So Many Steps, So Many Stories
Well, it has certainly been a while since I posted. Over 100 miles. Right now I’m sitting in a luxurious room at the Grand Prix Motel in Gatlinburg, TN. I haven’t been here since I was a little one and its a really cool town. Everyone says it takes your money, which is probably true. Its so crazy comming out of the woods for a couple days, and visiting a high traffic/tourist area. I felt overwhelmed honestly, it was so nice to see so many people but it was a lot of people!
So I’m in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park now, 207.3 miles from Springer Mountain. It has been about 22 days since the day I started. It’s pretty crazy to think it’s been that long. I don’t think I would have made it without the guys I’m hiking with. They have become my good friends. Names: Cruise Control, Woo, Buddie Two Sticks, Dylan, and Boston! (We are called the Six Pack) I camp with them everynight, sometimes we split up but during the day I’m usually hiking alone.
Day 10: We left the Budget Inn in Hiawassee on March, 29th. We were all so pumped because this was a huge marker, going into North Carolina. Our first state crossing on the trail, we met there and took pictures. The photo uploaded is being weird so I can’t show those pictures. We camped that night on a flat spot, going up Couthouse Bald.
Day 11: The next day, we woke up and headed up the bald. I had a feeling that this day was going to be nice. We planned to summit Standing Indian Mountain, which I was so pumped for. It was our first mountain in NC! I got up there and actually missed the side trail to the view, HAA! But the ascent wasn’t bad at all. I heard prior to hiking the trail that the landscape and the vegetation and trees are almost instantly different once you get into NC, this is the day that I realized that for myself. It was an amazing and special change because it is the first change of forest lso far. Got to Coleman Gap 14.1 miles later, being our biggest day. Coleman Gap was one to remember because it was deep in a Rhodendron forest, the sun was out and the late afternoon sun was shining down, creating pockets of light everywhere you looked.
Day 12: Woke up to the same peaceful place as I left. Today is going to be 100 miles, which was on top of Albert Mountain, a crazy steep mountain, which takes a lot of energy. It was basically bouldering, the ascent was only .3 but it was very steep. All worth it though, we got up and got up on the fire tower that marks 100 miles and took it all in. Breathing up there felt like I was enhaling something that would cure any feeling, emotion, or stress. Being up there was the first time, I promised myself I would get to Maine. Spent a good while up there, and hiked on to Long Branch Shelter, which was full so I tented 🙂
Day 13: Today we were planning on getting into Franklin today, we had 7.5 miles. We woke up at 7 and got there by 10:30, caught a ride into town from a guy that does shuttles all day long for 3 bucks a person. We got into town and got a room at another Budget Inn. Ron Haven owns the Budget Inn in Hiawassee and Franklin, we got to meet him both times. He’s a good man, he does a lot for the town of Franklin and he makes sure you remember the town. Awesome guy. We went and got Mexican that night and I slept in a bed!
Day 14: Me and Dylan got up at 7:15 because we heard there was a free shuttle to FREE pancakes at a church. Great decision. Thank you First Baptist Church of Franklin! We got back and packed up and got a ride from good ole’ Ron Haven. This was a bus and a whole bunch of thru hikers crammed in it.
We got dropped off at Winding Stair Gap and started up the trail, eventually getting to Siler Bald. The climb up was off trail and so gnarley. It was an open field and the trail just kept going up and up to where you could barely see the people at the top. I immediately dropped my pack and began going up. Amazing views.
We got to Wayah Bald too on this day, amazing views too. Really rewarding after a few days of no views. It’s the best feeling in the world reaching the top of any elevation. So awesome.
Day 15: Today was a good day, we hiked up to Wesser Bald, there was a tower up there that we climbed. Today was 130 miles, I got to Wesser Bald Shelter and we met Moma Moab and her dog Utah, they have done the PCT and the CDT together. Utah is a badass dog.
Day 16: Wesser Bald to Grassy Gap, today we descended into NOC and it was a great day, it was Easter and it was cool spending time around so many faces 🙂 the decline was rough and hard on my knees but I got there. I got my first box here, there was a lot of thru hikers gathered here. awesome spot to come back to and check out. We hiked back up out of the gap to a flat gap and finally set up our tents. We were very fatigue and just burned. This was one of the tougher days.
Day 17: Grassy Gap to Brownfork Shelter we left the gap, and caught up with Cruise and Woo at the next shelter where a whole buncha cool thru hikers were!
Cool day, we got to a gap and got an orange and a snickers from a guy that pulled over after he saw us. Nice people are everywhere, keep your eyes and heart open, you never know how much something so small means to someone. Eventually slept at Brown Fork shelter.
Day 16: We get into Fontana! It was a rainy morning and nobody wasted anytime. Awesome lodge that we got into, we planned to zero here and rest for the Smokies.
Day 18: ZEROOOO DAYYYY :))))
Day 19: We got a ride back to the Dam, which was awesome. It was a perfect day to ascend up into the smokies. About 70 degrees with breeze, couldn’t ask for a better day. Got to Mollies Ridge Shelter and slept in there because the wind and rain were comming in. Awesome day.
Day 21: Mollies Ridge Shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter. Tough day up and down Thunderhead Mountain. The smokies are no joke. Not many highlights from this day, got to the shelter and slept 🙂
Day 22: Me and Cruise Control woke up at about 2:30 AM to hike 11 miles to the top of Clingman’s Dome, 6,655′ from sea level, the tallest point on the Appalachian Trail. It was a beautiful morning. It was clear as day and we could see the clouds since we were above cloud line. Loved every second of the intense night hike as well.
Got to Mt Collins Shelter and set up our tent because the Rangers told us the shelter was gonna be full of one family. They got here and saw all the thru hikers and kept going. 4 people were in the 12 person Shelter. I was asleep obviously while all of this was happening.
Day 23: We hike 5 miles to Newfound Gap where we plan on hitching into Gatlinburg. My friend Woo and Buddy were by the road while me and Dylan were eating and Woo does a head stand for 10 seconds and someone stops, it’s a truck and we think there’s room for two more so we hop in! This was yesterday, we got a motel room at Grand Prix Motel.
Day 24: Were heading out soon, gonna get some good breakfast and try to get back to the trailhead.
“May your dreams be wild and your thoughts be natural. Don’t fall into the crowd, stand out like a tree in a desert. Love life and continue to love eachother.”
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love reading about your adventure. my boys Patrick and Aidan and following along too. Happy Trails!