As of March 31 I’ve stopped hiking the AT due to Uncle Sam saying I owe them more money which means that that is going to be taking over half my money I had planned for the hike. I’m in the process of getting another blog ready plus I’m moving forward in my plans and moving back to Colorado. I do plan on completing the whole AT however I need to work on getting my photography off the ground.
I learned a lot of lessons while I was hiking. One of those lessons I learned is no matter what the trail throws at you just take it as it is and keep moving forward. That’s what I plan to do with my photography. If you want to see my photography I recommend you check out my Instagram account, hikingviking1331. It’s the only social media I deal with other than my blog. I look forward to this new chapter in my life. I hope to have my first art show later this year. Stay tuned for more AT blog posts in the future.
The man introduced himself. I’m going to call him Mark. *Before I continue I just want you to know that I am horrible when it comes to names. I haven’t remember hardly anybody’s name while hiking. Mark started telling to me about the area and growing up in Canada. The area was beautiful. Lots of farm fields and open hilly land. As I started getting closer to Hiawassee, I noticed a few big lakes. Later I learned they were all connected in that area near the town. The water levels looked pretty low at least 10’/3m low. Some of the boats that were out in the water were almost touching the bottom of the lake. I started to wonder if they were in a drought. About a half an hour later we get into town. He drops me off at a hotel at the beginning of town. Mark told me he has a hotel in Franklin, NC and shuttle’s hikers into town over there as well on certain days of the week.
When I got to town food was the main thing on my mind. Once I got some food and resupplied I knew I could relax later on. So, I told Mark that I was going to walk up the street to get something to eat. I tried to hitch a ride to the closest grocery store but no luck. I walked a few blocks before I found something. I walked over to the Hardee’s and grabbed something to eat. I sent out a few messages to family and friends letting them know I’m ok. After I ate I went over to the grocery store which wasn’t far from Hardee’s. Not really sure what I was going to be getting for food on the trail but decided I’ll figure something out. While I was in there I ran into some other hikers from the night before. We chatted a bit and they were just there to resupply then they were heading back on the trail. So I started getting random stuff not really sure what I needed to get. I just knew that the only cooking that needed to be done was with water. So, I looked for easy to make food with water. I grabbed a few snacks, instant mashed potatoes and a few things I could eat at the hotel later on in the day. In the morning I never really made breakfast. I just would eat snacks cause usually my fingers were too cold to work right. I left the store with a somewhat full belly and about 3-4 bags of goodies. Feeling somewhat better I made my way back to the hotel that Mark dropped me off at. I got a room and as soon as I got in I dropped my backpack on the bed and laid down on the other bed. My shoulders and lower back were killing me. My body was still not use to all this extra weight I was carrying. I did some stretching and massaged my shoulders and legs. I took a nice warm shower and when I got out I felt tremendous. I turned the heater on and pulled up two chairs that were in the room. I started to unpack my backpack since it was wet and putting all the dry things in one pile and the wet stuff was put on the chair or hung on the chair to dry near the heater. I started to eat some of the food I bought and turned on the tv to check the weather for the next few days. The up coming days looked nice for the most part but there were a few days with rain and nights were still pretty cold. Most of the nights were close to freezing. I turned the tv off and meditated for about fifteen minutes.
When I got out of my meditative state I felt a lot better. I started to jot down the events on the last few days on a piece of paper. I thought to myself, if this happened the first week of hiking the AT then I can’t wait to see what adventures await me next. I relaxed the rest of the day massaging my legs and feet while the rest of my stuff was drying near the heater. I watched a little bit of tv but mostly read a pdf I had on my phone. Day turned to night and I planned the next few days out. Seems like there is a hostal at the other side of Hiawassee. As I plotted the next day I realized that it was going to be a 17m/27km hike to the other side of town. Later I debated if I was going to stay there or just try to get to the shelter after the gap. I guess I’ll wait and see how I feel when I get to that situation.
The next day I woke up around five that morning and started getting my stuff situated before I headed out for the day. I snacked on a few things. I put my jacket on and backpack and was out the door. No one was in the office so I though I could just drop the key in a slot or something. No slot to be found. I looked all over for a place to put the key. Nothing. I just placed the key at the office door and hoped no one would do any damage in my room. I left and across the street was a gas station. There was a truck there and I’m guessing the owner went to go pay for gas. As I crossed the street I saw him come out and get in his truck. I hurried across the street to see if he could give me a ride. I got all the way to his truck and he was looking at a receipt paying no attention to me. I waved my hands near his truck trying not to startle him then he looked up and saw me. I asked if I could get a ride to the trail and he said sure. So I hopped in and away we went. We got to the gap and he wished me luck as I thanked him for the ride and started my 17m/27km hike.
The next day was the worst. I felt like I had one hell of a leg day at the gym. It hurt all over my back and legs. I didn’t do much moving around at first. Then I started going over in my head as to what I needed to do on my zero day. Dry my tent out from the first night, meditate and stretch. I almost forgot I had some other hikers coming by that morning for breakfast. Shortly after I got ready the other hikers came over for breakfast. We talked about the previous day, the weather and the upcoming days. As we heard each other’s plans I started cooking. One of the hikers mentioned I should get a sleeping bag liner. It would make it warmer in my sleeping bag on those cold nights. I decided to check it out later that day. Nothing like eggs and bacon for breakfast. I wish I had some grits that would make it perfect.
After they left I got my tent and draped it over the stair rail and on one of the ceiling beams so it could dry. Still super exhausted from the previous day I decided to just lay in bed to regain my strength. I drifted in and out of sleep until 15:00 then got out of bed. I felt a little better. I went back up to the hiker store to see check it out.
As you go through the front door they had shirts and touristy stuff on the right and hiker gear on the left. As I looked at all the shirts and touristy things I must admit I like some of the shirts and wish I could get them but it would mean more weight and it’s a bit challenging for me now. I saw how they had a shake down. Shake down is when hikers bring their gear in. They place it on the ground so it’s not in the way of other costumer’s and take everything out of the backpack. One of the employees then starts looking at what you brought to see if they can shed some weight off for you. Usually hikers bring in way more than they need on the first thru hike. So, when they are done with your gear you can mail it back home. Some people keep a few items some mail what they took out without question.
It was pretty interesting seeing how they would go through and pick out stuff. It’s crazy what stuff people bring thinking it’s going to help them when it just weighs you down and they don’t use it nearly as much or at all. The food they had was pricey. I got a bunch of sweets, beef jerky and a Mountain house meal. I wanted to ask someone about my backpack and if I was doing something wrong since my shoulders hurt so much. He showed me a few things as I started getting a better understanding of all the straps when it comes to hiking up and down hill. I felt better and a bit more confident now. Then I asked them what did they have for sleep liners. They didn’t have much. He showed me a few different ones and recommended a fleece one. However it was really bulky and my backpack was pretty stuff already. So, I ended up going for the more expensive one cause of space. I also found an inflatable travel pillow. I was just using my jacket as a pillow and this was super small and light. Why not? I left excited because I couldn’t wait until the next day when I try them out. I came back to the cabin and finished off the pizza. I went up to the main cabin to use the WiFi so I could check some things out and let people know I’m ok. When I got up there a group of hikers was already there talking about their adventure. I smelled the pizza cooking and a nice comfy couch calling my name. I ask the lady that worked there if my clothes were ready. They wash your clothes for free. She pointed where they were at and I grabbed them. I did some web surfing (mainly looking at the weather figuring out my next few days) and talked with a few hikers. After an hour I left and went back to the cabin. Got my clothes packed up and checked my tent to see if it was dry yet. I packed everything up that I wouldn’t need for that day and the next morning. I was planning another early morning hike. I got in bed and turned the light off.
**forgot to mention. While in Stover Creek one hiker mentioned that there was a big rain storm coming and it would be best to get to the first town. Heavy rains and semi high winds I was told.
About an hour after the first guy left and a group of three people left I headed out on my first fifteen mile hike. One reason I left early is cause when I got to Stover Creek shelter it was starting to get dark. So, I wanted to make sure I had enough daylight to get there plus I was lower on food than expected since I ate some the first night. I did rather well for a while. Got some good time on flat spots until I got to Blood Mountain.
Its the first hard mountain to conquer. I’m not sure if going up was harder than going down. Some of the angles going up we’re about 60-70° with stairs that some were as high as 1ft/30cm. Going down was a little different. Some spots the angle was the same
however the drops were much more. Some were from 1ft/30cm to 2ft/61cm. After getting over this monstrosity and I saw the first shop we came to I was excited. More or less because I could take my backpack off and give my shoulders and back a nice break. I heard there were some mountain rentals available and filling fast so someone let me use their phone so I could call and reserve before I lost out. Once I got the reservation, I decided to go down there so I could drop my things and rest.
When I walked up to where the office was at I noticed it was the basement of this mountain house and it looked a lot like an old country store. A lot like the country stores in the mountains of North Carolina. The people who ran the place lived above the office. I told the lady at the counter that I was there for two nights. Since that storm was coming I didn’t mind taking a zero day (zero day meaning no hiking) after all I was so sore from Blood Mountain. Got the keys, some pizza they made there and some eggs and bacon for breakfast the following day. Walking back to the cabin I was hurting. However I was excited. I had a whole pizza and cabin. The pain didn’t feel like it was there. The cabins were small.
When you walked in the stairs were close to the front door and to the left was a bedroom. A very small bedroom with barely enough room for a queen sized bed, night stand and dresser. In fact looking at it from the family room they just added the wall and roof to make the room. The upstairs had the same stuff but looked like it had a bit more room. The rest of the house had plenty of room to move around. It looks like a nice little get-away house.
I put the pizza down, took my shoes off and sat on the couch. I started devouring it. Two slices down and my body is still highly stressed out from the backpack so I decide to take a shower. There is something about taking a shower and afterwards feeling like a million dollars. Boy oh boy did I feel like a million dollars. I went and ate three more slices. I started to feel full and also realized I didn’t have anything to eat for my zero day other than breakfast so I saved the rest.
Some people wonder why someone would want to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Everybody has their reason’s why they do it or any great feat. Sometimes it’s personal and sometimes its to see if they can. Sometimes it might be facing demons they didn’t think they could face and when they do it’s doesn’t seem as bad as they made it out to be in their heads. Well here are some of my reason’s why I’m hiking the trail.
- I’ve never done anything like this before.
- Inspiration comes in many forms.
- I want to motivate people to do more out of life and get more value in their lives.
- Hiking is my therapy and I feel a connection with nature.
- It was the last adventure I was planning before my mom passed. In a way I’m doing it for her.
- I feel a connection with nature.
- I haven’t really lived my life the way I have been wanting to.
- I’ve never seen this country on foot.
- I have more freedom than I did before. I plan to keep it that way.
- Cause why not?
Two weeks ago I went to a annual Christmas family reunion party. I always enjoy going to these the older I get. It’s funny how I know all, if not most, of the older people yet, the younger crowd I’m completely clueless as to who is who. While I was there I was talking with one of my older cousins about my upcoming journey. He told me he has hiked the trail in several spots over the past thirty years but hasn’t gone the whole thing from beginning to end. He seemed awfully surprised when I told him my sleeping bag is rated to 40°F. I’m figuring that when I start hiking in mid Feb that with my layers and the sleeping bag I should be fine plus, I’ll have the tent too which would help block some of the wind. *mental note- I should email them about this to see if I am correct*. He told me he has a book he wants me to read that is about the trail. A few days later I get the book in the mail. I haven’t had time to read it yet but I’m looking forward to getting some of it read next week. Seems like it would be a fast read since the font is bigger than most the fonts in books I read.
The following week my siblings and I had an estate sale. Naturally, I didn’t want to be anywhere near that. Its bad enough my mom pasted last Oct. but now we are at the point that we can’t keep the house, let alone fix it up. Almost forty years in this house that I have always called home. So I went up to Charlotte to hang out with a friend and have some much needed therapy by doing some hiking in the mountains. The mountains ended up getting about 6-8″ of snow. It was nice seeing that white stuff again. I do miss seeing snow since I moved back to SC. The Blue Ridge Parkway was closed and some other spots she had in mind to hike were closed as well. Alas we found a spot and hiked about a half mile before we were on the top. Up there was when I started getting really nervous. Having to watch every little step I took. Snow and ice is unforgiving and if I slipped then I’m sure I would be done for cause there was nothing really to grab on to. When we were on the way back to her place she mentioned she had a book for me to have. That book is called “Walking with Spring” by Earl Shaffer, the first person to complete the trail in it’s entirety. I got some reading to do. I hope to get some really great tips from both books.
So, I have a few people who have asked me if I have started a gofundme page cause they said they would like to donate. I think it is a bit silly but if that is their way of showing me support the by all means. Please donate
I have been doing a lot of research on the best materials to bring along the trail. Which is very important seeing how materials are easier to breath vs other hold in sweat. I hope to get that post up this weekend.