A 2,200 mile hike with my dog Nara.
Nov 18, 2013
We made it to Springer Mountain! It's a small mountain (below 4,000 feet) with a plaque at the summit. A lot of hikers complain that it's anti-climactic, especially compared to Katahdin, the northern terminus of the AT. But for me, it was always about the journey, not the destination.
We hiked 2,186 miles hiked in just under 5 months. Nara hiked the whole thing with me excluding Baxter State Park (15 miles) in Maine, and the Smokys (70 miles) in North Carolina.
I don't know about Nara, but I'm ready to return to the modern world. I'll never take shelter and a warm, clean bed for granted again.
This journey could not have been completed on my own. I would like to thank:
-my amazing parents for their love, support, and encouragement.
-Nara for being a wonderful companion and watchdog when I slept.
-my awesome brother Liam for calling and checking up on me on those lonely nights.
-my wonderful friends Willy, KJ, Schuck, and Jimmy for coming out and hiking/camping with me. In this busy world, i've learned that a friend's time is a precious gift.
-my other friends Hoon, John, and Tara for helping pick up and drop-off Nara. You guys are clutch.
-my fellow thru-hikers and section-hikers for all that we went through together
-all the trail angels we met along the way. It is a generous and kind world if you turn off the evening news and go hiking.
-and finally, God for giving me the courage to embark, health to walk, and strength to endure.
And now for some victory poses at Springer:
Nov 18, 2013
Nov 15, 2013
Here's a good clinic on backpacking gear and skills.
Nov 15, 2013
Who doesn't like a good quote?
You can't expect to be old and wise if you were never young and crazy.Unknown
There is no education like adversity.Benjamin Disraeli
All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.T.E. Lawrence
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.Steve Jobs
Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
If you believe in trying to make the best of the finite number of years we have on this planet (while not making it any worse for anyone else), think that pride and self-righteousness are the cause of most conflict and negativity, and are humbled by the vastness and mystery of the Universe, then I'm the same religion as you.Salmon Khan
Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is right, even if no one is doing it.G.K. Chesterton
Nov 14, 2013
I have no more guidebook pages to follow. It is hard to believe.
Back in Maine, I still remember how daunting it felt skimming the 200+ page guidebook. How was I going to make it all the way to Georgia? So much could happen between Maine and Georgia: injury, illness, moose or bears attacks, snakes, lyme disease, rats, spider bites, crazy people, loneliness. I had hiked only a few days and was exhausted, yet I had so many tall mountains to hike and rivers to ford. It was too overwhelming to imagine.
But like many other successful thru-hikers, I think I had the right mentality: take it day by day, one page at a time. If you have a big goal, break it down into smaller, short-term goals. If you're consistent, disciplined, and patient, you will reach that big goal that seemed so unattainable at the beginning.
Nov 14, 2013
The Walasi-Yi Inn is a sixty-year old stone building next to the trail head at Neels Gap. We're approximately 30 miles from Springer mountain, the southern terminus of the AT.
For North bound hikers, Neels Gap is one of the first milestones There's a tree next to the hostel where many hikers have tossed up their boots and gone home. The first week is always hard acclimating to life in the woods.
For South bounders, Neels Gap is basically the end. I had heard so much about Neels Gap from North bounders up in New England. Now, I am actually here after months on the trail.
Just a few more days until Springer.
Hostel at Neels Gap
Nov 11, 2013
It's a tourist town. We didn't plan to visit, but after hearing they were still celebrating Oktoberfest and being offered a ride into town, we couldn't say no.
Even with the swarms of tourist in town, we stuck out with our backpacks and dogs.
Everyone was so friendly to us, and kept wanting to hear about our hike. Since we were near the end, they also kept congratulating us and buying us rounds of beers. I'm glad we stopped.
Friendly hikers -- gave us a ride and slipped us some lunch money.
Can't tell you how many pickup trucks we've sat in with all these dogs
Tons of restaurants in Helen
Didn't look like any of the other towns we had stopped by
Live music and beer gardens all over town
Walking around town
Ended up here somehow. I beat a guy at pool and won a ride back to the trail head later that night.
Nov 11, 2013
It's getting cold -- below freezing temperature cold! Mardy's sleeping bag isn't warm enough. He didn't get any sleep the last two nights, so we decided to go into Hiawassee, get a motel room, and find Mardy a sleeping bag liner.
The problem was that all the motels were booked for a concert and the outfitter in town had no liners! It was demoralizing.
We found a McDonalds with a sympathetic staff. They let us stay inside after we ate. At closing, we looked around and found a hidden spot close to the McDonalds where we stealth camped. The next day we packed up before sunrise and had a long breakfast inside.
It was another sleepless night for Marty. Thankfully the forecast said it was suppose to get warmer. We decided to continue hiking and stop early so we could all nap...while the sun was still shining.