Saturday, March 29, 2014

Battle Scars

Hendo's mom got a hot spot on the inside of her left ankle, the tape she used to tape some gauze over the hot spot caused a sore on the front of her ankle. They are both healing now. Scrape on her knee from a tree log she had to climb over

Hendo's bruise on her right forearm from hitting the tree after falling down the mountian.

Day 14 - Zero Day

Hendo was really hurting after her fall off the mountain yesterday and it rained all day, so we took a zero day.  Lots of sleep, ice and ibuprofen.  Back on the trail tomorrow.

Hendo's head and chest cold are gone. Mom has been well.  We can tell that we are starting to get our mountain legs and are in better shape than when we started.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Day 9 - Day 13

Day 9, mon 24 march
Start neel gap, 1130
End gap just south of tesnatee gap, 5.5 miles, 1730

Feet sore, couldn't go further, made our own campsite, got snowed on 1/2 in,heard owl, got buzzed by c130
View from cowrock mountain

Getting water from a spring along the way

Filtering through shirt to filter out sand/dirt

Sterilizing water with SteriPen


Day 10, tues 25 march
Start south os tesnatee gap, 1030
End low gap shelter, 6 miles, 1630

Woke up to ice and snow on tent. Packed up and got to hiking, ate on the go. Very windy. Trail magic/trail angels were waiting at tesnatee gap with snacks and hot coffee, king tut and jay. Just what we needed.  wind was crazy strong out of west, got snowed on second half of day. Hendo's feet numb and sore at end of day, but ankles feel better. Hendo and hendos mom both like new boot inserts. Freezing cold,wind is insane.
Campsite near tetanee gap, snow on tent in morning

Trail Angels King Tut and Jay at Tesnatee Gap with hot coffee and snacks

Hiking in the snow and wind storm


Day 11, wed 26 mar
Start low gap shelter, 1015
End just south blue mtn shelter, 1615, 7 miles

Got snowed on last night, was freezing cold, coldest night yet.  Started rather easy, last 2 miles of boulder slide killer, camped with Mother Nature and Smokestack.  Chilly all day and sunny, no blisters feet tired body achey ready for zero day.
We call these Ice ice crystals along the trail to Blue Mountain

Hendo's Mom by frozen waterfall on trail to Blue Mtn

Boulder field just south of Blue Mtn campsite...killer traversing.

Blue Mtn campsite


Day 12, thurs 27 mar

Zero day. We spent the day at our campsite near blue mtn shelter. We slept, read, went and got water, ate some, that was it, lotsa notta. A great zero day.
Sky watching on zero day

Hendo's Mom relaxing in tent on zero day


Day 13, Fri 28 Mar
Start south of blue mtn shelter, 1015
End Unicoi Gap, 3 miles

Rained all night and was raining when we originally woke up at 0600, so we slept in until 0900 when the rain stopped. Packed up enerything and headed to Unicoi Gap. Our plan was to get to Unicoi Gap, get a ride into Hiawassee, GA to resupply and get a ride back to the trail and camp on the trail.  However, Hendo had a slight mis-hap and plans changed.  On the last descent into Unicoi Gap, Hendo's Mom was well out in front of Hendo as usual.  The entire hike had been tricky as it was rainy, foggy, muddy and slick.  I was about as graceful as a water buffalo on ice skates.  Mom was well out of sight when I stepped down along the trail, slipped in the mud and fell off the trail, rolling down the mountain 20 feet, finally being stopped by a tree.  I laid there for a minute, I had knocked the wind out of myself, hyper-extended the fingers on my right hand, bruised my right forearm, twisted my left ankle and bent one of my hiking poles.  All this time, mom was enjoying trail magic in the unicoi gap parking lot, hamburgers and hot coffee.  I am ok, just a little beat up.  We decided to get a hotel for the night in Helen, GA.  So we have resupplied on food, had great mexican food for dinner and
are bedded down in the Super 8 Motel for the night.  The motel offers a great hiker rate of $35/night.  Oh, and had a good dose of Jack Daniels and ibuprofen.
Hendo's Mom hiking in thick fog and rain to Unicoi Gap.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 7 Woody Gap - Day 8 Neel Gap

Day 7, Saturday 22 March 2014
Start Woody Gap, 0900
End Lance Creek, 3.3 miles, 1130

Back on the trail today after a day of rest. We had to stop at Lance Creek, because bear canisters are required for anyone overnighting between the next stop, Jarrard Gap and Neel Gap.  We spent the afternoon napping and reading the Nook.
Hendo's Mom & Hendo on Preaching Rock
Hendo's Mom on Preaching Rock

Hendo on Preaching Rock

Campsite at Lance Creek

Day 8, Sunday 23 March 2014
Start Lance Creek, 0753
End Neel Gap, 7.4 miles, 1530

Oh shit it was on like Donkey Kong.  Our longest day yet, AND it was up and over the highest point on the AT in Georgia, Blood Mountain.  RANGER, the lock-step is the preferred method for ascending steep terrain. And Ranger on we did, lock-stepping it all the way to the top.  However, uphills are not the worst, downhills are.  We made it to Neel Gap and the awesome store and made some adjustments/purchases.  Mom and I have purchased SuperFeet insoles, these should help our ankle pain. I purchased two waterproof compression bags as the ziploc bags I was using wasn't cutting it. We also got a light weight waterproof bag for the camera to replace the bulky pelican case we had and mom needed a new headlamp.  We donated a few unwanted food items to the hiker box and also mailed a few items not wanted home.  We are staying at the Blood Mountain Cabins tonight, the weather is crappy and we are beat up.  We got to shower tonight and completed our now nightly routine of ankle rotations, foot massage and foot elevation.  We will be back at it tomorrow
Hendo & Hendo's Mom on top of Blood Mtn 

White blazes mark AT down from Blood Mtn

Boot Tree at Neel Gap

Friday, March 21, 2014

Days 1-6 Rain, cold and wet....finally sun!!!

Day 1, Sunday 16 Mar 2014-
Start Big Stamp Gap, USFS 42 parking lot, 1030
End creek side, 1530 hrs, 4.7 miles
We hiked 1mile south to the top of Springer Mtn, GA and the official start of the AT.  It was pouring down rain and cold.  The trail was a creek.  We took our picutes at the start plaques, killing our camera in the process.  We then headed north to Maine.
We met "Doc", a retired army medic on the trail and had lunch with him at Stover Creek shelter.  It should be noted that most everyone on the trail has a trail name, which I annotate by using quotes.  Our trail names are "Hendo" and "Hendo's mom".
We hiked 4.7 miles today, stopping to set up camp at a campsite along a creek just north of Three Forks.  It is still raining, we got a small fire started enough to warm our hands.  We bedded down at 1830.

Day2, Monday 17 Mar 2014
Start Creek side, 1200 hrs
End Hawk Mtn Shelter, 1600, 3.4 miles
Today we figured we would sleep until the sun woke us up. Well with it still raining there was no sun and we slept until 1000 hrs.  We were on the trail at 1200 hrs.  We wore shamrock headbands in celebration of St patricks day.  Today we completed 3.4 miles stopping at Hawk Mtn Shelter.  The rain stopped, but it was still cold and wet.  We were fogged in all day, could only see 50m in front of yourself.  We had our first big climb today up a small mtn before the shelter and it sucked ass.  The shelter was full and lots of tenters.  We are tenting regardless of shelter availability, because we don't want to deal with the mice.  Everything is damp, except for our gear safely packed in ziploc bags in our pacs. Hiking all day in wet boots and socks sucks.  Hopefully "BOB" (Big Orange Ball/sun) will come out soon.

Day3, Tuesday 18 Mar 2014
Start Hawk Mtn Shelter, 1100
End Cooper Gap, 1600, 4.2 miles
We got up and on the trail 1 hour earlier today.  We conquered Sassafrass Mtn, which totally sucked ass, a 661 ft climb mostly straight up.  We did a total of 4.2 miles today arriving at Cooper Gap at 1600 hrs.  After Sassafrass Mtn is Cooper Gap, we were going to have to continue on over Justus Mtn to Justus Creek because there wasn't any water at Cooper Gap.  However, 5 min after we arrived at Cooper Gap, Trail Angel, Survivor Dave showed up with 6 gallons of bottled water....TRAIL MAGIC!!!!!!  Because of Survivor Dave we and 5 other tents were able to spend the night at Cooper Gap.  Trail Angel Miss Janice came by with beer, soda and wine.  It was still cold, wet and foggy all day.  However, the rain stopped and a breeze came through so we were able to hang up and dry out our tent and start a good sized fire and dried my boots and socks....yay!!  The ranger medevac did a few fly-bys.  We were in bed by 1930 again, which is pretty much the trail standard.

Day 4, Wednesday 19 Mar 2014
Start Cooper Gap, 1000
End Gooch Gap 1530, 4.9 miles
So much for staying dry, it rained last night so our tent is wet again, but my boots, socks and clothes are dry today.  We got up at 0800 and was on the trail at 1000, we are getting better and earlier each day.  We started the day off with a 286 ft climb up Justus Mtn. We are finding our groove and techniques that work best for us.  To me the uphills are work, but the downhills are what cause me the most physical discomfort.  Downhills are killer on the knees and ankles.  We ended the day at Gooch Gap at 1530 hrs, completing 4.9 miles.  there was some nice dry split log firewood someone had left so we made a nice big fire. No rain and slight breeze so we dried out our gear.  Met a retired 65 yr old couple doing a thru-hike, Wesley an army infantry vet doing an ETS thru-hike, William from Cornwall, England and Simon from Heidelberg, Germany.  In bed at 1930.

Day 5, Thursday 20 Mar 2014
Start Gooch Gap, 1030
End Woody Gap, 1430 hrs, 3.8 miles...Hiker Hostel,Dahlonega
BOB!!!!!!!!!  First day of spring and sun!!!!!!!  Made it up and over Ramrock Mtn.  We are getting better at our techniques, downhills are still killers.  I have been elevating my feet on my pack at the end of the day, massaging my feet and ankles.  I am also making it a point to stretch before starting off in the morning.  This along with nightly and morning motrin is keeping the aches and pains at bay.  I have been fighting a cold since we started Sunday, so we decided to spend tonight at a local hostel 6 miles down the road from Woody Gap.  We thumbed/hitchhiked a ride from woody to the hostel from two very nice ladies, Christina and Thelma, great trail angels.  Our room at the hostel is awesome, it is a shipping container!!  We got a ride into Dahlonega to the walmart so I could get some medicine, and so we could get some dinner and a few supplies we needed.  Get to sleep in a bed tonight yay!!

Day 6, Friday 21 March 2014
Zero Day, Hiker Hostel, Dahlonega, GA
I, Ilene/Hendo, was still hacking up phlegm today and the room/shipping container we have stayed in at the hostel was still available, so we took our first Zero day today. I am feeling better, so we are back on the trapiail tomorrow.  We bought a new camera today, so we are on track to share pics

Friday, March 14, 2014

We are a GO!!

Mom has recovered, she thinks it was something she ate.  The plan mom and I have come up with is to head to GA tomorrow morning, arriving at my buddy's place around 1400-1500 hrs.  It is then 2 hours from his place to the trailhead.  Mom said she would like to "get on the trail" tomorrow, so if she is feeling good we will have him drop us off at the trailhead and camp nearby.  There are two areas nearby where we could settle in for the night.

We are both so excited to get going!!

Hendo and Hendo's Mom

PHCs and PHIs

Usually for us military folks it is PCCs (pre-combat checks) and PCIs (Pre-combat inspections)...but now it is PHC (Pre-hike checks) and PHI (pre-hike Inspections).  Mom and I have gone over our packing lists and everything is packed and nothing more.

Ounces = Pounds = Pain

Mom has been hydrating and feeling better.

We have had some press the past few days, a news article in Fayetteville Observer Times:

And a segment on ABC 11 news:

Thank you to everyone for your support and we will update you one more time before we leave.

Hendo and Hendo's Mom

Murphy...he gets you every time!!

Mom woke up at 0530 this morning projectile vomiting.  Needless to say, we have put travelling to GA off until tomorrow, Saturday 15 March 2014.  Mom has talked about wanting to drive down early and get a few miles in tomorrow afternoon.  We will see.  Worst case scenario, we drive down tomorrow and start hiking Sunday.  No biggie.  At least she got sick here at home rather than on the trail.  I will update more soon.