Posts Tagged With: Appalachian Trail

Hike Thru-hikers Forward

Neither Mileage nor the Rothmans (Rock and Roots) have updated their online journals this week. I am disappointed that I have no report on their progress this week. But on a more humorous note……

Last April I was driving through Virginia and noticed a Appalachian Trail Thru-hiker walking along the side of the road. He seemed like a nice guy so I stopped and offered him a ride into town. He gladly accepted and put his pack in the back seat. I introduced myself and found out that his trail name was Eagle Scout. After a few miles, he asked me if I was afraid that he might have Covid. I told him, “Now Eagle Scout, the odds of two people with Covid being in the same car are extremely unlikely.”

There was a recent report from the Appalachian Trail that a professional painter from Pennsylvania attempted a Thru-hike of the trail. He started his hike in January but died of hypothermiaafter only five days. The medics who found him said that he needed a second coat.

Last year I had the opportunity to interview Yo-Yo Man, one of the few hikers to trek back to back thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail in one year. I asked him to share one of his secrets to his successful journey. He surprised me when he shared, “I always take 40 or 50 lighters with me in my backpack.” I asked him why he needed so many. Yo-Yo Man responded “It’s not because I needed them, but I was told that you can always use a lighter bag when hiking. And I made sure that I did not carry an odd number so that way it was even lighter.

Sorry for the bad dad jokes, but it is better than a blank post (but not much better).

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward – Update: May 19 – June 1, 2021

I still have no official update from Mileage, but Rock and Roots (David and Annie Rothman) have updated their online journey. The following post is a quick recap of The Rothman’s adventure on the Appalachian Trail from May 19–June 1.

On May 19, Rock and Roots arrived in Pearisburg, VA. They had been slack-packing with Mongo, the host of the Lick Skillet Hostel in Bland, Va. For the past 4-5days. The hostel (see photo) was an abandoned Presbyterian Church built in 1911. The members of the church built a new building and moved out. It became a thrift store and then a furniture refinishing shop. 2014 thru-hiker, Mongo found it on Craig’s List and bought it and converted it into an AT hostel. 

Rock and Roots woke up at the hostel on May 20 for the last time in Bland, VA. They spent the morning there before Mango transported them back to Pearisburg. They hit the trail around 12:45 to continue their NOBO hike through Virginia. The couple hiked about 13 miles and ended their day’s journey about 8:15 when they found some nice flat trail suitable for camping. They have traveled about 645 miles along the Appalachian Trail.   

May 21 was Day 66 of the journey and the Rothman’s walked 15 miles ending up at Wind Rock (see photo). This is a nice place for a break and a photo shoot of southern Virginia. Rock and Roots spent the night here and they mention meeting seven other hikers, including “Mileage.” I am not sure if this our Mileage (part of the Hoots) or not, but it sure could be. Mileage’s journal is still silent, but she might be going strong.

Rock and Roots had breakfast at Wind Rock on May 22 before heading down the trail. Nine miles later they stopped for lunch at another photogenic spot, Kelly Knob. Following the knob there is a section f beautiful forest followed by a meadow. Just after the meadow they arrived at Keffeer Oak, the largest oak tree in the southern part of the AT which is 300 years old and over 18 feet around (there is a larger oak along the AT: The Diver Oak in New York). Rock and Roots hung their food and pitched their tent near the old oak.

The wake-up call for May 23 was the sound of cows in a nearby farm field. The day included 15 miles of walking including some rocky ridges that provided some great views of the countryside. The arrived at Niday Shelter about 1:30 for some lunch (That would be arriving at Niday about Mid-day)  

After lunch they experienced three Trailing Blessings in 5 miles. One was a trash can filled with soda and beer; the second was subs, chips, cookies, and Gatorade served in a parking lot; the third offered grilled cheese and Oreos. Before the end of the day, they walked by a memorial to Audie Murphy: a plaque just off the trail at Brush Mountain recognizing the most decorated American soldier of WW 2, who die in a plane crash near this spot of the AT in May of 1971.  

Rock and Roots hiked 36 miles over the next two days in order to spend the night at Daleville, Virginia on May 25. They experienced the triple crown: The Dragon’s Tooth (a large stone monolith), MacAfee Knob (a spectacular outcropping overlooking the valley below) and Tinker Cliffs (a 0.5 mile cliff walk) on their way. They arrived in Daleville to a full moon and in time to watch the anticipated eclipse. They enjoyed the evening while resting in a Super Eight. A hot bath and clean laundry provided encouragement and sanity to the craziness of the thru-hike.

They next day May 26 was spent in Daleville, resupplying for the trip ahead. However, Rock and Roots took off from Daleville in the late afternoon with the goal of climbing 1300 feet in 5 miles to the next shelter (Fullhardt Knob Shelter). They accomplished their goal and spent the night at the shelter. May 27 was a 17-mile day, although the online journal does not indicate their actual destination. They indicate that they spent the night at a campsite on top of a mountain, but the actual spot is hard to verify (maybe Cove Mountain- mile 747.1)

The journal on May 28 does provide a landmark of recognition. Rock and Roots stop for lunch “at the coolest shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The craftsmanship was second to none with lots of windows and a loft balcony. It even had a porch.” This is the Bryant Ridge Shelter (see photo), a two-story shelter with space for as many as 20 hikers. It was built in 1992 and is dedicated to the memory of Nelson Leavell Garnett, Jr. It was designed by his architecture school classmates. It is located at the NOBO mile 756. The couple had plans to go to the Apple Orchard Falls but an afternoon rain helped change their minds – they camped a couple of miles short of the falls after experiencing the overlook at Black Rock. Today’s adventure = 15+ mile day.

Rock and Roots broke camp on May 29 and made their way toward the falls. They were disappointed in the water flow and decided to move on. They climbed Apple Orchard Mountain, walked under the “Indiana Jones” looking rock ball called the Guillotine, and took a break at the Thunder Hill Shelter. The morning was filled with clouds and mist. The afternoon hike was mostly all rain, and Rock and Roots stopped for dinner earlier than normal. The rain slowed down after they enjoyed three amigo stew, rolled into a tortilla with avocado, so they hiked two more miles and found a little spot to set up along the James River.

May 30 presented a challenging climb from the river to Big Rocky Row (about 2.500 feet in 5 miles). They met a couple of section hikers who were excited to meet some thru-hikers. They took some pictures together and the couple gave them a bag of dried mangoes. Rock and Roots hiked until dinner time and then had a meal at Punchbowl Overlook until it started to rain. They packed up their food quickly and headed for the Shelter.  

The couple woke up in the morning by the creek in front of the shelter and started on a 17-mile trek ending at a stealth camp near Hog Camp Gap. They were blessed with lots of food today: apples, oranges, and bananas; then chips and peanut butter; then Oreos and an orange to go. They crossed over the 800-mile marker, enjoyed the views of Cold Mountain before camping about 6 miles north of Buena Vista, VA.   

June 1 was Day 77 on the trail for Rock and Roots. They started their day with some tea and mushroom coffee to have with their oatmeal.  After trekking the path for about 10 miles, they took a short side trail that led to the tip of Spy Rock where they saw a beautiful 360-degree view of the Virginia countryside. 

Five miles later, they arrived at The Priest Shelter [mile-marker 823] situated at the summit of The Priest Mountain, where it is tradition to confess your “trail sins” in the shelter log. They descended 5 miles down to the Tye River, crossed the rather bouncy suspension bridge, and made camp as the sun was setting – about 9:00 pm.   

Photo: Lick Skillet Hostel 06-21-2018. Day 107. 13.2 miles. U.S. 52 Bland to VA 608 Lick Skillet Hostel. (604.4 + 8.8 = 613.1 Miles) – Wanderings With Wayne

Photo: Wind Rock 2019 Appalachian Trail Thru Hike – Wind Rock, VA – YouTube

Photo: Bryant Ridge Shelter Bryant Ridge Shelter – Wikitrail.org

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward – Update: May 7 – 13

Mileage, the last of the five Hoots has not posted any online journal entries this week. Her last post was on April 25, 2021 and she was 13 miles outside of Erwin, TN. I will continue to check her journal for an update.

Rock and Roots Rothman (David and Annie) are still on the trail and are making progress. They have completed 25% of the trail and are hiking in the state of Virginia. Here a quick update on their adventure.

May 7 – Rest in Damascus

Rock and Roots arrived in Damascus, Virginia on May 6th (Day 51 of their journey). They took a zero day on May 7 in Damascus to rest and resupply.

May 8Creeper Day: Damascus to Campsite – 10.7 miles

As they left Damascus on Saturday morning they walked through a town-wide yard sale set up along the streets as the AT travels right through the middle of the community. Shortly outside of the town, the trail joins the Virginia Creeper Trail (an old railroad route up the mountain). About 11 miles  outside of Damascus they found a great campsite along the creek and called it home for the evening. They ate dinner on top of a massive rock on the water and enjoyed a restful night in their tent.

May 9Curly Perzel:  Campsite to Thomas Knob Shelter – 16.2 miles

As they climbed up and over Whitetop Mountain and the challenging Buzzard Rock, Rock and Roots found a spot of good cellphone coverage and made time to phone their moms on this special day of the year.  As they began the descent off the mountain they encountered a triple crown thru-hiker (The AT, the Pacific Creast Trail and the Continental Divide Trail). She was originally from Germany and she shared some of her hiking stories with Rock and Roots. The thru-hiker was Curly Perzel. My sister, Diane, is a good friend of Curly and it was so exciting for me to see this connection of the trail. Check put Curly’s story at Curly Perzel: Triple Crown Thru-Hiker, Redliner, Peak-Bagger | All About Women Magazine | wataugademocrat.com

After getting a picture with Curly, Roots and Rock continued down the trail and ended their day at Thomas Knob Shelter (16.2 miles for the day) amid some rain. They made it to the shelter in time to get a nice spot in the loft. They did not have the best sleep but they managed to stay dry and safe.  

May 10 – The Day of the Horses: Thomas Knob Shelter to Old Orchard Shelter – 11.0 miles

Rock and Roots woke up to wild horses. Thomas Knob Shelter is right on the edge of Grayson Highlands, the home of the wild horses. Hikers are not supposed to feed the horses, but just about everybody does. Rock and Roots had carried apples roots 30 miles with the horses in mind – they were greatly appreciated by Trigger, Silver, and Seabiscuit (my names for these special horses). Rock and Roots took side trial to summit Mt Roger’s, which is the highest spot in VA. They came back to the shelter to dry off as it was raining again. They changed clothes, ate breakfast and packed up. They crossed the 500-mile marker today and ended they adventure tenting at the Old Orchard Shelter (506.4).

May 11 – Trail Burritos: Old Orchard Shelter to Trimpi Shelter – 14.1 miles

The walk today began at 10:00 am. They hiked to the next shelter (Hurricane Mountain Shelter) where they washed their clothes in a stream and ate some chia peanut butter burritos (ahh, just the thought of trail food makes me so thankful for my wife’s cooking). They spotted a waterfall and decided to climb to the top. They encountered many streams and footbridges along the trail today. They ended their 14.1-miles day at Trimpi Shelter. They have been hiking the trail with a small group of hiking buddies, but most of the group will be leaving tomorrow to experience Trail Days back in Damascus, VA. Rock and Roots will continue to hike northward (smart move, in my opinion) but are thankful for the opportunity to have hiked with their trail friends.   

May 12 – Ice in May? Trimpi Shelter to Chatfield Shelter 17.7 miles

Rock and Roots packed up their sleeping bags and ate some warm oatmeal before heading out on the AT. Today’s adventure was filled with ascents and decents. To add to the challenge of the elevation changes, the temperatures began to drop. After an hour on the hike, it started to rain which then turned to ice and then to snow.  It snowed for a few hours and then it stopped about 1:00 just as they arrived to Partnership Shelter. This shelter is special because the local pizza place in Marion, VA, will deliver directly to the trail. They ordered a veggie sub and vegetable spaghetti. Other hikers at the shelter (Hook and Tinder) ordered a large pizza and it was a monster. After the great food break, Rock and Roots hiked 7 more miles (in wet socks) to Chatfield Shelter, They set up their tent inside the shelter because no one was around.

May 13 – We Got Cows – Chatfield Shelter to Campsite near O’Lystery Pavilion – 16.2 miles

Today’s hike started out with a visit to the Lindamood School and the Settlers Museum (right on the trail, just 2 miles from Chatfield Shelter). Rock and Roots did not mention any trail blessing here, but often this old school building is stocked with snacks and gifts for thru-hikers. Rock and Roots continued another three miles and came to Atkins, VA, and I golden chance to resupply and eat – they took advantage of both as they were attracted to the Mexican food at El Burrito Loco.  They hiked until 730 pm and finally stopped at a campsite near VA 42 and the O’Lystery Pavilion. They were thrilled when they passed a sign that indicated that they had reached one quarter of the way along the Appalachian Trail. After being under the canopy for most of the hike it was also refreshing to see today’s farmland and cows grazing in the fields. They both loved seeing all the cows grazing in the meadows as they navigated the fence stiles in and out of the farmer’s fields.  

This week (May 7- May13) was a good one for Davis and Annie as the couple hiked 85.9 miles and has accumulated over 554 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Good hiking! Unfortunately, Rock and Roots do not post pictures, so I cannot show you any of their visuals of the adventure.

Photo of Curly found at Curly Perzel: Triple Crown Thru-Hiker, Redliner, Peak-Bagger | All About Women Magazine | wataugademocrat.com

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Hike Thru-Hikers Forward: April 30 – May 6

This post was designed to provide an update on the thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail who I am following via their online journals.  Neither of their journals have been very active, but let me share what I know.  

Mileage – far left

Mileage, is the last thru-hiker of the AT still on the trail from the group of five women called the Hoot. They started their journey on March 21 from Springer Mountain, Georgia. Five Pair (Terri O’Brien), a successful thru-hiker in 2012, led the group. Two hikers dropped out by the end of the first week of the trek and a third, JackRabbit, ended her attempted on April 1 (day 12 of the adventure). Five Pair continued to hike until an ankle injury took her off trail on April 19. The last Hoot, trail-name: Mileage, continues on with a solo hike. Her last post on her online journal was April 25. She had stayed in Erwin, Tennessee on April 24 and had hiked 13.2 miles outside of Erwin to a campsite on the summit of Unaka Mountain on April 25. The journal on the 25th promises updates to come and shares, “Mileage continues her hike and all is well.” I am hoping that update comes soon.

Rock and Roots, David and Annie Rothman, started their AT adventure on March 17, 2021. They have posted twice to their journal in the past week. They detailed their hike on April 30 and then again an update on May 6th. The five days in between are pretty hard to document. However, let me provide a summary.

Roots and Rock

 They encountered two days of major rain-storms. They got drenched including a waterlogged phone that quite working. They arrived in Damascus, Virginia on May 6. They camped the night before at Abington Gap Shelter and hiked the 10.5 miles into town on a welcomed sunny day. Rock picked up some new clothes in Damascus including some new shoes, a t-shirt, and a pair of convertible pants (the legs zipper off and on to make shorts). The couple have boxed up some of the unneeded gear and will be mailing the box back home prior to leaving Damascus.

They are in good spirits and looking forward to the next section of the trail. Three states down (Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee) and they have hiked almost 470 miles of the AT, but Virginia is ahead and it encompasses 550 miles of the trail. They commented on the growing strength in their legs which is making the hiking easier. They ended their last post with this positive statement, “I am making good memories and am looking forward to sharing them.” 

My hopes and prayers are with these three hikers as they continue to make their way north. Hopefully I will have more details next week as we chronicle the days of adventure of these courageous hikers.

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Hike Thru Hikers Forward: Update – April 23 – April 29

Over a month on the Appalachian Trail and the thru hikers (who I am following) are making progress. They are through the state of Georgia, they have completed the Great Smoky Mountain Nation Park, and they have climbed Clingmans Dome. But the original number has diminished from eight hikers down to three. Let me give you a quick run down (or maybe that should be a hike-down) on the progress of those still on the trail.

The Five Hoots (five female friends – nice alliteration?) that began the thru-hike on March 21 are now down to one Hoot: “Mileage.”  From this point on, I will change the title of the updates to the solo hiker: Mileage. Mileage is doing well, although her online diary has been silent since April 25. Let me provide an update with the details I know.  

April 23 – Uneventful but Productive

Mileage grabbed an early shuttle back to Sam’s Gap to continue her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. The morning was cold, crisp and sunny, but the weather quickly turned to gray and windy. Before lunch, Mileage began hiking with two ladies (Gourmet and Fidget) who she had met at an earlier stay at a hostel on the trail. One of the ladies was born in same town as Mileage in Massachusetts. The three hikers stopped at Bald Mtn. Shelter for a quick, chilly lunch. The afternoon brought snow flurries!

Upon arrival at Spivey Gap and a welcomed water resupply, the hikers all concurred that it had been a long, hard day and they would seek out the next possible camp site. Within a mile, a flat area was found and camp set up ending the day having hiked 14.2 miles.

April 24 – Erwin, TN

Mileage, Gourmet, and Fidget were on the trail by 7:00am with the trekking goal of 10 miles in front of them and the destination of Erwin, TN in their sights. Thirty minutes into the hike, the unwelcomed companion called “rain” joined the adventure and remained by their side for the duration of the hike. They stopped about 9:00 at No Business Knob Shelter for a chance to get out of the rain and to grab a quick bite to ear. By noon, they arrived at the bluff above the Nolichucky River which provided a great view even on such a dreary day. Coming down off the bluff the three hikers (and the rain) found themselves at a popular place in the trail: Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel & Outfitter. First items of business: laundry, showers, drying out shoes and warming up, followed by a walk to the grocery store and a burgers from Pals.  

April 25 – Solo Again

Fidget and Gourmet decided to take a zero in Erwin, so Mileage bid them farewell and started from Uncle Johnny’s at 9 am on a solo day of hiking. Another gloomy and chilly day greeted Miles as she hiked across the bridge over the Nolichucky River and headed into the woods. The first three miles followed a gentle stream with water crossings, a few small waterfalls and peaceful sounds of gurgling water.

Around mile 4, the terrain changed and the trail offered some strenuous ascents and the calming stream was left behind.  The trail did dip down into Indian Grave Gap and Trail Blessing awaited Mileage – cookies and drink; and then a mile later The Ice Cream Guy appeared providing ice cream sandwiches as well as bananas. If eaten correctly and with some imagination the treat tasted a bit like a banana split.

More up terrain ended the day at a camp site on the summit of Unaka Mountain. The summit topped out at 5180’ and promised a cold night, so Mileage enjoyed a quick dinner and then an escape onto her warm sleeping bag.

13.2 miles completed today. Total miles on the Appalachian Trail: 357.5 miles

Rock and Roots (David and Annie Rothman)

April 23

This hiking couple started the week at Hogback Ridge Shelter, about 315 miles into the trail. They walked down the mountain into Sams Gap and US 23. There they met a Trail Angel named Tiger, who offered to provide slack packing for the couple for the day. They loaded their heavy stuff into his car and took off hiking with a day bag. They hiked 15 miles and encounter some snow on top of Bald Mountain. Tiger picked them up at Spivey Gap and drove them to Miss Janet’s home for the night.

April 24

Rock and Roots took the day off from hiking and enjoyed the hospitality of Miss Janet. The rain continued all day and the rest was welcomed.

April 25 – 28

The Rothman’s did not post online again until April 30. Their online journal was not very detailed but here is my summary of the adventure. They continued to use Miss Janet’s for a home base while slack packing to Beauty Spot Gap (11.2 miles). They then hiked from Beauty Spot Gap to Cherry Gap Shelter (about 5.3 miles) and the next day to Clyde Shelter. They took a short hike the following day and camped along the trail.   

April 29

Rock and Roots hiked about 8 miles from the campsite to the highest shelter on the AT, Roan High Knob Shelter (6195‘). It is also one of the few shelters that has four walls and two stories. It is designed to sleep 15 campers. It is located at mile 376 on the AT. This is Day 44 of their adventure and they are averaging 8.55 miles per day.

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Hike Photos Forward

April 26 – seven years ago
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Hike Thru-Hikers Forward: Update April 9 to April 15.

The Rothman couple: David (trial name: Rock, not Wipeout as I wrongly assumed) and Annie (trail name Roots) hiked 58.9 miles this week. They completed their trek though the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park and ended the week on April 15 at Deep Gap close to the Groundhog Creek Shelter. They have accumulated just shy of 250 miles (247.7) on the Appalachian Trail and are headed toward a major thru-hiker destination, the first trail town on the AT, Hot Springs, NC. They are camped just over 26 miles from the town, where the AT is marked right through the middle of the main street.

Rock and Roots enjoyed three zero-days thanks to a visit from Annie’s father in his “hostel on wheels” (a comfortable RV). Dad picked them up on May 9th after they completed a long hike from Derrick Shelter to Newfound Gap. They took two days off to visit, resupply and rest.

Rock and Roots returned to Newfound Gap and continued through the Smokies, completing their journey of the National Park on April 13. They took their third zero-day on the 14th so David (Rock) could participate in a special podcast called Break the Cycles. He had the opportunity to share about his recent (last July) motorcycle trip on the TAT (TRANS AMERICAN TRAIL) with his friend Chris.

The Hoots began their hike on March 21 as a team of five determined women. Terri (Five Pair) is a veteran thru-hiker and she included four friends on this return to the Appalachian Trail. Karen (JackRabbit), Maggie (Soul Sista), Tina, and Nancy (Mileage or Miles) joined Five Pair to form the group known as the Hoot. Three of the women have left the trail (JackRabbit, Soul Sista, and Tina) while the two remaining Hoots (Five Pair and Miles) trek on.

The two Hoots had a productive walking week covering 89.6 miles and bringing their total of AT miles to 254.1. They begin this week on April 9 from Fontana Dam and entered the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). They spent their first night in the GSMNP at the Mollies Ridge Shelter (about 13 miles into the park). The GSMNP tiptoes up the Tennessee/North Carolina border and hikers usually don’t know what state they’re in at any given moment. Because of the border walking, I called this part of the hike Tennolinia. April 10 brought the Hoot to Spence Field Shelter. They ended their day there after only 6 miles as a nasty downpour forced them to find shelter. They were a little disappointed in the mileage but happy to be safe and dry. Five Pair and Miles almost doubled their production on April 11 as they navigated 11.8 miles and camped at Silers Bald Shelter. They celebrated that they now have less than 2,000 miles to Mount Katahdin.   

April 12 brought the hikers to Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail (over 6,600 feet). The day was clear and the view was fantastic. They arrived just before 11:30 am and then continued down the trail, crossing over Newfound Gap, and arriving at Icewater Springs Shelter having logged their longest day of their adventure (15.3 miles). After another day of hiking in the GSMNP with strong winds causing some challenges, April 13 ended at Tri-corner Knob Shelter (12.6 miles) with the hope of exiting the park the next day. Their hopes were realized on the 14th as they walked through a tough morning as cold rain greeted their steps. The afternoon turned warmer, and the sun made a welcomed appearance. A new mileage high of 17.6 miles led to a shuttle ride into Newport, Tennessee resulting in a good night’s sleep and a resupply that will take the Hoots into the trail town of Hot Springs, NC.

Mileage at Max Patch

Five Pair and Mileage decided to slackpack on April 15 to their destination, Max Patch and then shuttle back to Newport. Max Patch is an incredible place with a marvelous view of the countryside. The only problem was the shuttle ride was not there and never showed up. Fortunately, God provided trail angels – three afternoon visitors to Max Patch heard of the dilemma facing the Hoots and agreed to provide transportation to Newport. Mileage and Five Pair were so grateful for the safe ride. They completed their week just 20.6 miles short of Hot Springs, a special place along the trail.

Pippi – this solo hiker began her thru-hike on March 16, 2021. Her last post was made on March 30. I will continue to check her blog, but I have to conclude that she is off trail and maybe had to abandon her journey.

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Hike Thru-hikers Forward – Update: March 26 to April 1

This has been a crazy week for the thru-hikers:  Rain, cold, sleet, zero-days, and slow going abound.  This blog will be following three thru-hikes: a solo hiker, Pippi; a couple, Dave and Annie; and a team of five women, The Hoots. Lots has happen during the past week – check it out.

THE HOOTS

March 26- Five Pair and the Hoots – Down to Four

The Hoots are now just Four. Tina decided to get off trail today. She shared, “When I started, I wasn’t confident I could carry a 30+ lb backpack and hike at the same time! …. I also had never set up my own tent, camped, gathered my own water and cooked my own food. … I did just fine and even led us a large part of the time! I gained an even greater respect for Five Pair having done [thru hike] this on her own!!…. But the anticipated bad weather and [hospitalized family member], I thought it a good time to leave. “

Tina departed and the remaining four Hoots boarded the van to be shuttled back to Hogpen Gap. The hike began a demanding climb to a ridgeline that they followed for several miles. During this hike, Maggie’s singing and dancing down the trail and up the inclines resulted in her trail name: “Soul Sista.” The hike came to an end at the Blue Mountain Shelter after an 11.9-mile adventure. This is the shelter that Pippi stayed at on her Day 7 and David and Annie on their Day 7. The Hoots arrived on their Day 6 – logging in 50.1 miles so far on the AT.

March 27 – And then there were Three

The Hoots were up and hit the trail early. When they came to Unicoi Gap they were treated to some tail blessing. “Backtrack” and “Shuffles”, thru hikers in 2017 from St. Petersburg, FL, were there to provide some beverages and carbohydrate to the hikers. Over the next 1.3 miles the hikers experienced 1,100 feet of elevation gain and then a mile of 900 feet of descent into Indian Grave Gap.

The Hoots hiked to this gap knowing that Soul Sista had determined to end her hike there. Soul Sista thoughts: “I had an awesome week! I laughed SO much, got great exercise, met wonderful people and had such a great time with my fellow Hoots. I wish Five Pair, Jack Rabbit and Nancy more great times and beautiful weather! I’ll miss you!”

The three Hoots continued as a trio and hiked up and over Tray Mountain, They decided to stealth camp at Sassafras Gap ending a 12.8-mile day.

March 28 – Wind, Rain and Sleet

The weather turned cold, wet, and windy over night. The rain and gusty conditions lasted all night and the Hoots woke up to damp gear and dampened hearts. They decided to make accommodations in nearby Hiawassee and began they hike down the mountain. The skies opened up again and drenched the Hoots with rain that quickly turned to sleet. All three thru-hikers were thrilled to get to the pickup spot at Dick’s Creek and into their ride to the Holiday Inn Express in Hiawassee. Once setting out their clothes and gear to dry in the hotel, the women went in search of food – Daniel’s Steak House! Today: 6.3 uncomfortable miles that ended well.  

March 29 – Good-bye Georgia

As the morning arrived, the Hoots determined that they needed to push forward as the forecast predicted a larger storm descending so they went off with a renewed urgency. The day yielded 11.8 miles as the three women hiked into North Carolina leaving Georgia to rest in their memories on the Appalachian Trail.  

The hoots seized a moment to celebrate with a photo shoot with the well know AT landmark, “The Twisted Tree.”    The Hoots then moved forward into the Nantahala National Forest ending their day over the summit of Bushy Mountain arriving at Muskrat Shelter. Unfortunately the shelter was not in good shape and the privy was disgustingly filled with trash. The threat of more severe weather (cold temperatures with the possibility of snow and frozen rain) had the ladies discussing the best plan for moving forward.  

March 30 – Storm Shelter and another Trail Name

The morning brought increased weather concerns so the Hoots decided to hike 4 miles from Muskrat Creek Shelter down to Deep Gap and catch a shuttle into Franklin, NC, where they could wait out the storms. Upon arrival in Franklin, lunch was the first priority with Mexican cuisine on the menu.

On day 10 of the adventure, a trail name was given to Nancy. Nancy has a sporty GPS watch which provides many statistics for the Hoots as they hike. As a result, Nancy provides her hiking companions on a continuous stream of data…how many miles they’ve hiked, how many miles to the next stop, how many miles to their destination, etc, So given her constant update, “Mileage” is the trail name. (Sometime shortened to just “Miles”)

March 31 – Franklin Zero

The front rolled through and it rained all day. The Hoots stayed warm and dry, restocked food, relaxed and readied for return to the AT tomorrow.

April 1 – Then There Were Two

The Hoots decided to slack pack today. They left their heavy gear in Franklin and only took what they needed for the day. When they completed their 13.1 miles at Mooney Gap, they caught a shuttle back to the hotel in Deep Gap and the warmth of nice accommodations. The hike started at 8:30 am and cold temperatures – 26°F.  The frozen leaves crunched as they walked and the 1100-ft climb up Standing Indian Mountain provided some body heat that removed the chill of the morning.

The day closed after the Three Hoots enjoyed a dinner together and with it, the end of Jack Rabbit’s adventure. Jack Rabbit’s thoughts: “I had the most amazing experience. I never laughed so so hard and enjoyed myself so much. I am grateful for Five Pair’s guidance throughout my journey. It was so satisfying knowing I could hike carrying a 34 lb pack, set up my tent, and hang my bear bag (with a little help from my friends). What I didn’t count on was the “downtime” due to rain and freezing temps. “Downtime” = me missing my husband.”

The Hoots ended this week with 59.9 miles of hiking and an accumulated distance on the AT of 98.4 miles. Thus far they are averaging 8.2 miles per day. Tomorrow plans to be another Slack Packing day for the Two Hoots.

PIPPI

March 26 and March 27 – Around the Bend

Pippi starts this week at the Around the Bend sleeping hostel. She is hiking with a buddy, Scream. They have decided to stay put for few days to miss the bad weather and to help Scream recuperate from some hip injuries.    

March 28 – Sea of Mud

Pippi took a final day at the sleeping motel. Tomorrow she and Scream plan to hike out toward Franklin. It seems like most of the hikers are off trail and the word among the hiker community is that the trail is a sea of mud. She is double thinking her plans to hike tomorrow but she is hopeful that the trail will drain by morning.

March 29 – North Carolina!

Pippi hiked 9 miles today ending her adventure at Bly Gap. She has pitched her tent just over the border into North Carolina. Unfortunately, the trek was not an easy one for her. She is in considerable pain: her left knee is swollen and stiff. Going downhill was especially painful. Tomorrow will include a climb up Courthouse Bald which involves some difficult miles. She and Scream no longer hiking together. They decided to split up because of the differences in their pace and endurance.

March 30 – Painful knees

Pippi made the hike over Courthouse Bald to Standing Indian Shelter (7.7 miles). She slept in the shelter. It was a very tough day for her. Pippi records in her journal. The climb from Bly Gap up over Couthouse Bald was ugly and really a lot of today’s hike has been steep ups and downs. I’m in a good bit of pain. Both knees hurt.

March 31 and April 1 – No Posts

Pippi has not made a post to her journal for these two days, and I am a little concerned about her progress. On March 30, Pippi had accumulated 86.3 miles on the AT for an average of 5.75 miles per day.

DAVID AND ANNIE

March 26 – Welcome North Carolina

Beginning at Dick’s Creek, David and Annie crossed over the Georgia/North Carolina border and camped at Bly Gap. Their 9-mile hike today involved a great deal of elevation change. The AT is lots of up and down with very little flat. Their plan is to hike to a shelter tomorrow and hopefully ride out a storm that is predicted on Sunday.

March 27 – Standing Indian Shelter

David and Annie made it to Standing Indian Shelter (7.7 miles) today.

March 28 – Zero Day

Because of the bad weather, David and Annie too a zero day at the shelter.

March 29 – Albert Mountain

16 miles today ending up at Albert Mountain, the challenging rock scramble and the incredible fire tower.  The views were beautiful and the day was sunny and bright.

March 30 – Franklin and Feet

7.6 miles today and 110 miles in the trail (plus the 8.8 miles of the approach trail). With the impending storms approaching, David and Annie made their way to Franklin for some good food and warm accommodations. Annie’s feet are bothering her, and she hope to check out some new shoes. They journaled, if you ever need service for footwear outdoor 76 has lots of knowledge and we plan to have them look at Annie’s feet tomorrow and see if she is in the right shoe. 

March 31 – New Shoes

Today was a zero-day and Annie got a new pair of shoes and insoles.  David and Annie spent 2 hours at Outdoor-76 learning about feet and what causes most thru hikers to get off trail.  Their advice was to slow down to give their muscles more time to get strong. They enjoyed a local bakery for breakfast and a Mexican restaurant for dinner.

April 1 – Slack Packing

David and Annie decided to stay in town one more night because it was so cold. However, they still put miles on the trail. They found a ride 10 miles ahead on the trail and slack-packed backwards towards town so they could make some progress for the day. They enjoyed the hike without heavy packs for a change as Annie tried out her new shoes.  They had a lovey Italian dinner of pasta with veggies.

David and Annie hiked 50.3 miles this week and took two zero-days because of the bad weather. They have completed 119.5 miles of the AT so far (Averaging 7.47 miles per day).  

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Snapshot Sad to Go Home

Carolyn, trail name Snapshot, has decided to come off the Appalachian Trail and postpone her attempt to thru-hike the trail from Georgia to Maine. It was a hard and sad, heartfelt decision. I have modified her online journal but tried to use her own words to explain her heart.

Snapshot

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

“I’m still trying to process all my feelings. The reality of remaining on trail was just not possible. Despite the enormous hurt in my heart, my head knows it was the right and responsible thing to do….. “

“The Covid-19 crisis has currently changed the world. Every single person has been affected by this pandemic. This is not just about me.  It’s a scary time for all of us, as these waters are uncharted and so unpredictable.” 

“My thoughts go to all of the health care workers putting their lives in danger. I think of all the small business that were forced to close, whose livelihood depends on customers and clients. I feel for all of the kids whose school year has been cut short and those once- in-a -lifetime events: proms, graduations, class trips have all been canceled. I’m sad for of all the couples who won’t be able to hold their dream weddings. I’m sad for all the elderly who live alone and are now evermore isolated.  And I cry for all who have died and those who have lost loved ones due to this horrible virus.  So much sadness, hurt and disappointment.”   

“Though, I realize not being able to continue my journey of walking through the woods, is minor and insignificant with all that humanity is dealing with, truth is, I can’t help feeling sorry for myself.”

“….for the first few days, the biggest concern was the availability of resupplies and support on trail. Slowly, we started getting word that stores, restaurants, hostels and shuttles were beginning to close. Support that hikers rely on was becoming limited and yet, I still wanted to push on, not wanting, or ready, to believe that my thru-hike could realistically be over.” 

“Word continued to come in with more and more closures and cancellations. The NOC closed, the ATC Headquarters closed, Fontana Damn Lodge closed. At first, they closed the Smokey Mt National Park to everything but foot traffic but within days, it was shut down to that also, leaving no way to hike that section of the trail. Maryland and New Jersey closed all shelters and privies on the AT indefinitely. Trail Days in Damascus was cancelled….”

“The ATC was asking us to comply with their request to leave the trail.  For them to ask this of us was huge. The trail is what they are all about. Promoting the trail is what they do so this was not something to take lightly. We as hikers need to come into the small towns along the trail to resupply, regroup and recharge by getting a hot shower, washing our clothes, eating a hot and hearty meal, etc.  Possibly exposing those we come in contact within town, or town folk unknowingly exposing us, would potentially spread the virus.”

“For now, I’ll take one day at a time and find gratitude in knowing my family members are all healthy. I will continue to hold on to hope that I will, when this is all over, return to the trail that has, for a long time, held a huge part of my heart.”

Snapshot ~

I hope that Snapshot and the rest of the thru-hikers will be able to get back on the trail before the hiking season passes them by – maybe a flip-flop or a SOBO (southbound) adventure would still be possible. The most important thing right now is to be safe and if necessary, plan for another day/year.

Categories: 2020 Hikers, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, COVID-19, Fontana Dam, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Snapshot, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nimble Off the Appalachian Trail For a While

Nimble

Friday, March 20, 2020

Jack Spurrier, trail name Nimble, writes from Fontana Dam that he is taking four or five days off the trail due to the Corona Virus. In addition to the virus, he hopes to rest his sore foot and find another pair of more comfortable hiking boots. He is headed home for some TLC but hopes to be back to resume his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

I think the trail towns will begin to close down and food/resupply will more difficult to obtain thus making the hike an even bigger challenge to complete. In my opinion, it will be difficult to return until the virus is contained. The AT is a safe place to hike with lots of open spaces and fresh air, but the congregating in the shelters, hostels, and campsites might make the environment rather risky.

My prayers are with the hikers and the important decisions they will need to make for their safety and the well being of others on the trail.

Nimble Leaving the NOC in North Carolina
Categories: 2020 Hikers, Appalachian Trail, COVID-19, Fontana Dam, Nimble, North Carolina, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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