Damn the Torpedoes—Full Speed Ahead

Road Trip

It’s Thursday, it’s five p.m., it’s time to get the show on the road. After saying goodbyes at work, Pat’s journey into what hopefully turns into a six-month sabbatical begins. Supported by his wife in crime <?>, the first part of  the mission, getting to Atlanta begins.  After loading up the car with two cats, work computers and of course two backpacks, we were off. First a quick side trip to Orlando to return some work equipment then off we go. Atlanta, here we come.  Fast forward eight hours, and this is what greets us in Atlanta.

Anyone who has been through, around, or has even talked about Atlanta knows that even by Atlanta standards, 1 hour and 16 minutes to go 19 miles is crazy.

Day One

We pressed on and finally arrive at the hotel, unloaded cats and backpacks and got ready for a Sunday trip to the Springer Mountain Trailhead. Ta-Da we are here. Time to register for our thru-hike.

Next stop, the Springer Mountain Trailhead.

Next, we have to walk back south to the official start point of a thru-hike, the top of Springer Mountain. What in theory should have been a quick little .9-mile hike quickly turned into a discussion with God on why he decided to put all the rocks on this side of Springer Mountain.  We persevered and finally made it.

We were off. Anyone reading this knows that one sentence pretty much sums up our personalities…off. Finally, the planning, preparation, hopes, and dreams were in motion.

Step, Step, Step, Step, Step Rock Scramble, Step, Step, Step, Root. Lather Rinse Repeat. We made it to what would end up being a beautiful night and place to camp, Three Forks.

We set up next to a running stream that just eliminated all other sounds. It was the perfect white noise for us city dwellers.

Day Two

Any day requires staring with a cup of coffee. For those who may not be familiar coffee is a constitutional right.  However, making coffee is not as easy as just hopping up and throwing a Keurig cup in.

After breaking down camp and stuffing all of our new worldly goods  into the backpacks we were off again.

A few pictures we took along the way.

That Waterfall though, a quick little .2-ish mile side trail led us to a totally unexpected piece of God’s handiwork, Long Creek Falls. If you ever get up this way, see them.

Pressing on we were meet yet again <and again and again> with rock scrambles and tree roots. Thank God to the man that invented trekking poles.  You sir (or madam) are a real person of genius.

After the most grueling half-mile every seen by us, we make it down from Hightower Gap to Horse Gap where we said ‘Honey we are home!!!’ How Paula built two tents and cooked dinner is a feat that defiles any marathon or triathlon I have done. It was outstanding.

Day Three

Everything hurts.

Dear Advil: Thanks! and please increase production!!

After hearing of an upcoming rainstorm of epic proportions, we decided to get to Gooch Gap and get off the mountain.  More on that in a bit. Meanwhile off we went up and over Sassafras Mountain.

Check out this view:

Then it happens. Rain, and not just any rain; in the words of Forrest Gump, “Little bitty stinging rain, big ol’ fat rain… Rain that flew in sideways.” However, it was actually nice walking in the rain. That is until ‘it’ happened. And by ‘it’ we mean the big ‘it.’ Monsoon conditions are an understatement to the degree that the bottom opened up.  Fortunately we had worked out an arrangement with a person who has to be sent from God to help thru-hikers. Nimrod of Above the Clouds Hostel.  Nimrod had one of his shuttle drivers get to us with drag racer speed and get us back to the hostel where we could dry out and make hotel arrangements. Above the Clouds was in overflow conditions of a different variety. No room at the Inn so to speak. We even managed to make some new acquaintances, who were just as happy to get out of ‘it’ as we were.

At the time drying out seemed to be an impossible feat. We then hung out at Above the Clouds, drank coffee, ate some of the best banana bread on record, and found a hotel to wait out the storm.  Paula had to get her picture with what is one of the most outstanding human beings on the planet, Nimrod.

Day Four

Town duties.

1. Eat 2. Eat 3. Eat. Did I say Eat? 4. Eat 5. Dry out everything. 6. Schedule a ride back to the trail. 7. Resupply 8. Post this Blog. 9. Eat 10. Eat 11. Eat 12. Laundry.

If you ever find yourself in the Dahlonega, GA area, especially if you are a thru-hiker, we highly recommend the Day’s Inn.  They treated us like family, checked in on us and genuinely cared.  Those traits which are sometimes lacking in the building world abound in the tenting one. As one hiker, after ensuring we had enough water to make it to the next stream, said, “We are all in this together.”

Special Thanks!

In a few of the above pictures you may have noticed that we are sporting knitted blue hats. Those were hand made by our friend Toni.  We see Toni almost every morning when we do our morning walk through the neighborhood.  Toni, thanks for thinking of us and keeping us warm. One of the considerations that is made when hiking is a weight to worth ratio. Toni these hats are clearing that bar in street shoes.

Anna O.  Thanks for getting us to the mountain and making what we think may have been a white knuckle ride down the forestry road from the top of Springer.  Also, and what is most important to this whole endeavor, thanks for taking care of Gym and Jonathon. Knowing they are in your hands makes missing them somewhat palatable.

Ash. Thanks again for the T-Shirts. We do not have to worry about being out of each others sight, as with these personalized glow in the dark beauties,  Paula cannot disavow knowing Pat. Nor can Pat say ‘I didn’t see you there.’

Poops and Popsicles

Every day so far has brought us a range of feelings. Some of them are poops. Like what the crap. Others we are grateful to be a part of, those are the popsicles. Here are the poops and popsicles of the first three days.


  • How Pat’s mouth tasted on the morning of the second day.
  • Sleeping in separate tents.
  • The walk down from Hightower Gap to Horse Gap. That deserves a double poop award.


  • First night camping by a babbling stream.
  • Long Creek Falls.
  • Nimrod and CaddyShack. Above the Clouds Hostel.




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Comments 15

  • Mindy : Apr 6th

    Hi there! I’m so happy y’all are ok after the ‘it’! We are here in Spencer, Indianacheering you on! What a beautiful sight to see with that waterfall?! It must make the it worth it all! Love you and stay safe!

    • Pat & Paula : Apr 11th

      Hi Mindy and family! Thank you for following along. We are have a blast. Love you

  • Would Bang : Apr 7th

    By full speed ahead did you mean 16 miles in 4 days?

    • Pat & Paula : Apr 11th


  • Suzie (Clyde’s daughter #17) : Apr 7th

    Woohoo! We’ve been patiently waiting for your first post from AT! You are still the talk around the Condo. Wasn’t Long Falls beautiful! Did that hike in November and my husband & I climbed those stairs in Amicalola Falls. Hike on..

    • Pat & Paula : Apr 11th

      Hi Suzie, yes, Long Falls is breathtaking. We appreciate you following along. Maybe you will meet us for a section hike? We would love hiking with you.

  • pearwood : Apr 7th

    I can assure you that there are plenty of rocks on the approach-trail side of Springer Mountain. (:-{D}}}
    Above the Clouds Hostel is outstanding.

  • Peggy Moran : Apr 7th

    Glad you two are moving forward. Everday someone asks if we heard how you are progressing. Weather here has been miserable but at least we have no rocks to climb

    Stay safe.

    • Pat & Paula : Apr 11th

      Hi Peggy snd Tom, we miss y’all!! Please give our love to the folks back home. We are trudging forward slowly, but enjoying the hike.

  • Bryan : Apr 7th

    Bryan and Nancy in #56….we been wondering how you been getting along on your adventure. Happy your finally off hiking the AT. Weare cheering you on back here, best of luck. keep one foot in front of the other. hike on guys. Cant wait to read your next post.

  • Todd Senn : Apr 8th

    Sounds like a real experience so far, But I really wanna know where the cats are?????

  • Zoe Morelli : Apr 11th

    Keep us posted from the trail! Love following your adventure! Zoe fellow hiker and The Trek blogger!

    • Pat & Paula : Apr 11th

      Thank you Zoe!

  • Barbara Kraemer : Apr 12th

    Hello Hikers!
    This is awesome. You’re coming through loud and clear. Peggy lives on the wrong side of the street. The weather on “our” side is great. Glad you’re doing great – you look great too! Forest Gump ain’t got nuthin’ on you two! Keep those photos and stories coming! If you keep going at this rate, you’ll be up north before any of us snowbirds! Can’t wait for the next installment of Tales of the Roberts’ Adventures. xox

  • Beckie : Apr 12th

    “A talk with God about the rock placement on Springer Mountain….” When you get to NH and Maine it’ll be a major conversation! Maybe my daughter and I will run into you there (White Mountains, mostly). Have fun and enjoy!


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