Chasing Sunlight- the Road to Erwin, TN

The one month trail-versary is almost here! I can’t believe time is passing so quickly. The weather seems to be confused though, as the temperatures continue to get colder instead of warmer… someone should let it know that spring is on the way.

March 4 – Day 19

I slept amazingly well at Elizabeth’s house, thankfully avoiding a frigid night in the smokies (I heard the temperature dropped to single digits). For breakfast I had half a muffin, 2 pieces of bread, 2 eggs, orange slices, and yogurt with blackberries. And I was hungry again in approximately 45 minutes (I wish I was exaggerating).

We drive to meet my dad at 9, and he was able to help me finally fix my phone! So I am now on Verizon, and it’s amazing how often I get service in the mountains. I also ate a ton of pumpkin bread (thanks Rusty) and Good and Plenty that my dad brought along for breakfast number 2.

I started hiking at Newfound Gap around 12. My dad hiked with me until the first shelter, and then turned around. It’s a great change of pace to be hiking with someone, even if only for a short period of time.

The shelter I wanted to stay at was 15 miles from newfound Gap, but since I didn’t start hiking until 12, I was worried I wouldn’t get there until dark. The trail was also still very icy. In an effort to not have to set up camp in the dark, I forwent lunch and booked it to the shelter.

The one nice thing about hiking a little into the night was that I got to see a beautiful sunset.

I got to the shelter at 6:30, right as it was getting dark and the temperature was rapidly dropping. Because it was getting late and very cold, I also (rather stupidly) decided to skip dinner and go to bed. I did manage to catch up to Joe, who was also spending the night at the shelter though.

Day 20 – March 5 2017

I left the shelter at around 6:45 to do 18.1 miles. Early hiking requires getting up in the cold, but it also guarantees awesome sunrise views.

It was mostly downhill to Standing Bear Farm (a hostel). There was an interesting road crossing that confused me a good deal, but using my trail app helped me out. And there were some rice krispies trail magic waiting after.

I also passed three SOBOs today, all who were pretty sad to be nearing the end of the trail. I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of cold weather they’ve been through.

Standing Bear hostel is very interesting – pretty old, and the shower is only freezing or scalding. Regis (who’s a day ahead of me) did buy Joe and I a pizza though, so that was awesome.

There’s also a random rooster strutting around the hostel (and yes, it woke everyone up at 4 am).

March 6 – Day 21

The day started off with a 5 mile uphill, which was pretty disheartening. Joe and I stopped for a snack at mile 7, and we both accidentally walked the wrong direction on an abandoned trail for 0.2 miles trying to find the shelter. We figured it out eventually.

When I left the shelter it was drizzling, and I set out going uphill again. I made it to the top of Max Patch (the rolling hills from the Sound of Music). Unfortunately he views were obscured by fog, but the tree-less hills were still pretty cool.

I went 2 more miles to Roaring Fork Shelter, for a total of 15.5 miles. There were two new guys at the shelter named Jason and Elliott.

I also had a bit of a blonde moment at the shelter, when I put toothpaste on my toothbrush and dropped it in the dirt. I brushed as much of it off as I could, and then put it in my mouth anyway. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

March 7- Day 22

I slept so well last night- I was finally warm, as it only got down to about 40 degrees. I did 17.5 miles today to Hot Springs, North Carolina. There were only two short climbs.

I passed another sign that shows the distance to katahdin – it’s pretty intimidating seeing such a large number, but also encouraging to see it slowly decreasing.

It rained again today, but it wasn’t too bad. I’m staying at Laughing Heart Hostel tonight- it’s a nice place. I got there around 3 and was able to resupply at Dollar General and get a burger with Regis and Joe for dinner, which was awesome. I wasn’t going to go out, but when Joe saw the ramen I was planning to eat for dinner, he took pity on me and bought me a burger.

March 8 – Day 23

Today was a long day – 19.7 miles. The shelter I’m at only sleeps 5, and I knew there were at least 5 other people aiming to get to the shelter, so I left early to try and guarantee myself a spot in the shelter. I was on the trail by 5:45, walking out of Hot Springs.

I stopped for a break after 6 miles by a beautiful pond.

I made it to the shelter around 2:30, but I didn’t have to worry about getting a spot. Four people showed up, but two of them wanted to tent camp anyways. Regis also made an appearance, so it’s nice to be caught up with him. Joe is taking a zero day in Hot Springs, so I won’t see him for a little while.

March 9 – Day 24

I slept pretty well last night- for one of the first times, I didn’t have to get up to go pee! I really do think it has to with the temperature.

I was on the trail by 6:30. It started with a 2 mile uphill, and then the trail split into a good weather and bad weather trail. I chose the good weather trail (even though it’s more difficult, because I’m a sucker for good views, and for the first time in a while it wasn’t cloudy). The views definitely did not disappoint.

There was definitely a couple rock scrambles involved with this trail, but it was worth it.

Later in the day there were also some nice field views, and a road crossing before a last 4 mile uphill push to the shelter.

Today has been my longest day yet – 22.8 miles! And I also passed the 300 mile mark today!

March 10 – Day 25

I packed up very slowly at camp this morning because I knew I had a very short day- only 10 or so miles so that I can meet up with my family tomorrow. I left the shelter at 7:20. It was very foggy and drizzling. It was around 35 degrees, and the wind was blowing like crazy.

I got to the top of bald mountain, but unfortunately no views because of the clouds. And I almost got blown off the mountain.

I made it to the shelter by 11:30, and was pretty cold because of the rain. I ate a bunch of food at the shelter, then got inside my sleeping bag to write and read for awhile.

I don’t think I drank enough water either, because I had a pretty bad headache. The temperature was supposed to drop to  mid teens too, which means I had to sleep with my water and electronics in my sleeping bag, which is definitely a pain. I was excited to see my family the next day though, so I powered through. That was the first night I’d been alone in a shelter!

March 11- Day 26

It was super cold last night. When I got up to pee it was 15 degrees. Plus I couldn’t really sleep because my throats has progressively been hurting more over the past couple days, and it really hurt last night.

I was up at 5 to pack up in 17 degreee weather. It took me an hour and a half to break camp (which is a very long time for me) because my hands were pretty frozen.

Unfortunately, even though I slept with my water, it still froze as soon as I started hiking. I walked 6 miles to make it to Spivey Gap by 9, where I met up with my parents and Rusty! I was very happy to see them all.

My mom and dad drove to Asheville for the day, while rusty stayed with me to hike the remaining 11 miles. He even carried my pack!

It did start snowing, but only little flurries – nowhere near enough to stick. We stopped for lunch at No Business Shelter. Rusty thought it was time for a photo shoot.

It was different to hike with someone – I’m used to hiking by myself all day. The conversation while hiking definitely made the time fly by- I hardly even noticed we were going uphill.

We met back up with my parents at the Nolichucky river, and then went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. There’s nothing better than warm food after a cold day. We then went back to the cabin my parents rented, and watched a movie before going to bed. I was so thankful to sleep in the warmth.

March 12 – Day 27

Zero day! I slept pretty poorly because of my throat, but eating an amazing breakfast made up for it – we had chocolate croissants, eggs, bacon, toast, and chocolate chip pancakes. The food coma was very welcome. It snowed during the night, and the hills looked very pretty in white.

We left at 11 and first went to a minute clinic about my throat (thankfully it’s not strep, just a virus that should go away on its own in a couple days) and then went to Walmart to get food for my resupply.

Then it was on to Asheville! We walked around for a while and poked our heads into some awesome bookstores. We ate lunch at a delicious crêperie.

We then drove to Johnny’s Nolichucky hostel, where I will spend the night tonight. It’s a very nice place.

Joe is at the shelter, and he’s going to take a couple zero days to wait out the winter weather expected this week. Unfortunately Regis just had to get off the trail because his knees are hurting too badly. Hopefully he’ll be able to return in a couple weeks once his knees heal up.

My parents and Rusty hung out while I organized my pack, and then left for home at 6. I’ll definitely miss them, and I really appreciate them driving all this way to come see me- I enjoyed every minute.

Im a little worried about the cold weather ahead of me, but I’m also excited about the trail for the next couple days- Damascus here I come!

– Tick Tock

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 3

  • Snowdon : Mar 13th

    Great blog entry, really enjoyed spending the weekend with you.
    Stay warm

  • jane springfield : Mar 13th

    Hey Olivia, I’m your Grandpa Larry’s cousin and I’ve hiked sections of the AT but am really enjoying the trip with you. Enjoy your time in the moment. Happy trails. Love, jane

  • Melanie : Mar 16th

    Tick Tock – I’m so amazed by you! XOXOXO


What Do You Think?