5 Photos From My First 500 Miles on the AT

When I sit down (or lay in my sleeping bag like I’m doing at this moment) to think about the question — How were the last 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail? It can feel overwhelming. So much happened. How do I even put that into words? It is interesting how days can feel like weeks out here. Time can feel warped. Where did the last month go? I don’t want to forget the moments. So, here are some pictures…with words attached.

Water Along the Trail

A leaf is an innovative way to create a water spout, which I have found to be amazingly helpful. Water is often plentiful but because the trail travels on the high ridge lines, you sometimes need to drop down low to find it and then it may only be a trickle. This is where the leaf comes in handy. All those engineer minded folks out there on the trail have really figured out how to turn an uncollectable trickle into a kitchen sink. Thanks for sharing the ingenuity.

Sunrise on Clingmans Dome

If you didn’t already know – Clingmans Dome is the highest point on the AT. There is a cool spaceship-esque lookout point there. I happened to fall into a hiking plan that put me camping a few miles from it the day before I would be headed over. My partner and I decided to wake up early and catch the sunrise from the lookout with a few other folks. Definitely a highlight of the last 500 miles. If you ever get a chance to visit this place I wouldn’t pass it up!

The Smokies

By far one of my favorite sections of the trail so far. I feel extremely fortunate to have had a weather window of about one week of sunshine through the Smokies. I was especially grateful having heard many stories of snow, ice and sideways rain through this area instead. Overall, the views, great trail and visiting one of the most popular national parks in the nation was such a privilege.

Sunset on Max Patch

If the sunrise on Clingmans Dome wasn’t enough, I happened to catch this awesome sunset on top of Max Patch. Talk about timing. I crested onto the grassy patch and this image was the first view that I saw. I feel like the photo speaks for itself!

Weather in the Roan Highlands

Usually the Roan Highlands offers some of the best views a northbound AT hiker will have since the Smokies. My first day through them was beautiful. My second day was intense to say the least: Clouds blowing in and out, wind that brought me to my knees, and rain blowing sideways so fast that if felt like ice pellets on my face. A unique experience and one for the memory books.

What’s Next?!

I am coming up on the 600 mile mark fairly quickly, and excited to see what the next 1500 or so miles holds. If the first 500 miles were any indication, there is still much ahead.

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Comments 2

  • Avatar
    Kris Rogers Rasmusson : Mar 27th

    Hi Jeff,
    I’ve been following your posts since visiting my son Justin Wood & Lilita. I’ll be hiking on the trail starting 4/10/21 picking up a couple spots on the trail that I missed in 2019. Then I’ll pick up at Harpers Ferry a couple weeks later. I’ve hiked half the trail so far & hope to make a big dent in the 2nd half this year. My trail name is Purple Streak. Perhaps our paths will cross. All the very best to you.
    Purple Streak

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Jeff : Mar 28th

    Purple Streak. Small world. Thanks so much for following along! You never know what can happen out here. We will keep our eyes peeled…how cool would that be?! Hike strong!

    Reply

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