How Even A Month On the Trail Will Change You

I am now approaching my one month anniversary on the trail this upcoming week. Already, it is a shock when I come back into town. Life on the trail is simple, beautiful and full of joy. My trail name is Tumbleweed because I have found that for me, enjoying life on the trail is all about going with the flow, and following the AT Breeze.

The Hiking Community

As a hiker, you learn that many people are interested in taking part in the journey in small ways. Trail magic has been common and I am blessed to now be spending my first full zero day in Asheville, North Carolina, enjoying some pampering from my closest friend from my college years here. We wonder if we will ever see the people we hiked with through the smoky mountains, but know many new friends will still be met when we get back on the trail.

I spent Easter Sunday in the hospitable town of Franklin, North Carolina. Here, the church welcomes in hikers for an all you can eat breakfast. Since leaving Franklin, there has been many great trail adventures in places such as the Nantahala Outdoor Center, Fontana Village, and Gatlinburg, all of which we enjoyed a half days rest here and there. I stumbled upon a super fun group that I have been hiking with. My German friend Happy Feet has brought special joys to our travels, as he is experiencing things new for the first time, never having visited America before. Hiking with a diverse group of people has helped keep trail moral high- even on freezing cold nights and mornings in the Smoky Mountains.

Trail towns are used to us hikers and have been very welcoming. Everyone really enjoyed our time at the Nantahala Outdoor Center especially, as we leisurely relaxed by a beautiful river and stayed in nice bunk houses. Only a few days later we stayed in the Fontana Village, another beautiful spot for hikers to resupply and regroup. Gatlinburg has been another stop- we were happy to get back into the woods after a hilarious night of Karaoke. The miles are flying by, as now we can easily do a fifteen mile day in about the span of seven hours.

Tent City’s 

Through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, we were required to stay in designated shelter areas. We were pleasantly surprised to find upon arriving our first night into the park, a small tent city surrounding the shelter. Through the harsh elements, hiker moral can easily be kept high. You are cold, but so is everyone else. Communal living is very fun, as hikers hangout and get to know each other, sharing snacks and stories around the fires. Several cold nights we all crowded into the shelters with almost thirty hikers.

The views in Great Smoky Mountain National Park were breathtaking. Even on challenging hiking days, we were rewarded by stunning views and then a fun time in tent city every night. Hikers gather around their camp stoves and converse underneath clear starry skies without a worry in the world. We have overall been very blessed with some great weather days. Sleeping in the Smoky’s was enchanting like we were in a magical forest.

Stumbling Hikers Enter Town

Now after spending the majority of days in the woods, coming into town is slightly overwhelming to say the least. We tend to overeat and not always feel so great, after eating at restaurants and having unlimited food choices and options. Being in town almost makes me appreciate my time in the woods more, coming back into the crowds of rushed people can be stressful after our peaceful, slow paced day in the mountains. I love the simple living, and not always being part of such a consumer world. We live in our own little world now on the AT.

In town we can easily identify other hikers, we wear our rain gear and crocs while we gather a resupply and wait for our laundry. When it comes down to it, as nice as a comfortable night indoors can be, we are always eager to be back in the woods on our grand adventure to Maine. All encouraging each other to make progress and not loose sight on the goal. I love the common goal we all share, a burning desire to be on the move, for the next days adventure. We are now onwards to Hot Springs and then into Virginia! No Pain, no Maine.

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Comments 2

  • Angie : Apr 10th

    I am so proud of you Elle. I am sorry to have missed you this weekend but hope you enjoyed the comfortable rest. love you. – see you soon. Be safe.

  • Dan : Apr 17th

    Hi. You’ve got a great attitude and writing style. Nice to be able to follow a fellow-Frednecker on their journey! 🙂

    What tent did you trade for?


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