Dirt Nap’s Journey: Days 15-21 on the AT

Had some cold, hail, wind, and rain this last week but overall it has been great. I’m at 346 miles 554 kilometers. Legs are strong and lungs even better. A few parts are not feeling great this week and will get them checked out. See what’s up.

Clingmans Dome

Day 15: Triumph at Clingmans Dome

The day kicked off with a chilly morning, and I was the last to leave the shelter, the speed demons ahead of me aiming for Clingmans Dome—the highest point on the AT. The first 10 kilometers were tough, marked by cold winds and icy trails, with little to see. However, trail magic soon warmed my spirits; a Dr. Pepper, some fruit, almonds, and chips revitalized me completely. More magic followed from a group of kind Baptists, offering Oreos, coffee, and fruit, fueling my climb up the Mt.. The weather cleared, and I finally shed my raincoat, enjoying a bluebird sky. The day ended at 21 miles (34.2 kilometers), where I camped and relaxed with familiar faces like Grumpy, who was finishing his Triple Crown, and Beast. My ankle held up reasonably well, and blisters were almost gone.

Day 16: Downhill Delights and Hostel Nights

Starting the day with some ramen for breakfast, I embarked on a 24-mile (39-kilometer) journey, mostly downhill, which I crushed in just nine hours. The day brought little wind and sightings of wildlife like a turkey. The playful leapfrogging with Grumpy added a fun twist to the hike. The last 2 kilometers were brutally uphill, but I made it to Standing Bear Hostel, greeted by its quirky charm. The hostel offered clean bunks at a fair price, a functional kitchen, and a mix of local mountain folk that added color to the stay to say the least.


Day 17: Solitude and Sun at Max Patch

The morning started strong with a curry and several cups of coffee. The day’s challenge was a massive vertical climb, nearly 2000 meters over 21 miles. The trails were quiet, save for the sunny, open expanse of Max Patch, where I indulged in a midday beer and nap, an authentic “Mountainbeering” experience. The day was filled with podcasts, protein bars, and solitude until I reached camp, where Beast, was already there and Subzero, and MJ got in later. Despite the bugs, we managed a small fire and enjoyed a peaceful evening together.

Day 18: Fast Pace to Laughing Heart Hostel

With just coffee and Clif bars fueling my morning, excitement was high to reach town. Covering 13 miles in just over four hours, I hiked alongside No Hops and MJ, while Subzero kept up with our brisk pace. Laughing Heart Hostel was a welcome sight, where I showered and napped immediately. A trip to Hillybilly Market and Dollar General stocked us up before a night of trivia at Big Pillow Brewery, where our team took second place. The day wrapped up with more beers, a local with and opossum, a chicken running the beer store good food, and a well-earned sleep.

Team Trivia

Day 19: A Day of Preparation

Waking later than usual at 7:30 AM, I eased into the day with a shower, hearty breakfast, and some much-needed “adulting.” After a visit to the outfitters for fuel and a curious stop at the covered-up General Lee memorial, I settled for a delicious hummus sandwich at a local pub, Vinyl Pizza being closed. The evening was spent slowly packing and preparing for the next leg, with engaging chats with Buddah and others at the hostel. My ankle was less swollen and all set for the next challenging stretch to Erwin with enough food for four days, aiming for 22 or 24 miles.

Day 20: I’m so lonely, so lonely.

Na, it was great saw no other hikers after departure today. Weather was nice and warm suns out and a slight breeze, glorious. Felt strong after the 0 day and had a nice big breakfast 2 bagels, 2 avocados, 2 tomatoes, and a can of beans. Only saw a few tents on the way and was lots of ascent 2250 meters/ 7500 ft. I was running out of water and passed by a small odd sign, “cookies, water, and trash” Southern cookie lady. Walked down a little road and sure enough all the above. Had a nice chat and was on my way. Saw two more section hikers at a shelter eth a massive black snake. Then I pushed the last 5k straight up to a water source and my favorite camp site so far and all by my self. Cleaned up in the stream, walked around naked, I miss that, and ate my nuts, two more avos, and 3 packs of ramen.


Day 21: Climbs, Pain, and Trail Magic

Felt good, ate and was off before the rain. Only rained in the AM and dried out by mid day. Shin on other leg hurt and was red and swollen. Odd, hiked all day and by the end of the 24 miles it killed. Had some great trail Magic at Sam’s Gap, pasta salad and beers. Also my sciatica has gotten really bad. Will go to the doctor in Erwin in the AM. Not feeling great about it, but taking it a day at a time.

Dirt Nap Out



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 2

  • Robin Hewitt : Apr 22nd

    Enjoy! My fri and from Vermont, Bad Ass Mema (BAM) is 400+ miles in from GA, so just ahead of you. Who knows! You may cross paths along the way. Crocs? Wow! You do you! Be safe….

  • Jingle bells : Apr 23rd

    In amazement of your mile tallies considering you’re in Crocs, with an insane blister, and nagging injury(s). Hope it goes (went?) well with the doc in Erwin. Thanks for sharing your adventure


What Do You Think?