400 Miles and Pneumonia

We were saddened to hear of Clyde’s passing. While unfortunately we did not know him all that well, what we did know is that he lived a rich, full life. We both have an admiration for the love Clyde had for his daughters as well as the love they had for him.

Trail life continues to have its ups and downs, no pun intended. We still remain humbled by the generosity and genuine caring displayed by our fellow hikers.

Good Bye Hot Springs

Last we left off, we were in Asheville NC taking a break while Patmos visited her brother. During our time in Asheville, we went by REI and traded in our two two-man tents for one three-man. Yolo also got a new pair of shoes.  Hiking through rocks takes a toll on shoes. We are thinking that we either need to switch out of our trail runners or be prepared for a lot of shoe changes.  Large kudos to REI.  REI has a service for REI members if during one year from purchase, if for any reason the customer is not happy with their purchase they can return it no questions asked.  That is exactly what we did with our tents.  Here is a picture of our new “deluxe apartment in the sky.”

Next Stop Nature’s Inn

Via slackpacks and full packs, we stubbornly walk north. We had made a decision to stop at Nature’s Inn so that Yolo could see Nora, Kristy, Derick, and Cooper who were visiting Gatlinburg for a few days. While at Nature’s Inn we took advantage of the situation by slackpacking a few days before we took a zero to spend with Yolo’s (and by extension, my) tribe. There was much rejoicing when the tribe showed up with not only a great Fried Chicken lunch, but also a newspaper.  Thanks again Tribe!  After getting caught up on a lot of family news, the tribe headed back to Indiana while we headed to plan our next few days hiking.

Hello Uncle Johnny

We reach Erwin TN and decided to nero at Uncle Johnny’s. Erwin has a McDonalds and we needed a resupply anyway. As often happens on the trail, we meet a few hikers who we become instant friends with. There is a saying about the AT, “Only on the AT can you break down a tent next to someone, bump into them as some random place where you both randomly decided to have lunch and be licking each others spoon at dinner.” We can attest that this saying is a hundred percent valid. ‘Sidewinder’, ‘Lost and Found’, ‘Hoolihan’ and her dog Hawkeye all fit into this category.

After hiking with this crew for a few weeks, different hiking speeds, injuries, or other commitments split the group but not before we all take a zero at Mountain Harbour. Here Yolo managed to get in her dog fix by dog sitting Hawkeye while Hoolihan went to town.   The hike to Mountain Harbour was elevated to the ‘Most Picturesque’ spot on our list of beautiful places. We cross over mountains, creeks and streams to summit Roan Mountain and take in the beautiful Balds. The Balds had Santa wondering if he had somehow been transported to  the ‘Sounds of Music’ film location.  We even saw Bald Eagles.

For those who have any interest in hiking the AT, do yourself a favor and make Mountain Harbour (Roan Mountain TN) a must stop.  The best breakfast on the trail as well as the best food truck can be found here. Santa is a connoisseur of Patty Melts and Philly Cheesesteaks, both of which the food truck nailed (thanks Dave!!!!).

For some, the trail is a time for metamorphosis. Patmos decided to go full on Sigourney Weaver and have her head shaved.

Bucket List and a Tree-House

Every morning while taking our neighborhood walk, we walk by a tree-house to which Yolo almost always says,  “I have always wanted to sleep in a tree-house.” Mountain Harbour had one so check that one off the bucket list.


Reluctantly, we left Mountain Harbour. Santa almost had to be dragged away muttering something about how having to trade in a Patty Melt for Ramen Noodles just somehow did not sound like a great trade to him.  A command decision was made to march forward to Hampton TN and do a quick resupply before continuing on to Damascus VA.  However, fate had other plans.  About a day into the hike Yolo started feeling fatigued, this was followed by chills and finally by a fever. Three days later, we all realized it was time to get off the trail and get her to a doctor.  We ducked into Hampton TN, found a place to stay (Black Bear Resort) and quick like a bunny got Yolo to the Urgent Care. Diagnosis: Pneumonia.  Pneumonia is nothing to be trifled with either in ‘civilization’ or on the trail. With this in mind, we decided that Yolo is staying off trail while Santa and Patmos move the flag forward.  This situation will remain the status-quo until Yolo is 110 percent better. We are very happy to report that Yolo is getting better and Santa is keeping her supplied with M&Ms and whatever else she needs.

Moving the Flag and Aqua Blazing

In an effort to be constantly moving north while Yolo mends, an opportunity presented itself for Santa and Patmos to do an AquaBlaze.  The Aquablaze allowed for adding trail miles by substituting a backpack for a kayak.  What a beautiful day it was for an eight-mile kayak trip up Watauga Lake.  The only thing that could have made this day any better was having Yolo with us. The additional miles also allowed for the logistical move from Hampton TN. to Damascus VA.

Future Plans

We are currently in Damascus VA staying at the Dancing Bear Inn. Here, while Yolo continues to mend Patmos and Santa will continue moving north. Yolo is thinking that it will be three or four days before she is trail ready.  At that time, before hitting the trail hardcore, we will slackpack for a few days so that she can get her trail legs back and ensure that there is no health regression.


  • Yolo getting Pneumonia
  • Patmos rolled her ankle.


  • AT mile 300 crossed
  • AT mile 400 crossed
  • The land of Infinite Toilet Paper
  • Koolaid
  • Yolo dog-sitting Hawkeye
  • Oda Mae, the hostel cat at Mountain Harbour
  • Aqua Blazing
  • Reuniting with AT friends across 400 miles
  • McDonald’s
  • Real Plates


Random Pictures





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Comments 12

  • Alexandra : Jun 15th

    It was so nice to read your post (my 84 year old dad was waiting too). You are both an inspiration. Feel better Yolo! And, it’s awesome to see Brother Joe is still out there passing out trail magic (love Erwin area). Hike on…

    • Pat & Paula : Jun 17th

      Yolo is finally better 🙂 We will be hitting the trail tomorrow. Going to be taking it even slower than normal. Our new motto, “Start of slow and then back off”. Brother Joe was a delight. He introduced Santa to an Arnold Palmer which will now probably be his Chick-fil-a go to.

      • Barbara Kraemer : Jun 18th

        Hmmm, Chick-Fil-a and Arnold Palmers. Life is GOOD!

      • Barbara Kraemer : Jun 18th

        Thank GOD Yolo is better, and so quickly! Go-Yolo! You two are an inspiration. So glad your bucket list dream is coming true, Santa, and I wish you continue happy trails. Until next time – sending you love and blessings.

  • NightSky : Jun 15th

    Enjoyed the sharing! And the photos. Nice to hear from the ‘elder’ point of view –cause I’m right there with ya! Keep on Truckin’!

    • Pat & Paula : Jun 17th

      Thanks for reading!

  • Herman : Jun 15th

    Met you tonight in front of the Damacus Diner. My daughter and I enjoyed our conversation with you. Hope your pneumonia gets better each day and Pat’s knees hold up well for the remainder of the hike. I look forward to your blog as you hike the AT.

    • Pat & Paula : Jun 17th

      Yolo loved the conversation as well. Her pneumonia is so much better that we will be leaving Damacus tomorrow. We plan to come back next year for trail days. After getting a different pair of shoes at Sundog Outfitter, Santa’s knees are not hurting anywhere near as bad. Its hard to tell if the zero is to account for that, or if it’s the shoes. Time will tell.

  • Denise R Bautista : Jun 16th

    I’m not one to read a blog, but I have never been so intrigued with a trip. I love your story telling abilities and I love y’all. Can’t wait till your home but wow what a story an amazing advertisement for this adventure!!!!

    • Pat & Paula : Jun 17th

      Thanks for reading! We miss home as well, however this is something we must finish. See you this Winter 🙂

  • Suzie Abadie : Jun 16th

    That was so sweet of you to mention the sweet words about my Dad. He was only in Mississippi with me two weeks when he got sick with his heart. I was keeping him updated with your post and pictures….YOLO, glad you are feeling better and hope you will be back on trail soon…hike on!??

  • Pat & Paula : Jun 17th

    We are so glad that you were able to spend all the time you had with him. Yolo is better and we will be hitting the trail tomorrow. It is sometimes hard to leave a town and this is going to be no exception.


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