A 2,200 mile hike with my dog Nara.
Oct 17, 2013
The AT follows the Tennessee-North Carolina border for over a hundred miles, all the way through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
One day we're in Tennessee, the next in North Carolina, and then back in Tennessee. It can get a little confusing.
Nevertheless, we're very close to Georgia. The other day I saw the 2,000 mile marker on a rock. The end of our AT journey is near.
Oct 17, 2013
After a long day of hiking, we stopped by a shelter, but it was already crowded with section hikers. I took a look at my guide and saw that there was a fire tower about 3 miles further, so we trekked on until sunset.
When Nara and I arrived, we saw Squints, another Southbounder, having dinner in the tower. It was a nice surprise to have the company of another thru-hiker.
The tower was easily one of my favorite places to stay.
Squints enjoying the view
It was a cold, windy night
Oct 17, 2013
The weekend hike with friends was a nice break from pushing bigger mile days.
We had some big climbs, but we also had some good views.
On the last night, we checked the weather forecast, which called for heavy rain in the evening. After setting up camp, we decided to just pack up and night hike to the car and get a motel room.
Our plans kept changing by the hour, but sometimes it's more fun to be spontaneous and flexible.
In the morning, we had a big breakfast and squeezed in a quick board game. The waitress seemed quite amused, and I believe Jimmy gave her a big tip for tolerating our nerdiness.
Setting up tarp to protect us from the wind
Early to bed
Nice Tennessee shelter
Top of the morning
He takes better photos
Enjoying the view
Night hiking to civilization
Oct 11, 2013
I had the luxury of hiking part of the AT with friends from back home. They came out for a weekend, and pampered me like I was a kid brother.
It started off with text messages on top of a mountain. They wanted to meet me at a closer spot, so I didn't have to walk a 25+ mile day. It sounded great to me, but once I descended the mountain, I had no signal as I waited until night time for them to arrive at the trailhead, where we would camp.
They were suppose to arrive around 7 just before it got dark. Unfortunately they weren't there at 7. I waited in the pitch dark on a small, quiet road that winded up the mountain. I had all these scenarios running through my head as I paced back and forth on the road: "did they get lost? Car accident? Flight delay? Were they still coming or did they give up and find a motel? Should I go set camp and figure what went wrong tomorrow?" Fortunately I saw headlights around 8:45, slowly creeping up the hilly road. It was them, which gave me a huge sense of relief.
While I was waiting, the blunt brothers passed me by. They were feeling sluggish, so they decided to stop and camp at the same spot. They got a nice fire going and made me coffee while I waited up on the road.
When my friends John and Jimmy arrived, they drove me back to town to pick up burgers, snacks, and beers. We shared with the blunt brothers as we hung out around the fire. We probably stayed up later than we should have, but it's rare that we get burgers, beer, a nice fire, and good company.
Late breakfast next morning
Exhausted from all the traveling and late night "partying"
Oct 10, 2013
After a string of long mileage dayss I was lucky to meet Rob Bird one morning at a trailhead, where he had just dropped off the Blunt brothers.
Rob is a dedicated trail angel. He use to run a hostel up in Dalton, Massachusetts until he moved south to Erwin, Tennessee.
He offered me drinks and snacks, and then offered to slackpack me (take all my gear sans water and snacks), so that I could quickly hike the next 20 miles to Erwin. He would then pick me up and I could stay at his place for the night. I almost declined (had to push miles to meet up with friends) but when I heard the Blunt brothers were staying with him another night, I decided it was too good an offer to refuse.
Getting ready for the trail next morning
Blunt brothers and Robb
Oct 10, 2013
It's been quiet hiking through Virginia, but I finally caught up to some southbound thru-hikers.
I've hiked a few days with the Blunt brothers whom I haven't seen since Maine back in early June.
These guys are interesting characters. They're actual brothers with zero backpacking experience before they embarked on their thru-hike.
They started off with 50 pound packs, and still kept running out of food before reaching their resupply points.
But after a few months they seem like seasoned hikers. Joe, the older brother, completed a 24-hour challenge, which is to see how many miles you can hike in a full day. He hiked 53 miles, walking all night until 8 in the morning until he reached the town of Duncannon in Pennsylvania. That's a lot of night hiking!
Marty, the younger brother, had to get off the trail for awhile, but he didn't skip miles. Rather he hiked longer miles, while Joe slowed down to wait for him. I saw him hike back to back 35 mile days to catch up to his brother.
They're strong hikers without the egos. I think their motto should be hike hard, play harder as they know how to have a good time.
Joe and Marty aka the blunt brothers
Oct 10, 2013