Friday, May 16, 2014

Days 55-61

Day 55, fri 9 may, 240.8 miles
Start Davenport Gap
End Standing Bear Rd

We got out of Newport a litle later than planned because the walk to Walgreens o get Mom's prescription was much farther than what we had been told. But it was all good, we got the prescription and had Newport Taxi drop us back off at Davenport Gap.  We hiked 4 miles and stopped along a nice creek for the night.  We got our tent set up and dinner finished just in time for it to start raining.
Usually the trail is marked by whiteblazes, but at this juncture there was nowhere to paint a blaze, so to help we hikers a trail angel was nice enough to put up a sign.


The AT passes under I40, notice the whiteblazes painted on the poles under the I40 signs.

The trail passing under I40

Day 56, Sat 10 May, 247.7 miles
Start Standing Bear Rd
End Groundhog Creek Shelter

Today was a rather challenging hike, the trail went on and on to get to the top of Snowbird Mtn.  It rained on and off during the day and we were ready to get out of our wet clothes when we got to the shelter.  We met Leaf Tree, a former thru-hiker, who was out hiking for 30 days at Groundhog shelter.  He was very encouraging to us and our slower hike pace and had some great advice, most importantly to remember to have fun and enjoy the hike.  It canbe easy to forget to have fun and turn your daily hiking into a job.  We hung out our wet clothes to dry, set up camp, ate dinner and called it a night.
When trees aren't available to paint with blazes, fence posts are used instead.  Mom summitting Snowbird Mountain.

Day 57, Sun 11 May, 254.1 miles
Start Groundhog Creek
End Max Patch Summit
Solid day of hiking.  Looks can be deceiving, a couple of the climbs looked like little up and overs, but turned out to be much more drawn out and taxing.  However, we made it and were rewarded with a beautiful evening of camping on top of Max Patch.
Hendo summitting Max Patch

Mother's Day on top Max Patch

Camping on top of Max Patch, sunset

Sunset on top of Max Patch

Sunrise on top of Max Patch

Day 58, Mon 12 May, 260.8
Start Max Patch Summit
End Walnut Mtn Shelter
Woke up to a beautiful sunrise, grabbed a quick bite and hit the trail. We stopped at a shelter 2 miles up the trail for a full breakfast of oatmeal and coffee.  tomorrow we head into Hot Springs, and are looking forward to the rest.  Met Poppy, a fellow paratrooper;  an Air Force vetran a cool husband and wife who were section hiking; and Blue Ribbon, the guy who brought us our food bag.  They are headed into Hot Springs, so should get to hang out again.

Day 59, Tues 13 May, 273.9
Start Walnut Mtn Shelter
End Hot Springs, NC

Whoo doggy, our longest day, 13 miles.  Even though the guide book showed the trail was downhill into Hot Springs, there were some killer uphills hidden in the trek.  The first killer uphill was Bluff Mtn, it went on forever, repeatedly bluffing you that you were at the summit.  The next killer climb was coming out of Garenflo Gap.  We stopped at the last shelter, 3 miles outside Hot Springs for a brief rest.  Approximately 10 minutes after gettinhg back on the trail the skiez opened up and it began to storm.  Thunder and lightning are so much louder when you are up in the mountains.  We got into town and looked like drowned rats.  We were able to get beds at the Laughing Heart Hostel and enjoyed hot showers and dry beds.

Day 60, Wed 14 May
Zero day in Hot Springs.

Today we checked out of Laughing Heart and went to Elmer's Sunnybank Inn for tonight and tomorrow night.  Sunnybank is where Earl Shaffer, WWII veteran and first AT thru-hiker, stayed when he hiked the trail in 1948 and 1998. We were even lucky enough to stay in the same room Earl stayed in.  We had dinner at Sunnybank this evening and it was glorious, Elmer is a professional chef and he doesn't disappoint.
The room Earl Shaffer stayed in at Sunnybank Inn, Hot Springs, NC, Room 4

Room 4

Day 61, Thurs 15 May
Zero day Hot Springs.

We were going to head back onto the trail today, but it is raining today, so we decided to stay another day/night.  Hot Springs and Sunnybank are so soothing for your mind, body and soul, that it is easy to get sucked into the Hot Springs vortex.  We have been hiking hard though and are enjoying the rest.


  1. Glad to hear you are well, and kicking butt... enjoy your rest. :)

  2. You are the best!! I wish you were here, I graduated from Jumpmaster school!!
    You guys be safe!!