I’m hoping that will help!

Day 28
Took a zero day at the hostel today along with everyone else here since it was SNOWING this morning! More hikers showed up from Kincora Hostel - Snagglefoot, Nokey, Flash just to name a few. We were all going to do nothing all day and we succeeded in doing just that! We went to town for lunch and ate at a buffet and stocked up our food at Walmart before coming back and watching movies all day. I also finally heard from Bob again, who will be back on trail and catch up soon. I’m glad he’s alright in the snow since I know he left some winter gear at a shelter about a week ago. I’m ready to get back onto the trail tomorrow and I’m hoping my Achilles tendon gives me no more problems. I did buy some inserts at Walmart today for shock absorption, so I’m hoping that will help!

Day 27

We woke up today in cold and rainy weather, ready to do an easy 16 miles into town to stay at Kincora Hostel. Immediately upon leaving the shelter, my Achilles tendon flared back up and was angry! For 16 miles today, every step I took with my left foot was painful. We did some very easy terrain, but it took me nearly 7 hours to go 16 miles. When we finally got down the mountain to get to the hostel, we discovered it was full! We walked nearly another mile on the road to a second newer hostel and they had plenty of room for us and they sell beer! I spent 22 bucks in the store on miscellaneous food and ate nearly all of it. After a hot shower and clean laundry, I feel more human! We found out the forecast here tonight at the lower elevation is 37 and snow flurries, so we’re happy to have a heated cabin :) I’m hoping my foot feels better in the morning as well. If not, I may be yellow blazing to Damascus to rest for a week.

Day 26 
Hiked a short, slow day today, 18 miles, to Mountaineer Falls Shelter at mile 400.7.  Passed two waterfalls today, one 0.2 miles round-trip off trail.  Started the day with yet another climb of two balds!  I’m so tired of climbing balds.  I get it North Carolina, you have a lot of balds. I finally finished North Carolina today!  I’ll be out of TN in just 66 more miles as well, so it’s exciting to see how much progress I’ve made.   Pretty excited to get to Kincora tomorrow.  My left Achilles tendon has been screaming at me since about noon today, so I’m hoping for a less painful day tomorrow.  This is a photo of me at Jones Falls, which is about 0.1 miles off trail.

Day 26
Hiked a short, slow day today, 18 miles, to Mountaineer Falls Shelter at mile 400.7. Passed two waterfalls today, one 0.2 miles round-trip off trail. Started the day with yet another climb of two balds! I’m so tired of climbing balds. I get it North Carolina, you have a lot of balds. I finally finished North Carolina today! I’ll be out of TN in just 66 more miles as well, so it’s exciting to see how much progress I’ve made. Pretty excited to get to Kincora tomorrow. My left Achilles tendon has been screaming at me since about noon today, so I’m hoping for a less painful day tomorrow. This is a photo of me at Jones Falls, which is about 0.1 miles off trail.

Day 24 Started strong out of Erwin with Nitrous this morning. We started the day with overcast weather, but it was turning into a nice day about four miles in. We climbed up over Beauty Spot and then moved on to our tough climb , Unaka! It turned out to be not only easier than I thought, but also my favorite mountain of the hike so far. On the way up it was rocky, then more bald-like, finally ending at 5100 feet in a spruce forest. A gorgeous climb and then a hike downhill to the shelter. An easy 17-mile day for sure! Tomorrow we have a long 22.5-miler to get to Overmountain Shelter and climbing Roan Mountain! This is looking up to Mt Unaka from the Beauty Spot.

Day 24 Started strong out of Erwin with Nitrous this morning. We started the day with overcast weather, but it was turning into a nice day about four miles in. We climbed up over Beauty Spot and then moved on to our tough climb , Unaka! It turned out to be not only easier than I thought, but also my favorite mountain of the hike so far. On the way up it was rocky, then more bald-like, finally ending at 5100 feet in a spruce forest. A gorgeous climb and then a hike downhill to the shelter. An easy 17-mile day for sure! Tomorrow we have a long 22.5-miler to get to Overmountain Shelter and climbing Roan Mountain! This is looking up to Mt Unaka from the Beauty Spot.

Day 23

Today was a super hard emotional day for me. I found out this morning that Bob had to get off the trail. It broke my Heart to lose my partner yet again. Out in the trail, you bond with people so quickly that it hurts when they have to leave. I hope Bob gets back soon. I had a Nero day from 5,8 miles up to Erwin and stayed at Uncle Johnny’s hostel just off the trail. Had two all- you-can-eat meals and then did some grocery shopping, which was overwhelming due to my partner being gone since we had a resupply plan. I hooked up with Brownie (formerly Alyssa) and Wall-e, with Krispy Kreme showing up after the lunch shuttle. Nitrous also came in around 3 and we’ve planned to hike to Damascus together to meet our spouses next week, 125.1 miles and less than 7 days from here. Life must go on I suppose. I really hope Bob is okay though and hope he’s back soon. On to a 20-mile day tomorrow, climbing Mt Unaka!

Day 21

I cannot believe that I’ve hiked 100 miles in such a short period of time! Today we hit the 300-mile mark at Jerry Cabin Shelter at around 11 a.m. Considering I took a zero day recently, we’re all pretty excited with out progress! Wall-e, Alyssa, and Krispy Kreme have been pacing with Bob and me. They started the same day we did and we’re all moving quick. It’s nice to have a little group forming that we travel with. We had some tough climbs today to say the least. I wanted to give a big congrats to Nitrous Oxide today! While Bob and I did 21.5 mile, Nitrous did 32.8 today! He was hiking in memory of those killed at VA Tech in the shooting two years ago. He raised money on his blog today as well, due to his awesome effort, for the Delta Society, which provides therapy dogs for those in need. Congrats to him for sure! Another long day planned for tomorrow, 20.7 at least, and then Erwin the next day for hot showers! I think the thru hiker smell is really starting to set in with this terrible heat, ha!

Day 20

My first day back hiking with Bob and I was so happy to have a partner on a tough day to say the least. The climbs today weren’t difficult, but the temperature was about 30 degrees warmer than the last day I did a full day of hiking! Bob drank nearly 7 liters of water today and I had 5 and we both got headaches and dehydrated. It was incredibly hot towards the end of the day. We had planned to do 21.5 miles, but cut it short at 19.5 in order to stay at a shelter with good water. After a big dinner and a lot of water we both felt better and we are ready to face tomorrow!

Day 16

Staying at Standing Bear Hostel with Naked Ninja, Nitrous Oxide, and Ultra Violet. There are a ton of people here, but there are a lot of super drunk people here also. It was another windy day in the Smokies, very brutal and I’m surprised I’m not wind burned! Did 18 easy miles with great views and had amazing trail magic that consisted of calzones and all you can eat snack foods! I’ve also had a few steam-cold beers too! I’m looking forward to good weather at Max Patch tomorrow and Hot Springs the next day. I’m already in need of a second pair of shoes! Below is a photo of the calzone I got cooked in the fire :)

Day 15

Today I reached not only the highest point on the AT, but the 200-mile mark! Most of you reading this can drive up and walk 0.5 miles to get there :) I did a super hard and long day all the way to Tricorner Knob to try and meet up with Bob from Maine. Turns out, he left the shelter just before I got here! It’s super cold today and the wind blew all day long. I’m glad to be sleeping in the shelter tonight for sure! Going to Standing Bear Hostel tomorrow and hope to get a bunk and some resupply to get me to Hot Springs. I’m also hoping for warmer weather and no more wind!

Day 14

Got back on the trail today and was feeling a little discouraged. I didn’t see any hikers until Silers Bald, where I ran into the wolfpack. They were mostly moving on to Double Spring Gap. I stayed there that night and got there super early, 3:30. I was tempted to move on, but the next shelter was 7 miles away and since you can’t stealth in the Smokies, I stayed put. Had a great night in camp, singing songs with Atlas, who has a guitar and ukulele! We had a good fire to keep warm and the wind blew all night long! At some points, it blew underneath my tent and lifted it while I was in it! A long night for sure. Below, left to right - Rocket, Cheeks, Spam, and Atlas.