I don’t even know where to begin and am weeks behind on updates. I hope you enjoy photos because I am about to add an obnoxious amount to this post of some of my favorite moments thus far (NOC-Hot Springs). When I last left off I had lost my hiking partner, was down in the dumps, lost track of my trail family, and headed home to swap some gear/camera out. I ended up slack packing after I lost my partner and reevaluating what I wanted to do. I was fortunate enough to link up with Tinker Bell (Fellow blogger Stacia Bennett) in Franklin, NC and this totally lifted my spirits. Tinker Bell showed me the best of Franklin and then her amazing sister dropped us off at NOC. I have been back out ever since my rocky beginnings, made a new incredible trail family, and have learned so many lessons from all the trials I have faced so far.
I have decided that since I am so behind I wanted to take you through a “photo story” of my journey over the past few weeks. Then over the next few days I will be adding a few detailed posts about this incredible journey so far with some unbelievably amazing people. These updates will include everything from my first rattlesnake encounter to vampire gnats eating us alive. For now I hope you will enjoy some of the amazing moments, and people, I was able to capture with my lens…
Tinker Bell is a tiny spec within these giant mountains. Franklin, NC.
Goldilocks and Tinker Bell are on the move. First goal, Fontana Dam.
I shot this beautiful night sky from the “Fontana Hilton.”
When you have a hard day of hiking nothing beats meeting fellow hikers at night and stoking the fire.
Wildflowers and Hammocks. So fortunate to see spring come to life along the trail the past few weeks.
Tinker Bell walking the forest.
Hiking out of Brownfork Gap we were fortunate to wake up above a sea of mountains and clouds. It was absolutely breathtaking.
We were so excited walking over Fontana Dam and into the 71 mile stretch of the Great Smokey Mountains. Pictured is: She Hulk, Superman, and Tinker Bell.
We awoke early to these magical views of Fontana Lake.
One of my favorite fire towers so far, Shuckstack. First day into the Smokey Mountains.
Beautiful morning. We had a deer who kept coming into camp to check us all out. As well as a bear in camp that night who decided to visit, Tortoise and Hare.
The women out numbered the guys tonight at Cosby Knob Shelter. My favorite part has been being around so many strong women. They all inspire me to push harder. Pictured: Utah, Fruit Snacks, She Hulk, Goldilocks (me), Highlighter, City Slicker, Slow and Steady, and Tinker Bell.
We have been so fortunate to have had incredible weather for all 71 miles of the Smokey Mountains. Pictured: Tinker bell.
My favorite terrain so far has for sure been the Great Smokey Mountains. It’s impossible for me to describe the feeling of hiking along the ridge line here.
Only 1900 plus miles to go. No big deal!
Dammit!! It feels SO good when you hit state lines.
She hulk winding down close to hiker midnight (9pm).
Fruit Snacks posing for me. I adore this girl. She is so full of life and so unique. From her bold and amazing hiking outfits to her caring personality.
Hiking into Clingman’s Dome was an extremely challenging day. However, we were rewarded with some 360 views.
On top of Clingman’s Dome. Highest point within the Smokey’s.
Our faces tell all about we felt about the blue lightning moonshine. Half way through the smokey’s we took a “zero” day and I was floored with the kindness of others. Not only did Tinker Bells mom and aunt do our laundry and treat us all as there own daughters. But John, a friend of Tinker bells mom let us stay in his amazing condo for free. People like this are what restore my faith in humanity. Words can’t describe how thankful I was for tinker bells mom, aunt, and friend John.
My not so favorite part of the Smokey’s was all the rules. You MUST camp at shelters only. 35 plus people were cram packed into Icewater Springs Shelter.
As if climbing Charlie’s Bunion was not dangerous enough. Young Buddha decided to scale up the opposite side.
Hero. His trail name is so fitting. He is one of the kindest and most genuine people I have met. I am blown away with how protective the men are out here of the female hikers. You will occasionally run into some a-hole. But for the most part men like Hero are always looking out for the ladies.
She Hulk admiring all the terrain we have just conquered over the past few days.
Brown Sugar on Charlie’s Bunion.
We did it! All 71 miles of the Smokey’s. Hiked into Standing Bear Hostel for some much needed rest.
Pictured here is Blue bird and Fruit snacks relaxing in the Standing Bear kitchen area. Blue bird has got to be one of the most inspiring women I have ever met. I admire her so much. She is 70 years old and pursuing her dream of thru-hiking the trail with her daughter.
Pictured is the tree house located at Standing bear hostel. Fruit snacks was dying to stay here. My husband Dan was AMAZING and woke up super early to book it. Then he met us spent the night with us here.
Home is where you pitch it. I loved this camp spot and drifted off to the sound of the creek right next to my tent.
Max Patch views were absolutely breathtaking. However, I was miserable today. It was hotter then hell and the bugs were swarming us on top of the bald. But it was beautiful.
I hope you have enjoyed a little glimpse into the past few weeks through my camera lens.
Goldilocks formally known as Jess
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