Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 62, 16 May - Day 76, 30 May

Mom and I have made it to Erwin, TN.  We are doing good, I am still having some achey ankles, but definitely better than before.  We are concerned that we are behind schedule and will not be able to make it to Mt. Katahdin, ME, the endpoint, before it closes 15 Oct so we have picked up Mom's car from Doc, my CVMA brother, in GA and along with another thru-hiker will slack pack for a week or so to get caught up on miles.  Another CVMA brother, Gary, and his wife Sharon live here near Erwin and drove mom and I to her car in GA.  We are truly indebted to their generosity.  Getting mom's car and using it to slackpack will cost us much less, than if we paid for shuttles, and money is getting very tight.  We have been watching our expenses from the get go but the extra days of recuperation needed and better dry bags and Hendo's new backpack have made a significant dent. But we will continue to trudge onwards.

Regarding Hendo's pack, I never should have bought the one that I did, but didn't know it at the time.  It is a 70 liter pack, far bigger and way more heavier than I need.  Because it is designed to carry 70 liters of stuff it has a very robust back support and waist band which have been rubbing sores on my back and waist.  I ended up just having to purchase a new smaller and lighterweight pack, it is a GoLite Jam 50, and weighs 1lb 17oz compared to my old one of 5lb 14oz.  It was not an expense we really wanted to expend, but I just couldn't continue on with my original pack.

I have been slacking on my daily journal so going to do a quick rundown of the last section from Hot Springs, NC to Erwin, TN.  This is by far my favorite section we have hiked yet.

Day 62, Fri 16 May, 275.9 miles
The bad part about going down into town is that you have to hike back up out of town.  We didn't leave Hot Springs until 1600 hrs, as it was raining on and off all day, so we waited until the skies cleared and just hiked out of town 2 miles and set up camp. The all day rain pushed the French Broad River to its max.
French Broad River lapping at the AT.

Looking down on Hot Springs, goodbye.

Day 63, Sat 17 May, 282.2 miles
Cute pond and amazing block dam

Amazing block dam.

Day 64, Sun 18 May, 286.7 miles
Just another day of trudging

Day 65, Mon 19 May, 295.6 miles
And of trudging north

Day 66, Tues 20 May, 300.3 miles
Today was a very cool day.  We climbed over Big Firescald Knob and passed the 300 mile mark, whoohoo!!
The beginning of the climb up Big Firescald Knob. Of course we followed the white blazes and didn't take the easy route.

A taste of Firescald, even with the amazing trail work, Firescald was quite a fun challenge.

Enjoying lunch on top Firescald.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo enjoyimg the view ontop Firescald

One of the few flat sections of the trail, on our way to 300 mile mark

300 miles walked!!!!!!

Day 67, Wed 21 May, 309 miles

Pretty meadow of flowers going over Big Butt Mtn

The big split rock resembling a butt that Big Butt Mountain is named after.

Hendo trudging north

Hendo hiking through a rhododendron grove

Day 68, Thur 22 May, 316.6 miles

Taking the stairs over the fence on the trail at Devil's Fork Gap

Gorgeous creek cascade in lush may apples and ferns

Day 69, Fri 23 May, 322.3 miles
Today we got awesome trail magic at Sam's Gap.  A former thru-hiker, Long Trail, showed up with beer, donuts and oranges, what else could you want at 1030hrs...thank you!!!!!  

On the south side of Sam's Gap, we had showers this morning at 0800hrs, we just waited in our tent until they passed.  On the north side of Sam's Gap, however, they had extreme storms and at least a dozen trees had been blown down across the trail.

Day 70, Sat 24 May, 330.8 miles
We spent last night just below the summit of Big Bald, so this morning we hiked up and had breakfast ontop of Big Bald.  We met a group of 6 who were visiting for the weekend up from Atlanta.  We also met a family who was day hiking for the day.  The family gave us some bottled water which was greatly appreciated.  Their 6 yr old daughter said she woulld push me to Maine in their all-terrain baby stroller if I provided her with unlimited blue Jolly Ranchers and sweet tea...DEAL!!!!!  

Hiking down Big Bald we came across these 2 folding chairs in the middle of nowhere, we made good use of them.

When we got to Spivey Gap we got some more trailmagic, two bananas left of the trunk of a white Toyota Corolla...just what we needed after a long day of hiking!!!

Day 71, Sun 25 May, 341.5 miles
Hendo crossing a footbridge on our way into Erwin.

Made it into Erwin, TN...yay!!!  We are staying at Uncle Johny's Hostel.  Showers, laundry and hot food!!!  Two day hikers we met on the trail gave us a ride to dinner, awesome trailmagic!!!

Day 72, mon 26 May, Zero Day
On the trail this year, two hikers have taken on somewhat celebrity status.  One is Engineer who is a civil engineer and leaves amazing drawingsas part of his entries in the log books; another is Color Bandit, who is packing along colored pencils and writes his journal entries in a multicolored fashion and also colors in Engineer's drawings; lastly is Lint who is working on completinhg his triple triple crown.  The triple crown is completing the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, Lint is working on completing all three three times....AMAZING!!!!!  Can't wait to meet Engineer one day!!
Hendo and Color Bandit

Lint and Hendo

Day 73, Tues 27 May
Slackpacked from Iron Mtn Gap to Indian Grave Gap

Day 74 -75
Wednesday we rested, Thursday my CVMA brother Gary and his wife Sharon drove mom and I to Mom's car in Clarksville, GA.  What amazing trail magic and a true trail angel.

Day 76, Fri 30 May, 361.7 miles
Today we slackpacked and completed the 20.2 mile section north of Erwin to Iron Mountain Gap.  Tonight we meet up with our trail buddy Blue Ribbon and will begin our 2-3 weeks of slackpacking to make up miles.


  1. Quite the adventure!!! So happy to hear you guys are doing well - love the new pics!

  2. We LOVE you guys and keep up the fight!