Week 1 – Bare in the Woods

Day 1 – McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs

I have done this part of the AT many times. I vaguely recall hiking to McAfee Knob when it wasn’t even part of the AT. Some of my favorite backpacking views are from McAfee Knob. The sun setting before a full moon. The sun rising over a river of clouds in the valley. This time was different; McAfee Knob was the first epic view on the start of my AT through hike journey.

After saying our “see you laters” the miles on the trail are a blur. We arrived at Lamberts Meadow too soon, ate dinner too early, and retired to the warmth of our tent well before hiker midnight. There is no camping allowed between Lamberts Meadow and Fulhardt Knob. We probably could have made it to Fulhardt Knob, but I felt like a 24 mile first day would be tempting fate. So we stopped after 10 miles.

Day 2 – Things Get Interesting

If you have read my earlier posts, you may be aware that the 5 pounds of carried clothing has been a concern of mine. Today I fixed that issue. It was 10 miles to Daleville, a favorite resupply spot. We had not intended to resupply or do anything here, living so close, we can visit Outdoor Trails and 3 Li’l Pigs anytime we want.

BUT, there is a UPS store here. I couldn’t convince any of our buddies to drive the handful of miles to where the trail crosses 220, so we made our way to the UPS store. At the UPS store I boxed up all my clothes. Well not all of them. I kept my sun hat, socks, shoes, and puffy. All my other clothes, packed and worn, got put in a box and mailed home. If you’re not wearing a shirt, there is no need for a rain jacket.


The author with his clothes boxed up and ready to go.

I also visited the Kroger and purchased a big bottle of sunscreen. With so much more than my face to protect, I would need a bigger bottle. Just for clarification, I purchased the sunscreen before mailing all my clothes home.


So many choices.

Getting back to the trail was “fun”. Even with my wife hiking directly in front of me, a ton of drivers on 220 honked at us. Fortunately there were no wrecks.

Once we were back on trail everything settled down and we were at Fulhardt Knob in a few hours.

Day 3 – Peace In the Woods

It was still dark outside when we woke up. I felt around for my pants and underwear and couldn’t find them anywhere. My shirt was missing too. It had been many decades since I lost all my clothing during the night. What happened? I could see my breath reflected in the red glow from my headlamp and I remembered. It was cold outside and my clothes were on the way back to my home. Oh no. What have I done.

My wife said “I bet you wish you had some cold wet clothes to put on.” Yes I did. Fortunately I still had my puffy, socks, and sun hat. I should probably work on some logistics for hostel stays and resupplies. At least I won’t have to do any laundry.

Even being bold and starting cold, I quickly warmed up after we started hiking. We had a handful of parkway crossings, but this section of trail is usually pretty quiet and the true NOBOs have not made it in numbers this far North yet. Even so, a thru hiker (trail name “Scuddy”) caught up with us while we were taking a break. Scuddy was obviously startled, but my wife, a bit too loudly, announced that I was harmless. We had a nice chat before Scuddy moved on at a pretty quick pace.

Parkway crossing

Another great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Day 4 – Getting comfortable

We ended up camping last night at the same site as Scuddy and a few other thru hikers that showed up. My wife made me wrap my 1/8″ pad around my waist when I wasn’t in the tent. I can’t hike that way and sitting is a bit uncomfortable, but at least it won’t be so awkward when we are hanging out with other backpackers.

Cornelius Creek Shelter

The author and his wife enjoying some sun.

The rain started shortly after we left camp this morning. I am so happy that the temperature is unseasonably warm. While my wife waffles between heating up in a rain coat vs having wet clothes, I am enjoying the early shower. Occasionally I considered pulling out my Dr. Bronner’s and really getting clean. I kept being reminded of the shower scene in “The Pacific” when the rain stops immediately after everyone is fully lathered up. Also, my Dr. Bronner’s is peppermint flavored which bears love.

The thru hikers sharing our campsite last night have some incredible trail legs. They slept in, but passed us before noon, flying down the trail, and would surely make it further than us. They said there was another group a day behind us that would catch us this evening.

No one caught up to us. We stopped at Matt’s Creek shelter for the night, leaving us only a couple miles to the James River and a shuttle scheduled for 8 the next morning.

This site was in danger of burning up last Fall and has frequently had issues with bear visits. Needless to say, thinking about the bear made me a bit uncomfortable. Encountering a bear in the woods while bare in the woods is not high on my list of hopeful trail experiences. Fortunately I had the logistics of tomorrow’s resupply to keep my mind occupied.

Snag hazzard

Take a look at those legs. Barely a week in and the tone is amazing.

Day 5 – Resupply

The James River Foot Bridge is a lesser know, but still iconic, location along the trail. Many thru hikers will take a plunge off the bridge into the water. Even though it is warm, very warm for hiking, even hiking naked; the water looks cold and our shuttle will be here soon.

Foot Bridge

The author and his wife are getting better at ussies.

James River plunge

The author about to jump into the river with full pack and shoes…. Not.

Stanimal’s shuttle met us promptly at 8 at the James River Foot bridge and dropped us off at the Glasgow Grocery Express in “downtown” Glasgow. A few weeks ago we made a reconnaissance trip here to check out the Dollar General and the local grocery store. The owner of the Glasgow Grocery Express spent a lot of time talking to us and had a lot of good advice. I think it is important to support local businesses, so we purchased all we could here. If you need stove fuel, this is the place.

The 1/8″ foam pad did not work for long periods of time wrapped around my waist, so I swapped it out for my puffy. I’m not sure if Scotto’s Pizza will allow me to dine in. Their door says “No shirt, No shoes, No service” but nothing about pants. There is a free hiker campsite in the park right behind the pizza place, I’ll wait there while my wife gets us a pizza or two.

These first five days have been wonderful beyond my wildest dreams.

Happy Tales!

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Comments 3

  • RALPH MCGREEVY : Apr 1st

    A good April 1st post, barely believable. Informal hiking in suitable weather is wonderful when allowed and practical. Hope you get to enjoy barepacking during your hike.

  • Paul Sumner : Apr 1st

    Nice. Went back and read your previous posts and laughed at the banjo. Looking forward to following your journey. I’m hiking the MST in NC which I would recommend to nobody. My wife wisely has no interest in joining me.

  • erin smith : Apr 2nd



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