Life Since Virginia

I realized my last post was all philosophical and I didn’t provide any updates on what we’ve been up to since Damascus. I have good WiFi here, so here is an update about Tennessee and North Carolina so far. 

Crossing into Tennessee


Cow Field in Tennessee


Memorial to Famous Tennessee Hermit

We have been making more use of hostels since we left Damascus. Part of the reason is the more hostels are available. Part of it is that I was dealing with some sort of illness that sapped my energy for about a week. So we stayed at Braemor Castle Hostel, Kincora Hostel, Mountain Harbor Hostel, Hemlock Hollow Inn, Uncle Johnny’s, and Elmer’s. Now we are at the Lodge in Fontana Dam Village. 

Taking a break

Kincora is run by Bob People’s, a legendary trail maintainer. All he asks for use of a bunkhouse and kitchen with showers and laundry is a five dollar donation. We had a great time there. Elmer’s Hostel in Hot Springs is in the Sunnybank Inn, built in 1870. We stayed in the room used by Earl Shaffer on the first ever thru-hike in 1948. Ian slept in the bed he used. 


Board Games at Kincora


Earl Shaffer’s Room at Elmer’s


Still using shelters, though


Another noteworthy thing is that once we left Virginia, there were no more privies at the shelters. Instead, every shelter had a shovel. So you would take the shovel and wander into the woods until you find what you think is a good spot to poop, and start digging a hole. 

Then all of a sudden a little voice in the back of your head says, “Wait a minute….. 


  If I think this is a good spot…..

how many other people….

Had the same idea? What might I be digging up?

So, instead of a good spot, you start looking for an “inconvenient” spot (far away, uncomfortable, not level, hard to dig).  Fortunately it’s a big country and I haven’t dug up any surprises. But the shovel method does give you pause. Also, pooping in a hole in the ground that you had to dig in the pouring rain has to rank down there as one of life’s worst experiences.  Needless today, I’m very happy to be back in “privy land” since Hot Springs. Even the Smokies now have privies. 


Crossing a “bald”


Checking our location


One of Many Views along the TN/NC Border

The bear sightings have increased. One day we saw five bears. I thought we’d start seeing less now that we are close to winter, but the opposite seems to be happening.

Max Patch, outside of Hot Springs was amazing. It’s a large “bald” so you’re on top of a mountain in a grassy field with views in every direction. 

The Smokies were beautiful, but cold. The day after we summited Clingman’s Dome, it snowed. Yesterday, it was 18 degrees. I the day before Clingman’s we hit Charlie’s Bunion, an interesting rock formation, and the rocks had been warmed by the sun. We sat there for a while soaking up the heat. 


View from the Ridge


Looking West toward Tennessee


Mountains Everywhere!


…and I mean everywhere!


Ian at Charlies Bunion


Clingman’s Dome


Looking Back at Clingman’s Dome


A Little Music by the Fire

Wake up Call at Mollies Ridge Shelter

Fontana Dam

The Fontana Hilton (we didn’t stay here)

View from the Lodge at Fontana Village

It’s supposed to warm up today. We’ve resupplied (gas station convenience store style – lots of Mrs Freshly’s Honey Buns and candy). Now we’re in to the home stretch. 

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Comments 3

  • David : Nov 24th

    “…pooping in a hole in the ground that you had to dig in the pouring rain has to rank down there as one of life’s worst experiences.”

    Reason #47 why carrying an umbrella will change your hiking life. Also, be careful with those community trowels…or you may be pooping much, much more

  • Carol : Nov 25th

    Hi George and Ian,
    Thank you so much for taking the time on the trail to post photographs and to let your followers know where you are and what you’re up to. Keep your spirits up and stay safe.

  • Maury : Nov 28th

    Hi, George & Ian …

    You’re doing it … and getting very close to: You did it! Been following you the entire time – thanks for the updates and insights every few days. Very enjoyable – in a small way sharing in the experience – without any of the bragging rights. It really is remarkable to think back to the beginning and realize how long you’be both been persevering. Persistence, persistence. Well done.



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