Ice, Snow and Kenny Powers

Day 26:  AT Miles 18.8 — Flint Mountain to Bald Mountain Shelter

The rumors were true. I opened my eyes and there was 2 inches of fresh snow. That would make today a very interesting hiking day as I wanted to get in close to 19 miles to set up getting into town Friday evening. I was not in much of a hurry to get going though and didn’t get moving until 9:15. This put me behind, but I just couldn’t seem to get everything together this morning.


Find the tent


It was really beautiful hiking in the snow. Everybody got out of the shelter before me so they laid the footprints for me to follow. It snowed and off and on for the day but I like that a lot better than cold rain.  The snow did make for some outstanding views that were different from the ones that I saw today.

With about 7 miles left and energy waning a trail angel, Paul came to the rescue. Unexpectedly, around 3 PM there he was making scrambled eggs and hashbrowns. I was his last hiker for the day and was so happy for him being there. I can’t say enough about the trail angels so far. They are so unselfish and they’re kindness means so much to us hikers.

Trail Angel Paul

Near the end of the hike I had to go over Big Bald. I was considering the bad weather bypass, but it looked like no one else had cut that trail so I went ahead and went over it and was glad I did. The views were incredible.

Big Bald


More Big Bald

Tomorrow should be similar to today and I need to make similar mileage to get to town. I’ll see if I can get my lazy rear end out of the shelter earlier tomorrow.


Day 27:  AT Miles 16.8 —  Bald Mountain to Erwin, TN

It was in the mid teens last night, and I was fairly cold, even though I have a 10° sleeping bag. I had switched my heavier, insulated air pad for a less insulated foam pad so my timing was poor. Still, I was able to get out by 8:15 AM for the close to 17 miles I needed to get into uncle Johnny’s hostel.

Today was very cold, but I was prepared and the trail wasn’t too terribly slippery. I did slide a few times, but never fell. That’s a bonus. It was very beautiful hiking in the snow, but with that said, I would like to go back to warmer and less slippery Trail.

Snowy View

It was really only one big climb today and so the 16.8 miles went by very quickly and I was at the hostel in no time for my resupply and a little personal hygiene. As I was hiking up to the hostel,  a trail angel appeared and I had a hotdog and a beer as a appetizer to my dinner.

When I got to uncle Johnny’s hostel, I was surprised to see Kenny Powers already set up in the bunkhouse. Kenny Powers is a trail legend, and all around great person that I keep running into over and over again. I’m not complaining because he always offers me a beer and is always joking. Nothing seems to get him down. To call him a free spirit is not doing him justice. He’s been one of the favorite people I’ve met out here.


Uncle Johnny’s

Kenny Powers!

Approaching Erwin

I took the hiker shuttle into the grocery store where I had dinner and bought my resupply. Tomorrow I will do some laundry and get on the trail as soon as I can. The weather is supposed to be much nicer.

Day 28:  AT Miles 17.2 —  Erwin TN to Cherry Gap Shelter

I can’t say enough about my stay at uncle Johnny’s hostel. I took two showers, did a load of laundry, and slept by a wood fire stove. It was heaven after the last few frigid days. If you were ever in the area, this hostel gets my highest recommendation so far.

One thing about seeing the word gap or a town out here is that typically means you descend a lot of elevation and have a big climb to get back to our hiking range of 3,000 to 5000 feet. Today, though kind of fooled me, because the first few miles were flat along a beautiful mountain stream. That didn’t last long and most of the rest of the day was a climb. I’m currently camping near a shelter at about 4000 feet, so it will be another cold night tonight.


Icy Trail

Leaving Erwin


High Above Erwin

Overall though, today was a good day because I got in a lot of mileage and it was neither too hot or too cold, which is rare out here. Fingers crossed for a similar day tomorrow. Good night.

Day 29:  AT Miles 20.5 — Cherry Gap to Jane’s Bald Stealth Site

I wanted to get a good day in so it wouldn’t be so long to get into Roan Mountain, Tennessee tomorrow.  I didn’t start out thinking it would be my second 20 mile day of trek but in the end, it resulted in an awesome campsite.

The day was pretty typical, a lot of ups and downs, and nothing major until Roan Mountain, which is about 6300 feet high. That was near the end of the day and originally was supposed to be my stop. When I got there, though, it was pretty dark, snowy, and very cold. So I decided I would go for another couple hours and find something at lower elevation where it would be warmer for the night.

I got lucky because I came up on a series of balds, which are these large grassy places in the mountains where there are no trees. I found an awesome campsite on Jane’s Bald about an hour before the sunset.  This could be the prettiest campsite I’ve had on the trek so far. When you start a day you just never know how it’s going to end, do you?

Jane’s Bald

My camping spot

Sunset at Jane’s Bald

Tomorrow I plan to hike in to Roan Mountain Tennessee, which will take about 16 miles. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m going to stay a night or two with really strong storms coming in Tuesday morning. I think I’m going to get to sleep and figure it out tomorrow.

Day 30:  AT Miles 14.8 —  Jane’s Bald to The Refuge Hostel

No matter how hard I try I can’t seem to get organized enough to leave campsite before 8:30 AM. That was the case again this morning. Part of the issue though was it was such a beautiful morning and the sunrise over the bald was incredible.

Morning View

My day would be 15 miles to get to the hostel where I would be taking a zero the following day. I thought overall the day was pretty easy hiking with the exception of the long climb of Little Hump Mountain.  I was able to get to the hostel by 3:30 PM.

Hump Mountain

Atop Hump Mountain

Descending Hump Mountain

After getting laundry done and getting myself cleaned up, I hopped the shuttle into town and bought enough to make dinner salads for tonight and the following night, two big breakfasts and a few lunches. It was an expensive resupply, but the fresh fruit and vegetables really hit the spot.

Tomorrow I’m actually debating about doing a slack packing day, which means the hostel would drop me off or pick me up on the trail and I would only have to do around 12 miles without a backpack. It’s very tempting and I’m probably gonna take advantage of it. That is of course, after a humongous breakfast!



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Comments 3

  • JOE FOGARTY : Apr 20th

    Go get em Jeff! Love what you are doing and sharing.
    I am mentioning your adventures to friends and family.

  • Tiffany S : Apr 20th

    Jeff – you’re doing awesome!! Thank you for sharing your journey on the trail with us. I look forward to your posts and seeing all the views! Keep it up!!

  • Dan H : Apr 22nd

    Appreciate the new post, and the pics are great! Uncle Johnny’s looks so rad, I want to check it out myself sometime soon.


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