3rd Trail Update: Wow Time Flies!

Hey friends, it’s been a minute!

While many of you celebrate school graduations these next few weeks, yours truly has graduated to quadruple digit trail mileage! This Yankees fan is officially back on the right side of the Mason Dixon line, but I won’t say that too loud as I tiptoe through Phillies and Pirates country…

Since our last update, we made it out of the Smokies, border hopped between NC and TN, spent an inordinate amount of time in Virginia, and crossed back onto yankee turf.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

GSMNP is such a beautiful park and one of the most visited NP’s in the whole country! Entering the park in early April, heavy rain storms sent a number of people home… fun fact: 55 degrees and constant rain is still chilly enough to cause hypothermia if you can’t dry out! The weather cleared for our second portion of the park, and the view from Clingman’s Dome – the highest point on the AT – did not disappoint! Exhibit A:


North Carolina and Tennessee

NC/TN both provided spectacular views. In a recent, very unofficial poll, the popular favorite section of this year’s NOBO thru-hikers has been the Roan Mountains in TN. I fully support this outcome, especially since my days there were filled with awesome climbs and beautiful trail magic! One of my most memorable nights on trail to date was an evening at the Roan High Knob Shelter, the highest shelter on the AT. A trail angel named Bloodhound hiked over a mile in from the closest gap to provide us the fixings for root beer floats!! Granted it was about 30 degrees outside, but none of us could possibly say no to ice cream. He also packed a speaker and we had a dance party to burn off the sugar rush! Here’s evidence of ice cream, plus the reason(s) he is named Bloodhound:


Grayson Highlands

Then we crossed into Virginia… many people send their winter gear home from Damascus, VA (about 3 miles into VA), but we heard rumors of a cold front moving through the Grayson Highlands, a state park in the southern portion of the state. While we were baffled by the snow in early May in this park, it solidified the hiker theory ‘mountain weather is hard to predict.’ We were certainly happy to have kept our cold gear. If you look very closely at the photo below, you may find the famous Grayson Highland ponies!


About one quarter of the trail runs through this state. Due to that length, it’s common to develop the ‘Virginia blues’ toward the end of it. We stayed at some fantastic hostels through the state to spice up all the nature (also to clean ourselves and wash our clothes). We also spent far too long wondering ‘where does the green tunnel start?’ before realizing we were in it.

The green tunnel is a term used to describe the phenomena where everything springing back to life creates a screen of leaves which hides the grand mountain views from the trail vantage point. Upon asking former thru-hikers and receiving many ‘you’ll know when you’re in the green tunnel’ answers, I’ll admit I was a bit slow on the uptake. My ‘hiker brain’ had set in – head filled with very few thoughts outside of food or ‘that’s a cool plant’ or ‘I wonder what that bird is’ – and we had landed deep into allergy season (pollen counts off the charts) before I had even considered being in the green tunnel. It was then I caught a mild case of the Virginia blues.

Luckily, around this time, a serendipitous visit from a college friend helped me thwart full-on VA blues… she and her boyfriend were taking a US road trip through a few national parks, and Shenandoah made the list! We were able to camp together for an evening in Shenandoah National Park where we caught up on life and swapped stories on our respective adventures. It was funny to compare that it took my new friends and I nearly a month to walk from the Smokies up to Shenandoah, while my old friends would drive that distance in one day.

Side note, I’ve become particularly horrible at taking pictures throughout the day, so here’s the ONE I took in Shenandoah:

Beyond Virginia

Morale has significantly improved after VA as we hit milestones more frequently! We passed the 1000 mile mark, spent time at the proverbial halfway point of the trail (Harper’s Ferry, WV), crossed through Maryland and walked across the Mason Dixon line. We’re just starting to understand why Pennsylvania is so lovingly called Rocksylvania on trail… More updates to come!!






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Comments 2

  • thetentman : Jun 6th

    Nice post. Thx.

    Be careful, I caught an Earworm in the rocks of Pennsyltucky.


  • thetentman : Jun 6th

    I forgot, go Yanks!


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