Approach Trail (-8.8) to Sam’s Gap TN (317.6)

Hey Guys-

sorry for taking so long to update…

First off, let me apologize for my horrendous delay in posts on here- I’m already 317.6 miles into my journey and still haven’t posted yet. I’ve found out that once you get to a town, there a million things that need to be done. Between being exhausted, going to an AYCE ( Hikers favorite acronym), doing laundry, uploading my latest youtube video, and taking that much needed shower- I have lacked posting on Appalachian Trials. However, now that I am getting more adjusted to trail-life I plan to do a better job keeping up with my blog. I’m going to try to get you guys caught up with my journey, then I plan to post more frequently so you can stay up to date.

Approach Trail to Neels Gap


I arrived to the visitor center at the base of Amicalola Falls on March 19th along with my brother and hiking partner, Jim. I’m surprised our eyes are still open- we road a train for 25 sleepless hours. I signed the registry book as thru-hiker #797 and immediately walked to the shelter behind the visitor center and blew up my mattress and jumped into my sleeping bag. The next morning, Jim and I were caught up on sleep and heading down the approach trail towards the 604 arduous steel-grade steps that ascend to the Amicalola Falls. Just before we started climbing the steps, we saw a whole family of deer run across the trail in front of us. After a long and tiring 8.8 miles my brother Jim and I stayed at the Springer Mountain Shelter for the night. The next few days on the trail we hiked from shelter to shelter as we began adjusting to trail-life. Before we knew it, we were at the first milestone on the Appalachian Trail, Neels Gap, and we were already starting to notice our incompatibility as hiking partners- hiking pace, got up at different times ( I’m an early riser), etc. Jim and I mutually decided it was best that we part ways. Zach Davis made it very clear in Appalachian Trails how important it is that you “hike your own hike”.  Although my brother, Jim, was helping me financially and the separation left me on a tight budget, I’ve been pressing north since.

Neels Gap to NOC

From Neels Gap, forward, my brother Jim and I are now hiking separately, and at our own paces. Although I wish that I could have experienced this journey alongside my brother, I know how important it is to “hike your own hike”. Now that I am hiking solo, I begin my days hiking at a much earlier time and also cover more miles. Before I know it, I am passing the GA/NC line and am hitching a ride into Franklin, NC. After pigging out for hours in an Asian buffet, I find myself  resting my feet and working for stay at the Gooder Grove Hostel. I had a very positive experience at the Gooder Grove Hostel. Zen, the hostel owner, even bought us ( those that did Sheetrock all day) dinner. I ultimately ended up staying in Franklin, NC, for 3 days. Once I finally left Franklin, I hiked over many awesome mountains. My favorite up to this point was Siler Bald. In order to get to the peak of Siler Bald you have to walk up a very steep side trail that most hikers don’t bother hiking. 12986830_10153662918763915_408595234_o

NOC to Hot Springs

After eating my boathouse burger and fries from the NOC, I began a very long and all uphill ascent to sassafras gap shelter. I beat the rain and got the last spot in the shelter. Unfortunately, I left my rain cover behind at this shelter. I hiked 22 miles in 1 day and before I knew it, I was at the Fontana Hilton Shelter. This shelter is called the Hilton because it is a big shelter that has showers, bathrooms with running water,  a solar charging station, and a great view of Fontana Lake. I spent a few days off in Fontana. I stayed at the Fontana Village Resort by day to go to their breakfast buffet, use their wifi, and sit on their nice leather couches. However, by night I would hitch back to the shelter and sleep there for FREE. I ended up staying in Fontana for a few days because I was waiting for my package with my shoes to arrive. As soon as I received my new shoes, I headed into The Great Smoky National Park. The smokies were beautiful. Clingman’s Dome is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail and in the Smokies.  I hiked through the smokies in 4 1/2 days and found myself in Hot Springs, NC, a few days after that. Besides a few blisters, I am starting to feel great. I stayed in Hot Springs a couple days to rest. While I in town, I  stayed at laughing heart hostel, made a few bucks doing work in town, hung out at the hiker ridge ministry ( Queen Diva was awesome…) and went into the natural hot springs.


Clingmans Dome, Highest point on the Appalachian Trail

Hot Springs to Sam’s Gap ( current location)

     I finally got myself to leave my favorite trail town so far, hot springs, and am headed back on the trail. I was very fortunate to leave town when I did- a forest fire occurred just after I passed through a section. After a few more days of hiking, I received a message that we have friends of the family not too far from my current location ( Sam’s Gap, 317.6) and they want to help me out!look who picked me up Thanks So much Steve and Barb!

I spent the last couple days with them in Boone, NC, getting some much needed rest. I really enjoyed catching up with them, going to church and small group,  eating real food, showering, doing laundry, and sleeping in a real bed. I am very grateful to have such great friends who provided me with this opportunity to rest. I will be headed back on the trail tonight.

Sorry for taking so long to update you guys via Appalachian Trials,

Josiah “The Gatherer” Gummeson

P.S. feel free to also follow my journey on Youtube! I upload a video for every section of the trail!

Here is my most recent video:


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