Dirt Nap’s Journey: Days 8-14 on the AT

Dirt Nap’s Continuation: From Highs to Lows on the Appalachian Trail

Gratitude to all along the way that have been kind and helpful from trail magic to luko tape and advil. But big shout out to Travis, mom, Ami, Hope, Leigh, Jeremy, Elizabeth, and all other sending kind messages and keeping me in check and not killing myself as I tend to do. It has been great and forward and upward.

Teagan trail sign

Day 8: Magic Moments and Mountain Evenings

Starting the day in town was lively, and with two bouts of hiker magic, spirits were high. Our 19-mile (31-kilometer) hike featured several challenging climbs and sloggs. As the evening cooled, the sounds of owls and a morning woodpecker framed a peaceful solo campsite I hermitted at. My ankle showed signs of improvement, a comforting end to a fulfilling day.

Day 9: Trials and Travels

Today’s journey of 16.8 miles (27 kilometers) was smooth until a steep 2400-foot descent exacerbated my ankle swelling, a balloon. The destination was less than ideal and overpriced to say the least. It was an underwhelming resort that seemed out of place on the trail called the NOC. The early closure of local amenities and price forced me to hitchhike on an adventure to Dollar General, where I met an intriguing kayaker and a casino dealer who drove me. The day ended with me cooking at the hostel, wrestling with pain and doubts about continuing. Had the room to myself but for 60 bucks and no sheets pillows and a jail cell, it was less than ideal.

Billy Goat Gruff bridge

Day 10: Streams and Dreams

Morning began with the usual Advil and a makeshift coffee breakfast with leftover veggies and beans. After a careful wrap of my ankle, I hiked 11 miles (18 kilometers), meeting Bean and Slinky, fellow vegans who shared intriguing political banter and conspiracy theories. At camp, my leg felt surprisingly good. The evening brought chats by the stream with two Germans and Spruce Goose, though I missed witnessing the eclipse. A good stretch before sleep left me feeling positive.

Day 11: Wet Weather and Shelter Standoffs

A lighter 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) hike turned challenging with persistent rain and a poorly considered placement of my jacket and wet sleeping bag. Oops. Despite the conditions, spirits were lifted by t new friends like Slayer, Dom, and Spruce Goose. An altercation over shelter space tested my resolve when Karen demanded entry, I stood firm on courtesy and fairness. The day closed with lessons in preparedness as my wet sleeping bag underscored the need for a trash bag cover.

Pretty purple flowers

Day 12: Comfort and Homies at Hilton Shelter

A brief 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) walk led us to the luxury of the “Hilton Shelter,” complete with hot showers and solar chargers. The pleasant amenities provided a much-needed respite from the trail’s rigors. Despite encountering some overpriced spots in Fontana Dam Village (another criminal enterprise and racist clerk saying illegals were stealing his job though he couldn’t work a register), the evening was overwhelmingly positive with a party. Lots beer consumed and craic. The community came alive with  karaoke,  Rooster, Spruce Goose, and others, celebrating our journey that formed along the way.

Rooster and dirt nap

Day 13: Smoky Mountain Solitude

Embarking alone, I covered 18 miles (29 kilometers) to enter the Great Smoky Mountains, enduring rain throughout the day, heavy rain and wind. A fall just short of the shelter humbled me,smh 50 meters but the shelter’s existing residents, had a fire going and was chill. Sub Zero, a new friend who braved the cold as I did, proved a comforting presence with his cannon of a bear cannister.

Day 14: Cold Winds and Community

The day began cold and challenging, with hail intermittently disrupting our mile (21-kilometer) hike (12 miles). Despite the weather, brief vistas offered stunning views, rewarding our persistence. I met  a ridge runner who cleaned up after scum hikers who bounced and left all the gear behind. The shelter evening was a mix of new plans and I built a fire, as we prepared to push past the Smokies.

Sleet and Hail in smokies

Through rain, pain, and unexpected turns, the trail continues to teach resilience, humility, and the irreplaceable value of trail friendships.

Dirt Nap Out

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Comments 2

  • jen l : Apr 17th

    Love your insights and commentary. You don’t let shit get you down. You have what it takes to finish, if that’s what you choose to do. Keep looking up. Peace

    • Teagan : Apr 18th

      Thank you for the lovely comment. Take care


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