Miles and Mountains
Where Am I? Mile Marker 207!
Hey Everybody! Last time I checked in was in Franklin, NC and a lot has happened since then. After finishing GA in 4 days and resting for a few days I got back on trail with my wonderful girlfriend Reilly. She joined me for several easy mile days until we got to the NOC at Mile Marker 137. In those days, we averaged about 10 miles a day, enjoyed the nice weather, and got to see some awesome views from Siler Bald, Wayah Bald, and the Jumpoff. While taking it easy at the NOC, eating some pizza, and resting up, we met several awesome folks: Sprout, Root, Colorado, Kat, Captain Jack, Magic Mike, Slug, and Rocket Man .
From there, I continued north for another 27 miles in a day and a half to Fontana Dam. Upon reaching the dam, I did my first successful hitch hike to Fontana Village to pick up some supplies and hitch hiked back as well. I rested up at the Fontana Hilton Shelter (Best shelter yet) for the remainder of the day and throught the thunderstorm that night and met Bearspray, Kristin, and Beeline that evening.
I planned that evening to complete the Smokies section in 3-4 days. The next morning in the rain and fog, I started the big uphill into the Park. The first day of the Smokies I did a 24 mile day from the Dam to Derrick Knob Shelter. I also received my trail name “Wild Man” that day from an older gentleman who I talked to about 10 miles into my day hiking in just shorts and a t-shirt while he was all bundled up. The people there couldn’t believe I had done that many miles. I also caught up with some good friends that day about 15 miles in. It was getting colder by the hour. Feeling wore out, I went to bed about 8:30 pm planning to cover 20 miles the next day over Clingmans Dome to Icewater Shelter since the snow was supposed to come in the next night. This is where everything changed. That night, I was freezing all night long despite having all of my cold weather gear on. I woke up to frozen water bottles and ice everywhere.
When I started hiking , the snow had already started. The rangers gave me the weather report and I knew that I was going to have to get off trail at Newfound Gap on 441 in order to either wait out the cold/ get more cold weather gear since I didn’t have enough. Seeing that with wind chill it was going to be below 0 degrees, I decided to get off for a couple days and then get back on and start pushing big miles again. I hiked 10 miles up to Clingmans Dome and by the time I got there was so much snow, I could barely see anything through my glasses. I continued on, fell on the ice several times and at that point decided to hop out on the road to Clingmans Dome where it passes Collins Gap so that I could speed my pace up. I walked 7 miles down that snowy road to the point where it meets 441 where I was going to be picked up and there was not a car in sight. Knowing that the road had been closed, I decided to start walking the 13 miles down to Smokemont Ranger Station where the gate was locked. Several miles down the road, a snow plow truck came driving up the road and I stopped him to see if I could catch a ride. After talking for a few minutes, a ranger picked me up and drove me down to the gate where my ride was waiting (Shoutout to Kelly and Jose!). The ranger said that they (rangers) would be driving constantly up to Newfound Gap from both sides of the park that day since they knew that many people were planning to get off trail there to resupply and get out of the weather. From there, I ate some awesome Mexican food, showered, and am taking a few days off to let these bitter nights go through. In a couple days, I am going to jump back on trail and not take another day off until I get to the Roan Highlands. I am going to start doing 20+ mile days again when I jump back on. I am very excited to get back on, but have ultimately decided that my hike will not go all the way to Maine. I will most likely stop somewhere in about a month. I got on the trail to figure out what I want to do since I just graduated, to get closer to God, and to push myself. I am on the trail for me, no one else, and am definitely getting out of it what I wanted. I am excited to keep moving north but when I am happy and content with myself, I will be getting off to continue with my education and career. No worries, it won’t be anytime soon! I’ve still got hundreds of miles left in me!
Friends Made This Week: Colorado, Kat, Captain Jack, Slug, Lilo, Stitch, Beeline, Bearspary, Kristin, Dacks, and Critter
Best Trail Meal of the Week: Broccoli and Cheese Rice with added Ranch Tuna Pack (Absolutely Delicious)
Best View: Rocky Top in the Smokies
Top Mileage: Two 24 mile days in a row
Highlight of the Week: Summiting the highest mountain on the AT in a complete snow downpour
Low Point of the Week: Busting through ice and getting my entire foot soaking wet in the snow
Wildlife: Had a bear walk through camp one night in Nantahala and saw a bear while climbing Clingmans Dome
I’m looking forward to getting back on trail and seeing more places! In another week and a half or so, I will be getting close to where I grew up!
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What an awesome adventure thus far!! Keep on keepin on-I have enjoyed reading your blog!
Praying for you Brother. Darrell (Encourager)
Prayers for strength and your closeness with God. Being out there on the AT may be just the right thing to get you closer. Have a great time! SUoer posting!
Thinking and praying for you Caleb! Nothing like the mountains to get close to God. Enjoy and be safe!
You haven’t posted anything in 3 weeks whats going on dude?