A typical day on the AT

4/13/15 – Random Campsite at Greasy Creek Gap – 16miles



This entry describes a terrible amount of food intake in one day. Most of the food listed below is junk. Apparently I was really hungry.

A break down of my day:

  • Wake up at 5:30am.
  • Pee
  • Eat a Cookie Dough Pop-Tart with Peanut Butter.
  • Pack my shit up in the tent.
  • Stop packing my shit to find a poo spot.
  • Holler at Roub (He got to close to my poo spot).
  • Finish packing my shit up.
  • Put on my stinky, sweaty boots.
  • Take down the tent.
  • Brush my teeth.
  • Pee
  • Look over campsite to make sure I have left nothing behind.
  • Pee
  • Start hiking.
  • Think about lunch.
  • After three miles, filter more water.
  • Pee
  • Hike through a section of wilderness that resembles the home of the Big Bad Wolf or possibly Maleficent.
  • Daydream about Disney Characters hiking with me and wondering around in the woods.
  • Wish I were a mermaid.
  • Eat a honey bun and think of my dad (he loves honey buns).
  • Think about other times in my life I have ate honey buns.
  • Hike a few miles.
  • Eat Cliff Bar.
  • Read the ever so positive message on the back of the Cliff Bar.
  • Hike a bit more before eating a Snickers Bar (I am super hungry).
  • Meet Darwin at a shelter for lunch.
  • Bitch about the eternity I hiked to get to the shelter for lunch.
  • Eat lunch consisting of two tortillas with pepperonis, cheese, and a side of Penguins (off brand Gold-Fish).
  • Discuss our mileage conquered and mileage left for the day.
  • Wait for Cider, Roub, and Supermoon at the shelter (tramily!).
  • Start falling asleep while waiting for tramily.
  • Start hiking again with parts of various Queen songs stuck in my head.
  • Wish I had brought my I-Pod.
  • Take a mental note I need to ask mom to send my I-Pod.
  • Wonder where I left my I-Pod at home.
  • Take my pack off, sit on a stump, and eat another honey bun.
  • Hike the last few miles to our campsite for the night.
  • Sit down and eat some more Penguins.
  • Pitch Tent.
  • Set out sleeping pad and bag.
  • Change into camp clothes.
  • Filter water for dinner.
  • Fix dinner consisting of Mac & Cheese with a tuna pack mixed in, M&M’s, and hot chocolate.
  • Take a poo.
  • Talk with tramily about food.
  • Talk with tramily about our day.
  • Filter more water.
  • Hang bear bag (or watch Darwin hang bag).
  • Snuggle in sleeping bag.
  • Review mileage for tomorrow.
  • Wonder what my family is doing.
  • Wonder what my Bowie Dog is doing.
  • Write in Journal.
  • Sleep



The Twenty Question Hitch

3/31/15  – Ice Water Shelter  –  7 miles

We decided to risk it and head into Gatlinburg for food and a mental break after the last two big mile days. I was against this idea at first but my love of both Gatlinburg and pizza over took my better judgment. The four miles we had in the morning was nothing but smooth trail as Darwin, Cider and I talked about board games. We hit Newfound Gap and found the trail magic that we had heard about the day before. A couple on their anniversary was set up in the parking lot with tons of ready to eat food and enough packaged items to fully resupply on. I immediately scarfed down a donut and chugged chocolate milk. I then headed back for the best egg salad sandwich I’ve ever had and a brick of a brownie. The couple providing the trail magic had never hiked the trail nor had the desire to do so but simply loved hikers and the stories they shared. They had been providing trail magic for the last four years.

After visiting and more eating, we got a hitch from a trail runner that literally ran by us. He was vacationing with is family in Gatlinburg for the week and had came up to the gap to run a few trails. His hotel was perfectly located right across from yet another NOC. At the NOC we signed the same trail log Darwin and I had looked over on our vacation in October. It was very surreal to now be standing in the same spot as a hiker.

We mellowed out at Mellow Mushroom and I drank my first full bottle of beer. I have never tried a beer that I really liked but that bottle of Blue Moon tasted like heaven. With full bellies, we headed back over to the NOC for hobo showers. Only Cruise Control was smart enough to have actually hiked with a travel towel. The rest of use resorted to drying off with paper towels and dirty clothes. We laid out on the lawn of the NOC to dry ourselves and clothes we attempted to clean in the shower. At this point in our hike we have become accustomed to the looks we get from those other clean smelling people.

We split into small groups and attempted to start hitching back to the trail. You would think this would be easy but many tourists are not aware of the trail. They only see hikers as dirty murders looking for their next victim. Roub and Cider got a ride first from two ladies in a red convertible. We could only guess that they mistook Roub for a woman due to his kilt. Five and Cruise Control were next thanks to Cruise’s long blond locks, leaving Darwin and I. We had attempted hitches before all of them. I had a feeling our bad luck was due to my not so feminine hiker look. A girl will always get a hitch before a guy. I took a mental note that I needed to purchase a blond wig in the next town. After several false pull offs for picture opportunities, what seemed like hundreds of cars full of people waving and a few shouting obscenities at us, a car finally pulled over after a hour.

I ran up to the car first and dunked in the window to see a young girl about eighteen or nineteen. She looked scared to death. She asked Darwin and I for our ids and after inspecting them, asked if we had any criminal records. We confessed our sins of speeding tickets only to be asked if we had any weapons. We explained guns were to heavy to carry but we did have pocketknives. She of course asked for them and being so desperate to get back on trail, we handed them over. She still seemed very weary of us. I could see her start to reconsider her decision to pick us up so I offered up the only extra weight I had on me besides food and gear; five bucks and my birth control pills. She accepted the five bucks and thankfully let me keep my pills and we were finally allowed in her car. She then asked us if she could get arrested for picking us up and we assured her if she wouldn’t tell we wouldn’t. By the time we made it back to the gap we had become fast friends with this young woman. We shared stories of the trail and she shared her dreams of the future. She of course admitted she had never picked up a hitchhiker and we acted surprised to hear this. At the gap she returned our knives and we took a quick picture together hopefully leaving a good hiker impression on her.

Back on trail we hiked our last three miles of the day powered up with pizza and full of laughs. We arrived at the shelter to cheers from our tramily and each shared the stories of our hitches. We devoured the town food we hiked out and settled in with an amazing view of the mountains and dreams of our upcoming zero day in Hot Springs. Another amazing day on the trail!


3/27/15 Patrick Swayze and the Smokey Mountains

3/27/15 – 3/28/15 Fontana Dam Village – Unknown Shelter

We hiked out seven miles to Fontana Dam Village. The village made feel as if I was on the set for Dirty Dancing! Roub, Cider, Darwin and I along with another hiker couple Tough Little Biscuit and Optimist, all shared a little cabin. We did the usual laundry, showers, ate, resupplied, and ate more. We walked the grounds and explored the hotel as scenes from Dirty Dancing floated in my head.

We listened as other hikers came and went discussing the weather conditions for the Smokies. These mountains seemed so friendly and homey to Darwin and I thanks to our yearly vacations to Gatlinburg, TN. They now seemed incredibly intimidating as the their snow covered peaks loomed in the distance from the window I gazed from. When I turned to look out the window again just a few minutes later, I couldn’t even see the peaks thanks to the snow filled clouds that had settled over them. EEEESSSSSSHHHH!!!! I forced myself to return to my fantasies of carrying watermelons to Patrick Swayze; it was safe there.

We woke the next morning to our cabin dusted with snow and headed up to the hotel to eat breakfast; I did my best to not look out the windows. I lingered in the hallway lined with pictures of early pioneers living and thriving in the Great Smoky Mountains. I tried to gather strength from these stern faced, long ago peoples. I followed their pictures down the hallway straight to the bathroom room at least four times before leaving.

We hiked passed the famous Fontana Hilton and continued on to Fontana Dam. It was hard to hear anything thanks to the wind but I am pretty sure we all agreed Harrison Ford would have never survived his escape in real life. A little further on we passed the Smoky Mountain National Park Sign. After so many years of driving to the Smokey Mountains, we had walked here!

The trail traversed over spots of snow and cliffs. Looking out as we climbed, I could not believe how dwarfed the massive dam had become. We made it to the shelter and did everything with extra movements in order to keep warm. After dinner I did all my chores before slipping into my sleeping bag with a goal of not emerging until morning.

Currently there is s a tarp blocking the open front of the shelter and thanks to the hard work of Cray-Nip, Lucky Strike, Darwin and a few others; we have plenty of wood to keep a good fire going. I think I forgot to mention that it has dropped down past thirty degrees. Hence, why I am writing super sloppy with T-Rex arms sticking out from my sleeping bag.

The shelter was packed but everyone seems in good spirits. We saw some beautiful stuff today on the way in. The trees are covered with ice and sound like chandeliers when the wind blows and I hiked under an ice covered Rhododendron Tunnel. NOTE: We found out the next morning thanks to a weather app, that it had dropped down to nine degrees that night!


3/25/15 The NOC

3/25/15     Sassafras Shelter   8 miles

We woke up this morning to a lucky “no rain day” as we were originally expecting. We hiked a mile to the Nantahala Center (NOC), which was super cool. The AT goes directly over the Nantahala River via bridge. It was really cool to see this place in person. Darwin and I had seen this area numerous times while researching the trail. There is a huge white water rafting community here. We saw lots of families seemly on vacation leaving me with a twinge of homesickness. Just a twinge mind you!

I got a pair of sock liners to help prevent future blisters and excitedly printed out our permits for the Smoky Mountains, which are looming in our future.

Outside the outfitters we bumped into Seven who is another trail celebrity we had watched a ton of videos from before we started our hike. We talked with him for a few minutes and of course…. he invited us to a hiker party. In the short time we spent with him he seemed true to the hiker shown in his videos. It’s so cool to meet people like this and to see places we had only seen in videos before. THEY DO EXIST!

We ate at the River Water Restaurant where we again partook of beef; it did not disappoint. Ahhhhh the life of a meat eater…

Fueled up on town food, we headed out for 3,000 foot climb which took us over three hours. It was awesome to see the NOC in person then to watch it fade away to the size of an ant. It got pretty hot today and for a moment I felt like Cheryl Strayed in the Mojave Desert, hot and needing water. Mid climb we came across a small waterfall. What luck! It was nothing big but we were able to splash our faces with the cold water and fill up our bottles. After filtering, the water tasted amazing as any would after hiking a few miles on empty.

We saw a few snakes on our climb today and Cray-Nip (still with us since Standing Indian Shelter) caught two of them. I got a great picture of him holding one of the little guys. Seeing the snakes gave me thoughts of spring and permanent warmer weather.

We originally planned on doing fifteen miles today but the climb zapped our energy and with prediction of rain, we stopped short at eight miles. I felt more confident today keeping up with our “train” better than yesterday. Feeling sore but feeling good!