Saturday, April 26, 2014

Headed into Smokies

Enjoyed our Zero Day at Fontana Dam.  We are now headed into the Smokies.

Day 42, Sat

Start Fontana NC 28 Crossing
End Birch Gap campground Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Colleen/"Buttercup" dropped us back off at the NC 28 crossing and we headed north crossing Fontana Dam and entering the Smokies.

Hendo, Buttercup and Hendo's Mom at the end of a great Zero Day visit

Back on the AT following the whiteblazes that mark trail, you find blazes in the craziest of places, on the back of street signs

Whiteblaze marking the AT north on a water fountain

Hendo's Mom crossing Fontana Dam

We made it!!!!  Entering the Smokies

Depositing our AT thru-hiker Great Smokey Mountains National Park permits, cost $20 each

Friday, April 25, 2014

Day 36-41

Day 36, Sun 20 Apr, 142 miles
Start NOC
End just north of The Jump-up, 4.7 miles

Left the luxury of the NOC behind and began our journey up and out.  What a hike up it was...crossed several rockslide areas today, which are quite challenging.  The black flies are swarming and driving us nuts as well, we have permethrined our clothes and are using deet on our skin to keep them at bay.  we were beat when we got to The Jump-off but had to keep climbing up Swin Bald to find a flat spot to set up our tent.  We called it quits at the first 6ft square flat area we came to.
Trail Magic colored Easter Eggs as we were getting on the trail at NOC Easter morning!!

Memorial along AT honoring fallen forest ranger

Day 37, Mon 21 Apr, 147.6 miles
Start just orth of the jump-off
End Locust Cove Gap, 5.6 miles

Full day of hiking, up and over Swim Bald and Cheoah Bald.  Mom fell off Cheoah Bald on our way fown. She tried to walk down a section she should have crawled down.  She only rolled 5 ft down the mountain until a rhododendron tree stopped her.  She is fine, no serious injuries, just a scrape on her right arm and a bruised pride.  We continued hiking and stopped at Locust Cove Gap.  Our feet are getting better.  I am trying to get us on a schedule of hike 3 hrs, rest 2, hike 3 more.  We did this today and it worked great and our feet weren't killing us at the end of the day.
Mom after falling off Cheoh Bald

Day 38, Tues 22 Apr,
Start Locust Cove Gap
End Base of Jacob's Ladder

Hitchhiked into Robbinsville, NC to get food to mail to ourselves at Fontana Lodge for our trip through the Smokies
Day 39, Wed 23 Apr
Start Base of Jacob's Ladder
End Yellow Creek County Rd
Climbed up Jacob's Ladder today, absolutely sucked, it was like climbing a ladder for 0.6 mile.
Looking up Jacob's Ladder

Hendo trudging up Jacob's Ladder

We stopped at Yellow Creek Rd and camped for the night along someone's access road/driveway. Mom was worried about getting arrested for trespassing, I told her if we got arrested at least we would get a bed to sleep in, hot meal and a shower in jail.  No one said anything about us camping.

Saw Fontana Lake for the first time today, looking forward to a zero day and seeing colleen at Fontana.

Fontana Lake off in the distance!!!!

Day 40, Thurs 24 Apr
Start Yellow Creek County Rd
End Fontana 28 crossing/Fontana Dam

We made it to Fontana, NC and my friend Colleen has come to visit us for the next day and a half, yay, it is so good to see someone from home!!!  Met Rocky who is using 2 cars to shuttle himself between sections so he can slack-pack.  Rocky said the Smokies will be nicer because the trail is graded for pack animals, so the climbs are more gradual.  Met Tumbles at Fontana laundry room. Tumbles is from Idaho and owns pack animals, he stated as well that the trail through the Smokies is graded for pack animals and will have grades of only 10%, not the extreme grades like we have been climbing in GA and NC.  We hope they are right, the up and downhills are a big cause of our ankle and foot pain.

Day 41, Fri 25 Apr
Fontana Dam

ZERO DAY!!!!!!!!!
Today Colleen chauffered us around in her yellow Ram Pick-up truck and earned the status of Trail Angel and trail name of Buttercup!!  We also ran into Tumbles and his friend Skittles today. They ended up hanging out with us all day and spending the night on the floor of our cabin.
Hendo and Tumbles soaking their feet in the bathtub in hot water with epsom salts 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Weight Loss

Got on the scales today.....

Hendo has lost 30 pounds

Hendo's Mom has lost 15 pounds

Sunday, April 20, 2014

New Pics Posted

We have posted new pics in several of our previous posts, so check them out.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

To Trudge......

To trudge..."The slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man/woman, who has nothing left in life except the impulse to soldier on."

I have posted our lasted daily updates, I know they are not as insightful as the beginning, but I just haven't had the energy of late to write as much at the end of the day.  So we have made it to The NOC/Nantahala Outdoor Center and I have some time and energy, so here are some thoughts.

1. This shit sucks, but is awesome at the same time.  Mom and I are hurting, not in an injured manner, but in a we just walked 137.3 miles carrying a 36 lb backpack manner.

2. What works is right. Out here you have to be able to put out of you how everything is "supposed" to be done.  What works for you in your situation is the right way to do it.

3. I haven't hurt like this since airborne school, its a good, I just got my ass smoked hurt.  I experienced more pain when I was medevac'd but we aren't experiencing pain, we are just hurting.

That is all for now.  Miss you all. Thanks to everyone who is supporting us and keeping us moving north.

Day 28- 34

Day 28, Sat 12 Apr
Zero day in Franklin, NC with CVMA brother Yamahawg. Brunch at diner, post office, outdoor 76  for new shoes, 15-7 cvma brothers stopped by for a visit, grilled out for dinner

Day 29, Sun 13 Apr, 114 miles
Start Winding Stair Gap
End Siler Bald Shelter

Shoes feeling good, feet generally sore not because of shoes

Day 30, Mon 14 Apr, 118 miles
Start siler bald shelter
End just north wayah gap

Pouring down rain, cold, wet, stopped and set up camp, left ankle killing hendo.

Day 31, Tues 15 Apr
Zero day on trail, rained all night, temp dropped today rain turned into snow, freezing cold tonight, spent day in tent resting feet and reading nook.
We awoke to a winter wonderland

Weather was so bad and winds so strong we had to eat in our tent


Day 32, Wed 16 Apr, 120.8 miles
Start just north of Wayah Gap
End Wayah Bald Shelter, 2.8 miles

Got lost on Bartram Trail, hendo feet achey, late start, stopped at wayah bald shelter
Stone tower on Wayah Bald

Vista from Wayah Bald

Hendo and Hendo's on top of Wayah Bald

Cleaning house, drying out


Day 33, Thurs 17 Apr, 131.4
Start Wayah Bald Shelter
End Wesser Bald Shelter, 10.6 miles

Our longest day, because of a trail angel we were able to slack pack over Rocky Bald and made up some miles.

Day 34, Fri 18 Apr, 137.3 miles
Start Wesser Bald Shelter
End The NOC( Nanatahala Outdoor Center)

Our next big benchmark, we made it to the NOC!!!! Going to shower, do laundry, Eat real food, sleep in a bed in hostel.

Mom navigating  through 'The Jumpoff' enroute  NOC

The Jumpoff

"Parking" outside Riversend Restaurant at NOC

Trail Magic left on our packs outide the restaurant

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Day 25-27

Day 25, Wed, 9 Apr

Start Standing Indian Shelter, 1045,
End Carter Gap Shelter, 1800, 7.6 miles

Our longest day of hiking yet.  Terrain is much more moderate here in NC.  A quiet day of hiking nothing too exciting.  Feet are sore.


Day 26, Thurs 10 Apr

Start Carter Gap Shelter, 0945
End Long Branch Shelter, 1830, 8.6 miles

Our longest Day!!  Today we passed the 100 mile mark!!!  We also conquered Albert Mountain, which was our hardest climb yet, it was downright sadistic, we were on our hands and knees at a few places.  At the top the view was amazing!!!  Only have 21 more 100 mile stretches left to complete the entire trail...haha!!!  Hendo's feet were on fire when we got to the shelter tonight.  Going to have to see about new shoes or something when we get into Franklin, NC.
Mom climbing up Albert Mtn, had to get on hands and knees

Hendo climbing up Albert Mtn

100 MILES!!!!!!!!

View from on top Albert Mtn


Day 27, Fri 11 Apr

Start Long Branch Shelter, 0930
End Winding Stair Gap, 1600, 7.2

We have gradually increased our miles and are doing well at the 7-8 mile length, but our feet our still hurting more than they should so going to check out other options in Franklin, NC.  Two men dropped off trail magic at the Winding Stair Gap as we were walking off the mountain, so we enjoyed some fresh apples, bananas, homemade toffee and a cold Heineken...yay!!!!  Hendo's CVMA brother, Yamahawg, picked up us at Winding Stair Gap and his housing us for the next two nights for our zero day.  We stopped by the outfitter store and bought a few more dry bags, had dinner at the chinese buffet and resupplied at Walmart.  It will be nice to sleep in a bed tonight.

Day 21-24

I know that some of these entries are short, but time got away from us on our zero day and I didn't get around to updating the blog as much as I wanted.  Mom and I had an awesome R&R with my CVMA brother Yamahawg and his girlfriend Sandra in Franklin, NC.  Their hospitality was amazingand greatly appreciated.

Mom and I got fitted for new hiking shoes today, our boots weren't cutting it and come to find out not necessarily the best choice for us.  We now have Brooks hiking shoes and are excited to get back on the trail tomorrow.

Day 21, Sat 5 Apr
Start Dick's Creek Gap, 0905
End Plumorchard Shelter, 1500, 4.5 miles

Both of us have very sore feet.  4.5 miles was enough for today.  Met Chance from Ocala, FL, former infantry guy, very cool, swapped stories.  Heard coyote howling, gunshot and then silence.  Tomorrow we enter NC.
Plumorchard shelter, a typical shelter

Rangers, lead the way!!!

Hendo hanging food bags on bear cables

Day 22, Sun 6 Apr
Start Plumorchard shelter, 1130
End Bly Gap, NC, 1630, 4 miles

We finally made it to NorthCarolina!!!!  Good riddens to Georgia!!! Got camp set up and had dinner. 2 other couples decided to set up camp as well.  It started blowing and raining around 1930 and stormed all night.

Day 23, Mon 7 Apr
Start Bly Gap, 0930
End Muskrat Shelter, 1330, 2.8 miles

Absolutely miserable, didn't sleep last night because of storms, packed up in rain and wind, hiked in mud, rain and wind, got to muskrat shelter and called it a day, set up tent, curled up in sleeping bags to stay warm.
Had breakfast under our tent fly because of stormy weather

Day 24, Tues 8 Apr
Start Muskrat Shelter, 1045
End Standing Indian Shelter, 1500,4.9 miles

Rain stopped during the night, BOB (Big Orange Ball/sun came out, met Sam 8 & dad Chris & Sam's hiking buddy Billy the Bison stuffed animal, good day of hiking, trail nice and relatively flat, several rock slide areas, he do left foot sore, mom right shoulder sore, working on how to get pain to go away, he do has found loosely tying left boot helps, mom has taped a rock to the underside of her shoulder strap to put pressure on spasm in shoulder, found Billy on trail at standing indian shelter sent out request for help to find Sam on twitter, able to hang up and dry out gear,supposed to be cold tonight.

Handy little bridge added to former log crossing


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Franklin, NC Zero Day, Sat 12 Apr

We have made it to Franklin, NC and are taking a Zero Day, Sat 12 Apr, at my CVMA (Combat Veterans Motorcycle Assoc) brother's house.  We will post the lastest stories and pics later today.
-Hendo & Hendo's Mom

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sat 5 Apr - Back on the trail

Mom's heel has recovered and we are headed back out onto the trail.  Next time we post will be when we get to Franklin, NC.

R & R in Hiawassee, GA

Day 18, Wed 2 Apr

Start Moreland Gap

End Dick's Creeks Gap/Hiawassee, GA

Hiked 1 mile to gap and hitched a ride into Hiawassee

Day 19-Day 20, Thurs 3 Apr - Fri 4 Apr

Mom has done something to her right ankle and she is experiencing pain when she walks on it, so we are taking some zero days.  Lots of Epsom Salt soaks, ice and ibuprofen.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 15-17

Day 15, Sun 30 March 2014
Start Unicoi Gap, 0930
End Tray Mountain Shelter, 1630, 5.7 miles

What a day, Georgia mountains suck.  Today we conqured Rocky Mountain (4014ft) and Tray Mountain (4430ft).  They really worked us over. We are getting better, today we did 2 mountains back to back before we were beat, when one used to do us in. Winds were insane today, 50 mph gusts.  According to the weatherman, the winds were supposed to end at 1800, however, they howled until 0600 Monday morning.  Only 20 more miles of GA left.
View from on top Tray Mtn

A luxury on the AT, a privy at a shelter location. This one is at the Tray Mtn Shelter where we camped.

Inside of privy.  They are special composting type privys so they are elevated, you toss in a handful of wood chips from the bucket after doing your business.
Hendo hiking on way to Tray Mtn shelter. Sun has finally come out and it was warm enough to sport Stop Soldier Suicide tshirts.

Anyone know what type of bug this is?  We have seen them all along the way.  They are super bright red.

Day 16, Monday 31 March 2014
Start Tray Mountain shelter, 1115
End Sassafrass Gap, 1630, 4.7 miles

Today our feet were hurting so we stopped at Sassafrass Gap.  Turned out to be a good thing, as we met Travis, former 1st BN Ranger, rocking his ranger panties.  Whoohoo, eyecandy on the trail, TRAIL MAGIC!!  Travis is hiking in memory of a ranger buddy he lost in January.  We had a great time swapping stories all evening and shared some Jack.  He coined me and lucky me I brought my Secretary of Defense Hagel coin with me, so Travis owes me some Jack!!

Day 17, Tuesday 1 April 2014
Start Sassafrass Gap, 1030,
End Moreland Gap, 1730, 5.3 miles

Attention on the AT, Kelly Knob is not a knob. It is a ball-busting pain in the feet mountain, and it kicked our butts.  Kelly Knob was a 800 ft straight up climb.  Trail Angel Tater, was just short of the summit handing out cold sodas.  Tater was just the pick me up we needed.  Our feet gave us both fits all day.  Hendo is swapping out dry socks throughout the day to see if it helps any, as well as experimenting with various boot tying techniques.  Mom's shoulder was killing her yesterday, but today feels fine, however, her feet are giving her fits today.  some irritating swarming bugs have come out now that the weather is nice.  It has been cool last night and tonight, but it was warm enough yesterday and today that we have been sporting our Stop Soldier Suicide t-shirts!!!  Hendo is having her 5-finger shoes sent to her to see if they help with her foot pain.  Several other people have used them periodically on the trail and recommend I try them.  Also, product review..Bridgedale socks suck!!!!  Mom accidentally, over cooked one pair of my Smartwool socks while trying to dry them in the oven at Blood Mtn Cabins.  So I got a replacement pair of Bridgedale socks at the local shop, no where near as good as Smartwool.  Working on getting a pair of smartwool so I can swap out socks during the day.  it is a nightly ritual for us now to go to sleep with our feet elevated on our backpacks, a great help!!!!  Tonight is ending with a double dose of ibuprofen...miss you all.  10 miles left in Georgia!!!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Grey Group ROCKS!!!!

So here I am hiking the AT and my mom, trying to be helpful, accidentally over cooked a pair of my SmartWool socks in the oven at the Blood Mtn Cabins.  I bought a pair of Bridgedale socks at the Neel Gap store, but they are crap.

I purchased my beloved SmartWools at Grey Group on Reilly Rd in Fayetteville, NC and have not been able to find the same ones out here on the trail.  I texted my best friend Ross and he got me the phone number for Grey Group.  I called them today and the sales associate gladly looked up my previous sock purchase.  They have a pair in stock and gladly put them in the mail.  So when we get to Franklin, NC in a few days my smartwools will be waiting.  Yay, Grey Group!!! Thank you so much for your support.  If you are in need of quality military and outdoor gear check out Grey Group!!!!