If at first you don’t succeed …

So I was a bit hasty with my first trail entry. My family and friends kept asking “when are you going to write something?” so I rushed to get out my first trail blog to placate the support crew. When I wrote it, I was just coming off trail after being snowed on, rained on, and sleep deprived. Couple that with the fact that I have to write these blogs from my phone – it’s no wonder it was incomplete. Also – the weather was so miserable, I don’t have many great pics to share yet. So – with all these excuses, I thought I would provide a supplement to my first-week post along with this update.

Week 1: Addendum

First – on Super Bowl Sunday it was snowing so bad, that I decided to come off trail and go to “The Hostel Above the Clouds”. The proprietor, Lucky, and his assistant, Bounce, put on an awesome party. I highly recommend people stop by if in need of a break or if they just want to feel good.

Second – while the hiking was harder than I anticipated and the weather less than accommodating, I have enjoyed every minute (almost). The legs are getting better and I no longer feel like I’m going in to cardiac arrest when I climb the steep hills. So I got that going for me.


When I last left you, I had come off the trail to resupply at “The Hostel Around the Bend”. Another fine establishment where the owners go out of their way to make hikers comfortable and are ready to provide gear, advice, or just a hot shower. Unfortunately, I only had one night.

After leaving the hostel, it was a short climb to the NC state line (one down). The forecast was for cold temp and high winds – lovely combo. Oh yeah, rain too. Well, it turns out the forecast wasn’t quite accurate. The rain was actually sleet and driving hail. I made it to a shelter and set up camp. The wind chill was certainly in single digits. I was very uncomfortable all night and got little sleep.

My next goal was to make it to Franklin, NC to resupply. I figured it would take two more days. The weather finally cooperated and I got my first sunny and dry day of the hike. Made good time covering half the distance to Franklin on the first day after the night from hell. The temps weren’t as cold at night so I slept great. Up early and then, like a horse to the barn, I hiked quickly to meet my wife at Franklin. I know it’s only been 11 days (counting this zero) but the hardest part so far is missing loved ones. There just aren’t massive numbers of hikers on the trail yet. That will change.

Taking my zero I will fix some broken gear, eat some hot meals, and hold my granddaughter as much as I can. I am looking forward to continuing the hike but I enjoyed my time off. 

Gear Comments 

What have I learned so far?

  1. I don’t need to take the GoPro and the additional weight. I am dropping that from my list.
  2. It can get really cold at night. You don’t want to spend the night shivering wondering if you will make it to the morning. I am adding a light quilt to my bag (extra weight I know) but combo is lighter and more versatile than a Zero degree bag. I’d rather carry the few extra pounds at this point that not wake up in the morning. 
  3. Copper spur tent pole split – needs repair 
  4. Arc’teryx rain gear has been a life saver. Not only does it keep you dry, it also is a great wind break. Might not be great in summer hiking conditions, but for now it is wonderful. 

Q & A

I want to answer a couple of questions that I received

  1. Have you met any interesting people yet?  – Yes, even though the numbers haven’t been high, I have enjoyed meeting the diverse group of people that are attempting their own thru-hikes. Looking forward to learning more about Steve, Walt, Mike & Piper, and Dumpling and meeting many more
  2. What body part hurts the most? – I would have thought my feet but they are actually in pretty good shape. As it turns out, my legs are just heavy each morning as I start walking, then they feel good throughout the day but at night – they are pretty sore. Time will fix this problem – or so i’m told.
  3. Favorite piece of gear so far? – Arc’teryx rain gear has come in very handy. I hope this gear becomes less important as the hike continues 

Well, time to hit the trail again. I hope to learn how to add a link to some video soon. Until next time …

Never Been Closer, Billy-Bull “Dozer”

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Comments 4

  • Craig : Feb 24th

    Nice to see that old tree still standing! Sounds like the weather has been quite the adventure thus far but glad to hear you were able to take a day with the family. Enjoy the proximity to home while you have it. I’m still shooting for March 16th so keep me posted on your progress and where you think you’ll be. Blessings, Craig

  • John Zalesak : Mar 1st

    Hey “Dozer” – I am the day hiker you passed last Sunday just after the Spence Field Shelter in the Smokies. It was a foggy/rainy morning… of which you had several. I think I passed the entire tramily that morning. I think it ended with Dink. I look forward to following your journey. Happy Trails !

  • Robin Clark : May 8th

    I’m not a thru hiker so maybe I would change my mind but I love my go pro. I think I would have a hard time letting that piece of gear go. Happy hiking!!

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